Fernando Verdasco tennis player
"In 2 years I'll be able to win a Grand Slam"
"The youngster, who looks up to Agassi, believes lefthanders have more natural talent"
Photo caption: Fernando Verdasco, yesterday, a few minutes after the interview in the Valencia Tennis Club
Fernando Verdasco's shower lasted 20 minutes, and just as he promised after finishing his practice at the Valencia Tennis Club. It wasn't just LAS PROVINCIAS (Spanish newspaper) that was waiting for him to come out. His grandfather, Antonio Carmona, was talking about the great achievements of Alonso in Formula 1, perhaps dreaming that his Fernando would beat his rivals on clay just like the man from Asturias is doing on the asphalt.
-The Chilian Fernando Gonzalez, Nadal, Ferrero and Kuerten's comeback. Repeating last year's win seems like a mission impossible?
Mission imnpossible, no. Who would have thought that Nadal would reach the final of Miami with the players that were there? Obviously this third Open is tougher, but I keep thinking that I can win it like I did last year.
- And you've also got the support of your grandfather in the stands.
Yes, last year he came with me and I won and this time I hope he'll bring me the same good luck.
- With last year's victory, you started to develop as a tennis player. Have you come of age?
I don't think so, I can still improve lots of things. I'm trying to get more resources into my game.
- Perhaps a black mark: being eliminated in the Davis Cup against the Slovak Republic. What happened?
We knew it was going to be very tough. We had never played on a court that fast, even they seemed a bit puzzled for the first few days. I played my match very well, but Hrbaty played like never before. I was happy with my match, but if the other is better than you...
- You recognised that the key is mentality and that when that improves, you would do big things. How is your head working now?
Lately, much better. It's something you can't change from day to day, but each time I'm more settled and I have more experience on the court.
- Tell me when you'll win a Grand Slam
Win a Grand Slam? -thinks for a few seconds- 2 years.
- Wimbledon or Roland Garros?
I'd prefer to win Wimbledon, but I'm realistic and I think I should improve on my serve, my short backhand and my volley. It's my favourite tournament. Although I think I'm more likely to win Roland Garros.
- If you lose, do you get angry like McEnroe? They say you used to imitate him when you were younger.
Yes, yes, I used to do that when I was younger. When I started playing tennis, when I was about 10, I definitely used to get very annoyed and break racquets. But now I've realised that doing that only makes you lose concentration and the best thing is to be patient, even if things turn out badly.
- All lefthanders have something special.
Well, I don't know. Apparently lefthanders find tennis easier and they have more advantages because, since there are fewer of them, the righthanders have to change their game plan when they play us. All the lefthanders that I've known - Ivanisevic, Rios, Nadal and Feliciano - have lots of talent and a more natural game from birth.
- Since we're talking about great players, tell me who you admire.
I admired Agassi my whole life, I've looked up to him a lot and he's one of my idols. I also liked Sampras, not because of his game, but because of the titles he won and I think that's made him the best player in history.
- Apart from idols, you must also have friends.
Lots of friends. My closest friend is Feliciano López because I've trained with his father and his brother. Tennis has brought us even closer, but our families have always been very close-knit.
- What does Fernando Verdasco do when he puts away his racquets?
Depends, during a tournament, rest. Away from tournaments, I try to relax and do things I like. For example, I'm a passionate skier, but I know it's dangerous and I always take extra precautions. If I behave stupidly, I could break a leg and then it's "goodbye season". I also meet up with friends, go to the movies, play football and basketball...
- Being able to watch your girlfriend on tv (his partner is actress, Dafne Fernandez) seems like an advantage.
(smiles) I don't watch her. I'm almost always abroad and the series (Un Paso Adelante) isn't shown there. I haven't seen any episodes of the new season.
- In your free time, you even allow yourself to pose in the new season clothes. Fashion addict?
Yes, it's something I really like. Fashion and all things to do with clothes and dressing up has always interested me. I try to pay attention to the latest trends and collections.
I always like to be well dressed and not a bit scruffy. I have friends in clothes stores who advise me
- How do you cope with hordes of female admirers that follow you?
No, it's not all that many. Footballers have more than tennis players. I know Real Madrid players and when I go out with them, it's madness how they throw themselves at them. I always try to dedicate as much time as possible to my fans, because they're very important to me. Some come with me to tournaments and have webpages with photos of me. It makes me really happy that there are people who like how I play and follow me.