How difficult was it to find courts to play on when you first started playing tennis?
Courts to find are easy if you have money. Free courts, you cannot find there. It's not like maybe here. I don't know how it works here but there you are always paying. You have to pay for everything. When I go to my city I pay for everything; club, courts, ball, coach, practice partner ... everything.
Does your federation help you out? Do they have a facility where you can practice?
No. My father, he pays for me for everything. The Russian Federation did send us here to play the team competition. I think it is very good that we came one week ago to practice before the tournament. So we have been here ... our team; boys and girls. We were together all the time so now we are like brothers and sisters and we are really good now. We played and won both titles so it was very good. They paid for us and will pay hospitality for Orange Bowl for me.
Growing up, your father helped you along. Did he start you in tennis?
All my family are cyclists. My father still coaches. My mother she was a very good cyclist. My brother was also good but he stopped now. He is 29 and has a family and works with my father. My father said, "go play tennis, just go, go somewhere but not bike".....I said, "OK." When I was young I did cycle. I was racing twice or three times in my life. I was only six years old.
Your father supported your tennis?
He's a very good coach! It is similar, the strategy of the sport. He is helping, sometimes you can't find the way where you have to go. He tells me how much I have to practice. My mom helps all the time with me. I've been changing coaches so much. My mother, she knows very good about sports and everything. She's won 6 championships of the World in sprint in track. She will say, "this coach doesn't want to work." She doesn't like this thing. We were changing, changing, changing and now we finally found a place.
You found a coach you are happy with?
It's not a coach. I'm practicing at a club. It's Emilio Sanchez, in Barcelona Spain. I am staying now in Spain all the time.
Are you traveling a lot?
Yes I do. I've been everywhere this year. Australia, Japan, Brazil ... everywhere.
Did your Mom travel a lot?
My mother did the same thing before when I did not have a private coach. I still don't have it. Before I went to the club, she was traveling with me. She was helping instead of coach. She understands tennis. She knows what she is speaking about and was helping me, but sometimes children do not listen to the parents.
Any other brothers and sisters?
Just one brother, Nikolai. He was also very good in cycling. He was in Atlanta 1996. They got the silver, second place. My father was the coach of them.
So, why is your father good at coaching bicycling and tennis?
My father, he is very good in strategy. You can see the results every time. He has coached 5 Olympic champions. I think that is good result.
How is tennis in Russia now. Is it very difficult for the players?
I think there is a lot of talent and a lot of girls that are very good but every one stop because of money.
1999 world number one, Lena Krasnoroutskaia is from Russia. Do you know her?
When I started to play I saw her. She was number one (juniors). After, when I was grow, I didn't see her because she was playing WTA. Now I saw her in Wimbledon and we met. I said "hi, how ya doing," and now we know each other.
Do you know of any young players that are coming up in Russia? How about Maria Kirilenko and Dasha Chemarda?
Dasha is younger then me by one year and Maria two years. I didn't see her play and Maria I didn't see for three years. I know she has coach and sponsor so she should be OK. Now it will be up to her. In Russia there are a lot of players that are good that do not have sponsors. There are a lot of young young people that are doing very well. Coaches are getting crazy. They are starting to practice unbelievable times and breaking the players.. Some practice 8 hours a day at 11 years old. 8 hours in the day ... it's impossible.
How much practice did you do growing up?
I have not been practicing a lot. Now, just doing a lot in club. 6, 4, 5 hours, it depends on how I am feeling. If I am down, no one will push me. Everyone trust me that I know what to do. If I feel good, I practice more. I remember when I was young, I was with a coach, for about two years and we were in practice with 4 people on one court. Four people on one court for one hour. The court was indoors in a small place and the mountain climbers also used this area to practice. They would climb over the roof as we practiced!
Are there any tennis camps in Russia.
There are some but not big.
Where are you going from here?
Next year I will play as many pros as I can, but you know they are limited.
Will you be playing junior Grand Slams?
I don't know, I would like to play Roland Garros but if there is another tournament on at the same time, I will play that.
DO WE HAVE ANOTHER RISING STAR!!??