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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bubka looking to scale heights
Monday, 20 January, 2003
by Martin Cox

As the junior competition kicks off at Australian Open 2003, most matches are surrounded by very little fanfare on the back courts of Melbourne Park.

The crowd at most junior matches is made up predominantly of coaches, friends, family and a few player agents. But out on court 13 there was a small army of cameras focusing on Ukrainian Sergei Bubka Jr.

His father, Sergei Bubka Sr. was the greatest pole vaulter the world has seen. He set 14 world records throughout his illustrious career and the last record, which he set back in 1994, still stands today.

At this stage the 15-year-old's biggest claim to fame is being a son, but as one of the youngest players in the tournament he has plenty of time to make a name for himself and achieve his goal of one day competing on the professional circuit.

In his first Grand Slam match, Bubka Jr. went down in straight sets to 17-year-old Romanian Florin Mergea, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2).

After struggling in the first set on a scorching Melbourne afternoon, he fought gallantly in the second, holding serve for the whole set before going down in a tiebreak.

Bubka Sr. attracted a brand new audience to his sport. After missing the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 when his country boycotted, he won gold at Seoul in 1988.

A national hero in his homeland, he is now a member of parliament in the Ukraine, although his son is based in Monaco where he avoids the hype.

While Bubka Jr. is too young to remember his father's Olympic glory, he draws inspiration from watching the World Championships in 1997.

"In Athens '97 when he was injured all year, it was his first competition after the injury, and he won the World Championships. That was I think his last big victory," he recalled.

Bubka Jr. doesn't feel under any pressure to live up to his father's reputation and he finds it strange to be recognised on the other side of the world.

"It's strange because many people come to you and say, 'You're the son of a famous father.' I think it's different to other people," he said in a packed press conference.

The publicity surrounding him is something he has learned to get used to, although he hopes to one day be famous on his own merit.

Although he has tried pole vault and enjoys it, an athletics career is not on the agenda for the youngster.

"I tried it (pole vaulting) once just for fun. It's a fun sport but I prefer tennis," said Bubka Jr., who has been able to beat his father at tennis since he was nine.

While Dad cannot give him much advice on playing tennis, Bubka Jr. can still learn plenty from having another athlete in the family.

"He mainly just gives me advice about my attitude on the court - that I should fight."

Although he attends as an international school in Monaco, he is forced to complete some of his studies on the road in between playing tennis.

This year he hopes to play in all of the junior Grand Slams and maybe start to play some satellite events.

Although he will never reach the heights that his father reached in pole vault, Sergei Bubka Jr. may continue his father's legacy on the tennis court.


17,684 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
F. MERGEA/S. Bubka
6-2, 7-6

Q. Are you a bit surprised there's so many people interested in you today (referring to the number of media in the interview room)?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yeah, I am pretty surprised. First time I'm doing interview so many people, yeah (smiling).

Q. Does it bother you that you're going to be asked about your father so much? Is that something you're used to?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yeah, I'm used to it. I wish one day it will be about me.

Q. Can you tell us your history, where you started to play tennis, whether you've ever done pole vaulting?
SERGEI BUBKA: I started playing tennis when I was seven. My mother took me to a friend who is a tennis coach. I tried it, I liked it a lot.
About pole vaulting, I tried it once just for fun. It's a fun sport, but I prefer tennis.

Q. I know your father is very good friends with Bob Brett. Has he been instrumental in your tennis career?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yes, he's been helping me already for about seven years, since I started. He's working together with another Austrian coach, my full-time coach.

Q. What is his name?
SERGEI BUBKA: Thomas Bischof from Austria. They're working together, both helping me a lot.

Q. Did Bob Brett help you prepare for your trip to Australia?
SERGEI BUBKA: We had two practice weeks in Monaco with other players.

Q. Did he tell you what to expect?
SERGEI BUBKA: He just gave me advice like how I should play. He was also here for the first two weeks, but he left last week.

Q. What is it like to have such a famous name?
SERGEI BUBKA: It's strange because many people come to you and say, "You're the son of a famous father." I think it's different to other people.

Q. Do you still feel you want to be a professional tennis player for a living?
SERGEI BUBKA: I want to be a professional tennis player.

Q. Was there ever a question of you doing anything but playing sport?
SERGEI BUBKA: No, not yet. I really want to play tennis.

Q. Are you studying? Where do you study?
SERGEI BUBKA: I go to school in Monaco. It's an international school. When I'm at home, I go to school. When I'm on trips, I do some work while I'm away, not to be too far behind everyone else.

Q. What is your dad like as a player?
SERGEI BUBKA: After he stopped, he's playing more and more tennis. He also likes the sport. He's improving also.

Q. You beat him every time, of course?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yeah (smiling).

Q. What age did you start beating him in tennis?
SERGEI BUBKA: At what age? I'd say around 9, 10.

Q. How does he take it?
SERGEI BUBKA: He just plays for fun, so he takes it normally.

Q. Do you have brothers and sisters? Do they play sport also?
SERGEI BUBKA: I have a brother who is 17, his name is Vitaly. He also plays tennis. He doesn't play as much as me, though.

Q. You got to the net once or twice today behind your serve. Do you see later on in your career you'll be more of an attacking player?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yeah. My goal is to be an -- is to attack, to come to the net. I have a good serve, so I hope so.

Q. How tall are you in centimeters?
SERGEI BUBKA: About 185, 186.

Q. You are 16?
SERGEI BUBKA: Almost 16. 16 in February.

Q. Did you go and watch your father compete much? What was the most memorable thing you saw?
SERGEI BUBKA: Most memorable was in Athens '97 when he was injured all year, it was his first competition after the injury, and he won the World Championships. That was I think his last big victory.

Q. Does he travel with you at all?
SERGEI BUBKA: No, never practically. Sometimes, maybe once or twice per year.

Q. Could you give us an impression of how famous your father is in the Ukraine and how famous you are?
SERGEI BUBKA: Oh, he's very famous with the people. They like him there. He got awarded Hero of Ukraine. Now he's in the parliament also. He got elected there also. He's very popular with the people. They like him.
With me, I live in Monaco. I don't go so much to Ukraine. I'm not so much known.

Q. How much time of the year do you spend in Kiev?
SERGEI BUBKA: In Kiev, I'd go maybe twice, two weeks a year. I go mostly to Donestk, which is where my family comes from. I go there not so often, twice a year maybe.

Q. Did you have a tennis hero when you were younger?
SERGEI BUBKA: When I was small, it was of course Agassi and Sampras I liked the best. But now I really like Safin. I like his game style and everything.

Q. What about Andrei Medvedev? Does he ever talk to you?
SERGEI BUBKA: Well, a long time ago, when he still lived in Monaco. Now he's mainly in Kiev. I didn't see him for a long time now.

Q. What is he doing now?
SERGEI BUBKA: I'm not sure now.

Q. When your father was helping him with his tennis, did he used to come around the house? Did you get to know him when you were young?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yes. When my father was helping him, I saw him quite often. He came around, yeah.

Q. What did you think of the Melbourne weather today? Have you played in this heat before?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yeah, I played when it was hotter. When I started, it was not sunny. The sun came out by the end of the match. Here I'm already here three weeks, so I'm used to the heat.

Q. Does your father help in any way with your physical condition?
SERGEI BUBKA: No. He mainly just gives me advice about how I should -- about my attitude on the court, that I should fight. But physically, I have my own physical coach. Physically, he doesn't help me.

Q. You will play all the junior Grand Slams this year?
SERGEI BUBKA: Yeah, that's my goal. I hope I get in.

Q. Do you think what your ranking is now?
SERGEI BUBKA: It's about 150.

Q. Are you planning on starting to playing satellite events?
SERGEI BUBKA: Well, my main goal is, like I said, to play junior Grand Slams this year. We're thinking about maybe starting to play satellite this year. If it goes well, then play more and more.

Q. When you tried pole vaulting, did you make clearance?
SERGEI BUBKA: Just very low. It was just like starting. Just got over.

Q. Do you remember the height?
SERGEI BUBKA: No, I don't remember. It was a few years ago.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports...

He's got a good background
I hope he can do well but i doubt it if he can match his dad's fame.
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