Tomorrow you are playing a tennis legends match, could you, please, tell the spectators and tennis fans what should they be waiting for?
Е.D: This tournament has a good tradition to organize a match of tennis veterans as I can call us (laughter). In my opinion it is always interesting because spectators come to watch someone whom they were cheering for some years ago. Kids and young tennis players come to watch the players of today and past. It is a pleasant meeting with fans and other sportsmen and for sure we are looking forward to it”.
Now there is a generation change, you came to this studio not so long ago as a player of the main draw and now as a tennis legend. Is it nice to see new faces here in St. Petersburg, especially if one of them is the finalist Elena Rybakina?
Е.V.: Two years ago she played quallies here and beat Caroline Garcia. It is nice to watch this generations changing and it is pleasant to see how girls are doing well here. They have a potential to rise higher in rankings. Elena Rybakina is already ni the Top25 and she has everything to go climb up higher in rankings. We watched a couple of games of the second match and I honestly like the way she is playing. I am happy she made it to the finals.
Whom do you think Elena looks like?
Е.D: No one. She is unique. Even though she is tall lady she has a good coordination. She was moving well and was bending her knees quite low. She has a powerful game style and even though she doesn’t have much experience she was up a break in the opening set, and in the second it could win easier… And thanks to her aggressive and powerful game she managed to win it and make it to the finals. She has a good serve and she comes to the net. She is solid player with a big future.
Now there is a little chaos in the women’s tour: there are lots of girls who suddenly did very well and go up in ranking and win big tournaments. We have recently seen Sofia Kenin win the Australian Open. How can you explain this trend? Now everything is possible regrardless of the ranking. Why? Is it also related to the generation change?
Е.V.: Either generation changing or girls are different. In the Top10 the level is pretty much even. For example, the generation of Elena Dementieva was playing consistently. Everyone had its own schedule and everyone was focused only on the big tournaments. Now it is kind of weird for the spectators to follow the Grand Slams as the winner can be the underdog who is not even in te Top10. But I think tennis became more interesting due to such victories. The young girls are winning and the list of champions is updated but it didn’t detract anyone’s merits. We could see Serena and many tennis veterans are playing at the same tournament but the win goes to the youngers ones who want it more and are not afraid of anyone.
Has the generation really changed?
E.D.: Of course, there is a generational change, those players people have been rooting for over the last 10 years are about to quit. But this is interesting because it is a new round in the development of tennis. Come to think of it: earlier I talked about tennis as an interesting sport, where your physical data is absolutely unimportant: both high-level tennis players and those who do not have any outstanding physical form play here. But now, if you look, the players are very tall, and the girls and boys, all athletic, all move perfectly. Everything has become much faster and more powerful. And such combination tennis, which we saw previously, for example, played by Martina Hingis, is now a thing of the past. There is a very active, aggressive and powerful game that is made for powerful people. And this is very interesting to me, because in the game of each one you admire different things: for example, powerful tennis – as Lena Rybakina plays. I also heard this: they say, when Serena Williams leaves, I’m tired of watching her. I personally didn’t get tired: no matter how much I played with her, how many matches I watched, it’s interesting for me to watch and realize that there is no limit for human capabilities, you understand that she is outstanding and there are no people like her, and probably won’t be any.
In what condition is women’s tennis now? Ahead there is the final of the Fed Cup and the Olympics. We are used to how you won everything. Now in Russia there are no such stars, there are no top-10 players; do you think this is a temporary story?
E.V.: Well, the same thing was said about men’s tennis, and now we have many excellent players among men and we have the pleasure of cheering for them at the Grand Slam finals. Girls have a small shift. You just need to give time; we have talented girls who can play very well: Ekaterina Alexandrova, in the matches of the national team during the Fed Cup brought the team two major victories; she played for the first time for the national team and showed herself so well. So, chins up, you need to continue to root for our girls and boys, of course, too. And expect that very soon we will have a winner of the Grand Slam tournament.
Tell us about Ekaterina Alexandrova, she gave everything out at this tournament in St. Petersburg after the Fed cup matches in Romania, she played here with Daria Kasatkina. She gave herself emotionally 100% because she played so many matchs in a row.
E.D.: She plays a lot, of course, it is very difficult. These are completely new senses, when you play for the national team, you feel an incredible responsibility, you understand how much victory means. This is a very big emotional outburst. And after, of course, there will be a recession or even devastation. And here you had to immediately calm down, tune in and play again. Moreover, when you play for the first time for the national team … She did such a great job, brought two important points. All this will be a benefit for her; this is a tremendous experience that will bring her success in the future. Ekaterina had a day of recovery. But Kiki Bertens is a strong rival.
Due to what Ekaterina Alexandrova added so much to her game? For fans, she is the name that has arisen abruptly and quickly. What is the reason for such a breakthrough?
Е.V.: She and her dad had their own way. As far as I heard, she did not play much in juniors, she began to play professionally when she was already 18-19 years old, began to go to major competitions. I saw her once, she played against Ekaterina Makarova in the first round of the Australian Open, and then I noticed for myself her powerful first serve, powerful shots from the back line. Now she added, she won her first WTA title. Participation in numerous competitions and victories give experience and self-confidence, you understand where you are going.
E.D.: She has everything in order to rise higher in the ranking. Ekaterina is a very hardworking girl. I saw her warm up, she has a very good team. They have excellent mutual understanding, it is very important. She is persistent, success did not come immediately. It may even be good for her, because it happens that at 18 you immediately win, it inspires you, you become famous, and it bothers you. And Ekaterina has a well-deserved success and it is the result of tremendous work.
You can watch live broadcasting of matches here https://tv.formulatx.com/. The broadcasting is available only in Russia.
The tournament WTA St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2020 takes place at “SIBUR ARENA” from 10 to 16 February. The tournament is supported by the title sponsor “Gazprom export”.