St. Petersburg, Russia, ATP 250, ST. PETERSBURG OPEN, $1,248,665, hard, indoor: Doubles, 1R, Igor ZELENAY (SVK)/Divij Sharan (IND) - Marcelo DEMOLINER (BRA)/ Matwe MIDDELKOOP (NED) 3-6 6-2 10-5, QF: CARBALLES BAENA (ESP) / MOLTENI Andres (ARG) 7-5 5-7 10-5, SF:  Nikola MEKTIC / Franko SKUGOR (CRO) 7-5 6-1, F: Simone BOLELLI / Matteo BERRETTINI (ITA) ?-?; Cairns, Australia, ITF World Tennis Tour, Cairns Tennis International, 25 000 USD, hard, outdoor: 1R, Tereza MIHALIKOVA (SVK) [6] - Isabella BOZICEVIC (AUS) 6-3 6-2, 2R: Emily FANNING (NZL) 6-1 6-1, QF: Olivia ROGOWSKA (AUS) [2] 3-6 3-6.

St. Petersburg, Russia, ATP 250, ST. PETERSBURG OPEN, $1,248,665, hard, indoor: Doubles, 1R, Igor ZELENAY (SVK)/Divij Sharan (IND) - Marcelo DEMOLINER (BRA)/ Matwe MIDDELKOOP (NED) 3-6 6-2 10-5, QF: CARBALLES BAENA (ESP) / MOLTENI Andres (ARG) 7-5 5-7 10-5, SF:  Nikola MEKTIC / Franko SKUGOR (CRO) 7-5 6-1, F: Simone BOLELLI / Matteo BERRETTINI (ITA) ?-?; Cairns, Australia, ITF World Tennis Tour, Cairns Tennis International, 25 000 USD, hard, outdoor: 1R, Tereza MIHALIKOVA (SVK) [6] - Isabella BOZICEVIC (AUS) 6-3 6-2, 2R: Emily FANNING (NZL) 6-1 6-1, QF: Olivia ROGOWSKA (AUS) [2] 3-6 3-6.

Anna Blinkova from EMPIRE Tennis Academy: I dream of winning grand slam one day and improve as a player

Russian Anna Blinkova made a successful move from youth categories into women’s tennis and former junior world No. 3 and current world champion is improving her WTA ranking. She spoke about the difficulties of entering the women’s tennis, her plans into the future, but also about her life in Trnava for www.empire-tennis-academy.com.

In January 2016 you won your first 10K singles title at tournament in Germany, then you reached singles semi-final at 50K tournament in France. Did you expect such a good start into the season?

"We did expect similar start, as we had great pre-season. Tournament in Germany, even though it was only 10K, was very difficult and I had to work hard. I beat number of strong players in France, but unfortunately lost in the semi-final. It was a great experience for me. I am satisfied with the result."

Was it a good experience for you to play at junior Masters in China? You won there...

"In China it was a tournament of eight best junior players. To win there was very difficult; final against British Swan was so close, 6-4. 6-7(1), 7-6(4). We both made lot of errors and it was nervous match, but I worked hard to take the title. I had to win. I expected from myself to win. There was no other option for me."

When you did first heard about the tennis academy in Trnava and what was your first reaction?

"My parents told me about the academy and I was very glad to hear the news, I can come and train in Trnava. Trnava provides me everything I need to be a professional player – trainings, fitness trainings, wellness, massages and great team of people."

What did motivate you to come here and stay?

"I know great players are growing up in Slovakia. I am a very offensive type of player; I play quick tennis, very aggressive. Academy takes care about such details as serve, returns, which really suit me. On top of that mentality of Slovak people is more similar to Russian compared to Spanish, French of Italian."

Which Slovak players do you know? Do you foster relationships with players of same age from Slovakia?

"I know Dominika Cibulkova and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakian Fed Cup team. I know very well Viktoria Kuzmova and Tamara Kupkova. We played lot of junior  tournaments with Tereza Mihalikova. I think we are getting on very well. I learned Slovak and it is much easier now. I think we are friends, we believe in each other, we sometimes tell each other some secrets."

Did you know anything about Slovakia before visiting the country? How do you like Trnava?

"Honestly, I did not know anything. After some time, I did get to know Trnava. It is a beautiful small town, very quiet and calm. There are no traffic jams. But let’s talk seriously now. If you travel to Bratislava in the morning, there is no way to escape from a traffic jam. But I love walks in the city. Climate and people are absolutely great. I did not have the chance to see the whole country, but once the chance comes, I am happy to do it. It would be interesting to visit Eastern Slovakia. I heard people speak with different accent."

How do you like traditional Slovakian dishes?

"Slovakian cuisine is tasty and healthy. I have to admit, I did not try famous buchty yet, as I cannot them (laugh). I prefer meat with sour cabbage and dumplings. I like the tradition to eat soup in Slovakia. Slovakian cuisine is very similar to the Russian one. Slovaks also eat lot of meat and potatoes."

When you are asked about your residence, what do you tell them about Trnava?

"I found a great place to train, where I have everything to develop as professional players. Great hotel with tennis courts, restaurant - all at the same place. Academy is in middle of Europe, great advantage, when travelling around the tournaments. For a tournament to Germany, we only travelled few hours by car."

What do you consider as your biggest improvement?

"I think my physical condition is much better, I am stronger and the training process in the academy is really good. I am coached by professionals; there is no chance to skip any part of the training. Everything is so close here, I live five minutes’ walk from the academy."

How does your typical day in the academy look like?

"I wake up at around 6:30, 7:00 latest, followed by breakfast and first training. Before lunch, I take some rest, usually around 12 o´clock. After lunch I take a nap for at least an hour to be refreshed for the afternoon training. After the second training I go to the gym or for a massage and then I rest. I go to sleep at around 21:30, very early, to be fresh the next day."

What are your hobbies?

"I often communicate with my father and brother through Skype. In the evenings, I study English or read books. I love classic literature – Russian and foreign. Jack London for instance, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Lev Tolstoy. At the moment I read Ana Karenina, again!"

Your mum lives with you in Trnava, what about rest of your family?

"My mum is my first and main supporter. She is always with me, at trainings, tournaments. I hope my dad soon comes to Trnava as well. My family and my friends are happy and they support me. I am very grateful to have them by my side."

What are your biggest tennis goals?

"I want to make the TOP 10 in WTA ranking. I cannot say, I want to become the world number one. But to reach the top 10, or top 5, that’s something I am dreaming about."

What do you consider as your main strength? Your advantage compared to other players?

"I am very strong physically. My strokes are strong, I play active game, with good movement and quick... and that´s why I win, I think."

How did you become a tennis player?

"I started when I was four. My parents brought me to the first training. However I had lot of hobbies, when I was a small kid, music, dancing, chess, and painting. Tennis was the most inspiring of them all and my parents supported me in my decision."

What is most difficult for you, playing tennis?

"To hit the court (laugh). Honestly, to hit the court is the most difficult thing. Of course, we can talk about psychological moments, but one needs to fight them. I am forbidden to say I can’t or I am exhausted. I can say I am tired, but I go and everything turns out well."

How difficult is for you move from junior to women’s tennis?

"Adults do not do childish errors. Adults do not risk as much, they are more experienced, and they know how to play in different situations. I don’t play junior tournaments anymore. I started playing at higher level, so it will be more challenging. Self-belief is very important."

What tournament would you like to win one day?

"I think every player dreams of winning grand slam, I am no exception. I am interested to win every match, I want to improve as a professional, improve my game to win every tournament. I want to regularly beat strong players. I want to collect points to improve my ranking. This is my dream."

Photos by: 
Ivan Kopcani, www.empire-tennis-academy.com

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