Samarkand, Uzbekistan, SAMARKAND CHALLENGER, 54 160 USD + H, clay, outdoor: 1R, Andrej MARTIN (SVK) - BYE, 2R: Evgeny TYURNEV (RUS) 6-3 6-4, 3R: Roberto CID (DOM) 6-3 6-4, QF: Jose HERNANDEZ-FERNANDEZ (DOM) 6-4 4-6 6-2 SF: Corentin MOUTET (FRA) 4-6 6-0 2-6; 1R, Uladzimir IGNATIK (BLR) - BYE, 2R: Thiago SESBOTH WILD (BRA) 7-6(5) 4-6 6-2, 3R: Ulises BLANCH (USA) 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(5), QF: Joao MENEZES (BRA) 2-6 4-6; Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, ITF World Tennis Tour, 13th DOBOJ OPEN - 2019,  25 000 USD, clay, outdoor: 1R, Artem DUBRIVNYY (RUS) [6] - Dejan KATIC (SRB) 4-6 6-4 6-2, 2R: Ljubomir CELEBIC (MNE) 6-4 6-2, QF: Botic VAN DE ZANDSCHULP (NED) [3] 0-6 4-6; Heraklion, Greece, ITF World Tennis Tour, 14th Lyttos Beach ITF World Tour, 15 000 USD, hard, outdoor: 1R, Pavel SHUMEIKO (UKR) - Jesse DELANEY (AUS) 6-3 6-1, 2R: Alec ADAMSON (USA) [8] 6-3 5-7 6-1, QF: Peter BOTHWELL (IRL) [4] 4-6 7-6(5) 3-6; Skopje, North Macedonia, junior ITF, ITF Juniors Tennispark Open 2019, Grade 5, clay, outdoor: 1QR, Peter Benjamin PRIVARA (SVK) [5] - Arthur FILS (FRA) 6-4 4-6 [10-3], 2QR: Lennon Roark JONES (JPN) 6-3 6-4, QFinal: Facundo ELIAS HANNI (ARG) [3] 6-2 6-1, 1R: Martin KATZ (BEL) [3] 6-1 4-6 7-5, 2R: Cesar BOUCHELAGHEM (FRA) 6-1 6-4, QF: Ivan Karlo BAN (CRO) 6-4 6-1, SF: Kyle Lok Yin TANG (HKG) [2] ?-?.
    

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, SAMARKAND CHALLENGER, 54 160 USD + H, clay, outdoor: 1R, Andrej MARTIN (SVK) - BYE, 2R: Evgeny TYURNEV (RUS) 6-3 6-4, 3R: Roberto CID (DOM) 6-3 6-4, QF: Jose HERNANDEZ-FERNANDEZ (DOM) 6-4 4-6 6-2 SF: Corentin MOUTET (FRA) 4-6 6-0 2-6; 1R, Uladzimir IGNATIK (BLR) - BYE, 2R: Thiago SESBOTH WILD (BRA) 7-6(5) 4-6 6-2, 3R: Ulises BLANCH (USA) 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(5), QF: Joao MENEZES (BRA) 2-6 4-6; Doboj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, ITF World Tennis Tour, 13th DOBOJ OPEN - 2019,  25 000 USD, clay, outdoor: 1R, Artem DUBRIVNYY (RUS) [6] - Dejan KATIC (SRB) 4-6 6-4 6-2, 2R: Ljubomir CELEBIC (MNE) 6-4 6-2, QF: Botic VAN DE ZANDSCHULP (NED) [3] 0-6 4-6; Heraklion, Greece, ITF World Tennis Tour, 14th Lyttos Beach ITF World Tour, 15 000 USD, hard, outdoor: 1R, Pavel SHUMEIKO (UKR) - Jesse DELANEY (AUS) 6-3 6-1, 2R: Alec ADAMSON (USA) [8] 6-3 5-7 6-1, QF: Peter BOTHWELL (IRL) [4] 4-6 7-6(5) 3-6; Skopje, North Macedonia, junior ITF, ITF Juniors Tennispark Open 2019, Grade 5, clay, outdoor: 1QR, Peter Benjamin PRIVARA (SVK) [5] - Arthur FILS (FRA) 6-4 4-6 [10-3], 2QR: Lennon Roark JONES (JPN) 6-3 6-4, QFinal: Facundo ELIAS HANNI (ARG) [3] 6-2 6-1, 1R: Martin KATZ (BEL) [3] 6-1 4-6 7-5, 2R: Cesar BOUCHELAGHEM (FRA) 6-1 6-4, QF: Ivan Karlo BAN (CRO) 6-4 6-1, SF: Kyle Lok Yin TANG (HKG) [2] ?-?.
    

Anna Blinkova had been in Slovakia for fitness training and she wants to move even higher among the first hundreed players in WTA rankings: Ready to work hard

Yet another member of the EMPIRE Tennis Academy from Russia Anna Blinkova (20) had enjoyed the breakthrough season in her career. She‘s managed to move first time into the Top 100 WTA singles rankings, but the ambitions are, of course, higher. She‘s hammered away at pre-seasonal fitness training in Samorin, together with other members of the academy under the supervision of our fitness head coach Kristian Cupak.

At the end of the year, you went through fitness training at the EMPIRE Tennis Academy with Kristian Cupak and other members of the Academy in Samorin. Were you satisfied?

"I haven‘t heard about this place before, it‘s been news to me. As soon as I got here, I was pleased that this is a very good center for sports training. Everything was excelent - including a very well-equipped gym and accommodation. I also liked Kristian Cupak's coaching approach and how he worked with us. "

You've been taking a break after a tough season. Where were you?

"I was home for two weeks with my family. It was very pleasant. I've been touring for the whole year, I can´t really see anyone. I was also in St. Petersburg as well as Moscow. I've got a driver's license so I'm looking forward to driving. I really need those two weeks, this was just enough. I've come to Slovakia with full of energy for the pre- season."

You are for the first time in the main women´s singles draw at Australian Open 2019. How do you feel about the first Grand Slam event of the year?

"I was very pleased to be in the main Women´s Singles Draw, because I hadn´t need to go through three qualifying rounds. There‘s either very hot in Melbourne or sometimes even cooler or rainy. When I played the second qualifying round in 2018 our match stopped three times for the rain. We started at eleven in the morning and finished at 10PM , at 4-4 in the third set. We continued on the next day. I´d finally won but it was nervous. There´s unpredictable weather there. It is good to be in the main draw of Australian Open , because I'm able to play the WTA tournament in Hobart before. If I had been in the AO qualification, I wouldn´t have been able to start on it. It's been a new rule – so that it doesn´t happen that the tennis players prefer to loose the previous tournament just to make the grandslam‘s qualifying rounds."

The 2018 season you finished as the World No. 95 of the WTA singles rankings. How satisfied were you with the last season?

"I'm pleased to be in the Top 100. WTA rankings. It could have been better and also worse. It was a difficult year. I've learned a lot of things. I've been through a lot and seen a lot. So I look ahead and look forward to the next season. I'm ready to work hard."

Which tournament was eye-opening for you in 2018 and at the same time had been enjoyable not only for the overall result but also for the game you´d played?

"I would like to mention the February WTA Premier Championship in Doha. There were the very best players there. The way I´d played there was one of the best. I won two matches in qualifying round in two sets over the Croatian Fett and countrywoman Alexandrova. I´d managed to repeat that in the main draw over Vesnina and Mladenovic. I´d played two Top 20. players. In the 3rd round I‘d played 6-7, 5-7 against the Top 5. Garcia. So it was a great result and a good tournament for me as well as very good experience."

You were also very good at doubles when you won the WTA title in Rabat, Morocco, with the Romanian player Olaru.

"I like this tournament. I‘ve played there for the third time in row. I'm always very excited to come over there. It was beautiful that I´ve spent in Rabat all the week thanks to the success in doubles. There are nice people there, the atmosphere, it was amazing."

Doubles is just something extra for you, or would you like to do it more often?

"It´s been more like some addition to my game. Singles is definitely a priority for me. Doubles matches are great practice for me to improve my serve, return, volley. That's great for that. You have to take it as a good practice. There are very hard match situations in that, but at the same time there´s less pressure on me because you´re not alone you´ve got a partner. It's more fun than singles. Even if we loose it's not the end of the world."

Have you set your goals for 2019 season?

"I want to get better at all aspects of my game. I want to improve physicaly, my stamina, but also the match strategies, to make a smarter decisions on court. I want to be stronger even mentally , to beat strong players and to be a winner of tournaments. It´s an unbelievable feeling to become a winner of tournament. Of course, I want to move higher in the WTA rankings."

There were added new premises to the International Academy in Trnava. What do you think of them?

"I saw them, it's a very big sporting resort. I haven´t been able to go through it completely but I like it. There are beautiful accomodations for the tennis players, new courts and wellness , among other things. Nothing is missing there."

Photos by: 
Milan Hutera, www.empire-tennis-academy.com
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