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03/02/2014

GAMES OF SURVIVAL!

GAMES OF SURVIVAL!

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Hello my dear friends!

It smells like food, and the light is shining in my eyes. I open my eyes. So where am I? I see the flight attendants. Exactly, I am already in the plane! I am flying home from Australia. My neighbor is smiling to me: “We were trying to wake you up, but did not manage. Would you like to eat?”

I was very hungry, but the sleep was stronger. Even though the first half of the journey (9 hours) and almost all the time while waiting at the airport (8 more hours) I was asleep. It was lucky that at the Guangzhou airport, where I switched the flights, there was a room for rest with a full bed. Probably I still cannot quite recover from my latest matches in Melbourne, because usually I do not sleep so much. But I wanted to write a blog post! If I do not do it now, then later I would not have any time! It motivated me to wake and start acting.

Last season was good and not good. There were heights and falls, bitter defeats and beautiful triumphs! Not bad in general, but not consistent. Analyzing the situation, I conclude again that everything depends on the training process and a good coach. A coach! No, a good coach in women’s tennis is difficult to find this days. You can literally count them on one hand.

Usually the situation is as follows:

One: A good coach trained the top players and now does not want to travel, because he wants to spend some time with his family and kids.

Two: A coach is willing to travel, but you know he cannot help you much.

Three: A young coach is full of energy and enthusiasm, but does not have any experience with professional players. He is good for beginners, since they both have time for the trials and mistakes. They both will gain the experience.

Four: Sometimes a coach is good but is not right for you. Since you might have different approaches to the game.

Five: The rare case, when the coach is not right for someone else, but perfect for you.

As you see the question is not an easy one. You can see it just by observing how often players change their coaches.

Last year I faced the question: where to prepare for the next season? I really wanted to stay home since I cannot be there often. But even more, I wanted to be well prepared, since good preparation is the main constituent of a successful first part of the season. It is why again I have chosen Florida. For tennis it is one of the most ideal places.

I took the question of vacation seriously. From one point of view vacation is vacation, why to complicate it. But it is not true. After many years spent in professional tours/tournaments you understand that crazy pressure and a tough schedule causes tiredness which accumulates. It resembles a lack of sleep. If you do not sleep one night and try to compensate the next night, you catch up. If you do not catch up on sleep right away, it will take much longer to recover. The same in tennis. I took my vacation as a project with the aim of complete recovery and preparation for more activity. I sat and jotted down my plan: stuff to do, medical check ups (it is absolutely necessary at the end of the year. Never ignore this question! Our body is our car, it should run well!), cultural activities, and socializing with friends. But it is still not a vacation. For me the essential part is the beach and passive relaxation. The body and muscles have to relax and what can be better than the salt water? But the right order is necessary. You cannot first go to the sea, return and complete all you business stuff. All your efforts to rest will be lost. This time I have decided to go on vacation to Mexico and not by chance. It is near Miami, which means before the beginning of training I will have time to adjust to the climate.

It seems that every year I pay more attention to the details. It is true. I consider that on the professional level there are no details. Every little thing means a lot.

After talking to my American coach (the first time I have worked with him a week before the US Open, I played pretty well there and have decided to come to him for preparation for the season). I got the task to do some physical exercises. I am responsible and committed; if I have to I will do it. Every day at 5:30 in the morning (because of the time difference I got up very early) I was at the beach jogging on the sand. I have a high threshold of pain. It means that not until something “falls out” will I say that it hurts. It happened this time. On the fifth or sixth day of my running I felt a little pain in my knee. First of all for me “hurts a little” is not an argument. The sportsman always feels a little pain or a lot of pain. And if you always pay attention to it, you will never make it to the tennis court.

So it is why first I have not paid any attention to it. But at the end of my long run that day when I felt my knee really hurt, I thought that something was wrong. But what could be wrong? I am just jogging. Probably I just was not exercising for a while. But in the evening I could not walk downstairs because of the pain. I took some painkillers, which I always carry with me.

In the morning in spite of the discomfort I went to the gym. I thought to ease my task and instead of running on sand go to the treadmill, but even then I felt a strong pain. I switched to the bike, but still felt a pain. I went to the ellipse, then I could not feel the pain so much. So the remaining days I was exercising there. When I arrived in Florida and started practicing I realized that it hurt too much! The first day when we started on a light schedule, my knee was hurting but not too bad. At the end of the second day I could not step on my foot! What shall I do? I went to see the doctors and had a MRI. The result? Elongation and swelling. I was told not to play for a week. But how can I? I would not have time to get ready! Minus a whole week! I was very upset… since I wanted to get ready for the beginning of training, but it did not work. Later, fitness and tennis trainers told me that I should not have run every day on the sand. It is alright on wet sand but never on dry. I did not know. This is true – you learn as long as you live.

I had treatments every day, and thank God I was well soon. But by that time my hands were bleeding from blisters. What bad luck! Blisters on hands are quite common after an interval. It is a sort of a payment for the vacation. But in general the preparation went pretty well. The season in Australia also was successful, in spite of losing to Casey Dellacqua (the match was still very good). Then Kristina and I were playing doubles final! Because of the doubles match in Brisbane I was late to singles in Sydney, I played only doubles. Then Melbourne… no one could have predicted such a terrible heat. When we first arrived it was rather chilly. But there are some legends about the weather in Melbourne. It can change in a blink of an eye! I had enough days to get prepared. One unfortunate thing which happened was that a few days before the tournament I fell during practice. As a law of unintended consequences, it happened right at the end of the last point. In the morning of the next day my right hand was hurting! I was told that I had strained something when I fell. I was given painkillers again, which I had to take during the whole tournament!

But the worst thing was the terrible heat, which lasted from the second to the fifth day. The conditions were almost inhumane! During the first match the ballboy kept forgetting to bring me the towel with ice during the changeover. I had to keep reminding him, losing precious time. Once there was a brief and funny dialog which made me laugh. Imagine, it is +42-43 C in the shade during the third set. We are exhausted from the heat and cannot wait for the changeover to get the towel with some ice. The ballboy is day dreaming without noticing my suffering. I addressed him: “Please get me a towel with some ice!” But he is so slow… I am getting irritated: “When you bring the towel I will not have time left to use it!” And I hear the chair umpire who was listening me: “The time is already over.”

It was a very hard day. One player, two ballboys, and four judges on the line fainted. But what happened at the next match with Suarez Navarro is the nightmare. The temperature went up to +45 C in the shade! I even do not want to think about what was going on on the court. You are feeling as if you are in a sauna and the court is like a hot frying pan. Even through tennis shoes you feel the burning heat. To tell the truth, I do not know I could I bear the match for 3 hours and 10 minutes. I also had a good chance to win. It seems to me that in these circumstances some reserve powers of the human organism turn on. You walk and do not understand if you can continue playing, or if the next step will be the last.

I have never felt so terrible as after that match. I got sunstroke. I felt chills during the last games. The temperature is +50 C outside and I am shaking feeling cold! After the last game, for four hours I could not get up. I had a headache, chills, and upset stomach. I was taken for doping control, where my almost breathless body spent a few hours in one of the rooms before I could do anything.

In the evening I was exhausted. I wanted to fall asleep but could not. As often happens from tiredness I could not fall asleep till 3 a.m. And at 6:40 I was awake. The next day I was scheduled to play doubles! I do not know why they were in such a hurry, since some teams by that time had not finished playing even the first round.

It was the end of my tournament in Melbourne. And now as you know I am on the way home. I have not been there for quite a while, and miss my family. But I have only a few days. Then the tournament in Paris! And after that the Federation Cup in Astana.

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15/07/2012

HELLO GALINA! THE MATCH IS OVER!

HELLO GALINA! THE MATCH IS OVER!

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Briefly, I’d like to tell you what’s been going on the last two months. In my last post I was telling you that I was on my way to America and had a bad cold. In the warm climate I started to get well fast, but kept coughing for six weeks. I will not go into details about the American series because it went relatively quiet without any big adventures. I remember the American series because in all tournaments at Indian Wells in Miami and Charleston I was playing night matches on the center courts and always finishing after midnight. I’m not used to playing late in the evening. The last time I played a night match was a year ago in Pattaya and here I had to play every match at night. But I got invaluable experience. I also played doubles with Yaroslava Shevedova in Miami in preparation for the Olympics.

A funny thing happened in Charleston. I was playing a first round match against Jelena Dokic who was playing well even though her hand was hurt—which can be a dangerous moment for a tennis player. An opponent who has an injury may play very well and make some unbelievable shots, but you have to ignore the good play and hold to your original game plan. In this case, I was 4–2 up in the first set and Yelena had called for the trainer but was still playing. And she served so well that the score was 4–3, and it was my turn to serve. At 30–15 in the next game, after a long rally, I went to the net and won the point. As I made my way slowly back to the service line my head was full of thoughts about my next serve. Without looking at the court, I walked to the back fence talking to myself. Then I heard from the stands someone shouting my name. And another shout from another place in the stands. I thought it was so nice that some people were cheering for me, but I kept talking to myself because it was important for me to concentrate. Suddenly I heard the voice of Alina (my coach) and I turned around to see that my opponent had left the court and was standing behind the umpire’s chair after having forfeited the match. The umpire and everyone else was laughing.

After the American series I returned to Moscow and rested a little while before flying to the Spanish academy to get ready for the clay-court season. Generally, at academies there are pluses and minuses, but the main advantage is that you can accomplish a lot. My clay-court series included the following tournaments: Estoril , Madrid, Rome, a one-week break, and Rolland Garros. In Etoril I played well and reached the quarter finals, then lost a difficult and disappointing three-set match to Karin Knapp. In doubles with Yaroslava, we reached the final. Of course, it was very nice to play in the final, but it took away from my singles preparation for Madrid. I had no time to recuperate for the next tournament and arrived in Madrid very tired. I played on the blue clay only one hour. In the first round I lost to Katya Makarova. In doubles with Yara, we reached the quarter finals. Certainly the organizers made this an interesting series because of the blue clay. I know that many players did not like this novelty, but I personally did not experience any discomfort because of it.

Before leaving Madrid, I was sitting with Claudia, the mother of Denis Istomin, and she told me that Denis had already played against almost all the top ten players. I said that I had also played with almost all top-ten players but not the Williams sisters, which I wanted to. Then, the second day after arriving in Rome, the schedule had me play Serena. As soon as I had said so, it happened. I was very excited at the opportunity, and then I got sick with a high fever. What should I do? Forfeit and perhaps never have the chance to play Serena? No, I decided to play anyway. For two days I did not leave my room and requested not to play on Monday. But on Monday I was scheduled to play doubles against Nadia Petrova and Masha Kirilenko. Right before the match I went to the doctor to take my temperature and the thermometer showed over 38C or 100F. I told my doubles partner, Olga Govortsova, that I was not feeling well but would still try to do my best, knowing that I had to play with Olga (since we had never played together) and that I still had to get ready for my match the next day with Serena.

Olga and I lost the doubles match, but we played well. The next day my match with Serena was scheduled late in the evening and due to a long men’s match before us, we started close to midnight. Serena is a very moody person. Sometimes you can chat with her in the dressing room, and sometimes she ignores you completely. Before our match she was walking around with a frowning expression and looked at me like a wolf. This continued until I was running out of the dressing room (since I am always late and hurrying at the last minute). As I pushed open the door going out of the dressing room, it almost hit Serena who happened to be walking by just at that moment. She jumped and said, “Oee,” at which she and her team and I all started laughing. Serena then said, “It seems you want to kill me before the match even begins.” This relieved the tension.

On the court I felt the full power of her shots. In the beginning it was very difficult because I was so weak from being in bed. Then I played pretty well, but physically it was terribly difficult even though we had many good rallies. Even though I lost, I was very satisfied that I had gone ahead with the match and gotten the chance to play Serena.

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05/09/2011

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

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Galina Voskoboeva 
 

 

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