Interview with Evgenia Manyukova.
Tomorrow in Melbourne, Ekaterina Makarova will face Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open semifinals. And this morning, after an hourlong training of the 26-years-old Moscowite, Evgenia Manyukova, her coach, has been interviewed by The Sport-Express correspondent.
Evgeniy Fediakov from Melbourne
It is sunny and warm in Melbourne, and there is no suffocating heat. And in the morning, the mood of Ekaterina Makarova's small team was alike the weather - absolutely positive.
“Kate did good job for sure!,“ said Alexander Krasnorutskiy, the sparring partner of the Russian debby of the Australian Open semifinals whom I met right at the entrance to the Rod Laver Arena function center where press-center, restaurants and changing rooms are located. And we talked with Evgenia Manyukova, Makarova's coach, after their training on Court 9 was finished.
– Let us start with the match which result surprised literally the whole tennis world – Makarova's quarterfinals against Simona Halep, the number three in the world, ending with 6:4, 6:0. Was this at least a bit surprising for you or did you imagine the course of the play and the final result like that?
– The quality of Kate's play was not a surprise for me since we prepared well for the match and were ready. And the score... I guess, it surprised me. I thought that the match would be tougher and longer.
– Ekaterina keeps saying that she enjoys everything in Australia. What exactly is it to your mind?
– This is a very nice country where there are a lot of emigrants who are friendly. Everyone is positive and it's where the good atmosphere is rooted. Moreover, the stadium is great in Melbourne – it has a lot of courts but is compact at the same time. It is not Wimbledon where there are people everywhere and you cannot pass through the crowd. And of course one can't forget that the Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tournament in the year and we prepare carefully for that.
– Do you agree that it is the qualitative pre-season training that results in Makarova's regular success here?
– For sure. And simple desire to work and play also matters. At the end of the year, when you are tired, it's difficult to motivate yourself. And at the beginning of the season it's quite a different story.
– Did you invent something new in the process of training to this season?
– I can't say that there were some special features. First, we went to the training camp in Turkey where we usually pay much attention to overall physical condition. This year we were assisted by Oleg Borisovich Mosyakov. And then we had practiced in Moscow for four weeks where we added tennis to the overall physical condition. All in all, everything was as usual. Except perhaps we had a little bit more time since the tournaments started not at the end of December but a week later. In general, everything shaped well for us.
– Was it Makarova's idea to engage Alexander Krasnorutskiy as a sparring partner who also worked with Svetlana Kuznetsova when she reached the victory at the 2009 Roland Garros?
– Yes, when Anatoliy Glebov started working with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova we needed a new assistant in our team. And Sasha blended very well into our small team.
– According to Ekaterina, it was a man you were actually looking for. Did you need rough physical vigor?
– (Smiles). Of course not. We just needed a person with whom we could discuss Kate's play as professionals, to ask advice, who could be supportive and emphatic. Generally, I think that ideally Makarova's team should not consist only of me and Sasha. We need a massage therapist, physical therapist, coach for overall physical condition. And of course Kate enjoys being supported by her parents and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone can arrive to Australia.
– It is already clear that in the worst case scenario Makarova will be number 10 in the ranking on Monday or even higher which is more likely. Do you plan to make some changes to the calendar, training process in the course of the season, attitude to certain tournaments for this reason?
– No, we have a usual schedule, maybe except to a couple of tournaments. The main reason of great performance here is that Kate really began to believe in herself. It is of utmost importance that now she understands: it is absolutely possible to defeat almost all top players.
– When we talked last year at the Wimbledon, this was the problem you stressed. When did she break through?
– At the end of the last season. Say, in the US Open semifinals Kate wanted to defeat Serena Williams very much but that was way too difficult..
– Could you say that one day prior to the match against Sharapova she is in perfect shape?
– I guess, not exactly, since Kate and Elena Vesnina had played doubles for two hours and a half on Tuesday night. It's sad that they failed to win but in this case it turns out that every cloud has silver lining. Otherwise, today we would have to play the following doubles match and Kate would not recover before the semifinals. In general, as it often happens our singles matches disturb our doubles matches and vice versa. (Smiles) But now I hope that Kate would recover today and will be absolutely prepared for the match in Thursday.
– Sharapova does not think that she will have any psychological benefit before the match against Makarova after her five victories over Kate. And what do you think?
– I think, that there might be some benefit. But at the same time, Kate is now ready to fight against Masha.
– And if we remember their previous matches, what was Makarova the worst at? Were those just psychological loses or, as we say, as a result of the play?
– I think that when Kate had faced Sharapova before she was tired both physically and mentally. They played here in the quarterfinals twice and once in the fourth round of the Miami tournament. And at the long tournaments it is very important to distribute your energies up to the end. We didn't have such an experience then and in a week Kate wanted to go home already. But now she has a different attitude – to go through the two-weeks tournament up to the end. And psychologically it's a great advantage.