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Getting To Know... Ioana Raluca Olaru

Romanians are on the rise on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, and this driven young talent is one of the key players.

Published July 24, 2009 12:06

Getting To Know... Ioana Raluca Olaru
Ioana Raluca Olaru

BAD GASTEIN, Austria - Ioana Raluca Olaru is one of a handful of young Romanians making serious inroads on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at present. Sorana Cirstea broke through to the quarters at Roland Garros; Alexandra Dulgheru won the Premier-level Warsaw Open, and Monica Niculescu won the doubles at Budapest recently, where Edina Gallovits reached the semis of the singles. And in the thick of the action is 20-year-old Ioana Raluca Olaru, her country's No.2 on a ranking this week of No.66.

Sonyericssonwtatour.com spoke with Ioana during the NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies, where she defeated No.2 seed Sybille Bammer - her second biggest win in terms of rankings - and then No.6 seed Magdalena Rybarikova to reach the third semifinal of her career.

Tell us about your family.
IRO: My parents (Adrian and Doina) are retired now, but they ran a small business together, a convenience store. My sister, Cristina lives in London and works in IT - so, nothing to do with tennis! She's 36 but despite the age gap we have a great relationship. We're very close and keep in touch a lot. She's very supportive.

You were without a coach for a while. What's your situation at the moment?
IRO: I've been with (former ATP player) Michael Schapers since the French Open.

How do you describe your playing style?
IRO: My biggest asset is that I am a fighter. I can play pretty well on all surfaces, especially clay and hardcourts. My backhand is my best shot, but I'm an all-court player, can use drops shots and so on to mix it up.

What do you need to do to take your game to the next level?
IRO: I need to improve the physical training side of things, strength-wise and movement. These are things I'm working on with my new coach, and I think it's going well.

If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
IRO: Any shot of Federer's! Among the girls, I'd say Safina's big serve.

If you could play a player from the past, who would you choose?
IRO: I'd love to have played Martina Navratilova, that's a very nice idea. She was so great, won so many titles over so many years. I also really like Kim Clijsters, and maybe now I'll have a chance to play her!

If you hadn't pursued tennis as a career, what might you have done with your life?
IRO: I like the idea of being a singer. I enjoy it and have a pretty good voice.

Do you have any superstitions?
IRO: Lots of them! I have a favorite towel which I always carry with me and I walk onto court with my right foot first. Some of the others are pretty common, like following the same routing at a tournament, eating at the same place.

Do you have a favorite tournament?
IRO: I like Bad Gastein very much for the mountains, and Acapulco for the sea. I love nature, so wherever it is close I am happy.

What sort of goals have you set yourself, tennis-wise?
IRO: This year I hope to break into the Top 50. I was No.55 and then I got injured. Long-term, I'd like to be Top 30 and stay there, which is the really difficult thing. More generally I just want to keep improving my game.

What do you enjoy most about life on Tour?
IRO: The competition; I really like it. I'm very ambitious.

And what's the toughest thing?
IRO: Traveling so much, and being away from my family and friends.

Do you have a best friend on Tour?
IRO: Not really. I think it's hard to have really close friends because we are competing with each other. But when we Romanian players are in Bucharest we will still train together, which is nice. A few years ago there was really no-one and now there are five of us in the Top 100. We push each other higher and higher; we want to be better and better.

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