Getting To Know... Anastasija Sevastova
Published July 08, 2010 12:00
BUDAPEST, Hungary - Before she even won her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title at the Estoril Open in May (making her the first Latvian to win a Tour singles title since Larisa Savchenko Neiland at Schenectady in 1993) Anastasija Sevastova had dropped some pretty big hints that good things were in store. First she beat top seed Jelena Jankovic in the first round at Monterrey, en route to her maiden Tour semifinal. Then she dispatched the other Serbian former No.1, Ana Ivanovic, to advance to the third round at Indian Wells. With another quarterfinal run under her belt at Strasbourg, and through to the least eight in the Hungarian capital this week, the 20-year-old now finds herself knocking on the door of the Top 50.
We caught up with Anastasija ahead of her quarterfinal match at the GDF Suez Grand Prix in Budapest.
Is winning your first Tour title your best tennis memory to date?
AS: I would have to say so. The first match against Agnes Szavay was tough, but after that things just clicked. I was feeling good on the clay courts, the balls suited me, the location is beautiful. Before that, beating Jankovic in front of a packed stand at Monterrey was very memorable too.
You recently played Justine Henin at Wimbledon - what was that like?
AS: It was an unbelievable experience… along with Steffi Graf, Justine was my idol when I was small. I've always admired her fighting spirit, that fact that she never gives up, and the way that she moves around the court. I learned a lot from playing her, just being across the net from such mental toughness. It was just a shame it was in the first round.
How do you describe your playing style, and what are your strengths?
AS: I'm an aggressive baseliner. I see the ball very well and am strong off both the forehand and backhand sides… I don't have any real weak spots. That said, I'm working on serving and volleying more.
AS: I've always liked clay and hardcourts, but now I like grass too.
How did you get into tennis?
AS: I was about six when my grandmother got me into it, although she was more of a basketballer when she was at school. I'm an only child and my mother doesn't play. But she's an English teacher, so she helps me with that!
What's your coaching situation at the moment?
AS: I've been coached by Martin Ruthner since 2005, initially in Münich, and now we are based about 20 minutes outside Vienna. Before that I was coached in my home town of Liepaja in Latvia. It is a fairly small town, and I never dreamed that I could make it in tennis one day. It was only when I started traveling a bit to junior tournaments that I thought maybe it was possible.
If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
AS: The serve of Serena Williams.
Do you have a favorite tournament stop?
AS: I went to Indian Wells for the first time this year and I loved it. I also enjoy Estoril; I've been there a few times for the tournament and also Fed Cup. And I really like the US Open - I love to visit New York.
What are your current goals in tennis?
AS: My goal is to finish the season in the Top 30 or 40, with the aim of being seeded for the Australian Open.
How far did you go in your studies? Have you ever thought about what you might have done with your life if you weren't pursuing tennis?
AS: I finished high school in Latvia a couple of years ago. I probably would have tried to become a doctor.
If you could meet anybody in the world, who would it be?
AS: Lance Armstrong. I've read both his books. He's just an unbelievable professional and the way he overcame cancer is inspirational.
What qualities do you most admire in other people?
AS: Honesty, straightforwardness, respect.
Do you have a best friend on Tour?
AS: I'm good friends with Kristina Kucova. Sometimes I'll go and visit her at home in Slovakia and she comes to see me in Vienna, as it's not far.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
AS: Reading, internet, going to the cinema, listening to music… Beyonce, Jay-Z, James Blunt. When I go home to Latvia over the summer I like to go jet skiing in the Baltic Sea - it's not too cold at this time of year!
If you were marooned on a desert island but were allowed one luxury, what would you take with you?
AS: My laptop with wireless internet connection.
What's your most treasured possession?
AS: My watch. I bought it for myself for Christmas and wear it all the time.