Getting To Know... Ksenia Pervak

Step by step, this 20-year-old Russian lefty has enjoyed one of the most impressive rises in 2011. What will next year bring?

Published October 16, 2011 07:55

Getting To Know... Ksenia Pervak
Ksenia Pervak

LINZ, Austria - Russian lefty Ksenia Pervak began 2011 as the world No.97 in Brisbane, where as a qualifier she pushed eventual champion Petra Kvitova to three sets. Entering Tashkent in September she was ranked No.52, and after sweeping to her maiden WTA title without dropping a set she made her Top 40 debut at No.37. In between, the 2009 Australian Open junior champion (she beat Laura Robson in the final) made an impressive main draw debut at Wimbledon - where she upset Shahar Peer and Andrea Petkovic on her way to the fourth round - before reaching her first WTA semi at Bad Gastein and, the following week, her first final at Baku (where she ran into Vera Zvonareva). All in all it's been a perfectly measured ascent by the 20-year-old, and no doubt there's more in store.

We caught up with Ksenia at the Generali Ladies Linz, where she reached the second round before falling to Daniela Hantuchova in three.

Tell us about your upbringing.
I was born in the city of Chelyabinsk, east of the Ural Mountains, but we moved to Moscow when I was a child. Actually I have a very big family because my parents divorced 10 years ago. I have a brother, he's 16 - we have the same mother and father. He is in Geneva at boarding school - he's a smart guy and already knows four languages. And I have two small half-sisters, one is from my dad's family and one is from my mom's family. Also I have two stepsisters who are the daughters of my father's wife. They don't play any sports, they are studying. One is 19, about my age, and she lives in London.

What do your parents do?
My dad, Yuriy is doing different businesses. He was in soccer for a few years, but in management, not as a player. He was sports director of Spartak Moscow, the famous soccer club. Now he's doing a range of things, for example with properties. And my mother has beauty salons in Russia.

Your family moved to Berlin in 2006. Do you like it there?
It's a beautiful city and really calm there. I have my tennis club 50 metres from my house. I have a 'green card' for Germany. It's really nice, I have a few friends there and it's always great to visit my family.

How did you get into tennis?
My father was playing as an amateur, and I was always with him, at his practices. I just liked the look of it.

What's your coaching situation at present? And who else has had an influence on your game?
Since Roland Garros I've been working with Vladimir Platenik, he's Slovak. So I'm practicing in Bratislava right now, where I also have a fitness coach, Maros. I really enjoy my time with them. Previously I was coached by Viktor Pavlov, a Russian coach. I think he did a lot for my tennis - we worked together for seven years.

How do you describe your playing style?
I'm a baseline player. I'm not really a big hitter but I like to step in. I don't know… I think the people who are watching me can describe it better!

If you could steal a shot from another player, what would it be?
Serena's serve, for sure.

Did you have a tennis idol when you were growing up?
Anastasia Myskina. She was a great player of course, and we keep in touch - she's just a great person.

What is your best tennis memory so far?
I think it was doing well at Wimbledon this year, and maybe also Tashkent, as it was my first WTA title.

Did you enjoy wearing the traditional Uzbek costume for the presentation ceremony?
Yes! It was so nice… I looked gorgeous! I was so happy. Winning in a country where they know the Russian language just made it all more special.

Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
It's hard to say… maybe Ana Ivanovic at the US Open this year. It was the first round, so it was especially tough to play her.

You've had a great season - what are your goals in tennis now?
Of course, I think the goal for any tennis player is to be No.1. In the short term my goal is to be Top 32 to be seeded at the Grand Slams - I think that's very important.

What is your favorite surface? Favorite tournament or city?
Surface, hardcourts… but faster ones. Tournament, I really liked it at Wimbledon this year - it was my first time playing the seniors. My favorite cities are London, New York and Moscow.

How far did you go in your schooling?
I finished Gymnasium. It was really hard, because my dad was pushing me - if I did badly with my schooling, I couldn't go to my tennis practices. I was waking up at, like, 5am to do my homework! Now I'm at the Sport University of Russia in Moscow. The focus is coaching but my favorite subject is Russian language, and history maybe. I am learning by myself, by correspondence and I need to go twice a year to sit exams.

What do you like to do for fun?
I really like to go out with my friends. And I like to sing… I think I say this in every interview! In the car, in the changing room - I don't care! I don't have a favorite singer, I just like lots of popular music.

What non-tennis skill do you wish you had?
I think music, for sure.

What is your favorite book?
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy - a Russian classic.

Favorite film?
Mmmm… maybe Titanic.

If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
That's so hard... I really can't answer this question because I'm every time so different! Even three words would be hard. Sometimes I can be hard on the people I love, which is not right. But I can be fun too!

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Marat Safin. We're from the same country, but I wasn't on the tour when he was playing. I liked his style a lot.

If not tennis…
I'd be a singer, 100 percent.

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