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Getting To Know... Lucie Hradecka

Lucie Hradecka may be the defending French Open doubles champion, but don't even think of calling her a doubles specialist.

Published May 22, 2012 04:59

Getting To Know... Lucie Hradecka
Lucie Hradecka

Lucie Hradecka may be the defending French Open doubles champion, but don't even think of calling her a doubles specialist.

While the charming Czech certainly knows her way around a doubles court, judging by a recent upset-filled run to the semifinals in Madrid, she's equally at home without the tramlines. A point she was keen to highlight when she sat down for a quick chat with at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

How did you first get into tennis?
I first started playing when I came along with my sister and dad to our local tennis club in Prague. I was only about four, but when you're that age all I wanted to do was follow my sister and do what she was doing!

Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
My sister is called Petra and she's a tennis coach, teaching kids from four right up to adults. My dad's name is Karel and he used to be a chief, but is now also coaching tennis at the same club as my sister. My mother, Pivli, is the only one not involved in tennis and she's a nurse back in Prague.

Can you tell us about your coaching set up?
For the last two years I've been coached by Jiri Fencl. I first got to know him about 10 years ago when I started training at the tennis academy in Prague. But now he is my full-time coach and is travelling with me all year on tour.

How would you describe your playing style?
I would say I'm very aggressive. I have a good, powerful serve which I've worked on a lot in the last few years and like to go for every point. I like to keep the points short and don't really like moving my opponent from side to side and having long points. I try to hit it hard and keep them short!

You've had success in both singles and doubles. Which do you prefer?
I much prefer singles. In fact I get quite angry when newspapers back home call me a doubles specialist! In doubles I'm more relaxed, but I prefer the challenge of singles and being out there on your own.

Who inspired your tennis as you were growing up?
When I was a girl I had posters of Monica Seles on my wall. I tried to style my game on hers and maybe that's why I like to hit the ball hard and flat. I also really look up to Roger [Federer] and really admire the way he plays.

What is the highlight of your career so far?
I think it was reaching the semifinals in Madrid. It was amazing to do so well in such a big tournament and against so many top players. I really took a lot of confidence from that week and now I know I can go on court and beat the best playing my own game.

What's your favorite surface?
Clay. I grew up playing on clay in Prague and it's what I feel most comfortable on. Lots of people say I should be good on grass because of my style of play, but I really don't like it. Luckily we only have to play on it for a few weeks!

How did you do at school?
I finished the Czech Republic's equivalent to high school and actually wanted to go to university. But I also really wanted to play tennis too so I tried to do both for about a year and a half. Eventually I realized I couldn't do both and had to just focus on tennis.

What do you like to do to relax away from the tennis court?
When I'm at home I like to just do nothing and relax! In summer, I sometimes go inline skating with my friends and in winter I like to go skiing. My coach isn't really that happy when I go skiing and tells me he is always crossing his fingers hoping I will come back safely!

What is your favorite book?
I actually really like Twilight. I saw the movie a few years ago and then started to read the books and now I can't stop.

If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Ummm, that's too difficult. Can I think about that?

If you hadn't been a tennis player, what career path would you have chosen?
That is difficult because tennis is what I love and it's all I've ever wanted to do. But if I hadn't been successful, I would like to have played another sport or to do something involved with sport.

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