Getting To Know... Klara Zakopalova
Published June 29, 2012 12:06
LONDON, England - Perceived wisdom states that when a tennis player hits 30, they lose a step and begin the slow, inexorable slide down the rankings. Klara Zakopalova, however, does not care much for perceived wisdom.
Despite turning the big three-oh in February, Zakopalova is currently playing some of the best tennis of her career; one month ago she reached the fourth round at Roland Garros, where she gave eventual champion Maria Sharapova all she could handle, and a semifinal run last week in Eastbourne catapulted her to her highest ranking for more than six years on Monday.
So what is the secret behind the hard-hitting Czech's lasting success? Well, wtatennis.com sat down with her in Easbourne to find out the answer to this and a whole lot more.
How did you get into tennis?
KZ: My father introduced me to tennis because he was playing when I was young and he took me to the tennis club near to our house in Prague. I didn't like it at all at first! I was seven or eight and all I wanted to do was to play with my toys and not to go to tennis and run about. But my father made me stay there and I'm now very glad that he did that!
Can you tell us about your family?
KZ: My father, Jiri, is a taxi driver and my mother, Jana, works at the bar in a golf resort in Prague. I have no brothers or sisters, just dogs! Three dogs called Alf, Rex and Toby. So not very Czech names!
Who coaches you at the moment?
KZ: I have been working with my personal coach now for two years. He is Petr Kralert and is a former player who used to play Davis Cup for the Czech Republic.
How would you describe your game?
KZ: I think I'm moving quite well. My serve is not the best one - but I'm working to improve on it! I'm usually playing flat and fast.
Are there any areas you're looking to improve on at the moment?
KZ: As I said, I'm working on my serve a lot because it's the worst area of my tennis, I think. But I like to work on all areas and to keep on improving. This is one of the reasons I think why I am still playing good tennis and have been able to move my ranking back up in recent years. I think I am never happy and looking to find some area of my tennis to make better. Always!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
KZ: Well, I think my first WTA tournament when I won 's-Hertogenbosch on grass. That was a very nice memory. Another good memory was when I beat Monica Seles in the Australian Open and got into the Top 100 for the first time. Can I choose both?
Who has been your toughest opponent?
KZ: I would say Maria Sharapova because she's such a fighter. She is fighting for every point and that makes her the best player. I was close to her in Paris… but also far! Maybe next time!
What is your favorite WTA tournament?
KZ: Acapulco in México, I always like to play that tournament. It's great there; everything is on site, like the hotel and the beach and the swimming pool. It's nice not having to walk everywhere and, most importantly, unlike the Czech Republic or UK, it's always nice weather! The people who run the tournament are also really nice. It's just a great event.
How far did you go in your education?
KZ: I graduated what we call high school in Czech Republic. I was concentrating on marketing. And in my school this course was targeted at sports players.
Would you like to go into marketing after you finish your tennis career?
KZ: I don't think so. I would like to stay with tennis, as a coach or something like this, because I love the game and would love to stay connected to it.
How do you relax away from the court?
KZ: With my dogs! I love my dogs so much, so I'm going for walks with them and playing games with them. When I'm home, I'm with my family and my dogs and for me that the best way to relax. I also like to read and enjoy listening to music and go to the cinema with my husband. Just things like most normal people do.
Do you have a favorite film or book?
KZ: My favorite film is 8mm with Nicolas Cage. I don't know if I have a favorite book, but I mostly like to read love stories from Czech authors. But I don't think many people will have heard of them!
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
KZ: Hmmm… nice.
If you could meet anyone in the world who would you like it to be?
KZ: I would like to have met our ex-president, Vaclav Havel. I admire and respect him a lot because without him there would be no Czech Republic and I would love to have met him.