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Getting To Know... Yulia Putintseva

Yulia Putintseva learnt her trade at the legendary Spartak Tennis Club and now she's looking to follow in the footsteps of its famous graduates.

Published January 16, 2013 04:34

Getting To Know... Yulia Putintseva
Yulia Putintseva

MELBOURNE, Australia - Sokolniki Park in Moscow is just like any other park in the sprawling metropolis, with fast food stalls and aging children's play areas lining boulevards that dissect an overbearing foliaged wilderness.

However, tucked away in a corner of the park is its jewel: Spartak Tennis Club. The club's list of alumni is a veritable who's who of Russian tennis and includes Anna Kournikova, Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Myskina and Dinara Safina among its number.

Yulia Putintseva is the latest talent to have started out on the club's solitary indoor court, and after a sparkling junior career she is now making waves in the pro ranks. On Tuesday, the 18-year-old defeated Christina McHale on her Grand Slam debut, a result that edges her ever closer to a place in the Top 100.

The second round pits her against Carla Suárez Navarro, but before then, Putintseva has the small matter of a Getting To Know… with wtatennis.com to take care of.

How did you get into tennis?
YP:
Actually, I'm not sure - I don't remember a thing from when I started! I just remember that my father really wanted me to play tennis and I really liked it when he brought me there. From the beginning, I was playing at the Spartak club, where lots of great players like Myskina and Marat Safin have played. I was there for quite a few years, but when I won quite a big tournament at 14 I was invited to the Mouratoglou Academy in France. So I came there and I really liked it and have stayed there until now.

Who do you work with at the Mouratoglou Academy?
YP:
There I am working with my father and Simon Blanc, who's one of the coaches, and also with a couple of hitting partners, my fitness coach and so many more helpful people!

Does Martina Hingis ever help you out?
YP:
She's also sometimes doing work with me. I think she's great and I like her so much and I hope she won't get bored of working with me!

Was Hingis one of you tennis idols when you were younger?
YP:
Yes, for sure, although I also liked Dokic quite a lot - she was one of my favorites. But my number one favorite was Justine Henin - I loved her tennis and was all the time watching her on YouTube and stuff. I just loved watching her game as she had so much style.

What would you say are the strengths in your game?
YP:
I'm working on my forehand most of the time at the moment. I'm also trying to work on my serve and volleys because I think I need to go forward more. I think I have a patient game and like to move my opponent around the court and then at the right moment just go for it.

Do you play any other sports as part of your training?
YP:
Not really. I wish I could play football because I love it so much, but my father says it's dangerous and it doesn't really go well with tennis!

What's your best tennis memory?
YP:
Oh, there are so many. The tournaments that I've won from juniors until now were all amazing moments, and hopefully there will be many more feelings like it.

Do you have a favorite tournament?
YP:
I think Australian Open and US Open are my favorites.

So is hard your favorite surface?
YP:
Actually, no. I would say clay. I like Roland Garros, but the clay there is kind of different - it's very hard - and I haven't got used to it, so maybe I prefer other clay tournaments for the moment.

What are your goals in tennis?
YP:
I don't like to look too far ahead, so I am just trying to win every tournament I enter. It's not always possible, but that's my goal at the start of each week. I love tennis and winning. I don't really think about rankings, I just want to try my best and work as hard as I can each day.

What's the biggest difference between the juniors and the WTA tour?
YP:
Consistency. I think in the juniors I could drop my level and win but now I have to maintain the same level in my game. I think that's a little bit my problem, I'm still a little bit a junior in my mentality and that's something I'm working on.

How do you like to relax away from the court?
YP:
I like dancing! Also, singing - although I'm a terrible singer! I like to go to the movies, play cards, chess, reading.

Do you have any favorite books or movies?
YP:
Charlie St. Cloud - the book and the movie.

If you weren't a tennis player what would you be doing now?
YP:
I have actually thought about this a few times. Always when I'm losing the matches, I'm telling myself that I want to quit because I don't want to see the rankings and the court anymore. But then I think, 'tennis is my life, what would I do instead?' And I have no idea!

Where is your dream holiday destination?
YP:
I don't know, Hawaii, maybe.

If you could meet anyone in the world who would you like it to be?
YP:
Eminem, for sure!

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