Catching Up With... Sanda Mamic
Published March 27, 2008 12:00
Three years ago Sanda Mamic was one of the brightest young stars on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, reaching quarterfinals at Budapest and Seoul on her way to cracking the Top 100 by the end of 2004. However, disaster soon struck the young Croat, as a spate of injuries put her fledgling career on hold for the best part of three seasons. At the beginning of this month she made her long-awaited return to action on Tour at the Canara Bank Bangalore Open, winning her first round match before falling to No.1 seed Jelena Jankovic in the last 16.
sonyericssonwtatour.com caught up with Sanda on the comeback trail to hear her story and how it feels to be back in the spotlight once more.
You spent a few years away from the Tour; how does it feel to be back?
Two and a half years away was pretty tough and at the moment it's kind of hard to enjoy being back as I'm still trying to adjust my head to playing competitive tennis after so long away. It's like a totally different world as there are so many new faces since I last played in Portoroz at the end of 2005.
How did the injury come about?
Well, back in 2005 I played pretty much the entire season with pain in my wrist and even after going to the doctor many times, they couldn't find anything. The more I played, the more pain I felt and it distracted me from my game so much that I was thinking of stopping tennis because there seemed to be no fix.
Eventually I found a good doctor in Austria and he found there was a problem with my nerve jumping around and he cut the nerve ending, but when I returned to playing again there was still more pain. Then I had another surgery because a cyst had developed, so I had to have my arm cut open again. I hoped this was the end of it, but then after all this work my immune system must have taken a hit and I got mono and I had to just stay in bed for a few months.
What did you get up to during your time away from the game?
Well after these endless visits to surgery, I decided I couldn't force it. Just take it one step at a time. Play occasionally and just try to ease myself back. But there was also a long time when I couldn't lift a bag, let alone hit a serve, so I lived a totally different life for a while. Like I started studying IT at university and got really into web design and worked for my friend who set a company up in that.
Did your injury break give you time to do some other things perhaps you wouldn't have done if you had been playing tennis?
Well of course it is a totally different life off Tour. As well as my studies, I got up to so many cool things. Like I did loads of horseback riding and got to follow football which I also really like to do. It gave me time to focus on things away from tennis for a while, maybe just live the normal life of a young person. Although at the same time it was so difficult to be away from tennis, as I love the sport so much and I always have such fun on court and it was hard to live without this for so long.
How has the injury affected your game?
I have had to adapt my game since coming back. I used to have very flat powerful forehand, but now I hit with much more spin so as to protect the wrist. Coming back is difficult and I have had to try and stay positive and build up my self-confidence again.
What are your goals for the season?
I'm not sure, after experiencing the last few years like I have, life is tough to predict. All I can promise is that I will give my all and hope to stay injury free. Me and my brother, who is also my coach, have set an aim at getting back into the Top 200, so anything better than that would be amazing. Obviously to be out for so long is frustrating, but I just have to work hard to get back in shape, go to the gym to get completely fit. Maybe I also need to play smarter tennis as being so tall and thin I think I'm pretty fragile!
Are you still friends with any players from your first stint on Tour?
While I was away I didn't have much contact with girls. But I was quite close to Jelena [Jankovic] before I got injured as we are from the same part of the world, the same age and our brothers are also friends. I'm a pretty outgoing and friendly person so I'm hoping it won't be too difficult for me to fit it and make friends on Tour.
Croatia and Serbia have both had a lot of success in tennis recently. What do you think is the reason behind the success?
It's strange, as Croatia and Serbia are both pretty small countries. I mean Croatia's population is just 4 million people, but we won the Davis Cup and have always had good players, especially in mens tennis, like Goran [Ivanisevic] and [Ivan] Ljubicic. I don't know if there is any one reason, but we are strong at most sports. Maybe it is something in the air!