Checking In With... Galina Voskoboeva
Published August 12, 2011 12:56
TORONTO, Canada - In 2009, shortly after reaching the third round at the Australian Open, Galina Voskoboeva rose as high as No.64 in the world. But while she went on to finish the season inside the Top 100 for the second time, injury interrupted the six-foot-tall Kazakh's progress: in the first five months of 2010 she didn't win a main draw tour match, and then didn't play at all after Roland Garros. This year, though, the 26-year-old has cut her ranking from No.528 to No.135 - winning an ITF event at Casablanca, reaching the quarters at Pattaya City, and defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova en route to her first WTA semifinal at Baku. Now, having scored her first Top 10 wins over Marion Bartoli and Maria Sharapova to reach the quarters at this week's Rogers Cup, she is set to go higher.
We caught up with Galina after her third round defeat of Sharapova at Toronto, ahead of a quarterfinal clash with Victoria Azarenka.
Galina, congratulations on a great week. What's clicked for you here?
GV: I'm very happy, but it's not like, you know, a miracle, because I have been working really hard. In tennis, you never know what will happen - in Russian we say the ball is round, so everything can happen. Yes, my ranking is low, but it's for a reason. My last match against Maria was tough, three sets, so I knew exactly what I had to do. What changed? Probably this time I was feeling more confident, because I've been playing good matches. And of course I had nothing to lose. But still Maria is a great player, a great fighter.
Tell us what happened last year.
GV: Last year, I can't really count it as a professional year. Even the first half that I played, it was as if I hadn't played. Because I had pain in my right shoulder the whole time, and I was taking painkillers to go and play. Finally I couldn't serve, I couldn't play high balls on my forehand, I couldn't play slice backhand… in all other respects I was a good player but that was definitely not enough for winning matches!
What did you do to address the injury?
GV: After the French Open, when I stopped, I didn't know what I would do. I thought I would probably need some treatment, and to rest. And actually that's what I did. I went to the rehab center and spent a few weeks doing different exercises, but then it didn't help and I had to have surgery. It took me seven months to recover from that... it was difficult. This year I started to play again but my ranking was as low as No.650, so it was almost like I was starting my career from the beginning. I was competing in the qualifying of 25K events, which was not that easy.
You're probably going to be back in the Top 100 on Monday. Did you expect to go this far so quickly?
GV: At the beginning of the year I didn't expect anything. I was happy to come back, because in the beginning of the year, when I started to play tournaments, my shoulder was still hurting. I had to be philosophical about it - just said I can't practice anymore… it's gonna be what it's gonna be. It will hurt if it will hurt. And when it stopped hurting, it was great, because finally I could play at 100%. It was difficult to expect too much because after such a long break, you don't know what's going to happen. But I could understand that I was still capable of playing well, that my confidence was growing, and that I was winning against good players.
Has your attitude to tennis changed as a result of your time out?
GV: Well, starting from small tournaments, I'm happy that I'm playing big ones again! I'm enjoying it very much, because it's easier to understand that it's great work, and it's a bonus. I think I appreciate it more than the years before. And now, I don't think too much about what my ranking is going to be. I'm just enjoying that I can go and do very good shots and play good points. It's nice that people like it. Of course I want my ranking to be higher, but frankly speaking, a few months ago I wanted my ranking to be higher so I could play qualifying at Wimbledon. I was happy that instead of playing qualifying at 25s I was playing qualifying at Wimbledon!
You've been working with Alina Jidkova, who retired from the tour not so long ago. Tell us about that.
GV: We started working together at the beginning of the year for two-and-a-half months. Then we were not together for four months, but we got together again at the tournament in Baku. Alina is helping me mentally and also to use all my strengths during the match... making sure that everything I can do in practice I move into my matches. It helps a lot that she played recently - she can feel the pressure of the situation. I'm happy that we are working togther and doing well. It doesn't happen that often that you find someone with whom you feel comfortable, confident. We understand each other.
When you were away from the tour, what did you miss most?
GV: It sounds strange, but I can't say I was missing tennis really much. Because I was so stressed after this injury, and I was so tired because for over half a year I had to play with pain, that I needed the rest. Of course, I didn't expect that it was going to be seven months. But on one side it was good that I had this rest, because I needed it for my head. I think it's helped me.