Anna Chakvetadze: Recovered & Ready
Published December 27, 2011 12:00
MOSCOW, Russia - It has been a difficult last couple of years for Anna Chakvetadze, with several problems on and off the court being thrown at her - the latest being an inner ear inflammation that sidelined her for almost the entire 2011 season - but the talented Russian is over it all and feeling strong for 2012.
At the start of 2011, Chakvetadze seemed on her way to the upper echelon of the WTA. She had already been there, after all, making it as high as No.5 during a breakthrough 2007 season that saw her win four WTA titles and reach her first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open. But adversity struck in Dubai, as she was leading the No.1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the second set of their second round match when she collapsed and had to retire due to illness.
"When I got sick in Dubai I was in very good shape," Chakvetadze said. "I was finally enjoying the way I was playing. I was feeling the ball great. I had found my game again and was really ready to compete. But then I got sick."
The illness would soon be diagnosed as dizziness, and Chakvetadze would end up playing just three complete main draw matches the rest of the year, retiring from two matches and withdrawing from 11 other events due to the ailment.
Never one to back down from a fight however, Chakvetadze continued to look for the root of the problem, and was eventually able to put an end to it.
"Doctors found an inflammation in my ear and connected it with the dizziness. I had to take medication for it, for a while actually. I didn't expect that it would take so long to get over it, but I did it. When I felt ready to play again it was already almost the end of the season, so I just decided to wait until the new season to play again. It was disappointing, but my health is the most important thing, and I hope I'll be able to do some good things in the new season.
"I'm 100% healthy now. It doesn't bother me anymore. I'm completely over it."
With her ranking down at No.232 it could be a steep climb, but just like any player who misses an extended period of time, she will have some help.
"I can use my special ranking for eight tournaments, so I'll be doing that in the first part of the year. Then we'll see what happens," the Russian said. "Of course it's going to be physically tough to start playing tournaments again because I wasn't training at this level for a long time, and right now I can't do three practices a day like I used to, but I feel so motivated to be back. I miss playing, I miss hitting the ball, I miss competing. I've found my motivation again and if I didn't think I could do well again, I wouldn't be coming back.
"I will be leaving Moscow on January 2 to go to Australia. My first tournament will be in Hobart. I have good memories from there. Again, I understand it will be tough, but I have nothing to lose and will try my best."
There will be at least one thing different about Chakvetadze upon her return: she is now involved in politics. "While I was away from the game I wanted to try something else besides tennis. I was always interested in politics, but if you told me a few years ago I'd actually be involved with it, I would never believe it! I was working with the Right Cause Party in Russia. I met some new people and really enjoyed myself. It was great to try myself in a different world.
"While I will do something if my party asks me to, right now my priority is sport. I spend my days on the tennis court. Tennis comes first for me."