Getting To Know... Daria Gavrilova
Published March 31, 2013 11:55
MONTERREY, México - The path from the top of the junior game to the professional ranks is rarely a smooth one. Lucky for former junior World No.1 Daria Gavrilova then that she is being guided along the way by someone who has been there, done that and got the t-shirt.
Gavrilova is part of Martina Hingis' training squad at the famed Mouratoglou Academy on the outskirts of Paris, where she has been based since 2009. A promising start to 2013 has seen her make a Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open and come within touching distance of joining fellow junior star and stable mate Yulia Putintseva in the Top 100.
This week Gavrilova is in México for the Monterrey Open, but before getting her campaign underway she sat down with wtatennis.com to discuss training alongside legends at the Mouratoglou Academy, Olympic glory and her love of cheese.
How did you get into tennis?
DG: I grew up in Russia, in Moscow, and we actually had a tennis club in the park nearby. My Dad and Mom wanted me to do sports so i started playing tennis there when I was six and a half and I really liked it.
When did you start to take tennis seriously?
DG: Everyone always said I was talented, but they had to push me because I was a lazy girl! I didn't like training much. I'm growing up now and getting there and starting to be more professional. But because I had talent, I was always serious with it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
DG: My father's name is Alexey and my mother's is Natalia. I have one little brother, he is nine years younger than me and his name is Stepan. Oh, and we also have a pet dog, who is a beagle.
Where do you train at the moment?
DG: I train in Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France and I've been there since I was 14, I think. It's a bit strange living so far away from Russia, and although obviously sometimes I miss home, I'm used to it now. But when I go home I don't really train so I get a little bit bored there. I train with Yulia Putintseva, Alizé Lim and a few other girls like Julia Glushko.
And who coaches you there?
DG: There is a coach, Sylvain Mathias. He doesn't travel with me, but every time I go there, he's coaching me.
Who travels with you on tour?
DG: On tour, it's just my dad and I always travel with him. He knows me better than anyone and he helps me a lot.
Do you enjoy training at the Mouratoglou Academy?
DG: I love how Martina is looking after me. It's great to have her advice and the fitness training I get at the academy is also great and it has improved my tennis a lot. Sometimes I get tired of training when I do long training blocks and at these times I just want to go to tournaments and start playing matches.
Did you have a tennis idol when you were younger?
DG: Yes, I had a few - it was changing all the time. My first idols were for sure the Williams sisters. When I was little, I was quite big and I was trying to be as powerful as them! Eventually I stopped growing so I had to change my game and then I really liked Martina Hingis' game and also Kim Clijsters, and I tried to copy them as I think it suits me.
What has been your career highlight so far?
DG: Winning the youth Olympics in 2010 and then also winning junior US Open and finishing the year as No.1.
Can you describe you style of play?
DG: Martina Hingis is helping me sometimes and I'm playing with her racquets right now so sometimes I'm telling myself, 'what would Hingis do now?' So I'm not trying to play exactly like her, but just kind of use her style. I'm trying to play smart and my serve also is not too bad!
What's your favorite surface?
DG: Hard. I particularly like the hardcourts at the Australian Open. They're not so fast, so it's good for my timing, but not so slow that you can't put the ball away.
And favorite tournament?
DG: Australian Open.
What are your short-term goals?
DG: I would like to play in the main draw of all the Grand Slams. And then also to improve my game and try and finish as high as I can in the rankings, although I can't really say in numbers!
How do you relax away from the court?
DG: Just the usual things, like seeing friends and doing things with them.
Do you have any favorite books or movies?
DG: Yeah, I read all the Twilight saga. I'm not really good with the movies - I don't even remember the names! I like to watch some movies, though, especially at tournaments.
And favorite food?
DG: Umm, Sushi. And I love cheese - I can eat anything with cheese!
How did you get on at school?
DG: Honestly, I hated school! I'm bad with focusing on some things and I couldn't sit there all day. I was always distracted and always in my world thinking of something else!
Do you know what you'd be doing if you weren't a tennis player?
DG: Not really. Since I started playing, I was pretty good and my goal was always to be a pro tennis player and it's hard to think back to before when I was six!