Getting To Know... Darija Jurak
Published May 23, 2013 12:00
Some players make their tennis breakthrough in a blaze of glory. For others, the path to the top is a slow and steady one.
Darija Jurak has taken the second route and now, 13 years after turning professional, she is enjoying the most successful spell of her career. This season, alongside doubles partner Katalin Marosi, Jurak has reached the final in Oeiras, as well as semifinals at the high-profile events in Sydney and Stuttgart, results that have propelled her into the Top 40 for the very first time.
But what makes her tick on and off the court? Well, wtatennis.com found a small window in the 29-year-old's busy schedule to sit down and talk tennis, the Top 10 and the Stones.
How did you get into tennis?
DJ: I got into tennis by accident! When I was about five, I used to spend all winter ice skating and I realized that when summer arrived I had to find something new to keep me busy in the school holidays. My dad said I should try tennis, so I did that and I liked it very much from my first time playing!
Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
DJ: I don't have a sister or brother. My dad's name is Darko and my mum's is Nevena. They work for an electronics company and are both geniuses! If something is broken, like for example a PC, they will fix it. They also helped with setting up the new trams in Zagreb!
Who is your coach at the moment?
DJ: I'm working with Franz Leibinger and we've been together for five years! I have to say, though, my dad has had big influence in my tennis life - when I don't feel good or not happy with my tennis or life he can lift me up and has helped me to grow up as a person and player. Without him I would not be where I'm now.
How would you describe yourself as a player?
DJ: I'm someone that is playing very aggressively. I also have good mental strength and I'm a hard worker.
Who was your tennis idol when you were younger?
DJ: My idol was Steffi Graf, in the way she handled herself both on and off the court.
What is your favorite tennis memory?
DJ: My best tennis memories are some of my wins against the top singles and doubles players, like Srebotnik, Peschke, Zakopalova, Safarova, Pavlyuchenkova and Stephens. I think my wins against those type of players will always stay with me.
Who has been your toughest opponent?
DJ: For me, in one way or another, everyone is a tough opponent with a different game style. Against every player I have to give maximum on court and that's what I always try to do.
What are your goals in tennis?
DJ: My goals in tennis are always to do my best in practice and to try and reach as consistent a level as I can on court. I also am always looking to get stronger mentally and physically so I can deal with all the matches we have to play each year. If I can do this, hopefully the results will come and I'll soon be in the Top 10!
What's your favorite surface?
DJ: I can't say I have favorite surface as I like to think I'm an all-court player!
How about your favorite tournament or city?
DJ: For tournament, it would be Stuttgart. And my favorite city would be Melbourne.
What do you like to do for fun?
DJ: For fun I like to try lot of different things, but only if I have time! I have a long list, like learning how to cook, swimming, going for bike rides, driving fast cars when I get the opportunity, planning some crazy surprises for my friends, going with my best friends on holidays and finally just spending some nice time with family.
Do you have a favorite book or musician?
DJ: Yes, my favorite books are Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert, The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I like lots of singers, people from Katy Perry and Bruno Mars to Bon Jovi and Elvis. And for bands, I like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, ACDC, Aerosmith, Santana, Abba and many more!
If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
DJ: If I have to describe myself in a few words, I would say I'm a hard worker!
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you like it to be?
DJ: I would go for Brad Pitt and David Beckham because I would like to see if they are as smart as they are good looking!
If not tennis, what career would you have chosen?
DJ: If not tennis than I would be a doctor for young kids. It was always my passion to help sick kids and those born with difficulties.