5 Minutes With… Yaroslava Shvedova

by Nicholas McCarvel

2011 China Open - Day 3World No. 73 Yaroslava Shvedova has been ranked as high as No. 25 in the world and owns seven doubles titles, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010. The Kazakh made inspiring runs at the French Open (as a qualifier) and Wimbledon a year ago, the latter which included a “golden set” (she didn’t lose a point) against Sara Errani. Earlier this year an arm injury set the former top 5 doubles player out for six weeks, making the New Haven Open at Yale her first event since Wimbledon earlier this summer. She plays in the final round of qualifying Sunday. We caught up with her after her second-round qualifying win.

New Haven Open blog: Update us on your arm. How is it feeling?
Yaroslava Shvedova: On MRI, it’s all healed and it’s getting better. I don’t feel that pain that I had before since it was bothering me in Stuttgart through Wimbledon. It was a long struggle and I had one month completely out of tennis but that helped me and I’m happy about that. Today I had some other issues, but it’s only because I haven’t played in so long and been practicing no more than one hour since I’ve come back. I’m very happy to win a couple matches here and see how it goes. For now my goal is to just get my game back. I’m not looking at the U.S. Open or anything – I just want to play well.

MORE: Catching Up on Qualifying | Puig on a Mission | Draws, Order of Play

NHO: What did you do to keep yourself busy during your time off?
Shvedova: It was nice [laughing]. I was at home with my family and it was nice to have them supporting me. I did a lot of fitness work, but not on the court. I did a lot of photo shoots for my sponsors, which was nice timing [smiling]. And then I went to Sacramento and was practicing there for a few weeks with my coaches. It was nice just to be there and focusing on my game. I’m feeling like I’m in good shape and am very happy to play well here. Even though I was planning to come here and not play good [laughing], I’ve surprised myself.

NHO: We saw on your Twitter that you undertook a project that includes sending an autographed photo of yourself to any fan who asks for it. Tell us about that.
Shvedova: I had some time off so I went to a store and ordered over 500 photos and I autographed all of them and put it on my Twitter and Facebook and my web site saying that if anyone wants my autograph, I will send it to them. I know that there are a lot of fans who can’t travel and go to tournaments and they’re still following and I’m thankful for them. A lot of people have written, so I sent them from Sacramento.

NHO: So you’re actually addressing each one? And mailing them yourself? Wow.
Shvedova: Yes [smiling]. I go through the addresses and write them, seal the envelopes and go to the post office to mail them. And I ask my fans to take pictures of it when they receive, which a lot of them share on Twitter. From all over the world, I got responses: India, the Philippines, China, Japan, the States… everywhere. I had some fans from military bases that asked me to send photos as well.

NHO: Well, that’s awesome. We want one too! So, if you had to pick – since you’ve had success in both – which would you play, singles or doubles?
Shvedova: It’s hard to say. For now, I want to do well in singles, so I’ll pick that. It’s hard to choose. Before in doubles I was playing just to have fun, but it worked well because I was in the top 5. Now I’m focusing on singles, but my doubles helps my singles game. But maybe when I stop singles, I will play doubles again.

NHO: Of all the places you’ve traveled in the world, which is your favorite stop on tour?
Shvedova: I love history in cities. Here, for example, having Yale University you can feel the history in the buildings and the architecture. We don’t go to very many cities like this. I love Melbourne. It’s so young and open and relaxed. Every year I stay in the same hotel there and it’s an apartment so we can cook breakfast or just relax at home. In 2011, I had surgery there and I was walking to and from the Australian Open tournament site for rehabilitation. They didn’t give me a car because I wasn’t in the draw, but it’s a 15-20 minute walk and I loved it.

NHO: You’ve had some fantastic results on the singles and doubles court. What is the one moment of your career that sticks out, if you had to pick just one?
Shvedova: The golden set at Wimbledon. It was a great historical moment in tennis. I wasn’t aware of what was happening. No, no. I was just playing. The first ball of the second set I missed a shot and all of the crowd started to clap very loudly and I was confused. I thought maybe they were bored that it was 6-love and I was playing against a top ten opponent [Sara Errani] who was a Roland Garros finalist. I was just playing. After my match I was cooling down and my coach comes to me and tells me I didn’t lose a point, but I thought he meant I just hadn’t hit any unforced errors in the first set. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s good.’ And he was like, ‘No! You didn’t lose a single point.’ I was like, ‘It’s not possible!’ But then they checked with the tournament desk and it was true. I couldn’t believe it. I saw on YouTube the video of the end of every point. It was crazy.

NHO: This is just your second time in New Haven, but have you found a favorite spot yet?
Shvedova: I love Claire’s Corner Copia. I had the gluten free risotto and gluten free margarita pizza and my coach’s son had his birthday there and they made this delicious cake.

NHO: Awesome. Are you gluten free now?
Shvedova: I started one week ago! [Laughing.] It’s good. My mood and my energy are solid. I want to see how it goes. I’m reading this book Wheat Belly about healthy eating and what’s best for your body.

NHO: Well good luck with the new eating regiment – and the tennis! Thanks, Slava.
Shvedova: Thank you.

WATCH Yaroslava Shvedova‘s “golden set” at WImbledon last year against New Haven Open at Yale top seed, Sara Errani:

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