Tennis Prose



Biofile: Dmitry Tursunov Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: Career best ATP ranking no. 20. Winner of seven ATP singles titles. Helped Russian win Davis Cup in 2006.

DOB: December 12, 1982 In: Moscow, Russia

First Tennis Memory: I don’t remember [laughs]. I was very, very young when I started. Since I played tennis, I don’t remember like one particular, vivid memory. I have snapshots when I was practicing when I was little. Nothing really, really concrete.

Tennis Inspirations: Like I said, I started very young. My dad really liked tennis. He was really a bit of a fanatic. And he always wanted me to play tennis. So I don’t think I had something that really inspired me to play tennis. It was just kind of always in my blood, meaning it’s always in my life, part of my existence. I never really thought what it would be like without tennis. It’s kind of like that, I guess.

Greatest Sports Moment: Hopefully it’s not there yet. A lot of people who talk to me, tell me about my match with Andy Roddick (2006 Davis Cup semifinal vs USA, won 17-15 in the fifth set). A lot of people watched it and enjoyed that match. It was pretty nerve-wracking. At the time I didn’t really think much of it. It was just a match. We were both very tired. I happened to win. We got a little bit lucky there. But maybe, looking back in a few years, I’ll be able to say that’s the greatest moment. But hopefully it’s not the last great match that I played.

Most Painful Moment: I don’t know if it’s most painful. There’s a lot of losses that you, I guess, don’t like to have. But maybe like a year and a half ago, I was losing it mentally. And I had some injuries and issues just in life in general. So it was kind of compounding and I started losing it a little bit. I had a few days when I was struggling but it’s kind of tennis related. So I guess that would be it.

Strangest Match:  I had against Jarkko Nieminen in Wimbledon. That was a pretty tough match to lose because I was down two sets to love and I came back and then we had a pretty tight fifth set. And there were just a lot of nerves and then that kind of translated to arguing with umpires. His racquets were flying all over the place. Both of us wanted to win it pretty badly. It was kind of a see-saw match. I ended up losing 9-7 in the fifth, something like that.

Closest Tennis Friends: From tennis…hard to say. I have a lot of guys that I’m friendly with, stay in touch and kind of hang out when we have time. I have a different definition of a friend. So I think, generally, people have a lot of acquaintances and there are few true friends that are really close friends. And you kind of find out who your friends are in tough times. So, luckily, I didn’t have the tough times to find out who my true friends in tennis are. But it’s also tough to be extremely friendly in the competitive environment, because we’re competing against each other. There’s a lot of Russian guys that I hang out with, and have a similar outlook on life…Igor Kunitsyn. Jarkko Nieminen is a pretty cool guy. I would say actually 90% of the guys I’m good friends with, each person has something the other person doesn’t have, so there’s never a dull moment [smiles].

Funniest Players Encountered: Michael Llodra is just plain crazy [smiles]. Nieminen also has a pretty good sense of humor. He’s from a Nordic country so you wouldn’t think that he’s overly hilarious but he’s pretty funny. Andy Murray has a pretty dry sense of humor. Really, a lot of guys are funny. Probably 80% of the guys have a decent sense of humor. But once they kind of go out there, we have to put on a mask because everything we say can be misinterpreted. And actually, (Marinko) Matosevic is a pretty funny guy. For him, it’s hard to find a politically correct line. He talks quite a bit which is kind of funny but, definitely, if you go saying things to the press, the people misinterpret it and they really don’t know if you’re joking or you’re serious. So a lot of things you say, they take very seriously when it was said completely sarcastic. 

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: I would say probably…I practiced with Wayne Ferreira when I was younger. He moved to Berkeley (California). I think he was married and is still married to a girl from Berkeley, so he moved there. He was practicing with the Berkeley tennis team. I went out there to practice with him. I think I had to meet somebody before that, I just can’t remember. I remember practicing with Andre Agassi but it was never really etched into my memory.

Favorite Sport Outside Tennis: Honestly, I’m not that big into sports. I like watching soccer highlights. I like watching hockey highlights. I like, I mean, any highlights are pretty good. Probably the reason why they’re highlights [smiles]. But nothing that I really love to sit and watch for hours. I don’t have that. I like cars. So I like to watch car racing but it gets pretty boring pretty fast. When you see cars going in circles and just go by each other. I would have much rather participated in it than watch it.

Why Do You Love Playing Tennis:  It is a job. First of all, it keeps me in shape. I get to travel as much…it is tough but it’s better than sitting in the office or coaching. I kind of look at it more as a learning adventure. I’m not an extremely competitive person but I think it lets me learn – in tennis and in life – how to deal with adversity, how to challenge yourself, how to better yourself. How to get rid of the boogie man in your closet. All the things you’re afraid of, you have to kind of confront your fears. And you’re able to work on yourself and better yourself. I use it as sort of a classroom for life.

Current Car: Right now I’m driving a Toyota Corolla rental. I had an Audi S8 in the States. And I still have it actually but I need to sell it. Because I’m not in the States anymore. I’m in Moscow. I’m driving my dad’s old E class Mercedes.

People Qualities Most Admired: I like it when people are able to differentiate a joke…just a sense of humor in general. I think a lot of people take things a little too seriously. They look for personal insults, sometimes when there is none. Just take things too seriously. There’s a lot of serious issues in life, everybody has to deal with them. But I think you have to be able to laugh at yourself. A lot of people don’t have the ability to look beyond their eyes and they take things a little personal and too serious. Definitely analytical ability is nice to have. And you can’t have what you can’t have [smiles]. I’ve run into a lot of girls that were not able to be very logical, you can’t really expect that out of a person that’s more emotional [smiles]. Just sense of humor, I think, is the best thing.

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