US Open 2014 – Peng Shuai: “I almost stopped playing like three or four years is really tough with the mentally” - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Interviews

US Open 2014 – Peng Shuai: “I almost stopped playing like three or four years is really tough with the mentally”

Avatar

Published

on

TENNIS US OPEN – 2nd of September 2014. P. Shuai d. B. Bencic 6-2, 6-1. An interview with Peng Shuai

 

Q. How are you feeling in this moment? Have the emotions hit you yet?

PENG SHUAI: Well, was really happy, exciting that, and then also my body feel like it’s tired because it’s like one half awake, and even mentally, because before I play singles and doubles. But still really happy, I think. Excited. Yeah.

Q. To be in your first Grand Slam semifinal and you haven’t dropped a set in this tournament. No one has taken more than four games from you. How does it feel to be going to your first semifinal in a Grand Slam and playing as well as you are playing?

PENG SHUAI: Well, it’s really happy what I did it now. And then thinking from the beginning year I was doing lot of fitness and also like I keep practice, try to improve my game. Maybe this time I find a way or I catch like right time. I don’t know. And then just try to like do what I can do on the court, and then — maybe before in the match I was like tight or nervous, afraid to play, but this time, for this moment, I feel myself was quite okay.

Q. How confident are you feeling now with the results that you’ve had?

PENG SHUAI: Well, I think from like last couple of matches, I think — end of the match I think is really like tough decision even I play with Aggie. Yes, two set, but also have a big chance maybe she come back in second set. Even Vinci were like really like close to the point and a lot of rallies. I didn’t realize thinking just like two set or how many they win the game. I feel in the match it’s really like tough. And then after court is different then, so I think for now is I just try to rest and then be focused more when they coming. Yeah.

Q. Zheng Jie made the semifinals of Wimbledon and Li Na obviously took majors. Why do you think it took you a little bit longer to reach this career result?

PENG SHUAI: They are both really good tennis player, and even Zheng Jie which is really good also in doubles. Everybody have different situation with their different career, because, you know, because it’s not a short time. More than 10, 20 years. When from like when turn pro I have really good first two years, but after years I get really, really tough situation with my tennis. I almost stopped playing like three or four years is really tough with the mentally. A lot of tennis, but in the moment, you know, I want to like enjoy that. And then slowly, slowly, slowly like my team tell me to keep going, like to make like a first way I play tennis I dream about it. Then after, 2011 I have really good year. Reached, yeah, best in my singles ranking. And then after I have like many injury. Then still like, you know, I don’t know, it’s just like really tough the situation. And then just try like what I can do and keep working. Was really happy this time.

Q. When was the lowest moment for you when you thought that you might actually stop playing?

PENG SHUAI: One time was my 12 years old and then one time is in the 2006. Yeah. These two times actually is kind of like I almost stop played. Because my 12 years almost was doesn’t have that much choice, because the doctor was telling me maybe I have to stop it. But is really lucky, you know, like I can come back and play. And 2006 was also big another challenger, and then finally I maked it.

Q. What do you remember of your match played versus Errani?

PENG SHUAI: You mean doubles?

Q. No, in singles.

PENG SHUAI: Singles, okay. I play her in Charleston. It was like really also close, the match. I don’t remember two set or three sets. Actually I think it was like — and the clay court is her best court. And then she’s big fight and then she move so well. Yeah.

Q. You said when you were 12 the doctor told you that you might not be able to keep playing tennis. What was wrong with you? What was that moment like for you?

PENG SHUAI: Is heart surgery when 12 years when I make it. It’s a little bit tough to explain in English. I’m sorry for that. After I stop, because one year with surgery and then after I was okay to check me for play with sport.

Q. What was wrong with your heart?

PENG SHUAI: It’s a born from the natural, my mom, and then and it’s, how do you say? You know, was like, you know, the blood one way with the air way is not, and then is something mixed it. Yeah, so they have to make the separate.

Q. Did you also, maybe not, couldn’t continue when you had a bit of a dispute with your government about funding? Was that a point in your life where maybe you wouldn’t have continued playing?

PENG SHUAI: Another tough question (smiling). Yes, tennis in my country start slow. Is not like Europe or U.S. like the long history. So maybe I catch in the moment. It’s like they also want to like what is professional tennis, and they also like how to building good player and then maybe we like catch like — I feel the time should be like go to my way; they feel like is go to maybe their way. And then — but I think from government, they like want to be play good tennis, have good result. So maybe from different angle and everybody is thinking or feeling different it. So after they have a fight. But the good news we maked it or find a way, and now is going really good.

Q. You beat Kim Clijsters in 2005. Kim said she believed you could be a top 5 player. Did that put pressure on you? How good do you feel your best is?

PENG SHUAI: I still really remember the match. Is also one of the amazing time for me. It’s almost like 10 years. It’s long time. I didn’t feel not as old as it, so I still try and I still looking forward, try my best, keep going working hard, and then do what I can do.

Q. When you look at what you’ve achieved in doubles with Grand Slam titles and now a singles semifinal, would you trade one for the other? At the moment, which is bigger for you, what you’ve achieved here or what you’ve achieved in doubles? And also, have you heard from anybody back home? Has Li Na sent you any messages or anything?

PENG SHUAI: Actually is, you know, like a little bit funny, because before, when 2011 I make the my best ranking with my singles and then you know, like I have good feeling. So after I go with my partner like start from last year with the Wimbledon, and then this year French Open. They ask me, Are you singles player or doubles player? I feel I’m tennis player (smiling). And then so now is good. I show them I play both, singles and then doubles. And then singles is myself always like a big challenger, you know, with all the tennis, you know, tennis player. But doubles is the two person. The thing is not like one way. So all the time I play with her I will try my best, because sometime they ask, Oh, if you play singles, doubles, how you going to do with your body, with your energy? Are you going to give up the doubles or fight with the singles? No, I just — when they coming, I try like what I can do with her. Because if I don’t play with her, I will say to her, same like in Montreal. I’m like from quallies Montreal and the Cincinnati, but when I in the doubles I will still play with her. I gave up the Cincinnati, because we are lose the Cincinnati doubles and I go play the New Haven. Like, how do you say, I have nothing to, how do you say, because I was in singles I give up. Same like yesterday. I’m try, but, you know, like it’s really tough. We are lost 6-7 and the 4-6. My body actually is I feel is dead, so dizzy in the court. So for sure I would like focus more with my singles. But if I enter to my partner, okay, I try my best. And then so in the future I still love to play doubles, so basically I need to work more with my fitness and be more stronger. Yeah.

Editorial

EXCLUSIVE: How The ATP Plans To Make The Tour More Welcoming For LGBT Players

The governing body of men’s tennis has received praise for taking a proactive approach to the topic with the help of a leading LGBTQ+ organisation and a top research university.

Avatar

Published

on

Guido Pella during a Men's Singles match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Manuela Davies/USTA)

During the first week of the US Open, there was an abundance of rainbow-theme flags and wristbands worn by both players and fans to mark the tournament’s first-ever Open Pride Day.

 

The event was part of the USTA’s Diversity and Inclusion strategic platform which aims to make tennis more inclusive. Unlike the women’s game, there are no openly LGBTQ+ players on the men’s Tour and there have been few historically, even though various players have spoken of their support for anybody on the Tour who decides to come out. Including Stefanos Tsitsipas and newly crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who were questioned about the topic following their second round matches. Meanwhile, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed that there is an ongoing survey related to LGBTQ+ issues being conducted by the ATP.

“Recently I’ve started doing a survey inside the ATP about the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “It’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open-minded and the ATP needs to do that, in today’s time it’s needed.

“The reason we don’t have openly gay players on the ATP Tour, I’m not sure of the reason, but I feel me, as a player, it would be very open, very welcome. Statistically, there should be some, but for now there’s not.”

In response to Auger-Aliassime’s comment, UbiTennis looked into the work currently being done by the ATP alongside two other parties. Their decision to venture into LGBTQ+ representation on the Tour is part of their recent commitment to support the mental health and wellbeing of their players and staff. Last year, in May, they formed partnerships with Headspace and Sporting Chance.  

The survey currently being conducted by the ATP started after the governing body of men’s tennis reached out to Lou Englefield, the director of Pride Sports, a UK organisation that focuses on LGBTQ+phobia in sport and aims to improve access to sport for all LGBTQ+ people. Through their connection, they contacted Eric Denison, a behavioural science researcher at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences. Denison was the lead author of the Out on the Fields study, the first international study on homophobia in sport and the largest conducted to date.

“I have been personally impressed with the initiative of the ATP and their desire to find ways to mitigate the broad impact of homophobic behaviour (in particular), not only on gay people, but on all players.” He told UbiTennis during an email exchange.

“We know of no other sporting governing body in the world that has been proactive on LGBTQ+ issues, and has taken a strong focus on engaging with both the LGBTQ+ community and scientists to find solutions.”

Denison says the norm has been for sports bodies to address this issue after they have been either pressured to do so or if the LGBTQ+ community got the ball rolling themselves. Incredibly, research conducted as part of the Out On The Fields initiative documented 30 separate studies which found sports organisations ignored discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ people in sport.

Monash University has supplied the ATP with a series of scientifically validated questions, which they are using to ‘look under the hood’ at the factors which supports a culture where gay or bisexual players feel they are not welcome. The methodology is similar to a study Denison conducted in 2020 that focused specifically on the team sports rugby union and ice hockey.  

“We suspect that tennis isn’t inherently more homophobic than other sports, or traditionally male settings. Instead, there is a disconnect between people’s attitudes towards gay people (e.g. the recent pro-gay comments by top players) and their behaviour, specifically their use of homophobic banter and jokes,” said Denison.

“This behaviour, which is largely habitual, creates a hostile climate for young gay/bi people who drop out or hide their sexuality. This means gay/bi players are invisible in youth tennis and leads to the downstream problem of no professionals. The banter/jokes continue because people think it is harmless.”

The hope is that players will also agree to be interviewed by the researchers for them to get a better understanding. All of the results will then be used by Pride Sports and Monash University to recommend evidence-based solutions. It is unclear as to how long the study will take or when the findings will be ready. 

Former top 100 player Brian Vahaly is one of the few players to have been both openly gay and played at the highest level of the men’s game. However, he didn’t fully come to terms with his sexuality until after retiring from the sport at age 27. Speaking to UbiTennis earlier this year, Vahaly shed light on the potential barriers for gay players.

There were a lot of homophobic jokes made on Tour. It’s a very masculine and competitive environment,” he said. “You don’t see a lot of gay representation, except for the women’s Tour. With me not having the personality of an outspoken advocate (for LGBTQ+ issues), certainly not in my twenties, I needed some time to understand myself. To me, in tennis I didn’t feel like there was anybody to talk to or anybody that was going through anything similar.”

The ATP has spoken with Vahaly about their initiative and he has become ‘quite involved.’ Through their discussions, he got acquainted with Denison for the first time. As a professional, Vahaly peaked at a ranking high of 64th in the world and won five Challenger titles. After retiring from the Tour, he has served on the USTA’s board of directors since 2013. 

“I am happy to hear that the ATP is finally taking action to address this issue.  I’m impressed they are taking a thoughtful, data-driven approach to make a meaningful difference here,” he told UbiTennis. 

The ATP aims to make the men’s Tour more welcoming to potential LGTBQ+ athletes playing either now or in the future. For those who question if such an initiative is important in 2021, you only have to look at the younger demographic.

Sportsnet quoted CDC data from 2019 which showed that 26% of American LGBTQ+ teenagers aged 16 or 17 has contemplated suicide, five times more than those who identify as straight (5%). Among those teenagers who heard homophobic terms, 33% self-harmed and an additional 40% considered doing so.

More than 2000 players around the world currently have an ATP ranking.

Continue Reading

Featured

2020 Tokyo Olympics, Djokovic on the heat and the new scheduling: “I’m glad they listened to us”

Speaking to Ubitennis, the world number one describes the work that he, Medvedev and Zverev (among others) have done to obtain better playing conditions

Avatar

Published

on

By

So far, the tennis tournament at the 2020 Olympics has made headlines less for the match-play than for the difficult conditions in which it has been taking place due to the heat and the humidity. In the women’s draw, for instance, four players have been forced to retire during their matches: the last one has been particularly shocking, as Paula Badosa was taken off-court on a wheelchair after collapsing late in the first set of her quarter-final match against Marketa Vondrousova. Luckily, these issues appear to have finally caught the attention of the International Tennis Federation: starting tomorrow, no match will be played before 3pm (7am in the UK).

 

Part of the credit for this (still belated) decision goes to the lobbying and the complaints of the players, as world N.1 Novak Djokovic explained while speaking to Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta in Tokyo: “I’m glad the decision was made to reschedule tomorrow’s opening matches at 3pm. Today we went to speak to the supervisor – when I say ‘we’ I mean myself, Medvedev, and Zverev, along with the team captains. I have spoken to Khachanov and Carreno Busta as well, so the majority of the players who will feature in the quarter finals was of the same opinion.

“Of course I would have wished for this decision to be made a few days ago, but it’s still a good thing,” he added. “Nobody wants to witness incidents like the one that occurred to Badosa.

“The conditions are really brutal. Some people might think that we are just complaining, but all resistance sports (and tennis should be included among them) are taking place later in the day because the combination between the heat and the humidity is really terrible.”

He then concluded: “I’ve been a professional tennis player for almost 20 years and I’ve never experienced such hard conditions for so many consecutive days. It may have have happened once or twice in Miami or New York, but just for one day, whereas in Tokyo the situation is like this every day. I think that this decision will benefit the fans as well, because playing later allows us to play our best – these conditions were just draining for us.”

Article by Lorenzo Colle; translated by Tommaso Villa

Continue Reading

Interviews

Mats Wilander Exclusive: Matteo Berrettini Will Win A Grand Slam

UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta speaks to the former world No.1 about Berrettini’s historic win at Wimbledon.

Avatar

Published

on

Matteo Berrettini (ITA) celebrates as he beats Hubert Hurkacz (POL) in the semi-final of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 11 Friday 09/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Florian Eisele

Swedish tennis great Mats Wilander has praised Matteo Berrettini for his run to the Wimbledon Final during a one-to-one interview with UbiTennis.

 

25-year-old Berrettini has become the first Italian man in history to reach the final of the Grand Slam after beating Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-4. Throughout the clash he was impressive behind his serve where he fired 22 aces and won 86% of his service points. This year he is unbeaten on the grass and is currently on a 10-match winning streak following his triumph at Queen’s last month.

“Breaking the first game of the fourth set is to me the sign that we all look for in players. Whatever happens in the third (set) should not matter and he came straight back,”Wilander tells UbiTennis.
“That’s my indication that he will be one of the best players in the world. He will win a Grand Slam one hundred percent, for sure, if he stays healthy.”

Wilander’s bold prediction centres around Berrettini’s game on both grass and hardcourt. However, he is less optimistic about his chances on the clay at present until his backhand becomes more powerful.

As to why the former world No.1 has so much confidence in Italy’s top player, he says it is his ability to not expose his weaknesses during matches. Drawing parallels between him and Roger Federer. The player Berrettini comprehensively beat in straight sets earlier in the week.

He knows how to hide his weakness and most great players know how to hide their weaknesses. Roger Federer is the perfect example. His backhand compared to the serve and the forehand. He stays alive with the slice and he comes over (to the net) sometimes when he has to,” he said.
“I think Matteo has figured out that he can stay alive with the slice. But the difference is that he is willing to slice and come in. He’s also double the size of Federer at the net so it is difficult to pass him.”

It wasn’t until the age of eight when Berrettini started to focus more on tennis after being asked by his younger brother to play more. As a professional he has won five ATP titles since 2018 and is the highest ranked ATP player from his country since Corrado Barazzutti back in 1978. He is coached by Vincenzo Santopadre, Marco Gulisano and Umberto Rianna.

“I would be so encouraged if I was coaching him. For the coach it must be like oh my god we are looking at a player who has (good use of his) hands and hides his weakness though the rest of his game,” the seven-time Grand Slam champion commented.
“I don’t why it has taken him a bit longer (to break through). I know he started a little bit later but I think he’s a natural at the big moments.”

On Sunday Berrettini faces the ultimate test against Novak Djokovic who will be seeking his third consecutive Wimbledon title and sixth overall. He has lost to the Serbian twice before on the Tour, including the French Open earlier this year. The Italian enters the final as the underdog but Wilander thinks he shouldn’t be underestimated.

“I think he has a good chance, I really do because that serve (of his) is different and he has a different forehand. He is not afraid to stay alive,” he concluded.

UbiTennis’ full interview with Wilander can be listened to below

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending