The Last Time... Radek Stepanek
Australian Open 2008
by ATP Staff|
Czech Radek Stepanek is one of the funniest guys on the ATP Tour; he loves nothing better than to share a laugh, impersonate a fellow player or instigate a practical joke in the locker room. On the court the former World No.8 has become well-known for his signature 'worm' celebration. Below, Radek discusses the last time...
I hired a tennis court?
In December 2005 I paid $1000 to hire a court for a month in Prague to practise during the off-season. I was not at all surprised that I had to pay that amount.
I played a match that no-one watched?
When I was young my parents watched every match I played, so I always had at least one or two spectators! But I don't think I've ever played a match that no one watched.
I didn't have my credential with me and I couldn't get to where I needed to go?
I lose my credential nearly every week and they won't even let me into the stadium, so I have to keep getting a new one made. In the first week of the year in Adelaide I lost the room key to my hotel eight or nine times. But they let me go because they got to know me after the third or fourth time.
I changed the home page on my computer?
I am a computer novice. I'm happy if I can log onto my email account, so whatever home page is on the computer, I leave it. The home page is www.seznam.cz
I spoke with my hero, Ivan Lendl?
I had lunch with him at a Chinese restaurant just before Christmas. I had noodles with seafood and he had a lot of stuff he probably didn't eat during his career. He lives in the next neighborhood to me in Bradenton, Florida. I looked up to him when I was younger and he was the one who brought professionalism to the sport with his conditioning.
I was asked if I was a tennis player?
I had some people on the flight from Los Angeles to Australia ask me what I was doing. And then I met some of the same people in the hotel in Adelaide, so it was quite funny.
I broke a string?
I'm not someone who changes racquets every nine games. I play five sets with the same racquet, so it's not unusual for me to break a string, and it always seems to be the fifth string from the left (on the mains) that breaks. In fact today I broke a string (in a second-round win over Andreas Seppi in Sydney) and I also broke a racquet. I didn't throw or smash my racquet; I just hit a running forehand where the racquet touched the ground.
I visited a country for the first time?
Paraguay three years ago when we went to South America for Davis Cup. The life there is very tough for the people. But we had a good time - we won 5-0.
I played a practical joke in the locker room?
Last year in Barcelona I imitated some players in the locker room. I think they liked it. I also did it in the players' lounge in front of about 40 players, so it was quite funny. I would imitate whoever they told me to do. I also did some imitations with Djokovic in the locker room in Adelaide last year and also in Paris.
I asked someone for their autograph?
I asked my best friend to get the autograph of [NHL star] Jaromir Jágr. He signed his jersey 'To my best friend, Jaromir Jágr 68.' [Jágr wears the number 68 in honor of the Prague Spring rebellion that occurred in Czechoslovakia in 1968, also the year in which his grandfather died while in prison.] I'm thinking of putting it on the wall. I would like to get Bono's autograph. If I could meet him, that would be a dream.
I almost missed a celebrity I wanted to meet?
I met Wayne Gretzky and I think it was the only time in my life when my hand was sweating. But I almost passed him by. I was walking from the locker room to the players' lounge in Los Angeles in July 2007. It can be dark in that tunnel. Right before I turned into the lounge, a guy from the ATP grabbed me and pulled me to the side. Next thing I knew he was introducing me to Wayne Gretzky. He really is "The Great One," and I almost walked right past him! I didn't even know what to say to him.
I had a bad hotel experience?
I played a Challenger tournament in India seven or eight years ago. There was a big hole under my door and when I woke up in the morning I found two or three animals under my bed. That wasn't such a nice experience.
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