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The Last Time... Radek Stepanek

Australian Open 2008

Radek StepanekGetty ImagesRadek Stepanek last won an ATP title at Los Angeles in 2007.

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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