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Nikolay Davydenko Blogs From Pörtschach

Nikolay Davydenko© Getty ImagesNikolay Davydenko Leaves Austria

Sunday, May 25, 2008

From Pörtschach to Paris: on a high after winning a title in front of my family, I travelled from Klagenfurt to Paris by private jet. It was amazing and very interesting as there was no checking in, no waiting in an airport lounge for the flight.

We pulled up in the car, gave our bags to a steward and hopped into the six-seater plane. Five minutes later we were starting out two-hour journey to the French capital. It’s only the second time I’ve been in a private plane, because it does cost a lot of money. Ronnie, my manager, told me it cost €2,000 per hour to hire.

My brother Eduard was more than happy to travel by train to Germany where he’s going to pick up extra equipment for me; check in on things at home then head by car to Paris with his wife. There really was no jealously or jokes from Eduard when he knew he’d be travelling by train.

Today has been very relaxing. I checked into the same Paris hotel I have used every year and have only practiced a little because I’m scheduled to play my first round match against Thomas Johansson on Tuesday. Of course Thomas enjoyed success with Sweden yesterday in the [ARAG ATP World Team Championships] final in Dusseldorf and will also be on a high. But Paris is a new tournament and is different to Poertschach and Dusseldorf with a different paced court and tennis balls. We’re both going to be confident and we’ll both know it is a tough first match. Head-to-Head

Thank you for reading my blog this week, I’ve really enjoyed it. Wish me luck at Roland Garros!


Saturday, May 24, 2008  
Last night the tournament had a nice dinner for the guys in the final and there were a lot of sponsors and people at the party. I had my table of family and friends. We had a good time and my fitness trainer Rolf (Shaaf) and I wanted to change faces. I looked like him and I gave him my tennis stuff and he looked like me. We finished around 11 and then I had a massage until 12 to prepare for the final today.

After two three-set matches on Thursday I was tired yesterday. And today I was feeling tired in the warm-up when I hit for 20 minutes. But I felt much better when I went on the court and during the match. I played very good and it was not easy but a good match and I feel very confident going into Roland Garros.

It was the third time I won here and it was easier the last two times (2005-06) and I am happy to win playing longer matches this week. It's really relaxing here and it's a small tournament, small town and good organization. It feels great and winning my 13th title before Roland Garros is very good for me.

It's a nice feeling to win a tournament with support from my family and friends. It's the first time my parents have seen me win an ATP title outside Moscow.

After finishing the press and taking some pictures, I am going to the sauna now. It has a swimming pool and it's good to relax.

I will stay here tonight and fly to Paris tomorrow at 2 o'clock on a private jet that my manager (Ronnie Leitgeb) has arranged. There's no direct flights from here to Paris so flying just two hours tomorrow with my wife, nephew and trainer will make it easier. I won't be so tired from the flight. Eduard and his wife and my parents are going tonight to Germany by train. Eduard needs to pick up some stuff for me at home in Cologne and he's driving four hours Sunday to Paris. My parents are going back to Russia.

In Paris, there will be six people in our team (my wife, Eduard, his wife, my nephew and trainer).

I will check in with you again tomorrow from Paris with my final post!



Friday, May 23, 2008  
Hello everyone,

Another quick post tonight as I'm about to go to a 9 p.m. gala dinner with the other finalist, Juan Monaco, along with the tournament sponsors and staff. From my side there will be nine of us in all, so it will be nice not to have to pick up the cheque for a night! When you've got a big group with you like I do this week I need to keep some extra cash on hand for dinner because I don’t like using credit cards. It's just the Russian mentality with cash. Sometimes at dinner if I don't have enough cash with me I'll ask Eduard to take care of it.

Today Guillermo Vilas came up to me to say hello, which was nice. "I've just seen your father and he's fit, just like you," Vilas said. I was surprised that he knew what my father looked like. He must have met him last year. It's great to see Vilas here and I see him a few times during the year. It's funny... The man is everywhere. He probably goes to more tournaments these days than when he was playing :)

Today there was a lot of time spent just waiting. Waiting for the rain to clear and waiting for the long first semifinal to finish. But the good thing here in Poertschach is how close the hotel is to the courts. I can see center court from my room. And the players lounge is in the hotel.

Wish me luck for Saturday's final.


Thursday, May 22, 2008  
Today was about the tennis and getting through to the semifinals. It was a very long day with two three-set wins that really tested the nerves of my family. I therefore apologize for this short post today, but I thought it best to let you know that I’m exhausted and ready for bed rather than skip my blogging duties completely.

John Isner tested my returning abilities by hitting 21 aces in total, but I took my break point opportunities and was relieved to head to the on-site restaurant for a bowl of pasta with a win under my belt. Andreas Seppi, who reached last week’s semifinals in Hamburg, tested me in the afternoon but I’m glad to have gotten through it in one piece.

I’ve had some fish and potatoes for dinner with my family in the hotel restaurant and have gotten Rolf, my physio, to give me a massage to relax my muscles. Looking at this photo, I seem to have dozed off.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008  
I had another day off from matches today and with better weather I was able to practice outdoors for 90 minutes, then I headed to the gym, enjoyed the sauna and a swim. As I haven’t caught anything in three days I decided I shouldn't go fishing, but I did finally pick up my laundry! Fresh clothes were needed.

It really has been a relaxing day, but with Eduard and Philip here to practice with they put me through my paces. Eduard has been my coach since I was 11 years old and when I turned professional in 1999 he started travelling with me. I have never contemplated hiring another coach; Eduard understands me, my life and style of play. After all, he is a good player himself so it isn’t a case that he picks up tennis balls and gives advice. He hones his own game hitting with me. He’s been tremendously supportive in tennis and in life.

Tomorrow I might possible play two matches in a day. For sure it will be tough, because if I win I’ll be back on the court inside 90 minutes. The good thing is I’m confident and if I do play two matches it will stand me in good stead for five set matches at Roland Garros next week. Rolf, my physio, worked on my muscles again today and got me into fighting shape. He’s far better as a physio than he is on computers: I had to help him install a web cam on his Skype today.

I’m a big fan of social networking sites and keep in contact with my Russian friends and fellow players such as Marat Safin, Igor Andreev and Dmitry Tursunov. I have my own laptop and my wife Irina has her own too. We don’t have Internet in our hotel room, so each night the hotel lobby turns into one big Internet ‘café’ or a players lounge. All the players can be seen huddled together surfing the net, chatting to friends and generally having fun. It was the same in Hamburg too.

You might have heard that there’s a big soccer game on tonight. It’s the Champions League final, Manchester United versus Chelsea in Moscow. As a Russian, a compatriot of Roman Abramovich and a fan of Andriy Shevchenko I am hoping that Chelsea win. Fingers crossed they do!

Wish me luck tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008  
It might have been raining from the time I woke up until 5pm, but it wasn’t frustrating for me. On my day off, I got to train at the gym for one hour and practice on an indoor court for 90 minutes. For the players competing today, it was terrible… and a terrible day for fishing!

Yes, you’ve guessed it; I’ve been out on the lake again today and caught absolutely nothing! I blame it on the weather. I promise you it hasn’t always been that way. I once caught my father, Vladimir’s, nose with my hook, when casting the rod, at the age of six. There wasn’t any blood, but I cried because I was so scared! My mother and brother thought the whole incident was hilarious.

You see my father has always enjoyed leisurely pursuits and at the age of 59 he likes to relax and watch Russian television programmes. He worked in a factory until 10 years ago. He certainly is different to my mother, Tatjana, who lives her life at 500 miles per hour, never sits down for five minutes and - if you ever visit Portschach – could be your tour guide. In the three days we’ve been here, she has walked around every street and visited every historical monument. She has so much energy.

This week is quite unique to have my whole family here, so I haven’t spent a great deal of time on-site socializing with the players in the lounge and playing card games etc. Tonight we went to an Austrian restaurant. Although I haven’t signed many autographs this week, as Portschach is very, very quiet, I did hear the restaurant owner ringing up his friends and perhaps rival eateries to say he had “Davydenko in his restaurant.” The other funny thing that has happened during my short stay here is that half the people I talk to have asked me about the house I have supposedly bought in Portschach. Yes, it is a lovely and quiet place to be, but I can hand-on-heart say that I haven’t bought any property here.

Normally today I would have watched John Isner, my next opponent, compete but due to the weather I was unable to. We won’t be meeting until Thursday, so I’ll have another practice with Eduard and Philip before I face the big-serving American. I’m in a confident mood right now and well remember my win over John at Indian Wells in March. Like my dad, I’ve had a relaxing day today, so I am hoping the sky clears and I can practice outdoors tomorrow.


Monday, May 19, 2008  
I've been enjoying the spas at the tournament hotel here in Austria, but I must say they do things a lot differently than in Russia. Back at home they separate the men and women, but here not only do men and women take spas together, many of the hotel guests don't have anything on beneath their robes. Which all makes for some interesting sites. At times it's like watching the Playboy channel. Some of the guests don't like the idea of us wearing shorts, but I'm not ready to adopt all the local customs just yet!

Call me conservative, but I am just not ready to bare all at this point. As you can tell in this photograph (which shows Eduard, his wife, Philip and me) we all have something underneath, and that's the way it's going to stay! This foot spa is one of four or five spas we have to choose from. It's very relaxing.

Today I won my first-round match and after that I did half an hour with my German fitness trainer Rolf Shaaf. It's a great situation because with Rolf (pictured left) I have a fitness trainer and physiotherapist - who can give massage - all rolled into one. We started working together last year and he is with me around the time of Grand Slams and Masters Series. He's a funny guy and also a good friend.

After that I had a rest and then practised for one hour with Eduard and Philip. So no time for fishing today.


Sunday, May 18, 2008 

Hello again! Welcome to my blog from the Hypo Group International in Pörtschach, Austria. It sure seems a long time since I last blogged from Beijing in September 2006.

I arrived in Pörtschach with my wife, Irina, and other family members on Saturday afternoon after a four-hour trip from Cologne. I first played at the tournament in 2002, when it was contested in St. Pölten, and have returned every year since because I like the atmosphere. The town is very small and quiet, the hotel is within walking distance from the stadium and it really provides perfect preparation for Roland Garros. I’ve also been lucky to pick up a couple of titles here!

My confidence has definitely been fuelled this year by big wins such as at Masters Series Miami in March, and it has been tremendous that Irina, my nephew Philip and brother and coach Eduard have been able to travel with me during the season. Philip is 15 years old and unfortunately lost in qualifying for the event on Saturday, but he has helped me prepare for many tournaments this year, icnluding Indian Wells, Miami and Estoril. This has also helped him get a sense of playing on the ATP circuit. It will stand him in good stead in future years.

Eduard and I practiced for 30 minutes on Saturday before rain spoiled our preparations. We trained again today for only 10 minutes outdoors before running for the indoor courts. After two hours we decided to try our hand at fishing – I was mucking around a little when I tried on my father’s glasses. I just wanted to see what I looked like. We didn’t have any luck and after one hour returned to the club for further practice. With variable conditions, particularly as this time of the year, it can dent your confidence if you play in windy or damp conditions. This week the aim is to win matches and arrive in Paris feeling good about my preparations.

Tonight I’ll take the family to an Austrian restaurant for dinner in the nearby town. It’s been raining so much since I have been here that I apologize for not writing a great deal about what I have been up to in this first blog.



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