You may not have seen this interview with Sergiy Stakhovsky over the weekend – I had not, but I’m grateful for the link sent my way.
Reading through the interview, which was translated from this original Ukrainian article, Stakhovsky candidly details life as a non-elite face in men’s tennis. And the picture he paints isn’t a good one. The 26-year-old, who has earned over $2.3MM and ranks No. 71 this week, opens up about the the struggles of being a pro tennis players and the issues swirling in the sport.
I encourage everyone to read the full text on the Let, Second Serve blog. Here are some highlights to wet your appetite:
On prize money tennis:
I’m in the negative after the IW and Miami Masters. About five thousand. And that’s while reaching the second round in Indian Wells.
This year I’ve been flying economy. From London to Dubai and back I flew for 1200 Euros. And we can’t order tickets in advance. In addition, you can’t give up the cheap tickets. Often, we buy the tickets on the day of departure. And those are completely different numbers.
In a year, I spend 170 thousand Euros on the “game expenses” category. Last year, only the tickets cost me 85 thousand. I earned $428 thousand. Take out 30%, on average, for taxes.
Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray – that’s simply another world. … We simply don’t exist in comparison with them.
Players who aren’t inside the top-20, don’t have any money, except for the prize money. Contracts, clothes – that’s all for the top-5 or top-10 players.
On the slowing of the courts:
This year, the fastest courts were in Dubai. We came to Indian Wells with the hope that the courts will be at least the same as last year. But they laid a new surface, and they became super-slow with high bounce. In Miami it’s the same, and additionally the balls fluff out more because of the humidity.
Actually, the courts used to be too fast, and they decided to slow it down to make the game more colorful. But they overdid it. And nobody really liked the final in Australia, which lasted 6 hours. … The fastest court was in Bercy. … And now, even in Wimbledon the grass grows the wrong way – to slow down the game.
Federer plays a less physical tennis. Someone has more God-given talent; someone has more of something else. For me, Nadal is more talented in terms of discipline and hard work. Thanks to that he became the No.1 player at the time. But Federer – that’s a tennis player from God, a talent which found “his own” sports field.
Everyone learns from Federer. In 2006-2008, Roger moved tennis in an absolutely different direction. He played so quickly that everyone followed him. But then the slowing down of courts started.
On Federer v Nadal, off court, rift:
(Roger’s) a good person, but too neutral for my taste. He’s too Swiss. He wants to keep out of any bad stories too much. When players want to change something, he looks at it too passively, because it can harm his image.
I respect Nadal more in that context, because he openly supports the players’ interests.
(Nadal) wasn’t offended by Federer, exactly. He was disappointed that his ideas – useful for the tour, as he thinks – aren’t heard.
Federer says the same, just not in the presence of all the other players. He doesn’t want to speak publicly about certain things. Because if suddenly there’s a scandal with the boycott of Grand Slams by players, it can be connected to his name.
In fact, Nadal didn’t leave because of Federer, and the players’ council, for the most part, doesn’t decide anything. It’s a consulting body. But there are three people who represent the players in the ATP. And Rafa thought that they didn’t defend the players’ interests in the extent that they should. And about certain things, I’m prepared to agree with him.
On having his kids becoming pro tennis players:
if I had kids now, I’d never send them to play tennis … If I didn’t make it in the top-100 – what next? I mean, I become a tennis instructor, and what life is that? To be on court from 8 till 8 for the rest of my life, to play with amateurs? Yes, it can be financially rewarding, but it’s a hell of a work.
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