Life has come a full circle for 36 year old Francesca Schiavone , having started her professional career in 1996 , the Italian who can be termed as a " Young veteran " has been playing tennis for nearly 20 years now . Starting at a low of 945 in the world in 1996 , Schiavone went on to achieve her career best ranking of World No 4 in Jan 2011.
Having been the champion at Roland Garros in 2010 and then being finalist in 2011 , Schiavone has seen and been a witness to two decades of tennis. Schiavone who won a WTA tour event in Rio De Janerio this year looked as fit and determined to give it a shot and extending her career.
Knocking out former title winner here and seventh seeded Sorana Cirstea in the opening round presently ranked 102 Schiavone who finished finalist at Tashkent in 2000 is on a mission to claim the crown she lost 16 years ago.
She spoke to the Tashkent Open Media Team after her win today
About your match today ?
Schiavone : This match was tough one , Sorana is coming back ,I had had to play good tactics and win every point , I played well and feel confident.
What are your memories of Tashkent Open ?
Its nearly 16 years since I was here , I have Great memories of Tashkent , The city has changed a lot from what I saw then , It's great to be back ,
You have been in tennis for a long time what are the changes you have observed
Tennis now is much more physical , One has to play minimum 20 shots in a rally , the matches are longer one has to play for around 3 hours , tennis is going faster and faster . In the future a player who will be faster , has different shots will make the difference in the sport.
Also earlier a lot of young players were there today I feel the overall age of players playing the tour is up , many players in their 30's are winning matches and events and if one is fit they have an opportunity.
Players were younger in the sport then and under lot of pressure , there was no time to relax because of busy schedules commitments and many of them also burnt out faster . But now I realize players are taking time to practise, be physically fit , and ensure longetivity in the sport and playing for longer time spans. " (1.66 m
On personal level you started young and now are still hanging on , the difference you feel as a player?
Obviously things change , when you are young you can fly from US to China and back to Us and back to China without much thought Flights were easy then but now at 36 you make different decisions and ensure you get rest , practice and fresh for competition . One learns to work at an easy pace and enjoy the game which is what I'm doing now.
You have experienced everything a player can from being a ITF player , to the top 10 to now the top 100 , it must be difficult for a player of your stature to go through this ?
Smiles, Yes quite true , when you are top 10 it is different level , different money , different services , different satisfaction , as your ranking drops and you are in 100 everything changes in life , the entire system changes you are no more as special you were , but I love the sport and still enjoy playing
What makes Francesca go at 36 ?I play because I enjoy . I'm happy to play tennis even now. It's tough , there are some decisions on has to take about their careers some time , and I decided to continue playing . I would like to thank god for Keeping me healthy and allowing me to still play at this level.
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