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Lena Daniilidou: When I enter the tennis court I only think about the victory

02 October 2010 / 10:10:01  GRReporter
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I met Lena Daniilidou on the tennis courts of ITF Athens Open 2010. The 28 year-old tennis player is in great shape and is very close to repeating last year's success at the tournament. Together with the Croatian Petra Martic in doubles she managed to beat the Spaniards Estrella Kabeza Candela and Laura Post - Theo with 6-0, 6-7 (3) ,10-6 and to qualify for the quarterfinals of the tournament. Minutes before our conversation she also beat the Greek Stamatiya Fafaliou. As I sat and watched the girls play on the court I witnessed a scene that can rarely be seen in tennis. After the end of the match, the two players not only shook hands over the net, but exchanged also kisses. A sign that off the court the opponent are friends. About the victory Daniilidou said to be happy, but as a whole it is not easy to play against a friend...

Lena's career started promising. When she was only 14 years old she is already champion of the country. At the age of 20 she became the first Greek player ranked among the 32 best in the tournament in Melbourne, one of the four of the Grand slam. Her first professional title came in 2002 in Holland, when during the finals of the Hertogenbosch tournament she defeated Elena Demendieva 2-1. The greatest success in her career she registers in 2004 when in the tournament in Dubai she defeated the American Jennifer Capriati, one of the greatest celebrities in the world tennis. In 2004 she participated also in the Olympic delegation. In the pairs Lena Daniilidou together with Christina Zahariadou lost against the French Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Piers with 2-0, but individually she managed to beat Magdalena Maleeva with 2-1, in spite of the trauma in the hand she had during the third set. In 2003 and in 2004 she won the tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2006 she won the tournament in Seoul, when in a dramatic match she was able to defeat the Japanese Ai Sugiama, number 27 in the world and No. 4 in the ranks of the tournament.

Outside the court Lena is a sensitive soul. Inner emotion of the great tennis player is perfectly reflected in her website. She loves the sea and music, and if she had not become a tennis player, she would have been a doctor. Daniilidou is an exceptional person, and the meetings with outstanding people are always exciting.

In the break between the individual match with Stamatiya Fafaliu and the doubles with Christina Barois and Anna-Lena Groenfeld she agreed to talk to us.




During last year's ITF Athens Open you reached the finals individually and in doubles. Do you think this year will repeat your success of 2009?

Lena Daniilidou: When you participate in a tournament your goal is certainly to have success. To win the tournament... This time the struggle was most difficult during the first round. We had a very tough draw, the match was difficult. Today my opponent was Greek and it certainly was not easy. Moreover, I know the player. We are friends and that makes things more difficult. The game was not as good, but the victory is a victory and this is what ultimately matters. Towards the end the matches are getting less and certainly my goal is to play in the Finals.

Who is the toughest opponent in the tournament for you?

Lena Daniilidou: Every match is tough. I love to compete in Greece. There always is some stress, which, however, does not reach the uttermost. In each game I try to have fun and give the best I can. But every match is tough, all players come with the same goal-to beat me. So I always have to be focused on my goal.

You have got a lot of success in your career as a tennis player. Which one is most important to you?

Lena Daniilidou: Of all the grand slams in which I participated for me the most exceptional one remains my participation in the Olympic Games. But there are other games that are different... Such was the match with Monica Seles for example. These are the games with some big names, world No 1, Top 10 or Top 20. Surely they are different and I will remember them forever.

The most difficult moment in your career?

Lena Daniilidou: The most difficult moment was when I got the injury. Most times I get injuries during a match. These moments I will surely remember because they are special. I try, however, not to think about them. I am healthy, I do what I love, nobody forced me for anything... I will try to compete while I personally have desire.

What did start your tennis history? At the age of 14 you have already been champion of the country?

Lena Daniilidou: It all began quite accidentally. We lived opposite to the Poseydonos Sports Centre in Thessaloniki. I was 9 years and a half. I was permanently spending myr leisure time there. I was also playing other sports. I played basketball for example. One day a tennis coach came and told me: "I see that you are here every day. Do you want to try to play tennis?" "Okay. Why not?" – I said. It all began from there.

Tennis is a lonely sport. What is your way to deal with the loneliness on the court?

Lena Daniilidou: Loneliness in tennis is not just on the court. We're on the road about 35-40 weeks a year. Missing from your family, your friends and your personal life is not something small. All these things you have "limited". But I am very happy to have such parents and such friends who are always beside me.

Do you have a mascot? Or people who if they are in the stands you know everything will be fine?

Lena Daniilidou: As I said earlier, my people are always with me at the matches and I look at them all the time. I am very happy to have such parents and friends who support me. And I will continue to support me.

You're a sensitive person. As you enter the court, however, you succeed to let this quality of yours aside and concentrate entirely on defeating the enemy ...

Lena Daniilidou: When you go on court, the purpose of each match is to win. The point is that in this sport in order to go to a tournament you have to play 5-6 games. In Grand slam 8. But every day you wake up differently and feel differently. Today, for example the whole day before the game was different from yesterday. Last night I fell asleep late, as I couldn’t fall asleep. But now I must be here and play. These are the difficulties of our sport. I do not think there is another sport with so many competitions. Our tournaments and competitions are 45 weeks a year. If you can take that physically and mentally that’s great... Every day you have to be under pressure and trying to give the best you can.

How do you relax?

Lena Daniilidou: I rest with calm stuff. By spending time with my closest people. I miss them, I need them and I have great time with them. I love cinema and music. I especially love the music. Because I miss my vacation, whenever I have one or two free days I try to do something different.... I like windsurfing, for example. Overall I love the sea. But I do really calm things.

Your plans for this season?

Lena Daniilidou: The year is already ending, there are only 3 tournaments left. It wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t the best. As I said, however, now I'm healthy and this is very important. If I manage to keep healthy I think the new year will be better.

Tags: Lena Daniilidou tennis ITF Athens Open 2010 tournament solid ground sport
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