Da Vinci Code
Originally published on: 05/08/13 00:00
Italian Roberta Vinci is one of only a handful of players on tour to have achieved success in both doubles and singles. The 31-year-old currently sits at No.1 in the doubles world rankings and at a career-high No.12 in the singles list, while boasting eight singles titles and 19 in doubles, including the Australian Open, French Open and US Open.
Along with partner and compatriot Sara Errani, the pair were crowned last year’s WTA Team of the Year. Quite possibly one of the most humble world No.1s in sport, Vinci lets us in on the secrets to her success and offers her advice to doubles players of all standards.
Vinci on being one-handed… When I was young I had a two-handed backhand but I had a lot of injuries and pain in my wrist so my coach asked me to try playing with one hand. I don’t know why I always play slice [off the backhand] but it’s probably because I wasn’t powerful enough [to hit topspin] when I was younger. Now I always play slice and this is probably the key to my game because nobody plays with slice. [Their] points are always flat and boom, boom, boom. Sometimes I play with a topspin backhand when I’m feeling confident but normally I play slice, chip and charge, get to the net. I’m a different kind of player.
Vinci on making sacrifices… When I was young it was difficult for me to travel all around the world, every week. A lot of hours on the court and outside the court there were no friends and it was so difficult. But I had passion for the game and I would say, ‘Come on, this is your life. Try to do your best and to become a top player. You have to do this.’
Vinci on her idols… When I was young my idol was Martina Navratilova, for sure, and Stefan Edberg. I liked them because they both came to the net and I like to play serve and volley, and with slice too.
Vinci on cracking the top … I changed my body. I did a lot of gym work and I lost a lot of weight and I practised a lot better than I did a few years ago. I practice hard and a lot. I am much more consistent than when I was younger. And also, of all my game, probably my forehand is what’s much better than it used to be. That’s probably why I got into the top 20.
Vinci on doubles partner Sara Errani… We started to play in Fed Cup and now we have won three Grand Slam titles. It’s unbelievable. When you play doubles, especially with your best friend, it’s much easier to play. We are great friends off the court, we are like sisters. So when you go on court I know her exactly and [can tell] when she’s a little bit tight or feeling a little bit of pressure and I can say something that will probably relax her.
Vinci on what it means to reach No.1.… It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing being No.1 in the world. My family were unbelievable and so crazy. They were so happy because we think doubles is as important as singles.
Vinci on advice for junior players… It’s tough but you have to believe in your dreams and try to do your best. I know it’s difficult to become a top player but if you have the passion and you can work hard then you can do it.
Vinci on Roberta Vinci… Maybe you will have to ask Sara about me. Or my coach. Mmm, I’m a simple, simple girl – nothing special. I’m nice to other people and I like to be helpful.