Maria Kirilenko: Me and my racket
The Russian talks about her Yonex RQiS 2 Tour, Anna Kournikova, extra long vibration dampeners and how she will smash the odd frame if things don't go her way
Do you remember your first racket?
Yes, it was an adidas racket. It was my father’s. He gave it to me when
I had to go to the club for the coach to see how good I was. It was blue, I think.
How long have you used Yonex rackets?
I started playing with [Yonex] rackets when I was 13 years old. Since that time I changed models a lot. I’ve had this one for three years, since 2008.
When did you first take an interest in what racket you used?
When I started playing seriously I had a Prince, but then I had the desire to play with a Yonex because one of the girls I played with in the same group got a Yonex and I was dreaming of getting one too! I wanted so much to play with a Yonex because I saw Anna Kournikova playing with one too. When I turned 13 I got one and I was so happy!
What do you look for in a racket?
I look for stability in a racket, so when I hit the ball I have control of the racket and power.
How many rackets do you travel with?
How many do you take on court?
Today, for example, I had five rackets on court.
Have you ever lost any rackets?
Yes, I went to Croatia during the off-season to practice for three weeks when I was 16. I was practising and then I recognised at the hotel that one racket was missing and I remembered that I left it on court. When I went on court the racket wasn’t there. A woman had it and we had to call the police and then she gave it back!
Was she a fan?
No, she was just passing the court and she took it!
What grip size do you use?
And what strings do you use?
Yonex polyester [Polytour HS 125].
What tension do you string them up?
I’m trying to change the tensions depending on the surface and it’s also to do with the air. When it’s wet, I go 26/24 [kilos], when it’s dry – when the sun is shining, when it’s hot – I go one kilo more so 27/25. Today, the surface is quite fast and the ball is flying and I went 26/24 so, I don’t know, it’s also dependent on your feelings.
Do you use a vibration dampener?
Yes, I can’t play without one! I have quite a long one. The smaller ones, quite often they just fly away! I had to ask Yonex if they had a longer one!
Have you ever smashed a racket?
I try not to, but yes, of course!
When was the last time?
This year at the Australian Open. [Victoria Azarenka] and I lost our doubles final [against Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko] after having big chances – we were up a set and 4-1. We lost the match and then I had to play a mixed doubles semi-final and when we lost match point
I smashed my racket because I was still thinking about our doubles final. I missed one ball and then I smashed it so badly!
Yeah, if I win a match with one racket, then I use that same racket for the next match. So I try to play the whole tournament with
that one racket!