1. How’s your game right now?
Well, it’s OK. Obviously, it’s not on a professional level. I play a few times a week, you know, and that’s it. I’m just looking forward to being back in Chicago and playing with Jim and Jana and John. We always have a great time together.
2. How’s your back?
My back is fine. I’m not working out excessively, as a professional aims to, and it doesn’t really bother me when I’m working out for pleasure.
3. How’s Enrique?
He’s very good. He’s working and finishing his album up, so he’s going good.
4. Australian tabloids “report” that you guys are secretly married; are you married or do you plan to?
Huh? I think I’m a little young to be married, and I don’t really necessarily think about it much. I think that everybody can be together if they want to be together [as couples] and if they want to get married, it’s great, whatever. I don’t really pay much attention to that.
5. The Super Bowl’s going to be in Miami – have you been invited to see the Bears and Colts?
No, I don’t really have any plans to go yet. … I don’t really know [which team] will win. I’m not much of a football fan. I know so little.
6. What did you have for breakfast?
I had oatmeal.
7. Why is it the most important meal of the day?
It is, because you need energy for the rest of the day. It’s great for your metabolism, and it’s a healthy way to start your day. There’s no description of how healthy having breakfast is. It’s making a dedication to start the day the right way.
8. People in the media in the past have called you an overrated tennis player. But you were ranked as high as No. 8 in the world in singles, and at times have been considered the best doubles player going. Does it upset you that the perception was more or less opposite of the truth?
I tried to be immune to the criticism, because if you’re going to believe everything that they’re going to say, you can go crazy. You just have to think about what’s really important for you, and what’s the truth – and you know it – and that’s all. I did the best I could under the circumstances.
9. Was any of the criticism fair?
Probably. I can’t point to one thing, but yes. I criticize myself all the time, too. Nothing is perfect.
10. Why are you such a good doubles player?
Maybe it was just natural. I always had a game of mixing up shots with variety, and that works with doubles. It really works when you have good hands and you come to the net, so maybe that’s why.
11. What do you think of Maria Sharapova?
I think she’s great. She works hard; she deserves her success. She’s great for tennis.
12. What do you know about Chicago?
I’ve been to Chicago a few times, but I haven’t seen the heart of the city in a long time. I’m just looking forward to being in the cold and seeing the beautiful sky-scraping scene. I’m excited to be in a city with energy.
13. What is McEnroe like?
He’s great. He’s fun; he’s energetic; he’s got character. He’s awesome.
14a. Do you get back home to Russia at all?
Once or twice a year, I will stop by. But mainly my family comes here to visit, so I don’t really have much of a reason to go.
14b. Is there anything you miss that you can’t get here – food or a feeling?
To really experience Russia, you have to be there. So even if I had Russian food, it wouldn’t be the same. You have to be in Russia. But I’m really adaptable. I’m kind of used to bouncing around and traveling around. It really doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I’m with the right group of people.
15. Would you do anything differently about your career?
I think about that time, when you thought “it was the right way” to do it a certain way. I wouldn’t be where I am in my whole life if I hadn’t done some of the things I did. The only thing I wish really would have been different was being healthier. I had many disappointing injuries.
16. Would you do anything like pose for Playboy Magazine?
Oh my God. Right now? No! I don’t think so [laughs]. I’m sure I have been asked in the past, but my agents and people around me didn’t even convey the message to me because it’s not an option. It was never an option before, and it’s certainly not an option now. It’s not something I’m interested in. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. I just feel like I’d probably be too embarrassed.
17. The Sports Illustrated shoot you did a couple of years ago would be the extent of something like that?
Yeah, I mean Sports Illustrated … it’s all about who’s comfortable with what. I don’t think I would be very comfortable doing [a Playboy] type of thing.
18. Do you like attention less than you used yo?
When I was young, I really didn’t care about the attention. I definitely went with it. Now, in the past few years, I’ve become much more shy in the public eye. I try to [control] putting myself in that situation. I try to lead a normal, simple life and I don’t really, you know, go to many things. I’m not every day in public. Now it’s more restrictive that I go to events that I believe in and want to support. That’s when I put myself out there.
19a. What would you like to do with the rest of your life?
I’m still so young. I’m only 25. Only just now in the last couple years I’m experiencing a normal world outside of being a professional athlete – which is pretty narrow-minded. I’m exploring a lot of things. I’m doing a lot with the Boys and Girls Clubs; that’s really my main passion right now. We’ll see what will happen. I’ll just keep working with kids. That’s what I really enjoy.
19b. Would you like to have kids of your own, maybe start a family?
Someday, of course. It’s not something that I have, like, certain plans for, or anything. I don’t like planning things. I don’t like to jinx stuff [laughs].
20. In some ways, do you feel older than 25?
Yes and no. Every year I get older, I’m like, “How much smarter am I now, and how stupid was I when I was 18 or 20 or even 24?” I do feel older because I have experienced so much, I’ve traveled so much. In certain ways I feel older, and in certain ways I feel like a kid. I feel like, with every year [that passes], “Oh my God, I really didn’t know ANYTHING!” And I still don’t. It’s a mixed feeling. It depends on the topic. NW Herald