By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 19, 2021
Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek has been enjoying a Cinderella run at Roland Garros. At 85 in the world, she’s parlayed a trio of three-set wins to a run of a lifetime. The 23-year-old, who has a strong interest in psychology, has suddenly become a mental coach for two million Slovenians, says her coach Marjan Cuk.
She wants to be a psychotherapist, mental coach,” her coach told reporters on Wednesday.
Cuk said that he and the rest of Zidansek’s team approached her and told her that she can be a big inspiration for her country this week in Paris.
“Look, you are studying this [subject], but now you can be a mental coach for whole Slovenia,” Cuk said. “If you go to the court and you show the strength and you show the people that I’m here to fight, they will follow you. So you are a mental coach for two million people in Slovenia.
“That was our way, no? She was looking and said, Wow, this is the thing. Yes, now I understand a bigger picture, not just small one.”
Quote of the day courtesy of Marjan Cuk, coach to Tamara Zidansek.
On the team’s positive, fun vibes:
“We enjoy every moment of life. Why not? We are not turtles that we live 220 years. Let’s enjoy it, c’mon.” #RG21 pic.twitter.com/AC7fLy5wbv
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) June 9, 2021
Zidansek took out No.6 seed Bianca Andreescu in her first match and has been off to the races from there.
She will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the semifinals, and could become the lowest-ranked finalist in Roland-Garros history if she wins.
“Winning the first round was a big breakthrough for me,” she said. “I got a lot of confidence from that.” Zidansek is a remarkable story in Paris. In her first eight Grand Slam main draw appearances she had never been past round two.
Her exceptional forehand has driven her success. She cracked 34 forehand winners in her quarter-final win over Badosa, and has struck 109 forehand winners overall.
Her coach agrees that the forehand is big, but he warned that Zidansek is not a one-trick pony.
“Everyone is talking about her forehand,” he said. “I agree, this is really big weapon. But my opinion as a coach is that she have five pistols always, so she can play forehand, we improved a lot backhand, she can do a dropshot, sometime she go to the net. Variety of the serve is also quite much better than it was.”