Pennetta Carries Italian Flag

DUBAI — Flavia Pennetta may not be the poster girl of tennis, but the current world number 11 is the torchbearer of the sport in her country.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 18 Feb 2010, 12:30 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:53 AM

She was the first Italian ever to reach the top 10 in the world of women’s tennis. And the soft-spoken Italian doesn’t shy away from admitting that she is indeed proud of the achievement.

“Last year, you know, I made it to the top 10. It was very nice,” Pennetta told Khaleej Times after her 6-4 6-1 first round victory over Hungary’s Melinda Czink at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday night.

“I really think I am one of those lucky ones, you know, as I can remember so many good things in tennis. To be in the top 10 for the first time and to become the first Italian ever to reach there, it was really nice.”

The two-time US Open quarter-finalist had a glint in her eye when this scribe asked her about the unforgettable victories in the Fed Cup.

“Fed Cup wins were really nice, you know. We are still playing. We always love to play for our country. We have a good team because we are still together for about three years. Nobody wants to be the star of the team. We try to help each other all the time. Maybe that’s why we won with a good team,” said Pennetta who helped Italy win the women’s tennis’ biggest team event in 2006 and 2009. Pennetta also has an enviable record against Grand Slam winners Justine Henin, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, Amelie Mauresmo, Maria Sharapova and former world number one Jelena Jankovic.

“How do I often manage to beat these top players? Well, to put it simply, when I play the very good players, I play very good tennis.

“When I enter the court and see that they are better than me, I try my best. So, I always try to win. I never think that I will not have any chance against them. So maybe that’s the reason. I always believe that I can do that…”

Pennetta, whose next opponent is Andrea Petkovic of Germany, is confident of her success against the top players here in Dubai if she wins her next match.

“I know there are so many good players here. So if I get the chance to play the top seeds, I will try to do the same things.

“This tournament has one of the best fields. Everyone wants to play here. It’s going to very tough for everyone to play.”

The 27-year-old says her aim in 2010 will be to play at her best in every tournament.

“Well, the year is just starting. I know I have to do the same things. I have to play very well. My aim will be to play my best tennis in all tournaments.”

Flavia Pennetta has returned to Dubai after a decade.

“I was here in 2000. I know that was a long time ago. This tournament is very nice. And the city, well, I just arrived yesterday night. So I haven’t got lot of time to see things. Everyone talks nice things about Dubai. So I will definitely see the nice places here.”

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