Former world’s no. 8 Mikhail Youzhny talked about the powerful impact that his father’s death had on his tennis career. The ‘Colonel’ was only two decades old when his father passed away. “It was 2002, two months before the finals of Davis Cup, I was 20, and my father died.
This was the worst moment of my life, the toughest time I have gone through”. , Youzhny started the story during a Behind The Racquet interview. The Russian talked about how his father took him and his siblings to tennis matches.
Also, he described his father’s death as unexpected. “My father was the one who pushed tennis into my life by bringing my family and I to stadiums to watch tennis when we could. He did whatever he could for us. Before my siblings and I knew anything about tennis, we were going matches.
It was a huge surprise to my family and I, nobody was expecting it. We knew his health wasn’t great but no one was waiting for this”. In spite of losing his paternal figure, Youzhny had the power to fight through the hard times and win the 2002 Davis Cup.
“Two days before (the death of his father) I played Chela in Davis Cup where we competed against Argentina. This was a big deal because we were already up 3-1 in the matchup when I played him. We were already talking about how we were going to the finals to play France, which was the first time Russia made it to the finals.
After I lost my father everyone told me, including myself, to continue playing immediately. They said I had to continue with what I had now, this is what my father would’ve wanted, for me to keep on improving. I was playing well that year with good results in Madrid where I beat Andy Roddick.
I continued the momentum even in the beginning of 2003, after I won the deciding point to give Russia their first Davis Cup title. I played a very good Australian Open by playing in the moment and knowing this was what my father would’ve wanted for me”.
, said Youzhny. However, the 37 years old Russian admitted that the loss deeply affected him and he eventually felt that on the field. “After Australia I saw a dip in my results. Around February on I was really down on myself.
This was a tough time, months after my father passed away and not having the good results to distract me. My body and mind just didn’t have much left in it, which resulted in many first and second round losses. My ranking dropped a lot which was a very tough period for me.
Of course it helps when winning but no matter how the match is going he was always on my mind”. , admitted Mikhail. In the end of his BTR interview, the ‘Colonel’ confessed that he wished his father was near him now.
“Always wondering what he would be saying to me now, how he could help and what he could be saying to me now. That relationship was very important to me. I am trying to have the same one with my kids. We play a little tennis and football together.
No tournaments yet because I am not trying to push them too much. It is all their decision in the end”. , Youzhny concluded. Mikhail Youzhny retired from professional tennis in 2018 at the St. Petersburg Open, where he obtained his 499th victory.
The highlights of his career are the triumphs at the 2002 and 2006 Davis Cup tournaments.