Anastasia Rodionova is a Russian-born professional female tennis player, playing for her home country Australia at all grand slams since the Australian Open in January 2008.
Rodionova started to play tennis at age 7, but she was introduced to tennis much earlier.
“My Dad was an amateur player so instead of toys, I had tennis balls in my pram. In fact, my mum has a picture of me with a racket that was same size as me!”
Her father Ivan, is the one whom Anastasia has to thank for her becoming a tennis player; learning everything she knows about tennis from his intimate & detailed coaching.
“My Dad was coaching me since I could pick up a racquet until I was 18 years old” remembers Anastasia. “There were no tennis schools in Tambov so I played with him on courts near our house that were the only 2 courts in the city at that time.”
But these difficulties didn’t diminish Anastasia’s desire to play tennis. At 18 years old Anastasia left Tambov and moved to Germany to practice for 3 years before returning to Moscow to live.
In 1996 Anastasia played her first professional ITF tournament in Sochi, Russia (home city of the forthcoming 2014 Winter Olympics) easily passing qualification but losing in the main draw to the top seed. It was a great induction to professional tennis, but her first amateur tournament was played much earlier in Tashkent when she was 8 years old.
“I was competing against girls 3-4 years older then me but I still managed to win the consolation tournament for all first round losers which was fun”.
In 1998 Anastasia celebrated turning 16 years old by making the singles semifinals in a Czech Republic ITF tournament and winning a doubles title in Minsk, Belarus.
In 1999 she made her debut on the WTA Tour in Tashkent, where she won a round in qualifying singles.
During the week of her 19th birthday in 2001 and with a ranking of only 239, she won her first ITF singles title in Italy – winning all 5 matches against higher ranked players. In the same year Anastasia played her first Grand Slam event at Wimbledon. She also made the WTA doubles finals in Sopot, Poland, semifinals in Bratislava and captured 2 ITF doubles titles in Cholet, France and Tbilisi, Georgia.
The period from 2002 to 2003 was rich with reasons to celebrate for Anastasia. In 2002 she won her 2nd ITF tournament title in Mexico, semi-final in Quebec, Canada at a 3rd tier WTA tournament and quarter-final in the Grand Slam doubles at Wimbledon. She also won 2 ITF tournament titles in doubles in Italy and Mexico.
In 2003 Anastasia made her 1st Grand Slam final, playing mixed doubles with Andy Ram at Wimbledon and went down in a tight match second round singles match against number 5 in the world, Jennifer Capriati in Miami.
In 2004 Anastasia won 2 more ITF titles in singles – in Sweden and in Liechtenstein, where she also won in doubles.
In 2005 Anastasia won her 5th and 6th ITF singles titles (USA and Australia), 4 ITF doubles titles, 3 of them in consecutive weeks. She partnered Elena Vesnina to win her 1st WTA doubles tournament in Quebec, Canada.
In 2006, after reaching the 2nd round in the 2nd tier tournament in Los Angeles, Anastasia entered the Top100 WTA rankings for the first time in her career. At the US Open she became one of the leading players after making it to the 3rd round (her best result in singles at a Grand Slam tournament to date). This catapulted Anastasia to 81 in the world. In doubles with Elena Vesnina she also reached the WTA tournament final in Bangalore (India), and in partnership with her sister Arina she captured her 11th ITF title in Italy.
In 2007 Anastasia played a whopping 28 WTA tournaments. At the Australian Open Grand Slam she reached the 2nd round but lost to world number 2 and eventual finalist, Maria Sharapova. In Miami’s Tier 1 tournament Anastasia took more games off the eventual tournament champion Serena Williams in her 2nd round defeat than any other person in that tournament. In the Estoril Open, Portugal Anastasia won her 2nd title in doubles with Andrea Ehritt-Vanc from Romania. Together they also made the finals in Morocco. In the 1st tier tournament in Los Angeles the team of Rodionova/Poutchek made the semi-finals. In Guangzhou, China Anastasia reached the singles semi-final but was unable to finish the match due to heat stroke. At the Tashkent Open, Anastasia once again teamed up with Tatiana Poutchek, getting into the final, but lost in 3 sets to Dzehalevich/Yakimova. Anastasia ended the year ranked 78th place in singles.
Anastasia started the new 2008 season in New Zealand, but it began unsuccessfully. Anastasia was forced to retire in her 1st match due to eye problems, where she was experiencing double vision. After a short-course of treatment in Melbourne Anastasia began preparations for the Australian Open. There she played under the Australian flag for the first time and successfully reached the 2nd round losing to Katarina Srebotnik. In the next few tournaments of Pattaya, Doha and Dubai Anastasia struggled with her vision with three 1st round defeats in singles, but enjoyed a doubles semi-final with Arina at the Pattaya Open. Then success increased remarkably, resulting in her gaining several considerable victories over the multiple top 30 players. In India she defeated the number 20 in the world Sybille Bammer from Austria on the way to the the quarter-final, where she went down to Serena Williams. She carried that confidence through the USA series, passing qualification in Miami and reaching the 2nd round and making the 3rd round in Charleston, losing to Jelena Jankovic.
Unfortunately May 2008 saw the beginning of a spate of injuries that significantly hampered the rest of her year, taking 1st round honours in tournaments that she would have otherwise performed much more brightly. Movement didn’t restrict her as much in doubles and she made quarter finals in a Moscow ITF, semi-finals in New Haven, 3rd round in the US Open, and semi-final in Guangzhou. However, it was clear that without major hip surgery, Anastasia’s career would forever be handicapped so in September she underwent a specialised operation in Melbourne and spent the remainder of the year in rehabilitation.