Written by Lauren Cardarelli, Freelance Editorial Assistant
The U.S. Open begins on Monday and we were rally—really—excited to chat with the top seed for the women’s tournament, Victoria “Vika” Azarenka. Here’s what we learned about the 23-year-old reigning Australian Open champion, her pre-match rituals and more.
Ritual for Return Aces. Athletes have all kinds of crazy pre-game routines they follow to get the ball rolling for the competition. Although Vika isn’t nearly as superstitious as her rival Serena Williams, she does like to shake her hips and dance during warm-up with an amped playlist. Her go-to beat? “Talk That Talk” by Rihanna.
Beat the Sun. Sun exposure on the court can be rough on both your game and skin. Vika’s gym bag essentials include a hat and a bottle of SPF to keep her glowing complexion protected from any damage.
Certain tennis players are known more for their testy personalities (racquet throwing anyone?) or their flashy apparel than their swings or footwork. But 29-year-old tennis pro Mardy Fish is bringing his down-to-earth Midwestern attitude to the US Open beginning today, despite having every reason to bring some swagger. He’s hitting the court this year ranked as the top American and number eight in the world!
We spoke with the Olympic silver medalist and Generation UCAN athlete, who recently shed 30 pounds and 14 percent body fat and watched his game skyrocket, to learn more about his plans for the upcoming tournament and his intense training regimen.
How did you first get interested in tennis?
I come from an athletic family. My dad is a teaching pro, and I’ve really played as long as I can remember.
We hear you are buddies with Andy Roddick. How did you meet?
We went to the same high school and played on the same tennis and basketball teams. Our high school had a pretty good tennis team back then! Now when we get together, we don’t talk much about the sport.
And now you’re the top ranked American male tennis player. How does that feel?
It’s definitely different for me! Andy Roddick has been the top American for so long. It comes with a bit of pressure, but it’s good pressure.
In less than six months, you lost 30 pounds and your body fat went from 21 to seven percent—wow! How did you do it?
I stayed away from junk food and counted calories. My goal was to eat 400 to 600 calories less than I was burning throughout the day, so I’d lose weight at a healthy pace. I was so into the results that I was getting that it was really easy to stick to the plan. Although I did allow myself a break last Thanksgiving when I treated myself to some gravy and bread! The changes on the scale motivated me—it essentially became a game. And the discipline that I used to lose weight and stay on my diet spilled into my tennis.
Mardy spilled about his rivals and a pre-tourney training day. Click below to get the scoop!