Russian tennis, unbeknown to some, has a long history dating back over one hundred years. Beginning in the latter half of the 19th century Russian aristocracy, including Leo Tolstoy and Tsar Nicolas II, were avid players of tennis. Many lawn tennis courts were constructed on noble estates and one of Russias oldest sports clubs, the Saint Petersburg Cricket Club, also adopted the game.
Pro Tennis Tournaments
Kremlin Cup (Moscow)
Mordovia Cup (Saransk)
While initially rejected as a bourgeois sport by the Soviets, Russian tennis players started to appear in western competitions by the end of the 1950s. Still, it wasnt until the end of the communist era until Russian tennis truly got its break. Thanks in large part to Boris Yeltsin, Russias first president and avid tennis fan, tennis finally began to gain attention from the Russian press, as well as corporate Russian sponsors.
In a relatively short period of time Russian tennis stars started to climb to the top of professional tennis rankings. Both Maria Sharapova and Dinara Safina reached World No. 1 in womens singles, while Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov reached the feat on the mens side. Other men and women to reach Top 10 rankings include Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Myskina, Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, Anna Kournikova, Nikolay Davydenko, and Mikhail Youzhny.
Russian women swept the podium at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, while they won the Fed Cup (the international team competition for women) four times in the last decade ( 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008). Russian men won the Davis Cup (the international team event for mens tennis) in 2002 and 2006.
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