Meet up and coming Miriam Bulgaru: „If you know tactically what you need to do on the court, and if you work hard, you improve mentally too”
19-year old Miriam Bulgaru has been making steady progress through the rankings – this year she has climbed 150 places to number 398 and has a win-loss ratio of 17-10. All those wins have come on the ITF tour, so getting a wild card on the main draw at BRD Bucharest Open was a useful new experience.
“The very first time I stepped on the courts here for practice I felt a special energy. A lot of new experiences for me, the press conference, Kids’ Day – I have never played with so many kids – then an autograph session, everything was incredible”, Miriam told us at BRD Tennis Insider, Treizecizero.ro’s daily online show from Arenele BNR.
“I was so nervous during the match, I played against a solid player (Yafan Wang, 84). I had a few chances that I couldn’t take but I played a good second set. Then, during the doubles match (Miriam and Anna Bondar lost against the 2nd seeds Moore/Adamczak 10-6 in the deciding tiebreak), the support was amazing and I want to thank the public very much. It was much better, I wasn’t as nervous and I could play my game. In singles it was very difficult, I felt I couldn’t breathe properly, I couldn’t take my time.”
“I didn’t talk too much before the match about the emotional part of the whole experience. Recently I have played a televised final at an ITF tournament in Romania, and I thought it was going to be similar. But the atmosphere here is different, the tournament, WTA is on a whole new level.”
Speaking of another level, can she get there after what she learned this week? “I am more confident in my game now. I believe I can handle top 100 opponents, even win against them. The ball is the same, only the experience makes the difference. I was not as decisive as her in the key moments.”
Alina Tecșor (Fed Cup coach): “The difference between top 50 and the rest is the way they play in key moments. At 5 all, they serve better, they take the initiative. You can have five match points against a top player and convert none, and she will have one and convert it. You need experience to get used to that, you cannot learn it overnight.”
Miriam has already had success on the ITF tour, winning three titles. What are her goals? “In the last few months, my main problem was keeping calm on the court. We have been working on this, and things are better. Technically I am solid. I used to work with two counsellors on the mental side, but I stopped a year ago. If you know tactically what you need to do on the court, and if you work hard, you improve mentally too. I am not the type of player that needs to be pushed to practice. I have always been responsible and hard-working.”
Who did she model her game on?
“When I was a kid, I looked up to Sorana Cîrstea, I loved her forehand. I have a lot of respect for Simona and I like Petra Kvitova for her composure on court.”
Alina Tecșor: ”She has always been part of the national team. She is coordinated and very flexible on the court. She is very talented and has many weapons but needs to work physically, get stronger. Her game is physically demanding. She said she liked doubles, and the reason is that she has a lot of variety in her game: she can serve with different spins, mix up the game. Talented players usually have many options they can develop. She is far from reaching her full potential, she has got a long road ahead but she needs to believe in herself.”
Miriam once said that she feels that she can win a set against Simona Halep. ”Why not? First step is to believe. I was a lot younger when I said it and, of course, it depends on the conditions, too. But I feel I could stay with her.”
Alina Tecșor: „It is important to dream first. Being a talented player, she needs to be creative, she shouldn’t be fenced in. Her game is exciting to watch.”
Does she have a favorite match-up? ”Six months ago I would have said I hated big hitters, used to lose all the time against them. Now I got stronger. I don’t mind playing against counterpunchers.”
Has she always known she wanted to play tennis professionally? “I started playing when I was 5 and I loved it. The first important decision was choosing the right high-school that would allow me to continue practicing. I had to convince my parents that I really want to focus on tennis. I moved to Bucharest while I was attending high school in Alba, so it was tricky, but I managed.” Alina: “This is a very difficult transition for kids from the country, when they go to high school. Many move to Bucharest and need to sacrifice a lot, especially at such a young age. Its not easy on their families.”
For a professional athlete, social life comes second, after sport. “I don’t have a lot of friends, and I don’t have lot of free time. I like reading, and in winter I go skiing. I don’t know if I should have said that (laughs). I like walking my dog.” Is social media a help or a hindrance? “I like it. I sometimes spend too much time online, but I know when I go overboard. In general, I appreciate the support from the fans. After I lost here, I got so many encouraging messages, I am very grateful for all of them.”
Watch the whole interview here (Romanian) / via Treizecizero.ro