Vera Zvonareva was born in 7th of September 1984 in Moscow, Russia. Hopefully, Vera does not have such a complicated life as, say, Jelena Dokic, so she spends her time enjoying her young days. Vera likes the colour blue, yellow roses, and strawberries. Her favourite author Mikhail Bulgakov, who wrote “Master and Margarita”. Vera likes to spend her free time reading and listening to music. She hates people without a sense of humor and those who don’t tell the truth… It is amusing that Vera’s most memorable experience was losing to Nadia Petrova 6-0 6-0 at the age of 8.
Vera’s parents are both former sportsmen, mother Natalia Bykova being an Olympic Bronze Medallist for grass hockey, and father Igor Bykov being an average-success ice hockey player. Perhaps this is the reason that aside from tennis Vera is interested in hockey. Volleyball is also something she likes. Zvonareva seems to be a patriot, as she says that she wants Russian players to progress as far as they can, and also because she chose to play with the Russian Fed Cup team. To add to her character, Vera acknowledges her mistakes and never underestimates her opponents. It is very hard to say if she’s a positive person or not, because she said that the match in the 2002 Roland Garros against Serena Williams remains a pleasant memory, even though she lost it, but her most memorable experience was a defeat by Petrova ten years ago. Zvonareva’s tennis hero is Yevgeny Kafelnikov, whose game is an example to follow for Vera. Her tennis ambition is to be in the top ten, which, hopefully, is not far away.
Vera was introduced to tennis at the age of six, when her mother asked her if Vera wanted to play tennis with a group of other children. Vera liked the sport and continued playing it in a tennis club called “Chaika”. Her group consisted of about 15 girls and boys, including Elena Bovina, with whom Zvonareva attended the same tennis academy. Now, Vera does not have a permanent tennis club, but when in Moscow she likes to train in “Spartak” club.
Zvonareva is a good, but conservative baseliner. She tries to hit simple but effective shots, and that had brought her a long way already. Now, with the help of her coach Kashevarova Vera hopes to adopt a more aggressive style of play, by improving her fluctuating serve and volleys. If achieved and added to her strong backhand return, this will make Zvonareva a true challenge to the titans of the game, the Williams sisters. But for now, Vera plans to cement her current position and not to drop in the rankings.
Zvonareva’s tennis career started, when in 1999 she played her first ITF tournament in Tbilisi. Unfortunately, as a qualifier, she lost to World No.133 Tatiana Poutcheck. Yet, in 2000, in her second ITF tournament Vera had some impressive results: victory in Moscow, as an unranked player, without a single set loss in five matches. In addition, her first 8 professional wins (ITF) were in straight sets- a dazzling performance. It was only in the first round of Kremlin Cup (Vera’s WTA debut) that she had her first 3-set win, defeating world No.148 Elena Bovina. But, her luck extended only that much, as Zvonareva lost to No.11 Kournikova in the next round.
The year 2001 was less of the success in comparison with the previous years. Zvonareva could not qualify in Moscow and Miami. She competed only in seven ITF events, reaching a semifinal once and quarterfinals four times, though.
The year 2002 was the golden year for the Russian. As a 17 year-old, Vera was able to upset three seeds to win an ITF event in Naples, USA, also being a finalist in doubles. In Bol, as a qualifier she defeated the No.8 seed Srebotnik to reach the first semi-final of her career in WTA. Due to success in Bol Zvonareva’s world ranking jumped 40 places to No.177. That week, not even being a top-200 player she possessed wins over top-50 competitors! Next week the young player was even more successful advancing to her first-ever semifinal, in Warsaw, and reaching the No.144 position in the world. Roland Garros was a great success as well, as Vera played her first French Open reaching the fourth round. It was amazing to see a 17 year-old Russian teenager at these heights. Eventually, Serena Williams stopped Zvonareva, but took her three long sets to do it. While rankings rose to 90th on the planet, the number of victories over seeded players also increased fast.
In Wimbledon luck followed Vera only to the second round, but in the following tournament in Palermo Zvonareva made her first final appearance. In a three-hour marathon Vera gave way to the 6th seeded Diaz-Oliva. Later, in Sopot, the rising star reached her third semi of the year (and career), upsetting a more experienced and higher-ranked Matevzic in just one hour. In her US Open debut, Vera Zvonareva managed to reach the third round, cracking the top-50 at the 49th spot. In the hometown Tournament in Moscow Vera held three match points on compatriot Elena Bovina before losing.
The start of the 2003 season was relatively good. Vera reached 2 quarterfinals in a row, falling to Cho in Auckland and to Molik in Hobart. Yet, the Australian Open was the worst of her Grand Slam debuts, as she never made it past the first round as a result of a defeat by Bovina. Then followed a series of first and second round defeats, until Scottsdale, where she posed wins over Poutchek, Majoli, No.23 Shaughnessy, before falling to No.2 seed and former No.1 Capriati. Miami was a complete failure, thanks to the first-round loss to Chladkova. In April, in Charleston Zvonareva reached the fourth QF of the year, eventually being defeated by the former No.1 Lindsay Davenport. Good performance in Charleston pushed Vera inside the Top-30 for the first time. In Amelia Island Vera was able to proceed only to round 2 though. Nevertheless, in Bol Zvonareva caught her first WTA-tour crown by defeating Martinez-Granados 6-1 6-3.
The fifth QF of the season came with defeats of Casanova, No.10 Myskina and No.15 Danilidou. Vera’s win over Myskina was her first over a top-10 player. In Strasbourg Vera, as a No.6 seed, reached the semi-final. In the Roland Garros Vera joined the few people who had defeated Venus Williams this season (her first win over a top-5 player), to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Russians Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova became the 3rd and 4th Russian women in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam QF, after Olga Morosova (1972/74/75) and Lina Krasnoroutskaya (2001). Following Roland Garros Vera broke into the Top-20. In Wimbledon she reached the 4th round (best performance there), to become one of five Russians in the 4th round (Russian Grand Slam record).
Vera Zvonareva is currently holding her career-high 15 position in the world rankings. To occupy this ‘high’ spot Vera displaced her countrywoman Elena Dementieva.