'I know how to use emotions positively'

The 26-year-old from Moscow, the world number three, is second seed for the women's singles having built on her run on the London grasscourts last year to become one of the most consistent performers on the WTA tour.

Yet she was once written of as too emotional to achieve her full potential as defeats often used to be accompanied with tears and tantrums and rants at her coaching entourage. Thankfully, in a game often derided for lacking personalities, she refuses to conform to the poker-faced stereotype of the players being churned out of tennis academies around the world.  Rather than change, she has instead harnessed the nervous energy and emotions that once proved so destructive.

“I really don't care what people say because I always believed in myself,” Zvonareva told Reuters at Eastbourne this week where she was beaten in the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon warm-up by Samantha Stosur.

“For me, emotions are part of the game and it's good to have them. They can help you a lot as long as you use them to your advantage. I learned a lot about myself last year and how to use them in a positive way.

“Now I know where I need to push myself and where I need to be gentle with myself and that's the difference to maybe three years ago when I gave myself a tough time.”

There were a few tears after she lost to Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final but she proved it was no one-off by reaching the US Open final a couple of months later where she was beaten badly by Kim Clijsters.

Zvonareva wrecked a racket and received a code violation in that one-sided Flushing Meadows final but she still went on to end the year as world number two and then made the semifinals of the Australian Open.

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