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PRESS PLAY: A Day in the Life of a Grand Slam Athlete

Meet Australian tennis athlete Alexandra Bozovic. A tennis player since the age of 8, Alexandra has spent January training and competing at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The fourth AO of her career, Alexandra shares her typical training day, key habits for success, and why the AO is known as the ‘Happy Slam’.

Have you always played tennis? What drew you to the sport, and what do you love about it most?

I began playing sport from the age of four which started with swimming and dancing, then from eight years of age I began playing tennis. I idolised Monica Seles growing up and from my first tennis lesson, I knew I wanted to reach the top and have an aggressive game just like her. In my first years of tennis training, I also continued my swimming squads to maintain my fitness levels and my swimming coaches even wanted me to quit tennis to pursue it professionally, however I always had a stronger love for tennis.

I am a very competitive person who loves the pressure and adrenaline that comes with tennis as it drives me to continue working hard and being better. The many years of competing on the professional tour both alone and with teammates has shaped the person I am today. As a 22-year-old I have travelled the world and visited many countries, amazing places and people and have formed lifelong friendships along the way.

 

Tell us a bit about your experience at AO.

This year is my fourth appearance at the Australian Open and it’s by far my favourite tournament of the year. It's known as the ‘Happy Slam’ and, as an Aussie player, you feel very supported playing as you get to play in front of an amazing crowd that lifts you up each time you step out on the court. The energy and excitement that comes from playing in front of the home crowd makes me feel so proud to represent my country as the electric atmosphere is something you can only experience by being there. It is a very organised event where the players have many options to train in various gyms, food is provided, accommodation, physiotherapists, massage therapists, recovery areas and even a beauty bar for players.

 

How do you prepare for major matches?

Usually, I have major training blocks many weeks out from any major tournament and taper a couple weeks leading in. This is where I train until I peak in my physical performance and then you begin to slow things down about one to two weeks prior. These training blocks consist of so many variations of physical fitness – in the gym, running on an athletic field, hill sprints, sand dunes and even in a swimming pool.

I’m an organised person and I like sticking to routines both on and off the court especially when it comes to major matches. It helps to calm my mind and narrow my focus down on what I have to do so that I’m not worrying about whether I’ve forgotten to bring something or to work on a physical area on my game.

I try to listen to my body and if on some days I’m feeling anxious I try listening to some soothing music or I’ll play a short yoga or meditation video to help focus on my breathing, especially before matches. If it’s the opposite and I’m low on energy, I definitely pump the songs and get into the fast footwork drills before playing to get my heart rate up and going.

What does a typical training day for you look like? Do you train year-round? What are some of the key components of your routine/nutrition/recovery/conditioning to play and feel your best?

Tennis is an all-year-round sport. We are fortunate to have tournaments all around the world on every week of the calendar year. Generally, I pencil in the tournaments I want to play on a calendar and then plan my training blocks around them – as an Australian tennis player you must be selective with the tournaments you play as they’re all over the world and have different levels of competition. I have to consider where I’m travelling to, the season I will be playing in and what resources I will have there.

Usually, my schedule looks like four to six weeks of tournaments followed by two to three weeks of training before getting back into tournaments. It is extremely important for every tennis player to have a plan. I like to stick by the quote “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

My training days vary depending on what period of the training block I’m in, however a typical training day will begin with a 7am wake up. I eat a lot, with breakfast being the most important meal of the day for me. My on court hitting will go from 8:30-10:30am followed by recovery and a meal. Fuelling myself with lots of protein and carbs is super important for my body to endure the hours of training each day and to help replace my glycogen stores and muscle recovery. After resting, my afternoon session will run from 3-4:30pm followed by a fitness session for 1-1.5hours (either power, speed, strength or conditioning) which changes daily. Dinner will usually consist of a salad with protein.

I think one of the most important routines I have is my sleep schedule, I always try to get at least eight hours of sleep and will be in bed before 10pm. I feel that people underestimate how sleep can impact your performance.

 

Are there any key habits or routines that aren’t crucial to training, and yet something you find beneficial? (such as journaling, meditation, Pilates, reading…)

My body is my temple and in tennis it’s my everything. Not only is physical training important but so is your mental and emotional well-being. Tennis can be very much a push push push to your limits situation so I make sure to prioritise meditation and yoga into my schedule weekly to release any physical or emotional tension that may build up and also to help with my flexibility. I feel that many players miss out on including this in their schedules as they underestimate the benefits it has on your mind and body.

Last year was the first time I suffered from a serious injury which reoccurred twice in 2021 forcing me out of training and competition for a couple months both times. Injuries cause a lot of stress and pain on your body and during this time I found my love for Pilates and yoga that helped improve my flexibility and strengthen various muscle groups in my body. Today I make sure to include a yoga or Pilates session weekly into my training as it helps me with injury prevention as well as my rehabilitation. When I’m stretched for time I usually just find a quick 10-minute yoga or meditation video or use the app Smiling Mind before bed. This also helps me wind down, release any tightness in my body and allows for a deeper sleep. I have found this to be extremely beneficial for my tennis and also very enjoyable at the same time.

 

What’s your favourite memory or moment in tennis so far?

Playing tournaments in different countries has been challenging and fun as you get to link up with new players and help each other out on the tour with travelling. I really enjoy competing overseas and representing my country knowing that I have a lot of support back home, it makes me feel really proud overseas and gives me a lot of strength. Each time I perform well on court and win matches where odds weren’t in my favour are some of the best moments which give me a lot of joy and strength to continue working hard. I guess my whole journey has just been full of them.

Who do you most look up to in the sport and what is it about them you respect or admire?

I have a lot of admiration and respect for Ashley Barty. She is an amazing player and a beautiful person who doesn’t allow any outside voices to affect her emotions and decisions.

During her rise in the ranks years ago, she decided it was best for her to have a break and tackle cricket despite the many other public opinions. When she was ready she returned to tennis and rocketed to number one in the world. She has stayed number one for over 100 weeks. This truly shows how strong her character is and how much she believed in herself.

Novak Djokovic is someone else I look up to in the sport. I respect how successful he has become considering his early childhood disadvantages of having lived through a war-torn period in Eastern Europe while playing tennis. His determination and mental resilience are unmatched and are strengths that I admire to have.

 

What’s most important to you when you’re dressing for training or competition? What qualities do you look for in your garments?

Quality, comfort and style are my standards for anything that I wear. As I essentially live out of luggage when travelling overseas, I look for clothing that is of high quality but also lightweight and comfortable on court.

Style is also important to me and I love unique pieces of clothing that pop from the others which is why I adore wearing P.E Nation clothing. The P.E tennis range is expanding, and I recently wore their white shorts, a black tank and a white cap to play my main draw Australian Open doubles match this year. The material was super light and comfy and also very stylish for the tennis court which received many compliments.

 

What do you most look forward to when you have some down time? What are some favourite things to do when you have time off?

In my downtime I love going on adventures with friends to the beach, cafes and scenic walks. However, after a long week of training, l enjoy some time lounging in bed reading a book or watching some Netflix.

 

If you weren’t a tennis player, what do you think you would be?

I think if I wasn’t a tennis player I would be a swimmer. Swimming was my second passion growing up and I continue to love getting in the water and doing some swimming cardio for tennis.



What are your goals for the rest of 2022?

My goals for the rest of 2022 are to play more tournaments and having a full calendar year of competing healthy. Unfortunately, a hand injury last year meant I was only able to play seven professional tournaments in the last year which has had an impact on my ranking.

My goal in rankings is to break the top 200 and be competing in all four grand slams.

I also hope to give back to those who may not have the chance to play tennis but desire to. One of my good friends and coach who I have worked with for a long time, Louise Pleming, runs a charity organisation called Rally4everaus. It is the largest tennis rally for mental health and a truly inspiring movement. Introducing more foundations like this is something I’d like to be a part of.