Former tennis player returning to fight Russian troops in Ukraine: “I could never have imagined that he would be armed”

Former tennis player returning to fight Russian troops in Ukraine: “I could never have imagined that he would be armed”

Almost a year and a half after the professional made his last match, Sergi Stakohwski left his family in Hungary and returned to his native country to help fight the invasion.

Former tennis player returning to fight Russian troops in Ukraine: “I could never have imagined that he would be armed”
File – Ukrainian Sergi Stakhovsky returns to Stan Wawrinka, Switzerland, on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at the Dubai Tournament (AP Photo / Kamran Jebreili, File)

About a year and a half after the last match of a professional tennis player, Sergi Stakhovsky He left his wife and three children in Hungary. Former athlete Returned to Ukraine to help, though he could during the invasion of Russian troops. “I have no words to describe it. I could never have imagined in my life that I would be in my city with a gun in my hand. “Stakhovsky said during the video interview and raised his left cheek with one hand.

Stakhovsky spoke From the place he established as a residential building in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. “A lot of people say, ‘They wake up hoping that … it was all a nightmare.’ “But, you know, it does not work on the 16th day,” he said Associated Press. “In the first few days it’s something surreal, you do not think it really happens. And the next thing you know is that “You get used to it and just look for a way to help your country survive.”

Stakhovsky in Kyiv and already in the outfit of a Ukrainian soldier
Stakhovsky in Kyiv and already in the outfit of a Ukrainian soldier

At the age of 12, in the face of the opportunity to earn money from tennis, Stakhovsky began to spend a great deal of time in the Czech Republic to improve his level. Becoming a professional in 2003, he won four titles with a single and in the same number of pairs, earned more than $ 5 million in prize money.

Among the best moments of his career is being promoted to 31st in the rankings in 2010, his best position.

He went six times in the third round of the Grand Slam and brought on one of the biggest disasters in the history of the sport when he defeated Roger Federer in a 36-game winning streak in the main quarter-finals.Defeated it 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the second round at Wimbledon in 2013.

Sergi Stakhovsky became the 31st in the world in the ATP rankings;  That's the day he defeated Federer all over England
Sergi Stakhovsky became the 31st in the world in the ATP rankings; That’s the day he defeated Federer all over England

Retire and return to defend your country

In January, he gave up tennis after losing to American Jeje Wolf in the first round of the Australian Open qualifiers. The recall did not go as planned. On February 24, Russia launched an attack on Ukraine. On the morning of February 28, Stakhovsky arrived in Kyiv. “You are sure for a second. “Next, something is happening and no one is sure,” he said.

He said he has received hundreds of messages of support from the tennis world – from players, coaches, referees and officials. He named several names: Richard Gasquet, Lucas Puy, Aliaz Beden and Novak Djokovic, winners of 20 Grand Slam tournaments whose messages Stakhovsky shared on social media.

The message of support that Djokovic sent to Stakhovsky
The message of support that Djokovic sent to Stakhovsky

Stakhovsky said he was working with a branch of the Ukrainian military that could only be employed at city facilities. He explained that the unit was set up “a few years ago to actually support the city’s infrastructure in the event of a war, which no one believed, but it unfortunately happened”.

The former athlete said his days are divided into two-hour shifts followed by six-hour breaks.

He often spends this “free” time in humanitarian endeavors.

“We are just trying to do what we can every day, every hour,” Stakhovsky said. “And otherwise you will go crazy.”

Check out this post on Instagram

Post shared by Sergi Stakhovsky / Стаховський (@stako_s)

The retired tennis player said he still has a family living and staying in Kyiv, including a grandmother, father and brother. He does not know how long he will stay in Ukraine. “I hope not so much,” he said. “I hope it resolves pretty soon that this is something short.”

By the end of this month his daughter will be 8 years old, his son – 4. His second son is 6 1/2 years old. Before leaving he did not say where he was going and why.

“They are very small, I think they would understand that. My wife knows … but she never asked me a direct question and I did not say it directly. When I … told her I was leaving, she started crying. So the conversation was not really over. “

Check out this post on Instagram

Post shared by Sergi Stakhovsky / Стаховський (@stako_s)

He felt that communicating with children was not easy right now. It is difficult to talk to them because every time I call, they ask me, “When are you coming, what are you doing?” I’m just saying, ‘I do not know, to be honest.’ The decision to stay here is not right for me, but neither was the decision to stay home right. “None of this is right,” Stakhovsky said.

“However, I am here because I believe that the future of my country, my children and Europe, as we know it, is in great danger. And if I can do anything to change the outcome, I will do it. “

By Howard Fendrich

AP

Source: La Nacion

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