Gabriela Ruse, the finalist of the Transylvania Open’s previous edition, hoped until the last moment that she would be able to play again in Cluj this year. She hoped to recover in time after the muscle tear that she suffered in the very first match of the year, in Auckland. Even though the doctors told her that it was too soon to return to tournaments – she started training for almost three weeks, but without serving – she wanted to play at home, where she experienced one of the most beautiful moments of her career last October. “Not necessarily because I reached the final, but because I felt that people actually love me and support me unconditionally.”
It’s a feeling she thinks she’ll be able to remember 10 years from now, and which she relived now, during the first days of the tournament, when she entered the BTarena; this time as a bystander, not a player.
Even though she couldn’t play, she wanted to be present at the tournament in Cluj. She watched the qualifying matches from the stands, had meet-and-greet sessions with the fans, and was happy to feel their affection even when she wasn’t on the pitch. “It didn’t matter that I wasn’t playing. I saw how happy they were to see me, they asked about my health, and somehow that makes me strong.”
Last year’s edition, where she received a wildcard into the main draw and reached the final, was important especially because it helped her overcome a frustration regarding the fact that she felt she couldn’t play well in front of her fans. “There was so much pressure that after a tournament I needed a two-week holiday to recover from that. I wasn’t even able to play well, but it was a success for me last year, as well as two years ago, because I also played well two years ago. It was like a release, I checked my notebook: OK, I managed to reach that too.”