– Did you expect a similar breakthrough in 2020?
“I didn’t expect anything at all.” I could not assume that I would first be injured, and then there would be a jump in the ranking. But all that was done, all for the better.
– Did someone congratulate you on getting into the Top 20?
– I do not think that this is some kind of achievement to congratulate him. This is not a holiday. They talked more about this in the press. My environment calmly accepted this result.
– You did not have a vacation before the start of this season. Can you remember the last time you rested?
– I have not had a vacation in the understanding of ordinary people for a long time: training camp, training, preparation – that’s the whole rest. I used to like flying to the USA with a tennis team. I also met the New Year often at training camps or at some tournament. I always rejoice when I manage to celebrate the New Year with my family. For example, I met 2020 with my grandmother. She is my main fan. It was not possible to spend much time together, but I treasure even the minutes of such meetings. On January 1, at 7 in the morning, he was already sitting on the plane and flying to Doha, to his first winning tournament this year.
– Which one do you choose: a victory at the tournament in Doha or a semi-final at the ATP Cup, which Medvedev and Khachanov got to?
– Of course, victory in Doha. First off is the ATP title. I got 250 points for it. As for the ATP Cup, this is a competition that the players themselves did. Everyone is applying for a tournament on their own. The team is formed differently than in the Davis Cup. By and large, everyone can apply for participation, though only the top five players by rating are included. But there are situations when tennis players prefer to play in other tournaments, since only the first two numbers can earn points. This happened to me and Evgeny Donskoy. In our place were the next rated.
– Have you talked with Khachanov and Medvedev about their performance at the ATP Cup?
– So far I only managed to congratulate the guys. I am sure that they are satisfied. The guys did not lose a single meeting until the semi-finals, where they lost to the winners of the Cup – the Serbs. The compatriots did not fail a single match. This is a great result.
– Medvedev hit with a racket during the referee tournament. Your craziest act on the court?
– It’s hard to remember something. But during my career more than once I smashed a racket to smithereens on a court. This is probably my maximum surge of emotions. I hope that I will continue to keep emotions in check, and such actions will no longer be.
– Matches against Russians are more important for you than against foreigners?
– So far, I have not beaten either Karen or Daniil at the ATP level. They are my friends, so I treat such meetings as any other. Although I understand that our derby in Russia is watched with great interest. This adds excitement to both us and the audience.
– Does the rating reflect the real strength of tennis players?
– Yes and no. Players who stand in the Top 50 deserve to get there, because they try and show the result all season. But in the Top 100, Top 200 there are guys who have repeatedly beat tennis players, even from the Top 50. That is, by talent and level they are at least no worse. Such athletes can continue to fight on equal terms with top tennis players. But due to the fact that the player somewhere is not so professional in his business or a little underworked, he does not succeed in showing stable results. Therefore, the rating remains in the range of Top 100-200
– You, along with Medvedev and Khachanov, actually grew up on the court. Remember the most memorable meetings?
– For children, we played a lot with Karen and Daniil. But the more confronting me is precisely the confrontation with Medvedev. Because almost all matches consisted of three sets. Fights were what you need! In all meetings there were dramatic denouements – now I have tears, then he has.
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– Tennis is an individual sport. You can say that this is a sport of single people?
– On the one hand, you do everything yourself: make decisions, go to court, make mistakes … But outside the court I have a very friendly team. When close people are nearby, I do not feel lonely.
– Have you ever experienced a feeling of depression? How did you get out of it?
– This feeling even visits me too often. So I haven’t found a way out yet. How to deal with this, it is better to learn from someone else. It was especially difficult when I was injured and did not play. My team, and especially the coach Fernando Vicente, helped me a lot psychologically. We talked a lot with him. Glad everything is behind.
– What is the current situation in Australia?
“The weather was great in Adelaide.” As for Melbourne, then everything changes every day. So far, everything seems to be going well. I hope that the tournament will eventually be held in good conditions. The Australian Open is a special tournament for me. I want natural disasters not to interfere with the game.
“You are already in Melbourne.” How do you feel physically after two emotional weeks?
– Immediately after the final in Adelaide flew to Melbourne. Today I already managed to practice. True, the day turned out to be stressful, I would even say stressful – there were many things that I needed to complete. Plus I wanted to go to court, try out the site. Good thing I have a day off tomorrow. There will be time to recover to the first round of the Australian Open.
– Two titles in two weeks. You had such a cool preseason?
– I have no answer to this question! I myself did not expect that it would turn out so cool to start. I hope that the past training will really help me in the future. It is clear that constantly win will not work. There will be defeats. But I will try to keep them as few as possible.
– Is it possible to say that the experience of the final matches helped you in Adelaide?
– Yes, of course. I already played in the finals and even won them. I knew that it would not be easy for Lloyd, as I perfectly remember my feelings from the first final at the ATP level. Do not convey how exciting it is. And emotions in such moments often interfere. I think, due to this, I also managed to win so confidently.
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