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-You arrived quite early for the tournament and you played your first match only today. How did you prepare for this match? Are you happy with your level of tennis today?
– Yes, I arrived on Monday night and I had two days of practice, which was very good, because it’s my first indoor event at the end of the year. It’s always tough to play against Struff. He is playing well indoors, he is serving very-very hard with almost every serve over 210 km/h and I’m coming from clay outdoors, so it was a pretty huge change. So yes, I’m happy with my performance today.
– How comfortable do you feel on hard court indoors in general and at this tournament in particular?
– I like hard court and I also like indoor tournaments. There is no sun or wind, so it’s always the same conditions all match long. I think this kind of courts is fair for everybody: not too slow, not too fast and the bounce is fine, so it’s a very decent court.
– Your next opponent is the Russian player Daniil Medvedev. What do you make of this match?
– He had a very good year, he won his first two titles. He is still very young. I think we played a long time ago against each other when we were 14-year old, so it was a very long time ago. I think, it’s nice for the home crowd to cheer for the Russian player in the quarterfinals playing against the top-seed. It’s gonna be a nice match. I’m really looking forward to facing this challenge.
– You have many great matches this year, but can you single out the ones you like the most? What are your best matches this season?
– I think, I played some good matches at the French Open, where I played in quarterfinals against Rafael Nadal and some other matches during the year. But I think the best one was at the US Open.
– Will you still come back to St. Petersburg again even if you don’t win the title?
– Yes, I didn’t win the title when I was here for the first time in 2015 and I still came back. So I will probably do it again. Of course, the main reason to come to a tournament is winning, but still St. Petersburg is a very nice city. Of course, winning the title – it’s 90 % of tennis at the tournaments, but there is 10 % left for other factors – the city, the hotel, the events here, everything is amazing. It’s really beautiful here and if I don’t win the title, I’ll still come back.
– To follow up on that topic – about your next opponent: Daniil said that he is looking forward to playing against you, as you are a Top 10 player. How do you think you can beat him? What are the strongest sides of your game that are you going to show tomorrow in this match?
– He is holding his career high ranking right now. In men’s tennis it is really tough, because anybody can beat anybody. I need to play my best tennis to beat him. It is my goal. It is going take a lot to win this match and I have to play very well from the start through the end. My strengths will not be special in the match against him or against anybody else. I just try to play my game and I think many parts of my game are my strengths and I have to try do all that I can.
– Today you played a late night match. Tomorrow you will have a night match as well. How convenient is it for you for you to play late matches? How does your tennis routine change if you play late?
– I like playing late. It means that I can sleep longer. During the year and during the tour we are used to playing any time from 11 AM till night. It’s nothing new to play at 6:30 PM. It’s nice, actually, because I can sleep longer and that I really like.
– Mikhail Youzhny called it a career today. What could you tell about him? Did you watch his matches? Did you meet him on the circuit? Did you communicate with him?
– He is one of the guys I watched on TV when I was young. He was still on the tour when I came and he was still really good. It’s a special situation. Not many players have this situation. I watched him live. I played against him this year in Germany, so I know all his stages. It’s a very nice thing. For sure, he is one of the best Russian tennis players ever. He will be missed on the tour. He won 499 matches in his career. It’s amazing. I wish him all the best. I hope he will become a coach and we will meet each other one day.
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