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Thank you for your beautiful tennis. Are you satisfied with the level of your today’s game? Did you have the opportunity to win this match?
Overall I am happy with today’s level of the game. Of course, I could win. I could have won the first set, it is just did not work for me. During the second set I played a more consistent game. In the third set Bautista Agut played better. I had a chance when the score was 3/3, 15:40 on his serve, but in the third set he seemed to have more stamina left and eventually won the match.
– You stopped at 499 career wins. Are you sad that this number is not 500? In your poems you said that you are ready to play in St. Petersburg once a year. Is it possible that you will be back just like Lleyton Hewitt and will play next year in doubles, for example?
– No, to be honest I am not planning to return. If you decided to leave, you should leave and should not look back. 499, 500, 501 are just numbers. I can name a lot things that I could improve. It seems to me that the number 499 will remembered more often than 500 wins.
– What were your feelings when you left the court?
It was pretty unusual. Usually after the defeat, if this is not the final, you take your bag and go to the locker room. And here I stayed a little longer on the court. It was very enjoyable to watch the video, see this banner. Many thanks to the organizers of the tournament and to the crowd for such support and warm welcome. It does feel sad, but this sadness is not overwhelming.
– You were repeatedly asked what your career means to you. But what do you think your career means for your coach and your wife Yulia? Today they very actively supported you. What does the whole career of Mikhail Youzhny mean to them?
– Everyone says that it’s easier to play than watch and cheer, but it’s really so, indeed. When you play, you’re constantly on the move, and it is easier. And to finish a professional career is also easier. I feel, that I am leaving and it was absolutely and solely my decision. It is much harder on my coach, Boris Sobkin, I believe, because the bond we shared as a teacher and a student is very difficult to repeat. It has to start from your childhood; you need to go through all ups and downs with your coach to understand such bond. As for Julia, well, when it is a match day she is always nervous. But we both knew that it couldn’t last forever. All good things will come to an end, sooner or later.
-When do you think you will get your portion of nostalgia and how will you deal with it? Are you going to have a rest or, on the contrary, will be engaged in some kind of activity?
– I don’t feel anything right now, because at this stage nothing has changed. Earlier there was the US Open, at that particular moment it is St. Petersburg Open. But after today it’s going to start changing slowly, because all the previous 20 years I had to fly to Asia in this part of the season. But instead I will have a trip to Novokuznetsk at the end of October. This will be the first global change in my daily professional routine. In Novokuznetsk I will get a month earlier than usual and stay there for a longer period. There I will notice the change that everyone around you plays tennis and you are no longer there on the court with them.
– It was obvious from our side and you noted it yourself that it was really difficult physically in the third set. What is the reason behind this? And the second question: is the Russian men’s tennis team able to repeat your achievements in the Davis Cup? And if the answer is yes, which players are going to lead the team to the victory in your opinion?
– I didn’t have so many matches lately, I’m not match-tough enough to be able to handle matches. I played two or three matches in August, barely one match at the US Open, which I didn’t manage to finish. Then two weeks off, and here I played two matches in a row. I just didn’t get match-tough. So all these points, sets, matches are getting more difficult for me than usual. As for the Davis Cup, I will make a correction here. It’s not me who won the first Davis Cup, but our whole team. We had very strong leaders. It was Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov who earned the biggest part of points for the team’s total score. And what do you mean by the Davis Cup, actually? We do not even know for sure what is going to happen to this competition in the neart future (laughter). Now we have a very good national team, and our players will only improve year by year. Everything is possible with the lineup that we have now under certain conditions. Not everything depends on the players. I think we have high chances to show a good result. It’s difficult to say if our team has enough to win, because I don’t understand what the format of this competition will be.
– What tennis players you would like to watch in future?
– The young ones as everyone of them is unique in their way. For example, Sasha Zverev, Tsitsipas, Shapovalov and the Russian lads Medvedev, Khachanov and Rublev. All of them are unique. And Zverev already shows good results. But I like Denis Shapovalov’s game style most of all. It is a far cry from all the rest whom I have mentioned. They play pretty much the same game – someone serves better, another one does fewer unforced errors. But Denis’ game is more interesting. Besides he is a lefty and it is also a factor, so he is interesting to watch.
– How soon will you want to turn on the TV and watch a tennis match from start to finish?
– Even now I will do it with pleasure. If a match is interesting and it doesn’t last more than 5 hours, why not watch it? I am not tired of tennis. I am finishing my career not because I want to hang my racket as they say. I will always watch tennis, I will always follow tennis news.
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