- About the tournament
– A year ago you were playing in the quarterfinals at the US Open, but this year was a rather difficult year for you. What do feel about it all, could you, please, elaborate on that?
– Well, I have mixed feelings about it all as there were lots of things I had to go through throughout the season. And actually it has not finished yet that is why I am waiting for something good. The beginning of the season was rather successful, the best one I ever had. But later on I got injured and it caused mental problems. Now I more or less recovered and came back but it is still tough to play. I am still looking to get my confidence back – the confidence and comfort I had at the beginning of the season.
– What do you mean by “mental problems”: is it the lack of self-confidence or you are putting too much pressure on yourself? What do you need to do to get back on top of your shape?
– There were lots of personal problems, they were snowballing. I started to think too much and put pressure on myself and it was getting tougher and tougher to play with all that.
– With what feelings did you come with to St. Petersburg Open?
– With good ones as the tournament is taking place in St. Petersburg, in Russia. I miss Russia and I can’t come here often. St. Petersburg Open is one of my favorite indoor tournaments as everything here is high quality. And the city is very beautiful. I wanted to come here but last year I had a busy schedule and I didn’t make it here, so I was rather sad about it. Now I am happy I could come and, hopefully, I can play here again many-many times.
– Today you posted in your Instagram that you have eaten the best breakfast. What was it and do you have a tradition of having the same breakfast when you win?
– Yeah, sometimes it happens that when I win matches I eat the same stuff for breakfast. Sometimes it happens spontaneously. Today I ate fruits and scrambled eggs.
– You teamed up with Denis Shapovalov at St. Petersburg Open 2018 to play doubles together. You were planning to do the same at the US Open but it didn’t happen. Who was behind it?
– We are communicating with each other pretty well, we are good friends. I offered him to play doubles at the US Open and St. Petersburg Open, he agreed. But the first who offered that was his coach who asked me if we want to try to play together.
– Now you are number 7 in the Next Gen race. What is your attitude to what is happening with rules at that tournament for the young generation?
– I have a negative attitude as these rules alter the core of the game and sports in general. Playing in a new format you feel different emotions and they couldn’t be compare to classic tennis, it is different. If the changes don’t influence the core of the game that is fine but if they do yes and they change the rules, then I am against it. The biggest mistake they made is that they think if they change the rules, they will attract more people as a result. Whereas in fact it won’t help increase the audience. Maybe only at the very beginning. However tennis itself won’t become more popular. In my opinion it’s better to invite such bright players as Roger Federer. People enjoy watching their idols and no one really cares what the rules are.
– What about the changes in the Davis Cup format?
– I can understand both sides who are ‘for’ and who are ‘against’. There are lots of pros and cons in the new Davis Cup rules. There won’t be home& away matches anymore, and that’s the biggest minus. There wouldn’t be ties played away when the crowd is against you and you can really feel this team spirit. Secondly, top teams like France who play in front of a capacity crowd will no longer have the same support anymore. The positive sign is Davis Cup won’t take too many weeks as it used to in the past when it took two-three weeks, it was tough for sure. It made us have more rest and change the rhythm as we had to skip some tournaments. And it is more convenient to have one separate week that doesn’t interfere with other tournaments, so you can recover and prepare to the other tournaments in your usual rhythm.
– Your teammates Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev are married. Don’t you have the same plans?
– I am more concentrated on tennis right now, we’ll see how it goes. First things first. I want to get back on top of my shape, and we’ll think about the rest later.
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