- About the tournament
— Evgeny, with what feelings did you come to St. Petersburg? You said before you like the city and St. Petersburg Open.
— I started this trip with a smile on my face. Though this time we left our son at home, but when I was arriving to St. Petersburg, I was already thinking of how good the tournament would be. I like it here that is why I came with good feelings.
— In the social networks we have seen you have been practicing with Karen Khachanov and under the supervision of Andrey Kuznetsov. Whose initiative was it to work together? It is clear you are friends but whose idea was it?
— I kept this idea in my mind when we stopped working with Boris Sobkin. We have great relationships with him and he is always ready to work with me. And I often invited Andrey to practice together. He knows a lot and I feel that in some moments where I am bad, he is good, and I often asking him about everything, he gives me advice. So I decided to practice with him and I think it will help me. We have been practicing for two weeks and I am feeling the improvements. It is impossible to do something incredible in two weeks but I am feeling more confident in some moments.
— How did you like your practice sessions in Moscow and how do you think Andrey Kuznetsov likes his new role of the coach?
— He’s been doing great so far!
— Does your friendship with him help you to skip some exercises, for example?
— No (laughter). I told him today friendship is a friendship (we are best friends with him) but if I am doing anything wrong – tell me or even shout at me. But he is such a person he never shouts whatever happens. The practice sessions were good; we organized the process very well. I used to spend 1, 5 hours to get to my tennis club, now it takes 1o minutes only. We had lots of fitness practice and tennis practices. Unfortunately we were practicing with Karen only over the last two days, because it takes him much time to get there. But still it was very nice.
— How do you find your shape right now? Judging by your result you won a Challenger and made it to the main draw at the US Open, so it’s not bad, eh?
— Now I am well. I wasn’t my 100 per cent at the US Open I had pain in my leg. It didn’t bother me but it felt the pain and got tired faster. It was tough physically in R1 of the main draw. Other than that I feel fine. Hardly my best year, but I keep working both with my fitness coach and with Andrey now. I’ve been coming on top of my shape during the season so there is huge difference between my conditions in April and now. So now I feel much better and much more confident. No expectations , I’m just doing my job. As Boris Sobkin used to say:”Do what you gotta do and let it be”.
— It is fair to call you a veteran of the Russian team in Davis Cup, you already have played so many ties. Soon the Russian team will play in the finals in new format. We have a strong lineup, and our guys are having a good run this season. Do you think there are chances to win?
— The guys are now just in a superb shape, Rublev has begun to play perfectly. I’ve known him well and for a long time. I always see when he is showing a good result, but at the same time he has some doubts. And now he is in great shape, he is confident. And I assure everyone, you can expect a lot from him. I say so as not to jinx it, but this year he has not shown everything yet. I thought that at the US Open he would go as far as Grigor Dimitrov. So, our team is incredible, such great guys! I am extremely happy that I am on the team. I will try to keep up with their results. We can grab the Davis Cup, with such a game by Daniil [Medvedev], Andrey Rublev and Karen [Khachanov], it seems to me that they are ready for such results.
— Have you had any discussions with each other in the team?
— I don’t think we will sit down and just say: “We must win Davis Cup.” It won’t be so. We will be playing it by ear and see how everyone feels.
— And a question about the family: your son already understands that dad is a tennis player, maybe he is also interested in yellow tennis balls and a racket?
— Thank you for asking, I am always pleased. Yes, Timokha is growing by leaps and bounds, he doesn’t really go for tennis – he’s more for football. He doesn’t let the ball go, we walk for three hours, he likes to run and kick the ball. The racket for him is too big, I think we need to buy a small one. Misha Zverev and Sergey Bubka told me that if you give the child a small racket and a ball, he will understand that they are going together as one piece. The son is changing, developing, and now there are moments when he misses me, and I miss him. I am sure that all parents understand this. We live with mom and grandma, they do a lot of housework. Anya (Donskoy’s wife) is often involved in some of my work at the apartment when I am away. But when I am at home, we only play with the kid and do nothing else. I ride him on my shoulders, we go for a walk, he enjoys every moment. He can’t play with his grandmother the same way as with me. And, if I am leaving for a practice session, and he wakes up, then a tantrum begins. I start to promise him that we will play later in the evening, but he wouldn’t let me go and begins to hug me. It is very cute and at the same time very hard for me. Now he has become calmer about everything and already understands more. Naughty, but growing up, he needs a tough hand.
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