- About the tournament
There was a tight game in the 2nd set when you were up 4/1. What were you thinking in this particular moment: that you should win whatever it takes or you wanted to trust fate and just play?
For sure, I’d wanted to win it, because when you are making a break in such a situation, the score is 5/1, and the positive result of the match is really close. And if the score turns 4/2, then everything can change and it’s difficult to predict. I was trying to convert the break-point but made a couple of errors in the rally and my opponent served well and hit his forehand down the line that I didn’t expect. But I am glad that despite losing that game, I won the next one on my serve and closed out the match.
Why do you think your game style is inconvenient for Mannarino? Because he played against Andrey Rublev in a different way…
You have to ask him. Maybe it is a psychological pressure because he lost to me in our previous match. My goal was to play a slice to his forehand when he was opening the court. Because he doesn’t like to create speed. Andrey is playing quite fast and he can bomb him but the courts are slow here and it is not easy to hold the rhythm and here come the errors. Today I didn’t hit lots of winners because sometimes it is enough to force your opponent to make an error once to win in the match.
You are to play Marin Cilic next; he was runner-up last week in Moscow. You took on him once in Cincinnati and lost the match. How can you evaluate the upcoming match and your opponent? How will you prepare for the match?
Yeah, he was playing well last week but I also feel I am in good shape. We faced on court once in Cincinnati three years ago. Tomorrow many things will depend on the serve and return and on how the rallies will start. Marin is always a tough and strong opponent, that’s why I need to prepare well. I know what to expect and what I need to do. I hope all these moments will work for me tomorrow. It will be a good and tough match; I will be ready for it.
You are a conscientious person. Many Russian tennis players organize kids tournaments named after them. For example, Marin Cilic told us today about his foundation. Were you thinking of doing something like that too?
Yes, I was. Everything is in the process. Because of the pandemic it wasn’t the best time to launch something like this. But as soon as we finalize everything from all the sides, we will launch it. There are lots of ideas in this direction. It can be either a tournament named after me or maybe some of the lads would also like to be involved. We will think about how to bring it to life.
Marin Cilic said that the court in St. Petersburg is faster than in Moscow, do you agree? And which one suits your game more?
Hmm, I’d say it is slower. But everyone feels differently as we feel the game our own way. Maybe it is also because of the balls, because if balls are faster and you are playing deep and flat it is tough to control how the ball is placed on the racket. But at the same time, it is going easier from the racket and also the court itself is slower. In Moscow when during the rallies it felt you can hit a winner easier and as a matter of fact I hit more winners there than here. Anyway, I can’t confirm it after my first match. I watch other players and all of them have long rallies. It is not easy to open the court to hit a winner. So, maybe it is a combination of the court and balls, and everyone feels it differently.
You won your first ATP match here in St. Petersburg beating Victor Hanescu. Do you remember that? What does this tournament mean to you in this respect?
For sure, I remember. I earned my first points here. I was waiting for the very last moment whether I would be given a wild card into the main draw or will I be playing qualifications. I was just 17 and came right after the US Open where I lost in R1 and was very upset. And then I played my first match, won it and earned my first points on Tour. 20 points if I remember right. I have good memories, it was another arena, the old one. The tournament itself looked differently. Since 2015 the tournament it’s been held at SIBUR ARENA by Formula TX company and I am more associating this tournament with the new editions of St. Petersburg Open that take place here.
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