- О турнире
— How tough was the match for you?
— Yeah, it was a tough match, generally the level was good for sure it was tough, I was down 3/5 in the first set. I fought well. It is never easy in the first match to feel the conditions when you don’t really practice on the court. So I am happy with a good victory. I think I played at a good level.
— You played here two years ago in the finals, can you compare your feelings back then two years ago and now in terms of court feel, the lightning, the atmosphere and the feeling of the crowd?
— I think, the tournament is good, it keeps improving for the players. I was already very good two years ago, conditions were good and the court is maybe a little bit faster this year. Though, all in all, it is similar to what it was two years ago. I am happy to be back. I am enjoying the city and the tournament. It is great to play here. And I would like to play as much as I can.
— You are to play Karen Khachanov, who would be the favorite of that clash?
— It is gonna be an interesting match. He will play at home, the crowd will be for him. He is a young player, he improved a lot. He is playing well, he had a great US Open. We know each other rather well. It’s gonna be interesting, I am happy to play against him. I know, it is gonna be a tough match. I will try to enjoy it.
— Can we consider today’s match as a good practice session? And what do you think of this match?
— It’s not a practice, it’s a match, it’s a tournament. I don’t regard any tournament as a practice session. As for me I practice enough outside the matches, outside tournaments. When I come to a tournament, it’s to win, it’s to win matches, it’s to get confidence. The more you win, the better you start to play. It’s a long process. I’m happy with today’s match, you know, I’ve been practicing enough and a lot every day since my injury, so I’m happy to play matches now.
— You were struggling with your shape but since August it seemed like you have been improving and getting back on top of your shape. What do you think you is still missing in your game fitness-wise and maybe technically?
— I think in generally I am playing really well I played well. In Toronto, I won there some matches against Top15 players and I lost to Rafa Nadal (#1), in Cincinnati I beat two Top15 players and lost to Roger Federer, at trhe US Open I beat a Top10 and lost to Milos Raonic. I think I have to keep my passion, to keep on working really hard outside the matches because I know I have to keep doing the right things to the end of the year to get some confidence. We will see what happens.
— At the US Open the players were complaining about extreme heat conditions there. How does it feel to be dealing with this transition from outdoor courts at the US Open to an indoor court here?
— I think it’s always ok. After US Open, after a long summer you come back in Europe to practice a bit indoors. I think it’s not a problem. During the year we are used to change a lot of conditions: courts, cities, tournaments, balls – everything. So it’s our job to adapt to new surfaces and new courts.
— You said you need some patience, but if you are not back in the Top10 towards the end of next year. Will you be disappointed by this? What are your goals in overall?
— I don’t know. The end of next year is way too far for me. My goals are, as I said, finish well the year. I have few more tournaments to play. I keep working outside matches, I keep pushing myself, keep trying to improve physically and tennis-wise also. I want to have a good year and get a chance to do right preparations, right off-season. I’m pushing myself to be 100% ready from the beginning of the year. And then we’ll see. I never really set before myself any goal in terms of ranking or winning tournaments and things like that. I put a goal to do the right thing day by day, because that’s the way I know the result will follow.
— You’ve had an early start at this tournament, so most likely you will have one or two days-off at this tournament, so do you think you will be having some activities off court? Maybe you received some offers in this respect from the organizers of the tournament?
— I arrived here on Saturday, I practiced for the first time on Saturday, so I didn’t mind playing on Monday or Tuesday. You know I play when it’s good for the tournament. I think now I’ll have most likely one day-off, tomorrow. I’m gonna practice and maybe will go to the city. Already yesterday I went out to the city, it’s a great city to walk in. It was sunny before and now it’s raining, so it’s not the same, but we’ll see. I’m gonna work with my physio, do massage, things like that to get ready for another match.
— It’s not the first time you are coming to St. Petersburg. Do you have your favorite places in the city? Maybe there are some places where you want to come back?
— Yes, it’s my second time here. Two years ago I came quite late and I was playing a lot during the week, so I didn’t have much time to visit St. Petersburg. I think when it was like this weekend, it was sunny, it was really nice to walk by the river. There are many places just to walk around the city. I really enjoy going there to get some fresh air, to have coffee somewhere on a terrace and just enjoy myself.
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