As a kid I dreamed of playing in big tournaments, and when I was there I took it for granted, which was a pretty bad mistake. Now I know how hard it is to get there and I don’t want to just give it away. That’s what I did when I was younger, give it away.
I’m trying to stay healthy. I got a salad. It’s not always easy.
I would go for a drink with some friends. I would come back at midnight or 1 a.m. and would only have seven hours of sleep, then go to practice. It’s complicated. You’re still young and you have to sacrifice some things as a kid — and you want to get that back.
The first few years I didn’t work too hard so I don’t think I’ll be tired at 30. Then I lost another year when I was injured, so I think I still have a lot of time.
There’s a lot of things. Right now I have a lot of trust in my body. I used that time off when I was injured in 2013. I couldn’t play tennis for about four months, couldn’t touch a racquet. In that time I used that time to really get fit, to get in good shape. I’m really trusting my body now.
In 2013 I had a big injury. I was out for almost seven to eight months. Yeah, I mean, as you know, back then I was 29, so the question was is it going to be possible to come back? Should I do it again? Should I try to again. I said, Okay, if I’m going to do it, I’m going do it right. I worked really hard. Now I’m happy in that position to be able to play the big tournaments again, play these players week in and week out.
I kind of made a deal with myself that since I have two kids at home now and a family, when I’m going away, I’m going to go away and do the right stuff. I’m not going to mess around and lose time on doing the wrong things.
I’m more disciplined maybe, more focused on what I have to do also outside the court.
People recognize me on the street. But they’re pretty cool about it. I’m not a star there.
I learned a lot. What I learned is that I know how to deal with a lot of situations, which I couldn’t do before. I mean, for me, the most amazing thing is that this is the first time in my career I’m actually winning a lot of matches.
Now after the tournament I’m going to take a few days off and think about what I did, and I’m going to gain a lot of confidence from that.I hope I can stay focussed and work hard and do well in my next tournaments.
One day you’re up beating Roddick; the next day you’re losing in straight sets and winning six games against Ginepri.
I woke up this morning and I was already feeling pretty tired.It was too much for me. I played great against Andy but today I played worse, but it wasn’t the tennis. It was something in the head. I didn’t have so much time to rest and I got so many phone calls. I have to learn how to deal with these things, with these kind of moments.
I love the game, first of all. And then I really didn’t want to stop with an injury. I want to stop when I want to and not when my body is telling me.
Another thing that kept me going is the family. It’s not easy to do it, but on the other hand, I really wanted to play well and play those big tournaments and that my kids are able to see that. They’re still quite young, so I still have to try to do it for another two, three years so they really see what their father is doing. That really kept me going.
Mentally the game has become very, very tough, it’s just very tough for them (players that are 18, 19) to get there at that age.Then also physically, you need to be really fit nowadays. At 18 years old or 19 years old, their body is just not there. In my opinion, the two big reasons why nowadays players, when they’re like around 30, they’re better than before.
Over all those years when you work hard physically in the gym, on the track, and everywhere, if you do it during ten years, you’re just logically you’re better than a guy who did it for maybe two or three years.
The difference is the not level of tennis. The difference is consistency. In these tournaments (like the ATP Tour) here it’s very hard to win every single match when you’re not at 100% all the time mentally, physically.
There are a lot of good players in challengers, but they just can’t compete at the highest level all the time. You can have maybe mentally weaknesses or physically weakness, and then they’re going to be playing well one week or one or two matches, but then in the third match something is going to happen and they’re giving the match away.
This year, because of the Olympics, I wanted to play more before the Olympics and I said, ‘OK. Let’s go for it.’ It was the right choice.
I also have two kids at home and a wife, so it’s not easy to travel when you have kids at home.
Tennis is probably not as big as those sports ( cycling, football). So I think people notice it, it’s in the papers and on TV about my results, but other than that, I mean, I’m not expecting hundreds of people waiting for me at the airport now when I get back home.
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