UBITENNIS EXCLUSIVE: Andreas Siljestrom: ‘Robin Soderling will help Elias Ymer break the Top 100 this year’
The 36-year-old doubles specialist Andreas Siljestrom is soon to begin his 2018 season at the Newport Beach challenger. The experienced Swede is looking to get his career back on track.
I just watched you practice with Sasha Bublik today, are you playing doubles together this week?
Yes, yeah we’re playing together here.
How did you decide to play together?
We did preseason together in Delray Beach, so we were practicing together the entire November and half of December. It was very good.
You didn’t really have a great season in 2017, you went from No. 64 in Doubles to No. 152. What happened there?
The first 3 months I was playing with a foot injury. I had a plantar fasciitis and in March it ruptured, so I was out for another 2 months. Then I came back for Wimbledon, and I had a very good Wimbledon. I qualified and then made the second round. After that, I made quarters of the 500 in Hamburg. So I had some good results, but then in the end of the year, I didn’t play so well. I finished early and my ranking dropped, I had a lot of points to defend because the year before was very good.
Why did you decide to start your season in America instead of Europe or Australia?
I did my preseason here in the States, and I was actually very pumped to start my season the 8th of January in Arizona. They had a challenger to start the year, but it got canceled last minute. So I had a choice to go to Europe or stay, and I just took a longer preseason, so hopefully it will be good for me, but I haven’t played a match yet and I’m feeling a little rusty.
I remember you from Bratislava where you played with Henri Kontinen, who got up to No. 1 last year. Could you tell me about your partnership and did you think he was going to be that good?
I knew he was very good when we played together. He was always very relaxed in the big moments. He was very calm and could play well when it mattered. That’s what you need to do to be on that high of a level. For him to become No. 1, I couldn’t have guessed. We only played a couple of tournaments together, but we did very well. We won Bratislava pretty easily in the final, so it would have been fun to play some more. He has had an amazing career and he is still going strong.
Currently, you’re the 4th tallest player on the ATP tour at 206 cm (6ft 9in). Other than a big serve, how has that affected the way you play?
When you’re that tall, you’re not the best mover on the court and that’s why I didn’t play singles. I can play well with the ball near me, but when it is going in the corners, you have to move so quickly which isn’t easy. My friends Isner, Opelka, and even Karlovic do that very well, but their serves are massive. I was practicing with Opelka too in the preseason, and his serve is a rocket.
Swedish tennis is not at its best right now, but what do you think about the Ymer brothers and the other doubles guys you have?
I’m happy about the Ymer brothers, they’re doing quite well. Now Elias is playing well again, now around 130 in the rankings, and his partnership with Robin Soderling has been very good. Long term it will be very good, and I think he will crack the Top 100 this year, keeping my fingers crossed. Also his brother Mikael Ymer is a very big talent and once he gets his game going, he can beat anyone. It will be interesting to watch them this year, to see if they can have some success.
We have Davis Cup coming up next week, so both the Ymer brothers will be there. The coach has even been calling me, so I don’t know if I also have to go. We will see. It will be a pretty tough start for me to go from playing in California and then go all the way to Ukraine. It’s going to be a long trip, tough opponent, and a very long flight. They have a good team, Dolgopolov, Stakhovsky, Marchenko, it will be tough.
What are your goals for 2018?
For sure to get back to Top 100 as soon as possible. When you’re 150 like me right now, it’s not even certain that you get into Challengers. I want to find a steady partner and come back to Top 100 so I can play the bigger tournaments. I’m too old to just play Challengers. I have to play ATP and Grandslams, otherwise it’s not enough money, I have to pay bills also.
Have you thought about going into coaching after you eventually retire?
I thought about it, but I’m not sure if that’s the path I want to take. If it would be a college team or a professional player, I would definitely consider it.
You used to play college tennis in America, how was that experience for you?
That was an awesome experience, I had probably the best time of my life. I was there for 4 years, I even stayed and did my Masters and started playing afterward. It was a lot of fun. My last match for the team, my partner and I won the NCAA tournament by beating Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe in the final, so that was a great way to finish the college career. Definitely a career highlight.