UBITENNIS EXCLUSIVE Ben McLachlan: “Australian Open Was A Dream Come True”
Exclusive interview with Ben McLachlan. The Japanese doubles specialist won ATP 500 in Tokyo in 2017 and reached the Australian Open semifinals. At 25, his doubles career is only getting started.
How did your partnership with Hugo Nys come about?
We have seen each other at tournaments on the Challenger circuit, and after the Australian Open we talked and decided to play a couple of weeks together. We played Montpellier, New York, and now here in Delray Beach.
Last fall, you won the ATP 500 in Tokyo with Yasatuka Uchiyama, how did that title change your career?
I think it changed it big time. I wouldn’t have had a chance to play the Aussie Open and just confidence-wise it helped. We played some tough guys and managed to beat them. We gained a lot of confidence from it.
You’ve also played with Uchiyama in Davis Cup a couple of times, how does it feel to represent your country?
It was great fun. We lost both times, but both were very tough opponents, so we’re definitely hoping to get a win the next time we play together.
At Australian Open, you made semifinals with Jan-Lennard Struff, how do you feel after that great of a run at a grand slam?
It was awesome, man. Really a dream come true. It was fun playing with Jan, we only met a couple of days before the tournament. We got along great. He’s an easy guy to get along with and we had great chemistry on the court which worked for us.
You went from being a Challenger player to well within the Top 50 very quickly, how would you say the quality compares?
I don’t find it that different. A lot of guys want to get up there because the difference in points is insane. Winning the first round here is like making the final of a Challenger. It is much easier to get points at this level. Although the level is higher, anyone can win on the day with the doubles scoring.
You played college tennis at Berkeley, how was that experience?
It was awesome, I had a great time. Graduated in 2014. Played 3 years with my brother as well, so it was good fun.
Your brother is now your coach, describe that dynamic, please.
We get along really well, he was the main reason why I went to Cal (Berkeley) as well. He’s always been a big influence on me. He knows me really well, so I trust everything he says. He’s hard on me.
You switched nationalities from New Zealand to Japan, what was the reasoning behind that?
I just saw it as a good opportunity. I considered playing for Japan, always thought it was a good option. Then about halfway through last year, I felt like I had to do it, especially because New Zealand had 3 top doubles players and I was ranked 130 at the time. I got a call-up to play Davis Cup for Japan straight away which was the best experience for me.
At 25, you’re quite young for a doubles specialist. Why did you decide to focus solely on doubles?
A few reasons. I wasn’t enjoying my singles that much. The motivation wasn’t really the same with practicing. Once I started to focus on doubles, I started to enjoy my practices way more. I can spend more time on-court and enjoy it more. Also, I thought my game was better suited for doubles too.
What are your goals for this year?
At the start of the year, I wanted to reach Top 40 but now I think that’s a bit low (currently ranked No. 33). So I need to go and reevaluate. Just do as well as I can and keep improving.