UBITENNIS EXCLUSIVE: Jan Satral Interview - UBITENNIS
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UBITENNIS EXCLUSIVE: Jan Satral Interview

I interviewed Jan Satral, the World No. 337 at the Los Angeles Futures in January.

Jakub Bobro

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Satral has been as high as No. 136 in Singles and represented the Czech Republic in Davis Cup. In 2017, the 27-year-old had a disappointing year and plummeted down the rankings. Now he’s back, looking for a better 2018. The interview was conducted in Czech and translated by the author, recorded shortly after Satral advanced to the semifinals, where he ultimately lost.

 

Congratulations on your win, how did you feel in your match today?

Thank you. I haven’t really gotten comfortable. I am winning my matches, but I’m not satisfied with my level of play here. However, it is the first week of the season and I’m glad that I’m winning. Today it was a little bit better than last time, and that’s all I can ask for.

You played against Lebedev, a player that has no ranking and plays college tennis, was he better or worse than you expected?

I knew that despite not having a ranking that he’s a good player. He came through qualifying and got to the quarterfinals, so I expected him to be good. It’s tough for me to play in America, where I don’t know many of the players. In Europe, I play mostly against the same guys, and I know what to expect. It’s a little bit tougher here, but I think I dealt with it well. He’s definitely good enough and you’ll see him climb the rankings soon.

Last year you dropped significantly in the rankings, was that due to injury?

I wasn’t really injured, but I had a bad start to the season. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I was around Top 150 and didn’t have much to defend the first half of the season, so I felt like I needed to make a push towards Top 100. I took some bad losses and got down on myself mentally. It really got in my head, that I wasn’t reaching my goals. I felt demotivated and that was reflected in my matches.

You’re through to the semifinals, possibly playing Christopher Eubanks in the final. You’ve played him once before, how do you feel about that match-up?

Obviously, first, we both need to win our matches. I remember playing him at US Open qualifying, I had no idea who he was. He’s very tall, very young with a good serve, but I got through that match. He plays very aggressively and it’s a good match-up. I’d rather play him than Sarkissian, whose game is more about keeping the ball in. I feel like if I can win my semifinal, I could beat him in the final.

Two years ago, you played the Round of 64 at US Open against Gael Monfils. What playing differences did you see and how did you feel playing against someone of his caliber?

That was most likely the best form of my career, that part of the season. I was very confident, as I won my first round after qualifying for a slam for the first time. I had no idea what to expect from a player like Monfils, I’ve never played that good a player before. I think I performed well, but he was just on another level. His movement, his serve, were impeccable. I had to work hard to win every point.

Why did you decide the start your season in the United States?

After I missed the cut-off for Australian Open qualifying, which was my goal toward the end of last season, to try and salvage my ranking, it was my coach’s decision. The European tournaments are on a very high level, and flying to Asia or Australian for a tournament or two is also not great. The plan is to play two Futures here, win some matches, take a week off and try the Challenger circuit. It was a very straightforward decision.

What are your goals for 2018?

Well, I hope to make Roland Garros qualifying and get comfortable on the court again. It’s tough to be playing for the big tournaments for a couple of years and then fall down to the Futures level. I have to fight and make it back to my past level. I need to get to a place where I play the slam qualifying and make Challenger main draws.

Do you feel more comfortable on hard courts or clay?

I’m fine with both, I can get used to them very quickly. I can adjust my game to the surface and have pretty even results on both.

What do you think about Radek Stepanek becoming Novak Djokovic’s coach?

It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to him at this point. He had to end his long and successful career due to injury, but he and Djokovic are pretty good friends. He is also struggling at the moment, and I think that Stepanek can help him adjust to the tour, he knows everybody on tour. It was a good move by Djokovic, and perhaps a start of a successful coaching career for Stepanek.

Overall, many Czech players had a poor 2017, why do you think that was?

Many went down in the rankings, but many of them were also plagued with injuries. Berdych, Rosol, and Pavlasek were all injured, and they will have a tough time coming back. Berdych was in Top 10 for an incredibly long time and I believe he can get back in there if he stays healthy. I hope the rest of the guys will stay healthy and get back on track.

 

ATP

Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert seal a hard-fought win in decisive doubles match

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Ten-time Davis Cup champions France beat Japan 2-1 scoring the fifth win in as many Davis Cup matches against the Asian team.

 

French star Jo Wilfried Tsonga reeled off seven games from 4-2 in the first set to beat Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2 6-1 in 58 minutes in his 12th Davis Cup season.

Tsonga saved two break points and converted four of the five break points. The Frenchman held four service games and broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to take a 6-2 lead.

Tsonga broke twice in the second and fourth games and closed out the match in the seventh game after saving two break points.

“It was very important for our team to start well. I am also happy about my game, what I did today, so I hope it continues like this”, said Tsonga.

 Yoshihito Nishioka claimed 9 of the last 11 games in his 7-5 6-2 win over Gael Monfils in 66 minutes to level the score at 1-1 sending the tie into a decisive doubles match. The Japanese player saved one break point and earned two breaks to seal the win in straight sets.

“I wanted to show to the whole world Japan are still strong. Of course, if Key was here we would be strong, but even when he is not here, we can play. Hopefully next time Kei is here and we can play better”, said Nishioka.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the first set and stayed neck and neck until the 11th game of the first set when Nishioka got the break at 5-5 to seal the first set. Nishioka broke twice to seal the second set 6-2.

Last week’s ATP Finals doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert fought back from losing the first set to beat Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchyama 6-7 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 40 minutes.

After losing the first set at the tie-break, Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Herbert and Mahut went up a break in the third set. Uchiyama and Nishioka got the break back in the 10th game, when Herbert and Mahut were serving for the match. Mahut and Herbert got another break at 5-5 and held at 15 to seal the decisive win for France.

“They played at a very high level. We know we have arrived late from London, but the captain had a lot of confidence in our team. We were 1-1, we really had to win to give France the win. There was a lot of intensity in the win but we are really happy today, this was a really difficult tie”, said Mahut.  

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Russia opens the Davis Cup campaign with a 3-0 win over Croazia

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Russia beat defending champions from Croatia 3-0 thanks to the two singles wins of Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov on Centre Court of the Caja Magica in Madrid.

 

Rublev cruised past Borna Gojo 6-3 6-3 in the opening match before Karen Khachanov came back from one set down to beat Borna Coric 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

Khachanov and Rublev returned to the court to beat specialists Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 to give Russia a 3-0 win.

“It was important to start well. I had some opportunities and took them. I am really happy we won this tie”, said Khachanov.

Belgium (two-time finalists) beat Colombia 2-1 on Court 3. In the opening match Davis Cup specialist Steve Darcis cruised past Santiago Giraldo 6-3 6-2. David Goffin came back from one set down to beat Daniel Elahi Galan 3-6 6-3 6-3. Last week’s ATP Finals semifinalists Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah won the doubles match for the Colombian team beating Sander Gillie and Joran Vliegen 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

“The challenge was to fight against myself. It was not easy. Sometimes you have to fight. I am happy the way I fought. I did not give up. That’s the most important thing because I am playing for my country”,said Goffin.

 

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Canada beats Italy 2-1 in the opening day of the Davis Cup in Madrid

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Denis Shapovalov battled past Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought second match of the round-robin Group F at the Davis Cup in Madrid to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Italy

 

Berrettini faced three break points in the third game of the opening set. Shapovalov earned two break points in the ninth game, but Berrettini held on his serve at deuce. Both players held on their service games. In the 10th game Berrettini earned three set points on return, but Shapovalov fended them off. Barrettini saved another break point to set up a tie-break. Shapovalov took a 6-3 lead earning three set points. Berrettini won two consecutive points to claw his way back to 5-6, but Shapovalov sealed the tie-break with a backhand passing shot.

Both players went on seve setting up a second tie-break. Berrettini got an early mini-break, but Shapovalov broke straight back. Berrettini took another mini-break to take a 3-2 when Shapovalov hit a volley into the net and sealed the second set 7-3 on his first set point.

Shapovalov earned a break point in the fifth game of the third set with a forehand winner. Berrettini held on his serve with his 11th ace. Both players went on serve in the next games setting up a third tie-break. Berrettini got the first mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after a double fault from Shapovalov. The young Canadian player broke straight back, when Berrettini made a forehand volley error. Shapovalov sealed the tie-break 7-5, when Berrettini fired his forehand long on his first match point after 2 hours.

“After making semifinals in the Madrid Mutua Open here, and winning the Junior Davis Cup in 2015, I feel like Madrid is a really good city for me. We will see how this week goes, but it’s a good step today”, said Shapovalov.

Fognini and Berrettini won the doubles match over beating Shapovalov and Pospisil 6-2 3-6 6-3. The Italian team got a double break to win the first set 6-2. Shapovalov and Pospisil drew level by winning the second set with a break in the eighth game. Italy saved two break points in the seventh game of the decisive set before breaking serve in the eighth game. Berrettini sealed the win for Italy with an ace.

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