During each match there are millions of spectators cheering for you, not for Djokovic or Murray. Why the fans love you, What is so special about you? What do you think?
I don’t think that there is something special in me, probably my aggressive game. Number of players uses defensive style of game, I usually play offensive tennis, I believe that’s what grabs the attention of fans.
Also many tennis fans get used to the top players and that is why they are probably eager to see something new and special in the game. They want someone to battle the high ranked players. I believe that is why they are trying to cheer for me, however not only for me, it might be any other promising lower ranked player.
In many of your matched, especially in recent ones you are on the verge of victory. What do you think of all this, what may be stoping you during the match?
Well this is the difference; top players are always able to stay in the top 3 or 5 during 7-8 years, due to their stability and ability to impose their own game, and I am only starting to compete with them more often… No this is not about being nerves, it is not easily noticeable, but this is more about tactical game, everybody have a decent forehand, backhand, serve and a well movement on court, but most importantly you have to know how to play tactically and at the right time use the appropriate tactic against various players.
It is clear that they don’t have many weaknesses, but still there are some and during the 1st set when I played against Djokovic, Federer or Murray I was able to take advantage of them, however in the second or third set they are able to turn the game in the way, that they are starting to force my weaknesses to open, and I lack a little of focus and concentration to revers the game back to my benefit. The whole match is the game of tactics. You have to impose the game that brings you victory. Nevertheless your opponent will change his style of game during the match because he also wants to earn points. This is why the match goes exactly in such manner. If you are able to overcome the opponent’s tactics and impose your own, you win.
In the beginning of the match my opponents don’t expect that I am going to play a tactical game, although afterwards they start to impose their game. Probably due to stronger physics or more experience in some areas they are able to win.
Describe top players you played with, using a single word?
Novak Djokovic – I believe it’s the speed, he is really fast on court, it’s tough to describe with one word actually. Very difficult to score a point against him, Novak tries to go after every single ball and he does it, he returns every ball, its like playing against the wall, it is tough to beat the wall, because it always returns. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit, it will return even harder. That is what I feel when I play against him, he is like a fast wall.
Andy Murray – Destroyer probably, with the game that he enforces together with great movement on court, well everyone at the top move great…
Roger Federer – He is intelligent, Roger behaves very intelligently on court and he never shows his emotions. Roger had various types of matches throughout his career, maybe a couple of times he broke his racket, but it happened very rarely, he is great athlete and truly intelligent.
What qualities a top tennis player must have (leader of a world ranking)?
Yes, it happens quite often, there are good players that are very talented, that have a great feeling of the ball, you look at them and say their game is beautiful and technically in place, however, there is a lack of “guts” as our coaches used to say. When you go out on court you have to go after each ball “sink your teeth into every ball”, probably they do have such an attitude, however it might not be developed enough in many players. It is quite possible that the coaches were not able to emphasize on this aspect or made wrong suggestions. In contrast a number of players especially the ones that are in the top rankings have developed this type of attitude very well, and due to this, its really tough to break their game. If we talk about Spaniard David Ferrer, he is a great example for a textbook. Ferrer is a strong-willed player, he might be losing 5-1 40:0 but he always fights till the end, he never gives up fighting for every ball, I think it’s the most important quality, ability to stay there till the end, if you can do it, you will achieve success for sure.
Which tennis players of Uzbekistan you can highlight as promising?
I have to say that it is difficult to determine certain players. I am not following them on tournaments. During the training sessions I see couple of good guys, these are Timur Ismailov and Sanjar Fayziev they play international tournaments such as challengers and futures. Surely they are currently losing due to lack of experience. Once again its hard to pick someone, I don’t see how they play on the tournaments. You start seeing the abilities of the player when you watch him play the match. There are a lot of players but they have to play more tournaments, just training is not enough. This is where you develop the proper attitude, the experience of competition is very important.
Your best tournament?
I believe that is US Open 2013
Who usually accompanies you during the tour?
Well my mom is my coach; frequently she travels with me, not to every tournament but to big ones for sure.
The most difficult opponent with whom you've ever played?
They are all difficult, I guess its Djokovic, last time I played with him I was able to win one set, however before it was only 5 games.
Who do you think is the most beautiful tennis player?
Probably Anna Ivanovic
What do you fear most?
Basically there are not much things I fear of in this life already. Probably this is when I would have to end my career, this will be tough for sure.
Where did you put the refrigerator that Tennis Federation gave you?
It stays in the garage, here in Tashkent.
You are fan of Real Madrid football club, what do you think, will they be able to win over the Royal Club of Barcelona this season?
I really hope this will happen, and they have a good game right now that gives them huge chances. Barcelona is not at its best years they have some small weaknesses.
Do you play any musical instruments?
No I do not, but in my childhood I used to play on flute. Because I had asthma, my mom took me to flute lessons in order improve my respiratory system, it was long time ago, I forgot how to play it.
Moments in life that you are most proud of?
Probably returning back to tennis after trauma I got in the car accident, it was difficult but I was able to get back. I am not being proud of myself it is the achievement of my mom and relatives. My mom gave me hope that I can return and play well, I am actually proud that I was able to fulfill here task.
Do you look in the past? Is there something about what you regret?
Presently there are no such moments, maybe in my childhood I felt sorry for some things, and however things work out for the best. Never look back, only forward.
What is the most important part of the body for an athlete?
Your head, well surely its difficult to say that one particular part of the body is the core, if you have good body, once again you have to know how to play tactically on court. Its easy to build muscle, some even use certain drugs, nowadays everyone has muscle, in this way your brain remains as the main part, not only in tennis, in life as well.
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