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My mum played tennis and my dad picked it up from her. We’d often watch my dad play company tournaments. When I was about six, my mum said my dad should introduce us to tennis, we had a lot of energy so it seemed a good outlet. A way for my parents to share their love for the game.
I enjoyed it straight away and had a passion for it. I never considered playing professionally, the aim was to get a tennis scholarship to a top university. But I turned pro just before my 16th birthday. It was incredible to play at the highest level for more than 16 years. My motivation has always been my love for the sport. My wife also played unbelievable tennis at junior and collegiate level. We’re very much a tennis family.
I love that it’s an individual sport. Every match is different. Different opponents, attitudes, personalities. I enjoy analysing matches – why I won points, why I lost points. That guides me to work on different aspects of my game so I can execute different shots. Like every pro player, I enjoy playing in front of big crowds on the grandest stages. That atmosphere when the crowd’s cheering and going nuts, you hit a great shot and you scream at the top of your lungs and you cannot hear yourself. You win games, you lose games. But to go out on the tennis court and hit the ball is always a sweet thing.
My favourite matches were when I was in control, hitting good shots. I think every player will agree, when you’re in the zone and everything is working, tennis is unbelievably fun. But it doesn’t always happen.
I was fortunate to have lots of great moments. But it’s tough to top wining the French Open, beating Ivan Lendl and Stefan Edberg on the way. Playing in Asia’s been great, I’ve had incredible support in China, Japan and South East Asia. There are so many great memories playing in so many great places. And now I’m coaching Kei (Nishikori), we’re still traveling the world, playing in fantastic venues.
You win games, you lose games. But to go out on the tennis court and hit the ball is always a sweet thing.
Right Handed, Two Handed Backhand
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