Q: Why did you specifically learn from last year in the clay?
A: The shots selection certain times, giving myself time. I always grew up thinking if you're in a position to hit a big shot, why wouldn't you hit it? On clay, I'm sort of realizing that when I'm out of position on the court, I shouldn't go big because then I only hurting myself, only giving myself less time to recover the next ball. So, I learned a lot about the positioning and hitting good shots. I said shape and mixing up the ball, mixing up drop shots, and all these types of things.
Q: How pleased have you been with the clay season so far?
A: I guess I'm happy, I've done what I was expected to do, but it's really frustrating. I had only pretty much lost against to the top guys, Kei and Djokovic. It's just a little upsetting because I keep putting myself in the position to play these guys, and I'm not winning. I guess If you told I would have played them four times in five weeks, I would like to think I might win one of them, so it's a little upsetting that I'm giving myself these opportunities, something I didn't do two or three years ago, but I'm just not taking it.
It's upsetting to constantly lose to these guys, but I just need to keep working. I think once I beat one of them, I will start to do it more constantly. I always have been someone that when I do something right, it's easy to repeat and do it over again. Happy of my clay season, but it sucks that I keep losing these matches.
Q: You said before that other people kind of told you that you weren't good on clay. Is that because you have such a reputation to be a hard court player, or what do you mean by that?
A: I think when you're American, people think you're just not good on clay. The kinda player I am, who is just very aggressive and who plays pretty flat and isn't known for moving the best, I think that people were just working out on their heads that that's not for me, even now the results said otherwise.
People just assumed that wasn't the time of the year for me to really pick up points and that's more the time of the year for me to train, work on my game and take weeks off. This year I finally listen to what I wanted to do and let myself play into it. Like I said I haven't had good results in the last year.
After taking 5 or 6 weeks off, I'm not gonna be sharp the first two weeks, so It takes me a little bit of time to get going, so I just wanted to give myself time to get going. Especially after Houston, my ankle was just so bad all the way from Delray to Miami. And then Houston was like the first tournament I played pain-free, and I was just so rusty, that was insane, I couldn't put three balls on the court.
I just wanted to keep playing matches, matches and matches, and lot of practice and lot of hitting, and then it starts clicking. That's what I need, not too much time off, and play a full schedule.
Q: Is the presence of Jordan (his son) and your wife this clay season really helping you?
A: Yes it is, definitely. I think some people could sometime say that having people with you traveling and all that could be a distraction, but you know, I stayed really focus on what I need to do on and off the court, and it's just has been so great having them here for all the times that I'm not taking care of what I need to take care of.
Q: About the ATP Cup, the new team even that's gonna take place in January 2020, is this something you would like to do? Representing your country on the global stage?
A: Yes. I was thinking about it the other day, it would be so cool. Be in the deciding match where you're the one playing. There's NCAAs going on right now, and it's like we missed that feeling. Team needs you, match is on the line, it's a lot more emotional. It's easier to get pumped up when you have all these people with you in a team setting. It's more motivation because everyone is pushing you so I think it's such a cool dynamic and I'm really excited to play. I hope I'm gonna be a top-three American to be in this event. I hope I will be in this spot and play this event next year, because I'm really excited to represent the US and I think we've a really good shot at winning it.
The full interview:
Nicolas Evrard, special reporter in Lyon (France).