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  1. #1

    Interview with Daniel Nestor

    [tptwrap][/tptwrap]DANIEL NESTOR STAYS FOCUSED

    On his way to winning his 55th career title at the Rogers Masters, in front of his hometown crowd in Toronto, the world's top-ranked doubles player spoke to TAT about doubles, Canadian tennis, and what he has learned from his 17-year career as a professional tennis player.

    TAT: Congratulations on your run so far.
    DN: Thanks.

    TAT: You are now not only the world No.1, but you are also the only active male player with a Golden Slam. Have you had time to reflect on your achievement?
    DN: Well, yeah, I've thought about it for sure. But I know well enough from years of experience, with winning… You know, sometimes you forget about what you need to stay on top or to get to the top. That's the last thing, you know… I want to stay near the top and keep playing, so I don't want to over-enjoy something and get overly confident and relax. So, you have to keep going, for sure. That's the hardest part about being ranked at the top. It's staying there. It's not easy to get there, for sure, but it's hard to stay there. That's the hardest thing.

    TAT: How will it feel coming back to the Olympics, having won Gold before?
    DN: Yeah, Freddy [Niemeyer - ed.] and I played a lot of great matches playing for our country, and I think we had some good matches leading up to the Olympics this year. Last week in Indianapolis and in Davis Cup we played well. I think there are a lot of dangerous teams in the field, a lot of new teams and teams who don't necessarily play together all the time, and we fall into that category. I don't think we're the favorites, but I think if we get the right draw, and we're playing well, we could do some damage.

    Nestor on home courts in Toronto

    TAT: Would a second win mean as much?
    DN: For sure. I mean, yeah. I'm not really thinking about that, but, yeah, it would be outstanding. You know, right now, Canadian tennis is on the upswing. It would be, obviously, great for tennis in this country to be able to win again.

    TAT: But this week in Toronto, you chose to play with Zimonjic…
    DN: Yeah, because we're ranked No. 1, so we are going to try to finish the year No. 1, so that's my commitment to him, it is a year commitment, and to Freddy it is the Olympics, and, as much as we can, we practice outside the tournaments where I'm committed with Nenad.

    What do you think is the reason for the Bryans' "dethroning," so to speak? You guys only played them twice this year, so you've got some help from other teams. Do you think the switches in the doubles partnerships in the beginning of the year helped that or is it something about the Bryans?
    DN: As far as them not playing as well?

    TAT: Perhaps.
    DN: Yeah, it's surprising. I mean, I don't think that they're that far off what they're used to. I mean, they're still very close to No. 1, and, if they win this tournament, they'll be back at No. 1, so… You know, they're used to dominating, and the fact that we switched, it might make it a little tougher for them. But, you know, if you looked at four or five teams that switched at the end of last year, not that many are doing well with their new partners. Even Nenad and I were struggling a lot for awhile. Knowles and Bhupathi are doing well. Ullyett and Bjorkman picked it up at Wimbledon, but before that, they weren't doing that great. Hanley's been struggling a little bit. Mirnyi has been struggling a little bit with Murray, so it's...

    You know, we were surprised that all these teams decided to split up. It's good to have changes every now and again, but at the same time, it takes a while to get used to your new partners.

    TAT: On that note, you've won your major championships with Knowles, and, then, with other partners. What makes you so adaptable to new partners?
    DN: It's not a huge adjustment. I mean, you got to, obviously, pick guys that play the other side.

    TAT: So, it is more about the game than personalities?
    DN: Yeah, obviously, I've been lucky to have had great partners, too. You know, Nenad and Mark are different in certain ways, but not so much different in other ways. I didn't think it was a huge adjustment.

    Nestor with partner Nenad Zimonjic in Toronto

    TAT: Can you tell me about your partnership with Nenad? You were born in Serbia, is that important to you, does it help you in your relationship?
    DN: Well, yeah. A lot of Serbian guys on tour know that I was born there. We have that connection, so I've gotten to know them a little bit. Obviously, I knew Nenad, one of the top players coming up the last few years.

    It's nice to play with someone that's eager and wants to be No. 1. That was exciting for me. He is very professional and he loves training hard, so it's good to play with someone like that.

    TAT: You had good results earlier in your career, but you are just peaking now. What do you think is the reason for that?
    DN: I don't know if I'm peaking, I think it just goes through cycles. There are ups and downs, but I thought last year, at certain times, I was playing great. You know, we won the Masters, won the French Open, and I felt like I was playing really well.

    Usually, throughout the course of a year, there are times when you feel great on the court, and there are other times when it's a struggle. And those are the times where you have to stay level-headed. I think both times, actually, both times you have to stay level-headed, when you're winning and when you're losing. Try to not get too high and not get too low, you know.

    TAT: In the span of your career, would you say you're playing your best these years, rather than in the beginning in the 90s?
    DN: Well, I got better over the years, I guess. Obviously, I'm just playing doubles. Before, I was playing doubles and singles, so I feel like my doubles skills have improved just from practicing doubles all the time. In that sense, yeah, I'm playing better doubles. But, you know, I probably served harder when I was younger, maybe was a little more explosive. But now I can use my experience. That counts for a lot, too.

    TAT: Do you regret giving up singles? When you have someone like Bjorkman, who keeps playing both?
    DN: Yeah, I don't regret giving it up at the time, given the circumstances. I was having surgery, and, you know, I was getting older at the time anyway. And I was playing well in singles. But I realized that the year I played my best in singles, I was playing so many matches that my body… my body, over the years, it couldn't keep up with it.

    Daniel laughs off a question at a post-match interview

    I regret certain things in my singles that perhaps I didn't do when I was very young, to be a better singles player. But as far as when I stopped? No, I think that was the right thing that I did.

    TAT: What do you think is the reason for doubles sometimes being overlooked at tournaments?
    DN: Well, the singles guys, the big names don't play enough, and that's pretty much the reason.

    TAT: Is it at the marketing end, or...
    DN: Well, it's not on TV anymore. I mean, TV wants singles, and there isn't time to showcase the doubles. And when they do, people, obviously, don't recognize the players. So, obviously, they could do a better job.

    TAT: What do you think can be done? There's "Doubles Rules," but...
    DN: Sure. There is no question they could do a better job marketing. You know, putting teams in the weekly magazine for the tournament, trying to get as many matches as they can on center court. I think even when we are on the big courts, and possibly on TV, people still don't know what they're watching. I think the little things, like being part of the magazine, or an advertisement on site, like a big board... Something that you see in singles, but you don't in doubles.

    TAT: Can you talk a little bit about Canadian tennis? What can be done there to develop more players?
    DN: Well, it's pretty much just getting people to play the sport. It's hard. Kids are playing hockey, and it's hard to take away from that right now. You know, tennis is an unpopular sport, compared to some others. Kids enjoy playing team sports. You grow up watching team sports, mainly, on television. That attracts more kids. I'm sure it's more fun to play team sports.

    But, the weather doesn't really help in Canada - a lot of indoor tennis, which can be expensive. But, I think, the main thing is just getting more kids playing. That's going to come from more tennis on television, more results by Canadian players. You know, if Dancevic breaks through into the top 50 and is winning matches weekly, I think that'll be good for kids.

    You've said you want to play several more years. What keeps you going?
    DN: Just being competitive. I love playing, I love competing. I've won a lot in the sport, but this is what I do well. I know, on the other side, if I were to stop playing, sure I won't be traveling as much, and that might be more relaxing. But, at the same time, maybe you won't be feeling as good about yourself because you are not going to be doing something you love to do, and something you're really good at.

    Nestor/Zimonjic went on to win the tournament. At the trophy ceremony

    TAT: So, what other things would you want to accomplish?
    DN: In tennis while I'm still playing? I'd try to win every grand slam, again, as many as I can. It's all about grand slams for me, I don't care so much about being ranked No. 1. If I play a year, I'd much rather win one slam than not win one slam and make four finals and be ranked first. So, that kind of stuff. It's about winning the big tournaments.

    TAT: Do you have any plans after you leave tennis?
    DN: Yeah, I'm sure I'll stay involved with tennis, and with the federation, and try and help some of the young guys come through the ranks and achieve their potential.

    TAT: Last question. What do you think is the key to longevity?
    DN: Key to longevity? In tennis, it's being patient. I think, obviously, the working hard, you have to do that. And dealing with losses is very tough. Basically, you are losing every week if you don't win the tournament. So, just dealing with that and being patient. As I said, there are a lot of highs and lows. You have to stay level-headed and not get too down when times aren't going well, and vice versa. It's how you deal with things. And, I think, just being patient and learning how to persevere through the tough times.

    With the Rogers Masters trophy

    Interviewed by Mariya Konovalova

  2. #2

    Re: Interview with Daniel Nestor

    Very nice. Bien fait. (Bilingual seems appropriate for a Canadian).
    It's hard out here for a Zuz.

  3. #3

    Re: Interview with Daniel Nestor

    I just read it all. Nice interview
    Thanks, Mariya

    Interesting to see that Tennis isn't that popular in Canada. I knew that Hockey was no.1 (obviously), but I always thought tennis was popular.


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