Interview by Michele Galoppini (article by Giulio Gasparin)
Igor Sijsling has defeated Mirza Basic in the final of ATP Challenger of Brescia on the fastest courts that most player have played on in recent times. It was a great show for the Dutch tennis player who came out strong of his serve and deadly backhand despite the long and excruciating fight he played last night against home hero Luca Vanni. For the Dutch it is the first title since 2012, when he won three titles on the same year, but most of all, it is a great boost of confidence after sliding down the rankings over the summer. Before capturing the title this week, the player from Amsterdam lost two more finals this year on the ATP Challenger tour, all of them coming in the past couple of months.
Are you happy about how you closed this week?
I am very happy about the way this final went, because even if it was not the best match of the tournament from my end I am happy to have won it. I think yesterday was such a tough match against Luca (Vanni) as he was serving strong, but I was confident with my shots and I was happy when I closed it in two sets.
Last year you lost as first seed in the first round…
Really? Oh wow, that was not lucky. It’s never easy to play as the first seed, in the first round.
Well, this year you played the first seed, though not in the first round, and you beat him, after that did you expect to win the tournament?
No, of course not. I was playing very well in this past few weeks ending the year, but it is never easy to win a tournament, not even after beating the top player of the draw. So I did not expect to lift the trophy for sure.
Going into the details of your match today, I believe you served wonderfully and then the backhand was on fire, do you think these were the keys today?
Yeah, I went for my shots today and I think I served very well today, keeping the percentage high, but still hitting a few nice aces. I think I felt very confident this week and today as well, that’s why I could go for my shots. I felt like I had more “air” on my shots, while he was finding it harder to control his shots. So in the end it was enough.
How far do you think you are from the level you had when you reached your highest ranking at number 52?
I don’t think I am far from it. The level is so close from 50 to 150, so it all comes down to confidence and right now I am happy to be playing and to be doing this job. I think that makes a big difference and I feel like I have that now.
How did it feel to start back from zero, almost, as you dropped down the rankings?
Yeah, I know what you mean, it’s tough, because what you want to do is to play the bigger tournaments and do well there, play the main draws of slams and win matches there, so it is tough when you drop down the rankings to find the motivations.
What happened exactly that made you slip as much in the rankings?
You know, I’ve suffered an injury and could not play between Wimbledon and the US Open, it was a problem with my knee. But since reaching my best rankings in February of last year, I had some problems with coaches and I could not find the right groove. You know, if you want to be a top 60 or top 50 player, you must be 100% and I simply wasn’t at that time, maybe just 90%, but that’s not enough to hang in there.
So how does it feel to end the season like this and what are your goals for 2016?
Great of course! When you play a tournament you always want to win it, but when you do it’s great. Now of course I wish I had more tournaments to play, but it doesn’t matter, now what really matters is that I can take this good form to the next season and soon be back into the top 100.
And what about the Olympics? Do you think about them?
No, not really. I actually don’t think about it at all, but you know, it’s the Olympics so it would be great to participate. But I don’t think I am good for the criteria right now, so if I am to make it, I’d take whatever I can: singles or doubles, doesn’t matter.
It’s been three years since your last title, it’s quite a long time.
Yeah, you are right, three years is a long time, but you know, if you are not a top 20 player, it’s not that easy to win tournaments, because it means you haven’t lost a single match in the week if you do. I personally found myself always playing well but in patches, so this way it’s hard to win a trophy, but I think that if you make a final it is almost just as good and it helps in the rankings too. But yeah, if you win a tournament it’s the best.