Andy’s Australian Open Column
I thought I was pretty good in my win over Sam Querrey. I certainly played better than the first two matches. Sam’s a tough opponent with a big game so I was happy with it.
I probably warmed up for the match on three or four different occasions. Svetlana Kuznetsova was up a set and 4-1 on court before me, and then all of a sudden it was 3-0 in the decider to Jelena Jankovic. Then there was an injury time-out at the end.
You start warming up as soon as it gets to near the end of the match and then you just have to wait and hang around. It’s really tough but there’s not a lot you can do. I was ready to go out there for about an hour and a half.
The tough part is the mental side of it. You have to be switched on as you might just be about to go on and play in a Grand Slam match. It’s about trying to find a way of staying relaxed and not using up too much mental energy.
The support in the arena was great. The court we were playing on isn’t a ticketed court so you get really enthusiastic fans watching. Anyone can come in and watch – I think it’s $45 for the day. And with Dan Evans playing on the court after me, the Brits have been there all day. It was loud crowd, so I really enjoyed it.
I’ve known my next opponent for 17 years
Next up is Mischa Zverev. We’ve known each other since we were 12 years old, so for 17 years. We’re the same age and we grew up playing against each other in the juniors.
He’s a very quiet guy, and very calm on the court. He plays serve-volley tennis which you don’t see a lot nowadays and he’s improved so much over the last few months. His brother, Alex, is one of the best players in the world right now and they train together all the time. Their parents coached them so whenever I was playing with Mischa, when Alex was only tiny he would be on the side of the court with a racket in his hand.
There’s quite a different age gap between them and me and my brother but it’s always nice to have your family around you and to have someone who understands what it’s like to be a professional athlete – the stresses and everything you go through – it definitely helps.
Djokovic deserves a break
Everyone was surprised by Novak Djokovic’s exit in Melbourne, for sure. But out of the last few Grand Slams he made the final of the US Open, the third round at Wimbledon and won the French Open. Every single player on the tour, bar one or two, would sign up for those results. When you compare it to what his standards are, he’ll probably be disappointed. But if you compare it to every other tennis player in the world, his last 12-18 months have been phenomenal.
I think everyone needs to give him a bit of a break. It is hard to keep up the intensity week after week, that’s why everyone has been so impressed by the group of players at the top of the game over the last few years.
The same guys have been there for the last 10 years because their performances in the major events have been incredibly consistent. They’re always in the finals and semi-finals. So when it doesn’t happen once, everyone is really surprised and shocked.
But I think the players themselves are a lot more understanding, as we know how difficult it is and how incredible the consistency has been over the last few years. It’s almost inevitable it will drop off at some point.