1. Tennis runs in your family, your brother, too, is a tennis player. Why this sport?
Tennis is indeed very popular in my family. My father played basketball in his student years which granted him acceptance into Medical University in Kiev. My mom played table tennis and my older brother played basketball until he was 18, even qualifying for the national team.
My younger brother received a scholarship thanks to tennis at Penn State College where he studies petroleum engineering and plays for the university team. When I was six, my grandfather took me to tennis lessons for the first time and I instantly liked it, but additionally, I was taking swimming and basketball lessons, too.
2. How would you describe your attitude toward tennis?
It is my job that I do with great pleasure, a job that is physically and mentally very challenging. Tennis has been my life for more than 20 years and I am glad to have achieved my current rank.
It was a unique day in my career. Before our match, Roger had lost only three matches in ten years on that central court. Playing in front of 15,000 viewers was a stunning experience and leaving the court as winner felt even better.
4. What do you think of when you play?
During a match, I constantly look for tactical maneuvers that help me get to my opponent. I focus on his weaknesses, areas where he is prone to mistakes. Focus is of utmost importance in tennis, one ball can decide the outcome of the longest matches.
5. What is necessary to reach the top in the world of professional tennis players today?
In my opinion, it is the will to work and of course, the right team. Tennis became very athletic; each player is extremely fit and able to play several 5-set matches for a couple of consecutive days.
6. What are your plans after ending your career? What is it you are drawn to except for playing tennis?
Thanks to tennis I build a broad network and I have a lot of options. I would like to join the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine since I think that my knowledge can be of value and help the next generation of players. Apart from that, I will finally have enough time to devote to my foundation.
7. Yearly, you visit many tournaments. Which one is your favorite and why?
I enjoy returning to tournaments where I played well, however, Paris is of special significance to me. I met my wife Anfis there.
8. Up to what extent is the rivalry among tennis players mirrored outside the courts? Are friendships among players even possible?
Each player is different, but usually players from the same country stick together more. It is difficult to play against your friends, though, so everybody is keeping their distance. There are only two players I call friends – Mikhail Youzhny and Sergei Bubka Jr., although I talk to all of them daily. Strangely, tennis is a very lonesome sport. Even if you attract thousands of viewers, you are still alone on the court, nobody else counts during a match.
9. What motivated you to establish your own charity foundation?
Many factors led to AceTheCancerFung Foundation. Uncle on my father’s side died of gastric cancer in 2008. Apart from that, I have always known I want to support the fight against this malicious disease and help people in their moments of need. My father is an onkourology professor so I could rest assured that the money going into his department will not be wasted.
Doing good to people is so important. Daily small gestures can change a lot. People nowadays stopped believing in altruistic good deeds, they expect a trap around every corner, and that scares me.
10. What are the other goals you strive to achieve in your career? What do you consider the top of your career?
I would like to climb up the charts higher than my current rank (31). I believe I have all means and a great team that will help me to achieve this goal. I very much hope the top of my career is still ahead of me. I won four ATP tournaments and I hope that other titles are on their way.
11. What is the final piece of advice for beginners and enthusiasts or even the fledgling pros?
All I have to say is – hard work will always bring you results. Never give up and never stop believing. Tennis is a challenging sport and only a tiny percentage of all the enthusiasts will make it to the top, but no one knows who and when it will be. You can reach the top when you are 18 or 22 years old or even when you are 25. You need to devote everything to tennis if you want to succeed.