Tennys Sandgren 20-01-18 interview

  • Def. Marterer 5-7 6-3 7-5 7-6 

Q. Are you pinching yourself you're in the second week of a slam?
TENNYS SANDGREN: It's kind of silly, right? It feels kind of silly.

I didn't think I'd make the second week when I came here. I was hoping to play a few good matches or try to get my first win, things like that. But to realistically set my sights on a second week wasn't on the cards.

The way things played out is I had a tough opponent, but a winnable match today. Just wanted to do my best to try to take advantage of that, leave it all out on the court. I was able to do that. Thankfully I was able to come out on top because he was playing some good tennis, he started strong. I was not sure how that one was going to go, that's for sure.

Q. It was a winnable match, like you said. How did you control your emotions after the big win against Stan, to come into this match?
TENNYS SANDGREN: That was obviously a big highlight of my career, to get a win like that on Margaret Court. Then to prepare for this one, I've prepared for a lot of matches, so it was kind of stick to the same routines, eat right, sleep good, you know, get my body feeling right and comfortable, try and just control the nerves. Just get everything in place that I can, control all the variables I can before going out on the court, just leaving it out there. That was the plan.

Q. Obviously you're still in this tournament very much. Have you thought about what this result does to boost your ranking? 180 points.
TENNYS SANDGREN: That's two challengers. That's a lot of points. That's a big deal (smiling).

Q. How does this change the short-term, long-term outlook for you?
TENNYS SANDGREN: One of my goals I guess going into this year was to make sure, going forward from where I've been at, is to make sure I can get into the main draw of the slams. That's a big deal, obviously a big prize money increase, good opportunities, things like that. That's kind of it. Play on a big stage, enjoyable things that you can kind of fall back on, say I had a good career, I played a bunch of slams, things like that.

I guess short-term is that it looks good for me for Roland Garros, I think, which is fantastic. Then maybe get in Miami main draw. Things like that, just getting in more main draws, more opportunities to play well, see what I'm capable of is a big deal, is a big deal. Thankful that I probably won't have to play any challengers this spring, which is nice. The way that the first two weeks went for me, you know, I was looking at, Okay, might have to drop back and play some challengers. I guess not really drop back, a challenger like Newport Beach is kind of stacked. Not really a drop back. But I think I'll be able to play some more ATPs, which is great, just more opportunities, yeah.

Q. When was the big decision made to lose your characteristic trait, which was the ponytail? Was that a big decision?
TENNYS SANDGREN: It was something that was kind of coming, I guess. I woke up one day, said, I can't live my life this way (laughter). I either have to keep my hair long for a long time or we can move on and do something different, something a little easier.

I wanted to do it before the start of this year, because if I had a good result, something like this, I would be hard-pressed to cut it. It was kind of like, Okay, we can maybe leave this one behind for now. We can leave the handlebar moustache, as well. We'll clean it up a little bit, look a little bit more professional.

Q. Move on to corporate tennis, right?
TENNYS SANDGREN: I don't feel much like corporate tennis, but maybe quicker shower tennis. I don't have to use as much shampoo, which is good.

Q. Thiem next. People compare him a lot to Wawrinka. I don't know if that matchup will help you in any way.
TENNYS SANDGREN: I don't think so. I mean, you didn't really see a lot of the trademark. When Stan drops really deep in the court on the return, absolutely gives it a wallop, I didn't see that many of those from what he was capable of giving.

I'll be playing on a big court probably. That will help me. I've seen a bigger court this week already. That certainly will help. On a bigger stage, having control of my nerves, those kind of things will help.

As far as tactics, not really. He's kind of a different animal right now. He's in great shape. He's playing well, doing a lot of really cool things, which is what he normally does. We'll see.

Rest tomorrow, try to get the legs feeling right, go out and give it my best. Hopefully I'll serve well. I think I'll need to serve really well if I want to have a chance. It will be fun. It will be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to compete on such a stage like that. That will be pretty awesome.

Q. Is there one particular fun thing you've heard from family or friends that you can share?
TENNYS SANDGREN: My mom's really excited. That's cool. She was my coach growing up. She coached me till I went to college. She's pretty ecstatic. She follows me very closely. So do other people.

I've got like a little neighborhood group that get together and watch some of my matches, especially ones like these. They'll all get together and watch together. It's been cool to see them kind of having a good time with it. Those are the people that have been following my career the closest. To see them kind of enjoying my experience and enjoying what I'm enjoying is definitely really cool.

To make my mama proud is definitely a nice thing and a cool thing, that's for sure.

Q. I presume it was a good experience having your mother as your coach?
TENNYS SANDGREN: Ultimately, yes. It had its challenges. I was homeschooled from the fourth grade onwards, was coached by my mom. There's a lot of time together, I guess. You could say that tensions would build up. We both are pretty stubborn, strong personality, I guess. We would butt heads.

Ultimately I wouldn't change it. We have a great relationship. It worked out, for sure.

Q. What was her tennis background?
TENNYS SANDGREN: Not much. She grew up in South Africa. Didn't play till she was in her early 30s. Picked it up, played little league tennis. Got passionate about it. She's a passionate person.

When she kind of dives into something, it's all in. She was in it, hitting on the ball machine, working out.

My dad was a more serious player. He wasn't as invested in the tennis part. He enjoyed the game. He enjoyed playing. The way I played as a junior wasn't necessarily out of enjoyment. Feisty, more negative version of what you see now, which is pretty bad (smiling).

That was kind of a turnoff. My mom stuck it out with me. She stuck it out with me, which I appreciate. She didn't have to. She had to take a lot of nonsense from me, and she did. Helped me grow and learn and improve.

Q. Is it challenging, now that you're looking back at the age you are now, to grow up, being homeschooled and being so much into the tennis with your mother? Almost an isolating experience. You don't grow up with kids in high school. Now that you're on the tour, you have to deal with a lot of different people all the time.
TENNYS SANDGREN: Do I seem not socialized (laughter)? I mean, it's challenging. I'm sure I missed out on some social events, some proms and things like that. Now I don't really care for things of that nature. It's just not a big deal. I feel like I had a good group of friends on the tour that I grew up with, still close friends of mine. I think that's all you really need, a core group of friends.

I guess it was isolating in its own way. My older brother was around a lot of the time. When he went to school when I was about 14, that was when I was kind of by myself, doing the tennis thing. That was probably the hardest period of time.

It definitely helped prepare me for the futures and challengers tour where I traveled without a coach for, I don't know, four or five years. Thankfully I'm not doing that now. At the time it was kind of like, Okay, I can deal with this, I can handle this. I'm fully capable to get through these weeks on the road by myself. I'm okay with it.

If anything, I enjoy it. Now I enjoy my time by myself, my alone time. Certainly my childhood helped prepare me for that. Young adolescent time prepared me for that.

Q. How is it being the last American man left in the tournament?
TENNYS SANDGREN: It's pretty cool. It would be cooler if I could go a little farther, make a real result. I mean, this is a big deal to me, making round 16 of a slam. Like Sam did at Wimbledon, playing in the semis, pushing for the final, that's a big deal.

To be the last American left in the round of 16, I would like it if there were more. We have a lot of really good players coming up. I'm sure we're going to see multiple men in round of 16 and quarters of slams going forward. We have a ton of really, really good players that are working hard.

To be the last one out of that group is pretty cool. Again, it's one of those things I didn't really expect going into the tournament. We've got a lot of big names, a lot of young up-and-coming players that aren't up-and-coming anymore, they're almost established as far as like Frances and Jared Donaldson, people like that. To be the last one, it's special. Just adds to the weight of kind of how this feels to be in the second week of a slam.

It's pretty cool from my end, that's for sure.