Tennis: Tim Smyczek: I want to play more like Ferrer

Tim Smyczek at 2012 US Open - photo: Chris Griffin,
In the absence of a truly dominating player Tim Smyczek is one of the top US tennis hopefuls. This Milwaukee born 25-year old recently had a nice run at the Australian Open. After going through the qualifiers he beat the fastest server in the world Ivo Karlovic in straight sets and lost to a #4 seed David Ferrer in the second round. Despite the defeat Tim, whose ancestors come from Poland, is content with his performance, which gives him courage and confidence to face other top players in the upcoming tournaments.

Tim, congrats on your recent performance at Australian Open. You fought Ferrer well and - apart from that first set disaster - you gave him quite a battle. What happened in that opening set and did you think you could pull an upset?
Tim and Ivo Karlovic - photo: David Gray / Reuters

Tim Smyczek: Thank you, it was a wonderful experience playing against one of the players I look up to most on tour. I wouldn't even say the first set was a disaster. It was great tennis, we had a lot of long points and he just came out on top in almost all of them. I was a little bit afraid of getting shut out, but thankfully I made a few adjustments and ended up making it a match. I felt like I had a lot of momentum going into the fourth set and I really started to believe I could win. If I hadn't faded away a little bit physically, who knows what could've happened? I am really looking forward to the next time I get an opportunity to play a top player, so that I can take that belief with me from the first point.

Meanwhile Ferrer is already in the semis. Don't you catch yourself thinking: "Darn, it could have been me?"

T.S.: I'm not under any illusions about whether it should be me in the semifinals right now. I feel like I am capable of playing a high level of tennis, but the reason I am ranked where I am is that I haven't been able to play at that high level on a consistent basis. That is one of the goals that I am working toward.

Speaking of the ATP ranking: thanks to your good play at AO you have moved up to a #126 spot. What's it going to take and how soon do you think you can break into the top 100?
Tim Smyczek at 2012 US Open - photo: Chris Griffin,

T.S.: My goal is to break into the top 100 in the first half of this year. With my result in Australia, I'll move pretty close. I think the biggest thing for me is going to bring a high level of intensity every time I step on the court, much like Ferrer does.

From Melbourne you went straight to Hawaii, where you beat your first opponent at Maui ATP Challenger. What's next? Will we see you at French Open?

T.S.: My next few tournaments are the Dallas Challenger, San Jose, Memphis, Delray, Indian Wells, and Miami. One of my big goals is to get into the main draw of the French, but if not I will still be there for qualifying.

Do you know any Polish players on the tour? Łukasz Kubot? Jerzy Janowicz?

T.S.: I don't really know any of them.

And what about Agnieszka Radwańska? She is always in the mix, but so far no slam titles to show for. What is her problem in your opinion?

T.S.: I don't know Aga personally, but we have the same agent. She's already having an incredible year and I think she'll break through in a slam very soon.

Your last name in Polish means... a violin bow. And that's - according to your wikipedia page - something else you claim to be good at. Coincidence?

T.S.: I never was much good at the violin, which unfortunately I stopped playing when I was about 14. Complete coincidence, however when my great grandparents came to the US from Poland, their last name was Smyk and they decided to change it to Smyczek. Not really sure why.

Since you are a bit Polish - can anyone in your family speak the language?

T.S.: My grandparents spoke Polish, but never taught my father or any of his siblings the language.

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