ORIGINAL REPORT FROM NEW YORK – Seventeen-year-old Jakub Menšík gave himself the best possible present for his upcoming birthday, i.e. advancing to the 3rd round of the US Open. The Czech talent became the youngest tennis player to do so since 1990. He will have a match with the local Taylor Fritz on one of the local big courts. But the native of Prostějov is not afraid, the only problem would be if hornets were flying around the yard.
Jakub Menšík did not admit the drama. In the 2nd round of the American Grand Slam, he saw off Frenchman Titouan Droguet in two hours and 50 minutes after sets 3:6, 6:2, 7:6(1) and 6:3. “After the first set, which I lost 3-6 and I didn’t feel completely comfortable because of the conditions, it was important to keep my cool and play the way we prepared for it. The road led this way,” he let himself be heard.
You will celebrate your eighteenth birthday with a match in the 3rd round of the US Open. What do you think about it?
I thought that would be very nice. A great reward for the performances I perform here. Even for the whole great season, which showed me that honest hard work and work bears fruit. And with Taylor Fritz, a top 10 home player, I hope we get a big court. (smiles)
At 5:3 in the fourth set, you didn’t use two match points. Did that decide you?
Towards the end I felt that quality was on my side. I was more relaxed and confident. Even though the first match points didn’t work out, I knew I could earn another chance. And I also had one serving gem available. It was just about being relaxed and playing the ending honestly.
During the match, Droguet complained about something. Can you elaborate on what it was?
I dont know at all. But I remember that I played with the same opponent last year in the semifinals of the twenty-five in Heraklion. We both knew what to expect from the other. I knew that was his type of throwaway. Whenever he gets a little wet, he likes to argue with the referee or kick someone a few times.
You are the youngest participant in the 3rd round of the US Open since 1990. What will you go into the match with?
On the one hand, I have nothing to lose here, on the other hand, I know that I can beat anyone. With a few exceptions. (laughs) As I’m doing well here, my self-confidence has also increased. I believe in myself, and the fun in the game goes up as well. I will start like any other match. Even if it’s my birthday, I couldn’t have asked for a better present.
You have been working with a mental coach for several years. Does it manifest itself?
It certainly paid off to work with him. I’m not really used to match-three matches, so it definitely came in handy. The decisive moment was after unconverted set points in the third set at 6:5. It was very difficult for me to go into the tiebreak, but I kept my cool and did great. From a mental point of view, there is still room for improvement, it is not yet of such quality that I can show a 100% stable performance for three sets.
But one has to be born with some mental resilience…
I think the mental side can be worked on. I could have been eliminated in the first round of qualifying with Fognini. I lost the first set 1-6 and was close to elimination. My fate then hung in the balance. I am glad that I can handle similar situations. I enjoy everything, which is the key.
You appear very calmly even in front of journalists.
Yeah, of course. All these duties belong to tennis. After a winning match, one looks forward to them. But I’m not a fan of it, I don’t make my head off the press. If I were to get fired from something like that, what would I do on the court. (Laughs)
Is there anything that freaks you out?
I’m quite afraid of hornets. I have a lot of respect for them. When I see hornets, I’m under a lot of pressure.
US Open (Men’s Women’s USA $65,000,000 Hard Court)
2nd round of men’s singles
Titouan Droguet (FRA, 171.) – JAKUB MENŠÍK (206.) 6:3, 2:6, 6:7(1), 3:6
Michal Hladký, photo: IG – mensik.jakub
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