The young Slovene won his place in the ATP Challenger of Cordenons by fighting through a tough draw in the qualies, where he was unseeded. In the first round he faced Croatian Antonio Veic, 6th seed of the main draw. The match was long and tough, both guys gave everything in every point, but in the end it was the talent of the Janez to prevail and give him a very important win, after the huge problems suffered in the past years.
Well, first of all, congrats for today. You played a really good match.
J.S. Thank you.
I think it wasn’t easy, because your opponent had a much better ranking that you, how did it feel out there?
J.S. Ehm…it was really tough because I played qualies, two matches were three hours long and in the end of the second set I felt the tiredness and it was strange…
You also went down of a break in the 3rd set, but had a great reaction to that…where did you find the energy to do that?
J.S. I don’t know, I just said: “play, just play hard and be aggressive, just do everything”, I was too tired so I just tried to break his game, otherwise I couldn’t win today.
Totally. How’s it going this season? You did quite well in a few futures in Austria in the past weeks and played San Marino the last one, now you are in the second round here, so it’s going well.
J.S. yeah, in the past I got a lot of problems with mononucleosis when I was 19 and I was 320 and then I had to rest for 4 years because of this disease and it was very tough mentally to stay focused on tennis or quit. This year at the beginning I played some futures…I played bad…and I was thinking to quit tennis, then I got called for the Liga and I said, ok, it’s good money, so let’s go and play. I won some matches against good guys despite two months with no tennis, so I thought, ok, I can play tennis. So I played those futures in Austria, one I reached the SF, the other two I won, yeah…last week in San Marino it was not the best day, but also the guy was really good.
I see, you probably were a little tired too…
J.S. No, he played really well in this tournament. *laughs*
Ok, well, did you check the draw already?
J.S. oh, no, I know I play in the next round Schoorel, but I never played him.
Well, today you played very good down the line shots, are those your best shots in your opinion or?
J.S. I think my best shot is the backhand, wherever I play it. Then serve-forehand combo.
These indeed worked today…anyway, how does it feel now? I mean you came back from a serious disease and thought about quitting tennis and now, how does it feel to know you can still do it?
J.S. Reborn! It’s a very good feeling because also, I started very good this season, not the beginning, but then a semifinal and two titles, you know, maybe tomorrow it’s my day!
J.S. yes, two times. Yeah, but with the disease I still feel tired and it’s hard to recover. I am not so physically prepared because of this and you know, it’s strange when you play qualies and you reach the semifinal, but you are too tired to play more.
You played really long matches in the qualies as well, so it’s tough for sure.
J.S. yes, against good opponents, like with Ciric in the second round and I also beat him because of the heat as he got cramps in the third set, you know, long matches.
Yes, it gets tough there.
J.S. yes, and with Veic I played in 2008 in a future and beat him easily, but today it was a completely different story.
Indeed. What are your goals now? I mean, not just for this week, but for the rest of the year.
J.S. you know, just to come to main draws of challengers, three-hundred and something, you know, to start the new season and play more challengers and maybe reach the qualies of Australian Open, it’s tough, but you never know. You have to be 317, so I must gain 140 points and it’s tough, but everything is possible.
You played a lot on clay in your career, do you think it’s your best surface or did it only happen because most tournaments around are played on it?
J.S. it’s just because of the tournaments, you know, I also play well on hard, like sometimes I practice with Kavcic and when I do, I easily play better with him on hard, because he likes clay and it’s strange to play with him on hard.
So you think hard is your best surface?
J.S. no, I don’t think so. I don’t know, all surfaces are good. I like to play on clay because when you go to tournaments you know it’s the same, with hard you never know, sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s fast.
Yeah, true that. So, is it the first time you come to Cordenons? How do you like it here?
J.S. yes, it’s my first time. It’s a nice place, really nice swimming pool, yeah, I never used it, yet, but I think, I don’t want to use it. Well, nice organization, the courts are slow, but that’s ok for now, for me.
So, where are you going to play next?
J.S. next week I am playing another future, 10k, because I must play some futures, you know, last week I lost first week qualies, if I had lost this week in the first round qualies, I needed to play some matches.
For sure, but now, with that result you will go further in the ranking, so you can start to enter bigger tournaments.
J.S. well, you know it’s only 10 points or something like this, it’s not so much.
J.S. hopefully *smiles* you know, it’s difficult because I feel my legs are so heavy, so now I am heading to massage, so maybe it will be better.
I can see and then your opponent played yesterday so he has got one more day to rest.
J.S. And he’s such a hard hitter, so I will have to run a lot *laughs*
Oh so you did check his game!
J.S. I know him because we are the same age, from juniors tournaments…last year he played very good and I think he’s won some tournaments, but this year he has fallen in the ranking so I dunno.
Hopefully you get your chances! Thank you and good luck for tomorrow.
J.S. Thank you!