Falling in love with the game
I always wanted to be a footballer, but my dad played tennis. One year, we were on holiday, my father took me to play. I hit a few shots and the hotel’s coach said “Jürgen looks like he has talent, he’s moving well, he has good co-ordination. When you get home, get him some lessons.” So we did.
Soon I became regional U10 champion. I still loved football, but I played tennis because I was good at it. Kids like things they’re good at. I turned 12 and came third in the Austrian championships. As I got better, it got difficult to combine the two sports. At 14 I had to choose one. I chose tennis because I felt I had to use that talent.
I love that it’s an individual sport and it’s fair. If you’re good, you make it, if you’re not you won’t. I was lucky, my parents sent me to the right tennis school. I became Austrian U18 Champion and a few months later I won Wimbledon Juniors. The rest is history.
I still play because I love it. I’ll play as long as my body allows me to play. It’s great to be on court in front of a crowd trying to beat the guy on the other side with what you’ve got on that day, both physically and mentally.
y aim is to leave the game at a level I’m still proud of. Being 36, this could come soon, but hopefully I can play a few more years of doubles.
In life, my aim is to give opportunities to my wife, my kid and the whole family. I’ve had a good career and I want to pass that onto my family. That’s what drives me.
I still play because I love it. I’ll play as long as my body allows me to play.
My best so far
Tennis has given me so much. My greatest achievement in singles was reaching the 2010 French Open semis, beating Djokovic in the quarters from two sets and a break down. That’s never been done before. I was fortunate enough to win two Grand Slams in doubles with one of my best friends. Holding that Wimbledon doubles trophy was a big moment. Also, I’ll never forget winning twice in my home town of Vienna. But being world number 8 in singles and world number 6 in doubles at the same time, that’s probably the best moment.
Left handed, two handed backhand
My advice would be to work hard and enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, there will come the day you want to do something else.
Day in. Day Out.
At home I keep to a routine – I get up, have breakfast, warm up from 09:00–10:00, play from 10:00–12:00, take a break and then play again in the afternoon, or work on fitness. When I’ve got a match coming up, I try to rest, maybe have a massage. During a tournament, everything depends when my match is. If it’s at 14:00, I’d wake up, have breakfast, hit from 11:00–11:30, then come back and shower. Eat lunch and get ready. Every player’s different, but I always try to have space between warm up and the match so I can eat.
My Pro Tips
My advice would be to work hard and enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, there will come the day you want to do something else. It’s not always fun to give 100% or go out and practise, but you have to have way more days you love it, than days you hate it.
It can be tough to pick yourself up after a defeat. But since, I became a father it’s pretty simple. I look into my kid’s eyes and the little one gives me a smile and the bad times are gone. Before that it was tougher. You’re down for a while. At the end of the day there’s always a next match, practice or tournament and you have a chance to improve. I never really had a problem, I’d think about the next match and try to play my best and improve. With about 25 tournaments a year, you’ve got lots of chances to improve.
Role models can help you keep going. My dad was my first role model. Once I was playing tennis, I loved Stefan Edberg and Michael Stich because of their aggressive style. That idea of just ‘go for it’ sums up my style too. I’m an aggressive player, I come to the net as much as possible, trying to hit winners.
I also looked up to Pat Rafter, such a gentleman. I want to be that role model for my little one. I always wanted to play for my country in the Davis Cup and I tried to perform as well as I could. I wasn’t always the best, but at least I was there.
It’s hard to stay grounded when you’re travelling for 30 weeks a year. For me it’s important to keep in touch with my closest friends. Friends and family are, for me, the most important thing when you get back from a tournament. That’s what life’s about. I’m lucky to have friends who stuck with me through thick and thin, friends I’ve known since I was a kid. I also make sure I see my parents when I’m home. They’ve done so much for me to live this life and I’m very grateful for that. Then there’s my brother, he travels too and I see him at tournaments.
I love watching football. I played a lot when I was younger and it’s a sport I really enjoy. I love to play with friends. I also play a little golf but it’s a little tough on the shoulder and elbow, so I’ll leave that until after my tennis career.