Joran Vliegen is a Belgian tennis player. He broke into the Top 100 in this year in ATP doubles rankings. He won his first Challenger Open in 2016 in Trnava along with Sander Gille.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Joran talks about his tennis career and future plans.
What inspired you to choose tennis as your career?
Joran: I’m not sure, to be honest. I had always combined tennis and volleyball when I was young. My dad used to play volleyball so that’s why I did that. My parents once told me I had very good ball skills when I was younger. But that’s the only link to tennis I guess.
I then had to make a decision when I was 12 because combining the two turned out to be impossible with all the practices etc. So I picked tennis.
How would you like to analyse Belgium's performance in the Davis Cup?
Joran: Belgium has done really well in the past couple of years. Although we are a very small country, we made it to the finals 2 out of 3 years. I got selected for the first time in my career this year, and it was an incredible experience.
We really come together as a team and are willing to leave it all on the court for each other. I think that’s what makes us so special and dangerous at the same time. We are usually the underdogs, but that gives us more motivation to perform well.
You played your first ever Wimbledon this year. How do you look at your performance out there?
Joran: I look at it with mixed feelings. On one side it was an amazing experience to just be there and be able to play (even though it was qualifications). On the other side you always want to win, so the result is maybe a little disappointing.
A couple of weeks before Wimbledon my doubles partner injured his ankle pretty severely, so we weren’t even sure we could play. Because of that, I was already happy we won the first match and got to the last round of qualifications.
We ended up losing to a good German pair that ended up playing the 3rd round and even had match points to go to the quarterfinals. Nonetheless, we were first lucky loser and got to hang around for more than a week on the main Wimbledon site, watch some matches, and practice with the players, which was a very good experience for us.
Who has been your ideal? What role has he/she played in your life?
Joran: I don‘t really have any idols, to be honest. Growing up I always liked Roger Federer because of the fact that everyone likes him. I’m just a fan of good tennis, no matter who the players are. Because I’m playing it so much, I don’t really watch it on television either. Every now and then I’ll watch when it’s on, but that’s about it. Since I’m only playing doubles now, I do watch a little bit more to learn as much as I can from the already established top doubles players.
How would you like to describe the moment when you won your first ATP Challenger Open?
Joran: That was an incredible moment. I believe it was only the third challenger we had ever played, and we won it. Coming from futures the 2 previous years we didn’t have many expectations. We were happy we were there and we were going to try and do the best we could. I also believe we saved match point in the semifinal, which makes the victory extra sweet of course.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Joran: Since we are not going to make it to the US Open this year, we are going to stay on clay as long as possible. There are many tournaments in Europe close to home, which makes it a little bit cheaper to travel.
Money is very important for players around my ranking especially doubles players. So I try to play as many tournaments as possible in Europe, in combination with club matches so gain some extra money that will be used towards travel.
There are various tennis players who wish to play Wimbledon someday. What piece of advice would you like to give to them?
Joran: Keep working hard and follow your dreams. There are things you can control, and things you cannot control. Focus on the first. And give yourself time; too many players these days put too much pressure on themselves to make it to the top as soon as possible. You have plenty of time, keep working hard.Published 02 Aug 2018, 22:29 IST