Evgeny Donskoy, 32, has won the singles title in the International Tennis Federation Men’s Open $25K tournament in Lucknow, and with that 25 ATP points. Donskoy, who has had a career-high ranking of 65 is best known for beating Roger Federer in 2017 at the Dubai Tennis Championship. He talks to THE WEEK about his comeback trail.
How has the tournament been for you?
I enjoyed this week- playing against fair athletes and fighters. There was very good talent to play against and watch. When I mentioned that I was going for the tournament, there were many who cautioned me about the conditions in India. But I have been here earlier. Everything was brilliant. There are no complaints about anything.
How do you see your career at this point?
Years ago everything was very good. I am trying to get back to that former position and get even better.
Why did your rankings take a dip; were there injuries to contend with?
In any game, it always goes like this. I was at 65, then went to 180, climbed to 110 and then to 90. Players around me were all trying to improve themselves. Maybe there was something I was not doing right.
You have played in India before. Was this experience any different?
I am used to playing here, but, have never played in this kind of wind. The wind was not normal. It was challenging but I did like it.
What keeps you motivated?
The motivation is clear - to go up in the rankings and try to get to the bigger tournaments; and as far as possible in these tournaments.
How would you describe Indian players? (he played against India’s fifth seed Sasikumar Mukund in the semi-finals)
They are pretty good. They always have a good serve, good hands and good touch. However, if I were to say something (though I am no one to comment), I feel they sometimes struggle with their fitness. I played against young guys and sensed that they tend to get tired and are unable to produce the same (standard) that they were producing at the start of the match.
How would you rate them on mental fitness?
They are not different from any other tennis players. Every player has his own challenges and struggles mentally. Sometimes you start to lose a lot of first round matches and you have to be strong. I think Indians are mentally as strong as anyone else.
We do see that you are very focused on physical fitness. But how are you mentally so strong?
Mentally I do not feel I am always strong. Perhaps in this tournament, yes. In many others, I have not found myself to be this strong. That is why I was losing so many matches. You have to find your own way of keeping calm in crucial moments of the match. I read a lot of books on mental fitness. That helps.
How many tournaments do you play on an average in a year?
I play 28-30 tournaments. Next, though not immediately, I am headed to Indonesia.