Dustin Brown: Jo helped me a lot
Originally published on: 18/07/12 00:00
Is it a challenge to play without a coach?
It depends. It’s definitely a financial situation. For a while, when I was 18, I was travelling with a coach but before that there was a financial problem so it’s not that easy to travel with a coach full-time – it’s very expensive with flights and hotels. It’s been like this most of the time so it is not difficult for me.
Are there people who you get advice from?
I know myself best so I try to make my own game plan and strategies. I speak to different people – you play doubles with a lot of guys who know a lot about tennis and when you practice with other guys and their coaches you pick up a few things here and there, but you’ve just got to keep going.
You reached the Marseille final alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga this year. Do you feel you can learn a lot from someone like him?
Not necessarily in doubles but in tennis generally, yes. That week in Marseille was a great week, I spoke a lot with Jo and he helped me a lot. He told me a couple of things about my singles game and it definitely improved me and helped me see things in a different light. I didn’t see certain things by not having a coach, and a couple of weeks later I won a Challenger on hard courts [in Bath]. A bunch of things he told me were definitely good and it's nice to have guys like that around. Him and [Gael] Monfils are pretty good friends. I know them from juniors and especially him being No.5 in the world – I always take advice from guys like that.
You’ve won doubles Challengers in Sarajevo and Rome with Johnny Marray, plus the ATP event in Casablanca with Paul Hanley this year. How important is the team game to you?
I like playing doubles, it’s fun, totally different to singles, and it is always nice to have someone else on the court. When you’re down or when he is down, you can help each other, which you don’t have when you are playing singles. It’s always fun to play because a lot of the time you go to a tournament and you have two chances to do well. I usually have a couple of extra days and you can do more things, see more things, and its always good to practice. I play serve and volley tennis, aggressive tennis so doubles always helps to improve my singles game – serve well and return volleys and stuff like that. A lot of the guys that I have been playing doubles with are very good doubles players and you learn a lot from them, which helps me to play better singles.
How would you normally arrange a doubles pairing?
It depends, you ask guys. First of all you’ve got to find out what the cut was in the last couple of years, make sure what ranking you have to be, and you ask around. I’ve being trying to play a lot with Jonathan Marray but most of the tournaments now, especially tour events, we wouldn’t get in together so that’s why we had to split up a little bit. In the Challengers we basically always play together.
You’ve been in the top 100 before (having reached a career-high No.89 last year). What’s the goal now?
To get back in there as soon as possible. To play the big events, to be in the main draw of the events. The guys you have to play in qualifying [for major tournaments] are the guys you have to beat in challengers and sometimes I think it is more difficult to beat some of these guys. Guys like [Martin] Klizan, [Lukas] Lacko (now ranked in the top 50) – those are guys I played last year, round by round in the Challengers, and now they are playing tour events and it is easier for them now. They’re all the same players but now they are 50 or 60 in the world, playing the big tournaments and they are going to stay there or move up if they do well. We were playing against each other in Challengers lets say seven/eight months back, playing for six, 10, 15 points. [In a Grand Slam] you’re playing a round for 45, 90 then 180 points, so it’s all different.
Do you check your points week in, week out?
Not really, I mean of course I know exactly what my ranking is, I know what I want to be because I’ve got to check that stuff if I want to play a tournament. In singles of course you have to rank around No.80 or 70 to be safe in the tour events and then the Grand Slams are top 100, so those are things you definitely have in mind. Besides that I’m not too stressed about it because it doesn’t help you on the court.