Stepanek: Singles remains the priority
Originally published on: 04/04/12 11:34
In an age when most players specialise in either singles or doubles, Radek Stepanek is an exception. The 33-year-old Czech is still ranked No.24 in the world in singles but his victory in the Miami Masters 1000 tournament alongside Leander Paes last weekend has taken him to No.14 in the world doubles rankings. He is only one place off his previous highest doubles ranking, which he achieved all of 10 years ago.
Stepanek insists that singles remains his priority, but he has won only one singles tournament in the last three years (Washington in 2011), whereas his partnership with Paes, which began at the start of the season, has already yielded two titles. The Czech and the Indian won the Australian Open, where they beat three of the world’s best doubles teams (the Bryan brothers, Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, and Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic). They also beat the Bryans and Mirnyi and Nestor en route to the Miami title.
“No matter what we do, my focus is on singles,” Stepanek said. “So far we are doing really great, winning two tournaments, so let’s see how the season will go. I think it’s still too early to talk about big things. We have to be humble and be blessed with what we did and go back to our clay-court season again, keep going, keep doing what we are doing until now.”
He added: “I always felt like I’m a singles player, but for me doubles is a great competition. I’ve played doubles since I was a kid. Every day I believe I’ve practised doubles without knowing that I’m practising doubles. You just have to play tennis no matter if it’s two on the court, three on the court, four on the court. I just love the game. I think that’s what I did when I was young. It always stays with you even now. But it’s for others to say if I’m a better singles player or doubles player.”