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Attila Balazs Q&A: Hungarian Hopeful

Player Q&A

Balazs© Raed KrishanBalazs jumped 191 spots in the latest South African Airways ATP Rankings.

Attila Balazs made a name for himself last week at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy, where as a 450th-ranked qualifier, he upset three Top 100 players to reach the semi-finals at his first ATP World Tour event in Bucharest.

With his performance, he shot up 191 places in the South African Airways ATP Rankings to No. 259, and earned a special exemption into the main draw at the Estoril Open.

As part of ATPWorldTour.com’s new Q&A series, the Hungarian talks about his experience in Romania, season goals and what it takes to bring out his best tennis.

You reached the semi-finals in your first ATP World Tour main draw in Bucharest last week. What was that experience like?
I felt comfortable playing in Bucharest. I played a lot of matches and I liked the atmosphere and the feeling on the court, so I felt I could make a good result that week.

How did people in Hungary react to your run in Romania?
So many people called me. I got a lot of messages, so it was really big news. Attila Savolt also made the semi-finals, but it was 10 years ago in Sopot.

How different was last week’s event in comparison to the Futures and Challenger tournaments you’ve played?
It was much easier to play in Bucharest because the organisation was so professional. The hotel was five stars, the food was great and there were good players, so it was really nice.

What did you learn from last week?
I have to work a lot, but I learned I can beat Top 100 players. There’s not a big difference between them and me. I have to work more and more, and then I could maybe beat more of them.

Two years ago, you got as high as No. 153. What caused you to drop down in the rankings?
In 2010, I had a really good year from January to October. I played many tournaments. The end of the year, I won a Challenger tournament in Palermo. After last year, many bad things happened to me. I had some things go bad in my personal life. I also had a hand injury.

How would you describe your style of play?
Usually on clay, I play with a lot of spin from the baseline and I run really well.

Who is your tennis idol?
I don’t really have a favourite player, but if I have to say someone, I’d say Roger Federer. I like his style and game.

Did you go to any tournaments growing up to see the professionals play?
In Hungary, we don’t have any tournaments, so I couldn’t see any good players. But I watched a lot on television.

When did you realise you could play tennis professionally?
When I finished the juniors, I was around 18 years old. I felt I could be a professional player then, because I started playing Futures tournaments, and I made a semi-final and a final, so I got some points immediately. I had a coach for three years, Amir Hadad. He was Top 100 in doubles and Top 200 in singles. He has a Hungarian wife and baby, so he was living there and helping me a lot. He taught me a lot of professional things. Now Kornel Bardoczky is coaching me. He stopped playing tennis last year, so that’s why he was free and available to coach me.

Have you set any goals with your coach?
I would like to go back to Top 150. I was already there, so I know that I can do it. At the end of the year, I would like to be around 100, so next year, maybe I can play the main draw at the Grand Slams. I don’t have too many points to defend, so I have nothing to lose.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to be with my friends.  I play a lot of snooker and poker. And I like going to the cinema and hanging out with my girlfriend.

If you could own the car of your choice, what would you like to drive?
It’s a difficult question. Maybe a Ferrari. But I have a BMW and I like it, so I don’t need a better car. It’s good enough for me.

What does it take to play your best tennis?
Sleeping is the most important thing. I need around 8-9 hours. I have problems with my sleeping, so it’s not easy for me. Players need a nice environment. Things like a good hotel room, good food, a good coach, someone around like a friend or girlfriend to support you so you don’t feel alone. That’s what I think I need.

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