Who's Next? Filip Peliwo
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Canadian tennis has come on strong in recent years thanks to rising star Milos Raonic and the incredible longevity of Daniel Nestor. In April, Canada advanced to its first Davis Cup World Group semi-final with victory over Italy.
Filip Peliwo could be the player who furthers his country’s tennis prominence after becoming the first Canadian to hold the junior World No. 1 ranking. The Vancouver native put together a remarkable string of results on the biggest stages in 2012, proving he is capable of playing on every surface by advancing to the final at all four Grand Slam events. After falling one step short at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, Peliwo captured back-to-back boys’ singles crowns at Wimbledon and the US Open.
As part of Tecnifibre’s ‘Who’s Next’ series, ATPWorldTour.com caught up with Peliwo to discuss the significance of his junior achievements, his tennis background, the lessons he’s taken away from playing Futures events and more…
Last year, you had an amazing run as a junior, reaching all four Grand Slam finals and taking home two titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. How were you able to play so consistently well throughout the year on different surfaces?
I think the main reason was that the work I had put in throughout the years was finally paying off. I started to feel confident in my game, especially after Australia at the beginning of the year, and I figured out how to raise my level when I really needed to.
Another big reason was that I was doing well mentally to fight through and win some tough matches when I wasn’t playing well and was struggling to find my game. The years before that, if I had a bad day I would usually lose, even to guys who weren’t usually able to beat me, whereas last year I would find a way to win those matches and keep going in the tournament.
In turn, you became Canada’s first No.1-ranked junior. How meaningful is that achievement?
This is definitely the biggest achievement of my career so far. It means a lot to me to be able to say that I was the No. 1 junior in the world, as well as the first Canadian to do that. I’ll definitely carry that memory with me throughout the coming years.
How did you get your start in tennis? Are you a part of a tennis-playing family?
My family just played tennis occasionally for fun, it wasn’t anything serious. I was into every sport when I was little, and I had a lot of energy so I was always doing something to burn that energy off. I just wanted to try it out like all the other sports, and I ended up being more interested in tennis then most of the other activities I was doing. My dad would watch players such as Sampras and Agassi play so that also helped grow my passion for the game.
Did you play any other sports as a kid and if so, what caused you to stick with tennis?
I played pretty much every sport, to a certain extent, but the only one I was really serious with, apart from tennis, was soccer. I played that at a pretty high level until I got to the point where I had to choose between tennis and soccer, at which time I had to start focusing solely on my tennis training.
Who were some of your tennis heroes growing up?
The two main guys would have to be Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Those two were my idols growing up, and kept me always wanting to improve to be like them. I always looked up to other greats such as Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, but those two will always be my favourites.
How would you describe your style of play?
I would describe myself as an aggressive all-court player. I like to play a very fast game, and mix up my shots’ speed and spins. I also try to come to the net when I get the opportunity, so it’s a very aggressive style of play. With that being said, I also think my footwork and speed, as well as the defensive side of my game, are some of my biggest strengths.
What are you looking forward to most about trying to make it as a professional and why?
I’m really looking forward to seeing myself go up in the [Emirates ATP] Rankings, and to see how my game improves over the next few years. I think it will be interesting to see how I mature as a player and a person in the near future.
What have you learned thus far from the Futures events you’ve competed at?
I’ve learned that keeping your consistency is extremely important, just to be able to finish off matches and keep the results coming week after week. I realised that quite often you don’t have to play the prettiest tennis, hitting winners from every part of the court; you just have to play smart and solid. The pro circuit has forced me to use my tactics a bit more efficiently and analyse the game more than in the juniors. I can’t go out and expect to blow everyone off the court anymore because it’s not nearly as easy to do as in the juniors.
Which area of your game do you need to focus on developing in order to rise up the Emirates ATP Rankings?
I think the most important thing for me in the coming years is to maintain a high average level of play. Just to be able to play a whole match, tournament and even go for weeks at a time where I’m playing very solid without too many lapses in my level of play and concentration will be a big factor in my improvement. With that I think I need to keep developing my weapons, and make my serve a bigger and more consistent weapon.
Have you set any goals for 2013? Perhaps a year-end Emirates ATP Ranking you’d like to achieve?
I want to have won at least a few Futures and maybe an ATP Challenger by the end of the year. To be in the Top 200-300 by the end of the year would definitely be something I am aiming for.
Where do you see yourself in three years time? And five years?
I think that in three years, I would like to be playing in the Grand Slams, and in five years time, I want to be doing well at the Slams, making the quarter-finals, semi-finals, or even better. I think that being in the Top 20 in three years and Top 10 in five is something that I can achieve.
It’s a long road until I get there, so it’s hard to set a definite goal, but I think that is a good one to have. The ultimate goal is obviously to be World No. 1 and to win Grand Slams, but it’s hard to guess when that may happen since most guys in today’s game are doing that towards the latter stages of their careers rather than in their early twenties.
Peliwo's Racquet: T-fight 305
Peliwo's String: Razorcode
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