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Dzumhur Going It Alone And Learning On The Way

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Dzumhur© Getty ImagesDamir Dzumhur qualified into his second Grand Slam main draw at Roland Garros.

There are no “gimmes” on the road to the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and it’s been a lesson learned for Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur this season on the ATP World Tour. 

The 22 year old became a media sensation back home after he became the first Bosnian man to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January. His run was ended by Tomas Berdych in the third round, but the excitement continued as Bosnia then beat Greece in the Davis Cup.

Since then, Dzumhur won his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Mersin, Turkey, and qualified for his second Grand Slam main draw appearance at Roland Garros, falling in three tight sets to Feliciano Lopez in the first round.

“The thing that I've really learned is that in any tournament, doesn't matter if it's Australia or Futures, you have to play the same against every player,” Dzumhur told ATPWorldTour.com at Roland Garros. “Doesn't matter if it's a Top 10 player or No. 1000, you have to play your best. You can lose to anyone, you can beat anyone. You have to focus in every match, be ready for every match. 

“You cannot just say, 'I did a good result, OK I'll get matches just like that.' You're not going to get them. Other players will even fight more because they know you and that you did a good result. That's something I learned, and also, mentally, you have to be stronger for more good results.”

"After the really good result [in Australia], it's not easy again to play smaller tournaments and Challengers. That was a big problem for me, especially in the few tournaments after Australia. I was also a bit tired, because immediately after Australia I played Davis Cup matches. There were so many emotions in those two-three weeks and it was tough to recover,” said Dzumhur.

But Dzumhur is not only facing challenges on the court. The Bosnian has found funding and development difficult, limited in his choice of facilities and practice partners at home in Bosnia and the one sponsor that he had, an American pharmaceutical company, has had to end their contract due to financial difficulties. 

“Nothing has improved much, even after Australia,” explained Dzumhur. “It was a big boom in Bosnia, everybody was talking about that. Even after Davis Cup, we won, everybody was listening to it and everyone knew about it. But all these big companies that can give the money, they didn't. They heard, but they are not interested. I just feel like the country isn't interested in giving the money to sport. They don't see a good business there. But I hope I can do it alone because I was doing it almost all the years alone with my parents. 

"My parents have invested a lot in it. It's good actually that I've played in good tournaments, where the prize money is good. That's been one plus for this year. In the past few years, I played only Futures, sometimes qualifying for Grand Slams and some Challengers. That wasn't enough. This year, I started pretty good and it's only the end of May. I still have six months to make the results and I think it will be OK.”

One person Dzumhur can count on for support and encouragement is World No. 2 and Serbia native Novak Djokovic, who was among the first to congratulate Dzumhur on his run Down Under. “I spoke to Novak again here,” said Dzumhur. “Unfortunately there is no time to see him more to get more advice from him. It's really useful [being at the big tournaments], not just for when you are playing, but also when you are in the locker room with all the best players and you talk to them and they give you some advice. When you just watch them, you can learn a lot.”

Dzumhur took home €24,000 in prize money from Roland Garros and will now look to further boost his year’s earnings by qualifying at Wimbledon. The Sarajevo native will play two ATP Challenger Tour events before attempting to qualify into The Championships, where he reached the quarter-finals as a junior in 2010. A good showing on the grass in June would set the Bosnian up for a tilt at the Top 100, his next goal.

“In the next two months I have some points to defend, but anyway I think if I play good, it will be enough to defend them, then go for the Top 100,” said Dzumhur. “Even if I don't break the Top 100 this year, it will be good if I can be close, just to get into the Australian Open main draw.

“I like the grass; we'll see how it will be this year. I think you need some luck in the draw, because you can get a guy who is No. 200, but who is serving good and volleying against you. Then you don't have many chances. But if you get a good draw, then it's really possible to get into the main draw and I hope I'll do it at Wimbledon.”

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