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Kudla: "I Want My Hard Work To Pay Off"

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Kudla© Getty ImagesDenis Kudla is hoping to break back into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

American Denis Kudla is hoping to put together a strong grass-court swing in order to break back into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

He is currently 29 places off his career-high of No. 90 – which he attained on 8 July 2013. But Kudla recognises that there is a fine line between where he is and where he wants to be.

“It is a fine line, for sure,” Kudla told ATPWorldTour.com, from his home in Arlington, Virginia. “Everyone can play, the quality is high, but the difference is taking the mental stride and finding a strategy to win.”

As a speedy counter-puncher, in the spirit of Michael Chang and Lleyton Hewitt, with a natural aptitude for learning, he credits “consistency as my great strength”.

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However, the 5’11” right-hander understands that he has to be more aggressive in order to build on the potential he showed as a former World No. 3 junior and 2010 US Open runner-up (l. to Sock).

“I’ve put miles in my legs and on the court have worked on my transitions from the baseline and the net,” admitted Kudla. “I like to have rhythm, but I am also recognising when to move up the court. On grass, you can finish points quickly by attacking the net. So I have developed my volleying.”

Though Kudla has an 0-3 record against Top 10 opponents, he performed admirably against then No. 5-ranked Tomas Berdych in the 2013 US Open second round. At that stage, he had already reached one ATP World Tour quarter-final at last year's Aegon Championships (l. to No. 7 Tsonga).

Playing with confidence is the key for Kudla, who has an 11-23 record at tour-level.

“I do over-think and over-analyse. It was worse when I first turned professional. I thought I was playing well, but I have had tough matches at Challenger-level. I couldn’t find a way to win matches.”

On two occasions in his professional career, Kudla has won seven straight matches, both on the ATP Challenger Tour – at Charlottesville and Knoxville in late October 2012 and as a qualifier at Dallas in March 2013.

Kudla realises that a tennis player that is self-confident can overcome doubts, push through adversity, take risks and continue to work on their game with conviction.

The 21-year-old Kudla, who moved from the Ukraine to Fairfax, Virginia, with his parents at the age of one, has been consumed by tennis for the past 14 years. With plenty of tennis friends, it has been difficult to switch off.

To help, Kudla has recently taken up piano lessons again and plays golf with friends. “Golf is good socially and, like my piano playing, it has helped me to take my mind off tennis.”

So after “a disappointing clay-court season”, the perennial grafter – who has used Tecnifibre products since 2010 – is hopeful that a change of surface will reflect in his game.

“I want my hard work to pay off a bit and for everything to come together.”

DENIS' EQUIPMENT
Racquet: T-Fight 325
String: Razor Code
Bag: Pro ATP Monster

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