From an interview with the Serbian #5 conducted by Sport Klub’s Saša Ozmo after Laslo Djere made the Budapest semifinals. The 21 year-old Djere hails from from Senta, in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina. He’s currently at a career-high ranking of #153 & will move inside the top 150 after following up his performance in Hungary with several more wins at the ATP’s stop in Istanbul.
On his recent run:
“It all came together in Budapest, so I really played very well. Additionally, I think I’m more used to the conditions than others—there was a strong wind throughout the tournament. In Prostejov [Challenger in 2015], I also got three good players [Klizan, Lajović, & Souza] back-to-back. Last season was a bit weaker, without such big wins, but I knew that I have the quality and now I’ve gotten five tough matches in a row.”
On being a work-in-progress:
“I think I’ve made the most progress in terms of movement, and I worked a lot on my serve with coach Dejan Petrović, which is now paying off. Of course, there’s always more room for improvement, especially trying to play more aggressively than I did before—the aim is to dictate play with my forehand, which I did effectively in Budapest.
“The first two weeks of preparations for the new season, I was at home and in Kikinda [Vojvodina], where my conditioning coach Vladimir Zorić is from. We did two fitness training sessions a day and one tennis session. The third and fourth weeks of preparation we trained in Novi Sad—we started relatively early in the morning and worked hard, twice a day on tennis and once on fitness. I can tell you I ran a lot over that month, but the focus was on endurance so that I could welcome the season as prepared as possible.”
On his short-term ambitions & plans:
“If I can continue in this rhythm I played in Budapest, I believe I can get into the top 100 in the next six months. That’s up to me: the only path is a continuation of such form. In order to achieve that goal, strong matches like the ones from last week are essential, so I can mature through these matches for the ATP level. One thing is for sure—I’ll keep working hard.”
So far, Djere has played one main draw at a major: 2016 Roland Garros. Even though he’s at the ATP 250 tournament in Istanbul this week, he won’t yet play the top tier regularly.
“Clay is my favorite surface—I grew up on it and feel best on it. I’ll play another Challenger before Roland Garros, then qualies in Paris; but, after that, we don’t yet have a specific plan—what’s certain is that I’ll go back to Challengers, since I still have to prove myself at that level.”
On the transition from juniors to seniors:
“It’s hard for the best juniors because they’ve gotten used to the best conditions, they were treated in the best possible way, and received a lot of attention. At the beginning, I didn’t get a lot of ‘special invitations’ for tournaments, nor did some of my colleagues who were also good juniors; so, you have to re-start from scratch and it’s hard—especially at Futures [events], where conditions are very bad. Also, there are a lot of older players who know how to play. All together, it makes the transition difficult.”
On the mental aspects of tennis:
“I’ve been working for four years with Antal Mart, a psychologist from Senta who is also a former table-tennis player; so she’s a sports psychologist in the true sense of the word. I see her in between tournaments and it’s helped me a lot in my career. It’s hard to single out one thing, since we’re working on a bunch of small things; but when those little things line up, then I play at my highest level.
“When it comes to crucial moments in matches, I focus only on the present and on the next point, and try not to have any thoughts that could distract me. That’s my way.”
On idols & role models:
“I wasn’t inclined toward any one player in particular, but as a kid I watched Roddick and Hewitt the most. Later, and still, I looked up to our players: Viktor, Janko, Nole, & Ziki. They traveled the same path, more or less, that I’m on now.”
Translation by Ana Mitrić.