He’s the most improved player in Australian tennis and now Jordan Thompson is dreaming big in the Big Apple.
Inspired by his beloved Wests Tigers and fresh off cracking the world’s top 50 for the first time, Thompson has nominated a charge to the second week of the US Open as next tick on his bucket list.
“I don’t want to come here and just go out first round. They’re all tough matches but I do want to go on a run,” Thompson said before his first-round clash with Joao Sousa on Tuesday.
And seeing the Tigers thump Newcastle to keep their NRL finals hopes alive has the 25-year-old primed for a breakout performance in New York.
“A great win. I watched it on the way to the tennis this morning,” Thompson said.
“I had to turn it off but at halftime it was 30-0. I was stoked so I was like ‘OK, I can get on with practice now’.”
It was in New York three years ago, after he’d blown a two-set lead against journeyman Steve Darcis, that a pep talk from coach Des Tyson sparked Thompson into action.
“He sat me down and said that I owed it to myself to start eating better given how hard I was working on the court and the gym. I had a little bit of a sweet tooth for lollies and desserts,” Thompson said.
“I really took that advice on board; I cut them out and I noticed straight away how much better I felt.”
Three years on, and after winning one match at ATP level in 2018, Thompson credits his improved discipline and fitness levels for his revival.
A favourite of Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, Thompson’s 23 wins in 2019, including his foray to a maiden ATP final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, propelled the Sydneysider to the cusp of the top 40 last month.
“I’ve been playing some good tennis, up around the 50-mark, so I just want to keep pushing forward,” he said.
“I want to try and get top 40, top 30 and the only way to do that is to keep working on my game and trying to keep getting better.
“It’s all the one percenters: getting in the gym, going for runs, working on your forehand, working on your backhand.
“It’s every little thing.”
Gavrilova reverts to ‘boring tennis’
Daria Gavrilova hopes a return to “boring tennis” can spark a desperately needed revival as the one-time Australian No.1 fights to avoid a grand slam wipeout in New York.
Plagued by a foot injury all season, Gavrilova has slumped to 84th in the world after suffering 13 first-round defeats in 2019 and failing to win a solitary match at a major.
“Not happy with the year at all but there’s still a few months to go and I’m definitely going to try improve that,” Gavrilova said of the depressing run.
After turning to respected coach David Taylor, the former long-time mentor of 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, Gavrilova has gone back to basics in a bid to regain her form and confidence.
“I’m still trying to come back to what’s been successful for me, which is using my forehand and playing a lot more with the topspin because I feel like I went away from it,” she said.
“I still for some reason have the habit to try and hit the ball flat but we’re really trying to play just a bit of boring tennis where I play the ball heavy and stay in long rallies.”
But staying in long rallies isn’t so easy when battling plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis.
“I’m still battling with injuries. It’s ongoing but hopefully it’s going to go away and that’s why I was home just before coming here taking care of my feet and stuff,” Gavrilova said.