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July 3, 2015

Denis Kudla


D. KUDLA/S. Giraldo
6‑2, 6‑7, 2‑6, 6‑1, 6‑3

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Let's see.  Two five‑set matches.  First time you ever came back from Love‑2 in the first round.  Now this one.  You must be feeling pretty high.
DENIS KUDLA:  Yeah, confidence is definitely through the roof.  I almost had a perfect grass court season.
Final of a challenger, I won a challenger coming in.  Now pretty much my best Grand Slam result, and I couldn't be any happier right now.  Riding the wave and hopefully I can push it further, for sure.

Q.  Did you come into this tournament feeling like this feels a little bit different from the other majors?
DENIS KUDLA:  100%.  I have never come into a major playing this well with that many matches in a row.  Grass being my favorite surface, I felt incredibly comfortable. 
If I get the right draw, as well.  I got a couple breaks, for sure.  I was able to capitalize on the opportunity to not get one of the top four guys in the first two rounds.  I'm really happy with my performance so far.

Q.  So many people, I don't look at the draw, I don't care.  It sounds like you were looking at it a little bit and thinking...
DENIS KUDLA:  Well, some people, it doesn't bother them.  Doesn't really bother me.  I look at the draw, see if things change.
If you go out on the court, you have to respect every player.  Every single player is a good player.  I mean, when Nishikori pulled out before the match, okay, he's still a really a good player and Zverev is a really good player so I still have to beat them.  I wasn't really too worried about them at all.

Q.  You won two tour‑level matches till now.  Now you have won three.  Why is this happening now?  Any special thing going on?
DENIS KUDLA:  I don't know.  I just went through a coaching change literally a week before the first challenger.  It's been almost a perfect start.
Kind of been working hard.  I feel like I have had a good year.  I just haven't been getting the results I have wanted in the bigger tournaments.  I have been close.  Had some close matches.  Just haven't won them.
Finally getting a couple of wins.  It's kind of turned around all of a sudden and it's been nice.

Q.  Talk about the coaching change.  Who was there before?
DENIS KUDLA:  I was with the USTA for four years.  I was with Diego Moyano and Tom Gullikson, as well.  Everything was great.  Then we kind of just decided maybe I need a little bit of a change.  They helped me find my next coach, Billy Heiser, and we started working and are still in touch with USTA.  They kind of help out.  It's kind of a massive team effort.  But primarily Billy is my coach now.

Q.  Are you independent?
DENIS KUDLA:  It's independent now.  I have left the USTA.  Take out the paycheck and Write a couple of checks.
But, you know, if you are getting results like this, it's completely worth it.  You have to invest in yourself.  It's a risk.  It's an investment I'm happy I made.

Q.  You are in the fourth round.  When you envisioned this moment coming in your career, did you know or think it would be Wimbledon, or did you think it would be somewhere else?
DENIS KUDLA:  I probably would have thought Wimbledon was my best chance, but I could ‑‑I mean, I played well in Australia.  I never won a match there main draw, but I feel like I played well there.
US Open, same thing.  But again, now so many guys are so good, it's like you almost need a little bit of a break of a draw.  Especially if you haven't established yourself like a top‑20 player already.
I have been around 100 to 120 for a long time.  I needed a breakthrough or a bit of luck or get a big win somewhere.
Yeah, it's definitely, I would say, Wimbledon is where I probably envisioned it, yes.

Q.  Tell us about your grass court.  You say obviously it's your favorite surface.  When did you first encounter it?
DENIS KUDLA:  Well, actually first I wasn't that great on it.  But coming into the pros, the second year I played Wimbledon I qualified and won my first Grand Slam match here.  That's when I felt like this kind of suits my game really, really well.
I started playing in Philadelphia when I was 15.  But that was old‑school grass.  I didn't like it too much.
In the fourth round.  I think I have hit maybe 10 volleys in my first three matches.  Never happened in the old days.  I like the balls, I like surface, I like England.  Everything comes together.

Q.  In terms of your game, how does it translate on grass, specifically?
DENIS KUDLA:  I feel like I'm a pretty aggressive baseliner, like to counter‑punch, as well.  It's kind of like a mix.
On grass, movement is huge.  I feel like the better returner will be the better server.  And for the most part, I think that kind of really fits into my game.  I feel like I'm a very good returner.  I feel like I can move really well.  That's where grass compliments my game, for sure.  Guys are 6'10".

Q.  That's why I ask.  I know the lazy take is big server, big guys, you know, volleyers, these are the guys that are going to do well.  We see more counter‑punchers and baseliners obviously get great success on this surface.
DENIS KUDLA:  Wimbledon has been so slow.  This honestly could be the slowest slam now.  You listen to lot of the guys, a lot of the guys don't like it here anymore.  They have to get low, and it's tough on their backs and hips.
Me, I'm the tallest guy, so everything is up here.  I'm okay.

Q.  How tall are you?
DENIS KUDLA:  Just shy of 5'11".   I like to be in the 5'11" range.  That's kind of why I like grass, for sure.

Q.  Have you found this tougher than you expected when you were a kid.  Are you enthusiastic?  You spent a lot of this year on the challenger circuit.  You have been out here a couple of years.
DENIS KUDLA:  Yeah, honestly when I first went pro, I doubted myself a lot.  I didn't think I was good enough.  A lot of people said I was, but I didn't believe it.
I had struggles the first year and a half, but after that things started coming together.  People said you're going to be a smaller guy, a hard worker.  I gave everything I had.
They said you might not shoot up like everybody else, being 20, being a Kyrgios, but it might take you some time but you can do it.
I trusted a lot.  I have had ups and downs, being at the challenger level, being with guys like Sock and Johnson, playing with them for a while and seeing them go to 30 and 50 and motivates you as well.  Seeing what they can do and get advice from them.
I would say it's kind of what I expected it to be.  It's been a long road, and hopefully things can come together.

Q.  How did you get into tennis as a kid?
DENIS KUDLA:  Family all started together at the same time.  My dad kind of made me do it just to keep me out of trouble.
Then some people said, Oh, he's actually pretty good.  Put me in the academy when I was eight years old in College Park, Maryland, and I was there for ten years, and everything just kind of came together.  Went pro when I was 16.  Our family kind of grew together as a tennis family.

Q.  But nobody else is playing?
DENIS KUDLA:  Nobody.  My brother played two years.  He quit.  He didn't like losing.

Q.  Were you trouble?
DENIS KUDLA:  I was a little bit.  But I wasn't as bad as I could have been.  Luckily my dad saw that when I was young and guided me in the right direction.

Q.  What kind of bad things did you do?
DENIS KUDLA:  How bad can a seven‑year‑old really be?  If I didn't do that, who knows where I'd be right now?   I tried running away from home a couple of times (smiling).

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