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January 7, 2016

Illya Marchenko

Doha, Qatar


6-3, 7-6

An interview with:


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations. You are the biggest surprise of the tournament. We call you the Serial Killer. Can you talk a little bit about the game today? How were you feeling on court?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Well, the start was really good. I was controlling the game. I was up 5-0. Nothing you can really add to that.

And then I lost a bit of focus. Got a bit nervous at the end but still hold my serve at 5-3.

And second set was more difficult, because I got a pain in my back and I was a bit struggling with that. Because of my back, I started to make more mistakes and to be not that confident in the rallies, in the running, and especially in the serve.

I still got break, but because of lose of concentration, lost the next game. And tiebreak was perfect.

Q. Congratulations. When we spoke to you a couple of days ago after you beat David, you were saying, I'll try my best to keep it up. Now you're in the semifinals. Can you just explain the emotions you went through the past few days and tell us how do you feel about being in the semis?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Well, yeah. The most important match after you beat David is the next one. It's really difficult to handle the stress. You know, the opponent of next round is not the same level as David, obviously, but he's still a really good player and I have lost to him before.

Honestly, it was bad night for me. I couldn't sleep much. And the second round was a bit hectic. But still, the way I played this week helped me a lot, and I'm gaining confidence match after match.

Q. Do you have your coach watching the match? How do you approach it? Do you have like a meeting the night before?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Sorry, I didn't really understand what you mean.

Q. Yeah, my question is if you have your coach watching the match right now.
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Yeah, of course he's with me.

Q. Do you want one rival especially or not? Are you expecting an opponent, or...
ILLYA MARCHENKO: You mean this match?

Q. Yeah, of course. Your next match.
ILLYA MARCHENKO: I think there is no point to watch that match, because Rafa is really well known. And Kuznetsov is from Russia. I played him couple times. I practice with him really a lot. He's actually working with my ex-coach now, and, yeah, I don't need to watch that guy, as well. So I know him pretty well.

Q. In a situation like this, do you kind of want to play Rafa because it's a chance to play the No. 2 seed or something like that?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Well, I think of this match it's win/win situation. Of course if Kuznetsov beat Rafa, it's a difficult night for him probably, but it's going to be really tight match tomorrow because it's a great opportunity for both of us.

If I play Rafa, it's great opportunity only for me. Still, if you play those guys, you can improve your level and try your tennis against them and it's better to see what you have to work on. When you play those guys, your level going up. I'm really happy to play Rafa, as well.

Q. Is there anything new that you have done coming into the season? Anything different from the last year? And also, what is your expectations going into the Australian Open?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Well, comparing to the last year, yeah, we have done some changes. I went to mountains with my fitness coach. Last year it was a different one. Now I was with my full team, my tennis coach and my physio. It was like a bit kind of investment for me.

I'm really happy it's paying back that quick. And that's it. Everything's, rest of the preparation was the same. I was staying at home in Bratislava, and I was practicing the same guys. My coach was every practice with me, and, yeah, I was doing my fitness as usual.

Q. So you're based in Slovakia?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Yeah, I'm based in Slovakia right now.

Q. How long have you been there?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: For one year.

Q. Why did you choose to go there?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Because of the coach, because of the tennis coach. I'm working with him one year already. And obviously you know I am from Donetsk, and it was a war there and it's not really good situation right now there. I haven't been there for two years almost, and it was easy to get residence and I have a lot of friends in Slovakia.

Q. Do you still have family living in Ukraine?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Yeah, I have family, but they are not in Donetsk. They are far from there. In their city it's fine. It's quiet.

Q. Is it difficult for you to keep your focus on the tennis with everything happening back home?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Well, right now I don't think about that anymore. I accept the situation what I have, and I'm really enjoying living in Slovakia. The people of Slovakia have really welcomed me, and I'm really appreciating everyone. Everyone is really helping me there, so I'm happy and I can focus on my tennis. I have everything to work hard and to get the results.

Q. You mentioned you went to the mountains for altitude training?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Yeah. I was not playing tennis there at all. It was one week of just running mountains, and doing some fitness preparation.

Q. It was in Slovakia, as well?
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Yeah, it was in Slovakia, Tatra.

Q. You said you made the call to invest in this training. It's not an easy decision, because with your ranking it's not always easy to travel with a big team. So talk about the decision process behind that.
ILLYA MARCHENKO: Well, I was always investing as much as I can to my career because it's what I do. It's a job. You have to risk something.

Really, I was with a team like maybe top guys can compare, and I'm really happy about that.

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