March 9, 2021
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Can you tell us about the U.S./Qatar Year of Culture, your views on it?
AMBASSADOR HOLTZ: Thank you, yes. We have a full calendar of events between now and the end of the year. Like everywhere, COVID has reduced our ability to gather in large numbers, but we have, if you check our website, usembassydoha, our Twitter account, our Facebook page, you can find all the events.
We have music, we have sports, we have science and technology, culinary, many, many events throughout the year.
Q. Taylor, congratulations for your win today.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Thank you. Thanks.
Q. You are in Qatar for the ExxonMobil tennis tournament, which is also a part of the Qatar/U.S. Year of Culture this year. Despite the pandemic challenges that everybody is facing, you being here, how does it make you feel to be a part in such a moment this year?
TAYLOR FRITZ: You know, I'm really excited to be here. I think obviously with everything going on with COVID it's been really tough to like, you know, play and traveling has been complicated. Going to tournaments hasn't really been the same.
But they have done a really good job this year of kind of just -- I mean, this is like the nicest tournament I have been to definitely since COVID started. You know, the hotel is very nice. Food is very good. We are allowed to have certain kind of access, like we are still -- you know, we have to stay at the hotel, but, you know, everything has been done really well. It's been great to be here so far.
Q. Have you been here before?
TAYLOR FRITZ: No, I have never been. This is my first year. I'm really excited.
Q. Qatar is also gearing up for football FIFA tournament, 2022 World Cup. Have you been getting the buzz or have you been around and seen some of the stadiums and things like that?
TAYLOR FRITZ: No, you know, we're not allowed to leave at all. I haven't really seen anything, but I'm a big soccer, I guess, football fan. I'm a big fan. So I'm really excited for the World Cup coming up.
Q. Could you give us some leeway into your football passion as to whom do you follow and who are your favorites, please?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, I have just been into it for probably five, six years I would say. I have been pretty into it. I have been a fan of Manchester United, and I'm a really big fan of Reynaldo. He's always my favorite player.
Q. I hope you have a great run in this tournament. With Federer's presence, I think you would also be very excited to be playing now in such a very memorable edition of the tournament.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, I am. Thank you.
AMBASSADOR HOLTZ: I just want to say what an honor and a pleasure it is to have Taylor here in Doha. I'm very glad you were able to come.
Sorry you have not been able to get out a lot, but we have to keep you healthy and safe. Hopefully you'll be able to come back for the FIFA World Cup. The stadiums are amazing. Qatar is doing a great job on getting everything ready. U.S. government, we work very closely with Qatar on security and many other aspects of the World Cup.
Congratulations on your win today and look forward to seeing you play some more.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Thank you. I appreciate it. It would be cool if I could come here for the World Cup. That might be tough, but...
AMBASSADOR HOLTZ: We'll see. You've got time. Year and a half.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, it's a while away.
Q. Tennis is considered to be generally an individual sport, which for you, you became the second American, youngest American after Michael Chang to reach an ATP final. You did great last year reaching an ATP 500 final. How much was Michael Chang an inspiration to you, so to say?
TAYLOR FRITZ: I'd say that was very before my time kind of when I started playing or watching tennis when I was younger. I hadn't really watched that much tennis. He had already retired.
The people I looked up to were, like, Sampras and Federer and Del Potro, I guess. Even Sampras was a little bit before my time of like watching, but, you know, I know Michael. I have gone to practice with, you know, him when he's been working with Kei a couple of times. But I can't really say I seen much when I was a kid. You know, I'm 23, so...
Q. What I meant was just probably watching videos and the record being there. Last year was great for you. You know, you did well. You had a match with Nadal in the ATP final and that was great. Last year really, you know, must have turned a great page for you.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, you know, the year started off really well obviously. You know, we were about two, little over two months into the season. I was having my best season yet. Just had the best result of my life, you know, the finals in Acapulco.
So it was going really well, so it kind of sucks everything happened, because I was working with a lot of kind of momentum, playing well, ready to move forward, and, you know, then we got stopped and came back.
Had some okay results, you know, two rounds French Open, two rounds US Open, but still kind of looking for that next breakthrough. So I just want to kind of build on where I left off last year.
Q. Can you tell us about your future goals, short-term and long-term goals?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Okay. Short-term goals, I'm looking to -- I mean, I want to just have a big result at a big tournament, you know, like quarterfinals, semifinals of a slam or semifinal, something like that, Masters 1000, big result, like a big tournament.
Then I want to break into the top -- I want to finish this year in the top 15, top 10, something like that. Both those goals kind of go hand in hand. If I go really deep in one of those tournaments, then I'll probably be there with the ranking.
Long-term goals, you know, I want to be the best player in the world and I want to -- you have to look at the short-term goals first. First I need to be top 15, then top 10, then top 5. I need to worry about doing that first.
Just like most people, I want to be the best possible player I can be. Hopefully that's the best in the world.
Q. Your Excellency, how different do you find this year in terms of the sphere of culture and so many Americans coming to Doha and Doha doing its best, Qatar, the government, State of Qatar to create bubbles. We have the golf tournament, tennis is going on, so many things. Can you put it in perspective from your point of view?
AMBASSADOR HOLTZ: Good question. Yeah, I think from my point of view, Qatar has done a great job in creating the balance between keeping things open, keeping people able to go out and do things and keeping them safe, limiting crowd size, encouraging and enforcing wearing a mask. They have a very robust vaccination campaign.
So I think they are doing a really good job of the balance, and we have seen it in all these sporting events. You mentioned the tennis, we have golf, we have equestrian, we have motocross, long-distance swimmers, we have fencing. So many different sporting events this month alone in addition to all of the things Qatar is doing to get ready for the World Cup, lots of construction, lots of security, training, so many different things.
I find it quite impressive that they are able to balance all of this and keep everything going.
Q. My question to you would be coming off a very difficult year worldwide, coming after a pandemic, this must be a great opportunity, Qatar and American Year of Culture, amount of respect. How do you view this opportunity?
AMBASSADOR HOLTZ: So we love the fact that we are having the U.S./Qatar Year of Culture right in the year leading up to the World Cup. This enables us to bring in a lot more content on sports highlighting the many amazing teams that we have, not just in football/soccer, but the tennis, the golf, all sorts of things.
The challenges are epic, of course, with COVID. You know, we have had to really push back some of our events to later in the year, hoping that the numbers go down, the vaccination program will be more complete, and we will be able to do some of the things we had wanted to do without COVID.
But still we have done art exhibitions. We did an amazing -- Washington Spirit women's soccer team came over and played a friendly match with the Qatar National women's team. So we have been able to do quite a bit. We'd like to do more and we hope we can as the numbers on COVID go down and the vaccinations go up.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports