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January 22, 2023

Jiri Lehecka

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

J. LEHECKA/F. Auger-Aliassime

4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference of Jiri Lehecka. Congratulations. Wonderful performance today.

JIRI LEHECKA: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: It's your first time to break into the quarterfinal at a Grand Slam. How does that feel for you?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, honestly it feels amazing. I mean, to be in the quarters, I wouldn't believe it if somebody told me this when I was on my way over here.

But, yeah, I'm super excited for everything what will come next. Of course, I'll try to do my best how to recover well and how to show my best tennis again in my next match.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Your year was interesting with the breakthrough in Rotterdam. At the end of the year, the Next Gen Finals. Those are quite different. I would imagine both of them contributed to your confidence. What about last year or those achievements set you up for this start to the season?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, I think that the moment when I broke into top 100 was, of course, one of the most beautiful things. But right after it brought lot of, you know, new challenges, new experiences.

It was my first time playing all these big tournaments. It was my first time playing all these big players, great names. Practicing with them, being part of the tour, for me, that was a lot of new things which I learned and I was trying to learn during the way.

Of course, with this, some bad results came. Also I chose to stay on the challenger tour a bit more because over there at the challenger tour at that moment, it has been an environment which I knew much more, the environment I was feeling more comfortable in.

Then I was trying to make my way through the big tournaments. I played good tournament in Kitzbuhel where I was in quarters, was good match against Bautista. I was just trying to gain all these new experiences.

I think at the Next Gen, I finally found my game and I found how to play what I want to play, and how to beat great guys on big stadium. I saw all the media attention over there. It was some kind of a gate to the big tennis. They showed us over there how does it look like when you were pro player.

These two events for sure had great impact on my career. I think that on the beginning of this year, me and my team, we did everything we could to learn from past year and to learn out of everything we could to find the new solutions for what will be the best to do in preseason and how to prepare for the season.

Q. At what point this week, was it during practice before the tournament started, the first match against Borna, when did you realize you could do something special this week?

JIRI LEHECKA: Honestly, it wasn't just like one moment because my preseason, you know, when we were on our way here to Australia, I felt, me and my coach, we felt that my tennis level is growing, that my game has a potential to be successful over here.

The thing which helped me the most, and what was the best way how to start the year, was the United Cup. We had a lot of fun there. We had great team spirit. Also with the mental part it has been a great help for me, and I think for everyone over there. How to relax a bit more. By the same time, how to focus on good matches in a very nice venue. How to focus more on the things which are maybe not that usual when you are playing on the tour.

It was a great week how to start. Not great pressure. At the same time very good matches. There, after my match against Zverev, I felt that I was playing the way I want to play. We just kept working and we just kept believing that this is the right path to follow.

Q. Has this run come a bit sooner than you thought?

JIRI LEHECKA: I don't know, honestly. I think for me, it will be easier to say after this whole tournament will end, how to take a look back at everything what happened.

But for now, of course I didn't expect that. That's for sure. But deep inside, me and my team, we believe that I have the game and that I am able to produce very good tennis, which can take me to higher places, let's say. I mean, to better ranking, to fuller in the tournament.

Here we are. We are in the quarters. Hopefully we will go one more step, step after step. We will see how it will go. Of course, we have doubles tomorrow, then right after I will see if Stefanos or Jannik will win.

We will try to prepare as much as we can for what's coming next.

Q. If Tsitsipas wins, how excited would you be for that matchup, given your match against him was one of the most important of your career so far?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, I'll be super excited. I mean, I will go for that revenge, for sure. I know that he will remember how we played last year in Rotterdam. One set I was the better player on the court. Then he overtook the match.

But I think that he will remember, and he will know what my strengths are. He will feel that I can get him under the pressure. At the same time I know that he's a great player. I mean, he's No. 4 in the world. Anyway, I mean, if you are in top 10, then you must show some extraordinary tennis.

I know how to play against him. Of course, the match last year from Rotterdam semifinal will help me a lot, how to imagine some things, how it went over there, how to prepare for this next matchup, if he will win today.

Q. What was your belief going into today's game? After the first set, you thought you could beat Felix coming in?

JIRI LEHECKA: After first set, I mean, first set was not that bad from my side, if you don't take that one break. That's how it is. I mean, he broke me. He played well over there.

After that moment, I was just trying to focus on my return because he was serving pretty well today, and I was trying to find the solution how to return better and how to get the ball back into the play more often.

I managed to do that. Since then, we both felt that holding our serves will be the most important thing because if one of us had a break, then it will be not very easy for the other guy to break back and to win the set.

Since we had one set all, we both felt -- I mean, me personally, I felt holding and focusing on my serve will be the most important thing. Eventually, if something happens, let's say he will give me some chances on return, then it's just a small bonus.

We played two tiebreaks. In the first tiebreak I was playing much more better. In the second tiebreak, it was 50/50. I played one incredible shot, forehand down the line which he totally didn't expect to happen. Yeah, then that was a few moments where I played great tennis. Yeah, he helped me with a few mistakes.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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