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February 23, 2023

Jiri Lehecka

Doha, Qatar

Press Conference

J. LEHECKA/A. Rublev

4-6, 6-4, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Big match today. Big win in your career. How did it feel out there?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, I felt great, honestly. Of course it could have been a bit better performance from my side in the first set, but, you know, I'm happy to be through.

It's always, you know, a tough match against a very experienced opponent who won it here, I think, in singles once. He's that kind of guy that never gives up. It's always he never gives you like easy moment to go through, so of course I was trying to play my best.

In the third set I dominated very well in the court, so for this, I'm very happy.


Q. As you said, he has way more experience than you in these kind of situations. You were one set down, and still you regrouped pretty quickly. Just a little bit tactically it seems to get away from his forehand, but what was in your mind when you sat down after the first set? Were you extremely clear of what needed to be changed?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, I mean, so in the first set it was more for me like getting used to the rhythm and getting used to what the tactics can be through the match.

So I was trying to search, and I was looking for some specific things in his game where I can find his weakness and where I can push with my strengths.

I found like in the second set, in the end of the second set, that I need to focus more, you know, on the variability of the game, that he is a great player when you give him like two same shots, and he can find his rhythm very easily.

So for me to play a bit more slices, maybe a few higher balls, you know, that was an option, and that was the reason why I won second set.

In the third set, I don't think that I changed something specifically. I just found my rhythm, and I just played my game, you know. When I feel good, I can play some very good shots. Also my serve helped me a lot, because I think that I started to serve a bit faster than in the previous sets.

Q. When you see him losing his mind like this on the court, because he was so frustrated, is it kind of satisfying? Because he's a top-5 player, he's supposed to be the favorite, and yet you're driving him crazy out there.

JIRI LEHECKA: It's tough to answer, you know, because every player, you know, has a different approach. Every player is acting differently. I think that for him it's just some kind of a natural expression, you know. It helps him to let the emotions go, you know.

So it's a bit tricky, you know, because in one hand, it can be a bit helpful to you that you can lose the pressure a bit, you can say to yourself, oh, you can see that he's losing his mind and that he's going crazy, you must play good.

But at the same time, he never loses focus on every point he plays. So this is also very tough, you know, to find the balance between being satisfied with your own game and with his expressions that he's frustrated, and then not losing focus at all, because he's the kind of guy who with who you lose focus for a few games, then you lose the set. That's exactly what happened in the first set.

Q. I just want to ask, who is or are the players who you admired and looked up to as you were growing up and that you inspired your game from?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, when I was a little kid, Roger was the one who I was always looking up to. I always loved his game, his various style.

Then as I was getting older and I was getting a bit more into the tennis and I was looking to the mirror, you know, and seeing myself as what kind of player am I, then I was trying to focus my game and my style with Tomas Berdych. Because, you know, he's in Czech. When I was 16, I mean, my coach was Jaroslav Navratil, who is father of Michal, who is my coach right now. He's the guy who got Tomas into top 10, and he was with him for a long time.

You know, maybe if you can see some specific details in my game, which can look a bit similar to Tomas, forehand, you know, something like that, then it's a job of Jaro who took me under his guidance when I was 16.

Yeah, Tomas was the one who I was looking forward, you know, and I was watching his matches in Davis Cup, everything. So I saw some similarities in our both game.

Q. You said you held back on your serve until the third set? You started serving faster in the third set? Why did you hold back so long?

JIRI LEHECKA: Yeah, so in the first set, you know, I was just trying to concentrate on the precision, you know, of the first serve. I was trying to play very controlled serve, you know, to find the great zones. But this seemed, you know, to be uneffective, as he is returning very well from both sides, you know.

Then I started to feel that I need to add something extra to my serve, that the serve is still the same, you know, that he's returning very well.

So I thought and I felt that I'm not serving on 100% of my power, so that's exactly what I changed in second set and mostly in the third, that I just wanted to serve much more risky and a bit faster than I was doing in previous sets. Because I just felt that I took the rhythm away from him, you know, and that he is having much more problems with the speed than with the zones.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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