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August 28, 2007

Amer Delic



Q. It's been a really rough stretch.
AMER DELIC: Tell me about it.

Q. What's up?
AMER DELIC: What's up? I don't know. A combination of a few things. Just making some changes. Made a coaching change. Just trying out new things. I mean, I kind of expected it wasn't going to happen overnight, but I also wasn't expecting it was going to take this long.
But it's fine, though. I mean, it's just tennis, I guess. I'm pretty streaky, as you've noticed over the last few years (smiling). I'm just hoping to kind of catch fire like I did last year and roll. We'll see. It's just a matter of time.

Q. When did you change coaches?
AMER DELIC: About a month ago. But it's been a process, kind of. It was going to happen even earlier. It's just it was a matter of time. I was just looking for the right guy.
Now I'm working with Scott Humphries, who has worked with Mardy Fish. He's really a great guy. You know, we're just kind of getting to know each other. Maybe it wasn't the right timing to do it now.
I'm pretty positive in him, and so we'll see. It should be better.

Q. By the same token, you lose to a guy who was the youngest No. 1 in history, won big matches. Does he get underestimated at all?
AMER DELIC: Well, I think he gets lost in the shadow behind, you know, guys like Roger and Nadal right now 'cause obviously they're the big hype, Djokovic.
But, I mean, every time he steps on the court you can't take him as an underdog. Doesn't matter who he goes out on the court with.
I mean, today I was the by far the biggest underdog. It kind of showed out there. But, I mean, the guy's good. He's been around for a while. As you said, he's won a lot of big matches. I think he still has the capability of winning more big matches.

Q. Can you talk about the arrangement with Scott?
AMER DELIC: He lives in Tampa. I go down to Tampa, Saddlebrook, work out with some of the guys. Mardy, James, they're all down there. As I said, it's been a learning process for me and him, kind of getting to know each other.
I even played against him. But now it's a different type of relationship. Still kind of getting to know each other.

Q. Is Pauly still involved?
AMER DELIC: Pauly, some of you that don't know, Paul Pisani was my trainer and coach for over like a year. He lived on Amelia Island. It was kind of a hometown combination.
It was fun. I just felt that for me, I mean, I got to about 60, but I felt like I was kind of running in circles again. For me to win some of these matches I needed to clean up some technical things. That's why I felt like I needed a change.
Pauly still helps me out as far as conditioning, but as far as travelling, Scott is the one who does that.

Q. Did you consider yourself a streaky player even in college?
AMER DELIC: I think it's always been like that for me. I mean, I don't know if it's an excuse or what, but people have always told me, You got the talent, you're flashy, blah, blah, blah.
But flashy doesn't win you matches. I think that's the biggest change that I did last year, that I made, was to become more consistent off the back and even on my service games. That won me a lot of matches.
Even when I wasn't playing well or flashy or whatever it was winning me matches. I think now, the changes I've been trying to make, I think bad habits are popping up again. That's what's showing up a lot.
I think just got to go back to the drawing board and kind of start over, back to basics.

Q. Are you comfortable talking about the changes you're making?
AMER DELIC: I think last year at this time I was kind of just catching fire. In challenger events, I figured out that I really don't have to win points. You know, the guys are gonna miss, which is really not brain surgery.
But I started putting more balls in play, really just kind of grinding my way. Guys were kind of laughing about it, me being 6'5", kind of in the back putting balls in play, kind of taking chances once in a while, but not as much.
I think now the coaches are like, Well, listen, you're 6'5". You need to be at the net. Look at Max Mirnyi, he's all over the net, taking chances, wins the match.
At the same time, all right, I know. I understand I'm 6'5". But I feel my groundstrokes are not as bad. I'm not saying I'm bashing on Max's groundstrokes. But I feel I can win some points off the back.
At the same time, I don't feel as comfortable just chip charging all the time, kamikazing in there. I don't feel like I have to be doing that.
I want to find something in between, pick the right time when I need to chip and charge or pick the right time when I need to stay back and just kind of find my way into the net or grind my way into the point.
It's been tough like finding the middle. I've been kind of going from one extreme to the other. We'll see. Hopefully soon it will kick in.

Q. The other thing about being streaky, you live off adrenaline. How do you wean yourself off that fuel?
AMER DELIC: Well, it's tough. I mean, as you said, adrenaline is kind of a fun thing. At the same time it depends who you're playing. I can't go streaking I guess against guys out there like Hewitt.
It's tough. The guy does not give you absolutely anything. I mean, I've never played him before. I've seen him play a million times on TV. He was always one of those guys that you look in the draw, God, I really don't want to be out there with him playing three out of five.
It kind of showed today. His consistency just kind of won. I didn't put any pressure on him on his serve games, and I was struggling on my serve games. Three or four games in a row in the second set I was down breakpoints.
Somehow I got out of them. Finally 4-All, big game, he was doing the same thing. I just kind of gave it away. Had game points, ended up losing the game with silly errors.
I serve and volley, got the first serve in, but it was to his wheelhouse, to his backhand. Next thing you know, bam, down two sets to love just like that.

Q. He's got a reputation for being a great returner. His serve gave you some trouble today. Is that an underrated part of his game?
AMER DELIC: I think it's not even his serve. Obviously he's not blasting balls out there. He backs it up with his movement. You know if you don't do anything with his return, the next one he's going to put in the corner, then you're on the run.
It's not even his serve that is that great, but he backs it up with the other stuff.

Q. Why isn't he getting those breakthrough wins at the big events? For a while he was off the radar. Looks a little bit like the game has passed him by. What is your take as a player watching him?
AMER DELIC: Well, I think the firepower. Some of the other guys, for example, Roger or Nadal, they're consistent and they have the firepower. I think that's where Lleyton gets lost a little bit.
I mean, obviously I shouldn't be saying this. The guy just gave me a nice beating. But I think that's the biggest difference.
I think back in the day, for example, last week, in Cincinnati, they were showing the stats of matches that Roger was playing at the beginning. I think he was like 2-9 against Lleyton, and he's been 10-0 since.
Roger was a guy that was also kind of flashy at the beginning. But then he became consistent. He still had that firepower later on. I think that's the difference. But Lleyton kind of stayed the same.
I mean, I think that's the biggest difference, just some of these guys are consistent and have the big shots when they need them.

Q. You were excited when you reached the ranking point when you could play tour events. You're still on the bubble. During the telecast, Jim Courier said that this guy needs to drop down to the challenger level, play matches, get his confidence back. What are your feelings about that?
AMER DELIC: I think Jim is right. This Monday I signed up for the New Orleans Challenger right after the US Open. I just need some matches. Last year when I played more matches, got the confidence, winning points becomes automatic.
You don't even think about like, Oh, if the ball comes back what do I do? It's more like bam, bam, bam. It honestly becomes so automatic.
I think last year that helped me out. I signed up for the tour events in Asia, Bangkok, Tokyo, even Europe and all that. But I will go back to New Orleans and play the challenger and then hopefully get some wins under the belt, keep it going in Asia.

Q. A lot of points to defend because you had a great end of last year.
AMER DELIC: Yeah, I didn't really want to think about that, but I guess (smiling). I mean, hopefully in Asia I'll win a few matches. Winning a few matches over there will defend like two of the challengers. You can't really look at it that way.
For me I know I can play with these guys. It's just a matter of doing it week in and week out, match in and match out. It's just a matter of putting those couple matches together. That's all it is.

Q. Thinking about college, what was your thought process?
AMER DELIC: When I was still in high school?

Q. Yes.
AMER DELIC: Was I thinking I was going to be sitting here in front of you talking about my strategy? No. I was just happy to be where I was. I was happy to be even considered one of the better juniors, one of the guys that could get a scholarship to go to college.
It's funny. I mean, at Nasdaq people were asking me like, Oh, how come you're out here? You're playing, beat the No. 4 player in the world. It's funny.
Was I even think I was going to be here? No. I just kind of let it go.

Q. Did you consider turning pro?
AMER DELIC: In juniors, no. I mean, at the time I was getting beaten by Mr. Brian Gottfried who was 50 years old at the time in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra. Was I thinking about playing pro? No.
I think finally when I had an idea that maybe I could give it a shot was in college under the tutelage of Craig. Kind of gave us this belief -- installed this belief in us that this is just a steppingstone towards bigger and better things. Maybe one day you could give it a shot.
Winning the NCAAs kind of helped out with the confidence and belief. Came out here and gave it a shot.

Q. You mentioned the Nasdaq.
AMER DELIC: Sorry, Sony Ericsson Open.

Q. I didn't get the gist of that. What year was that?
AMER DELIC: This year when I beat Davydenko. I had strung a few wins together, like five wins, qualifying, beating Benneteau, Acasuso, Davydenko. Ended up losing to Chela. It was a fun little streak.

Q. Why do you think we don't see more college guys in the top 20 or 30?
AMER DELIC: Why don't we? I mean, I don't know. College is a great -- for me it was great obviously. It was a steppingstone. I wasn't mature enough to go out there and play. Maybe physically I was ready.
I played like one or two futures before I even went to college. I never even got the taste of what professional tennis was.
I think right now, because a lot of the guys are seeing Nadal and Djokovic, all these guys turning pro early and they're like, If they're doing it, we have to do it, too. I don't think you're seeing a lot of guys go to college, first of all.
Now you have like John Isner coming out, causing all this ruckus, I guess. You're having like James Blake, guys who went to college, he's top five. Benjamin Becker. You'll see more guys coming out and having more success.
But it's just tough. I think especially for American players, more guys kind of get lost in this college system, parties, whatnot. I think it also depends. You're seeing schools like Georgia and Illinois, Stanford used to be, some of the other schools developing all this talent where they have coaches that know, they're using the college system as a steppingstone towards the next level.
Some schools are more like developing just college players and that's where they stop. I think it also depends on the coaching, system.

Q. Temperamentally, you have a choice of grinding more, playing from the baseline, coming up, developing a Mirnyi-type attack. What suits you better?
AMER DELIC: That's funny. I grew up in Bosnia on red clay. It's surprising to some people, but I love playing on clay. I've had more success on hard. I haven't had really that much success on grass.
Everybody's telling me, You're 6'5". You should be doing well on grass. You should be doing well on hard, serving and volleying. At the same time, I mean, I've had some success on the back, some success also coming in. Now I think for me I'm a laid back guy, I'd rather smooth my way in and come into the net than just like kamikazing in there.
I think I'll have to get out of my comfort level and go probably more towards this attacking style and spending like 70% of time at the net than at the back.
As I said, I'll have to find. I'm still searching.

Q. What does Scott want you to do?
AMER DELIC: Scott wants me to come in more obviously. At the same time, to come in you have to -- especially on returns. I think it's more returns and baseline game -- returns are kind of giving me more trouble than serving.
Still holding serve a majority of the time, but I'm putting more pressure on my serve because I'm not doing enough on the returns. I think he wants me to give myself the best chance, if it is chipping and charging, hitting the first ball and then coming in on the next one.
I mean, we've been working both. Obviously it didn't work here, but I'm hoping it's going to work later on.

Q. In high school you probably had more in common with Hantuchova than Nadal. You were a think high school kid. At Illinois you really bulked up. What kind of affect did Craig have on you work ethic?
AMER DELIC: I think it was the freshman 15 I gained. I never, ever lifted weights till I went to college. Think that also helped me gain some weight and gain some muscle, instead of just being this scrawny, goofy-looking kid.
I gained some muscle, became more, some people even say a physical not specimen, but physical force out there.
I think Craig also was a big believer in physical preparation, all that. I think that's what kind of helped me take it to the next step.

Q. Was it you specific?
AMER DELIC: Everybody. I think we were working out with like baseball players, football players. It was kind of, here we are these scrawny, goofy-looking tennis players in the gym with all these guys. It was like, all right, we don't want to embarrass ourselves so let's get to work.
Obviously we had more tennis-specific training, but at the same time it was just this pride thing.

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