The 18-year-old earned himself a wildcard entry for the main round of the singles competition by winning the American Boys Junior National Tennis Championship in Kalamazoo last weekend and says he just wants to go out on court and show everyone what he’s capable of.
Speaking to the Jewish News, he said: “I’m going out there just to enjoy myself and to show everyone what I’ve got, what I’m made of and to show them I can hang with some of the best players in the world. I’m still basically a junior but I want to show them I deserve to be here, I’ve worked hard to get there.
“I’m not going out there with any expectations – you don’t expect any – but I just try to work as hard as I can hard day in day out and whatever comes of that comes with that just happens. The fact I get to play my first Grand Slam as a teenager is great, and it will be a great opportunity for me to take part in a tournament in my back yard that I’ve seen for so many years now, seeing the best players in the world compete there and now so will I.”
His win at Wimbledon catapulted him into the limelight and he’s spent the last month having to deal with the inevitable consequences of his new found fame. “I’m not going to say I’m a celebrity but there are definitely moments where I’m busy with a lot of the media,” he says. “It’s exciting that people are taking notice and supporting but also gets a little overwhelming at times.
“Since Wimbledon, I’ve had a lot of momentum with my career – playing my best tennis which included winning Kalamazoo which got me into the US Open. I’m also getting into the whole college experience, getting to know my teammates very well and I’m hoping it’s going to be a good year.”
Knowing a win at Kalamazoo would guarantee him a place in the main round of the singles competition, he got an extra surprise when finding out he’d also qualified for the doubles competition too – “that was the least expected thing that happened to me over the whole summer!”, he said. And saying he felt under no pressure, despite knowing what was at stake in the tournament in Michigan, he said: “I just kind of went out for every match and was just happy to get past the semis as that was as far as I’ve got over the past two years. To get past them this year was a big accomplishment for me so once I got to the final I was just playing my game and just ecstatic to be there. Having the opportunity to play for a wild card at the US Open just worked out in my favour.”
Hoping to be spurred on by family and friends at Flushing Meadows, he doesn’t mind who he plays, though will be warming up by playing Novak Djorkovic in an exhibition match later today. “Playing Novak is part of a benefit thing for charity, there will be a couple of celebrities out there and it will just be good to get out there and play one of the best players alive.
“I don’t mind who I face in the tournament, I’m just going to be happy playing anybody. I’m just going to enjoy myself, will obviously give it my all and if that means winning a couple of matches great, I’m just going to do whatever it takes.”