Tipsarevic Turns Corner In Qingdao
The former World No. 8 credits Challengers with helping revitalise his game
After some admitted rough patches in the early stages of his comeback from injury, Janko Tipsarevic is confident he’s rounding into peak form.
The former World No. 8 is competing at this week’s $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Qingdao, China, and posting the type of results one might expect from a former Top 10 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings. After coming through qualifying, he easily dispatched Chinese teenager Yibing Wu on Wednesday, 6-2, 6-0.
“It hasn’t been easy,” admitted Tipsarevic about his latest comeback so far. “After three surgeries, it’s not like you suddenly don’t have pain anywhere. The tumor on the left foot, the surgery on the right knee, you’re always compensating on one side or the other. There were a lot of small problems, so I couldn’t have long periods of uninterrupted work.”
Tipsarevic returned to the ATP World Tour last April after missing nearly eight months due to right knee patella tendonitis. The Serbian sat out for 18 months prior to that with persistent foot issues, specifically in his left heel, which included two surgeries to remove a benign tumor.
Although he’s excited about his best tennis beginning to resurface, he’s even more excited about being fully healthy.
“This is the first time in a very, very long time that I feel completely good and confident about my body,” said Tipsarevic. “I have the energy, speed and endurance to play defense now, which was the biggest problem with the leg issue.”
Tipsarevic admitted his first tournaments back have included more losses than he’d like. Although he’s still more than capable of big wins, as evidenced by his victory over Grigor Dimitrov this June at the Aegon Championships, he said in hindsight that a more low-key approach at the beginning of his comeback would have been better.
“I maybe made a mistake in trying to play ATP World Tour events as soon as possible. I’d like to give a shout out to all the tournaments that were very good to me. I barely used any of my Injury Protected Rankings because everybody was giving me wild cards, so I’m eternally grateful for that,” said Tipsarevic. “But I should have started with more Challengers. I need to get that confidence from hearing, ‘Game, set, match, Tipsarevic,’ regardless of who it’s against.”
Tipsarevic still has six Injury Protected Rankings that will expire in October, so he plans to utilise them at ATP World Tour events for the next few months. But the Serbian said he will return to Challengers if necessary and hopes he can add a high note to his summer with a title in Qingdao.
“Winning here would be a huge confidence boost. I’ve never won a Challenger coming from qualifying and I’ve always played well in the latter part of the year if I win a Challenger,” said Tipsarevic. “But it’s only the second round now, so we still have a long way to go.”