Dzumhur On Facing Idol Federer: 'Many Matches He Won Before The Match'
World No. 99 Damir Dzumhur has long idolised Roger Federer. At the age of 18, he was lucky enough to hit with the Swiss superstar at Roland Garros. Dzumhur has since spent a few offseasons with Federer training in Dubai, too.
But competing against Federer is a different animal. And while the Bosnian has done so two times previously — both coming four years ago — Dzumhur will play the third seed in the second round of the US Open Wednesday afternoon on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
“He was my idol. He was a person out of the court and on the court I was following. I was rooting for him. He was definitely, for me, the best player in tennis history,” Dzumhur told ATPTour.com. “I just think that I have to get in the match to try to play good, to try to do what I was doing in practice. Doesn’t matter really the result If I play a really good game, I can always make trouble for any player. So I’m hoping to just go out there and have a good game.”
“I remember the first time playing him it was a big thing for me. I really couldn’t expect I was going to one day play Roger Federer. One of my dreams came true playing at Roland Garros against him. I remember it was a nice match, a lot of good points. I was playing quite good that match,” Dzumhur said. “Then I remember just a month later I was playing him in the first round at Wimbledon. I said, ‘Okay, my dream came true, but I don’t need another match against him.’
“It was much harder on a grass court. It wasn’t easy to play there. I remember it was one of the toughest matches for me to play mentally knowing he won there seven times, knowing it’s his court. It was tough to compete against him.”
Dzumhur has no intentions of walking on the court Wednesday just to compete against Federer, though. The 27-year-old understands that if he does not start the match believing he can win, actually doing so will become that much more difficult.
“You have to somehow take it out of your head. I think many of the matches he won before the match, he won in the locker room. You don’t want to do that. You want to try to think that you can do it. If you’re thinking you can’t do something, there’s no way you can do it,” Dzumhur said. “There’s just no way, because mentally you will give up, and you don’t want to give up mentally. Even though your game is maybe not working or it’s not going by plan, it’s not going how you want, mentally you cannot give up. If you give up mentally, it’s over.”
It has been a tough season for the former World No. 23. Before the preseason, Dzumhur had surgery on two of his toes, which took a month and a half to recover from rather than the 20 days he expected. That eliminated his offseason. He only began running two days before his first match of the year in Doha, and that inhibited his movement for the first few months of the year, which was tough for a player who relies on his footwork.
Then Dzumhur suffered a back injury in Miami that he needed two weeks to recover from. Two days before Monte-Carlo, he ruptured his abdominal, which took him out for a month. After returning from that and finding his rhythm, Dzumhur fell on his left shoulder at Roland Garros, breaking two ligaments.
But Dzumhur feels that he is trending in the right direction. After Wimbledon, he hired Petar Popovic, who has coached Ivo Karlovic and Filip Krajinovic. He also knows that he has won three ATP Tour titles within the past two years, showing what he is capable of.
“I think sometimes in my mind I am missing it. I made good results, I won three ATP titles and I think that I should remember that and I should think that I am able to do it again. Without thinking that you can do it again, you definitely can’t,” Dzumhur said. “Always having it in your mind that you made it and you can make it again, I think I can do it. That’s what I’m talking to my coach a lot about and he’s always reminding me that I was No. 23 in the world. If I do things well and if I’m really a professional, I can do it again.”
First, though, Dzumhur will focus on the task at hand: trying to stun his idol.
Did You Know?
Dzumhur owns a 4-15 record against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. His victories against the elite group have come against Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych.