Garin Eager For Djokovic Clash: ‘I Really Enjoy Challenges Like This’
Cristian Garin arrived at the All England Club without a win to his name at Wimbledon, and without any grass-court matches played in 2021. Now the 17th seed is set to face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the fourth round and sits one win away from his best Grand Slam result to date.
Not bad for a player who is best known for his clay-court prowess.
All five of the World No. 20’s tour-level titles have come on clay, including his most recent triumph at this year’s Chile Dove Men+Care Open on home soil in Santiago. But the Chilean always knew he had a game for all surfaces. It just took a change in mentality to finally break through.
“I think what I have improved the most is that I feel I’m playing much more concentrated on every point,” Garin said. “Obviously, I have a lot to keep improving. But now I am giving more importance to every single game of a match and valuing every moment.
“This is not always easy, because I have played some very difficult and long matches, and you have to be at 100 per cent in every moment. But my concentration has improved a lot.”
Garin will need every ounce of concentration in his next match against top seed Djokovic. It will be the Chilean’s first ATP Head2Head meeting with a member of the ‘Big Three’ – Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – at a Grand Slam, and his first appearance on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
The 25-year-old seemed eager for the challenge after making it through a gruelling, rain-affected first week. Garin needed five sets to see off Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the first round, and then played four-setters on back-to-back days against Marc Polmans and Pedro Martinez before booking a meeting with Djokovic.
“[I feel] happy, because I really enjoy facing these kinds of challenges,” Garin said of playing against the World No. 1. “I think they will serve me well. I still have not played against any of the ‘Big Three’ at a Grand Slam, so I am pleased.
“I’m very pleased with my week and now I’m only thinking of recovering physically. I take it calmly, I think these are the kinds of big matches that I enjoy playing. Results aside, I want to go out and give it my all, just as I’ve been trying to do all year.”
Garin has been from strength to strength this year, recording some of the best results of his career. After lifting the trophy in Santiago, Garin went on to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Madrid before making his first appearance in a Grand Slam fourth round at Roland Garros (l. to Medvedev).
“I’m very happy. I did not arrive with any tournaments on grass, but I think the fact that I arrived here one week early to train well physically after Roland Garros worked very well for me,” Garin said. “I was able to rest and be very motivated when I came here. I think that I’m in good form.
“This year, I think I have been doing things very well. So these results, it’s a sign that hard work pays off and I can see that now.”
Garin will take the two-time defending champion Djokovic in the first match on Centre Court on Monday.