First-Time Winner Spotlight: Huesler On Following In Federer's Footsteps
ATPTour.com caught up with the Swiss lefty to discuss his big breakthrough, following in Roger Federer's footsteps, his interests off the court and more.
You’re currently No. 95 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and you’re going to jump up to a career-high No. 64 on Monday. How happy are you with your game at the moment?
Yes, really [happy]. I always feel like the ranking is a bit behind what the actual level is as a player. But I’m really happy with the way I’ve developed this year. I started the year outside of the Top 100, I was ranked 170, 180. Now I’ve made this step, it’s a big step, lots of points I had to make this year.
I’m really happy with the way I’ve been developing my game now throughout the season on all the surfaces. I’ve had good experiences on clay and hard courts, on grass as well. That’s something that I’m really looking forward to, that I can actually adapt my game depending where I play. It’s very positive for the future.
How would you describe yourself as a player and how would you describe yourself off the court?
Something that goes for both [is] I’m relatively calm. I’m not a loud guy. On the court I’m basically very calm I’d say and at least that’s what I’m trying to show on the outside, because I just want to have enough time and enough clarity in my head to figure out what’s going on on the court at the moment. As a player, I’m definitely aggressive. I have an aggressive game style. Basically it’s hard to put me in a box because that’s what I want to be. I want to be unpredictable. I want to surprise my opponent with my decision-making.
I definitely have a really fast arm, which helps me accelerate in difficult situations. Then [I have] a big serve. That helps me also to serve and volley a lot because if I hit it in good spots, then I’m getting returns back that I could finish right away, taking away the chance for the opponent to hit another ball… On the other hand I also can hold a rally and see where it leads. I’m definitely not a player who is going to be looking for rallies every single point.
As a person… I would say [I am] pretty easygoing, typical Swiss. I’m on time, have big footsteps to fill from Roger. If you want a role model, he’s the guy I strive to be.
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You’re the first Swiss player to win an ATP Tour title since Roger in 2019 in Basel. How much of an influence has Roger had on you over the years?
It’s hard to fill his footsteps for sure. He’s done so much for the sport. Watching him play on TV, in Davis Cup, no matter where, I honestly didn’t know half the time where he was playing, but he was basically just winning and made it look so easy. He just made the sport so interesting for so many people around the world who were just glued to the TV whenever he was playing. That’s still the case now.
I remember in Basel when he was playing, the stadium, it was a different kind of energy there. It’s pretty insane to see that live. It’s sad that he has to stop, but he has his reasons and he has given us a lot of great moments. Obviously it’s not going to be easy [following his footsteps]. There are going to be Swiss people who [have been] spoiled by his results.
But on the other hand, now I also won an ATP tournament, so maybe some people will change their mind. Anyone who knows something about tennis knows that it’s not just a walk through the park to get to the Top 100. I feel like we have a couple of really, really good young Swiss players who are coming up the rankings. And probably also them seeing what I can accomplish pushes them on as well.
If you had not become a professional tennis player, what job do you think you would have done instead?
I’d enjoy to be a pilot. That would be cool. I was pretty young then [when I chose tennis]. Nowadays honestly I feel like a lot of things would be interesting. It’s hard to put down [one thing]. I was looking forward to after the career [at] one point to maybe start something different and I think architecture is very interesting as well. Music I love, [but] I’m not that good at it so probably [there] will not be something there.
What do you consider to be your favorite passions outside of tennis?
I have a couple passions. I feel like the big passion has been traveling to be honest, seeing new places and getting to know new people and basically trying to live in the moment because you never know how the day is going to turn out. Basically just try to enjoy every day as if it’s your last on Tour, because you never know when it’s finished and what the future holds.
I love pets, love animals. [I] even have a bit of cat food in my tennis bag for stray cats if one should turn up. My Davis Cup teammates made fun of me for that when they found out.
This is a milestone moment in your career. How will you celebrate your victory?
For sure when I’m back home I’m going to have a get-together with my whole team, with the people who are important to me when we have time because at the moment everyone is moving around a bit. I’m not sure where I’m going next. My girlfriend has to work, my parents are also working, my sister is moving. There is a lot going on, but I’m definitely looking to have a get-together when I come back.
Then I feel it’s also very important just to enjoy the moment, no matter what you’re doing, because I feel like if you lose the final, you’re going to the next place. If you win the final, you’re also going to the next place, so just enjoy the moment and have a good time.