© Open Sud de France/J.B. Autissier

This week in Montpellier, Vasek Pospisil is through to his first ATP Tour semi-final since October 2015 .

Pospisil: 'I'm Getting Back In The Right Direction'

Canadian reaches first ATP Tour semi-final since October 2015

For four long years, Vasek Pospisil grimaced and shrugged his shoulders, before enough was enough. Surgery was the only option for a complaint that he thought was part of being a pro.

Flying high at a career-high No. 25 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, the ambitious Canadian dreamed big in 2014, but he’d regularly play for four or five weeks, then find himself sidelined with a back problem. On 18 January last year, he finally underwent the knife in New York City to repair a herniated disc.

“I feel like I’m getting back in the right direction,” Pospisil told ATPTour.com, this week at the Open Sud de France. “I feel like my body has been through a lot actually and I feel the best since my initial back injury in 2014. I haven’t been able to go consecutive weeks and months like this for a very long time. I didn’t realise it, but I feel like I’m on the right track physically.

“I don’t feel like I’ve moved as well as this since I was in the Top 50. My game is on the right track. Times are changing and there are a ton of good players out there, and the game is moving forwards. There is a long way to go, but I am feeling really optimistic and satisfied, happy about where my game is right now.”

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After a six-month convalescence following surgery, Pospisil has taken small steps with six tour-level victories, but the results are starting to come. On Friday, in Montpellier, he booked a place in his first ATP Tour semi-final since October 2015 at Valencia.

“When I had a setback in 2014, I had a six-month lay-off when I was at a career-high,” said Pospisil. “I came back and there were times when I felt really good, but every couple of months I’d have a back problem. I didn’t have to make any changes in my strokes, but it wasn’t until I had the surgery last year, then I did the rehab and training, that I realised it was a big, annoying niggle, that was holding me back more than I thought. The last four or five months, being able to train every day, have been pretty amazing. To have a normal schedule.”

Pospisil credits much of his comeback to his coach, Frank Dancevic; Brazilian trainer Cassiano Costa, and his physio team from Coast Performance Rehab in Vancouver, who are helping to make his conditioning the priority.

“The past four months, my results have been quite good and I’ve been happier on the court in my movement. I’ve put in a lot of work on the court and in the gym. I have re-started working with my fitness trainer of 2013 and 2014, which has definitely made a difference, as court coverage is a huge part of my game. I have started working with Frank Dancevic, and we’re really aligned about how I should be playing on the court."

Pospisil is thrilled to be back in a tour-level semi-final, the eighth of his career. But the 29-year-old, who is cautiously optimistic over the future, knows there is still work to do.

“The results have come a lot sooner than I expected,” admitted Pospisil, who is currently No. 132 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. “I just wanted to finish the last season solid and healthy, then do a good off-season and hit 2020 aggressively. I’m having a great period right now, but I know sport has a lot of ups and downs. I need to have a good perspective and keep working hard every day, so to give myself the best chance to win matches.

“I am not putting pressure on myself over ranking, but I would ultimately like to get back to the Top 30 and a career-high ranking. If I didn’t think I could do that, I don’t think I’d still be playing. I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself, but I’m pretty ambitious.”