Following Federer’s Advice, Stricker Serves Up Geneva Breakthrough
#NextGenATP Dominic Stephan Stricker has been serving up surprises at the Gonet Geneva Open, his debut ATP Tour event. In his first tour-level main draw, he took down US Open champion Marin Cilic in straight sets, and he backed it up with a victory over Marton Fucsovics to reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
In both matches, one shot has stood out from the 18-year-old’s arsenal: Stricker’s serve has been booming in Geneva. In the opening round, he managed to out-ace big-serving Cilic with nine aces to four, and against Fucsovics he saved eight of the 11 break points he faced.
“I think everything is working pretty well. I’m serving good here, and I improved a lot on that,” Stricker said in his post-match press conference. “I’m just trying to do my game style: being [on the] offense, but also if I need to I can stay in the rallies. I’m just trying my best and working hard every day here in Switzerland and I think it's all good.”
The serve has been the shot that the Swiss teen has been working hard to improve, ever since receiving a bit of helpful advice from a practice partner – none other than Roger Federer.
Stricker and Federer shared a practice court for three weeks in Dubai during the pre-season, and the former Roland Garros junior champion was sure to take notes as he worked with the former World No. 1 up close.
“He told me some stuff, like how the serve is important and it’s the only shot in tennis that you can do by yourself,” Stricker recalled. “You can’t learn it too much, so I just worked really hard on this shot. It’s getting better and I’m winning many points on serve.”
Federer was in the stands on Tuesday to witness the 18-year-old wild card’s upset over Cilic. While they have not gotten much time to catch up in Geneva as the Swiss great contested only his second tournament of the year on home soil, Stricker has felt the support from the 20-time Grand Slam winner.
“We saw [each other] here and we were talking a little bit, just saying hello but not too much,” Stricker said. “We didn’t practise here but we practised a lot at the start of the year.
“For sure that helps me to see how good he is and just to see that I’m actually close to his level – maybe not at his level, but I’m just trying to get there. It helps me to see it. I’m getting better and trying to get to this level where these guys are.”
Stricker will have another chance to test his level again – and perhaps earn some revenge on behalf of his practice partner. The 18-year-old will face Pablo Andujar, the player who upset top seed Federer, in the quarter-finals.
“It feels great to be here, to beat two of these guys,” Stricker said. “I’m very happy with my performance today. I played a good match. It was hard with these rain delays, but I just tried my best. I’m pretty happy with what I did today and I’m just looking forward to my match tomorrow and just trying my best.”