Player Features

Less Chocolate, More Success: The Evolution Of Dominic Stricker

Learn how the Swiss has become more professional this year
August 29, 2023
Dominic Stricker is competing in the US Open main draw for the first time.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Dominic Stricker is competing in the US Open main draw for the first time. By Andrew Eichenholz

Dominic Stricker began the main draw of this year’s US Open at No. 128 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, one spot lower than he was 12 months ago. However, the Swiss is far from the same player.

“I feel better on court than I did last year. I feel like my game has improved again,” Stricker told “I'm also getting fitter body-wise, so that helps for sure. And now I hope the ranking is going to increase as well. But I think if I keep on doing my things like I'm doing right now, it's going to go higher pretty soon.”

Stricker on Wednesday will have an opportunity to reach the third round of a major for the first time when he faces seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. It is a big chance for a player who needed to save match point in the second round of qualifying against Pablo Llamas Ruiz. The match put him in one of the craziest predicaments a tennis player could confront.

Facing match point at 8/9 in the final-set tie-break, Stricker got out of trouble with a big serve and walked towards his chair as he prepared to change sides of the court. Then it began to rain, sending the players off court.

“We tried to not talk about the match at all, just to be relaxed. We played some games just to not think about it too much,” Stricker said. “But of course, you're thinking about where to serve, what to do on the next point and everything. So you actually keep on playing the match during the whole time you don't spend on court.

“We played Yahtzee. It's pretty funny, because I don't know when we started it, but we are playing it so many times in a day. It's actually crazy.”

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Upon the match's resumption, Stricker did not face another match point and rode his serve to victory. The lefty then cruised past Thiago Agustin Tirante to qualify and defeated Alexei Popyrin in the first round of the main draw, a feat he also achieved at Wimbledon.

“Super happy today. I played a great match, great first two sets. Maybe I lost it a bit at the end of the third, but I came back strong in the fourth,” Stricker said. “So just super happy to be through.”

A semi-finalist at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, the 21-year-old Swiss had not competed in a main draw before this season. But he is quickly gaining experience on the sport’s biggest stages and performing well in the process. Why?

“I think off court everything got a bit more serious. I'm also working maybe a little bit harder than I did before,” Stricker said. “I think everything is more professional than it was and that helps me for sure.”

<a href=''>Dominic Stricker</a>
Stricker competed at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals.
That is something that his new coach since April, Dieter Kindlmann, agreed with. Kindlmann, the former World No. 130 who has coached WTA stars Maria Sharapova, Madison Keys and Aryna Sabalenka among others, has focussed on improving the Swiss’ daily habits.

“I've worked with very high-profile women before, and I see a big talent in him. But I also see so many things that we have to work on. It's not only on the court, it's also outside, what it means to be professional, what it means to be a Top 100, Top 80, Top 50 player,” Kindlmann said. “I think step by step he has to learn what it means to be working in the gym, working with the physio, doing prevention, getting more in details, working on a structure, planning the whole year.

“I thought from my first conversation he was a great guy. He's funny, he's a very good character, a very nice guy. But he's also a little bit goofy and likes to play. But he has to understand, this is what I try to teach him, what it means to be a professional player every day.”

An example Kindlmann cited to explain his point was Stricker’s warmup routine before a match. Sometimes he did not grip his racquets or prepare his bottles. He would do a short, rushed physical warmup.

“For me I believe very much in doing everything with routine, but also not losing his way of gamestyle. Not make everything too serious, but bring more structure in trusting his body, getting fitter, believing you can beat these guys,” Kindlmann said. “This is my job, what I try to teach and I'm actually very, very happy when I saw him today.”

Diet is an area upon which Stricker has placed increased emphasis.

“You're looking a bit more at what you're eating. It depends maybe the night before the match what you're going to eat after the match and all that stuff, just to get that energy back,” Stricker said. “I think that's one of the things that changed a lot.”

In the past, he might have eaten some cookies or chocolate. Now, not so much.

“Of course, sometimes you need it. It's human,” Stricker said. “Maybe sometimes you need a Coke or anything like that. You don't take it every day. I will say let's take more sparkling water and that stuff.”

Stricker’s next opponent, Tsitsipas, remembers playing the Swiss on grass in Stuttgart last year. The Greek won in straight sets, but recognised his opponent’s skill.

“He's a talented kid. He has talent,” Tsitsipas said. “He can feel the ball. He can do a lot of things with the ball.”

Stricker will try to show the world just that when he plays Tsitsipas again for a place in the third round of the US Open.

“I'm super happy. It's great to play him again,” Stricker said. “It's just just a great opportunity for me to show my tennis, to enjoy that match because it's going to be a great match.”

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