Struff Ready For ATP Cup: ‘I Want To Be Tested’
Jan-Lennard Struff came to Melbourne looking for challenges and the ATP Cup will deliver those. Struff's country, Germany, was dealt a tough draw in Group A against defending champion Serbia and Canada.
After reaching a career-high No. 29 in the FedEx ATP Rankings last year, Struff will once again be Germany’s No. 2 singles player alongside Alexander Zverev. Two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies complete a strong lineup that’s eager for redemption after falling in the group stage in 2020. Germany will be led by team captain Mischa Zverev.
Struff spoke to ATPTour.com before the tournament to discuss the keys to success for his country and why he enjoys being part of a team.
Why are you excited about representing Team Germany again in the ATP Cup?
The event last year was really great and it was so much fun to play. It was a good start to the year, and I’m looking forward to starting this year the same way as well. It’s very nice to start with a team, playing with your friends and colleagues. We have a good team chemistry and it’s always nice to play for Germany.
You’ve said you are a player who enjoys the team atmosphere. What is the best part of that?
I think it’s very nice that your teammates are there to support you. In case you lose, they are there to make sure you don’t feel that bad. Sometimes another player has a chance to [help] the team still win, so it’s very important to keep going. You need two points to win the tie, so it’s not all about you, but you want to win your match and get one point out of those two.
I like the support and that we all give everything. Everyone stands together, we’re in the locker room together. We are used to travelling nearly the whole year by ourselves, so it’s very nice and I like it a lot.
What is your favourite memory from last year’s ATP Cup?
Well, it was very rough with the results. We went out in the group stages. But it was so nice to be there with the team. I liked a lot that so many people donated to Aces for Bushfire Relief and everyone stood together. That was beautiful. Everyone was doing their job. Everyone was donating. That was really nice, all of the teams [doing that] together.
What does Team Germany look like this year?
We have a great team. Sascha Zverev, he qualified us and I’m so pleased about that. He’s such a good player. He played semi-finals here [at the Australian Open]... final of the US Open and he won so many ATP Masters 1000 titles already at his young age.
We have Kevin [Krawietz] and Andy [Mies], who won Roland Garros twice, which is unreal. Winning once is crazy. Back-to-back? No one would expect this. That was so, so nice and so good. And we have Mischa Zverev, who is the team captain now. He’s very nice... It’s really nice to have him now on the team.
You’re in Group A with strong No. 2 players Milos Raonic and Dusan Lajovic. You must be looking forward to that challenge.
Yeah, for sure. We’ve been practising a long time. We started, I think, the 30th of November and we had a long, long practice [block]. After the quarantine here, we’ll have a lot of practice sessions. I’m really looking forward to competing here.
It will be two really hard opponents — Lajovic with Serbia and Raonic with Canada — but I’m looking forward to the matches. I want to be tested in these matches. They are both ahead of me in the [FedEx ATP] Rankings, so I know they are going to be very difficult matches, but I’m really looking forward to it.
There are four Top 20 players who are the No. 2 singles players for their country. How much of a factor is that second player at ATP Cup?
Yeah, it’s very important. You compete as a team, so you need to have a good team to go far and to win. With the format, you need two points and the team consists of four players and a team captain. If you have good depth in your team, that’s very important. You need every shot you can get at those points. I think we have a good team. I hope we can go far, but the group is really tough. Let’s see what it brings us.
What will be the key for Germany to get through Group A against Serbia and Canada, led by Novak Djokovic and Denis Shapovalov?
Teamwork. There are going to be tough matches for Sascha, playing Novak who won in Australia on these courts, won Grand Slams. Djokovic said in all his career this was the best court where he won the most matches and won the most tournaments. For sure, he’s got great memories of this. No matter what court he plays on, Djokovic in Australia is very tough.
But Sascha is a great player and he has a shot there. He beat [Djokovic] already, for example at the Nitto ATP Finals in the final, when he won it. To play Shapovalov, who is a great player as well, that’s another tough match. And for me, there are also some very tough matches.
So every match is just hard, but that’s the kind of level we have at the ATP Cup. That’s why people like it, and that’s why I like it.