Denis Istomin, fresh off of two challenger wins in a row, sat down with us on Monday after his 7-6 (1) 6-1 defeat over Matthius Bachinger in the first round of the Winston Salem Open.
He was incredibly sweet and funny, and we giggled our way through the 10 minute interview. He talked about his crazy commute from Uzbekistan to Winston Salem, his mom, his friends on tour, and his memories from his match against Nadal at the U.S. Open last year.
Remember this point? The Uzbekistan Federation rewarded him in a very unique way!
You had a great win today. You’ve won two Challenger Titles in a row, how are you feeling?
I feel a little bit tired now
I hear you had a crazy commute!
Yeah, I finished Saturday night in Uzbekistan and I get flight at night. (I flew to) New York at Sunday noon, my flight was canceled yesterday, so I just took a flight in the morning. I arrived here 2:45PM.
So you just walked onto court?
I just came, changed my clothes, and just go onto court.
How do you get it together in times like that? Is it just instinct?
Yeah. Maybe it’s just- (in) two weeks I just won two challengers, so maybe it’s just a little bit confidence. In the beginning not so good, but then it was good. (laughs)
Your results have really improved lately, what do you attribute that to?
I just work hard, practice a lot, especially the last three weeks. I don’t know maybe a little bit lucky that it’s changed.
Nothing in particular?
Are you still with your mom? (His mom is his coach)
How is this?
It’s always good. (Laughs)
Always. (Laughs). Very good understand(ing) together. I don’t know. I don’t want to change something or change a coach.
Last year this week you made your first ATP final in New Haven. What was that experience like?
It’s good memories. My first and just one final. (Laughs). So I keep work and I try to make another final. Maybe here, I don’t know. I try and do my best and just play.
What would you do on a typical Friday night?
I go with friends to cinema, bars, pubs. Just talk, spend time. Nothing special. Sometimes Dinner or bowling.
Are you good at bowling?
Not really (Laughs). I can do some strikes (Laughs). Nothing special.
If you weren’t a tennis player what would you do?
I think (long pause) football player. Wait- soccer, not football.
What are your favorite teams?
Real Madrid, Chelsea, Spartak Moscow.
Who are your best friends on tour?
I have a lot of friends. Everybody my friend. (Lots of laughter).
Anyone in particular?
Andrey Golubev. All Russians we are very friendly together. If we have time we spend it talking, going to dinner.
It’s been a year since you played that great match against Nadal at the U.S. Open. What are your memories from that match?
Memories? When I come home, the point- the one point, when I slide…I get present from (the) Federation- a refrigerator for this point. (Hysterical Laughter).
They gave you a refrigerator?
Yeah. That’s good memory.
Why did they give that to you?
I don’t know why this one.
Was it a nice refrigerator?
It was okay refrigerator. Nothing special (DYING LAUGHING). It was like, there was a couple- like “Best Shot” or “Best Something”. So I don’t know why.
It was like a refrigerator you keep food in?
Did it say “best shot” on it?
Yeah. But in my language.
Is that the weirdest thing you’ve ever received?
No, it was nice. Last year, this match was good match for me. I was playing like maybe (my) best tennis. It was (a) good experience for the future. I was playing with him before on grass court and on hard court and for the future, maybe, I will try and make same on clay court. (Laughs).
What are your goals this year at the U.S. Open?
I don’t have some plans. Just come and play and see what happens.