Interview with coach Jan de Witt
Jan de Witt, long-time trainer on the ATP tour, in the first part of the big tennisnet interview about the German chances against, the too short break for the tennis players and the fascination of the team competitions.
by Jens Huiber
last edit: Dec 03, 2021, 10:49 pm
Tennis net: Mr. de Witt. Germany is playing against Russia today for a place in the Davis Cup final in 2021. Jan-Lennard Struff made a significant contribution to this with his success against Cameron Norrie. You know Struff very well. Where would you place this win against Norrie?
Jan de Witt: That was really great. For Jan-Lennard and for German tennis. This victory will only then be refined by the double, which of course wins the third time through the match. Kevin Krawietz and Tim Pütz also have a big part in the fact that we are not just talking about a victory over a player who is just under the top ten. But the fact that Jan-Lennard beat a man like Norrie in such a short match is one of his successes for me. This win counts because the competition is very important to those players who will participate in it.
Tennis net: It sounds a little between the lines that you cannot get rid of the format that has been in effect since 2019 with a final tournament.
de Witt: In my personal estimation, the value is not as high as with the classic format. It’s called the Davis Cup – but it’s not the Davis Cup we’ve known and loved for over 100 years. I also notice that in myself: Besides, you don’t really follow the matches of the German boys. Innsbruck was of course a cool constellation, with Germany and Austria and Serbia with Novak Djokovic. It’s a shame that no spectators could of course be there. But overall, the Davis Cup has lost a lot of its value.
“Long season and Corona – that is not a particularly good combination”
Tennis net: You know the Russians who Germany is up against today very well, above all Andrey Rublev. What is the chance of the German team?
de Witt: In professional sport you are never without a chance. Of course, the two German players are outsiders, also against Struffi Daniil Medvedev. Despite the win over Norrie. But if we get a point from the singles, then the chance of the final is very good. Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev certainly played well on paper, but I think our doubles are better.
Tennis net: You yourself were part of a support team at a team competition, namely at the side of Nikoloz Basilashvili and Georgia at the ATP Cup. What is the special fascination for you?
de Witt: The special thing is that you can compete with your buddies. And communication is completely different, including the permitted occurrence, than in the other eleven months of the year. At the ATP Cup it’s a little different because everyone is preparing for the new season and is able to play a Grand Slam tournament afterwards. The energy level is higher than it is now at the end of a strenuous season. Long and Corona – that’s not a particularly good combination. But this extra spirit of playing for his country also means that the players are ready to go one step further. And romp around and make yourself a clown. from Djokovic if he is also known when he is not playing, he is also nervous. One could of course say: the man has already won everything anyway, why is he doing it then? Or also: Why is he still playing the Davis Cup at the end of the season? And the answer will have to do with the fact that many tennis players enjoy playing together in a team.
“At some point you have to pay the price”
Tennis net: Now there are not even four weeks between the end of the Davis Cup and the start of the ATP Cup. That WILL affect Medvedev and Rublev as co-favorites and defending champions, maybe Djokovic too, if he goes to Australia. And of course all the other players who will be in Madrid until the end. How should the players use this short time? Just put your feet up and do nothing?
de Witt: Journalists may come up with such a nonsensical idea, but of course no athlete doesn’t even think about it. If I really need a vacation of two or more weeks, then I have to skip Australia. At the old Davis Cup, the situation was basically the same, except that it only affected two teams at the time. We resolved that in the fall of Viktor Troicki in 2010 by leaving Paris-Bercy out of the fact that he was on vacation. Then we went to a training camp before the Davis Cup final in Belgrade against the French. If you play the season to the end, and then like Daniil and Novak also the ATP Finals, then the only thing that can be solved is that you can only take a short break after the Davis Cup final. And get back into training as soon as possible. Otherwise the risk of injury is too great. You need a certain volume and intensity in order to be able to play at the highest level in Australia.
Tennis net: Isn’t that going to be too much?
de Witt: As a professional athlete, you can also make unusual decisions. What is clear is that sometime later in the year you have to pay a price for something like this. Leaving out recovery does not work in the medium term. And don’t skip training anyway. At some point it’ll catch up with all of the guys. You have seen that in the last few years: The players who took part in the Davis Cup final did not have problems that much at the beginning of the season, but from spring onwards.
Tennis net: Shouldn’t you at least reward participants in the Davis Cup with ATP points? That has already happened in the past.
de Witt: This is a complicated discussion. First you would have to find a solution to the fact that we only need one of these two team competitions. It’s total nonsense to play the Davis Cup at the end of the season. And four weeks later a very similar format under the leadership of the ATP. No fan can sell that, it’s about money and power and political interests. If you find a rule that there is only one team competition and there are parallel ATP tournaments for all future players who do not play in the national teams, then I would be fine with that. At this point, I am not convinced that the ITF would also give the ITF the points for running such a chaotic policy.
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