Canadian content might not be as active during this weekend’s finals at the Rogers Cup, but tennis has never been so active in minds of people across this country.
While that pair gets the majority of attention, 24-year-old Vasek Pospisil is the only one of the three to win a major after taking this year’s Wimbledon title with new doubles partner, American Jack Sock.
- Milos Raonic defeats Vasek Pospisil in Citi Open final
- Vasek Pospisil, Jack Sock to remain doubles teammates
- Wimbledon: Vasek Pospisil, Jack Sock win doubles final
Pospisil, born in Vernon, B.C., now lives and trains now in Freeport, Bahamas.
He came into this week’s Rogers Cup tournament ranked 27th in men’s singles, which is near his career high. But at the start of 2014, Pospisil struggled through a back injury that forced him to retire from matches in two straight tournaments.
This summer has been much brighter for Pospisil as he's gone undefeated partnered with Sock leading to two doubles titles: Wimbledon and at the BB&T Atlanta Open.
The Canadian fell in the first round of this week's Rogers Cup, then had to pull out of doubles, but he enters next week's Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati preparing for the US Open.
I spoke to Pospisil this week as he welcomed a short rest during a busy hard-court season. I asked him about his battle through injuries, his goals for the end of this season and his work with the National Bank’s On the Ball program.
Q&A with Vasek Pospisil
1. How are you feeling after this busy stretch, which includes reaching your first ATP singles final in Washington (on Sunday)?
'I’m shooting for a top-30 finish. That would be an extremely great year for me considering the (back) issues I’ve had' - Vasek Pospisil
The last couple months have been pretty hectic. I haven’t had any time off, really. I just had two days at home in the last three months or so … I needed a break and, you know, resting my body a bit and getting ready for Cincinnati. But it’s definitely been a good run.
2. After losing to Richard Gasquet in the first round (at the Rogers Cup), what prompted you to pull out of your doubles match later that day?
I got a blister on my foot during the (Gasquet) match and then also, I had a muscle pull so it was too risky to play the same day. And especially with Cincinnati and the US Open coming up, it just made more sense for me to rest and try to get healthy.
3. How has it been playing singles and doubles on a regular basis after your Wimbledon doubles title?
It came quite unexpected because my whole focus is on singles. And then we lost early in Wimbledon and then we gave it a go. We had such a memorable, memorable tournament (in London), so now we’ll play more doubles than we would normally have, probably, but it’s definitely positive and interesting for me to balance the two — being used to only playing singles to now wanting to do well at both.
4. How is your body feeling entering the height of the hard-court season?
To go back on to hard-court is the easiest transition and, for me, it’s good because I grew up on hard-court. I feel like it’s actually just the easiest on my body because I feel like I know how to move on it. So I’m just excited, it’s a great time of year for me and obviously, being my favourite surface, I’m hoping to have some good results the rest of the year.
5. After this short rest, what are you focused on before the US Open, which starts on Aug. 25?
Any week you play is an opportunity to get a lot of points and have a great week, but the US Open is the last slam of the year. It’s the priority for everybody and I’m hoping to do well there, but I have Cincinnati (Western & Southern Open) coming up next week, as well, so my full attention will be on that because it’s a (Masters 1000 event) and I have a good opportunity there to get some points.
6. What is it like to see tennis jump into the mainstream of Canadian sports, especially on social media?
''Just to see tennis grow in Canada is really fulfilling … because it’s something that I’ve done my whole life' - Vasek Pospisil
There’s been a huge change towards the outlook on tennis in Canada, especially the last couple years with us doing well: Davis Cup and (Milos Raonic’s) results, and then I had some good results over the course of the last 18 months, and of course with Genie Bouchard. Just to see tennis grow in Canada is really fulfilling and it’s great because it’s something that I’ve done my whole life. It’s just really nice to see there are kids that are really interested in it and there are more people playing, and that’s the ultimate goal. It’s just a really exciting time for tennis in Canada, for everybody.
7. Amid your busy tennis schedule, you’re also the spokesman for National Bank’s On the Ball program, which encourages tennis clubs to gather used balls for the bottoms of school chairs. What has that been like?
It’s such a great initiative. I just know when I was a kid how noisy the classrooms were and it’s so hard to concentrate when anybody would move. To have that idea to put tennis balls on the bottoms of chairs is really great. It’s something any school could use. It’s going to help education and help the kids concentrate. There have been (929,614) balls collected so far in the last eight years or so, and we’re trying to get to a million by the end of the year.
8. You say your dad put tennis balls on the bottom of chairs at home. Was that a natural byproduct of a tennis household?
We had balls all over the place and my dad (Milos, a professional tennis coach) just had that idea to put them on a couple chairs in the basement. Tennis has just been a huge part of my life so I guess it was natural with balls laying around that my dad thought of something like that.
9. One last thing, just curious if you have a specific goal or feat you’d like to accomplish before the end of the tennis season?
I had a high goal at the beginning of the year and then had a bit of speed bump along the way with the back issue and really, just wasn’t sure how I would recover and how I would play, but I had a really great last month. The main goal is to improve and keep getting better now, and I’ve just kind of put my attention away from the outcome — the goals and results of tournaments — and focus on developing my game because I feel like if I keep improving, the results will come by themselves. Having said that, obviously with my great week in Washington and the last couple weeks or so, I’m shooting for a top-30 finish. That would be an extremely great year for me considering the (back) issues I’ve had in the first five months (of the season).