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 D.Nestor - Nobody grows up wanting to be a doubles player 
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Post D.Nestor - Nobody grows up wanting to be a doubles player
The article from ProTennisNews.Net

Nobody grows up wanting to be a doubles player

ProTennisNews.Net (PTN): Looking back at your accomplishments, you've won every Grand Slam, an Olympic gold medal, many titles; what are your memories of the '92 Davis Cup match with Stefan Edberg, and where does that fit in with all your achievements?

Daniel Nestor (DN): Well, that's a tough question. Obviously, singles was an important part of my career for the first half – ten years or so. I was trying to get my singles ranking as high as possible. I didn't totally focus on doubles until about 2002. So, yeah, obviously after that match I turned pro, so it was a huge win for me, obviously beating the No. 1. But more so because of the Davis Cup format, competing in Canada, which wasn't the norm, having tennis on TV. So it was just a matter of coincidence; it was a great achievement and there [were], of course, a lot of expectations after that. I wasn't ready for those expectations at that time. I was pretty young and not really developed physically.

And you could sort of see that pattern, you know, beating a top player, then struggling for a bit; that was sort of how my singles career went. You know, I couldn't do it consistently, and that was the frustrating part of my singles career. I guess the time when I was most consistent and most confident was in '99, when I was ranked 58. Yeah, I was headed to the Top 50, but towards the end of the year, I started having shoulder problems. I tried to play through it, but it really wasn't working, and then I had surgery in January, didn't play for six months. And then I struggled to come back a little bit. Then, when I did start feeling healthy, my elbow started hurting right after. So those things added up. The first ten years, there were a lot of aches and pains, nagging injuries.

At that point I decided it was probably best just to focus on doubles. It was about a year and a half after the surgery, I was still trying at singles, but it wasn't working out. I had always played doubles, was good at it, so it was kind of an easy decision, but also a hard decision. It worked out for sure, became a better doubles player and had some really good results. So I don't really have any regrets; there are a couple of things, when I was younger, [I] could have, should have done differently, maybe should have gone to the training academy. My dad wanted me to go to the Bollettieri camp in Florida when I was 15, but I was pretty shy, didn't want to leave. I should have followed up on that. I probably would have had a better singles career, but, who knows, maybe I wouldn't have had as good a doubles career.

PTN: It certainly looks like the right decision in retrospect, but was there a time when you struggled with it, maybe thought you should have given singles another shot when you got healthy again?

DN: Well, it was a lot of frustration playing, and a lot of nagging things from age 18 to 30. I knew growing up I wanted to be a singles player. Just like now, singles players get all the attention. I mean, nobody grows up wanting to be a doubles player. There aren't too many juniors who are initially thinking about being a doubles player. A lot of the top doubles players in the last ten to fifteen years have been guys in my situation. You know, their skills are better for doubles than singles. So yeah, 2001 was a tough year for me. I actually had problems with my vision too; I was having trouble picking up the ball indoors, and at the end of that year I had laser eye surgery. I think that was also a big part of the decision.

PTN: You're one of the veteran players on the tour. You've achieved pretty much everything in doubles; how long do you envision playing? As long as you're having fun or feel you can win more titles?

DN: Yeah, well, I don't really feel my age in doubles. When I was playing singles, I didn't feel strong enough. That's another reason I feel I do well in doubles. You're only covering half the court; stamina is not really involved in doubles, not anywhere near what it is in singles. So I feel good playing into my late thirties. The game has changed a lot; it's more of a power game now. And the other stuff -- the hand-eye coordination, reflexes – I've always felt were a strength of mine. It's the physical side – the stamina, the enduring in singles, playing match after match without time to recover – that was always a struggle for me. So the decision of how long to play in singles is more about the physical side. Young guys get stronger, you don't recover as quickly, you get more injuries. In doubles, I think it's more mental. If you want to play doubles until a certain age, you can. Like, you've been on tour for so long, and how much longer do you really want to play? Or how many times can you leave home after Christmas to go to Australia, and leave your family and friends? So it's more of a mental thing, dealing with the grind of the tour.

PTN: Can you talk a bit about the changes you've seen in Tennis Canada's development program since you first got involved, and whether you think they're headed in the right direction?

DN: Yeah, definitely I think that the facilities are much better, everything's in one place. For coaching, we're starting to bring in international coaches to help the young guys, also building relationships with countries like Spain, where guys like Milos [Raonic] have been going to practice. And having a coach from Spain has been influential for him. I think a President like Michael Downey has been great; he brings in a lot of contacts from his other professions in the past, and he can focus on getting the funds necessary to have a good development program. So, yeah, I think it's headed in the right direction for sure. The biggest challenge is always having more participation from more kids. You know, most kids are playing hockey or even soccer instead of tennis. There just isn't enough participation to have a lot of champions.

PTN: Do you think there's a reason why some countries, like Canada and India, tend to produce successful doubles players more than singles? Is it the approach to training or allocation of resources?

DN: I actually think for us it has a lot to do with playing indoors growing up, a more aggressive style, faster game, which is what you do when you play indoors. The surfaces are faster in Canada, so I think we develop those skills naturally, which end up being useful for doubles.

PTN: With regards to Raonic, as the senior Davis Cup member, do you have any kind of mentoring relationship, or maybe he doesn't really need that with his maturity?

DN: Yeah, I mean, he is very mature, I don't think he really needs any mentoring. He's doing very well dealing with his success. I think the best thing about him, outside of his physical attributes, is his maturity, his focus, his intelligence. He's just way ahead of the game with that kind of stuff. So as far as having people to look up to, not so much, I think he just needs to stay focused on keeping his body healthy. If he stays healthy, he'll have a great career.

PTN: You already have one gold medal with Sebastien Lareau from 2000. Do you know whom you'll play with in 2012?

DN: Well, I plan on playing, and it's exciting [possibly] teaming up with Milos. With a game style like his, having him on the same side is, sort of... you can beat anyone if you're playing well, you know. That adds to the excitement. I just have to stay healthy; I've been having a little trouble with my Achilles this year, so I'm a little bit frustrated by that. So, trying to stay healthy, dealing with a busy schedule.

PTN: That's all the questions I have. Thanks very much for talking to us.

Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:32 am
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