Ni hao, everyone!
This is the first time I’ve spent three weeks in China. I always like seeing new cultures and experiencing different people, different mentalities, different foods. My favorite ever is sweet and sour whatever –pork, fish or chicken – with just white rice. And obviously the dumplings are just incredible, especially the shrimp ones are one-of-kind! Everywhere I go, I try to have an open mind and really try to understand the people and the life they’re living. All the people were super nice, super friendly and the people working for the tournament especially were incredibly welcoming.
As a tennis player, we travel a lot but only get to see a little of the city. There are a few places around the world that you want to come back to later in life, with someone other than your coach or dad! Obviously, Beijing has a lot of history and culture. I definitely want to go back some day. And I’ve been to the river in Shanghai, and seen a few places that are really cool.
Normally I just come to Shanghai for the Masters, but I’ve been enjoying myself and am playing well so it’s definitely been a good trip this year. I even heard I’m tied for an ATP record of qualifying for the most tournaments in a year. Shanghai makes nine! Obviously everyone wants to be ranked higher so they don’t have to play qualies but that’s a nice record. I hope I can qualify a few more times this year and break the record! It’s taken me a while to get healthy, get better, improve my game. I feel like I’m working more now than when I was 45 in the world!
But I’m still enjoying it. I love travelling with my brother, my dad, my mother joins us a lot, even our little puppy. Having my brother on tour is great. Even though Sascha is 10 years younger, we get along well and sometimes even stay in the same room at tournaments. Growing up, I always wished he would become a great player one day. I believed in him from Day 1. I remember the last time we played against each other 2 ½ years ago. Going into the match, I felt: ‘If I win, it’s supposed to happen because I’m older and better, but if he wins, then I’ll be happy for him because that means he’s good.’ Now he’s ranked Top 30 in the world. I’m just very proud and very happy for him. So right now traveling is a lot more fun. That’s also my motivation to stay in shape and stay healthy so I can play with him and travel with him as long as possible. I remember I said to him as a joke: “The day I quit is the day you quit!”
It’s really nice coming here to China where there’s so many people that recognize you and cheer for you and support you. I’m very thankful for that because it makes the whole trip to China so much more pleasant, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’ve received so many gifts from the fans including my favorite, a little statue out of I-don’t-know-what of my brother and his puppy. It’s just really cute. So, xie xie to all our Chinese fans!