“When I was young, it seemed so easy to play tennis, to travel, to win matches,”
Fucsovics told ATP. In July 2010, after winning the Wimbledon men’s singles title without dropping a set, he became the junior World No. 1. “That [Wimbledon result] was just a station for me. Of course, it was a huge result, but I had different dreams and goals,” he said, such as competing against the biggest stars in tennis: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal.
“When I grew up, then it became really, really tough.”
Winning suddenly became difficult. ATP players were, it appeared, were on a different level. Fucsovics had to re-evaluate what he wanted to accomplish in tennis. One of his goals became cracking the top 100 of the ATP rankings, which he did on July 17, 2017. Since October 23rd of that year, his ranking has not dropped below 100.
A major reason why, is his physique, Eihenholz writes. There are few players on the ATP Tour as strong as Fucsovics; he could easily pass as a rugby player. He began using the bench press and doing other forms of muscle training at the age of 16.
“I was a skinny boy when I was way younger, but my coaches told me that we had to work on my physique. I really wanted to improve. I was always a kid who wanted to improve and reach higher goals.”
When he walks onto the court, he believes he is fitter than his opponent. Fucsovics is soft-spoken, but he became rather animated when recalling his first five-set win at a Grand Slam, which took almost five hours at this year’s US Open against Grigor Dimitrov.
“It gives me a lot of confidence that I have the feeling that these guys [the best players] really have to beat me and it’s not going to be easy for them,”
Fucsovics said. “If they have a good day and everything is working for them, of course they can kill me on the court. But I will be standing there and running around and fighting for every ball.”
However, Fucsovics thinks he not only needs physical strength, but also mental fortitude. He believes this issue finally sorted itself out when he earned what was at the time the biggest win of his career against Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the Australian Open this year.
Yet going into his match with Medvedev, he had never beaten a top ten player, having lost all 14 of his encounters with one previously.
“Before the match I didn’t have high expectations. I just wanted to enjoy Court Suzanne-Lenglen,”
Fucsovics said. “If I lost the match it wouldn’t matter, the next one would come. I felt the ball very well. I was moving good, I was serving well. Everything was perfect.”
Regardless of his defeat against Rublev, World No. 63 Fucsovics is now setting his sights high.
“[…] My dream is to be a Top 10 player one day.”
The highest rank he ever achieved was No. 31 in March 2019. Fucsovics says that in Hungary, a majority of people will recognize him wherever he goes. He has come a long way from the boy just tagging along with his father to the tennis club.
“Sometimes I feel the pressure on me from my country or from my family or from my friends. But I’m 28 years old now and I can say I’m very proud of myself. I’m proud of my career,” Fucsovics said. “Of course I don’t want to stop here.”
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Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI