LONDON (AP) — On the first Wednesday at Wimbledon in 2013, Sergiy Stakhovsky shocked seven-time champion Roger Federer in the second round, then did “like, 355 press conferences” and proceeded to lose his next four Grand Slam matches.
On the first Wednesday at Wimbledon in 2014, the 90th-ranked Stakhovsky pulled off another surprise, using the same serve-and-volley style that worked against Federer to beat 12th-seeded Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) and get to the third round at the All England Club.
Agreeing to a whole bunch of media requests last year after one of the most unexpected results in Wimbledon history – 17-time major champion Federer had reached at least the quarterfinals at the preceding 36 Slam tournaments – “was a huge problem and huge mistake,” Stakhovsky said Wednesday. “Today, this is the only press I’m doing.”
Stakhovsky was recently re-elected to his spot on the ATP Player Council, and he was asked whether he still thinks male tennis players should be paid more than their female counterparts. All four Grand Slam tournaments award equal prize money to the genders.
“Look, my position is never changing. … I don’t think that equal prize money is in the right place,” Stakhovsky said. “It’s not about the physical and anything else. It’s just the value of the product is different. That’s it.”
Thinking back on what happened 12 months ago, when he was ranked 116th, the Ukrainian said he went into his next match with “just emotional emptiness.”
“Just spent so much energy on different interviews and articles and everything that I was empty when I went on the court,” he added.
He wound up losing in four sets to Jurgen Melzer then delivered this assessment: “I just played stupid.”
That was followed by first-round losses for Stakhovsky at last year’s U.S. Open, and this year’s Australian Open and French Open, where Gulbis reached the semifinals.
But back at Wimbledon, where the grass suits his attacking style, Stakhovsky found his touch again, and he won the point on 32 of 45 trips to the net against Gulbis.
“The surface is fast. It’s no bounce. It’s speedy. It’s exactly what I need. So pretty much I have the chance of finishing that volley if I have it,” Stakhovsky said. “On other surfaces, not so easy.”
He is now 2-22 for his career in matches against top-10 players, with the only two victories at the All England Club, against Federer and Gulbis.
“That’s why he beat Roger last year on grass,” said Gulbis, who is ranked 10th. “The guy has a good game plan. He comes in; he chips the ball; he takes out the pace.”
Bothered a bit by soreness in his right shoulder and back, Gulbis hit nine double-faults. He said he’ll probably take time off until heading to the U.S. Open hard-court tuneup tournament in Toronto in August, “because my body needs rest, and my mind needs a little bit (of) rest.”
Stakhovsky, meanwhile, now faces 42nd-ranked Jeremy Chardy of France with a chance to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time.
Asked whether he thinks he can deal with what the second week of a Grand Slam brings, Stakhovsky replied: “Well, for the moment, I want to handle the next match. If I handle the next match, I’ll be in the second week.”
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