In 2016, Alexander Bublik made a decision that would have a major impact on his later career. Born in Russia’s Russian Leningrad Oblast, the professional tennis player changed his citizenship and competed for Kazakhstan from 2017.
“It is a decision of the government and the organizers. You have the right to do so,” Bublik said in an interview with Eurosport.de. However, the 24-year-old does not completely agree with the initiative.
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Tobias Laure conducted the interview
They reached the top 30 in the world rankings for the first time this season and it looks to be going well. What have you changed?
Alexander Bublik: I really do not know.
They do not know?
Public: It’s more the little things. In tennis, you need to make constant adjustments, almost every day. Sometimes we choose one, sometimes the other and try to develop it further. But there is not one big thing I can mention.
In February, you won your first title on the ATP Tour in Montpellier and beat Alexander Zverev in the final. A turning point in your career?
Clear defeat: Zverev misses the title chance against Bublik
Montpellier was your fifth final of the tour and lost the first four in Newport, Chengdu, Antalya and Singapore. Because you were nervous?
Public: No, I’m never nervous in the final. When it comes to the title, the mental component plays a big role – and good luck too. I did not have enough of that in my first finals. In two of my finals I led in sets, once I had to give up the injury. I never wanted to win my first title with all my might, because I knew I could not have so much misfortune that it did not succeed at some point. My confidence was always there. I knew I had to wait for my chance before it came.
You were born in Russia but have played for Kazakhstan since 2017. If that were not the case, you would not be able to compete in Wimbledon this year because the organizers excluded Russian and Belarusian professionals because of the war. In your opinion, was it the right decision?
Public: I do not want to judge whether it is right or wrong, but I would like to tell you what I think about it. It is a decision of the government and the organizers. You’re entitled to that. For me, sport is also a distraction from normal life, if you will – and no sport should be mixed too much with politics. It’s about getting comfortable with a beer in front of the television and following your favorite player or team. It is a pity for the fans that it is only possible to a limited extent.
You seem convinced that we are talking. I’m telling you: I’m not talking to anyone.
What impression do you have of discussions with your colleagues? Is there broad support for the Wimbledon decision?
Public: You seem convinced that we are talking. I’m telling you: I’m not talking to anyone. I only had a few actual conversations, tennis is an individual sport. Nor do we discuss the decision that Wimbledon made.
But you can even compete in Wimbledon.
Public: I no longer have a Russian passport because two nationalities are not allowed. I have no connection with the Tennis Federation of Russia. I am Kazakh and I have been playing for the country for almost six years. I am proud to represent Kazakhstan. In the Davis Cup, at the Asian Games or at the Olympic Games.
You are currently 32nd in the world rankings. How different is your approach depending on whether you meet a top 5 player or the world No. 120?
Public: That, of course, is something completely different. Playing against a number 120 is not interesting to me. Most of the time it’s boring. So it’s great to be up against one of the best. Many of us grew up together on the field. I have shared memories with Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud and Sacha Zverev. It’s just more fun to compete with players in this class.
Do you find matches against the top ten players easier at all?
Public: There one must distinguish. Of course, it’s easier in the sport to play against number 120, but in my opinion it does not matter much whether you meet number 60 or number ten on the rankings.
Audience at the Monte Carlo Masters on the unloved sandy surface
Photo credit: Eurosport
The runway season has begun. A rubber that you can do a little with that you can hear.
Public: Yes, I do not like gravel roads. I do not like anything about it. But I have to play in Madrid, Rome and at the French Open.
Despite your reluctance?
Public: I have to make money. I play for it. In addition, events like Madrid are mandatory for you to play. I’m a professional and I have no choice.
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