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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday July 1, 2021

 
Denis Kudla

American Denis Kudla is staring at the toughest task in tennis in 2021. He talked about it with Tennis Now.

Photo Source: Getty

American Denis Kudla is about the take on one of the biggest challenges in tennis. After reaching the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2015, the American qualifier finds himself next in like to face world-beating Novak Djokovic.

Tennis Express

Kudla, who will face Djokovic for the third time on Friday at Wimbledon, has always had a very strong game on grass. Tennis Now caught up with Kudla after his straight-sets takedown of Italy’s Andreas Seppi, and asked him if he felt that having a Wimbledon clash with Djokovic in 2019 will help him on Friday. We also talked about his affinity for the grass and what he thought about fellow American Frances Tiafoe’s performance at Wimbledon.

Tennis Now: You've faced Novak twice, once at Wimbledon. Do you think that experience and other big match experiences you've had, like facing Roger Federer at Wimbledon, will help you on Friday?

Denis Kudla:

"I think going into this match, experience is going to help me settle down faster than it was the first time. I think the first time I played him, my first time being on Centre Court, being a dream of mine, obviously Novak being tough as nails, I just didn't settle at all, I was down 5-0 in about ten minutes and thought my worst nightmare was going to happen."

"But then at the Open when I played him I really settled, and was able to kind of push him a little bit more, but now going into this third match I know what to expect, I know what I'm capable of, winning certain patterns if I execute in certain ways, so I think the last two matches, being able to play him so recently is definitely going to help me settle in and then hopefully I just have to bring my "A Game."


Tennis Now: What are some of the things that surprised you about what he was able to do?

Denis Kudla:

His movement is pretty incredible when you are playing him and I think his serve is completely underrated. He was just hitting some spots, serving on big points, it was pretty difficult.

I also remember when we played last time the glare, the sun was brutal as well. So a combination of nerves, tough visuals, playing Novak, it wasn't easy but going in now, you want to play these guys early [in the draw], you don't want to play them late [in a tournament] because they are just getting better and better so I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Tennis Now: How good do you feel about your game on grass right now? It's always been a good surface for you, but what is clicking for you this year at Wimbledon?

Denis Kudla:

"On grass I always thought I played pretty well. It really brings out all my strengths. I think I move well, I'm able to hit a flatter ball and the court rewards me a little bit more than on other surfaces. I think I'm serving well. Just real balanced. I'm healthy, nothing hurts and that's kind of the biggest thing. Now being in the third round again, the first time in six years - I was hoping to be able to get a couple more third rounds in my career at least, but I'm happy I'm able to do it now and against Novak."

Tennis Now: You faced Frances recently on grass... what is he like as a grass-court player? It's a good surface for him isn't it?

Denis Kudla:

"I'll come up with my excuse that I was tired when I played him."

"He's playing great. I just watched a little bit of his match. He's hitting the ball so big on both sides, he's serving great. I think at this level, especially at Wimbledon, the guys who are serving well make all the upsets. He's making a lot of first serves. He's hitting them on a dime. He's taking care of the forehand and backhand, and there's really nowhere you can go to slow him down. He's not afraid to move forward, great hands. I would not be surprised if he went on a massive run here. Actually I probably expect him to. A lot of this is going to be his mindset, staying present and not having any loose sets... he seems like he's in a really good and motivated place right now."

 

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