HERAKLION, October 30, 2023
Czech teenager Matthew William Donald reached his first final on the Pro Circuit last weekend. The 18-year-old finished runner-up to Valentin Royer of France on Sunday at the Nana ITF World Tennis Tournament in Heraklion, held at the Nana Golden Beach Resort in Hersonissos, Crete.
Donald, one of three junior entries at the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 hard-court event, defeated his compatriot Jakub Nicod, No. 8 seed Mario Gonzalez Fernandez of Spain, Oleg Prihodko from Ukraine and sixth-seeded Dutchman Sidane Pontjodikromo en route to the championship match.
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Before the start of the tournament, the former Junior World No. 33 sat on career-high World No. 991 in the ATP Rankings. By reaching the title match, Donald earned eight ATP Ranking points as well as $1,417 in prize money.
We spoke with the up-and-coming player after his final.
Tennis TourTalk: Obviously not the result you were hoping for, but it was a good week for you, wasn’t it?
Matthew William Donald: I did not expect to be in the final. These tournaments are very strong with many very good players. I am a bit disappointed how this final went today but my opponent played unbelievably today.
You were one of the junior entries here in Heraklion. Is this a good chance for you to enter tournament’s on the Pro Circuit?
I am turning 19 in 10 days and these were my last chances to use the junior entries. I am happy to gain some points and hopefully this will push me up to tournaments without using my junior reserves. I am very happy how this week went.
You represent the Czech Republic; your name sounds English and you were born in Karlsruhe, Germany. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My father is from New Zealand, my Mum is from the Czech Republic, my parents lived in Germany, and I was born there. I lived my first two years in Germany and then we moved to New Zealand for seven years. Then, we moved back to Europe because of tennis and I have been in the Czech Republic since 2014.
Where are you based now?
I live in Prague and I practice at the National Tennis Center of Sparta Prague but I also have some other bases.
Do you speak some German?
I used to speak better German but it is not the best. I am not that proud of it to be honest.
Can you tell us about your game style. What are your strengths and weaknesses on the court?
I am fighter and very quick on the court. I am a baseline player but I am also capable of coming to the net, being aggressive. I try to neutralize my opponent’s game; unfortunately, it did not work out today. I still need to work on my serve. There are also some mental issues. Overall, I think I am a solid baseline, all-court player.
Do you work on your mental parts?
I do. Before it was more about technique and less mental things but I try to more and more focus on that as well. It will be a big relief for my game.
Is it your first time at this venue?
I have been in Greece before, playing at the Lyttus Beach Hotel but it is my first time at this venue.
What are your impressions about the facilities here?
It is amazing. In terms of tournaments held in hotel resorts it is my favourite for sure. It is so nice, the food, the courts. It tops everything of the resort 15K tournaments. I do not stay in the official hotel but I am just across the road.
What are the challenges you have to overcome to establish yourself on the Pro Circuit? What are your goals?
The transition from junior to the senior’s level has not been easy for me. It was very tough. A lot of struggles actually. This tournament has been very positive for me. To be honest I thought that it would have been easier. I have been struggling a lot. My short-term goal is just to improve my game and climb up the rankings step-by-step, not looking too far ahead. I just continue to work on my game and then the results will come for sure.
Do you set yourself any goals in terms of ranking positions?
I do but I have not fulfilled them yet. I wanted to finish the year between 600 and 700. I believe if I continue like this week, I will be there for sure.
Thank you and all the best.
Interview: Florian Heer