Yaroslav Demin: “Winning Roland-Garros The Same Time As Rafa Would Be Insane!”

Yaroslav Demin (photo: Florian Heer)

TELDE, April 17, 2023

While the last frost is still stubbornly hanging on in parts of Central Europe, the Canary Islands are currently rejoicing with spring-like temperatures of over 25 degrees Celsius. No wonder that the hotels on the popular holiday archipelago could count on an occupancy rate of over 85 per cent during the Easter holiday season.

More than 60 tennis professionals, who are taking part in the two-week TDC Series by Bidi Badu in Gran Canaria these days, have also contributed to this. Held in the spacious and green Club de Campo El Cortijo in Telde, the second largest city on the island, there are also some interesting young players competing in the ITF World Tennis Tour M15 clay-court event.

Among them is 17-year-old Yaroslav Denim, who is currently ranked World No. 6 in the ITF Junior Rankings. The Russian captured the Banana Bowl, a J500 Junior tournament in Criciuma, Brazil in early March and won the Junior Davis Cup two years ago.

We met Denim after knocking out World No. 290 and top seed Louis Wessels in the opening round of the first week in Gran Canaria

Tennis TourTalk: Congratulations, Yaroslav! Good start into a two-week swing in Gran Canaria at senior’s level.

Yaroslav Denim: Thank you. It was not easy today. I don’t have too much experience at Pro tournaments but I try to fight a lot. I also watched some videos of my rival on YouTube. 

It’s pretty windy here. How difficult is it for you to adapt to the conditions?

I live in Palma de Mallorca, so I am used to the wind. The court is getting slippery and fast, so you need to put water on the court every set. It’s sometimes tough to move but I managed it well. 

You practice at the Rafa Nadal Academy. Can you tell us a bit about it?

I started to practice there three years ago after the Davis Cup. In Russia it’s not easy find a good base, so the idea was to go anywhere abroad in Europe to practice and the Rafa Nadal Academy is the best place to go. There you can find the best coaches.

Have you already had the chance to play with Rafa?

Yes, we practiced together five or six times already, first on hard then on clay courts. It’s an incredible feeling to play with him. For me he is the best player of all times. You go on court and you need to be careful not only having your eyes on him but also on your own game (laughs).

What are the biggest challenges for you to establish yourself on the Pro Circuit?

I already played some Challengers and ATP 250 qualies and I felt that the level is much different compared to the Juniors Tour. You see how Pro players move and how they practice and prepare for matches. I am trying to do my best to get at this level but I will stay play Juniors this year competing in all Grand-Slam tournaments. 

A couple of weeks ago, you won a big title at the Banana Bowl. How was the experience in Brazil?

It was an insane feeling. It’s been the biggest title of my career so far. It gave me a lot of confidence. Let’s see how it will go in the future. 

What are your goals?

I would like to become the World No. 1 in Juniors and to win a Grand Slam. I have three opportunities left, so I really want to win one of those. 

Which one would you prefer to win?

Roland-Garros…with Rafa Nadal at the same time. That’d be insane. I would also like to crack the Top 500 in the ATP Rankings. The most important part, however, is to get the level. Then you will also gain more confidence and improve your Ranking positions. 

How would you describe your own game style?

I try to play aggressive, also chasing to the net as often as possible. One of my best shots is the backhand cross but I still need to improve many things: my forehand, my backhand, my serve, my volleys…everything. But step by step. I give 100 per cent in every practice session to get better. 

How does your schedule look like for the next couple of weeks?

After two weeks in Gran Canaria, I will be back on the Juniors Tour, playing in Offenbach, Germany. Then I will play a Challenger Prague with a wild card in order to get ready for Roland-Garros. 

Thank you and all the best.