Tennys Sandgren began 2018 with two tour-level match wins. Since then, he has claimed 21 victories. And on Saturday, he earned the biggest of his career, defeating Cameron Norrie at the ASB Classic to lift his maiden ATP Tour title. ATPTour.com caught up with Sandgren after the match to talk to the American about his triumph:
You’ve won your first ATP Tour title. What does that mean, to be the last player standing with the trophy?
It definitely means a lot. I put a lot of hard work and time into getting prepared for this season. So to get my first ATP Tour win early in the year, it’s definitely a really gratifying thing.
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Did you have a different approach from your first final last April in Houston against Steve Johnson?
I wouldn’t say a different approach. I tried to maybe be a little more mentally stable. I tried to start off with a little more energy to see if I could get an early lead. It almost worked out, but overall I just think having the extra experience helped me out today.
This was your first ATP Tour meeting with Cameron and you had lost four of your six previous pro meetings. Did that give you extra motivation going into the final?
It definitely gave me an extra template to see how our games match up and what to expect out there, which I think is really important, especially in a kind of environment that I’m not particularly used to, which is an ATP Final. So to have that experience against him already I think paid off for me.
You attended college at the University of Tennessee for two years and before last year spent most of your career in Futures and Challengers. With all the hard work you have put in, how special is this title?
It means a lot. Didn’t really know if one of these would happen for me, so to get one, especially early in this campaign with the Australian Open coming up and with the success I had there last year, it definitely feels special.
Talk about the week. You didn’t drop a set en route to the final and were broken three times in five matches. What did you do well all week to win five matches?
I definitely served really well. I only lost serve three times this week and two of them were in the second set of my first-round match, so I played a lot of tennis and it was pretty clean. I was serving really well. It obviously helps to be winning upwards of 90 per cent of your first-serve points and getting free ones with aces.
My forehand was good. I felt like I’ve been moving really well. I put in a lot of off-court hours in December and I feel like my body has responded well, so moving well and playing good defence on top of the offence that my serve has been bringing helped.
You are now back in the Top 50 (at a career-high No. 41). Did you have an ATP Ranking goal coming into this season?
The baseline level is to just stay inside of the Top 100 so you could get in the main draw of the Grand Slams, which is a big deal. Outside of that, I’m just trying to keep improving and get better and see where I could push that number to. I don’t really know, but I think I have some good tennis in me left to play.
Now that you’ve captured your first ATP title in the second week of the season, what are your goals for the rest of 2019?
Maybe win another ATP Tour title. Maybe try and spread the points out a little bit instead of having all your points in a couple weeks to start the year (laughs). That might help the pressure come this time next year. Just to keep doing my thing, keep trying to be solid and do the best I can every day, and don’t be afraid to aim high.