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An Interview With: Jared Donaldson

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Q. You did some hitting with Federer. When and where was that? What did it do for your game?

JARED DONALDSON: It was in December of 2013, for three weeks. I was fortunate enough to hit with him for three weeks. Obviously it did a lot for my game just because I got to see what the best ever, you know, did and how he trained and what he worked on, how he worked on it. Basically his game. I got to feel his ball, play points against him. It did so much for me.

Q. Where was it?

JARED DONALDSON: In Dubai.

Q. What was that experience like?

JARED DONALDSON: I mean, unfortunately I didn't get to see a lot of it. I stayed mostly in my hotel room with Taylor and Collin. But, you know, it's an amazing, amazing country. The UAE is a beautiful country, huge buildings, really nice. Basically everything was really perfect.

Q. When you saw your draw, how did you feel about that? How do you feel you did tonight?

JARED DONALDSON: Well, when I found out I was playing Gaël, to me, I wasn't really anxious about the draw, I wasn't concerned who I played. Whether I played Djokovic or a qualifier, it didn't matter to me because I had no control over it. I didn't feel like it was worth getting anxious, worried or concerned about the draw just because I literally had no control over who I was playing. When I found out I was playing Gaël, I was excited, to be honest, because he's a former top-10 player. He's seeded here. I wanted to see how my game would stack up, how I would do. I know you YouTube him, he has highlights all the way down the screen. I wanted to see how my game would match up, you know.

Q. One of the things that comes up every year is the state of American men's tennis. Do you take that personally?

JARED DONALDSON: I don't take it personally. I use it as maybe motivation. I think what people want, people who follow tennis, what people in this country want is a person contending for Grand Slams, someone they can get behind saying, he has a chance at the Australian, a chance at the French, a chance at Wimbledon and a chance to win here. Yeah, obviously we have a really good player in John, a couple guys coming up. So I think that we're trying really hard. I think it's tough. I think tennis is maybe now at the highest level it's ever been.

Q. Here?

JARED DONALDSON: Throughout the world, in history. We have the greatest player with Federer. Nadal, Wawrinka is playing well, Murray. It's really tough. We have a lot of good guys coming up. I mean, it's unfortunate that there hasn't been somebody regularly competing for slams and getting consistently to semifinals. But I think a lot of people use it as motivation. Everyone is trying. Every American and every tennis player is really trying to work to get better and compete and win Grand Slams. I know my coach Taylor said that was his goal. That's obviously every player's goal, not only Americans. Everyone is trying really, really hard to win slams because that's everyone's goal.

Q. Is there too much pressure, especially in this country?

JARED DONALDSON: Personally me, no. I would actually say I got nervous when I was younger. Now I think I'm more confident in my game, more confident in my ability. I just say, If I do the right thing, I can't lose. If I lose the match, I'm going to know what I need to work on and know what I need to improve for the future. If I win the match, great. But I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. If I'm not doing the right thing, I won't have the opportunity to compete for slams. That's obviously my goal.

Q. You came from Rhode Island. Have you been to Newport, the Hall of Fame museum?

JARED DONALDSON: Yeah, I have. I've been fortunate enough to go there.

Q. Any player in the past has impressed you? Do you have a favorite player?

JARED DONALDSON: Well, I think it's really hard for me to speak for other generations just because I really never watched them play. I know someone like John McEnroe, I admire a lot. Fellow American. Jimmy Connors. Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker. Rod Laver obviously. For me it's hard to relate with those players because I didn't grow up watching them. For me, I admire Roger Federer. That's really who I rooted for when I was young. I always wanted him to win slams. I really admire Djokovic's game right now.

Q. Which do you prefer, the consistency or the number of the slams?

JARED DONALDSON: For me I think winning slams, that's what everyone wants. I think that's really what I have to look at when you determine a player. I don't want to diminish getting to a slam final. I think it's disrespectful of me to say, Oh, he lost in the final or he didn't get to a final. I've never gotten to a Grand Slam final, won a Grand Slam. I've never gotten out of the first round of a Grand Slam. I think it's hard for me to judge that he could have done better. I don't think it's really my place.

Q. Tell us about what went into the decision to turn pro.

JARED DONALDSON: I think a few things. For me personally I don't think college was the best place for me to develop my game. I think that was basically the driving force. Obviously college offers a lot of players and people a great experience. But just for me, I didn't think it was the best place for me to work on my game. I feel like there's a lot of other things you have to focus on when you go to school. You go to school. You're focusing on your schoolwork, a bunch of other things. For me it didn't feel like it was 100% tennis. Also I feel like if I wanted to compete for slams, that was the path I needed to take. Obviously everybody's path is different. I don't think one path is the correct way. But I think if you look at a lot of the players now, the top players didn't go to college. For me, I thought it was the best decision.

Q. What does it take to do something over the period of 10, 15 years like Federer when you know everybody is trying to come at you?

JARED DONALDSON: Well, obviously I don't know because I haven't done what Federer does. I don't think anybody's actually done what Federer has done. Obviously it's a testament to how great of a player he really is. You go down the list, he's really got everything either the best or one of the best in the game. Forehand, unbelievable. Comes to net really well. Great slice. Good backhand. Great serve. In the game of tennis today, it's dominated a lot by serve and first ball. When you have as good of a forehand as he does, as good of a serve as he does, he's going to be holding a large majority of the time. He puts a lot of balls into play so he's a tough player to beat.

Q. Were there things that Taylor talked about that you didn't understand until you saw the ball coming back at you from Federer?

JARED DONALDSON: Sure. I mean, everything Taylor was working on at that point -- excuse me. Everything that Taylor had told me, the first thing being, obviously the serve. When I went there, that was the main reason I went to see Taylor and Phil. My serve wasn't where it needed to be. It was actually a liability. Before going there, Taylor said, Yeah, I can help you with your serve, but I can help you with a lot more also. I didn't know what that was. When I went to him, everything he started telling me, I wasn't quite sure, I never heard it before. It was new to me. When I went to hit with Federer, he did everything Taylor was telling me. I experienced, Wow, this is exactly what Taylor is telling me. This is exactly what I need to work on. It gave me at lot of confidence not only in myself that I was working on the right thing, but also in Taylor. At that point I knew that he knows what he's talking about.

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