Friday, January 3, 2014

QATAR OPEN: Jaziri targets top-100 return in 2014

Malek Jaziri is confident he will make a return to the top-100 despite the first round defeat he suffered at the hands of Tobais Kamke in Doha.

Jaziri, the highest ranked Arab in men’s tennis, had a tumultuous 2013 where a knee injury saw him slip to No168 in the world, after peaking at No69 midway through 2012.

But after hiring a new fitness coach who helped him work on his knee and physique during a short preseason in Paris, The Tunisian says he’s ready to get back to where he was and aim for higher in 2014.

“I had a good preparation in Paris. It could have been better but I tried to work hard on my fitness. I was injured in my knee so I rested a bit and now I’m working progressively with a new fitness coach. I’m trying to get better every week. I lost a little bit the rhythm of the matches so I need to get that back, practicing a lot, hitting a lot of balls with good guys and I will come back at a very good level,” Jaziri tells me in Doha.

“I usually play well in Doha, I’m not happy that I lost to Kamke but I’ll keep working and it will come.”

Jaziri has suffered numerous knee injuries throughout his career and he played in 2013 without having a proper preseason.

“2013 was very tough. Last year I saved my year, I didn’t have an offseason preparation, I played Roger Federer in Dubai without practice and then I started playing Challengers without practicing, I just played tennis. I ended up ranked 168 so I saved my year.”

He finished the year with a bang, winning the Geneva Challenger in October, but problems with the Tunisian Federation plagued the period prior to that. The Federation had ordered Jaziri not to face an Israeli player in a Challenger event in Uzbekistan and they were eventually sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who banned Tunisia from the 2014 Davis Cup.

Jaziri, who gets financial support from the Federation, says it’s disappointing to miss out on the inter-nation event. “For sure I want to play Davis Cup. I want to honour my country. Davis Cup is special, it’s not like other tournaments, you’re playing with a team for your country and the other guys support you. The other guys also want to play Davis Cup, not just me, so it’s unfortunate,” said the 29-year-old.

When asked whether he would play should he get drawn against a player from Israel again, Jaziri said: “I try to play all the matches, I have nothing against anybody. If I have a match, I have to play. I do what I can.”

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