Denis Kudla reflects on young career, sets sights for top 50 (exclusive interview)

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By Kelyn Soong

Denis Kudla may not be a household name in tennis, but he has made significant strides in his three years on the pro tour.

At only 19 years old, Kudla is third youngest player in the top 200 of ATP World Tour rankings.

He is currently ranked world No. 177 and has a career high of No. 168.

This year, Kudla played in his first Grand Slam main draw match in Australia (losing in four sets to Tommy Haas), was one game away from beating Andy Roddick in the second round at the SAP Open and got the opportunity to play one of his idols, Roger Federer, in the second round at Indian Wells.

“My professional career so far has been pretty successful,” Kudla said. “I got through the rankings pretty quick…As long as I keep improving, I’m pretty happy with everything.”

Kudla has wanted to a professional tennis player for as long as he could remember, and he has enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle that comes with the profession.

“Life on tour is pretty good, it’s a different lifestyle,” Kudla said. “You’re traveling every single week – I don’t think I’ve been in the same place for more than 10 days. It’s tough, but I enjoy it. You’re in a different hotel every week, you get to travel the world, new food – it’s the lifestyle I chose.”

After all the traveling, Kudla had time to return to the Washington, D.C. area for a few weeks after his failed bid to reach the Wimbledon main draw.

The Arlington, Va. native practiced and trained with his old coaches and hitting partners at the Tennis Center in College Park in preparation for his next tournament in Newport, RI, which starts July 9.

The tournament holds a special place for Kudla, who recorded his first ATP World Tour win there just a year ago.

As for his future goals, Kudla is setting his sights for a big year.

“In this time next year I want to be potentially top 50,” he said. “I don’t want to give myself too many ranking goals now – I realize that’s maybe not the best way to look at yourself and improving. I just want to be keep being successful, try to make a run at an ATP title and keep improving, and I think everything will come along.”

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