French Open Champion Tim Pütz: "I Would Surely Not Have Won a Grand Slam Title in Singles!"
At the French Open, Tim Pütz, along with Miyu Kato from Japan, secured his first Grand Slam victory. Ahead of Wimbledon, he reveals in an interview what makes a good doubles player and what he excels at compared to his partner Kevin Krawietz.
Mr. Pütz, it has been a few weeks since you became a Grand Slam champion, a feat achieved by only a few tennis players worldwide. But, to be honest, would you have preferred to become a top singles player?
Tim Pütz: Yes, and I'm sure every doubles player feels the same way. Nobody becomes a professional to solely play doubles.
How did your journey unfold? In singles, you were once ranked as high as 163 in the world.
Initially, I played doubles more casually, but I quickly found more success in it than in singles. Then, at some point, I asked myself: Do I want to play smaller tournaments in singles or focus on the big events in doubles? And after setting my sights on the Grand Slams, I ultimately concentrated fully on doubles. It paid off: I'm certain I wouldn't have won a Grand Slam title in singles!
"Tennis is an individual sport."
What makes doubles so fascinating for you?
Tennis is an individual sport. Doubles is the only way to have a partner by your side, and I appreciate the mindset of winning and losing together. Moreover, doubles is an incredibly tactical and fast-paced discipline where you need to react swiftly and always know where your partner is and anticipate what might happen next.
What aspects do you prioritize in training?
Aside from the net game, definitely the serve and return. If you serve well in doubles, you hardly run the risk of getting broken. That's already half the battle. If you can also put pressure on the opponent's serves with strong returns, it's difficult to lose the match.
So, can any good singles player become a good doubles player with the right training?
That's probably true for most players. However, doubles and singles are two distinct disciplines that require different skills, apart from the basics of tennis. You can compare it to athletics: the 100-meter sprint and the 110-meter hurdles are both sprint events. Nevertheless, participants have to train differently for each, and few people excel in both.
New challenges and partners
Regarding your choice of partners, you recently made a change. After enjoying great success with New Zealander Michael Venus in recent years, you have been playing with Kevin Krawietz for a few months. How did that come about?
We had played together for Germany in the Davis Cup several times in the past, and it naturally evolved from there. Both of us reached a point where we were open to a new challenge with a new partner.
You have already reached two finals together, but a tournament victory has eluded you so far. Nevertheless, are you satisfied with the first few months of your partnership?
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What can Kevin Krawietz do better than you, and what can you do better than him?
I would say Kevin is slightly stronger at the net, while I excel a bit more from the baseline. But these are minor differences; we both consider ourselves well-rounded doubles players. I would say our biggest strength is that we don't have any significant weaknesses.
What about off the court? You inevitably spend a lot of time together.
You don't have to be close friends to play doubles well together. However, I'm glad that Kevin and I are also buddies off the court. We can communicate openly and honestly, and neither of us takes offense at constructive criticism. Of course, we often travel, train, and eat together. But it's equally fine to say to each other, "Today, I need some time for myself."
It sounds like this could be a long-term partnership.
Definitely. I wouldn't mind if Kevin were my last partner. As doubles players, our biggest stages, aside from the Grand Slams and the Davis Cup, are the Olympic Games, which will be held in Paris next year. That's definitely one of our shared goals.
Mixed title at the French Open
Let's talk a bit about the mixed doubles title at the French Open. How did that come about?
To be honest, there was a fair amount of luck involved alongside our skills. We had a relatively favorable draw, which allowed us time in the first two rounds to synchronize our play. Mixed doubles is rarely played outside of the Grand Slams, and even we doubles specialists don't specifically train for it. You simply step onto the court, give your best, and that was enough for Miyu and me to win in Paris.
How does the approach in mixed doubles differ from doubles? Is the plan, to put it simply, to target the opposing woman?
It's true that we men in mixed doubles strategically utilize our advantage in serving and should aim to win points against the returning women. But focusing only on the women would be an oversimplification.
The triumph was surprising because you hadn't won many matches in mixed doubles before.
That's true; it hadn't been going well in the past. I always had some sort of mental block: How could I hit hard shots at a woman? Can I really serve aggressively against a woman? In Paris, I managed to overcome that mental barrier and simply thought of it as a regular doubles match. Obviously, it worked out brilliantly.
And yet, you're only participating in doubles at Wimbledon and skipping mixed doubles. Why?
Because the Bundesliga season is starting, and I want to play as many matches as possible for my team. If Kevin and I advance far in doubles and I miss a Bundesliga match as a result, that's fine. But for me, the Bundesliga took priority over mixed doubles, so I didn't enter that event at Wimbledon. However, Miyu and I have already loosely planned to team up for the US Open at the end of August.