Stakhovsky: “It Will Be A Very Different Season For Me!”

RENNES, January 23, 2020

Sergiy Stakhovsky led the line-up at this week’s Open Blot Rennes. Following a second-round exit in the qualifying to the Australian Open, the 34-year-old from the Ukraine has come to the capital city of Britanny to start the European indoor swing. Stakhovsky turned pro in 2003 and captured four ATP Tour singles titles in his career.

We met the former World No. 31 at the ATP Challenger event in Rennes, situated in northwestern France, after his opening win in the second round talking about his motivation, his goals for 2020 and his latest project off the courts.

Tennis TourTalk: You’re the top seed of the tournament. As a veteran on the tour, do you still feel any pressure?

Sergiy Stakhovsky: I wouldn’t say that there is any pressure. All of these guys here play well. The margin in terms of level of play between World No. 50 and 250 is very little. You can win or lose to anybody, so you have to stay on top as much as you can. It’s going to be a different season for me this year, as I will play significantly less.

How will it affect your schedule in 2020?

I will focus on tour-level events, playing qualifications and if I am not getting in, I will not go to the Challengers. After this tournament here, I am going to Montpellier, Rotterdam and Marseille. The only Challenger I will play is Pau, as I made a commitment to my very good friend Jeremy Chardy, who is running the event. It was also a very nice event last year. After that I will probably skip one month as the tour will be in the United States and we have a Davis Cup tie before that. So I will not travel to the States. It will be a very different season for me and very likely one of my last ones.

You’re currently sitting at World No. 153. Is it difficult for you to be ranked in-between ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour?

It is always tough to have a decent career before, spending 10 years in the Top 100, some of them in the Top 50. It’s definitely challenging to push yourself constantly through. I was able to prepare well for the season. I had three good weeks of preparation. It’s more of a mental part to constantly push you against the hungry guys. Their ranking is not that great but they all want to win, to beat you. It’s getting mentally tough, as you have to stay on top.

Do you still put yourself any goals in terms of ranking positions?

Of course, I do. My biggest goal for this year is to get to the Olympics. For this I have to be four months in and I need to collect about 400 points. It’s a very feasible and reachable goal. For me it’s priority right now.

You announced on Twitter that you will start your own wine business. Can you tell us a bit more about this project.

Talking about wine in France is very hard (laughs). I started the project five years ago. 2015 we rented two hectares of wineries in the Ukraine. We re-planted, we re-structured. We planted some different wines. We gonna launch on 30th January in Kiev with two reds: one Saperavi Georgian grape and Merlot. That’s why I don’t play in Quimper. It’s a difficult business. We have a big market in the Ukraine with only few producers but we don’t have the culture of wine drinking. So that is the challenge. I hope we are going to be part of this cultivation of wine drinking in the Ukraine. I have no idea how it’s gonna unfold. I believe that we have a very decent product. We put a lot of effort and knowledge we could get into this project. For me it’s not a business. If we keep this project going, that’ll be fair enough for me.

But you like drinking wine?

I can’t say that I like drinking wine. I like the whole process and the culture behind wine drinking. It’s more of a healthy alcoholic product to drink. It gives you pleasure and you can share it with friends. The whole concept of wine drinking is not about the drinking, it’s about sharing the different experiences of the same wine and the tasting with friends. I got into it through the Primrose tournament in Bordeaux. The sponsors are very good wine producers of the region. I have been around with people involved in this very unique culture and I really love it.

Will it be possible to buy your wine on the internet?

We are oriented 90 per cent for the Ukraine. We will be very local. Our production for Europe will only be for certain bottles. I am trying to negotiate a stock in Bordeaux and we will have a stock in Budapest, where I currently live. We try to cover the Austrian,Slovakian, Hungarian and Czech market. I will locally bring some wine for the friends but to order it on the internet is not for now. Maybe for the future.

Thank you and all the best.

Interview: Florian Heer