Good article here on the battler and his plans for 2012:
Wild ride for a wild card
BY ROY WARD
19 Dec, 2011 04:00 AM
SOME athletes talk the talk about keeping in touch with their home towns. Dandenong's Marinko Matosevic walks the talk - literally.
The 26-year-old Dandenong professional tennis player loves nothing more than heading to "Dandy Plaza" to catch up with his old schoolmates from Dandenong High School, although lately he hasn't been able to do that much after winning the Australian Open play-off earlier this month.
That win earned him a wild-card entry to the Australian Open, which will mark his third appearance in the grand slam.
The former Dandenong Tennis Club junior, who still holds honorary membership, said he wanted to launch his campaign to move into the ATP top 100 with a strong showing at the Open.
He is ranked 202 in the world after reaching a career-high 131 ranking last March. "I'm feeling better this year and more ready to make a move," he said. "But that was the plan last year as well and things didn't work out."
Matosevic is coached by former leading Australian player Mark Woodforde and after a year under his guidance feels his game is elevating to the level needed to win each week on the world tour.
In tennis, consistent wins lead to rapid moves up the world rankings.
Getting inside the top 100 is not just an aspiration for Matosevic, it's the key to his hopes of building a successful career on the circuit.
All this year Matosevic was forced to play in qualifying tournaments to get into key ATP tour events. Such a gruelling schedule made it difficult for him to keep his ranking from dropping down.
"You play in the qualifying tournament and then you are back playing two or three days later," he said. "When you have no direct entry to these tournaments it becomes tough to back up each week - that was the hardest part about this year."
Matosevic said working with Woodforde was an adjustment but was proving beneficial to his game.
While in Australia, Matosevic also spends time working with Woodforde's long-time doubles partner Todd Woodbridge.
"I took some time to get used to the way we worked together," he said. "But Mark has done it all in tennis so he has so much to offer me and has gone through all the things I am going through now as a young player ."
While Matosevic does the majority of his training at Melbourne Park or other city locations, he also likes to drop past Dandenong Tennis Club to send down a few serves. "Every now and then I use that honorary membership and go hit some serves," he said.
Matosevic admits he felt the pressure of his own expectations when his ranking rose to 131 earlier in the year. In 2012 he plans to show more maturity and control and take each game as it comes.
"I got a little anxious last year," he said. "When your ranking gets that high it's really not that far, maybe a few weeks good play from climbing into that top 100. But when I think about the year ahead I'm pretty confident I can go higher."
With the Australian Open on the horizon, Matosevic is excited. He plans to play in tournaments in Brisbane, Sydney and finally the Open in Melbourne.
Judging from his previous visits to Melbourne Park he will have plenty of support. "My whole family and lots of my friends come along to support me," he said.
Regardless of whatever bright lights await Matosevic, he said he was always kept grounded by his memories of being on the other side of the fence.
"I remember when I was a teenager getting on the Cranbourne or the Pakenham train line with some mates and coming to the Australian Open," he said.
"We are very fortunate to have a grand slam here. It's a cool feeling to get to play in it because I went there so many times when I was younger."