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Mairon interviews Richie, Tester, Pablo, Vram, and other top player US Open interviews
Written by Pablo Hernandez
06 Dec'20 - 21:27

Earlier in the year, on the lead up to the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year, your ITST's own Mats Wilander (Mairon) chatted with some of the best players on tour before the US Open to find out how their ITST tennis careers are progressing and what are their hopes heading into the last slam of the season. 

Grab your glasses and notebooks ITST geeks, here’s your opportunity to learn a thing or two from the giants of the game. 

 

Richie

No other player has left a bigger mark on ITST history than Richie. The winner of 10 grand slam singles titles talked about his success in the past and what motivates him to keep winning.

 

Q: How do you feel about your prospects for this year USO HC swing? Do you have a plan?

 

“It’s a fresh restart for me and the others, going from grass to HC and going into a new mod that has the most significant changes we’ve ever seen in ITST. Priority for me is to select a bunch of characters that I would be keen on playing first. Then from this list, see which characters can be used competitively, try them in the tournaments before US open before deciding who the final pick will be for the GS. I also plan on using this time to figure out how the mod’s gameplay is to find the best way to play it. The goal is to be in the best possible setting going into US open. After Wimbledon, I’m looking into the American HC season with good confidence.”

Q: Do you have a spare game pad when things don’t go your way during a match and your game pad pays the ultimate price?

 

“I have 3 PS4 gamepad so I should be fine if one was to have a problem!”

 

Q: You established yourself as the most successful player in the game, does it change anything for you, or you just enjoy the game as usual?

 

“My goal when playing a video game, I enjoy is always to achieve the best I possibly can. When I start feeling that I’m playing at a good level that satisfy me, that’s where I get the most fun I can have. Concerning ITST, I was always satisfied seeing I could play at a high level, facing the other top players at their best. Whether I ended up being the most successful or not isn’t something I can control: you can always find someone that does everything a bit better than you. So as long as I can feel that I’m at the top, but not necessarily the absolute best, I’m enjoying my performance because it means that I’m doing a good job. Now, obviously it’s a good bonus to have had so much success until now, my efforts really got awarded.”

 

Q: A hypothetical question, do you feel more like predator or prey?

“I don’t think I would feel like either of those. I’m feeling pretty neutral about the status I can have on the tour. I don’t go into matches thinking that I have an advantage because of my past results, each match is a new challenge and the wins are always tough to get against the best players. On the other hand, I’m not feeling like I’m the target either when going in a match: I try to not think too much about my opponent and rather really focus on my performance, because that’s the only thing I have a control on.”

 

Q: Who's the toughest opponent you ever faced?

“At the start, I was thinking of my answer and was going to say that I wouldn’t be able to choose between Butcher, Pidzi and Vramvrim. But for the sake of the question, I still want to force myself to pick one of them. So I would go with Pidzi, the reason being that he is the one with whom I’ve had the most of thriller matches in my career (thinking of Wimbledon 2013, US open 2013, Madrid 2014 and Roland-Garros 2016 for example) with some of them being of a huge intensity.  I remember especially Wimbledon 2013 going 13-11 in the 5th set, full of tension, and Madrid 2014 being a 1h44 battle, surviving 2 match points, playing our infamous 170 strikes long rally at the end of the match. This one is definitely the most exhausting match I’ve ever played on the tour. And overall, those two matches are easily in my top 5 of the sickest matches I was able to play on the tour.”

 

Pablo Hernandez

The Portuguese has certainly had a very successful career so far. He’s won 30 titles, including Wimbledon 2018, and was a runner up in four slam finals. Pablo has big ambitions and he’s to square off with Talwoutte for a place in US Open final. 

 

Q: How do you feel about your prospects for this year USO HC swing? Do you have a plan?

 

“At the moment I’m not feeling optimistic about the US HC swing. Never felt comfortable on HC and my mind is not on the right place, I hope I can rediscover my motivation to challenge the best once again , but not sure if I will play. I hope I will but let’s see what will happen.”

 

Q: Do you have a spare game pad when things don’t go your way during a match and your game pad pays the ultimate price?

“I do have a spare game pad but I use it to play solely on the XBOX One. In the past I have needed spare game pads and had to hold my frustration until the end of the match to break it.”

 

Q: How do you deal with hard losses? is it easy to overcome negative emotions after a difficult match?

“With hard losses I tend to lose confidence for the upcoming matches until I’m able to get a big win once again. With how my season has went so far, I feel that there is matches that I lost that I shouldn’t have however it is part of the game. I have lost some motivation and confidence after some hard losses vs Talwoutte, Tester and Richie. I try to stay positive but it’s hard.”

 

Q: ITST can often be a jungle. Do you feel like predator or prey?

“I feel like a prey; I don’t win enough to be considered a predator for that I would need to win.”

 

Q: Who's the toughest opponent you ever faced?

“Hard for me to choose toughest opponents who I have ever faced as I faced all-time greats such as Richie, Pidzi, Isniper, Isaldor, Boss to name a few. I have had the privilege to beat all of those apart from Richie. It is tough for me to pick just one therefore I would say that Pidzi and Richie have been the toughest opponents I have played. Pidzi for his sheer attacking relentless style of play at his peak and his ability to keep it up for as long as he did. He has also beat me quite easily in many of our matches, one I feel like I was playing good and lost in 3 sets at the AO 2018 still was happy to have been able to have played him in a big stage as many times as I did was a pleasure. Richie on the other hand is because I’m currently 0-6 vs him, to beat him you must invest a lot of energy keeping up a high level and keep you mental in place that is where he exceeds from anyone I faced. Richie also deprived me from reaching Madrid Final, winning in Rome, a medal of the Olympics and a Wimbledon title. I hoped to win Wimbledon to be my swan song as I still feel to this day that I should have retired in 2018 after my win so I wanted to leave on a high. I have nothing but the upmost respect for all these players and all the other players on tour that I have played with.”

 

TesterAVI


A Spanish Nadal fan, Tester does his best to emulate Rafa and stays true to his game style. Tester won his maiden grand slam at Roland Garros, as you can probably guess. With an impressive attitude and Rafa’s die hard mentality, Tester is one of the favorites in most tournaments he enters.

 

Q: How do you feel about your prospects for this year USO HC swing? Do you have a plan?

“I feel confident, and depending on how I do in the OIympics final I will be more or less confident. Right now there is a mini-rivalry between Richie, Pablo and me, and depending on how the results are going we might be the most successful on the HC swing. I don't know if I'll play with Nadal or Shapo, I guess I'll keep playing with Rafa.”

 

Q: We all know playing TE can be time consuming and frustrating at times, where do you find the motivation to keep playing and improving?

“It can be very frustrating, but it always makes you want to play unless you've lost an important match.”

 

Q: Who's the toughest opponent you ever faced?

“Since I'm on my prime, it's surely Pablo. Before, maybe it was Sniper, but since I'm playing so well, he's been inactive so I don't know. But yes, it's probably Pablo since we've played a lot and he knows me, and apart from being very difficult to make him a winner, he doesn't usually miss any attacks. It's very tiring to play him.”

 

Q: You won Roland Garros recently, and it was your first grand slam title. How did it feel to get there?

“I felt that my level had increased a lot. RG's race was very unexpected since I had just finished a horrible clay season, winning 1 or 2 games on matches against Pablo and Henri. I arrived at my first Roland Garros with a bad feeling, I got Richie in the fourth round and I beat him in straight sets. I didn't expect it at all, and from there I went through rounds playing very well until I reached the final, where I think Tal couldn't stand the rallies.”

 

Q: Do you have an advice for new player and those who want to improve their game? What's the most important thing in this game in your opinion?

“I would advise new people to watch some TE matches of great players and see how they move and how they hit. In game the most important thing is the movement and your position all the time, that way you can defend and attack with time, in the best way possible.”

 

Vramvrim

 

If you followed ITST during its golden age, you’ll know how good Vramvrim was on the virtual tennis court. The Australian Open 2017 champion has returned to ITST this year and has so far shown an impressive level. Heading into the US Open, Vram had won Cincinnati (d. Richie) and Winston Salem Open (d. Retro Prime) but fell to Talwoutte in R2 at the US Open. As a player with huge experience on ITST, Vram has had a few interesting things to share about the game and competition.

 

Q: How do you feel about your prospects for this year USO HC swing? Do you have a plan?

“I'm feeling pretty good; I think I'm playing at a decent level again recently after my 3-year break. There's no specific goal in mind in terms of results, but I'm looking forward to keep improving, facing the top players and hopefully upset one or two of them. My plan is to try various chars and disrupt the draws as much as I can while I'm part of the unseeded life.”

 

Q: Do you have a spare game pad/keyboard in case something goes wrong and you end up breaking one?

“Not really. If it happens, well that's too bad. My controller did break once; I'd like to tell that I destroyed it from rage but the left stick simply broke from wear while playing. I had to finish the match with it, receiving my only bagel on tour in the process. Unlucky.”

 

Q: You've returned to the game recently after a very long break. What's changed since you played the tour last time? How do you compare the previous era with this one?

 

“Some new strong guys have appeared, which is good to see, because from 2015 to 2017 the pool of top players kept getting drier. I haven't been back for long yet so I can't be 100% sure, but from what I saw the highest level of play, as in slam finals, is comparable to back then. In terms of depth, unfortunately great players like Isniper, Henrijames, and possibly Talwoutte seem to have lost the will to play recently, so that's a shame. Hopefully some new names raise and I get back to a good enough level to make things interesting!”

 

Q: Where do you find the motivation to keep playing on the highest level, or to return to the game after such a long time?

During my first career, I managed to keep motivation high enough by not playing a lot between tournaments, taking practice sets in a very relaxed way, only focusing on big tournaments, taking breaks every now and then, and often switching chars so that the game did not become a chore. 

 

TE is a pretty repetitive, not very deep/varied game, and there's definitely annoying stuff happening when you face top guys, like not being able to finish points, balls landing at your feet again and again, net play being random/ineffective, etc., that frustrates you and adds up over time. I think in order to last on the tour, it's really important to accept that this stuff is part of the game, and to avoid overplaying. 

 

As for my return, it seemed that Richie needed my help; the guy never won a slam when I wasn't in the draw... Yeah no, I thought it could be interesting to see how the game evolved, what would be my level after 3 years, and how I'd fare against the top players. Also pandemic happened; with more time to spare, lack of real tennis and no new tennis game, I got a small itch to play again. So far the comeback is not going too bad, I'm definitely a step behind the best now, but I expected far worse. At the moment it's pretty enjoyable feeling myself improve again. We'll see how long it is until I'm bored again.

 

Q: Who's the toughest opponent you ever faced?

“Richie is the strongest, but Pidzi was probably the toughest matchup for me.

 

Like, Richie is the best player that I ever faced, he's got the best movement and the best mentality. He plays in the most efficient way possible in this game, with the right amount of aggression. But that being said, I had more trouble in my matchup against Pidzi when he was at his best, as his ability to step in the court and be very aggressive during rallies put me out of my comfort zone; peak Pidzi on grass was particularly impressive.

 

While Richie is the GOAT, we built our games by playing each other and it did make my life a little less hard against him, though that still remained a very tough matchup obviously (especially when he had Hewitt). Despite the difficulty, I enjoyed very much playing against those two. Going against the best is what makes this game worthwhile to me.”

 

VMoe

 

ITST manager and a veteran of the tour, Vmoe surprised everyone by returning to the tour after a three-year break. He’s yet to find his old form, having lost to TesterAVI in the second round at the US Open, but his rich experience and knowledge of the game makes him an unpleasant opponent to face. 

 

Q: How do you feel about your prospects for this year USO HC swing? Do you have a plan?

“I have no specific plans other than regaining a good competitive level.”

 

Q: Do you have a spare game pad/keyboard when rage gets the better of you and you break a pad?

“I have two keyboards. In fact, I recently had to buy a new one because one stopped working.”

 

Q: You've returned to the game recently after a very long break. What's changed since you played the tour last time? How do you compare the previous era with this one?

“Coming back has been difficult. The mod has changed, new strong players emerged. I think the level of this era is up there with the old era, but mentality and competition wise, old era has the edge because the game was more fresh at that time.”

 

Q: How do you deal with hard losses? is it easy to overcome negative emotions after a difficult match?

“I have no specific way of dealing with hard losses. Maybe that’s why I always had such losses. But negative emotions were never part of it, sometimes I just felt empty after another tough loss.”

 

Q: Who's the toughest opponent you ever faced?

“Tough call between Richie and Pidzi between 2013 to 2015. I’d say that Pidzi was a more difficult match up, hardly took sets off him. Against Richie I could choke..., against Pidzi I did not even get there. The difficulty is his style being more attacking than mine, so I feel it depends less on me but on him.”

 

Credit to: Mairon

 


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