Challenger At Home: Jurij Rodionov

Jurij Rodionov talks about life at home with his parents, finally getting back on court, what he’s been doing to pass the time and why the beard is here to stay…

No player enjoyed a more successful month of February than Rodionov. The #NextGenATP star scored an impressive 15 wins from 17 matches on the ATP Challenger Tour, lifting trophies on both the indoor hard courts of Dallas and outdoor hard courts of Morelos. The Austrian’s big breakthrough had finally arrived.

After claiming his first piece of Challenger silverware in 2018, Rodionov struggled to carry the momentum last year. But he flipped the script in the early stages of his 2020 campaign, teaming with new coach Javier Frana to climb to his current career-high of No. 168 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. In fact, Rodionov was sitting in fifth position in the ATP Race To Milan when the tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was very frustrating for me to stop,” said Rodionov. “But everyone has to accept the decision and to accept the circumstances. We have to live with it. I wasn’t affected more than anyone else, but obviously it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’ve had a good rest for the past few months knowing that I was playing really good tennis recently. I can start playing again knowing that I stopped at a very high level.”

Rodionov, who celebrated his 21st birthday a week ago, has been at home in Austria with his parents for the past few months. He admits that he is employing the same philosophy that produced his successful stretch between the lines, to navigate his time at home. Being patient, focusing on what you can control and maintaining a positive attitude are essential both on and off the court.

During his time at home, Rodionov has been diligent in keeping a healthy diet and staying in shape. Going for runs in the nearby forest and maintaining a daily stretching routine has been an important routine for the 21-year-old. Now, with some restrictions lifted in Austria, he has resumed on-court training and playing exhibition matches with his countrymen, including Dominic Thiem, Dennis Novak and Sebastian Ofner.

“When you’re playing tournaments 30 weeks a year, spending more time with your parents is a refreshing thing. But it’s the opposite of what you’re used to, so it can be challenging. I’ve been enjoying it though. Things are improving here and there are already opportunities to play locally. We have an exhibition in Vienna this week and it’s good to be in a professional environment again. That’s a really good thing.”

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