Andy's newest The Australian column:
NO Chance! Don’t worry, I’m not talking about tonight’s semi-final against Roger Federer. I’m feeling confident in my form and ready to go for the semi-final. Instead I’m talking about jumping into the boxing ring for a second career when my fighting days on the court are over.
A fan asked me whether I could ever see myself doing something like Andrew Flintoff, the former English cricket captain, has done. “Freddie” won his first fight a month a go but I read recently that he hurt his shoulder while training, so I’m not sure whether he will lace up the gloves again. There is no way I would ever consider doing something like that on a professional basis, but when it comes to jumping into the ring against a couple of my team, that is a different matter.
When I first went to Barcelona to train as a 14-year-old, one of the things I still remember about life of the court was the fighting that went on in the corridors of the dormitory I was staying in. It seems I was not the only tennis player with a liking for boxing. A few of the guys in my corridor owned gloves and a helmet, so it was not unusual to see tennis hopefuls from around the world sparring with each other. Some nights there would be a few fights and it was good fun but it could get pretty messy, which is not surprising. A couple of the guys had braces, but they had no gum shields (mouth guards) and they would be there for a minute throwing punches and by the end their mouths would be cut open – it wasn’t a good look.
That hasn’t stopped Dani Vallverdu, a mate from back then and my hitting partner now, talking about who would win if we stepped into a ring. That’s something I’m keen to settle when my days as a tennis player are complete but there is one man I want to take down even more, one of my trainers, Matt Little.
Matt thinks that if it was no-holds barred fight, he would win but in the boxing ring, I’m certain I would take him out and with good reason.
I know from watching guys train, from speaking to boxers, that the worst thing you can do in the ring is to see the red mist and get angry.
It is easier said than done but obviously I am in better shape than Matt, my trainer, and I know he’d be exhausted after two minutes. He would see red almost immediately, start throwing wild punches and I’d just move out of the way and defend myself for a couple of minutes and wait until he tired. That wouldn’t take long. Then I would end him. Matt is not with me on this trip to Australia but I hope he is reading the column-I can already imagine that red mist getting to him!
But back to the tennis. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen some great matches like Novak beating Stan Wawrinka, Roger’s win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga a couple of days ago and Sloane Stephens pulling the big upset on Serena, the star substitute in my five-a-side football dream team.
Those are the type of matches that make grand slam tournaments so memorable. Another fan asked me whether there were any matches that I would love to have seen live when I was growing up and while there are heaps, I’ll just mention a couple.
I was a massive fan of Andre Agassi when I was young and it’s great to hear that he’ll be in Melbourne over the next few days.
My favourite match was his game against Pete Sampras in the 2001 US Open final. It was as incredible match and neither player lost serve, with Pete eventually winning 6–7(7), 7–6(2), 7–6(2), 7–6(5). As you can imagine, the US crowd was going bonkers and that would have been a cool one to see. I’d better mention my coach, Ivan Lendl, as well. I have seen some of his matches on YouTube and I would have loved to have watched him. I would have liked to have seen him win his first grand slam title against John McEnroe in Paris.
On to my preparations for tonight’s semi-final. I feel like I really stepped up my game against Jeremy Chardy on Wednesday but Roger is obviously playing good tennis as well. After I’d beaten Jeremy, I headed straight back to the practice court to get some practice in under lights as Roger was playing Jo and I did the same thing again last night during Novak’s match with David Ferrer. Given it is a night match, I tried to stay up a little longer last night so I was sleep later today. Roger and I have played some great matches over the years and I can’t wait for this one!