Unfortunately, they had to meet the 8th seeds of the tournament, in the first round of the US Open. And they lost to Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, 7 / 6-7 / 5.
They then agreed to talk about their new life on the circuit, made of bigger tournaments than before, when they scoured the challengers.
Interview with Belgian number one double …
Sander and Joran, a lot has happened to you since the beginning of this year. And there was, in particular, these first two victories in ATP tournament, on clay, a few weeks ago. Does it change your life?
Sander Gillé: Yes, that changed a lot of things. It made us climb the rankings. Being in the top 50, it changes everything. We are sure to be able to play all ATP 250, and to enter the Grand Slams. Beside that, our life has not changed much. But we know now that we are in our place, among the top 50 pairs in the world. We have the level, we showed it often enough. It's just great to be sure to play on a nice circuit, and finish the year in ATP tournaments.
Does it mean that you are less stressed everyday, that you ask fewer questions, that you are happier?
Joran Vliegen: Yes, I think. Before, we only played challengers. It's a difficult life. If we win a challenger tournament, we take 1000 euros, and that's it. And obviously much less if you only play the first round. It's not easy, mentally, to do this every week. Now, we can play all ATP tournaments, and it helps a lot, for confidence, for finances, for life.
You do not live in luxury. But you can allow yourself more things. Whereas before, we had to calculate more …
Joran Vliegen: We're still calculating, but we're not losing money anymore.
Sander Gillé: But we have not changed our life. We're still staying in an Airbnb here. It is not because we take more money that we will stay in a nicer hotel.
Double players who only challengers lose money, that's what you said …
Sander Gillé: Yes, often. You have to win the challenger, not to lose money. That's what changed a lot for us. Before, we played a lot for other things than to play tennis. With our best ranking, it's quieter. Now, I play to raise my level, more to climb the rankings. Before, we tried to win some challengers to enter the ATP tournaments. We played mostly for the classification, in fact. Now, as we are sure to enter the biggest tournaments, we no longer play for the ranking. I do not care about the rankings now. If you are 40th or 50th, it's the same. So, I play to become a better player. In the head, it's a lot easier. We play more relaxed, with less stress.
And so, since the beginning of the year, you have made progress, meeting better opponents?
Sander Gillé: Yes, that's certain. Before, we rarely met players of very high level. It may have happened once or twice, against the Bryan, or Davis Cup in the United States. Now we play matches like that every week. We get used to it, and things get better and better.
Do you feel like you're really in your place now? And that's after that you've been running for years?
Joran Vliegen: A little, yes. But you have to work every day, to stay at this level. We had goals before, and we achieved them. Now we have new ones for the end of the season and for the years to come. It's not easy at all, you have to work every day to do better.
A word about this tournament. Unfortunately, that ended after the first round, because you ran into the No. 8 seed. It was played out very little. As you were in good shape, you must be very disappointed …
Sander Gillé: With the tournaments we've just done, it's a shame to lose in the first round here. But the opponents just won the Montreal tournament, and it's a great team. The match was tight, but they won their games more easily than us, and the points more easily than us. Their level is higher than ours. We will have to play a lot of games like this, and we will continue to work. It's a shame to lose in the first round. But after the match we made, and facing such opponents, this is not a bad result.
There are still some nice goals for this year. And especially the Antwerp tournament, and the Davis Cup …
Joran Vliegen: The Davis Cup still seems far away, but it's true that it's already two months away. We still have some tournaments to play before. We want to play well in Antwerp, that's for sure. It's the only tournament at home. We have already participated in this tournament twice, and we have lost each time in the first round. So we will try to do better this year. After, there will be the tour in Asia. And the Davis Cup. It will be cool if we are in the team.
Listen to Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille …