Until Jurgen Melzer’s unlikely comeback at the French Open in June vaulted him into his first major semifinal, the affable Austrian was a journeyman top-50 player who, at 29, seemed to be winding down his career.
But the win over No. 3 Novak Djokovic rejuvenated Melzer’s play and his profile.
The 15th-ranked Melzer, who calls Andy Roddick a good friend, has never been past the U.S. Open’s third round. He spoke by telephone with amNewYork.
What a memorable, positive gesture you made after defeating Djokovic.
It was such big relief coming from my shoulders winning that match after being two sets to love down. ... For the rest of my life I will not forget that moment.
Your name, “Jurgen,” means “George.” Does anybody call you George?
Only [French tennis player] Michael Llodra.
Because he’s trying to be funny, I don’t know.
You don’t appreciate it?
No. It’s strange. Nobody calls me George.
Hmmm. There’s not another famous Jurgen, is there?
Klinsmann, come on! [German soccer legend.]
What's something we don't know about your good friend Andy Roddick?
Well, I think it's fine if it stays like that. I think he's enough in public that there's nothing I can tell you that he would appreciate, I think.
How do you modify your game when you get on hardcourts?
Obviously, we’re not sliding anymore, and you try to work on your legs ... to get a little more stability when you hit your shots. And you have to bend your knees more because the bounce is a little lower than on clay.
Over the years, you’ve lost to three eventual U.S. Open finalists. How important is it for you to go deep here this year?
It would be very important for me to play well there, to go far. As you said, I wasn’t lucky with the draw. And you cannot really plan those things. It would be great to reach the quarters, and maybe go a little further.
What will you and your girlfriend, the Austrian swimmer Mirna Jukic, do in New York these two weeks?
I don't know yet. We'll decide there when we do. For two weeks, I really like to be there. It's really the city that never sleeps.