Roland-Garros 2020 – “Go Dan”, Sky, Wawrinka: here is Daniel Altmaier, Roland’s other revelation

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His idol is … Stan Wawrinka

We will start with that to situate the character for you. Daniel Altmaier swears by Stan Wawrinka. So, the German has more taste because he supports someone who has three Grand Slams in his bag. But at a time when the new generation has grown up following the exploits of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, it really sets it apart. Finger pointed at the temple like his idol, the German always pulls himself up mentally.

If you’ve watched one of his matches, you must not have missed it: Altmaier is not the low key type, but in a good way. He strongly encourages himself, but it doesn’t go any further. By listening carefully, you must have heard French. And yes, if some “come on“come out of his mouth, a few”go“get lost from time to time. Again, there is the Wawrinka paw behind.”When I watched him play he always said, ‘Come on, Stan’. I copied it a bit because I like to say: ‘Come on Dan’. So I like to mix the two to encourage myself. Since I must be my best friend on the court, I encourage myself like that sometimes.”

The two men know each other well and share the same sponsor (Yonex). The Swiss did not fail to congratulate him on his Parisian performances. For the record, he likes Roger Federer too. His other role model is British boxer Anthony Joshua, whom he worshiped. If his goal is to win a Grand Slam, it is the grass of Wimbledon that has always been his preference. “If I could pick one this would be this one“he said two years ago.

Daniel Altmaier at Roland-Garros 2020

Credit: Getty Images

A rough style that has evolved

You saw it, Altmaier is a player who hits a lot, but especially who crunches the brain. Feliciano Lopez, Jan-Lennard Struff and Matteo Berrettini were able to realize it: the tennis of the 186th world vampirizes that of his opponent. Rather of the basic Wawrinka type, the 22-year-old likes to be in control and score points with his one-handed backhand that resembles that of the Vaudois. On the forehand side, it’s less powerful, but it slaps well when it goes down the line. Rather complete, he also goes to the net. It is a versatile.

I don’t like defending in general and waiting for mistakes from my opponents. I like being the actor on the court, having control over events and control of the game in general. I am an aggressive person, but different. I like to be tactically unpredictable“, he said in 2017. Since then, his style of play has evolved slightly. It’s less rough.

His tennis development, it was his coach Francisco Yunis who brought him. The Argentinean is a veteran of the circuit and a relentless technical progress: he coached the best players of his country (Franco Squillari, Agustin Calleri, Carlos Berlocq, Horacio Zeballos, and Leonardo Mayer) as well as Magnus Norman in the mid-years 1990 and Nicolás Kiefer. The one who is also the coach of another rising player, Federico Coria, has put a South American team at the bedside of Altmaier, more of the hard worker type.

Started in August 2019, at the suggestion of Magnus Norman (Altmaier’s manager asked the Swede if he knew a coach available to recover “Dani”), their collaboration has borne fruit: Altmaier has gained 296 places in the ATP ranking and achieved a pretty crazy 2020 season. With 21 successes on the Challenger circuit (37 across all circuits), he has the second best record in the second division of the professional circuit, a place that has allowed him to make a big leap forward in recent months. “He’s a kid who has a lot of qualities“, Yunis told the Argentinian site El Norte in June.

Very comfortable on ocher, Altmaier had a big click at the beginning of September after a fine victory against Lorenzo Musetti, the hero of the Masters 1000 in Rome, in the semi-final of the Challenger de Cordçons. The result took him to the round of 16 at Roland Garros on his first attempt, having lost only one set … in qualifying. “This boy is sure of himself. It feels good to see someone so carefree and happy“, analyzed our consultant Arnaud Di Pasquale.

The injuries cost him nine months of absence

Impossible to say what will be the career of Daniel Altmaier after this Roland-Garros because the kid is rather fragile physically. His participation in Paris was decided only on the eve of the start of qualifying after yet another problem in the semi-final of the Challenger d’Aix-en-Provence against his compatriot Oscar Otte. Last May, as Germany resumed the course of things before everyone else after confinement, he was injured during an exhibition tournament against his compatriot Dustin Brown. His body is not helping him.

In March 2018, a serious hip injury, and abdominals, totally slowed his progress and put him on the mat. With consequences that are still being felt today. As a result, Altmaier is particularly meticulous with his work tool. He has not forgotten the nine months of hardship, far from everything. “I first had a shoulder injury, then I injured my hip on a hard court after a fall. I already have recurring concerns about my body, muscle problems and other abdominal problems, near the affected area during my fall. This has not helped. It was really not funny. “He recovered at the Eden Reha rehabilitation center under the supervision of Klaus Eder, historical physiotherapist for the German football team.

Present in Argentina when the Covid-19 pandemic began, the German, who was preparing at the time Roland Garros number one, that of May, was able to leave home with a flight of returnees thanks to the support from the German Embassy in Argentina. The confinement allowed him to do a lot of physical preparation, the effects of which are being felt today.

I worked a lot on the areas where I hurt myself a lot. I did remote work via Zoom with Esteban (Giménez), my physical trainer, who is in Argentina. We worked for eleven weeks, based on 5 or 6 days “, detailed the neo-eighth finalist in Grand Slam. “Sometimes he would get up at 5am to give me my schedule and push me through my sessions. It means a lot to me what he does. I think the work is paying off.”

He’s a Sky Fellow

Rupert Murdoch’s multi-card empire, BSkyB, has diversified over the years. Between 2010 and 2019, the success of the Sky in the Pro Tour, with its six coronations on the Tour de France, has not escaped anyone. Alongside its former cycling activity, the British Empire launched the Sky Sports Scholars in 2010, a scholarship program that supports the careers of athletes from all walks of life. Planned for the British and Irish at the base, over a cycle of three years, it also extends to the branches of the countries where the group emits: in Italy, in Austria and in Germany. This is where it concerns Altmaier.

The tennis player was therefore selected in October 2017 to join the program as a scholarship holder. Altmaier even became the first foreign sportsman in the United Kingdom to join this Sky Sports Scholars. The Sky group has thought about it well and offers rather comprehensive career support. The athletes meet, exchange with each other during trips and are all followed by a mentor who provides, among other things, sports advice. Career support, media training, business and asset management: the Sky Sports Scholars is a real crutch for aspiring high-level athletes.

Altmaier’s mentor at Sky is Adam Smith. He is a journalist and TV producer by profession, in charge of the boxing section at Sky Sports since 2010. The Briton and Altmaier get along well and see each other often, as the program wants. Smith even debriefs all his matches for Sky Sports. Comment from this boxing lover after the success against Matteo Berrettini: “He’s the Carl Froch of tennis. He is focused, he believes in himself. He knows he can go out on the court and beat anyone (…) Bring him Carreño Busta. Dan won’t shake.”

When asked about the bank account part, Altmaier admits having made the right contributions at important times in his career, ie at the very beginning. “On the financial question, I have always had the chance to have a good structure with me which helps me financially. I have also had an investor since I was very young. He always believed in me. Thanks to that, I have always been able to do my job, to play tennis“, he said on the oldest problem of aspiring players.

I never had any problems with money, especially thanks to the sponsors. There is the social situation of my family: I think that without the sponsors I would not have been able to envisage a career as a tennis player.I’m also very happy to have a stable team by my side. My manager also helps me in the choice of my staff, as well as in the management of the money, so that I am financially stable.”

Altmaier is … more Russian than German

After his great victory against Matteo Berrettini, Daniel Altmaier appeared in front of the microphones, completing the roadmap with the usual formalities. And at the end of this speech, where he introduced himself to the Parisian public, he spoke … in Russian, which is not given to everyone.

The story is simple: Daniel Altmaier was born in Kempen, a town of about 40,000 inhabitants located in the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia, not far from the Netherlands, in September 1998. But although German on paper, he’s actually more eastern.

I have Russian origins. My father is Ukrainian and my mother is from Russia. That’s why I speak Russian. I grew up speaking Russian at home. My whole family is Russian“, clarified the new center of interest of German tennis. The history of his family obviously echoes that of the Zverev family, also of Russian origin and left Sochi to settle in Hamburg in 1991.

Sport is a family affair with the Altmaiers, it’s a culture: Jurij, his father, is a former Ukrainian amateur boxer. This very protective family has often accompanied him in the various stages of his career, especially the first ones when he was in the juniors. It was well worth a little wink.

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