Jan-Lennard Struff enjoyed the best season of his career in 2019, climbing to a career-high No. 33 in the ATP Rankings, reaching two ATP Tour semi-finals and earning five wins against Top 10 opponents.
The 29-year-old will hope to carry that momentum into 2020, beginning the new season at the inaugural ATP Cup. Struff is Germany’s No. 2 singles player, and he will hope to help his country advance out of Group F, which also consists of Greece, Canada and Australia. Struff speaks to ATPCup.com about his German idols growing up, what makes competing on a team special, and more.
Which countrymen did you watch growing up and what did you admire about them?
A lot of players: Tommy Haas, Nicolas Kiefer, really a lot of them. Those are the two biggest names, I would say. I liked the way they played, I liked the style they played.
Tommy was an inspiration for me. When I played him in Munich and in Kitzbuhel it was unreal to play him. It was just crazy because he played his last match against me in Kitzbuhel. Obviously I liked his intensity on court and the way he hit the ball. It was just unreal, I really loved that.
What are your early memories of playing tennis in your home country?
I started playing with my parents, who were both tennis coaches. I really enjoyed playing. When I was a small kid, I always loved to go out and I played soccer, as well.
I just loved to do something with my friends, playing the sport and travelling with some guys from my practice group. We just had a fun time, playing club matches in the youth area, under 12, under 14, like four guys. We are very good friends and we were just enjoying the matches and practice sessions together.
Of course I watched so many Grand Slams on TV, it was unreal. When I was in school, the Australian Open was on TV. They started at 1 in the morning. I was waking up at 5 or 6 with my mom, watching interesting matches.