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Tennis.com Podcast with Kamau Murray: Austin Krajicek’s Methodical Rise To The Top of Men’s Doubles
This American has reached the very pinnacle of his sport. All it took was dedication, patience, and inner belief that his time would come.
Published Jun 25, 2023
FLASHBACK: Krajicek made the Miami Open final with Nicolas Mahut earlier this season before winning Monte Carlo and Roland Garros.
Everybody dreams of having their moment in the sun, but only a select few get to do it on a worldwide stage. Austin Krajicek started his pro tennis journey in 2012 after a stellar college career at Texas A&M, with the hopes of just being able to make a fun living for as long as he could. Several years later he realized he could much more, but not in the traditional path taken by many. Focusing on doubles, Krajicek get climbing and checking off new benchmarks, until earlier this month, when there was nowhere else to go.
Along with world-class partner Ivan Dodig, the American won the Roland Garros title and earned the recognition as the top-ranked doubles player in the world. In this podcast with Kamau Murray, Krajicek keeps it as even-keeled as always, grateful for the past but as focused as ever on his future as a tennis player.
Krajicek, like many in his chosen profession, was highly skilled as a junior. He chose Texas A&M for their development prowess, with the goal always in mind to make a run at a pro career. When he did finish up his time at the university level, there was certainly a culture shock.
“It’s a little bit unrealistic transitioning to the future’s tour from that scene,” Krajicek recalled of leaving the quality environment at College Station. “It’s a couple years of a grind and you’ve just got to put your head down. And I traveled to all kinds of places to play these tournaments to try to move up the rankings.”
All tennis players are face fork In the road moments during their career, and Krajicek’s involved which path he wanted to take. He ma e a conscious decision to forgo some singles opportunities to concentrate on doubles, a choice that many would not have the courage to make.
“I kind of came to the conclusion that in singles, if everything went well and I was playing great again and got some good draws, all these things go your way, then maybe I can get back to the Top 100 again,” Krajicek explained. “But I thought that I could make an impact in doubles where, 'Hey I think can have a chance at some of these Grand Slams and bigger tournaments, and make a push towards Top 10.'”
And so, Krajicek committed himself fully doubles, knowing that he had some prior success in that avenue, while also realizing that his bigger goals would take time to achieve. He’d have to be patient, which he certainly was.
It took several long seasons, but Krajicek got to the top of the mountain. In 2022 he reached the Roland Garros final with his well-accomplished partner Ivan Dodig, and lost a heartbreaking match. The duo returned to the scene of agony and rewrote the story, winning their first major title together.
It was a groundbreaking win for Krajicek, who became the No. 1-ranked doubles player in the world on the heels of his first grand slam triumph.
“There’s a certain amount of days where you play unbelievable, a certain amount of days you play terrible, and the middle is where 90% of it is,” Krajicek said in reference to his championship run. “That’s what makes a good player or a great player, being able to find a way when you’re not playing your best.”
The American handled his victory in stride, knowing there’s still plenty to accomplish his tennis journey. But if his career were to end today, Krajicek can take solace in the fact that he is just the 20th man from the US to earn the top spot in doubles.
Few podcasts offer the opportunity to hear from the very best in their profession, but this one has got you covered. Kamau Murray asks poignant questions about Krajicek’s tennis journey, while also inquiring about what keeps him going. At 33 years old, Krajicek is now a veteran on the tour who has accomplished more than he ever set out to. Yet the game remains fun, and Krajicek is as committed to the process as ever.
“We’re playing great and physically I feel great. There’s no reason why I can’t play for several more years. There’s no time limit you put on it, you just try to take advantage of what’s in front of you and play the best tennis you can for as long as you can. So I’m really enjoying where we’re at as a team.”