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Alexander Bublik not "really thinking about a Grand Slam" after becoming first-time father
"Your home becomes even warmer and nicer even though he's crying. It's incredible,” the proud papa tells us ahead of touching down in New York for the US Open.
Published Aug 25, 2022
It’s Thursday. Around 1 p.m., Alexander Bublik is due to arrive in New York. While the US Open is on the horizon, the 25-year-old hasn’t invested much time mulling over the season’s final major. He has his reasons—life-changing reasons.
On August 8, Bublik dropped his opening match in Montréal to begin his North American hard-court swing. Further chances to gain reps in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem were expected, but things bigger than tennis had other plans. By then, Bublik’s wife, pregnant across the Atlantic, was within her window to give birth.
“They gave us three weeks, an approx. date. We didn't know if it should have been Montréal or Cincy or the beginning of the US Open,” Bublik told TENNIS.com by phone late Wednesday night. “But she felt like I have to come. We were waiting four or five days until the baby came out.”
The couple’s world forever changed August 16 when a boy, Vasily, was born. One doesn’t have to search far and wide to see Vasily’s immediate impact. His father only resumed practicing four days ago, justifiably maximizing time to be together as a unit.
“You don't really think about a Grand Slam when you're having a baby,” he stresses. “We’re getting used to the new chapter of our life.
“It's not that tough, as some say. It's a lot more fun even though he's not speaking and sleeping all the time. Your home becomes even warmer and nicer even though he's crying. It's incredible.”
It’s inconceivable that any other experience will top Bublik’s 2022. His year hasn’t been without on-court milestones—in February, he put it all together on the ATP Tour for the first time when he triumphed in Montpellier, dismissing third-ranked Alexander Zverev for the title. Three weeks later, he made his Top 30 debut. The following week, he guided Kazakhstan in a victorious Davis Cup qualifier by outclassing a Casper Ruud-led Norwegian squad on the road.
Yet when Bublik assesses his first eight months, he can’t get past the absence of an eye-catching run on the major or 1000-level stage.
“Career wise, it feels like it's just a normal year without any big step forward. So it's kind of [an] okay year,,” he admits. “Got my first title but besides that, nothing too crazy. I wasn't going deep in Masters, wasn’t going deep in Slams. I did turn around, but it's still not deep enough. Maybe we can have some better results at the end of the year indoors.”
Those months to follow have Bublik’s attention. Come mid-September in Glasgow, he hopes to propel his nation to the knockout stage of the Davis Cup Finals against the fourth-seeded U.S., Great Britain and Netherlands. In October, a home event in Nur-Sultan debuts as an ATP 500 after being upgraded as a permanent addition to the men's calendar. Later, he has designs on entering a specific tournament for one precise reason.
“I will play Basel because I want to see Roger once more,” he says.
You don't really think about a Grand Slam when you're having a baby. Alexander Bublik
Before the calendar turns to indoor environments, an outdoor complex awaits Bublik at Flushing Meadows. Outside of the Top 40, he’s a complex floater seeded players will hope to avoid drawing. From reaching into his bag of tricks like a street artist performing stunts, to playing with a go-big-or-go-home approach akin to an audacious Wall Street investor, there is a Big Apple moxie to Bublik’s layered personality. The colorful character doesn’t like to be called Sasha, and despite a lack of recent match play, isn’t buying that his stock could be overlooked.
“I don't think that many players would like to have me in the first round. I can play great, and other days, I just don't feel it and lose easy. But I still feel if the serve goes in, I'm quite a tough player to beat,” Bublik says, as he seeks a Grand Slam singles showing beyond the third round for the first time.
“Of course having only one match [in preparation], it's different. I do think it's fine because it's tennis, you just get rolling and then you're in the semifinal somehow. We saw it many, many times. Everybody can have their week, regardless of how much they play. Look at Borna, last week in Cincinnati.
“I don't think that anybody can be under the radar.”
In a city he feels connected to from his junior days, Bublik won’t know if this “business trip” will feel differently in a new reality until he takes the court. What Bublik does know is there's a burning desire inside to be a shining example for his son.
“I want just to be the best for him. So that's the only thing I care about around this moment because it really changes the life,” he says. “It's like he just turned the page. All the problems you think you had, just disappears. You don't really think about anything else.”
As for whether Bublik will subject Vasily to all the dad jokes, he replies, “You better ask me this question in five years or ask my son in 18 years.”
Let’s split the difference by checking in ten(nish).