Stricker Relishing Wimbledon Debut, But Can He Upset Tiafoe?
Possessing a swinging lefty serve, a destructive forehand and good touch, it is no surprise #NextGenATP Swiss Dominic Stricker has excelled on the London grass this season. The 20-year-old battled through three rounds of qualifying at Roehampton before he clawed past Alexei Popyrin in five-sets to earn his maiden major win at Wimbledon.
Making his debut at The Championships, Stricker is soaking up the feel-good factor that swirls around SW19 at this time of year.
“It's amazing to be here,” Stricker told ATPTour.com. “I was playing qualifying in Roehampton and then coming here on the site that I have always seen on TV is amazing. I have seen so many good matches here. It is just an honour to play here on these courts. I'm just super happy to be here and to have one more match.
“I think my game suits grass very well. I played good all of the years that I played on grass. And then now this year with qualifying and then also winning one match, that is already great. But there is more to come.”
Stricker will need to find more if he is to continue his Wimbledon run, with 10th seed Frances Tiafoe his next opponent on Thursday.
The American, who advanced to the fourth round at SW19 last year, recently captured his first grass-court title in Stuttgart, cracking the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as a result. With Tiafoe demonstrating great court-craft, Stricker knows he will be in for a test.
“It is going to be a great challenge, but I'm going try to do the best I can,” Stricker said ahead of his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting against Tiafoe. “He's an amazing player. I think he's now in the Top 10 for the first time in his career. It is just amazing to play one of these guys and I'll try to do my things and hope I will get a few chances and then we will see how the match will go.”
Stricker has not been the only Swiss star on site this week. The record eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer attended play on Tuesday, sitting in the Royal Box alongside wife Mirka and Catherine, the Princess of Wales.
Stricker spent time training with Federer in Dubai in the past, with the former World No. 1 sharing words of advice. The 20-year-old was delighted to see Federer watching the action.
“I've seen a lot of matches of Roger here, all of his big finals he played here and all these matches. I remember his win in 2017 [against Marin Cilic]. It's great that he's here,” Stricker said. “They did an amazing event for him on Centre Court and it's just great to see.”
Stricker is currently No. 102 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and is the only Swiss player to win five ATP Challenger Tour titles before his 21st birthday. The lefty sits seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race and is aiming to qualify for the 21-and-under event for the second time after advancing to the semi-finals last year. Stricker feels the experience he gained at the Next Gen ATP Finals has helped him at Wimbledon.
“I think Next Gen was a great event,” Stricker said. “They did such a good event, with so many people coming to support us. I think it was just a great week also to get used to the attention a bit. I would say it helped me a lot for the match against Popyrin. There were a lot of people watching the match and it was great to know before that I would know how to handle it.”
If Stricker can earn his first Top 10 win against Tiafoe on Thursday, he will further boost his chances of returning to the Next Gen ATP Finals this season, which is his goal.
“When I'm doing the right things collecting as many points as possible, that helps, and it'll be the goal at the end of the year to play Next Gen again because it's such a great event and I really enjoyed it last year,” Stricker concluded.