Artem Sitak confident he's over tough times, can rise up rankings
After spending the last 10 months outside the top 100, Artem Sitak remains optimistic he can get his ranking back where he feels it belongs.
The likeable 36-year-old is down at 107 in the world and having had a career high of 32 in 2018, it’s been a fair way to fall.
It has resulted in Sitak having to drop down the Challenger circuit for most of this year, where he doesn’t get to enjoy the benefits and luxuries of being on the main ATP Tour.
Sitak admits he’s found it mentally tough, but says he’s not planning on retirement anytime soon.
“The beginning of the year was challenging for me physically, I struggled a little bit, had to miss a few tournaments,” said Sitak, who made it to the quarterfinals of the Challenger tournament with India’s Divij Sharan in Nottingham last week.
“Starting from the Davis Cup (in March), where we had an amazing win, it has got better since.
“I’ve had some good results, especially a few weeks ago, where I got to the semifinal of the ATP 250 in Lyon, beating some good players there.
“Then we beat Jamie Murray and Philip Polasek In the first round in Surbiton, which was great for me, because I’d never beat Jamie before.
“I’ve lost to him in grand slams, Masters, 500s and 250s. The one time I beat him is in a Challenger! But I’ll take it anyway, it’s a nice little booster win.
“So I’m racking up the wins, to climb back up to the top 100, top 50 and I feel like I can do that.
“Last year was difficult mentally, it felt like I didn’t know what to do to get back, but now I’m playing much better and feel like I will get there.”
Going from knowing you’ll play at every grand slam to missing out, then picking up first round losses on the Challenger circuit wasn’t something that was easy for Sitak to deal with, but he’s open about the difficulties he faced.
“It was also tough to travel because people didn’t have vaccines yet,” he said.
“When you lose first round, you can’t do anything because you’ve got to stay in the bubble and I did have some small mental breakdowns.
“But luckily I kept pushing, kept practicing and kept working hard. I did have a few good results last year, I won a Challenger and made the semifinal of a 250 in Kazakhstan, where “I beat some good players, so that helped to keep believing.
“Now, my game is back to where it was when I was 30, so I think I can get back to that level.”
In this week’s updated rankings Sitak moved from 110 to 107, so he’s continuing to head Usually that wouldn’t be good enough to get a player into a grand slam, but Sitak feels he might scrape in to the draw for Wimbledon.
“I’ll try to make it,” he said.
“The list comes out on Friday and last week counts, so the week was very important to me, to go up the rankings.
“I think I can make Wimbledon. They play five sets there in doubles, so less singles guys will be play it and the cut will be lower than at the other slams.”
Sitak says he wouldn’t be able to play with his semi regular partner Divij Sharan, because the Indian is too low down in the rankings (146), but he has another partner in mind.
“It does depend on things. I liked how I played with Max Schnur in Lyon, it was our first time together, we had good practices, beat good teams, made the semis and he’s going up in the rankings (95).
“So we’ll see what makes sense and if I get to play with him that would be great.”
The longer term goal for Sitak is to get his ranking closer to where it was before the Covid-19 pandemic, in time for the final grand slam of the year.
“It would be good to get back to 70-80 in the rankings by the US Open, because that’s where I’ll need to be to get into it,” he said.
“There’s three months between now and then with a lot of tournaments on the schedule, so it’s very doable, especially if I’m playing well and going deep into tournaments. I feel like that’s a good goal to have.”