Tallon Griekspoor started the new year in the best way possible. The 26-year-old dropped just one set all week en route to claiming his maiden Tour-level title at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, India. In the championship match, the Dutchman rallied from a set down to defeat Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
ATPTour.com caught up with the World No. 61 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings to discuss his family’s sports background, his standout finals record on the Challenger Tour, and how he will celebrate his big breakthrough.
What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It means everything to me. It’s something you dream of and work for. There’s so many people involved, my family, my brothers, that mean the world to me. To do this also for them, means the world to me, I couldn’t be more happy.
Entering this event after the offseason, your first event of 2023, how did you feel about your chances of finishing as the champion and lifting the trophy?
You never know after the offseason how you will play. I worked my ass off at home during the offseason. I was playing well in practices but you never know how you’re going to be in the matches. I came to Pune early, had five or six good practice days and I think that helped me a lot.
This was your first ATP Tour final, but you were 8-0 in finals at the ATP Challenger Tour level in 2021. Did this feel much different to those previous title matches?
I had a good record on the Challenger Tour in finals, so I would say I know I how to play to finals. It’s tough, it’s a fight for every point, there’s more pressure than normal, especially my first ATP Tour final. It wasn’t easy but I think I handled it pretty well. Maybe those Challenger finals helped me as well to stay calm and know what to do in the final.
Even before reaching the final, you made history here along with Botic van de Zandschulp as the first two Dutchmen to reach the semis at the same ATP Tour event since 2004. What does it mean to you to be represent the Netherlands with success like that?
It means a lot to do well for Dutch tennis. Botic and I are doing well and then Tim [Van Rijthoven] won the ATP event in Holland [in 2022], so we have a good group of guys. We did really well in the Davis Cup last year. We support each other and make each other better, that’s important to us. Hopefully there’s a lot more trophies coming.
How did growing up in a big sports family help you to get to the level you are at now on the ATP Tour?
That helped a lot to have a sports family, especially having two older brothers who played tennis as well. I’ve always had them to look up to, they are five years older, they were always better than me until a certain age. I would always practise with them, travel with them, having that sports background means a lot. My family is probably as happy as I am at the moment.
Your father is a former motocross driver and you are a big Formula 1 fan… you’ve even said that if you weren’t a tennis player you’d like to be an F1 driver. What similarities do you see between the two sports?
I’m a big fan of Formula 1 but I think at this point I’m happy that I’m a tennis player. I love the competition the guys have, especially at this point when we have Max Verstappen in Holland, he’s probably the biggest sports hero we have. I think pushing yourself to the limit is what it takes in both sports.
You have been very focussed on the court this week. How does your off-court personality compare to what we see in between the lines?
The focus and attitude was really well this week. I pushed myself and put a lot of time in during the offseason, it looks like it paid off. Outside the court, I’m more of a joker guy and not so calm. I like to talk and I’m basically good with everyone. I’m probably a different person between the lines on the court and off-court, but I’m enjoying both parts.
Who are some of your best friends or players you enjoy spending time with on the Tour?
The Dutch guys. There are not too many of them but we spend a lot of time together. We practise basically every day together at home when we’re there. Having those guys around, doing well, especially the past year-and-a-half, helps us a lot. It’s a good feeling.
When did you first start to dream of winning titles on the ATP Tour?
You always have this dream of winning [titles]. But in 2021, when I had this Challenger run of eight titles, at that point I thought it became realistic to start dreaming of winning an ATP title. It was my goal for this year, but I never would’ve thought I’d get it on 7 January, that’s crazy. I’m happy that dream came true today.
How will you celebrate this milestone moment in your career?
Well, I have a long flight in front of me to Melbourne. With my coach, we will definitely have a drink, have a nice dinner, maybe at the airport. At this moment, I really don’t care, I’m really happy. Probably have a nice dinner in Melbourne and celebration there.