Tennis Prose



Biofile Matija Pecotic Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: ATP no. 477. Pecotic is playing the 2024 Sarasota Open qualies tomorrow.

DOB: July 3, 1989 In: Croatia

First Tennis Memory: Watching Pete Sampras at Wimbledon on TV when I was four years old.

Tennis Inspirations: Glenn Michibata, my Princeton coach, who taught me everything I know about tennis. Rafael Nadal. My college application was about picking one person you admire and why? I wrote about Rafa. (Ever meet him?) I met him for the first time when I was warming up Novak Djokovic before the US Open final 2013, I met him in the locker room. Because I’m lefty with a spinny forehand, I trained with Novak for the whole tournament, working on certain things. It’s like he knew he was going to play Rafa in the final (Rafa won in four sets).

First Job: Good question… I worked for a shipping import/export company in Malta. I was in the accounting department (age 17).

Current Car: G class Mercedes (silver) AMG.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Straciatella. It’s vanilla with chocolate chips.

Greatest Career Moment: Jack Sock. Delray Beach. By far. (As an alternate into qualies, he beat Stefan Kozlov and Tennys Sandgren and then Sock in three sets in the first round main draw 46 62 62 in 2023). (When did you first realize you could win this match?) When I was 4-0 down and I won the first game. I just settled into the match. Suddenly, every game I felt I was in it. I felt I could read his serve. I started to enjoy the match instead of being overwhelmed. I accepted it and embraced it. I started to look at people’s facial expressions in the crowd – a lot of people I knew came to watch the match. Then I began to feel that… I just kind of knew it was gonna happen.

Most Painful Moment: Getting injured at my career high 206 ranking. And missing a whole year. I felt like that that was the time I was about to make my break out. 2015, sports hernia. I felt traumatized [smiles]. That’s probably why I’m still out here.

Favorite Tournaments: Umag ATP in Croatia. Australian Open.

Why Do You Love Tennis: Because it is a never-ending set of questions and answers. Facing problems that you have to solve. No two days in pro tennis are the same. One day I could play a guy 6-11, then the next day a guy 5-5. One day I could play at 11 am, then 7 pm. I just enjoy that daily problem solving you have to deal with and figure out a way.

Funniest Players Encountered: You gotta go with Bublik. He does the podcast with Casper Ruud and Benoit Paire. I would pay to listen to them. He’s so spontaneous, so funny with his comments. Evgeny Donskoy. So witty and funny. At a Challenger in Ecuador I took him out to dinner. I didn’t say a word. Just wanted to listen to him speak for three hours [laughs].

Funny Tennis Memory: So many stories… My first ever match in Futures. I was with no ATP points, no track record, I was 24 years old. I was playing a seeded guy ranked around 300. The odds on me had to be like 50-1. I had never played a Futures. There was a group of people watching. After I lost the first set, they started to smoke and talk. My first tennis match. So then I came back and won the match and those guys were celebrating and buying me drinks and dinner. I eventually realized they bet on me in the match. I didn’t even know betting on Futures was an actual thing back then.

Strangest Match: I was playing Uladzimir Ignatic of Belarus. I was down 06 45 match point and he was serving. He bombed one down the tee. I barely got it back. Then he drop shot me. I got it. Then he lobbed me. I go full sprint chasing after it and hit a tweener winner and then fell into the curtain. We both stared at each other for four or five seconds. And I just knew then the match was over.

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: Gosh, so many… I won my first Futures, felt so happy. I got to the airport and go to check-in and the woman said she couldn’t find my flight. Something had to be wrong. I’m standing there having just won the tournament, with my trophy, feeling proud, and then she told me my flight was for a month from now. Somehow I had mis-booked the flight [smiles]. (Where?) Nigeria.

Favorite Sport Outside Tennis: Spearfishing. I spearfish. I go with the same group of guys every year for twelve years. Each year we pick a different exotic place. The latest addition to the group is Tony Godsick. He’s earned his stripes as a spearfishing guy.

Three Athletes You Like To Watch And Follow: Daniil Medvedev. Mike Tyson. Sabalenka.

People Qualities Most Admired: Integrity. Sense of humor. Optimism.

Best You Ever Felt On Court: Junior year at Princeton, like from March to May. I refused to lose. I felt like I was going to win the match before I stepped on the court. I beat the Yale guy 60 60, the Cornell and Dartmouth guys by similar scores. Back then I was listening to Mike Tyson audio on my headphones before my matches, for inspiration. (Matija actually recites the famous Tyson speech after his fight to send a message to Lennox Lewis: I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious, and most ruthless champion there’s ever been. There’s no one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No, I’m Alexander, he’s no Alexander. I’m the best ever! There’s never been anybody as ruthless! I’m Sonny Liston, I’m Jack Dempsey. There’s no one like me. I’m from their cloth. There’s no one that can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!)

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  • Scoop Malinowski · April 6, 2024 at 8:35 pm

    This is one of the best tennis Biofiles I ever had the pleasure to do. Absolutely loved it. Let’s GO Pecotic.

  • Ron Marks · April 6, 2024 at 9:15 pm

    Great interview and a great story. Matija so talented and despite his ageā€¦minimal wear& tear could allow him to play at a ridiculous level and pull off some serious wins at atp main-draw level!! Matija story at DelRay was one of the tennis highlights of 2022!!!!



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