Tennis Prose



Biofile Shintaro Mochizuki Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: ATP 219.

Ht: 5-9 Wt: 154

DOB: June 2, 2003 In: Kawasaki, Japan

First Tennis Memory: It’s such a long time ago. My first memory is I loved playing points all the time when I first started playing tennis. I always hated practice. With all the coaches, when they let me play points I was like so happy. That is the biggest thing I remember, I guess, playing points (age 7).

Tennis Inspirations: It’s always been Roger Federer. I’ve watched his matches so many times, especially Wimbledon. That inspired me to keep playing. (I presume you met him?) Yes, it happened in London when I went to ATP Finals to be hitting partner, I got to hit with him. Felt very, very weird. Because he was always on the TV and I got to see him in person. So it felt weird. It was an amazing experience.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: I don’t really remember but it’s been like Kei Nishikori has been there always practicing at IMG Academy where I grew up (since age 12). I saw him many times there 12-13. And I think I got a chance to hit with him when I was 14-15. That’s when we started practicing a little bit. He was always there. I was practicing with him and it felt, like it’s crazy. But it felt like… here I was 15 and I was hitting in the middle and I felt like I could maybe beat these guys when I was maybe 15. Because I was hitting in the middle, only in the middle (of the court). I thought before I couldn’t put a ball back against him. That was a big surprise for me and it gave me confidence as well. But then, now I feel what he has done is amazing. And I respect him a lot as a person as well.

Greatest Sports Moment: Winning matches always makes me feel good. I don’t care really which tournaments that I play. Like just playing and beating good players always makes me feel confidence and happiness.

Most Painful Moment: Difficult question… I guess when I turned pro when I was done with juniors and I started playing Futures and Challengers. At the beginning I thought, like I can do this. But then, I think, many good players out there at the Challenger level and Future level and I kept losing, losing. And I felt like I faced a lot of difficulties. I think that was the most tough time and most difficult moment of my career.

Best You Ever Felt On Court: Always feels good when I’m returning good. Not like who I’m playing against, especially against big servers, and I think I have pretty good returns also. When I return well it always makes me feel comfortable playing. I think that’s gonna be like the key of my tennis life, always. So I think that’s one of the things that makes me feel good on the court.

Last Book Read: I haven’t read for a while. I hate reading [smiles]. I don’t remember. (Note: Upon hearing this, at the end of the interview I offered Shintaro a copy of my latest two books Facing Monica Seles or Facing Novak Djokovic, as a gift for giving me such a wonderful Biofile. He selected Facing Novak Djokovic.)

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: I’d say pistachio now. I hated it when I was younger but now I love it.

Favorite Tournaments: Wimbledon.

Strangest Match: It can be like when I’m serving bad, like when I get broken. A lot of times I break the guy as well. So, like, it gets close and we both have troubles to hold. But still it’s a good match. I think that’s one of the strange matches that I play [smiles].

Embarrassing Tennis Memory: I think I was eating lunch, when I came back to the site to play doubles, I was late for like 30 minutes. And I had to withdraw in juniors, in Cayman Island.

Favorite Sport To Watch Outside Tennis: Ohtani. And Yu Darvish. Two great baseball players. I follow them. I love to see what they do when they’re not playing. Like what they do at home or in the gym. I’m always curious about that.

Why Do You Love Tennis: I think it’s because tennis has always been with me the whole life. So I think it’s a part of me, part of myself. So I think that’s why I love it.

People Qualities Most Admired: Tough question… I always like to see nice people, supportive and friendly. Because I’m not one who is like very friendly. I’m not very good at making friends or whatever. When people talk to me I’m always very happy, yeah.

(Photo from Asics.)

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  • Cyndy · October 19, 2023 at 9:55 am

    Scoop Malinowski!—. A big hearty thanks to you for putting up this wonderful bio file on Shintaro Mochizuki. After I had watched his match with Taylor Fritz earlier on at the Tokyo Open.,I was actually wondering who is this wonder guy who had toppled Fritz the champion of Tokyo Open’22. And I knew you write bio files on various players so it was the best for me to look up and read through. Very nice to read the added info and your interview with him to Scoop Malinowski! He seems like a real down to earth guy who likes the simple things. I was in awe when he played real well against Fritz specially after being down in that third set. So it’s marvellous that he came through. I was doubly amused when he wisely chose the Facing Novak Djokovic book that you kindly offered to him.👍🏼. Thanks again for the very interesting biofile on this talented up and coming player called Mochizuki

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 19, 2023 at 11:08 am

    Thanks Cyndy, Shintaro really gave me a fantastic interview. It was late morning in Newport, and we were walking by each other, he had already lost in qualies and was still there hitting, and I asked if he would do an interview with me, unscheduled, random thing. At first he said he was going to lunch and he could do it after but then he changed his mind and did it right then when I said it was just a few minutes. And then he gave the most thoughtful, sincere answers to all questions. It is one of the best Biofiles I’ve ever done, very grateful and because it was so good and I was so grateful he shared such personal insights I just had to offer him a gift in appreciation and he picked the Facing Djokovic book. Very happy to see this thrilling breakout by him this week in Tokyo and the emotions he’s showing for how much it means to him. I am one of his biggest fans now, a very interesting person and player to watch.

  • Cyndy · October 19, 2023 at 11:23 am

    How kind of you to give him the Facing Novak Djokovic book Scoop Malinowski., he made a wise choice too and I’m sure he will treasure your nice gift. Yes I too feel the same way on being a fan and will look forward to seeing him play his next match with Popyrin.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 19, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    Cyndy, I think he will remember it because it was most likely the best interview he’s ever given so far in his short professional career and it’s possible he will never give a better, more interesting interview. We connected at the right moment to create, in my opinion based on 31 years of doing Biofiles, interview magic.

  • Cyndy · October 20, 2023 at 9:46 am

    Scoop Malinowski— so I’m so in awe of Shintaro Mochizuki…what a match with Popyrin earlier on…it’s a good thing you actually interviewed him and did that biofile… so much info on him which one would not know otherwise…what a player he is and shows so much potential… so level headed and humble which are surely important in an ascent. He next plays Karatsev who’s actually also playing great… so let’s see as it’s the semis! Your book gift might have helped some I’m thinking. But again very nice of you to do so!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 20, 2023 at 10:25 am

    Cyndy, he’s emerging as a new superstar after some years of struggles and paying his dues. But it’s not a surprise, he was an extraordinary uncanny junior. I remember Jimmy Arias talking about him years ago at IMG, about his special talent and ability to compete despite lacking big weapons or physicality, implying he had wizardlike skills. It’s really great to see this happening now. I got very lucky to interview him just before this perfect storm. It’s one of the greatest tennis Biofiles I ever did, like you I’m looking forward to enjoying his tennis exploits for many years to come.

  • Cyndy · October 20, 2023 at 11:35 am

    Yes yes and yes to all that Scoop Malinowski! Shall be waiting to see his wizard like skills in the semis against Karatsev., he’s just so down to earth as your bio file in him suggests … pistachio ice cream … even I like !!! So he has won our hearts it seems among all his Japanese fans who were loudly cheering him on.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 20, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    Cyndy, I think he will beat Karatsev ) But I wont say why ) First time I ever heard of someone saying they hated a certain food but now they love it. An inspiring message in that simple little answer. Especially for our friends in the middle east. Mochizuki has the potential (and determination I believe) to be better than Nishikori, who I sense realized this and started to keep a distance after their initial practicing together.

  • Cyndy · October 22, 2023 at 8:42 am

    Scoop Malinowski — our new favourite player Shintaro lost his match to Karatsev (6-3, 6-4) ., who in turn lost miserably to Big Shelton for the finals (7-5,6-1). But I will still have my hopes up high for the newfound Shintaro as he plays so good and wizard like shots. Seems like both Giron and Karatsev had their chances in the matches but both lost out and crumbled under the mighty Big Ben who certainly seemed a force to be reckoned with. There was however no phone call hang up this time from Shelton who seems to have improved on his manners since US Open last!!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 22, 2023 at 9:10 am

    Not a shock Mochizuki ran out of gas, it must have been a very emotionally draining week for him, to overachieve far beyond his own wildest dreams. Great win for Shelton who really is on the cusp of being an elite top 10 force and I think he will be top 5 soon. He’s only going to get much better.

  • Cyndy · October 22, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Scoop Malinowski—- yes for sure In Shelton although it will be interesting to see him versus the other players as does get interesting from hereon!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 22, 2023 at 11:53 am

    Shelton has won a LOT of matches in the last 18 months, Challenger success has translated to ATP success.



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