Courtesy of Andrew Eichenholz and ATPTour.com
Austin Krajicek on Monday climbed to World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time after earning his first major doubles title on Saturday alongside Ivan Dodig at Roland Garros.
“Of course, reaching No. 1 really is an honour,” Krajicek told ATPTour.com. “It’s an incredible honour to be on that list of guys and it’s always been a goal of mine since I was a little kid. There’s no doubt about that. I think a lot of players have that [goal].”
Krajicek won the biggest junior tournament in the United States at Kalamazoo in 2018. The lefty then played college tennis at Texas A&M, where in 2011 he won the NCAA Doubles title with Jeff Dadamo. The American embarked on his professional journey, cracking the Top 100 in singles in 2015.
But Krajicek has made his biggest mark in doubles. Fittingly his college coach, former doubles World No. 2 Steve Denton, was in his box (as were current coach Philip Farmer and others) Saturday for the biggest moment of his career.
“It’s [been] over a decade of ups and downs and struggles in Futures and Challengers and a lot of tough moments where you don’t know if you can do it. [There was] some doubt as well that everybody has, it’s completely natural,” Krajicek said. “But I can’t say that I could have had any better of a support staff, all the way from from my parents at the very beginning to everyone at Texas A&M, to my juniors, to working at IMG and [the] Bollettieri Academy before school, and then recently here with Phil. It is really all about that and the support staff.
“It takes a team. I can’t take any individual credit at all. I mean It’s all the team, my wife Misia has been incredible through all the tough stuff that we do as tennis players.”
Two years ago, Krajicek and his coach, Farmer, sat down to discuss short and longterm goals. Two of their longterm goals were for Krajicek to win a major and reach World No. 1. Before May of last year, the Dallas resident had never cracked the Top 30.
“Once he came off from the trophy ceremony yesterday and signing autographs, he said, ‘Hey, come here.’ And so I went up to him in the players’ lounge and he got out his phone, and all these other goals were checked off — win a Masters and Davis Cup,” Farmer said. “There were two left and he did it in front of me. It was win a Slam, so he put a checkmark on his phone. And then the one above it was [reach] No. 1, and he checked that off. So that was a cool moment for me, as a coach and for for us as a team.”
Krajicek added: “It’s one of those things at the time, you’d like to say absolutely, I believe it. But it’s not easy to actually do it. We put our heads down and worked really hard these last couple of years. Last year, we were outside of the Top 30 and we never lost that belief and willingness to work hard and do the little things better. I think that’s the main thing that’s gotten better, is just the little details.”
Krajicek and Dodig became a full-time team last April and have not looked back. They qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in 2022 and are currently the first-placed team in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Team Rankings.
“It’s amazing to have an incredible partner like Ivan, who’s not only a great player and obviously one of the best in history, but a great guy, a great leader,” Krajicek said. “I’ve learned so much from him, so much experience that he’s brought in how to handle these tough moments and be professional and expect to win and make a great team.”
Krajicek has been more focused on his team’s success than his own. That selflessness is something that another Texas A&M alumnus, Jackson Withrow, pointed to when discussing Krajicek’s accomplishment.
“Austin has always been the team-first type of guy. His continued hard work and selflessness makes those around him better, me being a perfect example of that,” Withrow said. “When we played a few years ago, his drive, his vision, his just overall care about his partner, about his team, goes a long way. You become better as a player, as a person, and I think that just speaks volumes to who he is as a person. I think he’s just the perfect example of what dedication and having a purpose looks like.”
Farmer concurred, adding: “I’m just so proud of Austin and in the way he approaches his craft and his career. He’s extremely diligent and professional. He’s loyal, and respectful. He’s very open-minded to coaching and doing whatever it takes to get better however [long] that process is and how much work it takes. He’s accountable, he’s reliable, he’s a team player and he’s just so coachable.”
Instead of allowing that moment to haunt them, Dodig and Krajicek returned to Court Philippe-Chatrier with a vengeance. Not only did Krajicek walk away with his first major, but doubles World No. 1.
“It is sweeter to have it happen at Roland Garros. I was joking with Ivan that obviously we’ve waited 12 months for another opportunity and for it to come at Roland Garros, I think it’s really cool,” Krajicek said. “Gosh, we’ve been thinking about that final for a while now [since] last year. It [was] just such a tough match and incredible how tennis can bring some of the toughest moments and best tournaments of your life together.”
Krajicek is already back home in the United States and excited to celebrate the moment with his family and friends. But after a couple of days, he knows it is straight back to work ahead of the grass-court season.
Farmer, who ironically coached Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to their first major title at Roland Garros in 2003, said: “Kind of the stress, the monkey’s off your back so to speak. [With] the confidence, you really start to say, ‘Okay, I’ve done it now. And here we go, let’s kind of ride the momentum.’”