The Rogers Cup qualifications have started this Saturday in Montreal, and among the matches was an interesting duel between Canada’s Philip Bester and Ireland’s James McGee.
Like all matches, the encounter has been delayed for nearly two hours due to the rain, and it was only three games young when rain came to interrupt it. In the end, the 14th seed prevailed 7-6(2), 6-3 to reach the final round, in which he will face Norbert Gombos. Should he win, McGee will enter a Masters 1000 main draw for the first time in his career.
After the match, we had the chance to talk with the Irishman.
BATennis World: What can you tell me about your match today?
James McGee: It was a weird type of match because we had to stop at 2-1 in the first set with the rain.
I felt like I came out pretty sharp at the very start of the match, before the rain delay, and I obviously got the break to go 2-1 up. Because of the rain, we never got to practise before our match, so it was literally a ten-minute warm-up at the time of our match. It was so rare!
So I think it was a matter of adaptability for the two of us, and I think that I did a better job at the start than Philip. After the rain delay, I thought that he did a better job than me coming back. By the time we came back from the rain delay, he was playing a lot more aggressive, more loose, more relaxed than I felt. I didn’t come out of that rain delay very good, so he broke me back. I served for the first set, and I ended up losing serve.
I would say that I felt like in the first set it wasn’t my best performance because a lot of it was finding my feet, getting used to the conditions (it was quite a windy day), and also playing Philip whom I never played before.
There are a lot of factors that were coming into play today. I felt that once I’d won the first set, I started to loosen up and the shackles sort of came off. I started to play much a more aggressive and relaxed match, so I think that’s why I won the second set.
In the game in which I broke him in the second set, he double faulted three times. At the same time, I was starting to feel it, but I felt that he had a bad game there, and he sort of gave that to me. Then, as the set wore on, I felt that both of us were starting to play a little bit better.
But honestly I think it was a difficult match from both of us today and I’m delighted to come through and play the last round. I’ve never been here in Montreal so I’m delighted to be here and experience this.
BATW: Next rival de is Norbert Gombos. Do you know him a little?
JM: I do. I’ve played him twice. I played him at the Australian Open in 2015, and then I played him at the French Open in 2014, both in the qualifying. I won both times but I tell you: they were very difficult matches. He’s got a lot of firepower.
He has a higher ranking than me. So I think that throughout the year he’s done a better job. He’s been quite consistent in his performances and I think he’s a very dangerous player.
So I’ll have to go out there and put in my best performance in order to win. It’s going to be very difficult. I’m not expecting anything easy. I expect that I’ll have to work for everything, knuckle down, and hopefully do one or two things better. But I’m looking forward to the match.
BATW: You coming here was really last minute, with all the withdrawals. How do you adapt to those situations?
JM: It was strange. There were a lot of players in the same boat as me. We all flew yesterday. Some players only got here today, the day of their match because of delays in the flights and stuff like that. It’s really just a matter of doing it, and then doing your best.
I mean, this morning I had a 10 AM match, and I was up at 6 because for me, I like to be prepared. I can’t get up two hours before a match and play. I have to be sort of up and awake, and get all the systems going. So I’d say it was quite difficult but I did a good job this time around.
Sometimes, funny enough, it can be a blessing in disguise, because when you have so much going on, it doesn’t give you time to think before the tournament. Sometimes, the worst thing you can do is think about it.
The same thing happened last year; I got in last minute in Toronto and I won my first round. It turned out to be a good thing, but that’s the life of a tennis player: one minute you’re meant to be in California, the next minute you’re in Montreal, and the next minute you’re over in Europe. That’s the life I live, and I’m trying to do the best I can.