PARIS (Reuters) - A few years ago, Jerzy Janowicz’s parents sold their shops and apartments so that their son could play professional tennis.
On Thursday, Janowicz started to repay their faith with a barnstorming performance that left U.S. Open champion Andy Murray red faced in the third round of the Paris Masters.
“It’s not easy for me to talk about this week because I had really tough moments in my life and this is really like a movie for me,” the 21-year-old Pole, who also beat Marin Cilic and Philip Kohlschreiber in Paris, told a news conference following his 5-7 7-6 6-2 win over the Briton.
Asked to elaborate, world number 69 Janowicz took a sip from an energy drink and paused for some 20 seconds and said: “Well, I had problems in my life. First of all, I have always had problems with sponsors.
“I didn’t have money for my career; all the time my parents were helping me. They were selling their shops, they were selling the few apartments, so they decided to go all in to help me as much as possible.”
Janowicz had other problems, but he would not say more.
“This is the problems actually I can tell you,” he explained.
The son of two former professional volleyball players, Janowicz picked up his first racket while he was still wearing nappies.
“When I was like two years old I was running already with a tennis racket on the court,” he said.
“I couldn’t basically hit one ball but I was holding this racket all the time.”
Becoming a professional tennis player is no easy feat and Janowicz is well aware of that.
“I just would like to have few days off to think about what happened this week, because this week is really not easy to take for me because I’m from Poland and I know it’s not easy to become professional tennis player,” he said.
While no one would have blamed Janowicz if he had decided to paint the town red in celebration following his unexpected win on Thursday, the Pole has more pressing concerns. He is still looking for a sponsor.
“I have problem with sponsors. I was fighting my whole life with money, so this week is really important for me to get some sponsors, to get some help,” he said.
Janowicz will face eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic for a place in the semi-finals and Murray warned the Serb to expect some more fireworks from the Pole.
Like most tall players on the circuit, Janowicz is a big server, having already served at 251 kph. However, he is not just a one-weapon player.
“He is maybe a little bit more unpredictable than a few of them from the back of the court,” said Murray.
“He tried a lot of dropshots and went for winners maybe when he was out of position that maybe some of the others don’t.”
Janowicz, who has been working with a fitness coach since the beginning of the season and has changed his racket, is not looking for excuses anymore.
“My behaviour on the court is also a little bit different. I decide not to give up, whatever the situation,” he explained.
“I’m fighting right now for every single ball. Doesn’t matter if I feel good or not, if I have good day or week. I’m just trying to play my tennis.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar