Mark: Good morning, Oliver Marach. It’s a pleasure to welcome you to SportsProsConnect for the second time! Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Oliver: Good morning, Mark. My name is Oliver Marach. I’m from Graz, Austria. I started playing tennis at the age of 6, but I was never really a highly talented player… my family just played tennis for fun! I decided to go down the professional route at the age of 17, after which, I was invited to a Davis Cup week in Vienna and saw my true potential after that hard practice week. I went full pro in 1997.
I reached a singles ranking of ATP 82 in 2008. That year, I switched to doubles due to a lot of injuries. That’s where my highlight career began. For the next 13 years, I was in the top 10 doubles players in the world for seven years, mainly with Lukasz Kubot and Mate Pavic.
With Pavic, I reached world No. 1 in 2018 at the Year-End Nitto Finals in London. I won the Australian Open in 2018, reached the finals of all the other Grand Slams, and won a total of 23 tournaments. I represented Austria at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics and in over 15 Davis Cups.
Mark: Congratulations on a fantastic career to date, Oliver, particularly in doubles! How did your expertise in doubles arise? Was it always doubles you concentrated on?
Oliver: Well, in 2008, I had a tough year with three major injuries. I was fully healed in the September and dropped from world No. 82 in singles to No. 250.
I asked Lukasz Kubot at that time if he wanted to play doubles events at the end-of-year challengers. We won four out of five challengers and secured a ticket to the Australian Open in 2009.
After playing the semifinals there, we were in the top three in the Race to London and decided to go full doubles.
I also played doubles during my singles career, and I enjoyed it a lot. It also helped me for my singles career. I think that’s why the transfer from singles to doubles was more easy for me.
Mark: I’ve always wanted to ask this question, and who better to ask than a former world No. 2? How did you choose your doubles partners, and did you ever have any that simply never worked out?
Oliver: Choosing doubles partners is a very tough thing. You need someone who fits your game. I always choose someone where I can benefit from his game and vice versa.
You also have to look that your partner has a similar ranking as you. This is very tricky nowadays because singles players can enter the doubles competition with their singles ranking. As a result, the cut-offs for the big tournaments have been cut by half.
So if a doubles player wants to play the 1000 events, his ranking has to be between 25-30, which is really tough. In doubles, you want to be able to play the Grand Slams and especially the ATP1000 events, where you are able to make the most points.
Mark: I’m sure you have many stories to share in the tennis world. Please share one of your favorite tennis stories.
Oliver: There are many stories in my 24 years on tour, but the one I will never forget was with Roger Federer in Shanghai.
Of course, you see the top stars every day at the tournaments, locker rooms, etc., but you never really sit down and talk with them.
In Shanghai, I went with my partner Pavic to dinner and then to a famous rooftop bar in Shanghai where most players go.
On that evening, Roger suddenly showed up with his crew and bodyguards. When he saw us, he was so nice to take us to his secured area, and we chatted with him for hours and had a great time.
It was really special for most of us, and it also showed us how humble a person he is. We all will remember that.
Mark: Oliver, moving on now to your future. Now that you have retired from professional tennis, what are your next steps?
Oliver: My first half-year after my retirement, I was thinking and looking for what would be the best thing to do for me after my career.
In my first half-year after my retirement, I was thinking and looking for the best path forward after my career. So, I started slowly with a few clients in Panama. After I received more job offers, I conducted special high-end clinics in Cat Cay Islands, provided private coaching in the USA and Dubai, and most recently, I coached Pavic Mate for a couple of weeks on the tour. He was my former partner, but he is 13 years younger than me! 😂
Mark: How can SportsProsConnect help you achieve these goals? Please also leave your contact details below (if you wish) so others can reach out to you for collaboration opportunities…
Right now, I am looking for high-end short-term clinics in exotic destinations and high-end private coaching. You guys are one of the best platforms for that.
Mark: And finally, with 2024 fast approaching, who are the players to watch out for in the doubles circuit in the year ahead?
Well, in doubles, it’s really difficult to say. This year has been crazy, with two older players ranked at 3 and 5 in the world. So, it seems the older, the better! 😂 Doubles is very competitive, and it’s hard to predict who to watch out for. I hope it will be Pavic Mate again because I’m also coaching him, and in my opinion, he has a complete game for the doubles tour.
Thanks very much for being part of our series of interviews Oliver!