CHENNAI: Austin Krajicek falls in the category of those undeterred by the stereotypes about India that have been promulgated via global pop-culture and avenues of notion-espousal; not even by the gastric-fear-rousing piquancy of the local cuisine. “I love Indian food. It’s one of my favourites, for sure. I like paneer tikka masala, among others,” he says.
Although the 25-year-old American is in the country not as a food connoisseur, but tennis player making his Chennai Open debut, Austin’s view on how the tropical clime associated with the region isn’t a mitigating factor helps support the idea of bracketing him in the aforementioned segment.
“Being from Florida, I don’t find much of a difference, weather wise. It will be tough, yes. The humidity and heat is bound to take a toll on a lot of guys. But, it’s about adapting to it; being hydrated and taking care of the body should do the trick,” explains the left-hander.
Austin also attests that the emergence of Stan Wawrinka — the defending champion here — as a force despite the presence of the Big Four (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) serves as an inspiration for those waiting to make an impression with their racquet.
“Stan’s amazing, he’s a great guy and an unbelievable player. I was lucky enough to play him last year in the quarterfinals of the Japan Open (Wawrinka won 6-3, 6-4). It was a really good experience for me. He prepares well; does everything in the right way,” elaborates Austin. “It’s good for us to see him in action. He’s one of the guys we all look up to.”
With the likes of John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick burgeoning their folds, the United States had cemented their dominance in men’s tennis before — and intermittently after the turn of the millennium; a sway that has suffered an inherent wane since.
The World No 83, though, is of the opinion the near future has an upswing in store for his nation. “To be honest, we do have guys like Jack (Sock) and Steve (Johnson) among our ranks. They’ve done well and there are more young guys who’ve cracked the top 100. It’s just a matter of time,” he elucidates.
Austin is also a distant cousin of Richard Krajicek — a useful trivia trinket — and does share a sporadic correspondence with the former Wimbledon champion.
“He used to send me packets containing signed hats and US Open memorabilia when I was 6-7 years old. It felt nice, and also doubled up as motivation for me.”