Simon Rösner: Getting closer to the top
By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor
Simon Rösner is the number two seed in the Canary Wharf Squash Classic this year. After many years of rising up the rankings, he is on the verge of breaking into the elite leading pack. Here he tells Alan Thatcher about life in Germany and on the PSA World Tour.
1: Simon, it’s great to see you back at Canary Wharf. Last year was a big breakthrough event for you, beating James Willstrop and Peter Barker to reach the final against Nick Matthew. What are your reflections on your performances here last year?
A: Really good. I love the event and the whole atmosphere down at the East Wintergarden. I can’t wait to be back playing in one of the very best events on the tour.
2: Since then you have carried on the good form and arrive here as the number two seed and ranked seven in the world. What do you think are the main things you have learned, or improved on, in the past couple of years?
A: There are always small adjustments to technique, tactics and movement, I think. Overall, though, I think it is more about playing on such a high level at tournaments, getting used to the pace, gaining experience and getting stronger mentally.
3: How’s your body holding up to the constant grind of training, travel and playing tournaments?
A: Really good I must say (knock on wood:-). I haven’t been seriously injured throughout my career, which allowed me to keep training hard and also not having to skip tournaments through injury. For a tall guy like me, it’s definitely something I can be proud of, especially as that means that I must be doing things right with my daily training routine.
4: You were number one seed in the Swedish Open and lost a tight semi-final to Tarek Momen in 91 minutes. It was an all-Egypt final, with Karim Abdel Gawad winning his first major title. What are your views on Egypt’s current dominance of the squash world?
A: It is very impressive. The amount of players that Egypt produces is just phenomenal. If you go to Egypt you see hundreds of kids playing. Their style of play is so different and unique. Something that we can only dream of I guess.
5: You had a massive battle with Gregory Gaultier in the Tournament of Champions in New York, losing 12-10 in the fifth after 78 minutes. This seemed to be clear evidence of how much closer you are getting to the very top guys. Would you agree?
A: Yeah, I’m getting closer and closer. It is a bit frustrating though, that I haven’t managed to actually beat one of the top four guys in the last and this season. The loss to Nick Matthew at the Netsuite Open in San Francisco, where I was up 2-1 and 9-3, really showed me how close I am to beating these guys. Yet I haven’t managed to beat one of them so I will have to keep working hard and believe in myself.
6: This year you won your 10th German national title. Are there lots of younger players coming through to challenge you?
A: There are a few younger players like Raphael Kandra or Rudi Rohrmüller. Guys who are hungry to beat me so I have to be warned all the time. With Rudi taking a game off me and Raphael making me work 85 tough minutes in the final – we really have potential in making life harder for England and France at the European Teams for example.
7: How aware are you of the growth of squash in mainland Europe? There seem to be lots of exciting new projects in Poland and many cities in Eastern Europe.
A: Yes, I think especially in the eastern parts of Europe, squash is gaining in popularity. I have been playing the Polish play-offs for the last couple of years and it is amazing to see so many new faces that love our sport as much as we do. I hope we will see more and more players coming through from these countries.
8: You have some loyal, long-term sponsors. Please name them and tell us how your partnerships have evolved over the years.
A: Yes, absolutely. I am very proud of so much support from all of them. My equipment sponsor Oliver have supported me for the last 6-7 years. I am really happy with the rackets, strings, grips and clothes etc. that they produce. Also Flyeralarm and Deine-Eigene-Dose have been my main regional sponsors for the last five years, which is a big help.
Further to that I have two very enthusiastic squash players with their company DRS (Dellenreparatur Service) on board now (Danny Stepputis and Martin Jäger). They absolutely love the sport and travel to different PSA events with me.
Then there is Lightpower, who are not only the main sponsor of our Bundesliga team in Paderborn, but also a sponsor of myself. On top of that Mercedes-Benz are also supporting me with a very nice car. Can’t be missed for a German I guess!
The Deutsche Sporthilfe are also on board and have been supporting me for the past few months. It is really great to have so much support and I thank every single one of them.
9: What’s a typical training day like for you in Paderborn?
A: I usually do two sessions a day, depending on my tournament schedule. I would get up at around 7:30 and start my first session at around 9 am. Three times a week it would be alongside my athletic coach Thomas Prange, with whom I have been working for the last five years.
After a break and lunch I would start again at around 3 pm with either training with one of my coaches Ronny Vlasaaks / Tomi Niinimäki, or playing with my training partner Raphael Kandra or Lennart Osthoff.
10: It’s always great to see some of the Paderborn club members coming over to cheer you on. Will we be seeing a big German Open any time soon?
A: I have been hoping for this for such a long time and I wish we will see one soon.
11: If you could say one thing to the IOC to help persuade them that squash should be in the Olympics, what would it be?
A: It is the most exciting and intensive sport in the world.
Thank you, Simon. Good luck at Canary Wharf.
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com) and IRENA VANISOVA (www.squash page.net)