João Sousa Becomes First Portuguese Player to Reach Round of 16 at MajorEmbed from Getty Images
(September 1, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – World No. 68 Joao Sousa became the first Portuguese singles player to reach a major round of 16 on Saturday, when at the US Open he defeated No. 17 seed Lucas Pouille of France 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5).
“It’s a great achievement for me and for my team,” Sousa said to Tennis Panorama News. We have been trying to reach that goal for many years. In 2013 I made third round here, in Australian I made also 2 or 3 times third round. One thing we had in mind and we are very happy that we achieved this big goal for us. And also the way I played today, I think I’ve been playing very good tennis since the beginning of the tournament, I’ve been improving a lot, my tennis. I’m very happy that we win today, and I think also for Portugal it’s very good.”
Asked if he’s heard back from friends and family in Portugal, he replied: “Not yet, I haven’t turned on my phone, not yet, but I believe it’s going to be a lot of people sending me messages. They are happy as well. I feel very happy, they also enjoy my tennis victories. As I said I think it’s good for Portuguese tennis, that a Portuguese player in in the second week of a Grand Slam. Hopefully I can go even further.”
“My main goal is to increase my level of play. Yes, sometimes you have bad moments. I lost seven first rounds in a row.”
“I’m able in the last years to be on the top 100 which is is very, very good for me, good for Portugal. Hopefully I can be No. 1 (in Portugal) a few more years.”
Sousa said that he was inspired by the first Portuguese player to reach the top 100, Nuno Marques, he was 86 in the world. “When I was growing up, he was the one that was on the top. He was a star. He was like an idol for the kids (when)we were growing up trying to reach that level.”
Sousa started playing tennis at seven years old, due to his father’s love of the sport. “When I was 15, I moved to Barcelona to try to increase my level, to try to be professional and it was a good choice.” He said it was a good decision for him to leave home because he’s getting the results. “It was the biggest decision of my life.
Sousa talked about the key to Saturday’s win over Pouille. “I was trying to be focused on every point in the tiebreaks. It was a tough one against Lucas. Her serves very well with the big strokes from the baseline and I was trying to be focused and trying to return well and make him play to see if he could make some errors. I think I played good points.”
Sousa will face the winner of the Novak Djokovic-Richard Gasquet match next. Asked by media about playing Novak Djokovic in a big stadium, Sousa said: “I faced him in Roland Garros and here in 2013, so I know how good he is and also he’s playing good tennis.”
What does Sousa have to do to beat Djokovic should he play him in the fourth round? “ I Have to play my best tennis and perhaps, he cannot play his best tennis,”Sousa said jokingly to media. “Every match is different, conditions are different”
“I’ll try to win and hopefully I can keep the level that I’m playing for the last days and we’ll see.”
“I’m very satisfied with the level I played today, I hope to recover well to give 100% for my next round.”
The 29-year-old born in Guimaraes, Portugal has won three tournaments on the ATP World Tour, his most recent coming in his home country in Estoril. His career high ranking came in 2015 when he reached No. 33 in the world.
Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News