“I have to get here again” – Exclusive Q&A with Mark Lajal after Alcaraz match at Wimbledon

Lajal is pleased with his overall performance against Alcaraz and leaves Centre Court with no regrets

Mark Lajal Wimbledon 2024 3 Chryslene Caillaud / Panoramic

After Mark Lajal’s debut match at Wimbledon against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost 7-6(3), 7-5, 6-2 to the No 3 seed, Tennis Majors sat down with the 21-year-old Estonian to hear how the experience was for him.

Nobody is very pleased after a defeat, but I guess you have a lot of reasons to be satisfied today?

Mark Lajal: Yeah, I mean there’s a side of me that’s satisfied, but there’s also a side of me that’s not satisfied because I had a break in both sets. I felt like I could have done more in both of those service games. Carlos played some great tennis out there. Definitely there’s a lot to be pleased about, but also there’s a little side of me that’s like, ‘I could have done a little better’.

What could you have done better? Played better on your serve when you had the break?

Mark Lajal: I’d say yeah, could have maybe done a few things different on those service games when I was up a break. I think I didn’t make enough first serves and I rushed a little bit. But Carlos also played very smart in those moments. He made me play a lot of balls, he was very solid in those moments, so it was tough. But yeah, I think I could have played a bit better, but I don’t have any regrets.

After the first break, I think you lost 10 points in a row. Was this a shock?

Mark Lajal: It was funny, because I started thinking about it, I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just losing points, what’s happening?’ It was kind of like I broke him, and I thought, ‘OK, good’. And then I did a bad service game and he did a good service game. And then I was like, ‘Wow, OK’. He just went so fast. I was 0-30 on my service, and I thought, ‘OK, take your time, calm down. Let’s go again.’. And then I won a game, basically yeah.

What are the reasons to be satisfied after this match?

Mark Lajal: I think I showed myself I do have the level to play at the highest level. I think I was able to compete very well, and I think I showed myself to a lot of people. I think also I’m satisfied I was able to play on the Centre Court of Wimbledon, which was an amazing experience. And to share that with Carlos was also an amazing experience. A lot of reasons to be satisfied about.

Did you hear what Carlos said about you? That we will see you on Tour pretty soon?

Mark Lajal: No I didn’t actually, but my friend briefly filled me in. Let’s hope so, yeah! My friend also told me that I’m only the second player he’s played that’s younger than him. I’m only like 10 days younger than him, and he’s never really played against players younger than him, so that’s funny.

It seemed like you enjoyed yourself out there, playing with the crowd. How did it feel?

Mark Lajal: I was kind of bummed out after 5-5, 30-0 on my serve, I lost that game, lost that set, it was tough. Then it was a difficult first serve game, a couple of really close balls that I missed. I was down, but then I thought, a lot of people told me to enjoy myself. 

So I kind of thought I’m down, but let’s at least get the crowd going a little bit, let’s not go out so easily, let’s do something interesting. I thought maybe Carlos would feel the pressure a little bit, I tried to get it going. It was fun, I really liked it.

How did you feel about the crowd when you left the court?

Mark Lajal: I loved it, it was really nice, they were really loud and cheering for me. I enjoyed it.

What are the steps back to real life now?

Mark Lajal: Great question. It was surreal to play on the Centre Court of Wimbledon. Now I have to go back to real life. It was a great experience, but it’s just the beginning. I have to get here again. For sure, not back to work, back to training. Back to grinding Challengers, try to get back here as fast as I can. Start trying to play ATPs and main draws again for sure.

What will you play next?

Mark Lajal: I’m going to play in Canada, and then probably Chicago. Maybe something else, but we’ll see, depending on how I play.

Did this experience change anything in terms of your goals for the season?

Mark Lajal: No, the goal still stays the same. Beginning of the year I set myself very high expectations. It hasn’t been that good of a year so far, maybe because I set myself such high expectations. But one of my goals was to qualify for a Grand Slam, and I did it. So I’m pleased with that. But for sure, this tournament gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of motivation to keep going. This is what you compete for, this is the dream. I want to come back here, and I have goals to work towards.

What do you want to say to people who just discovered you today?

Mark Lajal: This is who I am, this is me. I’m not trying to be someone else. I try to be authentic, I try to do something else. Image is everything, I’m trying to create my own image, trying to be a little bit different.

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