Melbourne, Australia, 3 March 2023 | Leigh Rogers

The hard-working Aleksandar Vukic is proving patience can deliver results.

The 26-year-old from Sydney honed his game playing US college tennis and has quickly made an impact on the world stage since turning professional. Vukic achieved a career-high ranking of No.117 last season and qualified at this year’s Australian Open.

Vukic shares an insight into his practice routines and most memorable training experiences in our Training Tips series …

What is your favourite time of the day to train?

Probably around noon. I like to do two hours of practice straight, then get out of there. If you’re hanging around for two one-hour hits, then you spend half your time warming up. It’s more productive to practice in two-hour blocks.

How many hours a week, on average, do you a practice?

You don’t want to be doing too much during a tournament. The work should be already done, you just want to be getting used to the courts. When not at a tournament, I do two-to-three hours minimum on court a day. It depends though on the time of the season and what your body needs. You’re also spending that same amount of time working off court, whether that is fitness, psychological or analysing your game. It’s not just on the court where you have to work.

Do you spend much time analysing your performances?

Recently I have been more, but I also try not to overanalyse. It’s good to see a few things and make some notes, but you don’t want to overthink it as well.

What is your favourite part of a practice session?

Just playing points to be honest. I think drilling is good for like two days, then you get sick of it. It can get very monotonous.

What is your least favourite part of a practice session?

Working on my volleys. That one is more of a grudge. I love working more on my forehand and serve. If there is ever a time just to rip balls, call me for sure.

How important is it to balance working on both strengths and weaknesses on the practice court?

I think you need to do both. But what wins you matches is your strengths, so you probably want to be working more on that than your weaknesses.

Do you remember your first practice session with a professional player?

I remember getting called up a few times to hit with Lleyton (Hewitt) when I was in my early teens. That was always extremely nerve-racking. I’d never been so nervous in my life. To even miss a ball, you’d feel so apologetic.

Is there anyone currently on tour that you would love the opportunity to practice with?

I haven’t practiced with some of the top guys, like Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Nadal), yet. That would be awesome.

Are there any past professional players you wish you had a chance to practice with?

I wouldn’t mind hitting with (Jo-Wilfried) Tsonga, I think that would be fun. I feel like we play similar in a way, although he was way more athletic than I am.

Do you have favourite players to practice with on tour?

I practice all the time with the Aussies when we’re at the same tournaments. There are a few American players I know well because of my college ties, and I’ve got some mates from Europe as well. I have a few go-to guys for sure.

Is variety good when it comes to finding practice partners?

I think it is good to get variety. In a match you don’t pick who you play. So in practice, it is good to mix it up as well. But in the day before a match, you want to be hitting with someone who plays similar to your next opponent, especially if they are a right-hander or left-hander. That is not always possible, but it can definitely help.

What advice would your share with an aspiring player to get the most from their practice sessions?

It is important to train and get better every day, but also enjoy it. You don’t want to burn yourself out too early, there’s been a lot of cases like that. You do have to put the hours in but keep mixing it up, don’t do monotonous things.

Are there any practice lessons you wish you learned earlier in your own career?

I went to a normal school, so I probably would have trained more when I was younger. At the time my drive was not as big as it is now, so I might have burned out if I did too much. But I definitely think I was underdeveloped in terms of the hours I put in.

Finally, if you had five minutes left in a practice session and could choose to do anything, what would you do?

I’d probably play a tiebreak to be honest. I enjoy shoot outs.

Read more in our Training Tips series:
> Alex Bolt
> Lizette Cabrera
> Jaimee Fourlis
> Priscilla Hon
> Storm Hunter
> Maddison Inglis
> Jason Kubler
> John Peers
> Max Purcell
> Luke Saville
> Astra Sharma
> John-Patrick Smith

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