Now, the World No. 249 is the second player to reach the semi-finals on his ATP Tour debut since May 2012, joining this year’s Cordoba campion, Juan Manuel Cerundolo. By defeating top seed Denis Shapovalov in the second round, Kopriva became the lowest-ranked player to oust a Top 10 opponent since World No. 698 Thanasi Kokkinakis beat World No. 6 Milos Raonic at The Queen’s Club in 2017.
“This week is amazing. Thursday last week I didn’t even know that I would play qualies. I went here just to try [to get into qualifying], because I was an alternate. I’m enjoying this week and it’s an amazing feeling,” Kopriva told ATPTour.com. “I can’t believe that I’m playing the semi-finals tomorrow and that I’ve beaten such good players this week. This is just something incredible for me.”
Kopriva had high praise for the Swiss ATP 250, where he is enjoying the scenic views of the local mountains. Before playing Casper Ruud in the semi-finals, Kopriva spoke to ATPTour.com. Here are five things to know about the Czech player…
THIS is how you make your ATP Tour debut! 😮
🇨🇿 Vit Kopriva, No. 249 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, stuns World No. 10 Shapovalov 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in Gstaad.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) July 22, 2021
He Grew Up Under The Tutelage Of Petra Kvitova’s Father
When people think of Czech tennis, WTA superstar Petra Kvitova quickly comes to mind. Kopriva has a special connection with the lefty, as he trained under her father, Jiri Kvita.
Kopriva’s father enjoyed playing the sport in their town of Fulnek, where Kvitova is from. And that is where Kopriva began training aged six with Kvita. The young Czech played two or three times per week from an early age. He played piano for less than three years, and tennis was the only sport he competed in.
Federer Is His Idol
Czech tennis has a rich history. On the men’s side, Kopriva grew up watching Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek among others. But one player stood above all for the 24-year-old: Roger Federer.
It is fitting that he is enjoying his breakthrough run this week in Gstaad. Not only is it in the 39-year-old’s home country, but Federer lifted the trophy in 2004. Kopriva’s former coach, Jiri Novak, beat Federer in the 2003 Gstaad final, and they have been in touch this week to joke about that moment. Kopriva’s current coach is another Czech, Jaroslav Pospisil.
Rafa’s Book Made A Difference
Although Kopriva idolised Federer, he also holds great respect for Rafael Nadal, another 20-time Grand Slam champion. When the Czech was 15, he read the Spanish legend’s memoir “Rafa”.
“I realised I had to work hard like he did amazingly [well],” Kopriva said. “He spent so many hours on court, so many hours on fitness, and I didn’t at that time. I just started to play more, enjoy more tennis and get more power from that moment.”
Kopriva Nearly Did Not Travel To Gstaad
The 24-year-old lost in the first round of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Amersfoort last week, and nearly did not travel to Gstaad. Kopriva was not sure whether he would go to this ATP 250 or another one in Umag. He ended up arriving in Switzerland as an alternate.
“I was hoping I would get in here and I did. I played so well in the first round of qualies,” Kopriva said. “In the final round of qualies, I was a set and a break down, 5-6 in the second. I [came back] somehow and from that moment I’ve just been trying to enjoy it.”
He Loves Ice Hockey & Football
Although Kopriva did not play sports outside of tennis competitively as a kid, he considers himself a “huge sports fan”.
“From a young age, I’ve watched ice hockey and football. I really like those because in our country, they’re very popular. This is how I spend my free time outside of tennis,” Kopriva said. “I have some fantasy football and fantasy hockey leagues with my friends. I really like those sports, I’m a big fan.
“My favourite football team in the Czech Republic is FC Baník Ostrava and my global club is FC Chelsea. Once I was in London to watch their game at Stamford Bridge. I’m also watching NHL hockey. In the Czech Republic, my favourite team is HC Vítkovice Ridera.”