World Doubles No.1 Neal Skupski Speaks Exclusively to All Court Tennis Club
Live from Indian Wells with the British Doubles Star
He has already achieved an astounding ATP No. 1 doubles ranking, but now Britain’s Neal Skupski is aiming for even more.
Skupski is busy preparing to go into battle with his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, yet the 33-year-old Liverpudlian found some time for a quick chat with All Court Tennis Club as he outlined his targets for 2023.
Were you always destined to play doubles or was singles success your dream growing up?
I knew at a very young age I wasn’t going to be as good as someone like (Carlos) Alcaraz or players at that level. I went to US college at Louisiana State University when I was 18 and came out when I was 23. Then I started playing doubles on the ATP Tour in 2013 with my brother Ken. He was looking for a partner and I was about 800 in the world, so it seemed like a no brainer to kind of fast track me to the top of the game and that’s what happened. Within a year I was in the top 100 and we played together for many years.
You had some amazing experiences with your brother Ken on the ATP Tour. How do you look back at those times now?
The first time we stepped out on court together at Wimbledon was very special. We lost in the first round but it’s something we are very proud to have done. We had some great times on the tour and now Ken’s retired and he’s travelling with me as my coach. Since he’s been my coach, he has been forced to listen to me a little bit more!
How do you reflect on your doubles partnership with Jamie Murray?
It was a big decision for Ken and I to go our separate ways in 2019. When Jamie came to me and asked to team up, my brother and I were playing quite well. We were on a roll, but Jamie was top 10 in the world and I couldn’t really say no. Ken was great about it, he was the one that kind of pushed it. I went on to play with Jamie for 18 months. We did pretty well together and he had some great advice. I was playing all the big events with him and it gave me a steppingstone into the top 20 and 30 in the world. I owe a lot to Jamie. We went our separate ways, but we are still good friends.
When you look at the world rankings now, can you believe your name is at the top?
Being No.1 now is an incredible feeling. It’s quite surreal. I don’t quite believe it myself. It’s something I’m sure I will look back on when I’m finished playing tennis with a big smile on my face.
How has the partnership with Wesley Koolhof developed?
Wesley and I gelled right away. We won our first two tournaments in Australia in 2022 and managed to win seven tournaments last year and finish as the No.1 doubles team. He is very easy-going, just like myself. We spend a lot of time together and talk a lot about Fantasy Football, as he is massively into that. Sadly, he is a Chelsea fan and I’m a Liverpool fan, but we can work on that!
What are your expectations for the next couple of events at Indian Wells and Miami?
It’s a big month for tennis, with a lot of points to be had. Everyone loves coming to Indian Wells. The weather is normally amazing and a lot of the guys will head to the golf course when they’re not playing tennis. There’s always an amazing atmosphere and they love watching doubles in the US.
What is your biggest target for 2023?
I would take any men’s doubles Grand Slam, but if I’m being picky then Wimbledon is the pinnacle of our sport. We will try to do better than last year and hopefully the British crowd can get behind Wesley and I to take us to the title.