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Second-Ranked American Pro
Courtesy: Brian Risso  
Release: 04/30/2014

STANFORD, Calif.- Former Cardinal standout Bradley Klahn continues to enjoy a rapid climb in the Emirates ATP Rankings, currently checking in at No. 65 as the second-ranked American player after No. 10 John Isner.

Klahn, who turned pro two years ago and first cracked the top-100 back in November, has captured five career titles (four on the challenger circuit, one futures event).

One of his breakthrough moments came at the 2012 U.S. Open, just three months after wrapping up his college career on The Farm. Despite entering the qualifying field as a wildcard, Klahn ripped off three consecutive straight-set victories and notched a thrilling five-set victory over Austria’s Jurgen Melzer in the opening round of the main draw.

A three-time All-American in both singles and doubles, Klahn posted a 130-34 overall singles record and captured five singles titles during his collegiate career. Among those was the 2010 NCAA singles championship, as Klahn defeated Louisville’s Austen Childs 6-1, 6-2 to become Stanford's 14th collegiate singles champion and first since 2000.

Recently, www.gostanford.com caught up with Klahn to check in on his progress at the professional level.

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  What has it been like to steadily climb in the rankings and be mentioned among some of the world’s top players?
Klahn:
“It is an exciting time early in my professional career to see myself ascend up the rankings, into the top 100 and higher, and currently as the second-ranked American. Growing up, I never would have imagined being in this position. Playing professional tennis at the highest level, among some of the all-time greats, seemed like an untouchable dream. To be competing alongside them, playing in the major tournaments I grew up watching as a kid, is very surreal. That being said, I am only beginning my career and have a LONG way to go, which is what makes my professional journey so exciting and enjoyable. I am lucky to surround myself with a great support network of family, coaches, trainers and friends to train with both in Boca Raton, Fla., where I am currently based with the USTA, and back home in San Diego. I am fortunate that my profession enables me to travel the world, experience different cultures and compete in places I would never visit otherwise. Most importantly though, I love waking up each day and tackling the challenges in front of me, whether it be a practice, match or travel day. I am privileged to play a sport I truly love and be able to call it a profession at the same time."

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  You’ve enjoyed success at the challenger level, winning titles and reaching a few finals. Describe what it’s like to play at that level and the transition in your game.
Klahn:
“Tennis has become more physical than ever and the depth in the game is quite impressive. The game is all about finding and developing weapons that can stand out against your opponents. There is such a small difference between winning and losing that the mental focus has to be there every point from the very beginning each and every day. Everyone at this level can hit the tennis ball well, but it is how clearly you can stay committed to your gameplan and execution under pressure that makes a big difference. It is a long process to move up in the rankings, and there is a definite learning curve on tour. Just as I went through the process when I started playing the challengers in June 2012, I too will begin the learning curve again at the ATP World Tour level. I have been fortunate to have success at the Challenger circuit in the last 10 months, the result of tireless dedication and commitment to my fitness, diet, mental strength and game. My coaches, Lee Merry, Stanford Boster and Christian Groh, have been very instrumental in helping me focus on the big picture of improving my game. In the past, I would be antsy if I hit a rough patch where I was struggling to win, and lose sight of what was important- putting my head down on a daily basis and improving my game. I have learned to relax more, let go of factors out of my control and in the process I have gained a stronger appreciation and enjoyment for the game. Just as this process elevated me into the top-100, it is also the only way for me to beat the learning curve at the ATP World Tour level."

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  Is there a specific area you are wanting to improve on, or something you are trying to do more consistently?
Klahn:
“I am constantly communicating with my coaches to find little adjustments I can make to improve all aspects of my game, both on the court and in the gym. My game is nowhere near complete, which is a great feeling to have, knowing I have plenty of room to grow. There are so many finite details to pay attention to, and I love the process of working toward a little improvement each day in every phase of my game. I have put a big emphasis on my fitness, working to increase my strength, quickness and endurance. Every time I step on court, especially in the Grand Slams, I need to feel confident in my body that I can play a high level of tennis for 3-4+ hours, and feel like I have a physical edge over my opponent. My serve and return have also been big focal points. In order for me to have continued success and keep reaching higher in the rankings, these need to be consistent weapons for me. The serve especially is a massive shot in men’s tennis today, and it needs to be a staple that can carry my game and keep me in matches regardless of how the rest of my game feels on any given day."

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  How much did your overall experience at Stanford prepare you for professional tennis, specifically taking into account player development?
Klahn:
“I am very thankful for my four years at Stanford and would not trade the experiences and bonds I created on The Farm for anything. Tennis is inherently an individual sport, so to be part of a team, to suffer together, celebrate together and all work together for a common goal was special. For this reason, many of my teammates are still some of my closest friends. The situations I experienced in college tennis have helped me to mature and handle both adversity and pressure better. Whether it was playing on the road in a hostile environment, or having the fate of a dual match rest on my shoulders at 3-3, win or lose, I know all those experiences have helped mold my determination and desire to improve and succeed. The overall Stanford experience taught me how to prioritize my time efficiently as well. Balancing a rigorous academic course load and collegiate tennis while still attempting to find time to relax and spend time with friends was not easy, but I feel my four years at school have provided me with a great skill set that will benefit me in whatever my future holds."

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  The #NerdNation movement has really gained steam over the last couple years. Do you associate with that concept or feel a sense of pride when watching fellow Stanford student-athletes excel in their sport at the professional level?
Klahn:
“One of the best parts about the entire Stanford student-athlete experience is being surrounded by so many athletes that truly excel in everything they do. It speaks volumes about Stanford Athletics as a whole to have four No. 1 overall draft picks in the last four years. I was fortunate to be on campus during the resurgence of Stanford football, attend two BCS games and even managed to find the last two Rose Bowl games on television while competing in Australia and New Zealand. I was glued to March Madness this year supporting both men’s and women’s basketball teams and attempting to turn my training partners into Stanford supporters. On top of the collegiate success, it is great to see so many former Stanford student-athletes standing out at the professional level: Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin bringing a Super Bowl to Seattle, Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and so many other athletes across all sports. I know how hard each former Stanford student-athlete has had to work to land where they are now, navigating through the rigors of academics and athletics that is required on The Farm. It is motivation for me to keep striving for the top, improving every day and attempting to keep pace with others who are trying to reach the pinnacle of their respective sports. At the end of the day, I feel a great sense of pride being forever linked to Stanford, Stanford Athletics and everything else that makes the university so special."


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