May 10, 2022

#161: Dalma Gálfi – Breaking into the world´s top 100

#161: Dalma Gálfi – Breaking into the world´s top 100

Dalma Gálfi is a former World junior number 1 and Junior Grand Slam champion.

Dalma had a strong start to her Pro career, quickly rising up the WTA rankings to 136 in the world aged just 19.

After a challenging 4 years, the 23-year-old from Hungary has just broken into the top 100 for the first time.

In this episode, Dalma tells us about the pressures and expectations she faced moving into the pro game after her success as a Junior, and why she wouldn´t change a thing.

Pro tennis player Dalma Galfi speaks to the Control the Controllables Podcast

Episode Highlights:-

  • Dalma describes her feelings of relief at becoming a top 100 player.
  • Why quick success at a young age isn´t always beneficial.
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic helped give her perspective on her tennis career.
  • The differences she sees between Hungarian and British tennis cultures.
  • Dealing with the media pressures and expectations that comes with being world junior number 1.
  • Her advice for up and coming players moving into the pro game.

Links Mentioned in this Episode


DISCLAIMER: Please note we use a transcription service, so there may be some errors in the following transcription of this episode. If you can, please refer to the audio for exact quotations.

Daniel Kiernan  00:09

Welcome to Episode 161, of Control the Controllables. And today's guest was a former World Junior number one, she made it all the way to 136 WTA, age 19 and was expected to go on to big things. And then as the pressure goes in this sport, her ranking dropped. And recently, she has just moved back into the world's top 100 female players.


Dalma Gálfi  00:41

I thought like, it's gonna be as smooth as getting to 136 to break into top 100. But then the pressure came on me like, you know, I was number one in the juniors. So everyone was expecting that I would go in there easy. But yeah, it was just mentally I was not ready for it. I think


Daniel Kiernan  01:04

And we're so excited to have Dalma Galfi as our guest, as I said there at the start, someone who has now broken into the top 100 in the world, someone who talks in a very raw, open manner, about the challenging times, you know, we often we look at a ranking list and we see somebody as World Junior number one. And we think they've got the world at their feet. They think they've got all these opportunities. But what we often don't see is the expectation, the pressure, the difficulties that go with that with such a young mind, and someone who's not used to being in that position, Dalma opens up about all of that. She is a brilliant guest. She really is. And I'm sure you guys are gonna love it as always. And I'm now going to pass you over to Dalma Galfi. So Dalma Galfi a big welcome to Control the Controllables. How you doing?


Dalma Gálfi  01:58

Thank you, thanks for inviting me. I'm doing great. I'm at home at the moment. Just got home yesterday from Madrid. So all good, little me time now.


Daniel Kiernan  02:12

Well, well, well deserved after a great start to the year, you know, breaking the holy grail that is top 100 in the world, you know, and in the tennis world, everybody knows about I don't know why we call it the top 100 has been the Holy Grail, but it is. So how does that feel to kind of get that monkey off your back a little bit?


Dalma Gálfi  02:34

Yeah, it was it was, I was pretty close for a long time now. And the moment I knew that I'm gonna break it. It was kind of a relief. And also, also, obviously, I'm really happy about it. Because this was my goal since I started playing tennis when I was five. So yeah, it's a huge relief that I made it as one of my biggest goals. And yeah, I'm just happy about it. But I'm really, as well really motivated that that I'm in and I can still go. As far as i i can imagine. The


Daniel Kiernan  03:16

It's it's interesting that you use the word relief, because I think, I think quite a few players would would use that word, which is I guess a relief is it's a funny emotion relief. It's not it's not necessarily excitement or joy. You know, is it is that the feeling? It feels like? Oh, finally, I finally got that and and do you feel any different now? Do you feel calmer? Do you feel you know, us mere mortals like myself that never got near top 100 in the world? How does that now feel?


Dalma Gálfi  03:47

Well, it's just kind of justifying that I'm doing the right things. And, and it's good to have like a proof that I'm doing the right things to like, making it there. Because I knew I have the ability to get there. And I knew I had the talent. And I really, really worked hard. And yeah, it's just a moment when you finally make it. It's like, I don't know how to say like, yeah, it justifies that, that that you belong there. Yeah. Because


Daniel Kiernan  04:24

Because if we go back, go back to 2017, which, you know, we'll get into your tennis story in a minute. But 2017 Five years ago, you were 136 I think in the world. So you were you were already knocking on that door. So to to go up those 40 Extra spots, 3637 Extra spots. It's been five years to do that, which killed it, I would imagine cause some frustration, some difficulties. So well done on the resilience that you've showed.


Dalma Gálfi  04:58

Yeah. I was 136 I was still young. I just got out of juniors I had some great success in the pro pro level. And yeah, I just got there all of a sudden and I felt like I don't even know what to do with it. I was pretty close and I thought like, it's gonna be as smooth as getting to 136 to break into top 100 But then then the pressure came on me like I was still young. I saw some other young players who made it and and you know, I was number one in the juniors so everyone was expecting that I would go in there easy but yeah, it was just mentally I was not ready for it. I think.


Daniel Kiernan  05:50

I've heard I've spoke to Dasha Kasatkina on the podcasts, the Eagles for young tech. And and they said similar things and I guess a different level. So I mean, Dasha, Dasha got to top 20 in the world and said a very similar thing. She said she wasn't ready to be a top 20 player. She just wasn't ready. And then our ranking started to drop, Iga won Roland Garros, and felt she wasn't ready to be a Grand Slam champion. And I think we're seeing it a little bit with Emma Raducanu now as well. But to those people that are listening, what what does that mean yet? Yeah, yet, because when you're not ready, or you're still a bit young, and you alluded there to the pressure? What, what is it that almost stops? I guess it's almost feels easy ish to get to that. And then and then it feels as if a barrier comes down, you know, is that expectation? Is that that the expectation becomes so high with you with yourself internally? Where people around you what what is the thing that causes causes that on reflection?


Dalma Gálfi  06:55

Yeah, I think when I was there, I felt like I have the level I just how to explain this, it's tough to explain that feeling. Because it's a mixture of pressure expectations. The people around you not like the close ones. But you know, like the country behind you. I'm from Hungary, which is not really a tennis country, there are not many players who are actually in the top 100 now, but back then it was only teammate bubbles, who was in top 100. And yeah, it was, it was the pressure on me. Because I won Junior slams, I was number one in the world, and, and the media was all around me. And whenever they saw me failing, they saw me losing matches. You know, as I was only 18 or 19, back then I couldn't handle these, these things that people judging me people telling me what to do. And and yeah, it was hard to handle the pressure.


Daniel Kiernan  08:09

Did you? Did you have the right people around you? Because I guess no, no 18 or 19 year olds can really handle that. Let's be honest, you know, it's a, it's a very, it's a very difficult situation. It's a very abnormal situation to be in. And again, if I use Iga Swiatek as the example one because they came to train out of the academy in Spain. And one thing that hit me is she had a couple of really strong people in her corners or sports psychologists who she's very close to, it felt as if they were almost forming a shield around her and really working on the processes to get her to understand herself, because why would she? Do you think that you at that time? had had the right team around you? And what would your advice be? Let's take, you know, a youngster up and coming now who comes out of juniors has a big success early. What would your advice be that you would pass on to somebody else?


Dalma Gálfi  09:11

Well, obviously you have the right people, but I'm not saying I didn't have the right people around me. I had some great coaches working with me. Maybe I would have needed a little bit more on the psychology side to work with a psychologist constantly. Because I also had some issues in my private life with family and relationships. So yeah, it was a it was not an easy period of my life. And with the fact that I was pretty close to top 100 And I also had to handle my private life. Normal. It was not easy. And back then. I think I didn't have the focus enough on my tennis career because of my private life.


Daniel Kiernan  10:05

And in terms of that period, because that's actually, that's when I saw you a little bit as well, I remember when, when I was coaching Panner. And all we practiced a few times together. And and I would have, I hope you don't mind me saying this, I certainly saw a player who was a top 50 level tennis player, but you didn't look always that happy on the tennis court, you know, and it looked like there was a little bit of stress being being carried how, how low did you get, you know, did you get to the point where you were thinking, this is never going to happen? Or, or did you manage to keep that? That real belief in the inner self of yours, of you, that you thought I'll get through this? And I will get there? No, did you get close to stop stopping playing?


Dalma Gálfi  10:54

Yeah, pretty much. A lot of times, actually, I was thinking about it. I was thinking if the whole thing is worth it, and I wasn't happy on the court, even off the court. And yeah, all of a sudden, I I just realized I need to move away from here to to go to another country to start with a new coach. Not a Hungarian coach. I was specifically looking for another Hungarian coach at the time. And not because I have any problems with Hungarian coaches. It's just I wanted to leave this, start fresh. Yeah, yeah, I wanted to start fresh. And that was the moment I was like, I'm gonna give this another shot. That's when I was like, 370 in the world, on the rankings. And that's when I started to work with Bastiaan. First and Kenny, French coach in 2019. January, I think. And yeah, he had to work a lot on me. Like mentally, and the way of thinking about tennis, the way of thinking about my life, and how I look at myself from the outside. Yep. And yeah, he changed. He changed a lot in me, and I'm really thankful for that.


Daniel Kiernan  12:34

And what's been the biggest change in you over the last three years?


Dalma Gálfi  12:42

Actually, I have to mention COVID. Yeah. Yeah, because just before COVID, I felt like I was kind of on the rise again, like, just two or three months before COVID hit. I played some good tournaments. I made some semis on 20 fives, I want some right rounds on 125s. And just before COVID Like a week before COVID I made the final of a 25 again, after two years. And when COVID hit, I started to be really depressed in the first couple of weeks, because I felt like I was on the rise. And if I could kept going, then something great could have happened. And, but then I realized that this break really helped me about how I look at my life, and how, how thankful I am that I can play this sport, and I can do what I love. And when I cannot do it, I didn't feel my feel like myself. So that's when I realized that I actually, I'm actually really lucky that I can do what I love.


Daniel Kiernan  14:06

It's such a it's such a lovely story for you to share. Dalma you know, because I guess what, what we see certainly, you know, as a British coach, my academy's in Spain, but I have been here 12 years, but I, you know, in my heart, I'm British and, and I guess we've seen and I've had on the podcast, a lot of stories, a lot of British stories similar to yours. However, not the not the upside at the end. Because I you know, in particular on the boys side, there's been quite a few players, you know, that I'm sure you might have seen over the years that have won the US Open juniors, they've won the Orange Bowl, they've won these, these global events at under eighteens and then at age 21, they've stopped playing tennis, you know, and, and I think you deserve a lot of credit that you've gone along that journey. And then you've, and then you've been able to turn it around. And now I hope we could be, we could be speaking in 12 years time, and you're still going, you know, and I think what I would like to understand, if you don't mind sharing with us, when you have those moments were probably would have been easier to stop. You know, I would imagine it would have been easier when you're in this dark place, and, you know, falling out of love with the sport. What was it that kept you going?


Dalma Gálfi  15:32

Well, I'm gonna be honest with you. I don't really have a plan B right now. Yeah. And it's, it's not like the happy side of the story. But But yeah, I was actually starting to think what would I want to do if I if I wouldn't be a tennis player. And I just kept thinking and thinking and I couldn't find anything else that I could be passionate about, as I am about tennis, and I don't want to start studying and go to an office and work either eight or nine hours a day sitting at a desk, and in the computer, because it's it's definitely not, not my lifestyle or not the type of person I am to be sitting eight hours in one place. And honestly, right now, I don't think I could start coaching. That's the other thing, because when when COVID was still in the picture, and we still didn't have tournaments, I felt like I want to do something. And I tried coaching, and it was fun for one to three weeks. But on the fourth week, I was like, I'm definitely not doing this for a long time, right. I'm not patient enough with the with the people like why should play with so. So yeah, it's it's, it's that's the thing that I cannot find anything else that I'm so passionate about?


Daniel Kiernan  17:15

It's the lesser of the two evils. I think we've just we've just found our title for the podcast, you know, that's the this could this could be the title of it. But is that in terms of in terms of that, and thank you again for sharing that it. How much of that is linked to your upbringing? And in your tennis upbringing? Because if I often think if someone's that good that young, it often became quite serious, quite young. Yeah. So So can you tell tell us a little bit about I guess, your your upbringing into tennis, you know, how that journey was, and, and how you I guess, look back at that time period.


Dalma Gálfi  18:05

Yeah. Well, I started playing when I was around four or five. My dad was a tennis coach, and he owned two courts back then. And he, he taught me how to play tennis actually, coach for until I was 12. I think. So yeah, that's when it started. I grew. I basically grew up next to the tennis courts. I was playing around it. Even Even when I was a baby. My mom and dad were on the tennis court. So I was always around it. So it was obviously that it was obvious that one day I will actually try it. And, and yeah, my my dad was passionate about it. He was never pushing me though. Like he never wanted me to be a professional tennis player. He just he just wanted to teach me how to play and enjoy the game. And but obviously, he saw the talent in me and there were other people seeing me talented and we started going on tournaments in Hungary. This plan state tournament, it was it was called mini tennis. back then. It was not a global thing. But But yeah, it was it was fun. It was on the weekends. I was around other children. I was really enjoying it. I was winning some medals and yeah, obviously I liked the taste of winning. So yeah, my dad and my mom sacrificed a lot of thing. A lot of things for me to be able to go on tournaments. and they were supporting me constantly. And my first international tournament was actually connected to a holiday in Croatia. When I was 11, Yeah. And I remember it clearly that we were on the holiday and I went to play the tournament I was, I was always really passionate about winning. It was always the winning part for me. I'm not an easy person to lose, because after that, I can be grumpy for days. So. So yeah, we started going on international tournaments under 12, under 14, and I was successful. So that's what kept me going. And that's what was motivating me and my whole family actually, to be supporting me through this journey. And yeah, that's what that's how I ended up here.


Daniel Kiernan  21:03

At what age did it start to feel like a job?


Dalma Gálfi  21:09

I think after juniors so do


Daniel Kiernan  21:12

you so it was I guess the point I'm trying to make did as you were having this success it under fourteens? Moving into, you know, playing and for those listening US Open champion, Wimbledon doubles champion world number one, Jr. You know, well known, you know, I've known your name for many years, you know, in, in the technic tennis world. Was there any point in the juniors where it became really serious, and that you've maybe lost a little bit of that fun element and you were kind of playing for it to be a job, rather than just playing because you loved playing tennis and had a passion for getting better at tennis? I did that not come until a bit later? Well, it's


Dalma Gálfi  21:55

hard to tell because juniors, I think junior years are the funnest years of my life. And a lot of people can agree with me, who played Junior tournament. There, you can make friends. You're you're just having fun off court while on court. It's it's really serious. And you're you're giving 150%, obviously, because that's where actually, I have to mention this. That's where actually the sponsors show up first. And it's important for the sponsors to junior Junior tournaments. So obviously, I was I was working for that. And then yeah, that that was actually one of the things that motivated me to win a Grand Slam and to be number one in the world. Because I knew I needed some kind of support to start the pro level


Daniel Kiernan  23:01

in terms of that transition, because we, we often talk about that transition. And I think, personally, I think the transitions a little bit smoother on the girls side than the boys side through from history. You know, quite often I would imagine at that age, you all when you were winning Junior grand slams, you were probably already 250, sort of WTO level, wherever your ranking was the same. But you talk about the benefit of juniors in terms of getting the sponsors and their help. Is there. Is there another benefit that you feel you belong at that level? So I guess I'm looking for a bit of advice for those listening? Are you or are you an advocate of the ITF junior circuit? And would you advise players to go along that route?


Dalma Gálfi  23:50

100% I mean, as I said, it's it those were the funnest years of my life. So it's not only about tennis, but that's where I actually learned speaking English properly. Because I was making friends and I had to speak if I want to want it to socialise a bit and also playing a lot of matches. It's really important I think, to to play a lot of matches to get through emotions and and all these kinds of things that there's gonna even strengthen up in the pro level. But it's like the first steps of being a pro player, I think to play to juniors and


Daniel Kiernan  24:43

Then when you back in, I believe it was 2015 when you won the US Open up Sofia Kenin in the final that you then know that a player that then has gone on and been in Grand Slam finals and and done that I guess it also plays into your belief system that well, hold on these players can do it, then I can do


Dalma Gálfi  25:06

  1. Exactly. There were a lot of questions to me when Sofia won the Australian media, about what do I think about it? Or how does it feel? And actually, it didn't feel bad at all. I was thinking at it as as an opportunity that if she could do it, we were on the same level a couple years ago. Maybe I can do it one day as well. Who knows if I work hard enough, if I'm motivated, if I keep going, then that's a proof that we were on the same level. And she could do it. So maybe I can do it as well.


Daniel Kiernan  25:56

I love you've used that you've used the word proof and justification validation a lot. And I think there's such good words, because it's how the human brain works, isn't it if we, if we feel we feel validated, you know, five and take me doing this podcast, you know, there was a time where maybe I got nervous when people came on. But now I see how many people listen to it. I see how many people give positive feedback, it kind of validates it validates what I do. And it validates and gives me confidence to be able to continue doing it. And that that has to be better been world Jr. Number one, winning a junior Grand Slam and the girl you beat goes on to win a Grand Slam Three years later, that has to be a better position than being 2000 in the world. Juniors, never getting out of grade fives and looking at the girl that you've never seen winning a Grand Slam. You know, it shows how close you are. And I often don't understand. It's the same we get in Britain when Mr. radik are no one everybody wanted to speak to everybody in Britain that maybe Emma at last two in under fourteens. Or whatever it might be to try almost try and make them feel negative about that situation. So I really, I really liked your answer on that. Dalma. But I want it I do ask one ask one question. Before I move into a slightly different topic is if you now you're still It also makes me feel old, you're 23 years old, saying those were the best years of my life. It was only five years ago. As I sit here 42 years old, thinking I don't remember my junior career. If you could do it again, if you were given a blank sheet of paper is 10 to go along the tennis journey again, what would you do different? Or you would or would you do everything exactly the same?


Dalma Gálfi  27:56

That's a tough question. I never really thought about it like this before? Well, probably I would do couple things differently. But most of it, I think, no, I think I would do everything the same. Even the bad things, even the good things, I had to experience those things to be the person who I am today. So I'm grateful for for every step of the way. Even bad or good, because it's shaped my personality and and it shaped my tennis as well, I think and my work ethic and the motivation I have today so so yeah, I would do everything the same? Probably


Daniel Kiernan  28:49

that is a brilliant answer. Would you have given that answer three years ago?


Dalma Gálfi  28:59

Three years ago? Yeah.


Daniel Kiernan  29:03

It seems to me it just seems to me that your mindset is so good right now, you know, in terms of how your outlook on things,


Dalma Gálfi  29:12

yes, but I also have to mention that three years ago, I I feel like I wasn't the same person as I am today. I was thinking completely differently. But I'm happy that I was a different person three years ago because now I know what I did bad and what I can improve from those things that I did before and and the way I was thinking before and that's why I'm saying even the negative things happening happened or happening in my life are are helping me to be better to be even more motivated every day.


Daniel Kiernan  29:58

I love it I couldn't agree more on. And we're going to be going back through this cutting little segments that what you're seeing because you're showing such wisdom, you know, and sharing those with all the players at the academy as well, because I I'm a, I'm a big believer that an experience is an experience, you know, and it doesn't have to be a good experience or a bad experience, but those experiences that you have helped shape who we are, you know, and we shouldn't want to change that. So I completely love that. I want to move into a game, I had a little smile on my face when you said we had no players in Hungary. And May in that time, and and then there's been a I guess an explosion, you know, girl, girl power. That's kind of that's, that's, that's taken over, you know, and it's big tennis fans out there will will know some of the names but you know, with with Panna with Anna, with record with another family hasn't been around for a bit, but you too, I guess had a rivalry in the juniors as the same age and then yourself that are all either in the top 100 or around the top hundred? How much do you think you girls have helped each other in terms of, you know, well, that person's done it? So we almost jump on the back of it. And and then maybe subconsciously sometimes, but start to almost build and, and hunt in packs a little bit?


Dalma Gálfi  31:30

Yeah, it was exactly how you just explained I think that we saw the others successful. And it also motivated us that we are we are all good players. And we knew that we all could be in the top 101 Day and obviously when one started moving forward, the other wants to catch it. So so it's it's I think it's totally normal to be a little rough rival a little bit. I don't know how to say


Daniel Kiernan  32:08

Rivalry, a little rivalry. Rivalry.


Dalma Gálfi  32:10

Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, it's it's exciting. I think that how far can we push each other?


Daniel Kiernan  32:18

Absolutely. Yeah. Because it was like, obviously, I still, I still follow all of you closely. You know, I worked with piano, but I still am very fond of Hungarian tennis. And, you know, my time that I spent over there. And, and it was very, you know, for me, I had a little smile on my face watching because it was like, one at one got in the top 100 then two weeks later, the next and then four weeks will lead to the next. And it was it really happened in in quick succession. So now, the next goal is you've all got an output for the top 50 Yeah,


Dalma Gálfi  32:53

exactly. Now and as the most, I mean, the closest right now but I believe if if we all can just like strengthen our position right now. Anything can happen in the close future.


Daniel Kiernan  33:14

And what would you put that down to because again, if I go back a few years, I know obviously the the LTA and I know that you're close with Katie, Katie Swan and Jodi and I got good friendships with the British girls. But if we if we go back quite a few years ago, that Federation's we're always almost looking at another country. And at the time, it was Belgium, you know, so there was Kim Clijsters. Justine Henning. There was Xavier Malisse that came out of a relatively small country in Belgium. So then other countries were going, Oh, my goodness, what are they doing in Belgium? We need to we need to get the magic dust from Belgium and do what they're doing. Whereas actually, probably I'm sure there's lots of good people there. And I have to say this because my performance director, the Academy's coal miners who was part of that team, but it's it's often individuals that come through, you know, is there something that you think the Hungarian Federation or do you think there was something that was done different? Maybe 10, 15 years ago, that has resulted in so many of you girls coming through to being such top players?


Dalma Gálfi  34:30

Oh, that's a good question. I mean, the Federation's changed a lot in the past years. But I think Ana and me kind of stuck with the coaches that we we believe in and we're obviously using the Federation's facilities and and the Federation's fitness coach has been with Anna for six years. I think he's been with me for two years. That's that's like a really stable point of both of our teams. Ball as that's, that's his name. And he's he's been helping us a lot and he's really professional. So that's that's like a stable point. And yeah Anna is working with a coach for two years now. I'm working with Agnes bhakta right now. She's been helping me for one year. Yeah. Saw that. Yeah. He's she's also been a tennis player. She just stopped like, a couple years ago. So she was


Daniel Kiernan  35:36

Tough. She was tough. Tough to beat when she was playing. Yes,


Dalma Gálfi  35:39

yes. Very. So I think the, the good thing is that we all found the coaches and the bass and everything what's what's important for us to be be in a good place and the to be competing at at our best level?


Daniel Kiernan  36:03

And culturally, as I alluded to the I know you've got some some good friends of the of the British girls. Do you see any big differences culturally between Hungarian, I guess, tennis than you do in British tennis?


Dalma Gálfi  36:22

Well, I feel like Hungarian mentality is not the best I can imagine for our country and for the sport, and obviously for tennis. That's where the British people are, I think more positive about it and more supportive. And, and obviously, you guys have Wimbledon, which is, which is really helping a lot to promote tennis and, and to get the people to, to like tennis and to to like to watch tennis. While in Hungary, it's a little bit different. Here, football is more important and and tennis is not another priority sports still I feel like


Daniel Kiernan  37:18

And is that changing now that now that you girls are pushing the sport? Do you know do you feel like it because even when when I was working with Panther, I felt they were starting to get lots of big tournaments, then it felt like there was been a little bit more of a push to have, you know, 100k events, 60k events, and starting to try and push it obviously the WTA as well. Did you feel as if that's changing when you girls play? Is it televised? Is it televised in Hungary? Fortunately,


Dalma Gálfi  37:50

not really only if we're playing on big courts and big events. But not it's not a priority still. So I think here it can change a lot. Still. But I'm hoping if we all go even further, then then it's going to change soon a little bit more.


Daniel Kiernan  38:12

Because it does mean I I know again to use the comparison a little bit with British wet, Emma Raducanu obviously winning the US Open.


Dalma Gálfi  38:24

That was a huge thing.


Daniel Kiernan  38:26

It was massive. It was massive. And it's but if she plays now, everybody knows about it. You know? And it's like, it's and I have to ask you as, as someone who's on the on the tour, you know, how big of a shock was that to all the girls on the tour? And, and I guess how big of a motivation is that as well to see that somebody will come from such a ranking to have such a result?


Dalma Gálfi  38:52

Yeah, it's definitely it was definitely a huge surprise for everyone, I think. But for us youngsters I mean, I still call myself a youngster even though I'm not really


Daniel Kiernan  39:04

23 I promise you Yeah,


Dalma Gálfi  39:07

I'm still in my 20s still, yeah. Yeah, it's a much it's a big motivation to see someone fight through qualities and then winning a Grand Slam. It's it's like a once in a lifetime so far. So yeah, it's huge. And it's, it's motivating us all, I think, and


Daniel Kiernan  39:28

Who's the Who's the next big story and women's tennis and you're not allowed to see yourself. So who's the Who's the next? Who's the next big story that that the public don't know about? You know, in the tennis world. Of course, people know about most players, but the general public that don't follow tennis apart from watching the big events, who should we be watching out for?


Dalma Gálfi  39:54

Actually, I just played Petra Marcinko on an 80k tournament in Portugal, she she just won a couple 25s already in one Australian Open juniors. She just started playing pro. But I think if she keeps working and she keeps up this level and attitude and motivation, she can be a big thing in the future.


Daniel Kiernan  40:25

16 years old. Yeah. And you have to tell us and ended up ended up in a big argument with the coach and the father at the side of the court. So this is your chance to put the record straight. I watched it i i watched the video but I couldn't hear what was being said.


Dalma Gálfi  40:45

Well, it was I think, for all in the third set, I was serving. And apparently I hit a double fault. But Petra played the point and no one called it so after she hit the ball long, she went to check the mark. And yeah, it was an was a long served from me. But obviously it was too late to call it and after that her dad went really bad on the on the chair umpire and also Petra was going going at the chair umpire. And yeah, it was it was unlucky for them, but it is what it is. It happened to me 100 times in the pro level. And and they have to get used to it that that this is gonna happen and and it's not gonna go always her way. Even if it's unfair. So yeah, after that, after the match, obviously, I was going off the court that congratulated me, but he was also telling some stuff while we were still playing, and it was disturbing me on my serve. And, and during the point. So I told him it was it was not fair. And he has to start to behave, because this is not a generic tournament anymore. And they're older girls playing more experienced girls playing so they just have to get used to this this new new level, I guess. So that that was it.


Daniel Kiernan  42:31

And I'm sure it was all said with please and thank yous and smiles and it was it was all good.


Dalma Gálfi  42:38

But I'm gonna be honest with you. Oh, a lot of people know me. And sometimes I curse. Sometimes I break rackets. Sometimes I go nuts on the court. Because my temporaries is like let's say it sounds nicer. Yeah, but at that much. I didn't say anything back at all. And there are people who can who can clear me on that. So, so yeah, I think I was I was I was good on that. And that night, and I didn't say anything bad. I just I just wanted to tell my side of the story. And I wanted to clarify with the dad that he was doing something wrong.


Daniel Kiernan  43:27

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you're well within your rights to do that. And I think I think it's very nice that you you've also given Petra a shout out you know, as well I think that


Dalma Gálfi  43:39

The way it was ruined in the end, it was obviously not nice for either of us. So so yeah. And other than that, it was a great match. She played a great she played great tennis and and I think this year she hasn't even lost the match beside that one. So yeah, yeah,


Daniel Kiernan  43:59

She's she seems like she's well on the way to a to a successful career. But But back to you. And my last question before we move into the Quick Fire, what's, what's the goals and ambitions and I'm going to call you by your Hungarian name for for Galfi, Dalma. Because I know you guys say you're set the other way around to us. So what's so what's the future? Hold for yourself?


Dalma Gálfi  44:24

Well, I really want to make it to top 50 That's, that's like one of the biggest goals right now. And from there, if I go even further, I'm just I'm just gonna be happy and now I'm not gonna say relief because I'm already relieved from the top 100. But yeah, that's what's motivating me to be in the top, top 50 And and to make it even further as far as I can go I don't have like a number goal.


Daniel Kiernan  45:02

Well, all of Control the Controllables are all behind you Dalma. And, you know, I think you've, you've spoken incredibly well, you know, I've loved having the opportunity to speak to you. I said it was my last question before the quickfire. But I do have a question, this jumped in my head, and I sort of questioned this holy grail of top 100 in the world before, whereas actually, and I guess for a lot of people listening, they will know this, I certainly think this is being at that level, starts to give you a little bit more financial stability, you know, it starts to get you to the point where maybe the finances aren't as stressful than if you're six 370 in the world and paying 25 Kids and, you know, struggling to pay your coach and knowing where the next money comes? Is that something that you think makes it less pressure? Once you get to a certain level? And I know you haven't been there long yet? Or do you think then there's the pressures change in terms of trying to almost sometimes protect the ranking that you have?


Dalma Gálfi  46:10

Well, for now, I'm still not long bear so so I cannot really tell. But the I think it kind of takes the pressure off your shoulder not have to obviously think about financial stuff that much obviously, we still think about it, but but not with so much pressure when you were still like on 25 k's and having to pay for every expense. So yeah, it's definitely taking some pressure off you. Right.


Daniel Kiernan  46:49

Well, good luck the next few weeks. You and I, we have a proud record of when someone's come on the podcast. The next few weeks, the results of of often picked up not that we're taking the full credit for Cameron Norrie getting the top 10 in the world. I'm sure he deserves some credit and these different players, but I hope that there is a fantastic few weeks ahead for you. I'm sure there will be you sound like you're absolutely in the right place mentally for it for your great tennis to come through. Thank you for your time. But are you ready for the Quickfire Round?


Dalma Gálfi  47:27

Let's do it.


Daniel Kiernan  47:29

What does control the controllables mean to you?


Dalma Gálfi  47:38

Should I be quick or?


Daniel Kiernan  47:41

Well you can be as quick as you want. Somebody took 25 minutes on the Quick Fire on somebody somebody took two minutes so it's all it's all up to you how you want to be. I


Dalma Gálfi  47:55

I think of the podcast


Daniel Kiernan  48:00

Roger or Rafa.


Dalma Gálfi  48:01

Oh my God, these questions are not easy. I used to be Rafa for a long long time. Then I switched to Roger. Back to Rafa


Daniel Kiernan  48:14

And then Roger comes back and wins Wimbledon and then you're back to Roger.


Dalma Gálfi  48:19

Not really about the winning part. It's I don't know.


Daniel Kiernan  48:26

Serena or Venus,


Dalma Gálfi  48:29



Daniel Kiernan  48:31

Clay courts or hardcourts,


Dalma Gálfi  48:34



Daniel Kiernan  48:35

Serve or return.


Dalma Gálfi  48:38



Daniel Kiernan  48:39

Singles or doubles,


Dalma Gálfi  48:40



Daniel Kiernan  48:42

Forehand or backhand


Dalma Gálfi  48:44



Daniel Kiernan  48:45

Favourite Grand Slam


Dalma Gálfi  48:48

US Open.


Daniel Kiernan  48:49

I've just realized this next question is going to be tough for you. If you weren't a tennis player, what would you be? I'm not a tennis coach yet.


Dalma Gálfi  49:03

Not a tennis coach. That's for sure. I would have a cafe or a restaurant.


Daniel Kiernan  49:13

Nice medical timeout or not?


Dalma Gálfi  49:19

Since I'm injured a lot. I have to say medical timeout.


Daniel Kiernan  49:26

As you've been so honest today. Honestly, do you use the medical timeout? for strategic reasons sometimes?


Dalma Gálfi  49:40

I did once or twice, but it's not like a regular thing for me. Or


Daniel Kiernan  49:46

Do you think a lot of players do? Yes. Which is why I have the question in there. Because it's some sometimes I think it slows the game down when it doesn't need to be down. Yeah. Let cords or not,


Dalma Gálfi  50:02

Net chords.


Daniel Kiernan  50:04

So you you call a serve it hits the net and goes over. You replay the point. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so college tennis, and now ITF juniors they don't?


Dalma Gálfi  50:16

Oh, yeah, yeah. So yeah. Like that.


Daniel Kiernan  50:22

Especially in America, because then yeah, so, so tight. Yeah. What's one rule change you would have in tennis?


Dalma Gálfi  50:30

I'm happy with the rules, I think. Or maybe maybe the shot clock. It's, it's sometimes it's a, it's not enough time between points.


Daniel Kiernan  50:44

Are you? Do you like your time here? Are you like Rafa?


Dalma Gálfi  50:47

I mean, since we have to go to our towels. It's sometimes it's not enough to like really go there. Use it. Like, pick a breath and go back to your position. Sometimes it's really like, almost 30 seconds, and then you're out of the


Daniel Kiernan  51:08

time. So especially on some courts, big stadium.


Dalma Gálfi  51:12

Games, it's definitely not easy. And


Daniel Kiernan  51:16

Who who should our next guest be on Control the Controllables?


Dalma Gálfi  51:22

I would say Anna.


Daniel Kiernan  51:25

Yeah, you because this is this is important. Because you're you you have the baton right now. Yeah. And you have to pass the baton. So you're responsible for bringing the next person on to the shore. Okay?


Dalma Gálfi  51:38

Then blonder. Great.


Daniel Kiernan  51:41

Well, you're gonna have to connect, connect me persuade her and then connect me here. We'll get we'll get Anna on which will be fantastic. Okay, sounds good. Dalma, you are brilliant. Thank you so much for your for your time, and joy, your you time, over the next few days. And on all the best for the for the rest of the clear, cold season, and then moving into a grasscourt season as well. But you've been a brilliant guest, thank you for coming on.


Dalma Gálfi  52:10

So much. Thanks for inviting me.


Daniel Kiernan  52:12

We've talked, we've talked for a while and I've got Vicki next to me as always, we've we've been trying to get lots of girls on Haven't we and and to get down there on and to have her speak so so openly about the challenges on the tour. Just I was expecting it to be a good guest, but I wasn't expecting to be such a great guest. Yeah, she


Victoria Kiernan  52:33

was really honest, I thought really honest, and, and had so much advice, I think for up and coming players, your loads.


Daniel Kiernan  52:41

I'm always I'm far from a psychologist, you know, sometimes I try and pretend I am maybe but it interviews I think give so much away. And then I think podcasts even more because podcast, you're delving even deeper, you know, it's not just a surface level interview.


Victoria Kiernan  52:58

And often players are a bit more relaxed


Daniel Kiernan  53:00

I think as well. Yeah, absolutely. And, and so hopefully anyway, that's the end, you know, and I think Dalma having I didn't know that well, a few years ago, but I did have a little bit to do with her and, and just hearing her you can see, not only has she matured but she's she's very as she said herself, just She's worked on herself, she She sounded very assured She sounded like someone and I would thought was very interesting as well, she wouldn't change anything. You know, that's that's what it is. That's been her journey. And I think there's so many juniors out there that just don't know themselves yet. But why would they? They're so young. And they don't quite know how to deal with all of the different emotions that they're experiencing the expectations that the challenges the doubts, the fears, and and I think hearing from somebody like Dalma, who was so good, so young, but who then got to the point of actually almost quitting. And that's probably the point that most players do quit. Because they think well, I just it's not happening for me, this is not the sport for me. And then she's had the resilience to be able to reset, and then push yourself back up. And I have no doubt she's got her best, best Korea and best years ahead of her. I just thought it was such a lovely. Yeah, such a lovely message. You can get someone who's 5060 years old preaching that, but somebody who's 23 years old, very relatable, and already been through so much at her young age. I certainly will be passing this on to to many of our players and I hope they'll be listening as well.


Victoria Kiernan  54:42

Well she said didn't she COVID had benefited her because it gave us some perspective on that. After an initial like tough the tough time that she was having and I think as well it was interesting what she was saying back when she was well Jr number one there weren't that many Hungarian players doing well, but now there's like a team of them and so that pressures not fully on her shoulders. It's shared amongst them and they're all in it together. And we've seen that I think if we look back at British tennis before Andy Murray won Wimbledon every year, the pressures on the Brits and and once he'd kind of won that once it was just lifted


Daniel Kiernan  55:18

You know, I think actually and we have to give a shout out to the British tennis right now, because I think they're doing that, you know, I think I saw the other day that Ryan Peston moved into the top 200 in the world and that was seven male players inside the top, top 200 the females also doing very well, you've got so near cartel who was on the on the podcast one another 25 care event today, when one and loving the final. She's now I think 21 and two on the year wow. And up to 320 in the world. And if you're winning these finals, one in love, it shows that probably your level is ahead of that. So I think it's great to see that I think some some great messages that came through from Dalma. And one thing I do love on that just to pick up what you said about about the pandemic and what Dalma said about that, it is one of my favorite bits that quotes I've heard and it's something I try as best I can in my personal and private life to do is when something bad happens say Good. Just instantly reframe it and go good. Because this is now going to open up another opportunity. You know, and I think so many people now we're seeing obviously we don't wish the pandemic to have happened and we don't wish what everyone's been through to have ever happened. But those that have reframed that situation and that would just be maybe a little thing to take from from this podcast as well when something in your own life goes goes a little bit wrong. You get a bad test result you know you get some use that you that you don't want try and say good instead of saying bad and just see see how you can reframe it and flip it Vicki hate when I do it sign it does. It does work at work works


Victoria Kiernan  57:06

for you because you're ready already and perhaps you're in that mindset already. And often I'm not quite with you. And so when you initially say it's highly annoying, but I need five minutes or so to kind of join you in looking at the positive side five working on it. But talking about young players with expectations on their shoulders, we can't then not mention the man of the hour


Daniel Kiernan  57:31

style colors. Absolutely amazing isn't he is he seems to have a bit of a good thing going right now. And as we're recording this we're about to sit down and watch his final in Madrid against VRF so by the time this goes out, I just don't see him losing his VRF the way that he's playing you know unless Unless he's body isn't holding up you know and I know that's a bold statement when this could be going out and having egg on my face. I know that it's very of loves Madrid. It's the one tournament that suits him in lots of ways a little bit of altitude balls are flying, but it's just sensational that he so today like he's the second favorite and the rotten Roland Garros. Just incredible and I'm sure you've got some stats you love your


Victoria Kiernan  58:19

I love stats while you're usually the stat man I love stats that are interesting. Yeah, I Joffrey Porter actually in our last episode, if you heard it, he tipped our careers to win Roland Garros. And I went Oh, right. You really think he could go past Nadal and Djokovic, and bam. He's beaten them back to back. So that's one of the stats. That's the


Daniel Kiernan  58:43

three and our best of five. That is very true. I'm i That's


Victoria Kiernan  58:46

another thing about variable though. Is it that now always beaten the dollies beat Djokovic, she's kind of thinks I've got this forever now. Anyway, it's an interesting one. We'll see what happens.


Daniel Kiernan  58:55

I just think he's so good. That I don't think that stuff matters with him. I think. I think he just there's he's there is there you know, seeing him seeing him as a 16 year old he was already like a top 50 player. As an 18 year old he was a top 10 player. And that was a 19 year old he's a top two three in the world if not a world number one this year. My


Victoria Kiernan  59:15

voice is going mad and I mentioned Twitter in the last episode as well. But it is all about how many sounds people think is going to win. I think it's a similar thing to download. You know, the expectations now a huge I


Daniel Kiernan  59:27

mean having Juan Carlos Ferrero in his corner helps you know having this is where that real kind of wisdom and expertise and been there seen it done. It comes into play. You know, I think he's got a really tight knit team around him. They've got a great relationship. I personally don't think you'll win Roland Garros. I think not that it's too early. I think he's ready. I think he's ready. But I think the worst thing in the world for the rest of the tennis world. Was that match for Novak Djokovic? Because he's in now. Djokovic, As he's played himself in, you know, he was struggling a little bit, you know, but a match like that as now got him ready. You could see it. He was loving it. He was winding the crowd up. He was serving failing his first serves in the big moments, and I think to beat the joke of it or to beat Junkrat and the Dow in five sets out Roland Garros becomes very difficult. We'll see how the drawer falls.


Victoria Kiernan  1:00:22

Is he fit enough joke of it yet? I


Daniel Kiernan  1:00:26

just think he is. I think I think the darlin jockey, which have done it so many times. I think they'll they'll be ready again. And I would say the smart money goes on one of those two. As much as I'd love to see Alcatraz do it because it without a doubt he's, he's going to be there. He's going to get grand slams to his name. I think it's way too early to start talking about how many grand slams, he's going to win. But without a doubt he is the most exciting male player that we've seen come along for a long, long, long time.


Victoria Kiernan  1:00:56

We forgot about my stats, see where he's been getting too excited about him. Youngest finalist in Madrid masters history. First player to beat Nadal and Djokovic, back to back on the clay. You Had you thought you had what I


Daniel Kiernan  1:01:13

saw Wimbledon I saw were more than Roland Garros. It's all of these people tweeting that. And I knew that in 2007. You see, I remember now bandeian in Madrid, went back to back with the dal jock of which whichever way around it was tabac with Roger Federer in the file. And, and I was about to be a little bit cocky and write you know, you know, apart from Nalbandian or you know, something like that on on social media. And I thought, You know what, Dan, and this is how I've matured five years ago that would have gone sent done, and I want to look stupid, so I just googled it had a little look at Madrid, where it happened was actually on a hard court.


Victoria Kiernan  1:01:51

So they work. Still incredibly impressive, though impressive,


Daniel Kiernan  1:01:55

but it has been done on a surface before final


Victoria Kiernan  1:01:59

stats. He's become the youngest player to beat a world number one in 17 years, but who was the last person to do it?


Daniel Kiernan  1:02:11

Is that a question for me? Or was that for the listeners?


Victoria Kiernan  1:02:13

I'm hoping I can stump you. Well,


Daniel Kiernan  1:02:16

maybe it was 17 years ago. My My guess would go to an 18 year old Rafael Nadal. I


Victoria Kiernan  1:02:24

have so annoying. I really thought I'd get you there. It was, indeed, Rafa Nadal who was he playing


Daniel Kiernan  1:02:31

Rafa Nadal 17 years ago. 17 years ago, world number one could be a Roger Federer. Oh,


Victoria Kiernan  1:02:40

Yes. Roger Federer at one of their first matches in Miami 2004 Miami open


Daniel Kiernan  1:02:47

and as I think people forget on the women's side I know she's a favorite of ours. But you guess we on tech is only a year older. I think you know when she's already won a Grand Slam. Maybe two years older actually. She's already won a Grand Slam. She's gone on an amazing run. She has to be the favorite go on in the Roland Garros. You know, on the on the women's side near she's taken, taken. It's a tactical week off. I think Madrid She's won so many matches. And under chi seems to have absolutely raised the bar again, since ash Barty. Has has moved on and that seamlessly moves me into our next guest after Dalma which is


Victoria Kiernan  1:03:24

Mark beef Taylor s&c coach to ash party.


Daniel Kiernan  1:03:30

And what a great what a great guest he is, as well. I know this because we have had to we don't normally pre record so far in advance. But myself and Vicki are aware for a family holiday that we've been we've been finally, two and a half years of postponement after postponement. So we have pre recorded to make sure that these amazing guests and episodes are coming to you each Tuesday. So enjoy next week. I have a little exclusive as well, that's coming your way. We have Cameron Nari and his coach Bakula. Gunas that are going to be they're going to be going through their journey over the last 18 months since we since we last had him on the podcast. So excited to speak to him in two or three weeks time. So watch out for that one. Keep on listening. Thank you to everyone who remains commenting, liking, sharing, reviewing the podcast, but until next time, I'm Dan Kiernan and we all Control the Controllables