Ramos-Vinolas: 'I Didn't Feel I Was Going To Be A Professional'
Albert Ramos-Vinolas remembers as a kid following his parents to the local tennis club in Mataro, watching them play on the weekend. The Spaniard, who began the sport at five, would spend much of his time at the club’s fronton, where he’d hit against the wall. The lefty slowly began to pick up tennis and play tournaments in Catalonia and Spain. By 11, he began competing outside the country.
“I didn’t think anything. I just was playing,” Ramos-Vinolas told ATPTour.com. “I was playing, playing, playing and somehow I’m here. I didn’t feel it at any point that I was going to be a professional.”
It has been a dream come true for Ramos-Vinolas. The 32-year-old once watched his parents hit tennis balls, and now he is doing so for a career. He is currently the No. 41 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings. With the exception of a three-month stretch in 2014, he has been inside the Top 100 since 13 June 2011.
“I think I’m pretty lucky to do something that I like a lot,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “For sure there are a lot of moments I think that it’s really tough, but I feel like I’m really lucky to be here and to do one thing I was doing all my life.”
Ramos-Vinolas has had his fair share of difficult moments, too, particularly after his junior career.
“I had two years when the results were not really good. I was lucky there that I had my coach and also my family, my wife, they told me to finish school and also start the university. I started to study a little bit in university, but online,” said Ramos-Vinolas, who studied business administration. “It helped me to have less pressure on the tennis and not to think just in tennis. It started to get better and better and then I stopped [studying] because it was a lot. To mix two things, it helped me a lot.
“If you just play tennis and you are No. 400 and you try to be better, but you are not earning a lot to just be a tennis player, you have to try another thing… I think it helped me a lot because if you don’t think just on one thing, you know that you have another thing [in your life], you can play much more relaxed and much better.”
When Ramos-Vinolas finishes his career, he says he might return to university to resume his studies. But for now, he’s focussed on getting as much as possible out of tennis. The Spaniard owns six Top 10 wins, has climbed as high as No. 17 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and won two ATP Tour titles. Perhaps most impressive was his run to the championship match of the 2017 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, beating then-World No. 1 Andy Murray along the way.
“The final in Monte-Carlo is the best result of my career. It changed my career a little bit, because I improved a lot my ranking. But I think I’m still doing the same thing as my whole career, trying to improve every day,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “You always have things to improve. Even sometimes you improve and the ranking is not improving as you want — I’m talking about myself. But I always try to keep improving, because it’s better to try to concentrate on the improvements, not on the results.
“Sometimes when I did good results, then I had more pressure on me and I played worse. Sometimes when I had bad results, I worked better to improve something I was not doing good.”
Ramos-Vinolas has earned plenty of respect from his peers. At the 2015 Rolex Shanghai Masters, he defeated Roger Federer. Even superstars he hasn’t beaten, like Novak Djokovic (0-6), know they have to be at their best against the Spaniard.
“I had to earn it. I worked hard on the court,” Djokovic said after defeating Ramos-Vinolas at the 2018 Australian Open. “Ramos-Vinolas doesn't hand you the win. He makes you earn it.”
That’s how Ramos-Vinolas wants fans to remember him.
“I would like that they remember me as a player who fights a lot and he’s doing his best on the court,” Ramos-Vinolas said. “I’m just doing my best to play well.”