#NextGenATP First-Time Winner: Pedro Martinez
A new era of Spanish tennis is upon us. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal continues to set the bar at the age of 32, but the Next Generation of stars are already staking their claim as the future of the European nation.
Meet Pedro Martinez. The Alzira native scored his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title on Saturday in Bastad, Sweden, becoming the third #NextGenATP Spaniard to triumph on the circuit. Martinez, who turned 21 in April, joins three-time winner Jaume Munar and 18-year-old Nicola Kuhn in the title club.
A prelude to next week's ATP World Tour 250 event at the same venue - the SkiStar Swedish Open - the Bastad Challenger featured a sold-out championship on Saturday. One day after ousting home hope Mikael Ymer, Martinez would defeat another teenager in the final, rallying past Corentin Moutet 7-6(5), 6-4. He stormed back from 1-4 down in the opening set against Moutet, saving a pair of set points before taking the set and eventually the title after one hour and 56 minutes. The right-hander did not drop a set all week.
Martinez, who was previously coached by Javier Ferrer, brother of former World No. 3 David Ferrer, will break into the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings on Monday. He joins Munar and Carlos Taberner as Spaniards aged 21 & under in the Top 200.
Martinez spoke to ATPChallengerTour.com following his victory in Bastad...
Pedro, congrats on winning your first ATP Challenger Tour title. How does it feel?
It feels very good, because when I came here the first day I was not thinking about winning the tournament. I was just taking it one match at a time. As the tournament went on, I felt better and better and I knew I could win it.
Was this a goal of yours for a long time? How important is this victory for you?
Yes, it is. I reached two semis in the past, but I couldn't get to a final. Being in a final was a goal, but then winning the final gives me a lot of confidence.
You did not drop a set all week. What went right for you this week?
My mentality. I was very calm in all the matches and thinking about playing every point. I never gave up in any game and played it point by point. That's the best thing I did this week.
Yesterday you beat the home favourite Mikael Ymer and today you beat another teenager in Corentin Moutet. Talk about those two opponents and how you got the best of them.
Against Mikael it was a difficult match because there was a big crowd for him. I didn't play my best matches in these two, because you always feel nervous in these rounds. Of course they are very tough players, but they don't play with a lot of power. They don't miss, but you can play every point with them and you can be in control. You start from the bottom up and slowly build your game in the matches.
You've been competing on the Challenger Tour for two years. What are the biggest things you've learned so far?
In the Challengers, every match is tough. You have to be prepared for every match. If you are not prepared, it is always so difficult to win.
How has the success of other young Spaniards like Jaume Munar and Carlos Taberner driven you to be even better?
We are all very good friends. Bernabe Zapata Miralles too. Munar had an amazing few months, winning a lot of matches and two Challenger tournaments. I was thinking that he's going to be a great player, but I didn't think he'd make it that fast [to the Top 100]. It gives you inspiration and gives you belief that you can do it. And also Taberner has had a difficult year with injuries, but now he's back on tour and hopefully he can have some good results.
You are up to a career-high in the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings. Did you set any goals at the start of the year and what are they now?
I always like to move up in the rankings, but my objective for this year was to stay focused in all the matches. If I'm winning or if I'm losing, that's my goal. If I arrive to do this in every match, I will move up. I am sure of it.
For those of us who don't know much about you, tell us something. What do you enjoy doing off the court? Do you have any passions outside of tennis?
I like to chill with my friends when I can. It's always good to do something different than tennis, like playing padel or go running. And of course I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and with my dogs too.
You are also up to No. 16 in the Race to Milan. How nice would it be to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals?
It would be nice, but at this point I am still far away [from qualifying]. I'm not thinking about it at the moment, but of course it would be really nice to get there.