ATP Firsts: Joao Sousa
Portugal's Joao Sousa will face off against Roger Federer for the first time in five years on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. The 30-year-old saved four match points in his first-round match against Frances Tiafoe on Tuesday in Rome to earn his second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with Federer.
In 2013, Sousa recorded a historic milestone in Kuala Lumpur, when he became the first player from his country to win an ATP Tour title. He explains the importance of that moment and also shares various ‘firsts’ in this exclusive Q&A with ATPTour.com.
First moment I realised I love tennis
That’s a tough one. Probably when I decided to go to Barcelona when I was 15. I realised that I really wanted to be a professional tennis player, that was my big dream, so I think it was that moment.
First coach and most important lesson he taught me
First coach was in my birth city, in Guimaraes, his name was Luis Coutinho. What I learned from him is to be humble and to work as much as I can to try to reach my goals.
First pinch-me moment on the ATP Tour
My first title. Absolutely. Not only for me, but for my country it was a great moment in my career. Of course it will always be in my mind the moment that I won.
First time I was recognised
I think after winning my first title. After that people started to know me very well. On the street, they would say, ‘Oh that’s Sousa there.’
First time I travelled abroad
Probably I was 11. I think I went to France. That was my first trip. I was very young and I have a very bad memory, but I remember it was a great experience. Everything was new.
First thing I bought with prize money
I don’t buy a lot of things for myself, I buy for another person. I bought a watch for my mother. That was the biggest I’ve given to a person.
First autograph I gave
I was pretty young actually, about 10 years old. I did a newspaper interview. The girl asked me for an autograph, and said, ‘Maybe one day he’s going to be very important.’
Juan Carlos Ferrero was my idol when I was growing up and playing tennis.
Momo, my Labrador. It’s always good when I come back home and play with him.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 17, 2017.