You hear people talk about the hard world of cycling or the loneliness of a marathon runner, but rarely about a tennis player's holidays. After fulfilling his objectives and making the Top 100 in 2019, Alejandro Davidovich (87th in the ATP ranking) is now in pre-season training, after taking a break of just two weeks. He is preparing hard at the Don Carlos Tennis Club in Marbella, where another two elite tennis players are also expected to come and train: the Italian Marco Cecchinato (71st) and Frenchman Corentin Moutet (83rd). Minutes after eating and before returning to the courts, Davidovich talked to SUR about his great year, what he is looking forward to in 2020 and how he has improved.
We're glad to have caught you in a brief break, because you obviously have a busy diary at present.
Yes, for two weeks now I have had daily training sessions and physiotherapy. I took about two weeks off beforehand.
Tennis isn't like other sports, is it? Some professional Spanish basketball players stop for about three months if they are not needed.
I see my two-week holiday as the reward for everything done during the year. I went to Punta Cana but couldn't wait to get back for the pre-season.
So that's just a tennis player's life...
Yes, in the end you get to like travelling and going to the other side of the world. We're starting in Doha, and it will be a different type of year, playing on the ATP Tour. That's why I can't wait to get started.
Where does the nickname 'Tsunami team' come from?
It's our working group's sense of humour. They decided that the inner strength I seem to have is like a tsunami, and that's why I had it tattooed on my body. They say it's as if I run over everything that gets in my way. I've become more 'tsunami', so that's what the project is called.
Have there been any changes in the group?
I have changed my physical trainer now. We started going to a centre in Fuengirola called Trainme. The captain is Ignacio Batallán, and there are four other trainers, as well as physios and medics. We aren't ruling out also using the Clínica Sohail.
How would you describe 2019?
I fulfilled the aims I set myself, although of course you can always do better. I had a patch in the summer when I didn't win a match and I wasn't very happy then. After the summer, though, I charged the chip a bit after taking a mini-holiday. I told myself I couldn't carry on like that because I wasn't comfortable about it, and I won my first Challenger and then a second one.
After being beaten by Londero in the ATP 500 in Hamburg, back in July, you didn't compete again until September in Manacor. What happened?
I wasn't comfortable or confident on the court. Personally I wasn't feeling very well and decided I needed to stop for a bit. Carrying on the same routine wasn't working.
It wasn't a bad decision, was it?
No. Everything went better after that.
After two years with the seniors, do you have a clearer idea of how far you can go as a tennis player?
I couldn't say how far I will go, I don't know. I only got into the top 100, practically without playing my best tennis, at the end of the year. I think this year will be one to enjoy. We're having a super-strong, good pre-season.
Have you set any objectives for 2020?
Not so far. We are concentrating on how to improve this pre-season. Obviously, I want to improve and go up in the ranking every year.
Which was your best match in 2018?
I think that's pretty clear.
The win against Monfils (who finished in the top 10) in three sets in the quarter-finals of the ATP250 in Estoril...
That's the one. I was very excited, wanting to enjoy it, with the stands full and I saw numerous possibilities during the game, although I lost two set balls in the first and missed out. In the second I was just as excited about playing and in the third I just did it, although it was very close.
Did you also enjoyed matches like the one in Marbella, or that Challenger final against Munar in Seville knowing friends were watching from the stands?
Yes. I always say that playing in Andalucía, where I grew up, means my whole family and my friends can come and watch me. It's an extra motivation.
What did you feel when you won your first Challenger?
It took three thorns out of my spine (referring to the sub-championships). When I won in Seville the last final had been the week before, with 0-4 in favour of Sonego in the tie break in the third set. That one just escaped me. Against Munar I was 6-2 down almost without placing a ball, and told myself I didn't want to lose another final. I evolved during the game and played one of my best levels of tennis ever.
On the negative side, you deliberately hit two balls out in the final tie break against Horansky in a Challenger match in Barcelona. Do you regret that?
I just lost my head. We got ahead of ourselves in going to play there, because I was preparing for a month on a fast surface in the season. As I was in good form we decided we would go and play, but the anxiety of wanting to win quickly and the frustration of that match produced a Davidovich who wasn't himself. So yes, I regret that part of it, but tennis is an emotional sport and sometimes you can control your emotions and sometimes you can't.
What have you learned as a tennis player in these two years with the seniors?
I've learned that if you don't work you won't win. All your rivals are working hard to reach the top and without work, no matter how much talent you might have, you're going nowhere.
Is there anything you like about the new regulations you have already followed in the ATP Next Gen Series or a similar tournament a year ago in Manacor?
I entered at the last minute and I wasn't fully focused, but I loved being there. It was an incredible show but it's true that I wasn't very well prepared for the four-game sets. Every break point hit me hard. There are rules I didn't like much, like having a towel in the corner of the court. It might be more hygienic, but you hardly have time to get to it and come back to your position (with the time they have in which to serve).
And the coaching?
That made me laugh. You can de-stress, if I can put it that way...
Is the advice useful?
I don't think it's bad, but on the other hand it can also be a handicap, when they try to tell you how to stop playing badly.
And the lack of line judges?
That's what I liked best. There is no doubt that the system failed and there was a wrong call at quite an important point when I was playing Kecmanovic. But I didn't deserve to win that match, anyway.
How do you see yourself beside these Next Gen players, with profiles very similar to yours and even better performances?
They are players who have had a great year, with significant improvement in their game. I always watched them on TV and, as I said, if you don't work you don't get anywhere. Bit by bit I have been focusing more on how I work rather than being the talented lad who is Spain's promising young player.
What do you think it is going to be like, participating in your first Grand Slam without going through the previous stage, in Australia?
Well, I'm preparing for that. I have only played one game in five sets, in Paris, and it is going to be very hot and humid. Before that I'm going to play in Doha and in Auckland or Adelaide, so I'll gradually become accustomed to the heat.
The draw for the first round will also have an influence. You don't know who you could end up with.
Yes. We'll just have to wait and see.