Alejandro Davidovich: "Tennis is a close-run thing now"

Alejandro Davidovich, during the interview at the Don Carlos Tennis & Sports Club.
Alejandro Davidovich, during the interview at the Don Carlos Tennis & Sports Club. / Josele-Lanza
  • "I don't want the ranking to become an obsession," says the young tennis star after completing his first year as a senior and ending as the world number 231

He has just taken a well-deserved holiday, returning to Sweden to visit his father, although it only lasted for ten days. Speaking to us in the familiar setting of the tennis courts at the Don Carlos Tennis & Sports Club, Alejandro Davidovich analysed his first season as a senior, and his forthcoming challenges. This rising star seems more concerned about his progress than his ranking, and says he is satisfied with his first season as a senior, after winning the Junior title at Wimbledon in 2017. His first trophy (the Futures at Quinta do Lago) and the final in the Challenger at Szczecin marked his 2018.

You're ending your first year as a senior at 231st in the ATP ranking. I guess you're happy with that?

Yes. I didn't start the season too well, I wasn't able to play in many matches. By mid-September, however, I started to see results. The objective for my coach and myself was to reach the qualifier for the Roland Garros, but it wasn't possible. In the end I reached a final in the Challenger in Poland (Szczecin) and now we are thinking about the qualifying stage of the Australia Open. As my tour in China went quite well, we have classified for that.

The season has ended with you in good form, hasn't it?

Yes. I finished feeling good, but I also need to rest. I have played several tournaments in succession, been away for weeks on end. My body wants to be at home now, enjoying being with my family and friends and disconnecting from tennis.

What is most important to you, winning the Futures in Quinta do Lago or being runner-up in the Challenger at Szcezcin?

I'd say Poland. I was playing well right from the start and from then on I was able to move up a few stages.

That was a clay court. What was that like?

Well, the speed differs, maybe. But it doesn't really matter to me.

You're still one of the few players who doesn't have a favourite surface.

No, there are times when I can lose the first round on clay or a fast surface. It depends on many things, although maybe clay is the best surface for me.

There were some important matches when you played better tennis at the end of this season, but you lost because of small details. I don't know if you will agree, but at the end of the season there were two clear examples, the quarter-finals in Liuzhou, against Kavcic, and the one which brought the season to a close in Andria against Gaio. What do you have to say about those?

Kavcic is a very experienced player and I knew it was going to be a very close match. I lost the first set because of small details, because I was 3-0 up in the tie break. I was playing very well, but in the third set my energy dropped and he was stronger than me. Against Gaio the court was very fast. It was like ice, one of the fastest I have ever played on and it wasn't very good for me. It works better for other players. I tried to adapt to the court, but Gaio played really well at the most important moments.

What have you learned from this first year as a senior?

That concentration and patience are very important. Above all, those 20 seconds between one point and another. That is where you have to be really focused and forget about the ball you just missed, because you're going to have another one to deal with straight away.

Do you think you're improving in that aspect?

I'm working with Antonio de Dios, who has been my psychologist for the past five years, on my mindset and one of the most important things in that sense is to concentrate on the next point.

In which matches do you think you have played best this year?

During the week at Szcezcin. It was a very high standard, I realise that. Every time you win a match you grow a little, although there are always times when you're not going to place the ball where you want it and have to let it go, to go on to the next step.

Do you think you might reach the top 100 in 2019, or would that be too much to expect?

We haven't thought about it. We are going to take it tournament by tournament. I will play a Challenger in Australia (in Playford) before trying for the qualifying stage of the Australia Open. That's where my head is at the moment, and then we'll see what other tournaments come up, without planning for them. I don't want the ranking to become an obsession. I don't have too many points to defend at the start of the season, and I'll give it all I've got to keep moving up and gain confidence for the rest of the year.

What are you aims on a personal level?

I'd like to pass a classification phase for an ATP 250 and do well in the Grand Slam, but above all continue to gain points and confidence for what lies ahead of me in tennis.

Because you reached 231st place in recent weeks, it gives you another passport for the Challengers or qualifying stages of major tournaments, because at the start of the season you were almost obliged to respond to invitations. You'll be more free to decide what to do now, won't you?

Obviously, but even if you come up against the favourite it doesn't matter. Tennis these days is very equal. There will be weeks when you get into the top 100, and others when you end up at 500.

At the start of this year you were training with the Davis Cup team. What was that like?

I learned a lot from them, how they trained, their pauses and rhythms. I get on well with David Ferrer. It was a very good experience. Personally, I don't like the new tournament format, with a week of competition and in the same place. You lose a bit of the feeling.

We have mentioned psychology, but from a tennis point of view where do you see a margin for growth?

We're trying to improve on my first serve. I'm not a very flamboyant person. I know it's in there, but I haven't been able to show it and psychology is making it possible to bring it out.

From a physical point of view this was a good year, with no injuries, wasn't it?

Yes, I only had a grade two ankle sprain, and it only lasted for a week.

What has changed in your everyday life or your way of working this season, compared with before, in terms of resources?

My contacts have increased. When you're in the ATP you get to know people. It's easier to contact people for the pre-season. I can't give names at the moment, but my contacts are Spanish and they are not youngsters. I have my coach (Jorge Aguirre), physical trainer (Adrián), psychologist (Antonio) and physiotherapist. The Sohail clinic in Fuengirola attends to my injuries and pain. I normally travel with my coach, but this year the plan is for me to go with my physical trainer.

Do you have any free time?

In the end, ten days of absolute rest are enough if you organise yourself properly and do what you said you would do. If you're off the court for a month you lose form. With a shorter time off, you can recover more quickly.

Is there a chance of you playing in the Next Gen ATP Finals (a tournament for the seven best under-21 players in the ATP ranking and a local guest) sometime in the next two years?

This year I ended 28th in the ranking and that is also one of my objectives for the forthcoming year. Whether it is easier in 2019 or 2020 depends, because within two years new players will also have come along.

Some people are critical of the Next Gen and the fact that it is harder nowadays for young players to reach the top 100 or just burst onto the tennis scene. That wasn't so unusual a decade ago or so, was it?

It's more difficult to get into the top 100 these days, especially with the change the ATP is going to make to the rules, because the Futures won't count and the qualifiers for the Challengers will have very few players. The ATP 250 points will count for more than the Challengers, so it will be more difficult for that group to get into the top 100.

Your talent isn't in doubt, though. There are only four players higher in the ranking who are younger than you. Does that put you under pressure?

I don't think about it much, so no. The others are bigger and stronger than me, so a year doesn't change anything. I'll carry on in my own way. Players might be younger or older, it makes no difference. I'll continue my routine and my career.

Who will be the next world champion? Who'll take over from Djokovic, Federer and Nadal?

I couldn't say. Tennis is a close-run thing these days. It could be anybody, really.