Jaume Munar is like a wide-eyed child in a candy store. With every air mile he clocks up, for every new tournament he visits, the 21-year-old Spaniard is learning more about the sport.
Speaking after his first ATP Masters 1000 match win over Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran on Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, Munar confessed to ATP Tennis Radio, “It means a lot, because of the work we have done over the years. The long journey we’ve been on since I was a young kid. It’s another step. I’m happy with the life I’m leading right now, on and off the court.
“I enjoy travelling too and I’m excited for the future. These courts are a bit slower than others. I used to have pre-season on hard courts in Spain and started playing tennis on hard courts, so I am comfortable. You have to play well on every surface these days.”
While Munar never competed at the Miami tournament, when it was held at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, the charismatic right-hander finds the Hard Rock Stadium to his liking.
“I never visited the venue in Key Biscayne, but I feel really comfortable here as I enjoy the big tournaments,” said Munar, who is currently at a career-high No. 61 in the ATP Rankings. “The Hard Rock Stadium is huge. You have the space, places where it is quiet. The facilities are perfect.”
Munar, who has advanced to four ATP Tour quarter-finals — Tata Open Maharashtra, Cordoba Open, Argentina Open and the Rio Open presented by Claro — so far in the 2019 season, credits much of his development down to leaving Barcelona and returning home to Mallorca to train.
“At the beginning it was difficult to go back,” said Munar. “I was 13 when I first went to Barcelona for the first time. I have many friends and coaches there, so it’s a special place. But I returned to Mallorca after seven years… It’s a special feeling when you have people from your hometown.”
The Spaniard trains at the Rafael Nadal Academy, “The Academy for me is my life. I am not living there, but I am used to working many hours – on and off the court, the gym. We try to do two sessions on the court, then a physio class, and also a fitness class. About 5-6 hours. There have been many times when I have been there at 8 a.m. and not left until 8 p.m. It’s my second home. It’s wonderful.”
Munar does not want to identify a particularly goal for the season, however, the influence of Nadal and the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s team, is evident in the progress he has made.
[Rafa and I] share a lot of things on and off the court,” said Munar. “I know him a lot right now and he teaches me things about the Tour, because he wants me to be the best I can be. It’s difficult to say numbers, in the situation I am right now, but I’ve been working hard and developing.
“I know that I will have my chances during the year. I did well on the Latin American swing, but I’d like to rise into the Top 40 this season.”