Albot Explains Why The ATP Cup Is Important For All Of Moldova
One of the final six countries to qualify for the inaugural ATP Cup was Moldova, led by World No. 46 Radu Albot. The 30-year-old, who claimed his first ATP Tour title this year in Delray Beach, is the highest-ranked player in his country’s history as well as its only titlist.
Albot speaks to ATPTour.com about how important Moldova’s participation in the ATP Cup is for tennis in his country, what the opportunity means for his teammates and what he loves most about Moldova.
What would it mean to you to lead your country into the ATP Cup?
I think it’s pretty big for Moldova because bigger countries like Ukraine and Romania, which border Moldova, did not get in. It is cool for our country and for me also of course, being No. 1 in Moldova and playing matches against top players. It will be very interesting, so it will be good for the country, good for me. Only positive things to get from that.
Speaking of how important it is for you to start the year against top competition, so how much of an opportunity is it for you to face those tough matches right away?
I don’t mind. It’s good to play against the top guys. It’s good that you have a chance to get matches against them… I don’t mind to play with the top guys, for sure.
I guess I’ll be playing both matches – singles and doubles. You have to play and if I’m No. 1, I need to go on the court to compete.
You’re not on a team too often, so what will that experience be like for you?
I think I just need to focus on my matches, because my matches will be much stronger playing against the top guys in the world. From there, we’ll see who we’re going to play, how we’re going to play and so on.
What do you love most about your country?
I like that in Moldova, people are very simple. They are very hospitable. They will invite you in your house, invite you for dinner, for a glass wine, something like that. These two characteristics are for most of the Moldovan people. That’s what I like the most from my country and my people.
At a lot of your biggest tournaments you’ve said family and friends stay up through the night to watch you. Do you think the whole country will be keeping its eye on your team?
I don’t know how many people will be awake to watch. Maybe a lot, maybe not so many. But I think the people close to me like my family and close friends will stay up and watch, especially if I have a match against a big guy.
You’ve always said that you want to inspire people from your country, kids to become better than you one day. So how important is this to show your country competing against the best in the world?
I think it’s very important to be among the top countries in the world because of me, because of my [ATP] Ranking. That’s pretty good. I know for sure now that the kids are watching me, they are trying to play as me. I am a role model for them and I would say it’s pretty important that they are focussed, they practise and become better than me one day.
How well do you know some of your teammates?
I know all of them. I’ve even spoken with them about if they’re happy to participate in the ATP Cup, if they want to come.
How important is it for them to have this opportunity?
One guy was very excited. He was like, ‘Yeah, for sure I’m coming, no question.’ Straight away he gave a positive answer. For sure it’s something cool for them to be in such a big event because they play only Futures events.
To be right away with the top guys at a top tournament with top prize money, this will be a good experience for them and hopefully give them a a boost so they can improve, get better and compete at a higher level, not only Futures.
Growing up, when you would go to the tennis courts, what was the experience like since tennis isn’t huge in Moldova?
The first memory is you get a ball and you go to hit against the wall. And then there are 30 kids on one court and one guy hits the ball, one guy hits the other way and you run and you hustle and nothing happens. It’s like chaos everywhere.
Another thing I remember is you hit over the wall and you need to go around the fence to grab your ball because you get just one. So you practise hitting the wall for a few minutes, you hit it over and then you look for the ball for 30 minutes.