Learn More About No. 174 Marcora, Who Upset Paire: ‘I Can Play Against Everyone’
Roberto Marcora arrived at the Tata Open Maharashtra without a tour-level win in his career. The 30-year-old Italian not only qualified in Pune without losing a set, but he defeated Lukas Rosol, who once conquered Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, and then ousted top seed Benoit Paire to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final.
“It’s wonderful, but at the bottom of my heart I always knew that I have the tennis to play against everyone. Maybe not Roger or Rafa or Djokovic, but if I play my best tennis, I’m not scared to play against Paire or against a Top 20 player, because it’s just tennis,” Marcora told ATPTour.com. “We are all guys, tennis players. Everyone has problems or weakest points. We are humans, so these kinds of matches give me a lot of belief because of course you always dream to win matches like this. But then after you win matches like this, you realise that you can do it another time and another time again.”
Ironically, the only Top 100 player Marcora had beaten before this tournament was Paire, whom he defeated in an ATP Challenger Tour event last April when the Frenchman was World No. 69. Paire is now World No. 19.
“It was a totally different situation. It was a Challenger,” Marcora said. “But I like to play against him because I like to play against his backhand. But today it was a different situation in front of the crowd in a stadium like this.”
Marcora on Tuesday became the oldest player to earn his first ATP Tour victory since 34-year-old Jan Mertl did so in Gstaad in 2016. The World No. 174 is already projected to crack his career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 171 next Monday, but his run isn’t over yet. Marcora will face sixth seed James Duckworth for a spot in the semi-finals.
“This is amazing for the moment. Two days ago my first victory in an ATP main draw, today first victory against Top 20, also Top 50,” Marcora said. “Everything is new for me, so at the beginning I was a little bit nervous. But I think I played my best tennis and if I’m able to play my best tennis I can play against everyone. I’m very happy.”
The Italian turned professional when he was 20, which is later than most. Marcora first cracked the Top 500 at 24.
“Tennis for me is not really work. I became a professional very late at the age of 20 after school and one year of university. So I always liked to play tennis and at 20 I said to myself, ‘Why not play professional?’” Marcora said. “I took a lot of time because I started with Futures and then Challengers and then surgery in 2016 with my shoulder, was out for one year, then I came back. I don’t want to become No. 1 in the world or Top 10, of course, but I want to enjoy the moment. I like to play tennis, travel the world and discover what is my limit. That’s why I’m playing.
“I’m 30, but I feel better now than when I was 20.”
The same year he turned professional, Marcora also began studying law. The Italian has taken 12 of what he says are 22 exams he needs to pass to earn a three-year degree to become a ‘consulenza’, or a consultant.
“The last exam I did was two years ago. It’s a bit tough when you’re travelling around the world to do exams. My goal one day is to finish and get the degree,” Marcora said. “If you do the quick degree, three years, you cannot become a lawyer. You can become a consulenza, but you are not a lawyer. Only if you study five years you can be a lawyer. Who knows [what will happen]? At the moment, I am a tennis player, so when I stop playing I will reopen the book and I will [do] the 10 exams I have to do.”
For now, the future looks bright on the tennis court for Marcora, who is hitting his stride. He hopes that will continue in Pune.
“I am not changing my goals after this victory [against Paire]. Of course it’s just part of the process. I wanted to play more tournaments like this because every guy who starts to play tournaments like this dreams to play tournaments like this and not Challengers or Futures,” Marcora said. “Now that I tasted a little bit, I started to taste it at 30, it’s never too late. Now that I’ve tasted these kinds of emotions, I just want to stay in these kinds of situations as much as I can.”