Pedro Martinez showed all his fighting qualities to clinch his first ATP Tour title at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open on Sunday.
The 24-year-old Spaniard came from a set down to defeat #NextGenATP star Sebastian Baez in the championship match in the Chilean capital. Fourth-seeded Martinez had already battled past Jaume Munar, Yannick Hanfmann and local favourite Alejandro Tabilo on the way to the final at the clay-court ATP 250 event, his second on the ATP Tour.
The win pushes Martinez to a career-high No. 50 in the ATP Rankings, and afterwards he told ATPTour.com more about his journey to a first tour-level title.
What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It’s a really big feeling, I’m really happy. It’s something I was trying to do in the past two years, [when] I’ve played almost all ATPs [tour-level tournaments], and now to be here in the winning club for this year, it’s amazing for me.
You competed in your maiden tour-level final against Casper Ruud in Kitzbuhel on clay last season. To what extent did that experience help you when playing in the championship match today?
I don’t think I lost that match because I didn’t have experience, I think Casper was just on a really good level. I’m happy to be here again. I was mentally ok, I was prepared, I knew it was going to be a long match, even when I was down a break in the second, I kept fighting. So maybe that gave me confidence.
You arrived in Santiago having not been beyond the second round at a tournament this year, what are the main factors behind why it suddenly all clicked again this week in Chile?
This year I’ve competed in every match I’ve played. Last week I lost against [Diego] Schwartzman, it was more than one and a half hours, but it was a big result for him, 6-1, 6-1. But I think I’ve been doing things OK since the start of the year. I’ve lost to really good players, and I fought every match, and I knew my moment was going to arrive. That’s what you have to do. Be patient and your moment will arrive.
You came through some hard-fought matches this week as you showed your fighting spirit. How would you describe yourself off the court? Does your on-court resilience extend off the tennis court as well?
Off the court I think I’m a quiet guy. I like to chill with the other guys, spend time with my family when I’m at home. When I go on court, I think I’m another person. Something changes in my mind, some things go too fast, and some things I can’t control. That’s what it feels like, but that gives me my fighting spirit on the court.
You grew up living next to the Club de Tenis Alzira. Can you talk about your earliest memories of playing the sport and your development?
I lived there since I was six years old. I had a skateboard, and I [used to ride it] straight to the court. I spent all my time at that club. My coach, Nacho, he made me learn fierce skills that I have in my game now. I was always playing with my friend, Pepe, and those are my biggest memories. I was always there with a tennis racket or football, from [age] six until 15, all my childhood.
Countryman Rafael Nadal was an idol for you when growing up. How inspiring is it for you to still see him dominating as he has done this season?
What Rafa has done this season is something without words. He did it before, but every time he surprises everyone, I think he also surprises himself. He inspired me, he inspired many players. We also have a really good culture of tennis in Spain, so that’s what gives you confidence to reach new things and I hope I can go higher in the rankings and keep playing like this.
Could you take a moment to acknowledge some of the key figures in your life and career who have helped you to reach this milestone?
For sure my parents, they supported me when I was a kid. My grandfather, all my family was behind me when I needed. My girlfriend, I’ve been with her for four and a half years. She comes with me everywhere that I decide to go. We’ve moved a few times from one house to another, and she’s always by my side and a big support for me.
What do you consider to be your biggest passion outside of tennis and can you tell us a little bit about that interest. I know you like your dogs and supporting Real Madrid?
We have seven dogs! I rescued one here in Santiago in 2019, when I came here for a Challenger. I found a puppy on the road, he was looking for food in the trash, and I took him and said, “I have to bring him home.” He’s in Spain right now, he’s called Scooby.
I like to hang out with my friends. I like to spend time at home because with tennis you travel so much. I like to watch other sports, going to eat the good food that we have in Spain.
I support Real Madrid because my grandfather, who passed away a few years ago, supported them since I was a kid. I follow them every weekend when they play in La Liga and I play Fantasy Football with my friends, so I follow soccer a lot.
This is a milestone moment in your career. How will you celebrate this victory?
Tonight I’m going to have a good dinner for sure, maybe a beer with my coach…you have to celebrate when you do something like this. Even if I lost, I would have done the same, and tomorrow we have a flight to go to the Davis Cup. We will see what the night brings!