10:30 PM GMT May 28, 2018
World No. 155 Jaume Munar provided a vision of Spain’s tennis future on Monday at Roland Garros, landing the biggest victory of his career in a battle of the generations.
The 21-year-old, in only his ninth tour-level match (3-6) and just his second at a Grand Slam championship, knocked out David Ferrer, a Spanish tennis legend of the past 15 years. Munar recovered from an 0-2 sets deficit and 3-5 in the deciding set to beat 2013 finalist Ferrer 3-6, 3-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 7-5 in four hours and 15 minutes for a place in the second round.
"It's the most important victory of my career," said Munar. "Regardless of how the match went, I came back two-sets-to-love down to a role model in David Ferrer, doing it at Roland Garros, on clay and in a match like this. It has been a dream come true. This victory is a confirmation that I have taken a step forward."
Former World No. 3 Ferrer, who was competing at Roland Garros for the 16th straight season (44-16), had never before lost in the first round in the French capital.
Munar overcame a slow start and jitters to turn the match around in the final three sets.
"Honestly, I wasn't happy with the way things were going and my level of play in the first two sets," Munar said. "I fell into that hole where I let my nerves take over and I started out shaky, just like I did at the Australian Open. In the third set, I let loose and that was a turning point. I'm pleased with how I handled myself in the tie-break. I couldn't have asked for a sweeter outcome."
It is the highest-ranked victory of Munar’s career, in a completed tour-level match, following wins over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at the 2015 German Tennis Championships (1-2 ret.) and Joao Sousa at last month’s Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (6-4, 3-6, 7-5).
Munar is currently the 13th-placed player from Spain, which boast nine in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings. The 2014 junior Roland Garros finalist will next challenge No. 20 seed Novak Djokovic, the 2016 champion, in the second round.
Now that he's through to the next round, it's time to answer the question: Who is Jaume Munar? Allow him to answer:
"I'm a normal guy from Mallorca," Munar said. "I started playing soccer when I was three years old; tennis was more of a side hobby but I began focusing on tennis after a while because I enjoyed the atmosphere more. My tennis game grew day after day and soon I was taking the sport more seriously.
“After this match against Ferrer, I feel like I can safely say I'm a professional player and that I'm ready to dedicate myself exclusively to tennis. It's a privilege to be where I am today."
Hard work and getting the most out of himself is nothing new to Munar; a strong work ethic was ingrained into his mind from an early age.
"Even outside of tennis, I'm the type of person who gives it his all, no matter what I'm doing,” Munar said. “On a scale from one to 10, my effort is always a 10. It's all or nothing; 100 per cent all the time. For example, if my studies required my attention until 10 at night, then I'd be studying until 10 at night. If I needed to study until 5 in the morning, then that's what I'd do. That's how I was brought up since I was a kid. You put your best into what you have to do, especially if it's your job. When you reach that point, giving your all isn't something extra, it's the norm.”
Munar trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar in Mallorca, and it isn't odd to see Nadal or other members of the 16-time Grand Slam champion's team in the stands during Munar's matches. Munar appreciates the advice and guidance he receives from his mentor.
Coach Tomeu Salva is another figure to play a prominent role in Munar's growth. Munar considers Salva as a big brother as well as his trainer.
"Salva's presence has been really important to me," Munar said. "I wouldn't say I was lost at one point, but he helped redirect me and get back on the right path when I returned to Mallorca following a personal issue. I left home to pursue my career at an early age and up to that point, I was used to spending time and being around my family. When I went out there on my own, I started feeling lonely and I missed my family a lot. Tomeu helped me find myself and that’s essential to adjusting to life on the tour. He knows me really well and he knows how to deal with me, both on and off the court.
"Tomeu can bring me back on track without being invasive. He's the main figure in my tennis life. Between my family on him, they're the most important people in my career."
Although it's a matter that looms over him, Munar, currently 15th in the ATP Race to Milan, sees the Next Gen ATP Finals as a goal that will require hours of work on the court and thousands of kilometers on the road.
"I'm going to have to put in a lot of time and effort before I can consider playing in Milan as something realistic," Munar said. "I've got a long way to go. I don't know the exact numbers, but I do know the players ahead of me are superb. We're talking about dominant players who are also in the Top 50 in the ATP Rankings. They've achieved so much, so I don't know where I fit in with them yet. A more realistic goal for me is to finish the year in the Top 100 and if I achieve more than that, fantastic."