#NextGenATP Spaniard has divided days between homework and tennis this week

If it’s hard to win a main-draw match on the ATP Tour for the first time, to manage it during a school exam week is quite a feat. That is exactly what Martin Landaluce did on Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he has alternated competing with his academic work.

“I’m in my last year of school and it’s exam week,” the player from Madrid explained in an interview with ATPTour.com. “So I’ve been studying this week. With the time difference, I have to do remote exams at 7:30 or 8:30 a.m. They’re an hour and a half long, and then in the afternoon I have to try to make time for a lesson.”

In addition to his tennis gear, the 18-year-old Spaniard has been carrying a notebook and blue ballpoint pen in his suitcase so he can write down everything he learns in his virtual lesson and memorise it for his exams. So far, he has had two: English and economics. He doesn’t know his grades yet, but he trusts he’ll pass the exams together with his seven remaining subjects, which include Spanish, history, and maths.

Martin Landaluce
Martin Landaluce in action against Jaume Munar on Thursday in Miami. Photo Credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour.

The same confidence that he shows in his academic abilities was key to overcoming the challenge on court on Thursday against his compatriot Jaume Munar, whom he defeated 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 despite twice being a break down in the final set. “It was a battle with myself,” the #NextGenATP Landaluce said.

After winning the first set, the victory and everything it would bring felt so close that his nerves began to weigh more than his excitement. “For a moment I felt like I was outside my body, like I was a ghost,” he explained after the two-and-a-half-hour match.

A visit to the bathroom after the second set proved vital to finding his way again.

“Looking in the mirror helps to calm me down," explained Landaluce. "I talk to myself out loud. I say, ‘I trust you, I know you’re going to do it. I know you’re brave, we’re going to win this match.’ And, in the end, after telling yourself this day after day, you start to develop a really strong body language, and it worked.

“Visiting the bathroom after a set gives me inner peace, I go back on court feeling new. This time it took a while to work, but mentally I really wanted it and, in the end, it got me the win.”

It’s well known that the same routine has been successful for Novak Djokovic. But it’s not Landaluce’s only nod to some great legends of our sport. The current No. 360 in the PIF ATP Rankings also tries to emulate his fellow countrymen Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz as much as possible. Pretty understandable, given that he’s an occasional practice partner for both. He has even received a scholarship to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar.

“They deal with inner battles very well. It’s as if they don’t have any nerves. So little by little, I’m trying to do the same: give off a sense of calm and confidence on the outside, and inside try to make those nervous moments pass more quickly. I just have to try to imitate them a bit,” Landaluce adds.

Emulating the Spanish Grand Slam champions, Landaluce on Thursday managed to win his inner battle.

Another reason for his comeback was the presence of his family in the stands: his parents Elena and Alejandro, and his siblings Alejandra and Lucas, who have both graduated after playing college tennis in the United States. All of them older, they inspired him to start playing tennis at the age of one, and now they were the biggest driver to achieving his first victory on the ATP Tour.

“It’s been a family trip, and they got me the win,” explained the 2022 US Open boys’ singles champion. “It was partly because of them. It gives me a lot of peace of mind when they’re there, they give me a lot of confidence. I have a great time with them off court, then they transmit that joy to me when I’m playing.”

Now he will look to notch up another victory when he faces local player Ben Shelton. It won’t be the only assignment he has ahead of him before then: there are also some family plans and several exams in between.

Editor's note: This story has been translated from ATPTour.com/es.