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Ignacio Buse, the young star who chose the court over the kitchen despite inspiration from uncle Chef Gastón Acurio

Ignacio Buse
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SANTIAGO, Chile – Center court at Chile’s Estadio Nacional was a hostile place for Ignacio Buse, a 19-year-old who experienced his first Davis Cup away tie.

He didn’t mind. He even described the scenario as “ideal”. He, 438th in the ranking. His opponent in the first match, top 20. David and Goliath. Totally inspired, Buse defeated Chilean Nicolás Jarry by 6-2, 2-6 and 6-3 in front of 4,000 people that during the whole match booed him, as it usually happens in Davis Cup in South America. Next day against another top 50 player, he felt one set short from sending Perú to the Finals group stage. Something unexpected.

On the hot nights of fast conditions due to the altitude of Santiago and the hard court requested by the captain of Chile, Nicolas Massu, the young Peruvian was loose, with the attitude of one who has nothing to lose, and very assertive with his return.

It was last year that Buse experienced another unexpected moment: he was going to compete in the US college circuit, but his visa was rejected. “I was going to play college tennis, but it didn’t work out. There was a problem with the residency paperwork that didn’t come through. But now I’m playing professional and I’m very convinced that I can make it to the top 100 someday. Luckily it didn’t work out!” he tells CLAY.

As a boy he wanted to be a chef like Gastón Acurio, who is his mother’s brother. Acurio is one of the most important chefs in the world, and a great promoter of his country’s cuisine, owner of more than 40 restaurants of different styles of Peruvian cuisine in eleven countries: “I don’t see Gastón much because he lives traveling around the world, but for me he is an idol, a reference, an example to follow”.

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His mother’s warnings for Buse to choose tennis over gastronomy outweighed his admiration for his uncle: “When I was little I used to tell my mother: ‘I want to be a chef’, and my mother warned me about what it takes to be a chef. ‘You have to start washing dishes, working in restaurants until four in the morning, you’re not going to like that life. You love being on a tennis court and won’t enjoy the other thing,’ she would tell me. I never really got into the gastronomic world, but little by little I decided to go into tennis”.

“I love to eat! And the more countries I visit and discover their gastronomies, the happier I am,” Ignacio Buse tells CLAY, who admits that he knows how to cook “the basics”.

Ignacio Buse celebrates with the Peruvian Davis Cup team after defeating Nicolás Jarry // Getty

Buse’s future is bright. He is one of the South American tennis players with the greatest projection and in the Davis Cup series against Chile he proved it. Not only because of his all-round tennis that adapts well to the hard court (which is why captain Luis Horna chose him instead of Gonzalo Bueno, with a better ranking and recently champion in the Buenos Aires challenger), but also because of his personality.

“I’m indifferent to the fact that I don’t care if I’m being booed or insulted, I concentrate on my game, but I love the Davis Cup atmosphere. The fact that there is a full stadium, with all the people shouting and excited for their country makes it much more fun and unique,” says the man who idolized Roger Federer since he was a child and who today is inspired by Carlos Alcaraz.

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