“If they bring in more money, I’m fine with Saudi Arabia getting into tennis”- interview with Tomás Etcheverry
CÓRDOBA, Argentina – The equation is simple for Argentina’s Tomás Etcheverry when it comes to positioning himself in the debate over Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in the world of tennis: if they bring in more money, then they are welcome.
“I know the Saudis want to get involved with more tournaments and more money. I don’t have a problem. As long as there is more money to distribute to the players, not only for those at the top, but to those in lower positions as well, of course it adds up. It cost us all a lot to be up there, especially the South Americans,” the 24-year-old tennis player told CLAY in an interview.
Etcheverry spoke about challenging Novak Djokovic in his favorite place, his relations with the other top players on the tour and how important his girlfriend is in his career during this one-on-one conversation during the Cordoba Open.
– What is it like to play against Novak Djokovic at the Rod Laver Arena? Andy Roddick once said that on a tennis court he takes your legs and then takes your soul. Must be even more brutal in his most successful tournament. Do you agree?
– Yes, the phrase is very good and accurate, that first he eats your legs, then he eats your mind or soul, and then he finishes destroying you. Yes, that is true. I knew the scenario I was facing. I knew it was his court, his tournament. Like facing Rafa at the Phillippe Chatrier, or that kind of thing. I played my match, it was a beautiful thing, a unique experience that I take with me. Obviously I was a little bit upset because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do in terms of my game, but it’s part of it, to continue, to keep learning, to realize what I did well and what I did wrong. Having had the opportunity is something that helps me to grow.
– The point counts with Djokovic are already a classic. Even official accounts published edited photos with the updated numbers prior your last match.
– It is very funny. Even the last one that was edited was better than the previous photos (laughs).
– You had Djokovic’s Head racquet, now you changed it for a Yonex. What does it mean for a tennis player to change a racquet? The magic wand is the most important thing for a wizard…
– It’s tough. You have to be open to change. I went for it to make a leap in quality. There are different types of players: some who can never change and others who are open to try, which was my case. I wanted to find something else because the previous racquet was not helping me to improve aspects of my game. I wanted to take a leap and I took a risk. It’s feeling good so far.
– Have you ever broken a racquet?
– No, never.
– Is that a philosophy of yours, or as if it were something forbidden?
– When I was a kid my parents taught me that very clear. Things cost a lot. It was always instilled in me that the racquet is not to blame, that’s just the way it is. I never tried to express my anger, nor to show my opponent that I am angry. There are kids out there who need a racquet, who have asked me for one. I prefer to give them away than to be breaking them. It is a reality.
– Now that you have been in the tour for more time, how are you getting along in the locker room? How’s your relationship with the top players?
-They are all very cool. Carlos (Alcaraz), Jannik (Sinner), Novak himself too. They are great people, they always greet you, very attentive. Rafa (Nadal) also in Brisbane, we shared there and he was watching my match. The tour is very diverse: different people, different countries, different cultures, you have to know how to understand each other. I have great relationships with other tennis players, especially with my compatriots, with Fran (Cerúndolo), with Seba (Báez). Having relationships outside is very important. We know we are rivals the next day, but we are always alone, far from home. And we share every week, we see the same faces, we are just us.
– Would you like to see more Saudi influence in tennis? Eventually there will be a lot of money, but for many people, there is a major ethical conflict.
– I’m not so much aware of that, I know that Saudi Arabia has wanted to get involved with more tournaments and more money for a long time. I have no problem with that. As long as there is more money to distribute to the players, not only to those at the top, but also to those in lower ranking positions, of course it adds up. It cost us all a lot effort, especially the South Americans, to be at the top.
– Do you like to travel? As your girlfriend is along your side for several weeks I’m curious how important is her for your career.
– I love it. Not the actual traveling, because so many planes kill me, but I love what I do, the competition, I love playing tennis. Luckily I have my woman who can travel with me. I feel so lucky. She helps me a lot not only because she is at my side, but also she makes me keep my feet on the ground. We have been together since we were 13 years old, so there are a lot of things we have experienced. We grew up together, she saw me succeed, I saw her succeed. That is the most beautiful thing.
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