The day Nicolas Jarry set limits to his grandfather: “Don’t talk to me about tennis anymore”

abuelo Nicolas Jarry
Nicolás Jarry saluda a su abuelo Jaime Fillol y al resto de su familia tras la final del Abierto de Italia // CAPTURA
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Nicolas Jarry couldn’t take it anymore. He had multiple voices in his head giving him advice about his career that confused and overwhelmed him. One of them was that of former world number 14 Jaime Fillol. Until Jarry said enough: “I sat down with my grandfather and told him crying that I wanted him to be my grandfather, but not to talk to me about tennis anymore”.

The Rome Masters 1000 2024 finalist was coached at the time by former tennis player Martín Rodríguez, married to one of Jarry’s aunts. “I was already very tired between what my grandfather, my dad and Martín told me. My grandfather has a large knowledge and every day I realize that more and more. He is very special, he is such a believer and he sees everything very simply. And that is a gift. But I wasn’t understanding him and I couldn’t keep having two different voices in my head. It wasn’t doing me any good,” Jarry revealed in the docu-film series Versus.

The Chilean confessed that setting limits for his grandfather was one of the hardest moments of his life. In addition to his career on the court, Fillol was one of the founders of the Assosiation of Tennis Professionals in the 1970s. A tremendously respected personality on the international tour, and probably the man responsible for Jarry’s choice to become a tennis player.

That conversation in the dining room of Fillol’s house helped change the course of the current best player in Latin America. Without being too successful in juniors as other referents of his generation (Nick Kyrgios, Cristian Garin, Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, etc), Jarry faced with doubts the stage of the Futures tournaments, pointed out by many as the hardest in the path of a tennis player, the one that destroys you or hardens you.

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Nicolás Jarry en Versus
Nicolas Jarry during the filming of Versus, the documentary about his life, directed by Raúl Cuesta // VERSUS

“The Futures tournaments are a very difficult jungle to get through. If you get stuck there, it gets harder and harder. They are places that don’t motivate you, ugly places, difficult to be in. You have to get out of there as quickly as possible,” he said in the audiovisual production about his life, directed by Mexican filmmaker Raúl Cuesta and divided into four chapters.

In his first tournaments he played in the category, Jarry lost in the qualifiers. In another, he fell in the first round after receiving an invitation. With no triumphs, he began to fight against his head. “The sky fell over me, I went away from everybody. Negative. I was close to my first ATP (point)…I thought I was never going to make it in my life. In tennis they show you that you’re playing against someone else, but it’s really against yourself,” he explained.

“The coach can’t stick with a routine that he thinks is appropriate, he has to look at alternatives. It was logical that this difference was going to happen. Certainly I not only have differences with Martin, I have them with everyone,” Jaime Fillol told Versus, while the images showed him in a church, or with the sweatshirt and racquet of his time in a tennis club.

Jaime Fillol
Jaime Fillol, Nicolás Jarry’s grandfather and former tennis player, in the docufilm series Versus about his grandson’s life // VERSUS

“I always gave my father-in-law space,” Rodriguez said. “Nico never said anything to me, but I did know that my father-in-law told him different things than I did. I don’t think I own the truth, so I think other opinions and points of view are important to me.”

Grandson and grandfather went several years without speaking a single word about tennis. Jarry matured as a sportsman and thus changed his relationship with Fillol in the tennis aspect. The matter was well managed by both of them, and time allowed to see situations that in the past were unthinkable.

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In January, Jarry chose Fillol as captain of the Chilean team in the United Cup. In Australia, the grandfather poured all his sporting knowledge into his grandson and for the first time what had been restricted for a while, was seen on camera. At the Italian Open, in the tournament that Fillol played several years and this time Jarry disputed the final, he was present in the first row of the stands in each of his matches. The limits for the grandfather are not what they used to be.

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