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“Tennis is exaggeratedly traditional and its limits are outdated” – interview with Jaume Munar

Entrevista con Jaume Munar
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The “classical” ecosystem of tennis makes Jaume Munar think. He wants to see racquets broken without any punishment and conflicts between players for the sake of the marketing of his sport. In this interview, the Spaniard makes it clear that there is a need to expand those boundaries that date back too far.

“Tennis has become obsolete,” the 27-year-old tennis player told CLAY in an interview that took place in Cordoba during the last edition of the Cordoba Open as a 250 tournament.

He was born and raised 30 kilometers from what would later become the Rafa Nadal Academy, where he developed his tennis since adolescence sponsored by the winner of 22 Grand Slams. In 2023, he left the academy looking for new challenges.

Interview with Jaume Munar

– Being a tennis player, being Mallorcan and not being called Rafael Nadal can mean so many things.

– I manage it well. I am very proud of where I am from, of having shared tennis time with people like Rafa, like Carlos (Moya). I am delighted to defend the Mallorcan land always, I think the climate makes us special, the lifestyle, the tranquility, I think that in any sporting field that leads to success. I am part of that path. Behind mine there have been many relevant names, I am sure that in the future there will be more.

– What does Nadal mean to you?

– I have a very good relationship with Rafa and I’ve always had it, so I hope it stays that way for many years. Today it’s a more mature relationship, a little more of friends it was before, when he was like a mentor. He tried to help me in everything. Our relationship went a step further and I am very happy to be able to count on that. On a tennis level it has been very beneficial for the amount of information I have received, and for the possibility of seeing him on a daily basis. I appreciate him a lot beyond the tennis player he is.

Nadal y Munar, en un partido de dobles en Melbourne // JAMES ROSS / EFE
Rafael Nadal and Jaume Munar, playing doubles together in Melbourne // EFE

– Is it possible to see him winning Roland Garros?

– Rafa has gone through and continues to go through a complicated process, but he knew how to set the clay tour and Paris as his goal. If his body allows it, tennis-wise he will be at the level to compete with the best.

– When you are 25 years old and a guy like Carlos Alcaraz appears and at 19 he wins two Grand Slams, what do you feel?

– For me it’s fantastic. I think everyone makes his own way. I was a very good junior, then I did not progress so fast until I was 20, then suddenly I became top 100, I have enjoyed being six years on tour, this is my seventh season, and here each one takes his process. We could speak from envy, from the point of view of those who see someone younger stepping on his heels, but for me Carlos Alcaraz is a jewel for our tennis, for our country. He has proven to be like Rafa, a very successful person. I think it is something primordial. That’s how we live it as Spanish tennis players and to count on it the only thing it does is to satisfy us all. Carlos is in another tennis dimension. I compete for other challenges, he competes to be the best in the world from now on for every year. I wish him only the best. I enjoy having him on the circuit because he is an incredible guy.

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– Are you interested in the politics of the tour? Even though you are not part of the ATP Players Council or the PTPA, do you get involved in the processes, the ideas, the decision making?

– As of today I have not been in any of them. I will not say that I am an advocate of the Council and that I think the PTPA is bad, but it is true that I have always believed that things can be improved from workinging inside the institutions, it is always better that way. I do not know the exact history of the ATP, but I know that the process has been slow and long. The ATP has been making progress for many years, but like any bureaucratic and political issue it takes time. Since I have been a professional, a lot of progress has been made. Not all the progress that the players wanted? Surely, but it is like any company. The ATP is still a private company and improving player benefits takes time. I believe that the PTPA does a good job, because in the end it pushes from the outside, but I also believe that where things really have to change is from the Council and from the inside, because that is who has the strength to decide.

The selfie // JAUME MUNAR
The selfie // JAUME MUNAR

– Do you think Alexander Zverev is a correct representative in the Players Council given the legal process he has pending?

– To tell you the truth, I was asked this same question in Australia and I had no idea about Zverev. Then I found out about the situation he is in. In the Council everyone votes according to their ranking. I never knew that Zverev was a candidate. I have a direct relationship with Bernabé Zapata, who was there last year, and with Pedro Martínez, who is still there, and I deal with them on a daily basis. The truth is that if the players in his ranking have voted for him, there must be a reason. I think he has made some statements where he said that if he is there it is because the players have asked him to be there, so it will be. I personally have not voted for him. I have not been able to tell if he is good or not for tennis politics. But I think they are separate things, when it comes to defending a group of players, I am not the one to assess whether he does well or not. I don’t know his role in the Council, my fault, because we should be aware of that. He’s in a tricky situation, but there’s also no desitions on anything yet, so I can’t go into whether he’s a better representative or not if he’s doing his job.

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-Taylor Fritz once commented that it was very interesting when between two players there was some conflict, because that attracted much more interest in their matches. Do you agree? It’s impossible not to remember your encounter with Thanasi Kokkinakis in Madrid a year ago.

– My opinion: we come from a very classical ecosystem. I don’t like it. That’s the basis of everything. I think things have to progress and improve for their own sake. I think tennis is taking steps, but it has become a bit obsolete according to some rules. How far are the limits? It’s something that should be debated and it’s not talked about enough.

– The debate about breaking rackets…

– I think that between a lack of respect and breaking a racquet for me there are many steps in between, and nowadays both are penalized the same, with a warning. Breaking a racquet on a material level, well, no, no. It doesn’t look very good either. At a marketing level, at a sporting level, it’s a reality, yes. Why if I break a racquet in a training session, nothing happens? And maybe someone filmed it and a lot of people end up watching it on social networks. But if I do it on a center court I get a fine, I get sanctioned, they even take away a point. If coaching was allowed, I think a broken racket without consequences should be free of penalty. Conflicts between players? As long as it doesn’t pass a barrier of insults or attacks, for me there is no problem with it. We lose focus when there are bad words, in some discussions with the referee, for me that should be penalized, because I do not think we should have a policy of anything goes. I do think that the limits have been left far behind, in very classical years. It is exaggeratedly traditional. Today we must take steps forward.

– Do you feel that Kokkinakis disrespected you?

– Naah. It’s all part of the game. I’ll be honest with you: he’s neither my best friend nor do I give a damn what Kokkinakis does, because I have other people I’m with. But I don’t think he crossed a line where there was an insult or disrespect on his part. I think there are a lot of other players who have had a lot more disrespect than him.

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