Inspiration and pressure are present in equal measure for Jaume Munar, being a student of the Rafa Nadal Academy, where he often trains with Rafael Nadal himself. Expected to follow in the footsteps of Nadal and now Carlos Alcaraz, Munar has big shoes to fill. However, Munar has already made a name for himself on the biggest stage, and his major task now is to reach the next level, the toughest one there is.
A new season brings increased expectations to add more chapters to the rich legacy of Spanish tennis. He believes his time will come, and for now, he is enjoying being part of an exciting era in Spanish tennis. At the same time, the 25-year-old is trying to uphold the values of the Rafa Nadal Academy, which has taught him a lot about life as much as about tennis.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda after kickstarting his 2023 season at the Tata Open Maharashtra, Jaume Munar opened up on the road ahead for him as he approaches the Australian Open and the remainder of a crucial season. He also reflected on his memorable time so far at the Rafa Nadal Academy, compatriot Carlos Alcaraz’s incredible rise, and explained why he feels Spanish tennis is currently “peaking.”
Exclusive Interview with Jaume Munar
Sportskeeda: How do you feel about your game and your level right now going into the Australian Open? The singles event at the Tata Open Maharashtra did not go the way you would have expected. You would have liked to go further in doubles as well, but you did reach the quarterfinals.
Jaume Munar: I think I’m growing. I mean, I’ve had a difficult couple of months, I was injured for a while and I didn’t practice as much as I wanted. But I think my tennis is still there. I have to work on my fitness and my movement to get ready for Australia.
That was the point for me coming here. I think I played a good match against Tallon (Griekspoor), it was close but didn’t go my way and hasn’t been enough. But as I said, during these days I keep working with my team and also with some doubles. Happy with that and happy to share the court with Pedro (Martinez).
Sportskeeda: The Top-65 in the ATP Rankings have as many as 8 players from Spain, including yourself. What are your thoughts on Spain’s rich quality of tennis talent, the rise of Spanish tennis, and where the sport is right now in the country? Particularly with Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal as the Top-2 players in the world currently.
Jaume Munar: I think we had a little problem as a country with the way that Rafa was getting older and we didn’t have the second one behind him after (David) Ferrer. But Alcaraz covered that and he’s working, I mean, (he’s) among the best. With the players, I think we’re in a good position.
The federation is doing a great job, we’re having a lot of tournaments now, they’re investing a lot in that, and I think that is important to get more players to the top. They have been doing an amazing job the last couple of years and this is the result that we keep up there with the best countries in the world, and tennis is peaking.
Sportskeeda: The Rafa Nadal Academy has been contributing to the rise of tennis in Spain and you have been training there for many years now. How has your experience been there over the years training with other players and coaches, particularly Toni Nadal and Rafael Nadal himself?
Jaume Munar: I’ve been in the academy for a lot of years. I’ve been working there with so many people. I’ve been sharing moments with players, with Toni, and with Rafa. I think that anyone who spends time there is going to have success. It’s not only about being a great tennis player but also to be a good person. The values that they are trying to inculcate in people are the best.
The part of the job of the academy with the professionals is super nice, but I think the best part of the academy is the one with the school and with the kids growing. 100 percent, if I have the chance, I’ll keep my kids there. I’m really trying to let the people know that the academy is a great place to be.
Sportskeeda: As the new season has just started, what are your goals for the 2023 season? Is there anything specific you want to achieve during the season?
Jaume Munar: I don’t know where my body is right now, so I have to keep working on that. I didn’t play much at the beginning of the season and I want to finish the Australian Open and then set the goals for the year. Right now, I want to be as healthy and work as hard as I can, and then after the Australian Open, I want to set my goals.
Sportskeeda: Be it Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta, Roberto Bautista Agut, and others, Spanish tennis has a lot of grinders. You play the extra ball, you make players run. Is that part of the culture of Spanish tennis?
Jaume Munar: I think that’s changing a little bit over the last couple of years. Of course, Carreno, Rafa, and Bautista are a little bit more old school in this case, but I think Alcaraz is so much more aggressive. He’s been showing that he can serve well, he can go to the net. I think it’s something that’s changing, we’re not playing as much on clay as before, and it’s something that people have to keep working on over the years. It’s a long way, but I think the change has started.
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