A game in the last five months and solved with a withdrawal after five games. This is the shadow that drags Dani Gimeno Traver (Nules, 1985) at the beginning of his 14th season as a professional. The injuries prevented the Valencian from starting the year with guarantees and could continue to pursue his most desired goal: return to the top100. About to turn 32, the Spaniard confesses that he still feels young and that he still has many things to say about the track. Break Point meets with him in the capital of the Turia, but not in any place. The City of Arts and Sciences hosts this interview with a quiet, direct man who does not save anything.
You have behind the Agora. Have you felt the same as me?
Now I've been through the door of the old players room and the truth is that yes.
So bad things were done to end up losing the tournament?
It would have to be inside to know, but it was a very big tournament, with demands of an ATP500. And then, if there is no money for health or health, imagine to organize a tennis tournament. In the end it is secondary. Now with television rights, tournaments are paying more, before the percentage was small. It is not that the players are poorly paid, but also have to see in each case the money that your parents have had as a child and what you have generated.
Finally, water passed. How's that arm going?
The operation has gone very well, I already have the extension of the complete arm, wanting to remove the stitches and start to force the machine a little. I'm going to the physiotherapist every day, calmly, very light .
You have little patience the tennis players.
That goes in the competitive character. Just tell you that the recovery period is going to be three months for you to say, no, it's going to be two months and a week. The competition goes against what the doctor tells you.
What exactly happened in Quito? You came in with a healed injury and you went with another.
The only annoyance I had was in the serve, did not allow me to get strong altogether. I remember playing here three sets with Ferrer before traveling, also in the Academy, even some I beat, level was not so bad. There I also trained and the discomfort was only in the service, nothing background. Then comes the match with Tipsarevic and during the warm-up, in the previous five minutes, I notice a very strong puncture in the last serves. I started the game and with 1-1 was already calling the physiotherapist. My whole forearm was hard and it was impossible. I asked to see if that could go more because in hot one does not notice it so much, I even thought to go to test later in Buenos Aires, or Rio. I ended up going home, doing hyperbaric chamber sessions, until finally I saw 85% of the tendon broken.
You've been a professional since 2004, this is your 14th active season. What do you have left to do?
I always think that I have not reached my highest level, my ceiling. The day you think you can not improve is the day you start to retire. I think I have had very good games but I can be more regular, if I reach that level during more tournaments a year can improve the ranking. I can get back upstairs, I still have a gap in the top hundred.
There is something that draws my attention from the players and it is the tremendous memory that you have. For example, if I tell you Murcia 2004?
I did finish with Germán Puentes, my first final in a Futures. I remember points. Germán was very peculiar, you never knew where you were going to leave. He won me a thousand left, I was young, he had a lot of veteran. It's funny because I remember more about old things than matches I played last year, as if I had already filled the hard drive.
What if I tell you Cordenons 2004?
My first Challenger title. That final was against Koellerer. I was losing 6-4 and 3-0, double break. It was like a Davis Cup final, I started jelling people to cheer me up and started to come back until the other went crazy, ended up crying. The parties with Koellerer were always difficult to forget, he made you all possible. I remember seeing him hit with the racket to bleed and stop the match, or break his sneakers and throw ten minutes preparing the new cords. There was no way to stop it.
¿Viña del Mar 2006?
I entered lucky loser for Fernando Vicente, he bothered the abdominal to remove and I left the site. A gesture you certainly remember, could have gone for the first round pasta. I played with Calleri and he was beating me up, I swear I thought it was a joke , can he really hit the ball so hard? In the end I won, it was my first ATP victory and I screamed the whole club heard me.
I'm going with my favorite: Barcelona 2006
You beat Djokovic! This is something that very few people know.
I have won Djokovic, Murray, Rafa ... small, of course. To Djokovic I also won in Roland Garros Junior, Murray in a Futures in Vic and Rafa in a semifinals of the championship of Spain, I was 16 and he was 15. To Djokovic already it was seen from small that was going to arrive, how I played What happens you never imagine you were going to win 12 Grand Slams. In fact, that year he already makes quarter finals of Roland Garros, imagine. In that party in Barcelona we were two children, but I was three years older and I passed the previous stage; He was already coming in straight. I remember winning 5-0 in the third and started to come back, there I thought ' or win or you end up groping '. I remember until I got a warning and 1,000 € of fine for coaching because the line heard badly,
So vast is the quality jump between both circuits so that great junior players disappear being professional?
Sometimes there are parents who ask me about their children, they tell me that they do not stand out too much in these stages and my answer is always the same: sometimes it is good not to stand out. In fact one of the most famous stories of Rafa is when he wins the Sport Goofy with 13-14 years and his uncle takes the list of former champions. " How many do you know here? "The only one was Beto Martin. There are times when the balloon inflates so much that it is not known to manage, each one has a speed of learning. Aside that the head also influences a lot, not all can be mature with 16 years.
We move now to 2015. Can it be your best season?
Yes, of course that month I had in the spring was tremendous with the final in Casablanca, semis in Bucharest, quarters in Istanbul and the next day I go to play the qualy in Madrid, pass it and lose in the first round with Kyrgios. It was a month in which I added more than 300 points, I was 40 in the Race ! Then came the downturn for the Davis theme and the six best months came together with the six worst, from white to black. If I had a little gray I would have finished in better ranking.
What happened to you in that period to give such good results?
I did not do anything different. Many times to perform I need many games over. When you move from Challengers to ATP, one of the problems is that it is very difficult to win three games every week. For example, you can do: first, second, first, first and at the end of the month you have played five games throughout the month, that is nothing. You lose a Tuesday and until next Monday you do not play again. When I roll I have the confidence to believe that I can win almost anyone, against the top 15 just as they would need a day a little bad (laughs). But of course, I need to come with that confidence, as it did in those weeks of 2015. In more a mental theme than tennis.
Did you sleep the night of the Casablanca finale?
I had a lot of wear and tear on the day of the semifinal with Vesely, a very tense and emotional match. The next day, only warming up I noticed that I had trouble starting. Apart Klizan is an uncomfortable guy, he plays very hard. We saw last year how he won two ATP 500 and then barely appeared.
You lost that final with Klizan for double 6-2. Weeks later you play with Federer and you win him a set. Explain it to me.
Conviction makes you believe that you are capable, that you can reach places that you can not reach. I made my own argument about Roger, thinking that he would come to Istanbul for the economic issue, that then he had to go to Madrid and that, if he put it a little difficult, he would surely let himself go. But nothing. I remember he started yelling ' C'mon ! 'In a way that neither in a Grand Slam.
How do you prepare a match with Federer?
I had never played with him and I really wanted him to touch me, to be able to say that I played with that, surely, is the best in history. Then when you see it ahead you say: ' Ostia, that I go' (laughs). It imposes a little. Of course, you do not have to prepare or study anything, one is already tired of watching it on television. It's like when Rafa gives you the banana shot , you know where he came from and where he was going to shoot, but not even with those. With Roger it's the same, you know the plays he does but, however much you want, it's hard to adapt to his rhythm. Nor is it a very uncomfortable game, but in the end you win because you have resources, with 4-3 in the third was the thing very tight.
How is it in person? As perfect as it seems?
I was a little pissed because I made a lot of let-downs (laughs) but then when I shook hands and said, ' It's a pleasure to have a player against the best in history .' There I think he calmed down. Then he also came to congratulate my physio , he signed a cap for his son, all very friendly and without any problem. The uncle also knows how to do it. For example, when he gives the referee's hand he says, " Hi, I'm Roger, I think it's the first time you referee me ", it's an elegant way to mark territory. After doors in, in the locker room, he's like everyone else, he's the first to make a joke. I mean, he goes to the bathroom to do his things like everyone else, it's just like you or me.
After these intense and motivating weeks, comes one of the hardest moments, the Davis theme.
It hurt a lot, I saw that it was a 'now or never'. I always showed my readiness to play, I was dying and I still die for representing my country. Who would not be delighted? Even if he were going to fold the shirts to Ferru . I went from being inside with Gala to receiving the call of Conchita and that the equipment was another. " If David (Ferrer) fails, you come ," he told me. Imagine the panorama having already bought the ticket, with the poles of Spain in the suitcase and arrives on Friday, calls me and tells me that in the end is Tommy (Robredo), who wants me to go fifth player. It hurt in my soul. In my head I was already playing and going with the team. Like having a caramelito and having it taken away at the last breath. With all due respect, in full earth tour, there was going to be sparring, On the fast lane and at the other end of the world. Since they did not count on me, they'd better take a junior for that position.
Six months later, in Australia 2016, a scandal of betting in the circuit with many people affected and no proof is uncovered in the respect. Among those names, yours.
It hurt more about Davis because I was involved; I am very calm about the other issue because I know that I never did anything. I go out there because Potito Starace is investigated for a match he loses against me, I have the bad luck that he is sanctioned by his Federation for that encounter that, they said, he had bet on that he lost. I have the misfortune to go out there: match investigated Starace-Gimeno Traver. I know it's morbid, that if you put it people will run to give you click, but I do not understand.
But annoying. Did you take any legal action?
No no. Rumors of this kind have always been in tennis. I remember my mother called me and talked me softly in case we were listening to the CSI. I called more people that day than if I had won Roland Garros. These are things you can not control.
You're going to be 32 years old, so you know the question now. Until 40, like Roger?
Hopefully. My goal is to heal well, I do not care if it's in three, four or five months. This year will be complicated because I'm going to start very late and I will not have the rhythm of people who have been competing for six months. I do not want to lose a year if I then win six in good health and performing well. Today the barrier of the 30 is already more than exiled, there are players who at that age have achieved their best results. Albert Ramos, for example, is approaching 30 and is making the best tournaments of his life. The maturity is reached later, the food is taken care of more and the recoveries go by better way.
You told me that withdrawal for the moment does not cross your mind. And the ranking? Does it matter much right now?
It is hard to recover. It touches you to go to minor tournaments, to countries where a chauffeur of the organization does not wait for you, but it is up to you to catch a bus and then to pray to arrive at the club. The conditions are much worse, tracks too, the club nosequé , balls Nosecuantos , but in the end you have to put your ranking level at that time. This is why we have all gone, unless you are a megacrack like Del Potro and you are invited to major tournaments .
In your career you have won 14 Challengers, circuit that you have been combined with the elite. Do you consider yourself more a Challlenger or an ATP player?
Man, the years I've been upstairs have always played ATP. I have never stopped playing an ATP, whether on land, cement or grass, to go play a Challenger. Yes it is true that to Toronto or Cincinnati I have never gone because the previous one closes very high and I have been playing Challengers here in summer, also a little for what I commented before, the need to return to feel good, with rhythm And ability to beat anyone. Sometimes it is necessary to lower the bar to win three consecutive matches, although if you are not well you will not win them in a Challenger either.
So much change is there to be in the top100 not to be? It seems that beyond the first hundred is an exercise in survival.
Today, if you enter the four Grand Slam, for each one you already carry about 30,000 €, with that you already spend the year. From there everything you gain is for you. If not, for entering an ATP are € 5,000 and in a Challenger, € 400. Between travel, meals and taking your coach you are already losing money. Some have to find teams in Germany or France to help them cover all the expenses of the season.
What about the new Lozano-Altur Academy? I have heard that it works very hard and with great professional atmosphere.
Unfortunately I have enjoyed it for the moment, I have more standing than playing. With Jose (Altur) I've been a year and I've known him since I was a child and with Pablo (Lozano) I have a very good relationship, even if I was not a coach of mine, he always encourages you when things go wrong, Supports you and creates a very good environment. Between the two they form a very good combination.
Ferrero, Ferrer, Bautista ... the relay of Valencian tennis seems to follow its course. Who comes next?
They come young kids, like for example (Carlos) Taberner that we have it there in the Academy. There are several that have options to get in but is what we have discussed before, the theme of the stages. They have been good juniors, then the jump is another story. My theory is that reaching the top300 is fast, but from there you have to hit the table to keep moving. They are already in that area, now they have to make the leap to the Challengers. The sooner you leave the Futures better, the goal is to get accustomed to the challenge of the Challenger and play with the best every week.
In your case that jump was fast.
I the second Challenger that I played, I passed the previous phase and I lost in semifinals with Guillermo Garci'a Lopez. Then the next I played in Czech Republic and in the first round I beat Kohlschreiber. Not even I believed it, I had just reached that level and it seemed a bit sucked. Then you realize it's harder than it looks. Luckily the Futures passed them fast.
Which tournament did you always dream of winning?
To dream is free but of course, Roland Garros ... if I say that my dream is to win Roland Garros tomorrow I fall sticks even on the identity card (laughs). He is like the footballer who dreams of winning a World Cup. Winning any ATP should be very nice, for example Valencia. A feeling you can not even try to imagine.
I want you to tell me a goal for the next year and a half that is not to play without pain.
Re-enter the top hundred. As I call it, play again in 'Primera División'. Being more stable, instead of being in the top80 or top90, can jump to the top70 or top60. But hey, obviously the first objective is to be back in the top100, I can not keep if I'm not there. In that aspect I am calm, although it costs me more than a year, the important thing is to have level more than a good ranking. If one is prepared, just go back up. And if not home.
I'm going to propose a challenge to you. Right now you have 97 ATP victories, it would be a good bet to end the year as a centennial.
Today you can not talk about betting, you know (laughs). But yes, it would not be bad to get them, to see if I can get ready to the summer ATP and we made it.