Moments after top-seed Chun Hsin Tseng won his opening round match against Nino Serdarusic at the Chennai Open Challenger, his coach, Abraham Gonzalez, was on the centre court.
He brought along a box full of tennis balls and had some intricate drills planned for his student.
On Thursday, a day after his exit from the competition in the second round, Gonzalez and Tseng bludgeoned the ball back and forth at one of the outer courts. For three hours straight.
“There is only one king - hard work,” says Gonzalez.
“It depends on the match (and) how he finished. (It depends on) How he was feeling, or if I see that he has to do something after the match.
“I stepped on the court because I saw a couple of things he could have done better in the day and right away we did it for 15 minutes. He likes to practise with a lot of intensity,” he says about the impromptu post-match training session.
The unbending methods might be Gonzalez’s way to emulate how he had progressed with his former student, Andrey Rublev.
Starting under Gonzalez and Fernando Vincente at the 4Slam Tennis Academy in Barcelona in 2016, Rublev jumped from 158th in the ATP rankings to the top 10 in December 2020.
“He’s a really nice guy. He’s a real hard worker. He used to train with the two of us,” Gonzalez says about Rublev.
Save for two weeks in August 2022, Rublev’s been a permanent there. Together, they won 12 ATP titles. But the journey had its lows too.
“There were a lot of ups and downs. He got a stress fracture (in July 2018) in the L4 when he was around 30-40th (in the rankings) and then he went out of the 100 again. It was a tough moment.”
Gonzalez left the 4Slam Tennis Academy in December 2022 and that brought an end to his partnership with Rublev. “Rublito, it has been a real pleasure to watch you grow into one of the best players in the world,” he posted in a farewell message on Instagram.
“We have a very good relationship; we love each other and he’s a very good kid. I told him I need a change and something different. New goals and new challenges,” says Gonzalez about going separate ways.
This is when Tommy Rebredo, a former World No. 5, told him about Tseng. It did not take long for Gonzalez to be convinced of Tseng’s abilities.
“Tommy Robredo called me and said ‘why don’t you work with him’. I asked who the kid was. I took a look at him and liked it. He is a hard worker. That is really important. He listens. Nowadays, not a lot of players listen,” he says.
Gonzalez first dabbled with coaching as a 22-year-old when playing tennis proved too costly for him.
It was only after joining Carlos Moya’s academy in Barcelona that Gonzalez’s journey as a proper coach began. At 26, he was with Rublev.
His first tour-level pupil made it big and set the standard high. Gonzalez sees the same potential in Tseng and thinks he might meet it.
“He is a really fast player. He does everything very well. He needs to keep going and believe that he belongs in the top 100 and it will come,” he says.
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