Pedro Martinez hopes to bring Spain’s first ATP title of 2023 at Tata Open Maharashtra

The World No. 62 beat Argentina’s Sebastian Baez 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in the Round of 16, a repeat of the Santiago Open final in 2022.

Published : Jan 04, 2023 22:36 IST , PUNE

Spain’s Pedro Martinez in action during his Round of 16 win over Argentine Sebastian Baez at the Tata Open Maharashtra on Wednesday.
Spain’s Pedro Martinez in action during his Round of 16 win over Argentine Sebastian Baez at the Tata Open Maharashtra on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Spain’s Pedro Martinez in action during his Round of 16 win over Argentine Sebastian Baez at the Tata Open Maharashtra on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Pedro Martinez was one of the six Spanish men to win at least one title on the ATP Tour in 2022. But with the season dominated by experienced Rafael Nadal and teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz, Martinez’s maiden career title in the Chilean capital of Santiago may have gone unnoticed.

However, on Wednesday, the 25-year-old moved one step closer to bring home Spain’s first title of 2023 with a come-from-behind victory against Argentine Sebastian Baez in the Round of 16 of the Tata Open Maharashtra at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.

Martinez came from a set down to beat fourth-seeded Baez 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in two hours 12 minutes on Court 1 in a rematch of the Santiago Open final from last year. Earlier on Tuesday, he had beaten Indian qualifier Ramkumar Ramanathan in another three-setter.

World No. 40, Baez, who had received a bye in the opening round, used his big serve and powerful forehand shots to keep the rallies short in the initial stages. He got the all-important break of serve in the fourth game and managed to close the set at 6-3.

Martinez started slicing the ball more often in the second set, drawing more errors from his four-year-younger opponent who clearly preferred more pace on the return from the Spaniard. Breaking Baez twice in the second and sixth games, Martinez took the second set 6-1.

After the match, Martinez said, “In the second set, I just tried to be more solid, to make less unforced errors, and that’s what I did, and doing that I was feeling better and better. Also, at the beginning of the year, It’s always tough to start the matches.”

Baez readjusted his game accordingly in the decider. He countered by rushing to the net and hitting some effective forehand passes. However, the momentum shifted at 30-40 in the fifth game on Baez’s serve when the Argentine assumed he had won the point only to see Martinez reach the net and hit a stunning forehand chip. The backtracking Baez lost that point and eventually had his serve broken.

He did have four break points in the very next game but every time, Martinez bounced back. While Baez managed to hang on for a little bit longer, saving two break points in the seventh game, he got broken to love while serving to stay in the match.

“This is something that we all have in our head because it was a very important match. But today, I think the difference was bigger between the first and second set. And I was happy that I could change the match. I decided to serve a little bit better and I felt okay,” said World No. 62 Martinez when asked if the memories of the Santiago final helped him to make a comeback.

A promising Junior career cut short

Martinez was a promising junior, achieving a career-high ranking of 16 in 2015, but could have achieved more. “I was playing good in juniors, but unfortunately, when I was seventeen, I got a surgery on my knee so I couldn’t play even one more tournament when it was my last year of juniors, the year that I could achieve more things because I was the old one,” he said.

Nevertheless, inspired by Spanish tennis legends such as Sergi Bruguera, Manolo Santana and Nadal, he has been making progress on the senior circuit.

“They make you feel that you can achieve these things, that they are not impossible. In Spain, we have a very good school of tennis and I hope the people are still working on that because it’s very important to keep showing the kids how to learn tennis,” said Martinez, one of the 10 Spaniards in the current ATP Top 100.

Special connection with the Ferrers

Martinez mentions former World No. 3 David Ferrer, who was recently appointed as the Spanish team’s new Davis Cup captain, as his idol. “He’s from a city very close to mine. I’m now working with his brother (Javier). His brother is my coach and is here with me. I used to work with him before and now, we are together again on the tour and I’m very happy about that. I was practicing one day with David before coming here. I was very close with him during his last years on tour and now as he’s going to be the Davis Cup captain, maybe he can be closer to Spanish tennis again,” said Martinez.

Love for dogs

Apart from taking a shot at his maiden title for the year, Martinez has also found something to keep him busy off the court in the Orange city.

A parent to six pet dogs at home in Andorra, one of which, named Scooby, he rescued during the 2019 Santiago Challenger, Martinez has been spending time with dogs at his hotel in Pune as well.

“I always try to help them when I’m in Spain. I always try to help the protectories of dogs where they take care of them. In India, for me, it’s very tough because I see a lot of them on the streets and I always try to feed them if I have food or I take food from the buffet of the restaurant and I give it to them. I tell people to do the same because they need us and I hope for better conditions for them here in India in future,” said Martinez.

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