Editor’s note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es
Argentina currently boasts seven players in the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, with three of them in the Top 35. That high-flying trio are Francisco Cerundolo, Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
All are members of the same generation at 25, 22 and 24 years of age respectively. This is something of a blessing; they drive each other to improve as they aim to take their country to the pinnacle of the sport and create an exciting brood of young players.
“I’m happy when my peers do well,” said Baez after coming through the first round at the US Open, where he saw off 27th seed Borna Coric. “It’s always motivating, and I think it’s mutual. When one does well, the other feels like it could happen to him too. That healthy competition is very good. It’s really good feedback. I always wish everyone the best, even more so when I’ve been around them since I was 12.
“Each of us is concentrating on our own thing, [but] when one of us does well, we congratulate each other. We’re happy that the other is doing well.”
Despite that camaraderie, Baez acknowledges that each of them takes their own path with their team during competition. It is difficult to coincide at home, making it hard to maintain a closer friendship.
“The Tour is very competitive,” said the Argentine. “Sometimes we’re not even all in Buenos Aires at the same time – it’s impossible. Apart from that, in our daily lives, we have a good relationship. It’s been like that for years.”
At this moment, Baez’s mind is on his second-round clash in New York against Felipe Meligeni Alves. The No. 32 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Baez is one of the form players on Tour after claiming back-to-back titles in Kitzbühel and Winston-Salem. Yet he is not resting on his laurels.
“I always have to work hard because I can’t take anything for granted”, explained Baez. “I’m happy with my current form. I’m feeling confident, but I’m taking it match by match. It happened to me in Kitzbühel, and in Winston-Salem, and also here. I’m thinking about the next match I have to play, about doing as well as possible, and about being connected to my people.”
Baez has now won 11 matches on the trot. The Argentine is undefeated since Hamburg, when he bowed out in the first round to Casper Ruud, the top seed at the German ATP 500 event. Since then, it has been a familiar story; win, win and win again.
The roots of Baez’s rich form stem back to Roland Garros. There, Baez was sent packing in the first round by Gael Monfils after he had held a 4-0 lead in the fifth set. It was a heavy blow for the 22-year-old, who lost sleep over the defeat after letting slip a golden opportunity to beat the Frenchman on his home turf. He had been powerless as his opponent clawed his way back before delivering his knock-out punch.
Never one to back down, the Argentine resorted to the method that has always given him results, the mantra that helped him win six ATP Challenger titles in 2021, his year of transition into the ATP Tour. Now, as he looks to earn himself a place among the cream of the crop, Baez is sticking to the same old formula; if you fall down, you get up stronger.
The recipe for success of a hungry tennis player.
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