Sergi Bruguera (Barcelona, 1971) turns 50 this Saturday. He is considered one of the best Spanish tennis players in history and is the current captain of the Spanish Davis Cup team, which, he assures, will once again be one of the favorites in 2021 to reissue the title won in 2019 in Madrid.
In an interview with EFE, Bruguera He also admits that favoritism will depend a lot on the presence or not of RafaelNadal. But he is convinced that the Balearic player will once again be willing to help his country.
Question: What is the best tennis has given you during these 50 years?
Answer: Tennis is my life. Since I have a conscience it is what I have dedicated myself to. I couldn’t choose just one thing because tennis is the mainstay of my life.
Q: Have you ever had doubts that this was your path?
A: No, my determination was always to be the best tennis player possible and my illusion to win Roland Garros. I’ve never had any doubts that tennis was what I wanted to do and what I really liked.
Q: So the two times you won Roland Garros were your best moments as a tennis player?
A: Yes, every step I took was with the goal of winning Roland Garros and when I did it was the most important moment of my sporting life.
Q: Which one were you most excited about? The first, 1993, or the second, the following year? They say that sometimes the second times are more exciting than the first …
A: No, in my case the first time was indisputably the most important. It was very shocking to me. Also, in the final I beat Jim Courier, the number one in the world and who had won the tournament the previous two years. It was a five-set match and I came back at the end, it was very exciting.
Q: And in 1994 you defeated Alberto Berasategui, also from Spain, in the final. At that time chaining two Roland Garros in a row was outrageous. Then Rafa Nadal arrived …
A: At that time it was unthinkable for me to win two Roland Garros. With one I would have already finished my career. Until then, only seven or eight players had won two Roland Garros in history. It was an extraordinary thing. Obviously today what Rafa does at Roland Garros is incomparable. You cannot talk about both things in the same sentence.
Q: You became number 3 in the world. Do you have the thorn of not having reached number one?
A: Yes, I would have been very excited, even if it was only for a week.
Q: What was missing to get it?
A: Playing on the indoor courts was like doing it on ice and on grass the same thing happened, it was a serve-net and little else. The longest point lasted three strokes. In addition, during my training I did not play indoors until I was 18 years old and was number 20 in the world. My first two indoor tournaments were Stockholm and Paris Bercy. And the first time I played on hard court was at the US Open, also at 18 years old.
Q: Another thorn in your career is silver at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics? Especially considering that his rival in the final, André Agassi, recognized in his memoirs, ‘Open’, that he played that match under the effects of glass.
A: When the book came out I was out and they told me that Agassi said that he had doped in that final. And they asked me if I would accept the gold medal if it was taken away. I replied that obviously I would accept it, because he had cheated and I had not. I was not happy to know that he had beaten me by cheating.
Q: You also got an Olympic silver. It’s not bad at all.
A: Of course. It is one of the most important and most exciting things in my career. The Olympic Games are the living history of sport. What happens is that it was not a goal that I had previously had because when I started playing tennis it was not yet an Olympic sport. So an Olympic medal is something that I had never dreamed of having and on top of that I got it on a hard court in the United States.
Q: Precisely in ‘Open’, André Agassi explains that he suffered a lot playing tennis, especially because of the pressure that his father put on him from the beginning. On the other hand, has tennis always been a source of enjoyment for you?
A: There are things that I question a bit. Agassi explained that he did not like tennis, but later played until he was 36 years old. If you don’t like tennis, when your father stops being on top, you quit, right? I am a little amused by people who say this. In my case I loved tennis and I loved to compete. Obviously it is very hard to train every day and you have pain because you put your body to the limit. But if you want to win important things, you must pay a price that is to work hard and suffer on the track.
Q: How hard is the tennis player’s life? You had quite a few injuries.
A: Yes, day to day is hard. And the injury I had in my shoulder made me have to train much more and in pain. It took my energy. Above all, the operation did not turn out well. I decided to retire because I no longer had the will power to get up every day to be a better tennis player.
Q: In the beginning there was a lot of media rivalry with the great Spanish tennis player of the moment, Emilio Sánchez Vicario, six years older than you. How did you handle the matter?
A: I lived it badly. It was a difficult situation for me. I was only 18 years old and tennis was not like now, which is very open and you know everything. That pressure was complicated, it was not a pleasant event.
Q: But did it make you mature earlier in the media aspect?
A: No, I don’t think that situation brought me anything good. That problem made me feel bad when I had to be concentrating on playing.
Q: Let’s go to the present. How are you living the coronavirus pandemic?
A: It has been a very complicated and difficult year, like for everyone. At the sporting level, the Davis Cup was suspended in 2020 and there are practically no tournaments. And obviously I’m worried about my health and the fact that I can’t see much of my parents and other family members. On the other hand, it had been a long time since I had traveled that long. That has brought me one of the few positive things: spending more time with my children and my wife.
Q: The pandemic came just after the new Davis Cup format was released and Spain won the first edition, held in Madrid.
A: Yes, that first edition with the new format went quite well, but there were things that could be improved. And when there is a new thing, what it needs is continuity to make it work. This break is clearly not good for the Davis Cup.
Q: Do you think that after the pandemic tennis players will be more selective when it comes to choosing the tournaments they play and that this could negatively affect the Davis Cup?
A: I don’t think so. Upside down. They will have more desire to play tournaments after having spent a year practically without playing. What a tennis player likes is playing tournaments and competing.
Q: Do you think that the Davis Cup 2020, postponed for this November and that it will be held again in Madrid, can be played with some normality?
A: I would say yes. I am not a doctor, but the vaccines are already here and are being given. I understand that in so many months the situation will have improved. I don’t know if it will be possible to play with total normality, but I suppose that there may already be at least a little audience.
Q: Will Spain be the favorite to win?
A: Spain is always a very competitive team and is among the favorites, but obviously it changes a lot whether Rafa Nadal plays or not.
Q: And do you think Nadal will want to play this edition?
A: He always wants to play for his country. You just have to see how he played and what he did in the 2019 edition. At the least he can, he will want to play, he is always ready.