When Pedro Martinez walks onto the court inside Stadium 1 on Sunday evening in Indian Wells, he will take everything in. The Spaniard remembers watching Rafael Nadal, Carlos Moya, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Costa and David Ferrer among others on television when he was a boy.
“I saw all these players playing in the biggest stadiums,” Martinez told ATPTour.com. “I just wanted to be like them.”
“These are the matches you want to play,” Martinez said. “You want to play against the best players in the world on the biggest courts in every tournament. It is what I train and play for.”
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When Martinez was growing up, he lived next to the Club de Tenis Alzira, making his affinity for tennis natural. It was love at first sight between Martinez and the sport.
“I was loving every moment and step of my career trying to enjoy it,” Martinez said. “It was super fast but every year I was playing better tennis and improving, so that was the most important thing.”
One thing Martinez did not lack was national idols. Three Spaniards — Nadal, Moya and Ferrero — have climbed to World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Now World No. 61 Martinez, who made his first ATP Tour final this year in Kitzbuhel, is the seventh-ranked player in his country.
“We were lucky because we saw all these guys play in front of us, which gave us confidence and that inspired us to believe that was possible for the right to play professionally. There are very big players now,” Martinez said. “[Roberto] Bautista Agut, [Pablo] Carreno Busta and [Carlos] Alcaraz is going to be one of the top guys for sure. It is good for the kids that there are a lot of players coming and I hope we have more in the future.”
Martinez speaks four languages — Spanish, Catalan, English and Italian — and also understands French from studying it in school. Overall, he is a relaxed guy who cherishes time with family and friends, and enjoys watching Real Madrid.
“I like to be with my dogs at home. I like to watch football. I like to go out with my friends,” Martinez said. “I like to spend time with my family, which is so important because we travel a lot.”
Martinez’s love of animals is fitting, as he spent last week practising at the home of Roberto Bautista Agut, who owns several horses among other animals.
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Competing in the United States, some fans will see Martinez’s name and think of another Pedro Martinez — the legendary Major League Baseball pitcher. But according to the tennis player, he is not even the second most famous athlete bearing his name, pointing to former Formula One driver Pedro Martinez de la Rosa.
“He was more famous than me, so maybe I am the third one,” Martinez said, cracking a laugh. “The Latin players were asking me about Pedro Martinez the baseball player. I think it is common, we have a lot of Pedro Martinez’s in Spain. I saw that the baseball player was a legend and he is from the Dominican Republic.”
Martinez will hope to raise his profile even more when he faces Tsitsipas, who defeated him in straight sets earlier this year at Roland Garros.
“He has a really good forehand. His first serve is really strong. He is going well into the court if you give him the time and he is so big, so he covers the court very well,” Martinez said. “I will have to play my game. I know more or less how I have to play. Maybe it will work, maybe not, but I have an idea and I am going to go for it.”
Although it is difficult for anyone on the ATP Tour to beat Tsitsipas, Martinez has one thing under control: his fighting spirit. That is what he wants fans to take away from the match.
“I want them to see how I suffer and to beat me, he has to hit four of five good shots to win a point,” Martinez said. “I don’t want to make mistakes, I want to play my game on a high level and give it my all the whole match.”