Ramos-Vinolas: “I Haven’t Finished Yet”

In an era of all-court performers, Albert Ramos-Vinolas is proof that red dirt specialists still exist. His record of 98 victories on clay, count for the majority of his 142 match wins over his 10-season pro career.

In the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters on Sunday, Ramos-Vinolas will compete with tremendous confidence, but will be wary of the threat of fellow Spaniard and left-hander Rafael Nadal, who is bidding to capture a 10th crown at the Monte-Carlo Country Club.

The pair has met on two previous occasions at the 2013 and 2015 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, but while Nadal’s clay prowess may not be as it was, at 29 years of age Ramos-Vinolas is in the form of his life and enjoying the best week of his career.

Back-to-back Top 10 victories over World No. 1 Andy Murray and Marin Cilic this week, in addition to Saturday’s semi-final win over Lucas Pouille, will see the Spaniard break into the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time.

“I have no idea why my best level arrived being 29,” Ramos-Vinolas exclusively told ATPWorldTour.com. “I guess that it’s a matter of maturing. I had a few bad years when I was 24 and 25. After reaching World No. 38, I made decisions that were not great, then things didn’t happen the way I expected, including nutrition decisions. I would say that the last year has been when I have experienced the biggest change. I was constantly improving and improving.”

The rise of Ramos-Vinolas can be pinpointed to his run to the 2016 Roland Garros quarter-finals (l. to Wawrinka), since then he has picked up his first ATP World Tour trophy at the SkiStar Swedish Open (d. Verdasco) in July 2016, and finished as the runner-up at the Brasil Open (l. to Cuevas) two months ago.

“It’s hard to relay specific ways I have improved,” Ramos-Vinolas told ATPWorldTour.com. “I have focused on very detailed things to work on, not just tennis wise, but also physically.

“At the beginning of the year, the pre-season work didn’t pay off in Australia. The courts were very quick for me and in my case that doesn’t help. I was well prepared and leaving that early was a disappointing. In South America, everything started to come together and now everything is working better than ever.”

Quiet and unassuming, Ramos-Vinolas knows full well the test he faces on Sunday, perhaps the sport’s greatest challenge: toppling Rafael Nadal on a clay-court in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters final. How he will control his emotions, will be an important factor in the fourth all-Spanish final at the historic event.

“I look like a quiet guy, but everybody has nerves,” Ramos-Vinolas admitted. “I won’t be an exception. I’ll be nervous. What can I say about Nadal that hasn’t been said? I will try my best trying not to think that it is an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final. I will focus on just what I have to do.

“Maybe I am playing my best tennis, but then, when you are competing, you don’t realise. I focus only on each match, not the emotions. Everything is coming together; everything is clicking, but I haven’t finished.”

“It’s my first final, but Rafa is always there. Rafa is Rafa, and everybody knows him. Will I have more results like this one? I’ll try it for sure.”

“I know that I am not the favourite, but I’ll go out there and I’ll compete. The most important thing is to fight. To hang in there.”

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