Pablo Andujar will play Roger Federer for the first time on Tuesday at the Gonet Geneva Open. Before the match, the Spaniard spoke to ATPTour.com about his life on the road on the ATP Tour.
What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
My mobile phone and my wallet. I always try to have a book with me. Actually my wife [gave] my parents the idea to buy me an iPad, to work a little bit on the iPad and watch some films. I recently read a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz. I like a typical novel [to help me] to [not] think so much about tennis and try to open a little bit my mind.
Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
I enjoy more right now than before. I think I try to enjoy life a little bit more than I used to and it’s true that I miss my family so much. When you have kids, it’s a little bit more difficult on your mind and on your feelings to get away from them. But I think once I am here and I am in another place I try to enjoy it, to know a little bit about the history of that place, all the traditional things about that place, about that country, about that city. [During normal times] I try to visit and to make some tourist stops, which I didn’t do 10 years ago.
What factors into your decision to bring your child/children to a tournament and how may that change your routine?
Right now that’s not the better option, not only because of the pandemic, but I would say the fact that I have three children and they are very, very small. The oldest is three and a half. They are not independent at all and even if we bring somebody with us to help my wife, I think it’s really difficult to travel with kids at those ages. Maybe they come to the Spanish tournaments and that’s something closer to home that makes it a little bit easier. Travelling and getting a flight is even more difficult in these days.
Do you have a routine to stay in touch with them as much as possible?
I use FaceTime or WhatsApp or those kinds of things. They have helped a lot the life of parents travelling for sure. I try to phone them at least once a day. The two older kids are going to the school already, so they get back at five in the afternoon. I try to phone them to ask them about their day. They are too small, sometimes they don’t want to speak to Dad, but I accept that and at least watching them and of course speaking to my wife, telling me about their day, that’s my routine.
Does that motivate you when you talk to them?
Totally. It gives me a lot of positive energy when sometimes I can be down. I have to say that since they were born, my number one priority is not tennis anymore, it’s them. Even if I lose a match — and of course I lose a lot of them — the feeling of losing a match is not anymore what it was. There’s no drama, because I know I have them and I’m going back home and I’ll be with them. That’s the best win of my whole life for sure. Speaking to them after a defeat 100 per cent helps me a lot.
You speak Spanish, Valencian, English, French and Italian. How much does that help you on the road?
I’ve been travelling since such a young age, so I improved the languages just trying and making a lot of mistakes with them. That’s why I speak them and I try to read sometimes as well in French, Italian in English, trying to watch some films in those languages. Now I think I’m pretty fluent in them.
Sometimes we spend a lot of time in the airports and sometimes you don’t know why, but there are some issues going on and for example, I remember once being in the Paris airport. I think it was something about changing my flight. The woman there was telling me ‘no you cannot’. Then I started speaking in French and the level went down a little bit and it was easier for me. But I try not to use them in difficult situations. I only try because I like to speak other languages and I think it’s better for the person that I’m speaking to see that I’m trying.
What is your craziest travel story?
Once I went to a tournament in Paris (Bercy) and then I had to play with my coach’s racquet. I normally travel with my racquet bag, but the woman at the flight didn’t allow me to [carry it on], so I had to check it in. They lost the racquets and the next day I had to play qualifying, I had two racquets from my coach. I just had to play with them. It was not a big drama but for a tennis player, not playing with your racquet is a big issue. I don’t know if I would have won, but for sure I would have played better.
Can you talk about a time you decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?
When I had my problem with my elbow, I didn’t know how much time I was going to [be able to] play tennis. When I came back, I tried to visit those tournaments with my family as well. For example, all the Australian swing I told my wife and my first kid at the time, ‘Bring him, you come and you see a little bit how the Australian swing and all those tournaments are.’ I also visited the Vienna tournament once and I told them it was a very nice city.
What is your favourite tournament city to visit and why?
I would say Buenos Aires. [I have] so many Argentine friends and it’s a city very similar to Spain, but in a way it’s a mixture of cultures. [There are] not only the Spaniards, but the Italians, lots of European people that came to [Buenos Aires] and I like the city as well. When we go there it’s the summer, so there are a lot of people around the streets and that atmosphere. I like it. We speak the same language, so that’s easier for us Spainiards. Of course I love Barcelona and Madrid, but that’s more because I’m used to them.