“They are the ones who make us great, all those who follow us and support this sport. Without them we would be nothing. Everything we do we do because of and for them, so I thank them enormously for their support.”
Javi Rico and his partner Momo Gonzalez have made history together, taking the title of champions in this Marbella Challenger 2021. With only 23 and 24 years old, Javi and Momo fought during what has been one of the most intense and complicated tournaments they have played to date, reaching a very hard and disputed final, in which they gave everything to be crowned champions.
We have been fortunate to know first hand all the details about this last tournament, as well as Javi’s goals and objectives through an interview that we leave you below:
Congratulations for the recent victory in the Marbella Challenger, well deserved of course. How do you feel physically and mentally after this tournament?
Thank you very much, I feel very well and very happy. Mentally I am very reinforced from the tournament and the week we have been there, because Momo and I were playing very well on indoors, but on the outdoors… we were not so comfortable.
We have had matches with difficult couples, one of the most difficult tournaments. We have known how to suffer, almost all the matches have started against us, and we have been able to overcome. Besides, it was a tournament without a coach, since we faced rivals with the same coach, and even so, we got along well and solved the problems. That was a plus for the team.
Physically I feel better than expected. I thought I was going to be really dead, but the truth is that I feel better than I thought. In fact, we are now on our way to Madrid, and I will do a session with the physiotherapist as soon as I arrive.
You and Momo have been together as a couple for about seven months, are you comfortable with each other?
The truth is that we are very comfortable. I am very happy. He is a similar profile to the one I was playing with Coki: a very defensive and physical guy, who moves very well on the court. Besides, Momo and I are among the youngest in the competition, along with Coki and Barahona, and we have a very good relationship with them.
I was looking for something similar to Coki, and I think I have found it. Time is proving me right and we are getting very good results together.
What has been the most difficult match of this Marbella Challenger?
It’s going to sound like I don’t want to pick one, but the 1/8, semifinal and final were very tough matches. The 1/4 was a bit more controlled.
In the 1/8 we had a set and a golden ball, and the rivals were 7-6, 3-2 and serving. Besides, we were on a court where the ball came out a lot, against two rivals (Cepero and Arroyo) who play very well and very aggressively.
In the semis we were down a set, after an hour and a quarter of set against Campagnolo and Bergamini. Also, at the beginning of the second set we were mentally dead, because we thought we had deserved more: we were 3-2 and serving, 5-4 and serving and in the tie break we had three very unlucky points… It was very tough mentally, but we recovered and managed to win the match.
In the final we were equal set, and Coki and Allemandi had 30-40 to break us, and we were also mentally dead.
They have been three extremely complicated matches. I couldn’t choose just one.
Did you expect to win?
Not really, because even if you’re number one and people say “You have to win”, that’s a lie. Nowadays there are couples of a very high level, like Coello-Lamperti, Camapgnollo-Bergamini, Coki-Allemandi and many others.
It has been seen in the tournament, we could have easily lost in the first round, but we won. Right now, the way padel is, going first in a tournament doesn’t assure you anything.
Yes it’s true that you know you can win it, it would be hypocritical to say that if you’re the top couple, but mentally you can’t overtrust, because if you’re a set down in a match and you have a break point for the other player, you’re going to lose. Now everything is very difficult, and any couple can beat you.
The Las Rozas Open starts soon, how do you see yourself for this tournament?
Well, Momo and I are playing for the first time as the 8th couple in this tournament, and we have a clear idea: always win the first round, and then we’ll see what happens.
It’s clear that at this moment, going as 8th couple, you feel more weight and responsibilities, and you always try to think about the quarterfinals, but our goal is clear, to win the first round. We play against a new couple: Mati Díaz-Sanchéz Serrano, you don’t know where they are going to come from. It will be an interesting match, although difficult to prepare. We’ll try to get that one and then we’ll see, it’s all very complicated.
What are your goals right now?
On a sports level, it would be a dream to finish the year as the 8th couple. It is not our real goal, but it would be a dream and a surprise. In every tournament our goal is always the same: to try to get as many first rounds as possible and then we’ll see. Also because of our style of play it’s difficult to win all the matches, because it consists of passing a thousand balls and it’s very frantic and complicated to win all the matches like that. So that’s what we try to do, to win as many first rounds as possible.
Then on a personal level, luckily, with the sponsors I have, both with Enebe and with all the others, I’m very happy, and they allow me to live from padel. So my goal is that: to be able to continue living from what I like, which is something that not everyone can do and that makes me feel very fortunate.
And finally, to finish the interview: What would you say to all those who follow and practice this sport at amateur level?
I would tell them that they are the ones who make us great, all those who follow us and support this sport. Without them we would be nothing. Everything we do we do for them, so I thank them enormously for their support.
It is true that we are a little lower in the ranking and maybe not so many people follow us, but even so, the support is noticeable and it is very much appreciated.
Keep playing and keep watching us, because the day they leave we will be nothing, and without them we could not dedicate ourselves to what we like. We need you, padel is the people!