Juan Manuel Cerundolo made headlines in February when he soared to his first tour-level title as a qualifier on home soil in Cordoba.
Since then, the Argentine has captured three ATP Challenger Tour trophies and is currently No. 91 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old is competing at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan this week and he caught up with ATPTour.com to speak about the 21-and-under event.
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A lot of the #NextGenATP players have been doing amazing things this year. How much does it motivate you, seeing the other young players doing well? Is there anyone in particular who has really impressed you?
I’m really motivated by being here as one of the best eight young players of the year. You look at the people who’ve played in this tournament and now a lot of them are very high in the rankings. That’s a huge motivation to keep going and it shows me that I’m on the right path.
Also, one player who’s really surprised me this year has been Carlos Alcaraz. He’s having a stunning season, his progress is incredible. And I think he’s one of the names we all mention.
When you were growing up there were Roger, Rafa and Novak, who created great rivalries. As you’re competing with other #NextGenATP players, have you thought about your budding rivalries and playing against them for many years?
That will only happen if we continue to improve and play well. I think that they will come only with time. For many players, it’s their first meeting with almost all the others. It’s going to be great. I hope the competition is healthy. I think it’s going to be very good.
Have you watched the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals before and if so, what were your thoughts?
I’ve seen it on TV and I’ve always thought it looked really fun. It’s more relaxed compared to a normal tournament, in terms of the format and the players… It’s always looked like an incredible tournament in every sense.
The Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals always has many innovations. Were there any that you particularly enjoyed and look forward to using and if so, why?
Personally, I’m more of a conservative person in that regard. I’ve always played to six games and that’s what I like. At least that’s what I’m most used to. The list of new rules is pretty long, I couldn’t list all of them.
But I like the on-court ones. For example, that the coach can talk to the player is interesting. I think it’s something that could be really good for the sport and we can do that here. I also like the idea of the bathroom rule. Sometimes those breaks get very long and I think that it’s good to have a rule on that. I feel good about these rules at this event.
When you think of Italy, what do you think of?
The food! You really do eat well here. They have very good pasta, they make great pizza. Italy is a country that cares about its cuisine. Although I don’t eat some of these things during competitions, it’s true that the food is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about Italy.
Have you ever done any sight-seeing in Italy and if so, what was your favourite place to visit?
I’ve visited some cities thanks to the Tour. I know places like Rome, Como… also Barletta, more in the south of Italy. We don’t always have time to be tourists and visit places like other people who travel to a country.
What’s your favourite Italian food?
The pasta and the pizza. My favourite is margherita pizza, simple but really good. When I’m at tournaments, I don’t eat it because I have to look after myself and follow a competition diet. But it really is wonderful being able to enjoy it from time to time.