For Sebastian Baez every achievement, every step forward, always had a double merit. He grew up, reached the top of the world as a junior, enriched his career and, both last year and this year, generated a substantial leap in quality. the previous season fought against an entire system to finish, finally, located among the hundred best in the world. Fought ranking freezea measure that was born to “protect” those at the top from the outbreak of the pandemic, and also rowed against the lack of opportunities.
Strong piece of the new great litter of Argentine tennis players, received no wild cards all season for ATP-level tournamentsnot even in those of your country, which they did decide to privilege some foreign players. No organizer “supported” him to occupy the place that he enjoys today while he does not stop growing.
This Friday he took another step forwardwith confidence on the rise and the push of a week with a thousand positive edges. He defeated Richard Gasquet, the experienced Frenchman who was number 7 in the world in 2007 and that he finished four seasons among the top ten, to settle in the semifinals of the ATP 250 in Estoril, in Portugal, a victory that already has an extra prize: from next Monday Báez will be placed, for the first time, in the top 50 of the ranking world (it will be 48º).
“I knew it was going to be a tough game. Gasquet is a player with many achievements on tour, he has a lot of experiencebut as the match progressed I began to feel better. I understood a bit how to play and I found my game in a very complicated match”Baez analyzed.
In relation to the numerical achievement in the ranking He reflected: “With my coach we never set ourselves ranking goals, but at one point you have to propose something to achieve. One of the things we wanted was to be top 50; now in the next conversation we will set another objective”.
The victory against Gasquet responds to a string of victories in a revitalizing tournament in emotional terms. Báez found a catapult in Estoril to relaunch himself and, after a few weeks without triumphs, successively eliminated Joao Sousa (83rd), number one from Portugal; a Marin Cilic, former 3rd in the world and Grand Slam and Davis Cup champion; and now to Gasquet, one of the players with the longest journey elite in the last decade and a half.
This Saturday -from 11- will seek the pass to his second ATP caliber final against the Spanish Albert Ramos Viñolascurrent 31st in the world and defender of the title, who comes from eliminate his compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2. The match for the semifinals will have a peculiarity: Ramos is the rival that Báez beat to access his only ATP final in the Santiago de Chile tournamentlast February, when he lost in the last match against Pedro Martínez.
In this first season installed in the major circuit of the ATP, Báez and his coach Sebastián Gutiérrez pay special attention to the emotional aspect to stimulate the confidence of the player, so that he believes it and trusts more and more in his conditions. This week in Estoril a message emerged in this regard: “Why not me? (Why not me?)”signed Báez in the chamber after his three victories, on Tuesday against Sousa, on Thursday against Cilic and now against Gasquet. The hook became a fixed one.
Days ago Gutiérrez warned that the American Frances Tiafoecurrent 29th in the world, wears a bracelet with the same legend and told Báez: “You have to tattoo it”. The phrase came with force in the player-coach tandem and both took it as an incentive to feed the illusion. Gutiérrez develops a way of working that caused a bond with Báez since his junior years: the coach was one of the key gears of the Development department of the Argentine Tennis Association during the 2014-2018 administration, in charge of Daniel Orsanicwhom he also accompanied the historic conquest of the Davis Cup in 2016.
The Gutiérrez method has a strong relationship with that project that sports of the old management of the AAT, headed by Orsanic, a stage that printed the values that Báez maintains today, along with his coach, at the beginning of a long journey through the ATP tournaments. The route was winding, with freezing and without wild cards, so the prize has double value. Portugal emerges as a new stop. And the trigger was captured in the camera: Why not Baez in Estoril?
Estoril, Del Potro and Baez
Those glorious years of the Davis Cup team generated a friendship between Gutiérrez and Juan Martín Del Potroa fundamental part of the gear that would culminate in the first world title in the history of Argentine tennis.
That is why Sebastián Báez knew how to share training and even receives advice from the former number three in the world, who has his own bond with Estoril, where he was champion in the 2011 and 2012 editions.
That relationship is enriching and, although Del Potro is a mirror, Báez intends to make his own way: “Juan Martín has a great relationship with my coach. He is in constant communication. Having such a player around is always a motivation. Whenever we train he tries to give me some advice and tells me how he sees me. She achieved many great things in tennis; beyond what he can tell me or talk to my coach, for me he is a reference. But he made his career and I want to make mine.”