Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas has already spent almost 12 hours on court at Roland-Garros, despite only playing three matches so far.
The world No 94 won his third consecutive five set match on day six of Roland-Garros, claiming the biggest win of his career by defeating No 13 seed Hubert Hurkacz. The three hour, 51 minute match was a gruelling, physical affair, with the men trading sets until Varillas got the better of Hurkacz 6-2 in the decider.
With so much tennis already under his belt, how has the 27-year-old managed to keep performing at Roland-Garros?
“I wanted to win in three sets”
Juan Pablo Varillas
Juan Pablo Varillas confessed after his win over Hubert Hurkacz that things didn’t exactly go to plan against the big-serving Pole.
“To be honest, I wanted to win in three sets,” explained Varillas.
However, when it became clear that the match was going to become an arm-wrestle, Varillas simply dug in and played to his strengths. Despite having contested two five set matches already, Varillas recognised that a long match would be an advantage for him.
“He (Hurkacz) played two 5-set matches before, so I knew that maybe playing long points, doing more clay match would maybe physically he wouldn’t be able to perform the way he does always.”
“When I knew that he was with maybe some physical issues because he played, like, five hours in the first match,” Varillas said, “(I thought) maybe doing a long match would benefit me more than him. So at the end I think in the fifth set when I had the opportunities, I was maybe more capable of running more and defending more than him.
Varillas paving the way for Peruvian professional tennis
This year marks 20 years since Louis Horna defeated Roger Federer at Roland-Garros. Between then and now, there has not been much for Peruvian tennis to celebrate, with the sport struggling professionally in the region.
However, Juan Pablo Varillas hopes to change that, and his recent results at Roland-Garros will certainly help his case.
“I think it’s a great, great thing for my country. There’s not so many pro tennis players. Being a professional tennis player is not an option maybe at home.
“So I think to be an example for the kids that we can do this type of thing, we can play these type of events. If we work, if we keep disciplined, I think with consistency and believing in ourselves, doing it professionally I think for sure it’s possible.
“I think this will be like a good push for the kids to keep going for their dream of being maybe a pro tennis player and for also the parents that don’t pressure maybe the kids to go to college or something like this.”
Next up, it doesn’t get any easier for Varillas. With 15 sets of tennis in his legs already, the world No 94 will now play 22-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic in the round of 16.
Win here, and he’ll certainly get the attention of some prospective tennis players back home.