First-Time Winner Spotlight: Roberto Carballes Baena
Roberto Carballes Baena celebrated his maiden moment on Sunday at the Ecuador Open, clinching his first ATP World Tour title in dramatic fashion. The Spaniard won his third straight three-set clash to lift the trophy, battling to victory as a qualifier. He would defeat countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 for the Quito crown.
Carballes Baena is the third first-time winner already this year and second of the week. Daniil Medvedev prevailed on the hard courts of Sydney in January, while Mirza Basic won earlier on Sunday in Sofia.
Afterwards, Carballes Baena spoke to ATPWorldTour.com:
How does it feel to be holding your first ATP World Tour trophy?
It was an incredible week. I didn't expect this at all. Every day I got better and I'm happy to win the final today.
You are the youngest Spaniard to win an ATP title since Rafael Nadal (2011 Barcelona) and the lowest-ranked since Juan Carlos Ferrero (2009 Casablanca). How does that feel to hear your name alongside two World No. 1s?
I'm just very happy to win a title. This achievement is also special. I'm hoping to continue to do well on the ATP World Tour and that my ranking will rise.
Albert has played in six finals, including a Masters 1000. But this was your first. How did you manage your nerves?
I did the best I could. The truth is that in the second set I had many chances to break him and I couldn't get it. In the third set, he started to get tired physically and I was just stronger.
You’ve played qualifying or main draw at all four editions of Ecuador Open and posted better results each year. What about Quito suits your game?
In altitude, I always have good results. There is a little altitude in my hometown of Granada, so I am accustomed to it. I like it.
You lost to Albert in the QFs here last year, another three-set battle that lasted nearly three hours. What changed?
The difference is that this was a much more equal match. Last year, in the third set I had a chance to break and didn't take it. But this year, I stayed mentally strong and got it.
Victor Estrella Burgos finally lost in Quito on Thursday. Three days ago, did you think that you would be the man to replace him as champion?
No, I never thought I could. This has always been just a dream for me. He was one of the favourites to win it. Up until today, I didn't think it was possible.
You reached your second semi-final this week, nearly four years after the first. How hard has it been to get back to and surpass where you were at 2014 Casablanca?
The truth is that it's tough. I played a few quarter-finals, but I couldn't get past that stage. Now, I fought hard and played every match to the best of my abilities this week. I'm very happy that I won them.
You ended 2017 by playing only clay-court Challengers following Wimbledon, winning two titles. How do you think the ATP Challenger Tour prepared you for your victory today?
Every match on the Challenger Tour is tough and has prepared me well for this. It demands the best of your game and I felt it was the same this week as well.
With your run in Quito, you broke back into the Top 100, achieved a new career-high ATP Ranking and earned a special exempt into Buenos Aires. How will you do it?
I don't know if I'll have time to celebrate, because I have a flight at four in the morning. But I'm going to try to celebrate with my coach and my family.
Now that you have won your first ATP World Tour title, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
I'm going to try to raise my ATP Ranking and play more tournaments on the ATP World Tour. Just raising my level and doing my best.