Carlos Berlocq saw a dream 2013 cut short when he was forced to retire down 0-2 to Ivan Dodig in the first round of Basel. This foot injury, that he sustained in Shanghai, forced him to pull-out of the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000 the week after, and thus started a recovery period in which he still is, hoping to be ready in time for the ATP250 tournament of Sydney, in January.

When we caught up with him at the Club Morón, after his exhibition match with Leonardo Mayer, the World n°41 expressed his satisfaction about his recovery: “Physically I’m getting a little better every day”, said Berlocq. “I’ve been recovering from an injury I got at the end of my match against Rafa in Shanghai for two months and I’ve now been practising for two weeks. I’m starting to feel good and hope to continue this way and be well prepared for 2014.”

A dream 2013

Berlocq's daughter, Estefania, and wife, María Noel, look on during the exhibition
Berlocq’s daughter, Stefania, and wife, María Noel, look on during the exhibition

He perhaps reached  his career high ranking of 37 in March of 2012, but for Berlocq, 2013 was even better: “2013 was without a doubt the best year of my career“, he said. “It seems to me that I’ve reached goals that I never thought would come so quickly, much beyond what we were looking for. To win an ATP tournament [NDLR: Båstad] and to beat players who are among the 20 best in the world [NDLR: Philipp Kohlschreiber, Kei Nishikori, Gilles Simon, and John Isner], those are goals that you have in mind when you go to your daily practice. You train thinking about it, you have that motivation. This year, il all happened together and it was very important for me. And I’m not even mentioning what I’ve lived with the Davis Cup, to be able to reach the semifinals there. So it was a dream year, without a doubt. Hopefully 2014 can be the same or a similar season.

It is assured that 2014 will bring many a joy to Berlocq, at least off the court, as his wife, María Noel, is expecting the couple’s second child early on in the year. The couple already has a daughter, Stefania, who is now four.

Most importantly: the Davis Cup

Getting better physically is of the utmost importance for Berlocq, a physical player who has only one goal in mind: playing the Davis Cup and helping Argentina win this ever-elusive first title.

Berlocq enjoyed himself in an exhibition with Leo Mayer

A pillar of the team last season, and the hero of the tie against France, the Gladiator of Chascomús emphasised on the importance, for him, to play well in the first tournaments of the season, with the one goal in mind: being chosen on the Argentinian team. “I’m thinking about the Davis Cup”, he confided. “It seems to me that all the players who have the possibility of being [in Mar del Plata] are thinking firmly about it, beyond there being tournaments before the Davis Cup. I think that the Davis Cup is the most energy consuming, in a sense that it makes you think in this or that aspect.”

Conscious of the importance that the Davis Cup has in his country, Berlocq also stresses the importance this tournament has to him: “I think that us Argentinians give a lot of importance to the Davis Cup”, he admitted. “In my case, it’s that way: I go practise and work out in the gym and I’m thinking more of being well prepared and get to the tournaments prior to the Davis Cup in good shape so that the captains take me into consideration and that I’d be part of the team against Italy. Hopefully it’ll be that way because I think that being in every tie is very important for every player.”

In this way, Berlocq embodies well what it means for many a player to take part in this tournament, and try and get his country to the highest stages.

Could a country ask for more from their players?