Leonardo Mayer is a happy man, and it is visible. After many years of struggle because of the injuries, the 27-year-old has made a tremendous climb in the ATP World Tour rankings last season, entering the top 30 for the first time and reaching a career high of number 25 in the world last September. Currently ranked at number 29, the native of Corrientes, who led the team to an emotional playoff win against Israel last September, is at his second Davis Cup tie as the best-ranked player of Argentina.

– By Caroline Paquin and Diego Amuy

And he finally feels serene on the court.

“It was very good because I’ve been many years suffering from injuries and this kept me from playing complete seasons”, said Mayer to BATennis World about his impressive 2014. “I think that in the last two years I’ve been training all the time. And this enabled me to improve in every aspect: being able to play with more calm, not being rushed by the ranking, not being rushed by anything. I could also spend more time on court, and had much more hours of match, something very important.”

Last October, he also realised a dream: playing against his idol, Roger Federer. And not only did he play at the World number two’s level during this Shanghai Masters second-round encounter, he also came within millimetres of defeating him, having had no less than five match points.

In the end, this dream match became an extremely difficult loss for Mayer, one with which he has long since made peace.

“Obviously, on the day itself, there, I felt like breaking everything in the club”, he told us with a smile during yesterday’s Davis Cup pre-tie press meeting. “But you can’t break everything in the club, so… [He smiles] Afterwards it becomes an anecdote. It was a match I’ve been waiting to play for the longest time and I played it really well, which is the most important for me because it was very difficult to play against someone I’ve been admiring so much. And I was able to do it.”

Healthy and at peace on court, Leonardo Mayer is now ready to try and lead Argentina to a first-round Davis Cup win against Brazil, this weekend on the clay of the Tecnópolis, in Buenos Aires.