Exclusive Q&A with Oscar Hernandez
August 22, 2011 · Print This Article
Forced to quit the game he began playing at the age of three because of a debilitating back injury, Spaniard Oscar Hernandez bid a sad farewell to the ATP World Tour at the end of July. Reaching a career high of No. 48 in the world, Hernandez used his consistent back-court game to defeat the likes of Robin Soderling, David Ferrer, Lleyton Hewitt and Mardy Fish throughout his 13 year career.
Joined by Spanish Davis Cup Captain Albert Costa and touring pro Tommy Robredo during his retirement speech, Hernandez will now set his sights on helping Spanish juniors develop their skills.
In the following interview, Hernandez recalls his fondest memories of competing on Tour, as well as his thoughts on the future of the sport within Spain.
Q) At what point did you decide that a successful comeback to the circuit wouldn’t be impossible?
A) Well, I realized that my comeback would be impossible when I made the tests to find out how the shoulder was doing after a long layoff. My doctor said that it had not improved and that it was not going to improve. At that moment I told myself I’d better stop training before I have a chronic injury for the rest of my life.
I sat down and thought a lot about my health and the quality of my life in the future.
Q) What career victory would you hold higher than any other during your playing days?
A) There is not really a special match, but the most important wins were always those when you played at home at the Barcelona tournament. Those are the
matches I have the best memories of because there I was surrounded by my people and my public.
Q) If you could change one result throughout your career to fall in your favor, which one would it be?
A) Without any doubt I would change the result of my back surgery. If the outcome had been different, I would not be retired now and I would have kept competing because that was what I loved most.
Q) What was your favorite event to play on the circuit?
A) For sure the tournament in Barcelona is very special, but for a clay player, Paris remains the most important.
Q) Who aided you the most throughout your development as a player?
A) My father has always been the most important person for my tennis. He has been a friend, my mentor and my number one fan. From the technical side,
Marcos Roy and Ignasi Verdonces have been my mentors.
Q) How do you assess the future of Spanish tennis? Can the fans of the Tour look forward to more champions like Rafael Nadal?
A) In my opinion, I don’t see many new young promising players from our country. Hopefully I am wrong but I find it very difficult if not impossible that another Rafa Nadal may rise.
Q) Who was the most difficult opponent you faced on any surface?
A) Nadal has for sure been and still is a player that when you were facing him you felt that it was impossible to win.
Q) What single piece of advice would you provide to upcoming professionals to aid them in becoming successful Tour players?
A) I would recommend to them that they give everything in each training [session] and each match. It is very difficult to be a top player, therefore if you want to have a chance you need to leave it all on the practice court.
Q) Where will you place your attention now that you have retired from the sport?
A) I have already started to work with Marcos Roy in his tennis academy. I want to try to pass my experience to the younger players. I deeply love tennis and I want to keep being apart of it. Also, I will focus on my wife Rachel (we were married on August 20th) and spend with her all the time that I could not spend with her when I was on the tour.
Q) If you could disclose the funniest moment of when you were competing, what would it be?
A) Two funny things that happened to me were both with Carlos Bernardes as [the] umpire. The first one was at the US Open against [Sebastien] Grosjean. I was losing 6-2, 6-1 and 1-0 when on the changeover Bernardes said “Grosjean leads 1-0, final set.” I went up to him and told him that it was clear that it was going to be the last set because Grosjean was killing me, but that theoretically there could also be two more sets.
The second one was in the last tournament of a long South American tour. I was really tired from all the traveling and all the matches. I was losing very easily when I decided it was too much and I retired, telling Carlos I couldn’t go on. Carlos ended the match saying “Oscar Hernandez retires from mental fatigue.”