After two months out with glandular fever, the young Spanish player is back on the courts and focused on returning to her best. The world number 82 took a break from training to answer some questions for the Mutua Madrid Open’s official website, in which she talked about the last few months and analysed the future of her career.
Two months ago Lara Arruabarrena had to take a break from tennis to recover from glandular fever. The player from Tolosa has found her time out difficult, but has returned more excited than ever about getting back on top of her game. Arruabarrera won her first match back in the qualifying round of the British tournament in Eastbourne against Timea Babos, but she was not quite able to make the main draw as she lost to US player Jamie Hampton. Before her campaign at Wimbledon, the 21 year old gave an interview to the Mutua Madrid Open’s official website.
After two months without picking up a racquet, how are you feeling now?
I’m much better. I have been out for a while, but at last I have been given the all clear by the doctors and I am able to train again. Obviously I am still not one hundred per cent, but I have to start competing again in order to get my match rhythm back.
What challenges will you face when you return to the courts?
Having barely touched a racquet for a while I can’t expect too much. I have to think about getting back to my best bit by bit, at the moment it would be unreasonable to focus on bigger goals. First I am going to play at Eastbourne and then Wimbledon and then we’ll see what happens.
It was a shame not to have you at the Mutua Madrid Open this year, how was it having to watch the tournament from home?
Yes, it was a shame not to be there. I followed as much of the tournament as I could on television, but it’s not the same as being there. It is a special tournament because now it is the only women’s tournament which is played in Spain, and also my family normally go to watch me play there. More generally it has been a pity that I’ve missed these months of competition because I was playing well and I missed some important tournaments such as Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros.
Just a few months ago you had a great tournament at Indian Wells, where you reached the last sixteen after beating seeds such as Varvara Lepchenko and Roberta Vinci before bowing out to world number 2 Maria Sharapova. What are your memories of that tournament?
It was a great tournament for me. I had an amazing few days there and managed to get some great results, even more so on a surface which isn’t my favourite. I think I managed to play good tennis and square up to some players who are much higher than me in the ranking.
After losing in the qualifying stages at Wimbledon last year, this year you will be in the main draw for the first time. What are you expecting from what will be your fourth Grand Slam?
I am coming off the back of the glandular fever now and although I’ll play at Eastbourne first, I don’t expect to arrive at Wimbledon able to play one hundred per cent. But I’ll try to do my best and be competitive, play well, and if I win, great, but if I lose it’s no problem.
You form part of a very promising generation for Spanish women’s tennis together with Garbiñe Muguruza and Tita Torró. How do you see your peers and how do you all get along?
Really well. Us three get along really well and the good thing is that there is a healthy rivalry, because all three of us are more or less at the same place in the ranking, one week one of us is ahead and another it’s a different one of us. And when we see that one of us has had a great result against someone who is above us we say: ‘and why can’t the rest of us do something similar?’ Because our games are of a more or less similar standard. It’s a healthy rivalry.
The glandular fever we talked about meant you were unable to make your debut with Spain in the Fed Cup when you were already training with the team to compete in the play-off for promotion to the World Group against Ukraine. Was that hard to take?
I was really excited because it was the first time the captain had called me to play in the Fed Cup and it was really frustrating, because it is always exciting to be able to play on a team for your country. We always play individually and playing in a team is something new and I was really looking forward to it, but they let me be with them and cheer them on from the bench, which is different, but it was great.
We have seen the Fed Cup captain, Conchita Martínez, very close to the players, supporting them at tournaments such as Madrid and Roland Garros. What is your relationship with her like?
Really good actually. I think all of us players are very happy with her, because we can see that she really gets involved, she is always looking for a good atmosphere. She is very keen to follow us and to help us and I think that she is doing a great job.
A few days ago Rafael Nadal set an incredible record as he won the French Open and became the first player to win one Grand Slam eight times. What do all of Nadal’s achievements mean for Spanish tennis?
I think he is incredible. A lot of the time we are not even aware of what he’s doing, and when it’s over we will really realise and value everything he has achieved. It’s Rafa, it’s incredible how he plays and everything he is achieving.