Carlos Berlocq, from the unforgettable “Hulk” of the Davis Cup to the passionate coach who only thinks about tennis

Carlos Berlocq, from the unforgettable “Hulk” of the Davis Cup to the passionate coach who only thinks about tennis

“How crazy,” he says about the dipteran invasion that afflicts the AMBA and surrounding areas, even as far as La Plata. But the focus is elsewhere, on tennis, on the next player he must train and on his next trip. Intensity, they say. And those who say it are his own pupils, as they once were. Tomas Etcheverry and Juan Ignacio Lónderoor as is now happening with Coria and Camilo Ugo Carabellian excellent match against Carlos Alcaraz In the cathedral.

“I am demanding, I look for that limit”Berlocq, born in Chascomús in February 1983 and retired in 2019 after two ATP titles in Bastad (2013) and Oeiras (2014), 19 in the Challenger category – he is Argentina’s top historical winner – and the Davis cup 2016, in which he played in the first series against Poland.

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Victory relativizes it; defeat moves him. He assures that the athlete is already behind him and that now “I enjoy it from another place although with the adrenaline of before.” The matches at the Palermo club were proof of his histrionics and effusiveness. But then, outside of the competition, he becomes relentless: “In training I look for quantity but also a certain quality, because today they don’t want to spend so much time on the court, so they have to maintain 110% focus”, tells this medium about his method. It seems that his image as a racket titan is still intact.

Journalist: Do vibrant days like those of the Argentina Open make you get bitten by the competition bug?

Carlos Berlocq: No, it was left behind. Now I live it differently, enjoying it from another place. Each one has their own personality and in my case I continue to live it with a lot of adrenaline. I learn every day to better manage some emotions so as not to wear myself out so much, because I live it very high and sometimes I feel that I am very tired after a tournament. On the one hand I like to do it this way, I like that the player feels that commitment from me, but I also have to take care of my health a little.

Q: How much of the ‘Charly’ player remains in the coach?

CB: Many believe that because of my personality I want the person I coach to be a Berlocq, and it would be a very big mistake of mine for me to have that goal, but on the other hand I feel that as a player I was very professional, very passionate about tennis and that essence no one he’s going to remove it. In some ways coach ‘Charly’ has a big part of that. I don’t compare my player to me, but to the best in the world. I was always curious, I ask, I want to see different experiences or thoughts. They often confess to me: “When things went well for me is when I committed myself to the day-to-day life, when I was a professional, when I gave up if things didn’t work out for me.” That is my way of working, that the player is as professional as possible and with good habits, because I am also very interested in things off the court.

“I prefer to be treated as annoying than to be told that I am relaxed”, he is sincere – an aspect that according to him he does not negotiate, because the truth comes first. The former number 37 on the planet was always classified as a player marked by dedication. Hard, prolonged training, demanding of oneself. During his time as a coach those concepts did not change. It is no coincidence that today his tennis players also define him as a person who demands certain things, with order and who asks for the best from the player. Many directly appeal to the nickname “intense.”

“Yes, yes hahaha… Who said it? Ha ha”the “Gladiator” laughs in a tone of acceptance, although he has his own version of the case: “I am very passionate, I think about the player 24 hours a day, that’s why I am intense. But in the long run the athlete thanks you for that demand, because otherwise they relax.”.

A button is enough for proof, the saying goes. In 2021, Etcheverry achieved his first ATP victory in Córdoba. When he defeated the Slovakian Andrej Martin, the current 27th in the world, overwhelmed by immense joy, he ejected to greet his coach and celebrate the milestone together. But he didn’t find it. It turned out that Berlocq… had run to another court to watch the duel between Lóndero and the Spaniard Albert Ramos, who was the winner.

Q: In some way it’s like your pupil sees that you are intense because you are committed?

CB: Yes, I get involved a lot, on and off the court. Obviously there is a very fine line between not overwhelming them or letting them rest, and then there are different personalities. For some, if you leave them alone, the truth is that they do not perform, and you tell them: “You tell me that I am demanding, but if I leave you a little alone, you fail here, you fail there. I leave you alone but don’t fail me because in some way you are harming me too.” So in that sense we have to be a team. It’s nice, you have to work a lot and you have to have a lot of patience.

Q.: Just as in soccer you look for a certain coach depending on your style, does the same thing happen in tennis or does the coach adapt to the player’s style?

CB: I think it’s a mix, but I’m not going to negotiate much with my style, because otherwise I won’t enjoy it. If I have to adapt a lot to the tennis player, it means that I am not doing my job, and for that he would have to look for a coach who has more of that style. Yes, with some I adapt much more than with others. I’ve had players who really did everything I believed in and they responded to me; and there are others that I have to adapt to because that requirement does not serve them well. In general, I am demanding and I look for that limit. Then the ages also depend. I like to prepare the player to be among the best in the world, like the truly good ones prepare, but it is not achieved overnight, it is a daily construction and must be maintained over time.

The train crosses Olleros Street several meters high and the traffic is deafening in a clear sign that the vacation is coming to an end. In the background, some rallies can be heard. Berlocq keeps his bag and racket bag close to him. He lives for tennis, that sport that has changed so much from his time on the ATP Tour. Especially long races.

“Today they are more aware of the importance of being professionals, rest, work, prevention, weight. They are much more professional than before”, he argues. From the necessary implements, to techniques and food, they have mutated in the last 20 years. He recognizes that some habits were once assumed to be kind and today are little more than a calamity: “I thought eating cereals was perfect, now there are certain cereals that are wrong. Milk, yogurt… I drank a liter of yogurt every day and I felt like I was doing things very well. Now, in theory, lactose is very bad”.

“Tennis is not easy because it is very demanding, it changes the surface, it is played faster and more intense, which also makes it shorter. Now they are 38 years old and winning titles, so the younger player sees that and is encouraged. Before it was a maximum of 30 years. I remember that at 22, 23 years old I told my wife: ‘If I continue playing until I’m 30, it’s because I’m sick,’ and I played until I was 36.”analyzes Chascomús’s work on modernity.

Q: Do you think modern tennis is a mix of unprecedented power and precision?

CB: It is being played at a speed and intensity much higher than it was before. Today it is all intensity, aggressiveness and maintaining it; You go down a little and they pass you over. And you absolutely need precision, because otherwise there are errors and you don’t generate spaces. Everything is very fine, it is very even. Then there is the physical and mental issue, how you maintain it over time in a game.

Q.: What do you remember about that match with Rafael Nadal in the semis of the Argentina Open 2015 when you had him against the ropes?

CB: I always remember all the points. He was 6-1 in the tiebreak. It was a nice chance to win a first set. Then we had to see what happened. But the truth is that he was a player who encouraged me. I entered the field and felt like I could beat those players. I remember that it was 6-1, I made a return that I thought had touched the line, I said let’s go and Rafa said no, otherwise it would have been my point; After a couple of points he played very well. In the second set I was up a break and lost it. Very nice memory of playing a semi-final here with a full stadium against Nadal. I also have another match with Nishikori (NdR: in the 2017 edition) that I lost 6-3 in the third, a semifinal, it would have been nice to go to the final.

But for “Charly”, the most important thing was not linked to games or results, but to a more important fact: “I am left with the experiences, with traveling with my wife, who helped me a lot throughout my career, and my children, or that because of tennis I took my parents to Europe”. Nor does it eat away at what he did not achieve because “I always said that the most important victory was beating my head. From 18 to 22 I got very nervous, I had a bad time, I suffered a lot when I lost. Little by little it improved and I feel that it was the best I achieved in my career”.

“I was Top 100 for 10 years, I played tournaments, the Davis Cup,” he philosophizes. Precisely, the Salad Bowl is in her house, but more than staring at it blankly, she is proud of “that my children see that her father has it there.” The team tournament has some of the episodes most remembered by Berlocq, such as when he defined the fifth point against Gilles Simon in the series with France for the 2013 quarterfinals, the day he burst his shirt and transformed into the Hulk. But that is past history. Now is the time to train and try to bring out the best version of his team. “Charly” doesn’t stop.

Source: Ambito

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