Guido Pella is playing the best tennis of his life. The 28-year-old, who became a first-time ATP Tour champion at Sao Paulo in March, is into the quarter-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the first time.
But the lefty knows that his next test at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will arguably be one of the toughest he has ever faced, as he gets set to play 11-time champion Rafael Nadal.
“He’s one of the legends of tennis,” Pella told ATP Tennis Radio. “He’s a very special player and to play against him in any tournament is a very special feeling. But I think here in Monte-Carlo, centre court is going to be an amazing atmosphere. Of course the crowd is going to be behind him because he’s the favourite.”
It won’t be the first time Pella has stood across the court from the second seed, having done so at Indian Wells two years ago and Roland Garros last season. In order, Nadal has won their five FedEx ATP Head2Head sets 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. The Spaniard has won 23 consecutive sets on Court Rainier III in Monaco, without any of those sets getting extended past 6-4.
“I need to do the perfect match to have a chance,” Pella said. “I hope to keep playing like this because I am feeling very good, I am feeling very confident in my game. If I play like this, maybe I will have a chance.”
Listen To ATP Tennis Radio's Interview With Pella:
Pella suffered what could have been a major mental setback in February. After losing his first three ATP Tour, finals, the Argentine led Juan Ignacio Londero by a set and a break in the Cordoba championship, closing in on a breakthrough.
But Pella could not hold on, finishing runner-up once more. In March, Pella bounced back by triumphing in Sao Paulo.
“It was karma for sure. I lost four finals and in those finals I didn’t play bad, but the fourth final in Cordoba was the worst final for me because I was playing really good. In that match, I couldn’t close it. I was a set up, break up, and well, that’s tennis. These things happen,” Pella said. “In Sao Paulo I did a very good job, a very good tournament overall and I deserved the win. After that I think a new career for me was born. So I’m really enjoying the moment.”
It’s been a magical ride over the past year or so for Pella. Marin Cilic won the first two sets of their match at Wimbledon 6-3, 6-1, before rain suspended play during the third set. The next day, Pella found his best level to oust the Croat, and he hasn’t looked back since. Pella also beat Cilic this week in Monte-Carlo.
“Last year I was playing really good but maybe I didn’t get the results that I wanted. But I think for the past year, year and a half, I’ve been playing really good,” Pella said. “This year is the best with the results, to win a tournament in Sao Paulo, another final in Cordoba, I’m very happy to be here in the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo. Playing like this, it’s not easy, so I’m very happy.”
Pella is projected to crack the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday. But he’s not worrying about that at the moment. He’s fully focused on Nadal.
“I want more. I don’t know where I can go. But I keep playing, I keep winning matches, so let’s see,” Pella said. “For now I’m really happy, I’m really enjoying the Tour right now because I’m winning, so it’s a lot easier that way. But I just want to focus because I have a very tough match and I will try to do the best job that I can.”