Although he probably has them inside, Gonzalo Bueno does not show his nerves when he starts training with Carlos Alcaraz at the Pala Alpitour in Turin.
It happens on Saturday after 11 in the morning, just one day before the start of the Nitto ATP Finals, the final event of the season. The Peruvian, 19 years old and 378 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, is one of the sparring partners of the tournament. During the first days, Bueno has already trained with Holger Rune, Jannik Sinner, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alcaraz himself. Quite a learning experience.
“Nerves? Yes, of course,” Bueno responds to ATPTour.com with a laugh after finishing his training with the world No. 2, with his shirt sweaty from the effort. “And more nerves when you play with someone who won two Grand Slams. If I had to play with Djokovic it would be even worse…” he continues. “It’s true that you loosen up a little when you get into the rhythm and get the adrenaline going. I think he has gone quite well.”
Accompanied by his coach Pato Reynoso, the Peruvian completed 45 minutes of training with Alcaraz. During that time, both pushed themselves to the maximum, with intense blows that the Peruvian resisted perfectly, fulfilling the purpose for which he is in Turin: to prepare the best players in the world.
You might also be interested in: Alcaraz: “I expect a Carlos like the one at the beginning of the year”
“It has been incredible,” Bueno acknowledged. “The ball comes very fast when he accelerates his forehand, it’s amazing. I really wanted to train with him because when I was 14 we played in the same World Cup in Prostejov. And seeing it here now is something spectacular,” he added. “Carlos is very normal, like his entire team. In fact, I reminded him about the World Cup and we were talking about it. “He is a very good guy,” he remarked.
Beyond training with Alcaraz, the Peruvian is facing a few days of great learning that will help him face his next challenges, giving him experiences, confidence and many hours of tennis in his legs with the elite of the ATP Tour.
“It’s an incredible experience for me,” Bueno said. “I feel like I learn a lot here, and that gives me extra motivation to face the tournaments I have at the end of the year. There are very few opportunities like this, so I value it very much,” he insisted.
“Being here this week with the eight best players of the year, sharing the experience with them, having my own locker room, the restaurant… it’s something very new for me and the truth is that I’m really enjoying it.”
Bueno has recent examples of players who went to the Nitto ATP Finals in their current sparring position and ended up participating in the event later. This is the case of Rune, who performed as Bueno in London 2019 and in 2023 he makes his debut in the tournament after getting the last place and qualifying.
For now, and after the week in Turin as sparring partner, Bueno will face the final part of his 2023 season and then he will start thinking about the year 2024, for which he already has a goal marked in red.
“We have not met with the team yet, but a great dream would be to be able to compete in the Grand Slams,” confessed the Peruvian. “I am very close, and it would be a dream come true to play in the final draw of a great team. For now, I want to focus on getting into qualifying first and we’ll see what happens.”