Francisco Cabral reached 80th place in the ATP doubles ‘ranking’, after winning the Estoril Open in tennis with Nuno Borges, but his dream goes through the ‘top 10’ in the world and the Wimbledon grass.
The young Porto native and Nuno Borges, both born in 1997, made history at Clube de Ténis do Estoril, by becoming the first national duo to win the ATP circuit tournament, after having won eight ‘challenger’ titles together in the last 12 months, which opens up exciting prospects for the best Portuguese player today in the doubles variant.
“As I’m climbing so fast, the dream also starts to get bigger. I’m aware that I have a lot to learn, but I’m very close to playing my first ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments. I’m 80 from the world, but I don’t want to put any limits. We won at the Estoril Open ‘Grand Slam’ winners, ‘top 20’ players and I want to explore myself, but the dream is to be ‘top 10’, ‘top 5’ who knows? I believe in myself”, confessed Cabral, from the height of his 1.90 meters and with a smile on his lips, to the Lusa agency.
Francisco Cabral, a natural left-hander, but who plays tennis with his right hand – in the opposite direction to Rafael Nadal, a right-handed who, on ‘court’, is left-handed -, is not afraid of the meteoric rise, “zero”, as he emphasizes , because he guarantees: “I was and am prepared. It doesn’t scare me in the least.”
So much so that he already sees the possibility of debuting in ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments and soon in his favorite, Wimbledon, “the home of Roger Federer”, his favorite player, although his reference is the North American Jack Sock , who, “not being a player of pairs, when he plays, he wins”.
“Wimbledon is my dream tournament. I’m close, I see Wimbledon close, but I won’t be dazzled, I have to keep working, keep the level, the good attitude and be available. If I’m available and with a good attitude, I’ll win games and, if I win games, I’ll enter Wimbledon”, predicts the Porto tennis player, who hit his first balls at the age of four, influenced by his father, and, between the ages of nine and 10 years old, he gave up swimming to dedicate himself to tennis.
Despite holding nine ‘challenger’ titles in his history, the last one won in the company of Polish Szymon Walkow, in Prague, on the Estoril Open ‘qualifying’ weekend, is with Nuno Borges, a friend since he was 10/ 11 years old, who has built a career with consistent results, which feed his ambitions.
“When we started, we didn’t think about playing doubles, because the objective was to try our individual career. But since September of last year, I opted for pairs. I believed and continue to believe a lot in my potential and in our potential as a duo. I was not expecting [deste sucesso]but I was prepared for it to happen, because I think we have potential”, justifies the former Sport Club do Porto player, who, from 19 to 22 years old, was at the Centro de Alto Rendimento (CAR), before training at the School of Maia Tennis, with Nuno Borges and coach João Maio.
The partnership between the two started sporadically about six years ago, when the maiato had a month of vacation from ‘College’ and came to Portugal, where they played some ‘futures’, but friendship and empathy came from a detection of under-10 talents in Espinho, as Borges recalled during the Estoril Open.
Thanks to a ‘wild card’ for the Oeiras Open 2, in April 2021, they won their first ‘challenger’, and since then there have been seven more, before debuting on the ATP circuit with the trophy.
“My theory is that if there is a complicity outside tennis, a friendship, common interests, it ends up helping on the court. We are not that similar, in fact we are quite different, but I am already very used to living with him and he with me, we know each other’s routines, we respect each other and, inside, this ends up being reflected. I know what he needs when he’s getting a little more nervous, when I’m the one who gets nervous he also understands and it all helps”, says Cabral, acknowledging that it is “difficult to find in other partners” what he has with Nuno Borges.
Despite the good understanding and solid friendship, as well as the “effort to play together”, since Borges is also investing in a singles career, Francisco Cabral guarantees that he is not totally dependent on his friend.
“This year we haven’t played every week together, because at the beginning of the year the tournaments are tougher, there’s also pre-season and he’s more tired. I looked for other partners, because I really want to bet on pairs and I won’t be 100% dependent on Nuno, but he ends up being my priority, he knows. But when he can’t, or doesn’t want to play, he’s also open to telling me”, advances the tennis player who currently trains in the company of Pedro Sousa and Gonçalo Falcão, at CIF, and sometimes at CAR.
Francisco Cabral, unlike Borges, ‘abdicated’ the dream of a professional career in singles, something that “cost him a lot”, because he feels he has not “explored to the limit” this possibility, but he does not regret his choices and even of having left plan B behind, despite having managed, as the parents wished, to “finish school with a good average” (17) in order to have a second option.
“At the stage I’m in, I don’t have a plan B and I’m very comfortable with it, my parents too and they support me 100%. A year and a half ago I got into my head that, if I think a lot about plan B, I’m not 100% focused on plan A, so I chose this plan and I’m going to focus on it 200%”, he underlines with the determination in his eyes that the characterizes himself, describing himself as an “intelligent pairs player, with good anticipation and good instinct”.
In addition to the “good attitude, very positive and always pushing up” the pair, Cabral is confident that “in the long term, wanting to win games”, as he hopes will happen at the Prague Open, where he aims to win another title for, “maybe not think about ‘challengers’ anymore and play only ATP tournaments”.
Source: Futebol 365 – Notícias by www.futebol365.pt.
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