Bernabe Zapata Miralles' journey through the tennis ranks has been marked by gradual progress rather than meteoric rises. Notably absent from the upper echelons of the ITF Junior Rankings, the Spaniard's junior campaign saw him compete in just one major tournament, the 2015 US Open.
Reflecting on that pivotal moment, Zapata Miralles recalled his nerves during the event. "I remember playing the first round and winning, but I was so nervous," he shared with ATPTour.com. Amidst the reminiscence, he found camaraderie with fellow Spanish players, engaging in practice sessions with the likes of Feliciano Lopez and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
The latter's match against Tomas Berdych left an indelible mark on his memory. Amid the iconic backdrop of Arthur Ashe Stadium, a young Zapata Miralles had a rare glimpse into the world of the pros, stepping into their locker room.
Among the luminaries he spotted was none other than Novak Djokovic, a name that would loom large in his future.
Facing Djokovic: Zapata's Fearless Challenge
This week, a new chapter will be penned in Zapata Miralles' tennis narrative, as he takes on the formidable Novak Djokovic.
Contemplating the match, he exhibited a mix of determination and composure: "I don't have anything to lose if I play against Novak, of course. I'll focus on the match and give it my best to create some chances. But I'm not overwhelmed by nerves." While Djokovic's achievements are awe-inspiring, Zapata Miralles comes into the contest bolstered by facing five Top 10 opponents this season.
Close battles with Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev have fortified his belief in his ability to contend with elite players. However, he acknowledged the uniqueness of facing Djokovic on hard courts. "I've had good matches against Rublev and Daniil on clay, but this is different," he conceded.
With his first tour-level hard court victory this season against reigning NCAA men's singles champion Ethan Quinn, Zapata Miralles seeks to replicate his standout form on clay. A dedicated clay-court specialist who ascended to a career-high No.
37 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Zapata Miralles finds an unexpected affinity for the US Open. "I feel very comfortable in Manhattan," he admitted. As he steps onto the hallowed grounds of Arthur Ashe Stadium, he will strive to channel that comfort and make it his own, striving to etch a memorable moment against the tennis machine that is Novak Djokovic.
Rafael Nadal shares a massive praise for Novak Djokovic: "He is the best"
Rafael Nadal's Clear Preference for Roger Federer Shocks Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic Pulls Out of Shanghai
Novak Djokovic Splits with Longtime Manager Amidst Grand Slam Success
Novak Djokovic Triumphs over Medvedev in US Open Final
Novak Djokovic: Embracing the Present, Ignoring Slam Legacy Pressure