Pere Riba recounts Rafael Nadal 'dominating' in juniors but still being 'so humble'



by DZEVAD MESIC

Pere Riba recounts Rafael Nadal 'dominating' in juniors but still being 'so humble'
© Getty Images Sport - Sarah Stier

Pere Riba remembers Rafael Nadal "destroying the field" during junior days but also being "so humble" at the same time. Riba, who turned pro in 2004, ended his pro tennis career in 2020. Since then, 35-year-old Riba - who is two years younger than Nadal - has been working as a tennis coach. "It's funny because, you know, he was 14 years old and then he's, you know, he won the tournament and then when some people they were asking him if he was gonna start to play the Masters.

And he was saying, 'Well, you, know 'I'm young', I'm going step by step.' He was so humble. I remember the moment that he jumped to these [higher level] tournaments, he destroyed the field and passed so far," Riba said on The Functional Tennis Podcast.

Riba on winning the same junior tournament as Nadal

On the podcast, Riba also shared that he and Nadal won the same junior - Riba won in the under-12 category, while Nadal won the under-14 category. "Well, no, I didn't play with Rafael Nadal but yes, I remember he's like two years older than me and it was in the situation that in the categories, I was in under 12 and he was in under 14.

I remember like one special travel for me because I won like the under 12 in Spain and he had won and the under 14 in that moment," Riba said. During his career, Riba didn't win any ATP titles and his career-high ranking saw him ranked at No 65 in the world.

Riba mostly played on the Challenger Tour, where he had a 7-15 record in his 22 finals. On the Grand Slam, Riba twice managed to make the second rounds at the Australian Open and French Open. This past summer, Riba worked as Coco Gauff's coach during the American's US Open win. Riba has since split with Gauff and he now works with Zheng Qinwen.

Rafael Nadal