Nineteen years—that is how much time stands between David Marrero’s first doubles final and his victory at the Murcia Challenger in April, his most recent doubles final. In total, he piled up ninety of them. Former World Number 5 and 2013 doubles champion of the ATP Finals, Marrero is one of the greatest doubles players Spain has had in the Open Era, with fourteen ATP doubles titles and thirty-three split between the Futures and Challenger tours.
Even if his reputation is mostly based on his achievements in this mode, the Spaniard’s original career plans were not focused on evolving on the tour as a doubles player. “Rather than making the decision myself, tennis and my ranking forced me to make the change,” he told TWUSA.
Marrero made his first apparition in the ATP ranking in late 2000, as a twenty-year-old. Between 2002 and 2009, he collected eight titles and as many runner-up plaques as a singles player but there stops his noteworthy palmares in this mode.
“I remember that I had a very good year as a singles player,” Marrero said, referring to the 2008-2009 season. He reached the 143rd place in the international singles ranking in early 2010. “I started the year reaching many finals, many semifinals, grabbing passes to go to other tournaments.
But the following year, I had to defend these points, and the roles changed a little. I failed to defend the points in singles, but I started to win in doubles. I think I won five consecutive Challengers in doubles, so it pushed me to have a more or less considerable ranking and to be able to access my first ATP tournament”.
However, since entering a doubles main draw in ATP tournaments can only be done if two players have a high combined-ranking, Marrero could not make it on his own. “I had started the year well as a doubles player. One day, since I have a very good relationship with all Spaniards on the tour, I asked one of my peers, Marc Lopez, if he could help me get in the draw of some ATP.
He had a very good ranking, he was like twenty of the world or something, and I was like a hundred and little or ninety and some. I told him: 'With your ranking and mine, we'd get in.' After two months, he asked me if I wanted to play Estoril.
This week was like kissing the sky. We played game by game, point by point, and we had the chance to get out of the week as champions. I was around the 90th place in the ranking, but then I moved to the 70th. I remember that it was my first ATP tournament”.
Winning the ATP 250 in Estoril in May 2010 was a turning point in Marrero’s life. “After a week of play, being champion brought me about 10.000 dollars or so, and I had never seen so much money together in a week.
From there, I received a wild card to play in Madrid, and after that, I could play Roland Garros because I managed to find another good teammate with a ranking high enough to enter. With the 10.000 dollars of Estoril, plus the 5.000 of Madrid—we lost in the first round, but it was still a good amount of money—and the other 5.000 dollars that I earned in Roland Garros for entering, I had earned twenty thousand dollars in three weeks.
I had never seen twenty thousand dollars, not even on television. So there I stopped playing singles a little, dedicating myself more to the doubles. Again, one day I told Marc Lopez ‘Do you want to play Hamburg?’ He told me ‘Let me see, let me see,’ and in the end, we played Hamburg and again, we became champions.
Those were 500 points, so from the 70th place, I moved up to the 40th in the ranking. That week we received like 40.000 dollars, I think. I was 30 years old, and I had spent my whole life playing as an individual player. At this moment, wisely, but sadly, on the other hand, I thought, ‘Well look, if in almost a month I won what I have won in my entire career, and maybe not even that, playing Futures and Challengers, now I will try to take advantage of the three, four years I have left to play.’ I thought I would play only three or four years of doubles and see what happened, and look at where that nonsense brought me,” he concluded with a huffed laugh.
Nine years have passed since Marrero thought his time on the tour was this limited, and yet he admitted that he doesn’t feel like dropping professional tennis yet: “My plan now is to be with my family and continue training, because I don’t think of stopping.
I want to try again to make myself a little space on the tour. I want to play big tournaments again, train, and see what happens”.