Jaume Munar continued his string of some very impressive results, this time getting the win over Britain’s Cameron Norrie to make the Rio Open quarterfinals.
There has been plenty of discussion inside the last couple of seasons as to which young player is going to make that step up and challenge for the bigger prizes, but there really hasn’t been enough said about the improvement in the game of the Spaniard.
Munar really made his first real move on the tour four years ago at the tournament in Hamburg. That was just his second ever tour-level event, and after beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez by retirement, he impressed in a tough loss against established professional Simone Bolelli in a three sets loss. The road to the Top 70 hasn’t been one that has been simple for the Spaniard, but he has continued to improve his ranking year-upon-year, and actually improved his ranking by over 100 ranking places in each season for the four seasons between 2015-2018, which emphasizes his steady improvement.
After a great 2018 season where he finished on a career high he has gone from strength to strength. Showing the confidence he has in his game to reach the quarterfinals in Pune at the beginning of the year, and fast-forward a month and he has managed to make four last eight showings in the first two months of the season. Making the quarterfinals of three clay-court events in a row in Cordoba, Buenos Aires, and Rio.
Munar certainly is on the rise, but what are his core strengths to his game? What does the Spaniard do well? Well, one of the biggest assets to his overall game when you analyse the mental and physical side of his game is his ability to keep things tough. The vast majority of his wins on the main tour in the last two seasons have come through his willingness to compete, and his attitude when the score isn’t going to plan, and he’s facing a lot of adversity. In many ways he mirrors the fighting spirit that someone like David Ferrer showed during his best years on tour, but the question and main concern for Munar is whether his lack of weaponry, and lack of a final strike in the rally, is something that will hold him back. The Spaniard is productive when you give him short, central forehands to put away and end the point, but the one concern to his tennis game is being able to get himself in that attacking position in the first place.
The defensive side of things is very good. He can get about the court efficiently, and he can keep more points alive than a lot of players, and he shows great tenacity in those kind of grueling points in a lot of his matches. The serve is a shot that I think he has definitely improved in the last twelve months. It isn’t the strongest and most lethal serve on tour, but he has come on leaps and bounds in a short space of time. The discrepancy between the first and second serve is a problem though and it really puts him under pressure to keep his first serve at a high percentage to get through matches. It is still a working progress for sure.
Munar’s best results have typically been on the clay. Getting his first win at this level on the dirt, and both of his Top-20 wins have actually come on this surface too. The surface gives him a little more time from the back of the court, but this court surface also enables him to build points well, remain patient and wait for better moments to get up the court when he can. I think there will be many matches where he comes up against more aggressive players that simply blow him off the court, but the important thing for Munar is to keep improving, believe in the journey he is following, and hopefully we can see even better results on the clay, and maybe some strides on the hard court as well. The Spaniard grew up playing on the hard courts, so maybe we might see bigger improvements on other surfaces as well as on the red clay.
It’s been a long process for Munar to get to where he is now, but judging by the way he is playing, he’s set for another very good season on tour, and maybe one that takes him into the Top-50 for the first time in his career.
Embed from Getty Images