The Nomadic Life With… Cristian Garin – ATP Tour

Cristian Garin has become a consistent presence deep in tournaments, winning five ATP Tour titles since the start of 2019. This week, the Chilean will try to add to that tally at the European Open in Antwerp, where he is the third seed. 

ATPTour.com caught up with Garin to discuss his life on Tour, the three cities he favours, how he deals with jetlag and more.

What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?

I like books, I like to read. I think it gives me something different. When I read I feel I can focus more on myself and I really like to read.

I also like to travel with the recovery boots. It is a thing that I started to use last year. I use them to recover in the room. I have been using that a lot in the past two years. With the pandemic, the tournaments are putting more things in the hotels, more recovery areas, which is a pretty good thing for us. I have been using them a lot.

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Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?

I enjoy it. Sometimes the weeks are tough. You go to places where you can’t enjoy the city or place much. Sometimes you just want to get back home. Your friends say, ‘Why did you not go there or go there?’ or this kind of thing. But you reply to them saying you are here working and focusing on tennis, so sometimes you can’t enjoy the places.

But I really like to travel. My dream was to be a tennis player and now I am playing with the best.

Can you talk about a time you decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?

When I choose the tournament, it is because I like the tournament and the conditions or there are not many options with the schedule. But there are tournaments that I like more than others, so it is a good time of the year when I play those tournaments.

What is your favourite tournament city to visit and why?

I love the U.S. I love Miami and New York. In Europe, I love Paris. Those are my three favourite cities. The Eiffel Tower I have visited many times. When I am in Europe, when I have a week off, I really like to practise in Paris. My best friend lives there and I like to go there when I am in Europe. In the U.S., I have been practising a lot in Miami.

Where is your favourite vacation destination?

I like to be in Chile. Chile is beautiful, I love the country. As a tennis player, I travel a lot. So, when I have holidays, I like to be at home in Chile. It is my place to be when I am not on the Tour.

What is your craziest travel story?

I have never missed any flights, but last year the airplane was having a problem. It was a pretty small airplane, there were 10 people on the flight and we were going from Nice to Barcelona and we had 30 minutes in the air. I saw a red light in the cockpit and I remember that the pilot turned around and said, ‘Guys, we have to go back, we have a problem, but don’t worry.’

But when he said don’t worry, I was dying, so nervous, because we had 30 minutes in the air, which is a lot. We were going back to the airport we started [at], so that was crazy. I remember when he was going down pretty fast and that was terrible. After that we had to change the plane. I didn’t want to go on another plane, I just wanted to go to the hotel and rest!

Are there any routines or activities you do to create a sense of home on the road to feel more comfortable?

It is always tough. It is important for me to have recovery areas or now with the rules, you have time to go out or you can have dinner at a restaurant. That is pretty important to me to have that relief. After the day you can go for a walk or see the city or go to have a coffee.

But in tennis I like to be very focused, so when I finish the day, I like to get some rest and be more relaxed and have a good balance between being focused on the tournament and enjoyment.

How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimatise to the local time zone?

When I have long flights, the first thing I try to do is to go [on the] bike when I get to the hotel. I try to do at least 20 minutes on the bike then stretch and then I try to sleep. With the jetlag, it is not easy to handle for me.

Sometimes I try to get to the tournament one week or even five days before to get used to the jetlag. I try to go on the bike and get a good sleep. You have to resist [sleeping] until the time. The first day is the most important for me, you have to resist and try to sleep at a decent time. There are no more secrets.

Got any tips to get comfortable on a flight? And how do you pass the time?

I don’t have many problems with flying. I don’t have a problem with sleeping on the flight, I just try to watch a TV show with my airpods. Just put the headphones on and watch a TV show. Most of the time I sleep a lot on flights, which is pretty good. It is not easy from what I have heard from other people.

Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?

Very late! I have good timings to get to airports. I have been travelling my whole life. One thing I learned was when to get to the airport at a good time. It is a good thing because every week I go to a different airport, so I know how to handle it.