WATCH: Sorribes Tormo played the second longest match of 2021 in Rome, outlasting Camila Giorgi after nearly four hours on court.

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Sara Sorribes Tormo is always prepared for an epic. Of the 36 matches she’s played through a revelatory 2021 season, over half have surpassed the two-hour mark, which made her 94-minute dismissal of Liudmila Samsonova something to celebrate.

“When I finished the first set, I looked at the clock and saw 40 minutes and thought, ‘Not too bad!’” she joked after easing into the third round of her maiden Omnium Banque Nationale appearance.

Her last match against Samsonova, the reigning Bett1open champion, saw her save match points before advancing in three hours and eight minutes at the Phillip Island Trophy. A titanic Wimbledon defeat to Angelique Kerber went even longer, but only gratitude emits from a 24-year-old fresh off a dream debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—where she scored a stunning win over world No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty.

“The Olympics was the best experience of my life. I don’t have words to describe it and I’m so emotional about it because I’m already thinking of Paris, how much that will mean for me in 2024.”

I think it’s amazing, this life I’m able to live. This life is amazing. I’m just trying to enjoy it. Sara Sorribes Tormo

Employing a physicality that is apparent with each shot she hits, Sorribes Tormo all but guaranteed an Olympic berth when she captured her first WTA title at the Abierto Zapopan in Guadalajara. She spent the week in Tokyo as part of a Team Spain comprised of childhood friends like Paula Badosa and idols like former world No. 6 Carla Suárez Navarro and coach Sílvia Soler Espinosa.

“It was the dream of my life to be there; I was able to go there with Sílvia and with Paula, with whom I’d spoken about this since we were 15. Carla was also there after everything she’s been through. I grew up watching her and Silvia play, and here I am at the Olympics, and Carla stops her warm-up to watch the last few games of my match with Barty; that’s something amazing for me.”

Her Olympic experience began on the plane, where she met Spanish basketball star Alba Torrens.

“We talked for three or four hours so when we finally arrived I told Sílvia that I felt like I’d already won. She has a completely different perspective because she plays on a team. They think what we do as individual athletes is so difficult, but they don’t realize we think the same about them!

“I think that’s amazing, to be able to share your experience and, especially, to listen. When I talk with someone like this, I say as little as possible because I really like to learn and that’s what I try to do by listening.”

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With piercingly yet expressive eyes, Sorribes Tormo listens with all the intensity she brings to her matches, and she has clearly taken in much under the tutelage of Soler Espinosa, a former Top 60 player.

“When I started sharing moments with her, she was ranked something like No. 70 or 80 in the world, and I had a big admiration of her because she gave everything each day on court. It didn’t matter whether it was only practice or warming up for a match, she was always present. That’s something I also believe, and it’s one part of why we’re such good friends with a such good connection, and why this is partnership works so well.

“She knows what I feel on and off court because she felt the same, and has already experienced it. She’s very calm, and humble, and helps me a lot in everything: enjoying tennis and life. I feel super privileged—I don’t know if this word exists!—to have her on my side.”

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The Spaniard surpassed her coach this spring with a career-high ranking of No. 46, and appears poised to move even higher with her unique combination of consummate athleticism and unshakeable spirit.

“I keep trying to improve. I think I have many things to improve because the level on tour is so high and everyone hits the ball so amazingly and consistently. I like this kind of thing, this way of being every day. That’s what I’m trying to do, and so I’m happy that I’m winning matches and that, every day, I’m improving that much more and I can compete that much better.”

Her yeomanlike approach has not only made her one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw but has also made her a fan favorite, earning her a level of stardom that makes Castellón de la Plana native admittedly uncomfortable.

In making her Top 50 debut, Sorribes Tormo has contested in three of the Top 10 longest matches played in 2021.

In making her Top 50 debut, Sorribes Tormo has contested in three of the Top 10 longest matches played in 2021.

“I have more followers now, for one thing! I know I have to be better with social media; it’s not a natural thing for me, and I’m still surprised when people recognize me, like I’ll be going somewhere and someone will ask, ‘Are you Sara?’ That’s something that doesn’t go too much with me.

“I’m the same as when I was at No. 300, No. 500 or even No. 800. I’m growing up and I’m more mature, but otherwise I’m not too different; I still like the same things, and I’m very calmly trying to enjoy every day. I think it’s amazing, this life I’m able to live. This life is amazing. I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

Something she enjoys above all else is watching tennis, a somewhat surprising thing for her to voluntarily consume—given how much it already consumes her each week. Asked the style she enjoys watching best, Sorribes Tormo opts for a heart-warming answer, one that speaks both to the authenticity of her close-knit support system and just how much good energy repeats back on those who give it.

“Most of the time I try to watch people that I know. It doesn’t matter if they’re playing a 10K; I just really like tennis, and I like to watch the people I love and watching them improve.”