Diego Elias identified his improved endurance levels as the key to his strong season, ahead of his history-making Tournament of Champions victory.
The ‘Peruvian Puma’ this month became the first South American to lift the Tournament of Champions title – his second Platinum victory of the season.
He saw off the Egyptian number 5 seed Marwan Elshorbagy in straight games.
The achievement lifts Elias to a record high of number two in the world rankings. But he now leads the standings in the alternative ‘race’ rankings, which are based on points accumulated since the start of the season.
‘I’m not the same player as before’
Ahead of the final, Elias credited his improved endurance for his semi-final victory against top seed Paul Coll (pictured, bottom) – known as one of the fittest players on tour.
It was an attritional affair, with the first two points alone lasting five minutes. Elias ultimately emerged as the victor in a 85-minute, four-game win, taking his head-to-head with the New Zealander to 5-5.
The Peruvian player admitted after the match that he would previously have struggled to match Coll on fitness.
“I’ve been training so hard for this,” Elias said.
“I’m not the same player as before. I can keep going for a while now, not like before when I could get tired playing a few tough rallies.”
Following his victory in the final the following evening, Elias branded New York’s Tournament of Champions his “favourite tournament”.
“It’s such an amazing city. It’s full the whole week. I just can’t believe I’m here,” he said.