Thanks to JC for sharing his pics and anecdotes about his 2009 European tour.

On this self-guided five-city tennis journey, I flew to Spain, France and Great Britain to retrace the footsteps of the tennis legend and my personal hero – Rafael Nadal. Along the way I discover many wonderful cultures and met individuals from all walks of life, all of whom celebrating tennis.

From the Bull-fighting in Madrid, to the Picasso Museum nestled in the Gothic quarters of Barcelona; I wanted to explore Nadal’s homeland of Spain both as a traveler and as a tennis fan.

First leg of the tour: the Madrid Open

Some pics of Palacio Real, Parco del Retiro and Plaza de Toros:

JC at palacio real

Lake 3

Plaza de toros (largest in Spain)

Bullring - wide view

La Caja Magica – the Magic Box – home of the Madrid Open:

Madrid Open Front Gate

Madrid Open Center Court - Caja Magique with retractable roof (3)

JC at Mardid Open

Yellow and Red

Women’s final: Dinara Safina defeats Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4
Women's Final changeover view

Safina and Wozniacki at Women's Final (14)

Safina and Wozniacki at Women's Final (7)

Men’s final: Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 (it was the day after the thriller semifinal opposing Nadal and Djokovic)

Roger at Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal entering (4)

Practicing Serves

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The ball boys and ball girls at this year’s Madrid Open will be sporting an ellesse x Surface To Air collaboration design.

ellesse have collaborated with French fashion house Surface to Air to design the kits for the tournament’s ball boys and ball girls.
For the semi finals and finals, trained professional models will take over as ball boys and girls, a concept unique to the Madrid tournament. The professional models will be dressed head to toe in the specially designed ellesse x Surface to Air kits.

This capsule Surface to Air x ellesse Italia collection will be available to buy in limited quantities, offering tennis fans and fashionistas around the globe an opportunity to buy into the magical flair of the Mutua Madrid Open, and the design sensibilities of a Paris fashion house.

Madrid 2012 ellesse ball boys collection

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This year ellesse is the official apparel partner of the Mutua Madrid Open, that celebrates its 10th year anniversary from 29th April – 8th May.

For the semi finals and finals, trained professional models took over as ball boys and girls, a concept unique to the Madrid tournament. To dress these models ellesse created a capsule Madrid Open range of navy blue staples such as piquet polos and dresses, sweaters and windbreakers. White contrast panels with red and orange piping gave a pop of colour and a subtle nod to the brand’s logo.

The full collection and some photos of the ball boys and models in action:

ellesse ball boys collection

ellesse ball boys collection

ellesse ball boys collection

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This match is without a doubt the best ATP match played in 2009.

Nadal had a tremenduous start of the year with wins at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. He seemed unbeatable on clay and was the clear favorite to win a record fifth consecutive Roland Garros title. But things didn’t really turned out that well for him.

With a win in Madrid, the Mallorcan would have been the first player in history to win the 3 Masters tournaments played on clay the same year.

Nadal and Djokovic met for the fourth time of the season in Madrid semi finals, Nadal having won their 3 previous meetings (Davis Cup and finals of Monte Carlo and Rome).

Rafael Nadal

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