Rafa’s shirt is available on niketennis.com for €70.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Toby Melville, Nike
14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal was named Spain’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games:
Nadal was chosen as the country’s flag bearer for the 2012 London Games, but had to pull out with an injury and was replaced by his friend Pau Gasol.
“For me it was an amazing feeling when I was told I would carry [the flag] in 2012. It was terrible news when I had to pull out of London. I’ve missed Grand Slams and Davis Cups in my career but the toughest thing was the 2012 Olympics.”
Rafa won the gold in Beijing in 2008 and it remains one of the biggest moments of his career:
“To see the Spanish flag being raised to the accompaniment of the national anthem as I stood on the winner’s podium: well, it was one of my life’s proudest moments.”
Stay tuned for more Olympics coverage on Tennis Buzz.
We told you the story of Martin and Abel’s charity trip to Uganda last year, last month Martin went back to Uganda, to provide sports equipment and tennis lessons to children in need. Pictures and words by Martin:
This shirt was signed by the Spanish Davis Cup team (Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, David Marrero and Conchita Martinez) who defeated Denmark last September, and put up on auction. The proceed of the auction helped fund TennisAid’s trip to Uganda:
Back with the kids in Uganda:
The moment I’ve been waiting for so long: this meeting with my favorite pupil, Siyama. The best way to start this new adventure:
Published in World Tennis Magazine, December 1989.
In October 1989, Chris Evert represented the United States for the last time in the Federation Cup. Here, she recounts the week.
Our first-round match is against Greece. I play Christine Papadaki, who I have never played or even seen before. The stress I feel before the match has nothing to do with the match itself, but with whether I will fit into the new tennis skirts the USTA made for us. They have red, white and blue sequined flags on the front. Anyway, Martina (Navratilova) and I overcame our jet lag (we arrived in Tokyo the night before after playing in a series of exhibitions) to win easily. Pam (Shriver) and Zina (Garrison) win the doubles.
We go to the NEC Sponsor Dinner later that night. NEC has been sponsoring the Fed Cup for eight years, and the buffet is great. Lots of giveaways too (television sets, pearls, walkmans, silks).
I wake up at 7 am to the sound of rain. We are scheduled to play Denmark, and we go indoors to hit just in case the weather clears up. Sure enough, by 11:30 we are on the court. The first round was played on court 4, a fast court, and this round we’re playing on court 1, which is very slow. It’s hard to figure out why a huge, impressive facility like this (it’s much bigger than Flushing Meadows) doesn’t have uniform-speed surfaces. No matter. I prefer the slower court and beat 16-year-old Karin Ptaszek easily 6-1 6-1. Martina, however, has trouble adjusting and Tine Scheuer Larsen takes advantage of some great passing shots to stretch Martina to 7-5 6-3. Zina and Martina win the doubles. Another 3-0 victory.
I’m still crossing my fingers, but so far team spirit is very high. Our coach, Marty Riessen, is good at dealing with four high-strung perfectionnists. I’m eally motivated – I just hope it lasts all week. The tough matches will begin Friday against Austria.
It’s a day off for the team, but I get early and go through a tough but fun two-on-one with Zina and Pam. Zina is hitting the ball so solidly and moving so well, it’s too bad that, at No. 5 in the world, she isn’t playing in a singles match somewhere. I think that reaching the US Open semis (by beating me!) and getting married (to Willard Jackson) have inspired Zina tremendously. She is coming into her own, which is great to see.
Pam, on the other hand, has come to a crossroads in her career and personal life. This is not an easy time for her: she is frustrated by injuries, her split with Martina in doubles, and her indecisiveness about whether or not to dedicate herself 100 percent to tennis. I really like Pam: she is bright and witty and multidimensional. I have no doubt she will emerge from this low period in her life stonger and wiser.
Here we are in the quarter-final match against Austria. I’m playing Judith Wiesner on center court. We both play well, and because she’s a baseliner we have some very long rallies, though I eventually pull it out. Martina beats Barbara Paulus and the doubles is called off because of rain. Pretty routine, I just heard that the Czechs beat West Germany. Martina is upset, she wanted a rematch with Steffi (Graf).
It rains all day, matches are cancelled.
Czechoslovakia, the match we’ve all been gearing up for. Helena Sukova and Jana Novotna are excellent singles players as well as No. 1 in the world in doubles. In other words, we don’t want to get into a 1-1 situation with them.
I’m ready and I’m focused. I pass Jana at the net and serve effectively to win 6-2 6-3. I think the Czechs were counting on winnning this match. In fact, I think a lot of players think they can beat me because I’ve had some loose, careless matches (for me) this year. But I’m determined not to give an inch.
My heart is in my mouth as Helena storms into the net at every possible moment against Martina and wins the first set 6-4. All of a sudden, our chances of winning this Federation Cup are in jeopardy. If Martina loses to Helena, it will be up to the doubles and the Czechs will be favored. But using the new-found determination that Billie Jean King has worked to rekindle, Martina blows Helena off the court in the second set 6-1, and then shows guts in winning the third, 6-4. In our minds this was the Cup final and we all share a sigh of relief.
One more to go. It has been three long years since we last won the Cup in Prague. We want it back.
They’re calling the final with Spain ‘thirtysomething’ versus the 17 year olds. Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez, both of whom are in the Top Ten, pose a real threat to me and Martina because of their slow-surface prowess. I feel a little bit apprehensive today because we have been psyching ourselves up more for the germans and Czechs than the Spaniards, because of my lack of knowledge about my opponent (Martinez) and because, more than likely, this will be my last tournament match. That could explain why I woke up at 5:30 this morning. I start to get uptight, but I finally convince myself not to worry, enjoy the competition, and work hard for one more match.
With Pam, Martina and Zina cheering me on from the sideline, I once again play intense, heads-up tennis to beat Conchita 6-3 6-2. Asked after the match why I am retiring when I’m playing so well, I start to realize why everyone on our team is in top form: we have camaraderie, we have Riessen as our coach on the court, and who wouldn’t improve practicing with Martina, Pam and Zina every day?
I think Martina is so relieved that I won my singles (and she is genuinely happy for me) that she forgets about her own game for a while. After losing the first set to Sanchez 0-6, Martina guts out the next two, 6-3 6-4. We have clinched the Cup! Pam and Zina then come out with 3-0 written in their determined eyes and makes us all proud by winning 7-5 6-3.
Andy and my parents watch the ceremony from the sideline. It is bittersweet: I am happy and proud; I am also sad. Later on in the locker room I get a migraine and shed the tears that have been bottled up for quite a while. I’m having a hard time dealing with the finality of it all and still find myself questioning my decision to retire. When I think of how well I played this week and the adrenaline flowing and the highs of winning, it’s hard to think of retiring. But then I force myself to remember the hard work, intense concentration, sore body, total commitment and disheartening losses. Retirement is all at once very calming.
From Love Thirty, three decades of champions – published in 1990
One of the craziest anomalies of the 1960s, a decade in which the great champions were bared from the great tournaments, concerned two Spaniards born within nine months of one another duing the Civil War. There was nothing to choose between their levels of performance. But Andres Gimeno turned professional in 1960 and played his best tennis in the proud, exclusive environment of Jack Kramer‘s tour. Towards the end of the 1960s, only Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall were better players.
But superficial historians may recall Gimeno only as the chap who, at the age of 34, won the 1972 French championship from an unusually modest bunch of challengers. By contrast Santana stayed in the ‘shamateur’ ranks, picked up an impressive array of Grand Slam titles, had a wonderful Davis Cup record, became a national hero, and captivated everybody in sight. So Santana received far more publicity and achieved a bigger reputation, except among the cognoscenti. Santana played no better than Gimeno did but had the more spectacular game, the more crowd-pleasing court presence, and probably a greater depth of competitive self-belief.
First a word about Gimeno, who was Santana’s Davis Cup teammate from 1958 to 1960 and 1972-1973, winning 17 out of 22 singles and breaking even in ten doubles. Gimeno was 6ft 1 1/2in tall but looked even bigger because he was straight-backed, held his head high, and had a tiptoed style that suggested he was wary of damaging the court. His bearing was patrician, his manner courteous, his game elegant. Gimeno stroked the ball with the teasing flourish one associates with the bull-fighting breed. The forehand was his stronger flank and although it was sometimes said his backhand couldn’t break an egg, he placed the shot shrewdly.
Gimeno had a sure touch and made effective use of the lob. There was a purpose behind every shot he played and his game was as tidy in detail as it was sound in conception. But he had nothing that could really hurt his opponents and on big occasions he tended to be too highly strung, too diffident, to do himself complete justice. Gentleman that he was, Gimeno may have had too much respect for the likes of Laver and Rosewall.
Would Santana have done any better in that company? One doubts it. He turned down a professional offer because he considered he could more tournaments and more prestige, make more money, and have a more congenial lifestyle by remaining in the ‘shamateur’ ranks. There came a time when Santana and Roy Emerson, as the biggest fish in a thinly stocked pool, could command $1,000 to $1,500 a week. They had no illusion. They knew that they would be smaller fish in the professional pool. An embarrassing decision was forced upon them and they chose the course that suited their circumstances and their natures. It worked out pretty well for them and it worked out pretty well for Spain, too. By winning two Grand Slam titles on clay and two on grass, and twice guiding his country to the Davis Cup challenge round, Santana did even more for Spanish tennis (and the nation’s sporting reputation in general) than Severiano Ballesteros was to achieve via golf.[…]
Santana was the Ilie Nastase of the 1960s: less of an athlete, true but more disciplined in his conduct and his match-play, and in the same class when it came to artistic wizardry. An example of the shots they had in common what that rare flower, the chipped forehand, which both played with such facility that they might have been picking daisies. The joyous feature of their tennis was a common ability to mask their intentions. Their dextrous powers of deception were such that they consistently pulled off the tennis equivalent of the three-card trick.
Santana used every hue in the box during the 1961 French championships, in which he beat the top three seeds – Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Nicola Pietrangeli – to win his (and Spain’s) first major championship. Santana beat Laver 3-6 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-0. Laver led 4-1 in the fourth set but, emmeshed in a beautiful network of shot-making, could not win another game. In the final, Santana beat a kindred spirit, Pietrangeli, by 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-0 6-2. It was a sunny afternoon and the arena was as much an artists’ studio as a tennis stadium. Each man in turn stepped up to the canvas while the other was, so to speak, taking time off to mix his colours. The vast assembly could hardly believe their luck. Ultimately Pietrangeli, champion in the two previous years, had to admit that he was the second best. […]
They met again in the 1964 final but by that time Santana’s star had waxed and Pietrangeli’s was beginning to wane. On clay, Santana had proved all he needed to prove. So he concentrated his attention on the grass-court bastions: and had luck on his side in that, at Forest Hills and Wimbledon in turn, the most fancied contenders never turned his path. At Forest Hills he played only two seeds, Arthur Ashe (5th) and Cliff Drysdale (8th), and at Wimbledon he played only one, Dennis Ralston (6th). Never mind. Santana beat everybody he had to beat. He had conquered the ‘shamateur’ world on the two extremes of clay and grass.
There was an engaging but frustrating appendix to the years of glory. In the 1969 French championships Santana and Gimeno, both 31, clashed after a nine-year beak. It was Madrid vs Barcelona plus, for watching players, a leftover battle between the now united ‘shamateur’ and professional armies. For two sets, Gimeno was too nervous to play his best tennis, whereas Santana’s shot making had a subtle splendor about it. Then Gimeno settled down and in the stress of combat santana pulled a groin muscle and eventually had to retire. Gimeno won 4-6 2-6 6-4 6-4 1-0.
Santana and Gimeno had explored different avenues in their pursuit of fame and fortune. Their joint achievement was to lift Spanish tennis to a level it had never reached before: a level that was consolidated by Manuel Orantes and to some extent Jose Higueras. Orantes was runner-up for the 1974 French title and in 1975 he won the first of the three US Open contested on a gritty, loose-top surface.
That was a memorable triumph for two reasons. In a semi-final Vilas led Orantes by 6-4 6-1 2-6 5-0 and had five match points. Orantes won, but he was up half the night because he could not tourn off the bathroom tap and had to find a plumber. Then he went back on court and, in the final, gave Jimmy Connors a lesson in the craft of clay-court tennis.
Czech Republic defeats Netherlands: 3-1
Robin Haase def Radek Stepanek 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-1
Tomas Berdych def Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-3 6-0
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek def Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5 1-6 7-6 7-6
Tomas Berdych def Thiemo De Bakker 6-1 6-4 6-3
The Czechs have not lost since suffering a huge upset against Kazakhstan in the first round in 2011. The last time the Dutch won a World Group tie was in 2005 against Switzerland. That’s quite a long time ago…
— judy murray (@judmoo) January 30, 2014
Japan defeats Canada: 3-1
Kei Nishikori def Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 6-4
Franck Dancevic def Go Soeda 6-4 7-6 6-1
Kei Nishikori/Yasutaka Uchiyama def Franck Dancevic/Daniel Nestor 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
Kei Nishikori def Franck Dancevic 6-2 1-0 ret
Lead by 18th ranked Kei Nishikori, Japan sailed into the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-1 victory against an injury-plagued Canada: Milos Raonic pulled out with a left-foot injury on Thursday while Frank Dancevic retired with a stomach injury in the fourth rubber.
Germany defeats Spain: 3-0
Philipp Kohlschreiber def Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4 6-2
Florian Mayer def Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 1-6 5-7 6-3
Tommy Haas/Philipp Kohlschreiber def Fernando Verdasco/David Marrero 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-3
Five-time champion Spain will face a World Group playoff in September for the second year in a row. Playing without Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo, Spain was ousted by Germany 3-0.
— Tommy Haas (@TommyHaas13) January 31, 2014
France defeats Australia: 3-0
Arnaud Clément relied on his two top players Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to get past Australia, lead by Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Guccione were previously undefeated in the Davis Cup as a doubles team, but they were overpowered by the French pair.
— Richard Gasquet (@richardgasquet1) February 1, 2014
Great Britain defeat USA: 3-1
Andy Murray def Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-3
James Ward def Sam Querrey 1-6 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan def Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-1
Andy Murray def Sam Querrey 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3
Great Britain are into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1986. It is also the first time Britain have beaten the USA since 1935! The hero of the tie is James Ward, ranked 175, who beat former top 20 Sam Querrey on Friday.
Italy defeats Argentina:
Carlos Berlocq def Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-0 6-2 6-1
Fabio Fognini def Juan Monaco 7-5 6-2 6-2
Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini def Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4
Fabio Fognini def Carlos Berlocq 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4
With his third victory of the weekend, Fabio Fognini sent Italy through to its second quarterfinal since 1998. It is Argentina’s first opening round defeat in 13 years.
Kazakhstan defeats Belgium: 3-2
Mikhail Kukushkin def Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3
Andrey Golubev def David Goffin 7-6 3-6 4-6 6-2 12-10
Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus def Evgeny Korolev/Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2 6-7 6-3 7-6
David Goffin def Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0
Andrey Golubev def Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-3 6-1
Switzerland defeats Serbia: 3-0
Roger Federer made last-minute decision to play the Davis Cup tie in Serbia and he joined forces with recent Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and doubles pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer to oust Djokovic-less Serbia 3-0.
The Davis Cup has never been a top priority for him and it remains a true hole in Federer’s impressive curriculum vitae.
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) January 29, 2014
Japan – Czech Republic
France – Germany
Italy – Great Britain
Switzerland – Kazakhstan
Which team will win the Davis Cup this year?
- Switzerland (67%, 31 Votes)
- France (20%, 9 Votes)
- Czech Republic (7%, 3 Votes)
- Great Britain (4%, 2 Votes)
- Italy (2%, 1 Votes)
- Germany (0%, 0 Votes)
- Japan (0%, 0 Votes)
- Kazakhstan (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 46