April 14, 2021

"Fuck, but who has defeated your nephew?" This was the passage of young Nadal and Federer through the El Espinar tournament

"Nobody who is not very good wins here, because it is difficult, it is played at height … Almost all or all of those who have achieved it have been among the top 30 in the world," Pedro Muñoz presumes. And he says it with knowledge of cause. "Here" refers to Tournament of El Espinar, the tennis Challenger that is being played this week in the Segovian town and that is much more than a tournament because of the tradition it has and the players who have passed through it. It all started with a meeting of friends who were vacationing in the same place and among those who were Pedro Muñoz himself. «The tournament is 34 years old, but I always say that there are 40, because there were six that were in the plan of friends. But in the fifth year, we found that we were the best tournament in Spain. A tournament that has Martín Jaite, Sergio Casal, Emilio Sánchez, Pérez Roldán … We went to the ATP, it was crazy … I went to Montecarlo, before the ATP attended these requests making visits and gave you 25,000, and Suddenly they gave us a $ 100,000 (the category of the tournament, depending on the money distributed) », reveals who was the founder and became president of the Spanish Tennis Federation.

And there began the legend of El Espinar, through which some of the best rackets in history have passed. For example, that of Rafa Nadal, in 2003. «Rafa came very young and from the first day he won the first game and said:" I played very badly, Pedro, I don't feel it "And that was telling me every day until he got into the final and won», Muñoz tells, who remembers another anecdote with the manacorense. "A kid, a boy who had just lost, was suffering and Rafa went with him, gave him a racket, dedicated it and gave him some illusion," says Muñoz. "And Nadal still wasn't what he is today," he adds. The left-hander would begin to forge his legend a year later with the victory in the final of the Davis of Seville against Roddick. Ten days before that game against the American number one, Rafa had overtaken him in a match in Chamartín Quino Muñoz. And five years before that duel, in 1999, Quino Muñoz lost in El Espinar with a 19-year-old imberbe. "Fuck, but who has won your nephew?" They said in the town to Pedro Muñoz, who was Quino's uncle. Well, it was a Federer. "In the world of tennis we already knew who Federer was," Pedro laughs now. A round later, the Swiss was defeated by the Frenchman Escudé, but in doubles he won the title alongside the Dutchman Sander Groen. "Federer was a young boy, with his unfinished character," Muñoz explains. José Luis Villuendas, coach and now technical tennis commentator on Teledeporte, took him to the tournament from Barajas Airport. Precisely in a report on this chain Villuendas recalls how he went to look for someone who later won 20 Grand in a Renault Clio that was his, because the Swiss arrived soon and the transport of the tournament had not yet been organized. Peter Lundgren was Federer's coach and was traveling with him. When they stopped to refuel during the journey, the technician bought six cans of beer that did not reach Segovia.

Sergi Bruguera who was looking for him was Pedro Muñoz himself, who even hosted him at home. An "earthling" like the Catalan left his mark with several participations in the fast track tournament and a triumph there. Who could not win was Alberto Berasategui, an illustrious finalist of Roland Garros in 1994, but he did have a nice gesture. "His father forbade me to count it for years, but he donated the fixed money he received then for the reconstruction of the pulpit of the church of El Espinar," said the founder of the tournament and now honorary president.

More difficulties put the controversial French Henri Leconte, that he was married to a rejoneadora and He showed up with company in Segovia. «He went to the tournament with his wife and four horses and we had a good experience because we managed to find accommodation for the horses», Pedro Muñoz uncovers. Murray appeared at the age of 16 when he was at the Sánchez Casal Academy under the orders of the Colombian Pato Álvarez. Verdasco eliminated him in the semifinals. Few times more has been able with the British. Who did achieve the final triumph was Juan Martín del Potro in 2006, with a great mane and explosive tennis. Kafelnikov is the fourth number one, with Federer, Nadal and Murray, who has passed through El Espinar.

But not only with players has the mysticism of this Challenger been created, once named the best in the world. «It is in a small town in the mountains and within an urbanization with 200 inhabitants. A year in the semifinal a storm of those from the summer hail of hail fell, which broke windows, cars … And I saw a lot of neighbors throw their towels and blankets on the slopes so that they could continue playing that day and the final the next ”, says Pedro Muñoz. This year the final today will measure the Spaniard Nicola Kuhn, number 238 in the world, with the Russian Kotov.

. (tagsToTranslate) roger federer

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