Fernnado Belasteguin, “the legend of padel”, made a dream come true by playing on the central court of Roland Garros.
“How nice it would be if one day we played paddle tennis here …”. The Argentine Fernando Belasteguinconsidered the best padel tennis player in history and a legend still in the elite of this sport that never stops growing, dreamed aloud two years ago, watching tennis with a friend, on the main court of Roland Garros.
This week, the Pehuajó-born and all paddle tennis enthusiasts see their illusion realized in one of the world’s tennis cathedrals. There, where Rafa Nadal lifted his Grand Slam number 22 a month and a while ago, a pitch with blue carpeting, glass walls and wire fences in dark tones was set up, making for an impressive (and renewed) look. Philip Chatrier as if he had been waiting for decades for the echo of lollipops and blindex. To it we have to add six more on the auxiliary tracks.
The central court of Roland Garros will turn 100 years old in 2028 and for the first time a paddle tennis court has been set up inside. Historical.
What is at stake here is the Greenweez Paris Premier Padel Majorthe third Major tournament created by the International Padel Federation, Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) and the thriving Premier Padel, which in the annual calendar of the four “big” succeeds those played in Qatar and Italy, and serves as a prelude to the last of the season, in Monterrey, Mexico, the country where the padel was created.
Having also the organization of the French tennis federation (the same ones that play the Roland Garros tennis tournament), the event has the advantage of having everything coordinated down to the smallest detail. It is perceived and appreciated by the world of paddle tennis, by its players but also by its teams, by the brands that accompany the sport and by specialized media.
The seats of Roland Garros, an environment that combines glamor, luxury and mysticism.
The auxiliary fields of Roland Garros have changed the brick dust for the blue padel folder. Historical.
Shopping, games and the PSG stars
The Roland Garros boutique, for example, has inside a space dedicated to paddle tennis, with rackets, balls and clothing typical of this sport, which has had an exponential growth from the coronavirus pandemic, not only in Argentina but also in the rest of the world. One of the products that has the most output is that larger ball that is used to collect player signatures: the big one costs 32 euros and the smaller one 22 euros.
The Roland Garros boutique, with a special sector dedicated to paddle tennis. Photo: FFT.
The traditional Plaza de Los Mosqueteros, which separates the entrance from the main court and where the sponsors’ stands are located, hosts games, a DJ playing electronic music, food stands and an ice cream parlor, all surrounded by the already famous orange deck chairs in which spectators can rest during the long match days. Of course, the seats are also on sale: their price is 79 euros.
As if to copy tennis and its suffocating heat, high temperatures were also the protagonists of the Greenweez Paris Premier Padel Major, with record figures. Each spectator brings their own thermal bottle with them, which can be refilled for free in different taps with drinking water, a constant that is repeated throughout the city of Paris.
The public is enjoying this party to the fullest and among them are well-known faces, such as the stars of Paris Saint Germain, Leandro Paredes, Ander Herrera, Ashraf Hakimi and Juan Bernat, among others, who appeared at the RG complex after one of the practices of your team, totally relaxed. “I played a pitch at my home in Buenos Aires, I play it with my father, I love it”, explained the midfielder of the Argentine national team, in one of the corners of the Philippe Chatrier, happy with the palette that Belasteguin gave him.
Leandro Paredes was present at Roland Garros, took a Belasteguin paddle and gave a shirt to the king of paddle tennis.
Three games from glory
The best couples in the world are found in the French capital, most of them are made up of Argentines and Spaniards. And after a week full of great games and incredible plays, all viralized on social media, a custom of this new era, the Major has reached the quarter-finals, with a particularity that makes them exciting.
It is that the eight couples still alive in Paris are the best eight seeded, so the games begin to be more and more closed and with very close predictions. For the first time, the four games will be played on the central court, which has grown in attendance over the days.
Thursday 14, an emblematic date for France (and for the whole of humanity), was a party throughout the country, so the stands were even more crowded, and gave the atmosphere of Roland Garros, with its most famous jewels : the “oooole” after the trumpet, the applause of encouragement to the rhythm of a bass drum, and also the inevitable wave of spectators.
One of the postcards that paddle tennis will leave on the central court of Roland Garros.
This Friday, the lights will be lit by the duel between the padel legend, the Argentine Fernando Belasteguin, who together with the very young Spaniard Arturo Coello will try to surprise Juan Lebron and Alejandro Galán, the two best in the ranking. The duel starts no earlier than 13:00 (Argentine time) and will be broadcast by Star +.
Whoever wins that duel will face in the semifinals the winner of Pablo Lima and the Argentine Franco Stupaczuk against Lucas Campagnolo and Javier Garrido, who will open the day from 9:00 (Argentine time).
The Spaniard Arturo Coello and the Argentine Fernando Belasteguin, one of the darlings of the public.
On the other side of the table, in the second match of the day, one of the quarter-finals sees four Argentines: the pairs of Luciano Capra and Maxi Sánchez, who play against Fede Chinotto and Juan Tello. Whoever wins will clash in the semifinals against the winner of the cross between the Argentine Martín Di Nenno, paired with the Spaniard Paquito Navarro, against the Iberians Javier Leal and Javier Rico.
On Saturday there will be the two semifinals, and on Sunday the final, for a tournament that promises a record prize pool of 525 thousand euros.
One of the views offered by Roland Garros, dressed in blue thanks to paddle tennis. Photo: FFT.
“We are making a dream come true. Padel is a young sport and being here is an extraordinary privilege. In two years, France will be a great padel nation “, the Italian Luigi Carraro, president of the International Padel Federation celebrated at the opening of the event.
On top of all that is mentioned, having paddle tennis at Roland Garros is a nod to the 2024 Olympic Games, which will take place in Paris. The illusion is now that this discipline will end up making a place among Olympic sports, something that could end up coming true after Los Angeles 2028. And it will be the next dream to be realized with paddle tennis, another one.
Paris. Special delivery.