The tennis, an iconic sport for Spanish sports since the end of the 80s, reached Sidney 2000 in a difficult time. Arantxa Y Conchita, the metals insurance in 1992 and 1996, they were seeing the end of their careers, it seemed, although they were still in the ‘top 10’ and it was just over two years since Arantxa had added his third Roland Garros. Sergi Bruguera, battered by injuries, he sought to return to the elite. In that 1998, when Arantxa’s third success came to pass, men’s tennis had taken a definitive card of nature with the triumph not only of a tennis player, but of a whole generation: Carlos Moy had won Roland Garros a year after standing in the final of the Open de Australia. But it is that in the final of Paris he had faced Lex Corretja (who a few months later would win the Masters) and other young people like Flix Mantilla, Albert Coast and the consecrated Alberto Berasategui they also gave us something to talk about. And a kid named Juan Carlos Ferrero he took the junior tournament in Paris.
That generation, moreover, was not one of gamers’earthlings‘who faltered as soon as they stopped stepping on solid ground: they took seriously the conquest of other surfaces and even dared to step on the once forbidden, since the time of Manolo Santana, grass Wimbledon. Bruguera had reached the round of 16, confirming that if others could, so would it.
Everything seemed to go head-to-head when things went a little wrong. To the Australian Open 1999 A Spanish representation such as had never been seen attended: well over 20 tennis players, between men and women. And incredibly, all but one -the Salamanca-born Mara Antonia Snchez- were eliminated in the first or second round. That thickened the atmosphere a bit. In March, Carlos Moy reached number one in the world: the first Spaniard to achieve it in the professional era. But the square lasted only a few weeks: a month later he lost it so as not to regain it.
JOS A. GARCAMARCA
In the year 2000, however, our men’s tennis had another objective: all the qualifying rounds of the Davis cup they were going to play at home. On the iconic clay court. That is, it could win the Davis Cup after almost 80 years of waiting. And that was the only goal, the only goal of our men’s tennis. Even the Grand Slam was in the background. The Olympics, too. In September, about hard and with the team already qualified for the final – precisely against Australia – the Games were almost an annoying distraction.
But evidently, they had to be addressed and were addressed. Those 2000 Sydney Games were sad for Spanish sports. The 10 medals were barely surpassed, after the successes of Barcelona 92 and Atlanta 96. In the female category Conchita Martnez yielded in the second round, to Arantxa The then champion defeated her, Venus Williams, in the quarterfinals. In the doubles the Barbanschikova-Zvereva pair only barely missed them in the second round.
Things weren’t much better for them. Albert yielded in the first round Coast. In the second, Fernando Vincent and in the third, lex Corretja. The emerging Juan Carlos held out longer Ferrero, who reached the quarterfinals to be bombarded by Arnaud say Pasquale, a skinny and narign French who promises a lot as a junior, but as a senior it was precisely in that tournament when he did best: he won the match for the bronze to a promising junior named Roger Federer.
It remained, yes, the men’s doubles tournament, from which, however, little was expected. In those days it was customary to talk about the problem of doubles in Spanish tennis. After the withdrawal of Emilio Snchez Vicario and Sergio Casal the Davis Cup team did not have a couple with guarantees for a point that used to end up being decisive. Even in that year 2000, when Spain seemed to be advancing strongly towards the Davis Cup, they relied above all on the strength of the individualThus, Spain did not compete with a consolidated team but with a couple of circumstances: lex Corretja and Albert Coast, that they did not usually play it on the circuit and less still form a couple with each other, therefore. Such a thing also did not seem so serious considering that not too many countries had a do ace, usable for the Games.
But Lex and Albert asserted that in doubles, sometimes the combination of two great individual qualities counts as much as rapport and habit. In the first round they beat the Argentines Chela and Zabaleta by 6-3 and 6-4. They continued with the Czechs Novak and Rikl with 6-7, 7-5 and 6-4. Then they had two specialists in the attack, the Belarusians Mirnyi and Voltchkov by 6-7, 6-3 and 7-5, and they found themselves, already, with the fight for the medals. That they would soon stay in the bronze one since they met the Australians Woodforde and Woodbridge, the great dominators of the specialty at the time, and fell 6-3 and 7-6.
Corretja and Costa celebrate their triumphJOS A. GARCAMARCA
The game was left for him bronze, and if they had lost in the semifinals with number one, it was now number seven: the Australians David Adams and John Laffnie De Jager. And it was playing rain, the great enemy of tennis players and spectators. Because Alex and Albert were taking over the game and when the score was 2-6, 6-4, 3-2 and 15-40 on the South African serve, the game had to suspended by a waterspout. Danger, because suspensions always favor those who are losing, but this time it was not like that: 2-6, 6-4 and 6-3 at the end: bronze for Albert and Lex.
For having played together only seven times before the Games, despite being great friends on the circuit, it was not bad at all. Thus, when the match point fell, they looked at each other, embraced, and they gave a chaste kiss on the mouth: They had promised it when before the Games someone told them: “Let’s see if you are going to win a medal in doubles.” They, perhaps thinking one way or another about their few options, launched the bet. And they complied.