Manolo Santana dies, the entrepreneur and passionate champion who gave life to Spanish tennis

Glosar the life of Manolo Santana (Madrid 1938 - Marbella 2021) imposes an exercise of abstraction with respect to what the tennis represents currently. Nothing

Manolo Santana dies, the entrepreneur and passionate champion who gave life to Spanish tennis

Glosar the life of Manolo Santana (Madrid 1938 - Marbella 2021) imposes an exercise of abstraction with respect to what the tennis represents currently. Nothing that he got in an immense career can be objectified with the parameters of an absolutely professional game today, lacking stories like the one he starred since he started, so let's say hazardous, a narrow and inextinguishable relationship with the racket. There is in the extraordinary adventure of the man who today, at 82, has left us, a halo of romanticism that starts when a kid came to take the sandwich to the brother of him Braulio, collections at the Tennis Club Velázquez de Madrid . As he himself recognized, perhaps if the first-born of the family had not forgotten the snack on that afternoon where the history of Spanish tennis began to be given would never have taken the habits of a passion that maintained until its last days, present in the big tournaments, Always attentive to the evolution of a sport so different from the one in which he embodied his teaching with his slagenger Challenge No.1. Of wood, of course.

Manolin, as he was known as a boy, was impressed by the scenario where people of possible stood in implementing their skills in a neat, private contact dispute. It was that, the lack of shock, the possibility of overcoming without the imperative of physical conditioning, the first thing that attracted him from tennis. It was due, perhaps, that he was a fragile boy, poorly fed, tending over time to an irregular alignment in the spine. There he began to glimpse the opportunity to develop a series of capacities that would not necessarily be mediated by the athletic imprint.

However, personal circumstances at all suggested the brilliant horizon that built on stubborn and talent. Born in Madrid on May 5, 1938, in the middle of the civil war, he grew up in a poor family, with his father, also called Braulio, a first-class official, electrician of the Municipal Transportes Company, imprisoned for fighting on the front republican. The mother of her, Mercedes, had hardly ahead of her children, in the precariousness of a Spain plunged into underdevelopment.

Manolo gave him a good part of the tips that began to receive from his work as collections, thus contributing to mitigate the hardships of the family economy, who had aggravated himself with the death of Braulio, shortly after leaving prison. His enthusiasm caught the attention of the Brothers Álvaro and Aurora Romero-Girón, partners of the Velázquez Club, who adopted him, took care of him and facilitated that he could abandon the margins of the track. He left the racket that had settled with the backing of a chair and began to compatibulate the studies with serious and regular practice of tennis.

Perseverant, determined to look for his luck in a sport reserved for the elites, without just dissemination in Spain, he made his way to winning the championship of Spain in 1958, with 20 years. It was only the beginning of a dazzling trajectory. The successes of Spanish tennis can not be understood without the entrepreneurial nature of Manolo Santana, an authentic pioneer, no matter how much the term has become recurrent in the well earned evocation of each of its support, with the title of Wimbledon, in 1966, as a definitive explosion of his good do.

But before claiming on the London grass, after eight consecutive presences in which he stayed in first Round, Santana had already won Roland Garros, 1961 and 1964, then a tournament without the recognition he deserves today, had led to Spain to the first of its two finals of the Davis Cup, in 1965, and had been made with the United States Open, that same year, on the grass of Forest Hills. The victory in the semifinals of the Davis, against the United States, in Barcelona, and the subsequent Send released in Sydney to the Australian of Lover, Emerson, Stolle and Newcombe, covered between some amateurs who woke up tennis thanks to his feats, contemplated live thanks to his feats, contemplated live With the newcomer television.

Transcending times and achievements, there are evident analogies between the character of Manolo Santana and that of Rafael Nadal. Like Mallorcan, Santana was distinguished by a pump-proof determination, a frantic combat against adversity. In a game dominated by the Anglo-Saxons, when three of the four Grand Slam tournaments played on grass, with the consequent advantages for the holders of a resounding physique and a direct style, based on the service and the volley, did not stop until they Valer in Wimbledon. "If you did not win there it was as if you had not done anything; You were no one," he said in one of the interviews with this newspaper. "He was a whipped land player. He had a good first service, improved the second and learned to fly and take risks," Andrés Gimeno, one of the contemporary of him, died on October 9, 2019.

The desire to be consecrated in a hostile territory, almost unknown to the Spaniards, led him to resign two consecutive courses at Roland Garros. He moved to London a month and a half before the tournament, accompanied by his first wife, María Fernanda, and rented an apartment from which he moved every day by subway to Southfields, to train at the club. He followed the Australians's track, Emerson, Laver, Newcombe, with whom he had locked good relationship and in whom he found the support and stimulus to pursue the goal of him. Four years before, in the quarterfinals, he had snatched a set at Lover himself, which he completed that season the first of the two Grand Slam of Him, by taking the four 'Majors' consecutively.

Santana always maintained her devotion with Real Madrid, whose tennis section she belonged

In his autobiography, "a lucky guy", self-publishes in 2004, admits with humility that he never lacked fortune throughout his career. He began to lighten the picture with the victory of Ken Fletcher against Newcombe and the tropiezo de Roy Emerson, great favorite of that edition, against Owen Davidson. Both took him to the five sets before earning the appointment in the final with Dennis Ralston, with whom he came to lose Queen's. The match was played on a Friday, as a result of the soccer world, in which England was hostess. Santana was imposed by 6-4, 11-9 and 6-4. "He played a very intelligent game against a tennis player who was moving well on the grass, he smiled out well, he lowered his ball at his feet and managed to break him up to despair him. Manolo was a champion, with personality and temperament; Ralston, no", José Luis Arilla analyzed, another of the heroes of those two finals of the Davis Cup. A Spanish player, from that lugubrious country, subjected to a tragic dictatorship, triumphed in the cradle of parliamentarism, in the colorful and dynamic England of the sixties, in full fervor of the pop revolution, the heat of the Beatles and Mary Quant.

His image with the Cup, that July 1, 1966, occupies the place he deserves in 'El Rincón de Manolo', as he called the coquettish space where he used to meet with his friends to see the important matches of Real Madrid, within Manolo Santana Raquet Club, in the Marbellí town of Roman Bridge. Because Santana always maintained his devotion with the white team, whose tennis section he belonged and with whose shield he played in Wimbledon the most important party of his life.

Without demerecting, much less, the two titles achieved against Nicola Pietrangeli in Roland Garros and the subscribed at the US Open, after overcoming Cliff Drysdale in the final match, becoming the first European to win the tournament since 1928, without Obviar, would miss, the two finals of the Davis Cup, Wimbledon is at the head in the hierarchy of a race with 72 titles. Enthusiastic, intrepid, self-taught, he achieved there one of the greatest successes of Spanish sport, both for the value of the conquest and by its meaning, by breaking a barrier later only serased also by Conchita Martínez, Champion in 1994, and by Rafael Nadal , Winner in 2008 and 2010.

Santana, who managed to live from tennis without having to go to professionalism thanks to the mediation of Juan Antonio Samaranch, began to say goodbye to the tracks in 1970, after defeating Rod Laver for a Triple 6-4 at the end of the Earl de Godó . Already then he had initiated contacts with Philip Morris, to promote the brand in the tennist circuit, task he dedicated himself after leaving the racket. He was consenting from a sentimental nature. In 1977 he returned to the United States Open to lose in first round with Guillermo Vilas, at the champion dessert and, in 1981, 40 years old, he planted in the quarterfinals of the Spanish Championship, played in the Pavilion of Real Madrid, Falling against Fernando Luna in its definitive goodbye. That tournament allowed him to feel closely to the gratitude of an audience who knew how to assess the extraordinary tennis task of him.

He was captain of the Spanish team of Davis Cup in two stages, between 1980 and 1985 and between 1995 and 1999, with the 1998 semifinals, lost in Sweden, as a greater achievement. He took for the first time the position in years of Cainiti confrontations on a team lacking the commitment and talent that subsequent generations demonstrated, who found their culmination in the first salad argument with Juan Carlos Ferrero by Leader, in 2000. He disembarked in Marbella In the early eighties to dedicate yourself to running the Roman Bridge Club. Since 2004 and until 2018 he was the director of Mutua Madrid Open, whose central track carries him name of him.

There was not a game or a press conference of the best, receiving the affable and affectionate treatment of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and all the players. Recognized all over the world, always close and accessible with the media, he could see him every season in the big appointments. He did any encounter a pleasant conversation, with absolute faith in the possibilities of Nadal and an indispory sympathy for Federer, in whom he still distinguished the aroma of his own era. He had four wives, four children and two grandchildren. He leaves a widow to Claudia Inés Rodríguez, the faithful and attentive companion of him in all the tournaments, with whom he married in 2013

Date Of Update: 11 December 2021, 11:27

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