ATP

'Thank you for leading the way' – Nadal pays tribute as Santana dies aged 83

By Sports Desk December 11, 2021

Spanish tennis great Manolo Santana, a four-time grand slam winner, has died at the age of 83.

Santana won the US Open, Wimbledon and the French Open twice during the 1960s, during which time he spent a period as world number one.

He also won the men's singles tennis tournament at the 1968 Olympics, though it was not recognised as a medal event at the time, while also winning the French Open men's doubles in 1963 and the Davis Cup with Spain on three occasions.

Santana retired in 1977 and in more recent times was regularly seen watching countryman Nadal – the only Spaniard to have won more grand slam titles – from the stands.

Nadal led the tributes to Santana on Saturday with an emotional post on social media.

"I have just received the terrible news of the death of our great Manolo Santana," he wrote on his official Instagram account.

"As I have said many times in the past: thank you very much for what you did for our country and for leading the way for so many. 

"You have always been a reference, a friend and a person close to everyone.

"We will miss you Manolo; you will always be unique and special. Greetings to your family and a lot of strength at this time. We will never forget you."

Related items

  • French Open: Dominant Swiatek cruises into second round French Open: Dominant Swiatek cruises into second round

    Iga Swiatek cruised into the second round of the French Open with a dominant straight-sets win over Lesia Tsurenko.

    World number one Swiatek is looking to regain the title she claimed in 2020 and is the form player on the WTA Tour this season, winning each of her last five tournaments.

    Tsurenko was ranked 23 in the world as recently as 2019 but has struggled with injuries and had to come through qualifying at Roland Garros.

    And there was an obvious gulf between the two on Court Philippe-Chatrier as Swiatek surged to a 6-2 6-0 victory.

    The Pole dropped just two points in the first three games and, though Tsurenko did claim a break back to reduce Swiatek's lead to 5-2, she was then immediately broken to love, going long to surrender to the inevitable.

    Swiatek's arsenal of groundstrokes, touch at the net, and impeccable movement proved far too much for Tsurenko in the second set.

    A vicious forehand return of a tame second serve wrapped up Swiatek's 29th consecutive win in 54 minutes, an emphatic illustration of her status as the tournament favourite.

    Swiatek will face either Alison Riske or another Ukrainian, Dayana Yastremska, in the second round.

    Data Slam: Swiatek seals win 38

    With wins in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, and Rome, Swiatek has served as the dominant force in the women's game this season. Including Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers, she has now won 38 matches in 2022, two more than she did in 2021.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Swiatek – 20/13
    Tsurenko – 11/23

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Swiatek – 0/1
    Tsurenko – 0/0

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Swiatek – 6/9
    Tsurenko – 1/2

  • French Open: Osaka's Roland Garros return ended in round one by Anisimova French Open: Osaka's Roland Garros return ended in round one by Anisimova

    Naomi Osaka's return to the French Open ended in a round-one defeat as Amanda Anisimova had her opponent's number in a grand slam for the second time in 2022.

    A year ago, Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros after a first-round win over Patricia Maria Tig, citing mental health issues amid intense media scrutiny and having been fined for skipping press duties.

    Speaking prior to her opening-round match on this occasion, Osaka opened up about fearing a negative reaction from the Paris crowd.

    While the fans in attendance greeted her with warmth, Osaka fell 7-5 6-4 to Anisimova in a tough battle on Court Suzanne Lenglen, having also lost to her in round three of the Australian Open back in January.

    Having initially looked sluggish and dropped each of her opening two service games, Osaka found some rhythm and Anisimova had to serve to stay in the set.

    She did just that, though, and in a monster 11th game Osaka double faulted to cede the advantage, with Anisimova serving out to love.

    Another double-fault gift at 3-3 in the second gave Anisimova the break, and she recovered from 0-40 down in the next game to consolidate.

    Anisimova's quality was not quite at the same level in the second as the first, but she still served out the match at the first available opportunity to dump out the four-time grand slam champion.

    DATA SLAM: Gifts aplenty

    Osaka's record on the clay is not particularly great. Heading into this one her record read 21-17, and she complained of an Achilles issue in a recent early exit in Madrid. Here, there were glimpses of her excellent move and racquet striking but eight double faults is far too high against an opponent the calibre of Anisimova. Both players gave up 29 unforced errors, but Anisimova fared way better in the winners tally (27-13).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Osaka – 13/29
    Anisimova – 27/29

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Osaka – 4/8
    Anisimova – 5/2

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Osaka – 2/5
    Anisimova – 4/10

  • French Open: Alcaraz shines on Philippe Chatrier debut French Open: Alcaraz shines on Philippe Chatrier debut

    Carlos Alcaraz relished making his debut on Court Philippe Chatrier as the rising star made an impressive start to his French Open campaign.

    Madrid Open champion Alcaraz won his first-round clash against Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4 6-2 6-0 as the tournament in Paris got under way on Sunday.

    The 19-year-old – who has been tipped as one of the favourites to win the second major of the year – dispatched Londero in under two hours and enjoyed his time in the spotlight.

    Asked about his first experience on Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz said: "It was difficult at the beginning, but it's always special to play in such a great stadium, a great court. 

    "I'm really happy with the performance in my first match in Philippe Chatrier, and hope to play more matches in this court.

    "I am trying to be focused just on the tournaments, on the matches, and trying [not] to be a part of the social media and everyone talking about you.

    "Just focus on what I have to improve, what I have to do on the matches, what I have to do every day to be ready in the tournament."

    Elsewhere, third seed Alexander Zverev opened his campaign with a comprehensive 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.

    A semi-finalist at Roland-Garros last year, Zverev – who did not even allow Ofner a single break-point opportunity – was asked what he had learned about himself in the 12 months since.

    "Well, you grow, you grow up in a way," said the German. 

    "Each year you understand more and more what it takes to be pro tennis players, that there are difficulties on the court, that there are difficulties in any job that you do. 

    "Generally speaking, I get older, I'm 25 years old now. I'm not the young guy that Alcaraz is or some of the other guys are any more. 

    "I think as any other person as well, just taking tennis away, you just get more life experience."

    Zverev is yet to learn his second-round opponent, but Alcaraz will face fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas next.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.