“Mr. Delgado, you have a call.” Patiently, this manager of a Paraguayan imported factory picks up the phone, landline or mobile, that the last days do not stop ringing. And when he puts his ear to the earpiece, he flies back to April 29, 2002, so long ago that he doesn’t even remember how old he was.
That day he woke up excited, the Mallorca tennis tournament was a good opportunity to score points and win. The painting helped because in the first round a 15-year-old pipiolo was waiting. Ah, this is the Rafael Nadal that Carlos Moyá always talks about so much, the one who says it’s so good. The manager Ramón Delgado – eye, who in his day was able to knock down Sampras – was surprised by the entourage that accompanied the kid. That already meant something.
The game started evenly, the happy boy reached all the balls and the Paraguayan tennis player began to falter. He lost the first set and his faith went down the drain. You never know what day his name will go down in the history books and for what reason. “Nor did a nobody win me, did he?” Delgado proudly explains. He attended the first professional victory of that boy who as a child thought that his uncle Toni had magical powers and could make it rain at will.
It’s 2020, November, 18 years later and Rafael Nadal Parera has added 999 victories to that of that spring of 2002. The one that made the thousand was fastened yesterday before a colleague, Feliciano López, on the hard surface of Paris-Bercy. And he did not make it easy for him, as the man from Toledo took the first set and squeezed his friend into the second set. Only then could Nadal straighten the course, equalize the game and close it half an hour later (4-6, 7-6 and 6-4). And voila, 1,000.
“I’m very happy. The bad thing about having won 1,000 games is that I realize that I am older». Nadal stopped long enough to celebrate the event, which places him in a select club of just four members: Connors (1,274 wins), Federer (1,242) and Lendl (1,068).
“It will be silly to say it now, but even then, that day, you could see that the boy had something special,” Ramón Delgado concluded before hanging up the phone and continuing to work in his import company. Now you know that that April 29 was part of a story that was just beginning.