Wimbledon: Horacio Zeballos, from that match point saved in the first round to the final for his first major title

this Wimbledon The 2023 model year, which has already reached its decisive stages, will become a special championship for Horace Zeballos. Thirty-eight years old, left-handed man from Mar del Plata Returns to the final of the doubles competition From the third Grand Slam tournament of the season. It is a unique achievement for an Argentine tennis player who is not used to distinguished runs on the grass of London. This Saturday, in the Central Court, and with them the Spaniards Marcel GranollersHe, his regular partner on the pairs tour, will try to win the most important trophy of his career, the first Grand Slam title that has so far eluded him.

And in the semifinals, which took place on Court 1 on Thursday, Zeballos and Granollers defeated Germany’s Kevin Krawietz and Tim Potz 6-4, 6-3. They will seek the title against the best duo of the season, consisting of the Dutch Wesley Koolhoff And the British Neil Skupsky, who arrived as the best candidates. It’s a perfect challenge, in charge of two top-level couples.

Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers celebrate on Court 1 after qualifying for their third Grand Final

“Cibola,” as the left-hander is known, is a nickname he inherited from his father, Horacio, a former player, teacher, and director of the Edison Lawn Tennis Club in Mar del Plata, and he is already The Argentine has the most titles in doubles with 19 titles. During his first outings on the doubles tour, he had Chilean Julio Peralta as a partner. With the Catalans, Granollers they started playing as a pair since mid-2019, when they agreed to play the Canadian Masters 1000, in the North American Tour on cement; They won it and then reached the final of the US Open. They both understood that there was a good chemistry and decided to continue competing together on the ring. With Granollers as a partner, the Zeballos have added seven titles (winning Masters 1000 titles in Canada, Rome, Madrid and Cincinnati) and reached 5 more finals, including the 2019 US Open and 2021 Wimbledon. in four groups. Now is the time to try again.

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“You always get to the Championships with the illusion of repeating those kinds of results. I think we played really well two years ago. Last year, though we didn’t play Wimbledon. [porque no daba puntos]We won the championship in Halle. We feel comfortable on the grass, Marcel and I are good players, and that makes us confident that we can perform on all kinds of surfaces. I’m happy to perform here and to be back in the final,” Zeballos comments Nation From London after a quiet dinner.

However, the road was not easy, because up to this point the season had its ups and downs. They did not win a title in these months, but they did reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open at Roland Garros, and the induction in Geneva. “When you start the year, you think about adding up the number of points needed to play the Masters at the end of the year. That’s how we started it. This year in particular, we started really well, and then we had a big slump where we lost several first rounds. So we change goals and we think about reconnecting as a couple, see What do we do. That way before we traveled less because results were happening. So we thought about what to do to get together and get competitive again, and from there we traveled a bit more, spent more weeks on the track, went to smaller tournaments, gained confidence. Again, we trained together and found that level again, and things were happening. We played a competitor, we played the ATP 250, we started doing well again in Rome, then at Roland Garros, and here we are,” says the man from Mar del Plata about Tour found them at a high point again. With what has been accomplished so far, Zeballos will leave the 26th position he occupied in the doubles rankings and return to the top 10 in the major.

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Wimbledon soon puts this Everest in its path: Colombian couple Juan Sebastian Caballe and Robert Farah, competing in the first wheel. A very close success, by 6-7 (5-8), 7-6 (7-2) and 7-6 (11-9), After saving the match point. It was at that meeting that Zeballos stayed in the stadium to comfort Caballe’s young son, whose heart was saddened by his father’s misstep. In this regard, the man from Mar del Plata assessed: “After he saved this match point in the first round, he relaxed a bit. It happens very often that a player who has a good result has had a match in which he had to save a situation like the one that happened with us. Besides being one point away from losing, beating a couple as strong as Kabal Farah is the thing that filled us with confidence and made us feel better in the following matches.”

The good relationship between the Zeballos and the Granollers is also known for its fun and jokes… sometimes heavy. The Argentine, for example, had no better idea than the Spaniard leaving his bag strapped to one of the club’s benches. In response, the Catalan asked a physiotherapist to splint two fingers on one hand. This is how he got to the house they shared during those two weeks. “I don’t know who tied my bag, but I tore it hard and twisted the strap in my hand, so I wouldn’t be able to play the semi-finals,” he expressed measured annoyance, before a pale Zeballos. Before the Argentine: “It was me.” “I was thinking of carrying on with the joke a little longer, because I knew it was him, but I would give him something. He wouldn’t have held it all night, because he wouldn’t sleep and then he wouldn’t be there to play. I told him he deserved it,” Granollers later told the Spanish press. ,

Granollers know on the net; Zeballos awaits another comebackhttps://twitter.com/ATPTour_ES

Now, the title is close, which does not mean that it is easy to achieve. “Obviously it’s going to be a very tough match. They’re in the final for a reason, but we’re there too. The finalists are always players who arrive with confidence. In a tournament as important as this one, getting to the final is valuable, and it gives you a lot of strength. They are the No. 1 pair, aggressive players, solid baseline and in the net. The key will be to be very focused, do a good job with the serve and maybe be more intense than them,” he assessed the final challenge on the London court.

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Thus, Zeballos will strive to be the first Argentine among men to win the Wimbledon doubles tournament, something that Javier Frana could not achieve in 1991 (he was the finalist with Mexican Leonardo Laval), while Gabriela Sabatini lifted the highest trophy together in the women’s tournament. Steffi Graf in 1988, and Paula Suarez reached three more finals (2002, 2003 and 2006), all with Spain’s Virginia Ruano-Pascual as partner. In mixed doubles, the remembered Enrique Morea was a three-time finalist, in 1952, 1953 and 1955. And a pearl: those celebrated in doubles, but as juniors, were David Nalbandian and Guillermo Correa, winners in 1999, when both were 17 year.

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