In an interview with the Mutua Madrid Open, retired Spanish tennis player and current Tournament Director Manolo Santana offered a very candid interview about the state of tennis and of the 2014 season. He answered some questions about the Big 4, and gave his opinion about whom he sees winning Roland Garros.
Q: Since 2004, only three of the 40 Grand Slams haven’t been won by Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray, the last of which was the US Open that Juan Martín del Potro won in 2009, but Stanislas Wawrinka changed that with his win in Australia. Do you think that this season other players can break this stranglehold that the big four have?
Manolo Santana: I think that these four players will dominate not only the Grand Slams, but also other important tournaments such as the Masters 1000s. There are various players who there or there abouts, like Wawrinka, Dimitrov and Del Potro. I think these are competitive rivals, and we mustn’t forget about David Ferrer, who might not be that big a name like the others we’ve mentioned, but he’s the world number three, and he undoubtedly deserves to win a big tournament. I think for him to win a Grand Slam would be difficult, because David’s favourite surface is clay, and there he has Rafa, as we saw in the final in Paris last year, but they’re both players who can win Grand Slams. One thing I think is predictable is Rafa winning in Paris again.
Q: How do you see male Spanish tennis in 2014?
Manolo Santana: It is incredible. It’s marvellous that we have two players like Nadal and Ferrer in the top five in the world. And they’re backed up by players like Almagro, who is an incredible player, Verdasco, Feliciano and Robredo, who are fighting to remain at the top and that’s not easy but they do it. Then we have Bautista, who did incredibly in Australia, and also García López and Andújar, who is a player who does well on all surfaces and I like his style of play. We have a great group of players but obviously some of them might slip away. We have to carry on supporting Rafa, because he is a foundation not only of Spanish tennis, but also world tennis. When Rafa plays, demand for tickets, interviews… go off the scale. It’s normal, because for me he’s not a normal sportsman, and we’re very lucky that all of us in the tennis family have him close to us.
To read the interview in its entirety, click here.