During the off-season, exhibition tournaments will be in full swing. For players not considered elite enough to join the all-star exhibition at Abu Dhabi, no matter: There’s an exciting exho approaching on January 2-3 at Punta del Este in Uruguay: the Summer Cup features South America’s tennis players from this generation and the last.
This tournament marks the end of Gaston Gaudio’s career. The Argentine announced his retirement in August. A short summary of his career: He pulled off the greatest dramatic upset at the 2004 Roland Garros final, where he defeated compatriot Guillermo Coria. Coria’s loss in 2004 was his last chance at Grand Slam glory. Gaudio defeated Hewitt, Nalbandian and Coria en route to his impressive victory (from what I know, he’s the only GS winner to have won after being bagelled in the final). Sadly, injuries and a predilection for partying had Gaudio playing Challenger events only a few years after his GS victory. Still, he had a talent that saw him join an exclusive club of players who’ve beaten Rafa more than once on clay (3 times for Gaudio).
As wary as I am of the term “one-Slam wonder,” el Gato Gaudio probably has the strongest case for that label. He never advanced beyond the 4th round at any other Grand Slam and his best appearances at Masters were SFs on clay. Still, fans adore him for his style, which included a beautiful 1H backhand. He also has an offbeat but fun personality and was prone to bursts of temper that involved colorful language and ripping off clothes.
Fun fact: Gaudio was once coached by the inscrutable enigma Franco Davin, who’s been coaching DelPo since 2008.
Former world no. 1, WTF winner and 3-time RG winner Gustavo Kuerten will also play the exhibition, which features a Kuerten-DelPo match up. The marquee match features two friendly giants with appealing dispositions. As much criticism as there is for parts of DelPo’s tennis game, it’s rare to hear people criticize him personally. Though Kuerten and DelPo have differing styles of baseline play, Kuerten seems a great role model for DelPo to follow in the years ahead (minus the numerous injury lay-offs). Kuerten also endured his fair share of Davis Cup drama for Brazil during his career.
The last man to star in this quartet is Pablo Cuevas, the Argentinean-born Uruguayan player. Currently ranked no. 142, he has a kick serve that did plenty of damage in his upset of Andy Roddick this year, at the Miami Masters. He won the doubles title at the 2008 French Open with Luis Horna. He also challenged DelPo in a loss at this year’s Estoril Open SF. Cuevas has been out this year with injuries, but he’ll be taking part in this exho.
What a panoply of exciting tennis to come. Who needs Abu Dhabi? I sniff my nose at it.
Sorry, that’s not a very flattering photo. What I meant to say is DelPo is saddened by his non-invite to Abu Dhabi:
Still, Guga more than makes up for it: Guga Guga Guga—
On the other hand, it’s worrying that this exhibition will interfere with DelPo’s training for the Oz Open. As exciting as the visual of a Kuerten-DelPo match is, playing on clay is not quite ideal preparation for the 1st GS of 2012 on hard courts, is it?