Miami: Gracias Feña

Gonzo retired from tennis, after losing to Nicolas Mahut of France in a 3rd set TB, when he DF-ed on match point.  Thus ended a career that saw him win an Olympic medal of every color and reach the AO final in ’07, after a truly astounding run.  His fiery FHs, along with his no-B.S. temperament, underneath which lay a classy competitor, were a great addition to the game.  The way he became the face of Chilean tennis, in the wake of Marcelos Rios’ career, is a great testament to his achievements and the memories he brought to the game.

Photo: AP Photo

To the unfortunate dismay of many of Gonzo’s fans, there was no television coverage of Gonzo’s last match.  Apparently, there was an ESPN camera stationed nearby, so there is a tiny sliver of hope that one day the match will available for viewing.

After the match, Gonzo shook Mahut’s hand and instead of shaking umpire Carlos Bernardes’ hand, as is the norm, he hugged Bernardes instead:

At Marat Safin’s last match at Paris-Bercy in 2009, I remember the commentator mentioning that Bernardes had specifically requested to ump the Safin match, knowing that it would likely be Safin’s last competitive match on tour.  Bernardes’ request was granted and he ump-ed that match, where Safin lost to DelPo and closed the doors on his career.  I wonder if Bernardes had put in a request to ump Gonzo’s last match?

Though it wasn’t televised, which is truly baffling, there was a farewell ceremony for Gonzo at the end.  Fans wearing t-shirts printed with each letter of the word “GRACIAS” cheered on their man Gonzo, with the “Chi chi chi Le le le” chant.

Photo: AP Photo

There was a video tribute: Fed, Rafa, Muzz, the Bryan brothers, Djokovic and Nalbandian expressed their farewells to Gonzo.

The fact that the video tribute for Gonzo (who is 31 y.o.) is book-ended by Fed and Nalby (both 30 yrs-old), each of whom played against Gonzo as juniors, underscores the passing of time.  The next 12-24 months will likely see some of my favorite players born in ’80-’82 call it a career.  I may or may not have teared up a little when Nalby spoke: he speaks some heartfelt words in Spanish to Gonzo, whom he’s known since he was a chiquito.  It’s the “chicquito” part that kills me — why can’t they stay put as the newly minted Chiquitos-2-Hombres forever?:

Gonzo acknowledged the end of his great career, just minutes after his match against Mahut.  In the most Gonzo-like fashion:

To finish, a clip of Gonzo’s final farewell speech — the Miami crowd, so boisterous and filled with South American fans, gave him a worthy farewell:

Gracias Feña


For old time’s sake, Juan Carlos Ferrero & Gonzo when they were young:


About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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9 Responses to Miami: Gracias Feña

  1. Aw. I like this post. I wonder if Bernardes DID ask to umpire Elfer’s last match? Great final photo– Gonzo’s shoulders were a force even as a kid. And check that 80s windbreaker 😉

    I’m sorry about Nalby too! I was rooting for him over Tips. I know I haven’t written about him yet at IW, but I loved watching him play Rafa. It was beautiful tennis. I told the fellow Rafa fan next to me (she only referred to Rafa as “we” throughout the entire match) that even if Nadal lost we’d at least have seen some gorgeous tennis from the winner. She glared at me. Hehe.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Yes, the 80s windbreaker was a lovely touch!! 🙂 Gonzo did have very wide-set shoulders, huh? He almost dwards JCF in that photo!

      I wonder what happened with Nalby-Tipsy. I think Nalby’s had a tougher time playing Miami than IW, in the past, so I guess it’s not too surprising although I was hoping he’d make another deep run. I hope you do a write-up of that Rafa-Nalby match!! Haha about the Rafa fan who glared—when it’s to Nalby, I don’t think anyone should mind!! It was a high-quality match, must have been awesome to see live!!

  2. Iram says:

    love the last pic…they’re so cute. I really hope Fer has a wonderful life ahead of him. I hope he settles down and starts a family and then perhaps coach in the future or play champions? (like moya, agassi etc)

    I’m sorry nalby lost…I had him beating Tipsy in my fantasy draw. 😦 Mybe he’s a lil tired too?!

    ok t c Hope u have a great weekend.
    (I know u’re super busy, but when u get a chance can u pls tell me who’s gonna be in the Spanish Olympic squad? I had asked u on a comment u posted on my site, but maybe u overlooked it?! it’s okay…I just wanted to know who’ll rep Spain)

    • Iram, I’m not sure it’s set yet. Each country can have six players. Right now Spain has six in the top 25: Rafa, Ferru, Almagro, Fer, Feli, Granollers. But I think there’s still some time for change… esp since clay will be next. So there’s still Anjudar, Ramos, JCF, etc to consider. Rafa is playing with Marcel this week bc his ranking makes him the most likely doubles partner for Rafa in the Olympics & they need to get used to working as a team.

      • Iram says:

        thanks arienna…though I’m very doubtful jcf is a consideration!! i think he’s injured.
        Anyway, I’d like to see spain get at least one of the three medals (even though there’s so much time left)
        t c and warm wishes

      • mariposaxprs says:

        I thought each country has a maximum of 4 players (in the singles competition)? Those ranked in the top 56 are considered, then the top 4 from each country automatically qualify for the Olympics.

        With Spain, currently the top 4 in singles would be: Rafa, Ferru, Nico, Feli. However, the rankings are taken at June 2012, so it would be up to Feli to maintain his ranking as the 4th highest-ranked Spaniard. I don’t know too much about the doubles, but Wikipedia tells me that each country can have a maximum of 2 doubles teams. I know Rafa mentioned he would play dubs with Marcel, so I guess that leaves one more dubs team from Spain…

        • Whoops. Did I get it wrong? I thought I read six somewhere… apologies if I’ve led anyone astray.

          • mariposaxprs says:

            Np, I’m not entirely sure how the Olympics for tennis works, given the WCs that are handed out as well—do the WCs only go out to players from countries who don’t have 4 plyrs ranked in the top 56? I only looked it up b/c I was wondering about Nalby… I think the rule for singles is 4, but maybe there is a variation to the rule—I guess time will tell, very very soon!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      This is why I stopped doing fantasy draws…I can never pick against my favorites and then I end up at the bottom of the points list 😦 Nalby’s probably pretty tired, so this loss could hopefully give him a chance to rest before the DC QF and the start of the clay season—I think he’s aiming to play a full clay season this year, which is always a bit nerve-wracking.

      I really hope Gonzo keeps everyone updated on what he does in his new life!! It’d be amazing to see him play the Champions Tour, against Moya and Safin and everyone. Pretty soon, I may have to start watching more of the Champions Tour!!

      I hope you have a great weekend as well, Iram!~~

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