Photos: DelPo Meets the Pope in Rome

Yesterday, DelPo met the Pope in Rome.  He showed up wearing a crisp white shirt and black suit pants (he saves this outfit for his meetings with magicians, the Pope and other important people).

DelPo had gifted Pope Francis a Wilson tennis racquet.  Per DelPo’s media manager, the racquet DelPo gave to the Pope is the one he used to win championship point at the USO in 2009.  It was a very meaningful gift:

Although DelPo is playing with a limited number of racquets that Wilson no longer makes, DelPo has not played with the specific racquet he used to win the 2009 USO for quite some time.

Many other ATP players went to Saint Peter’s Square for the Pope’s weekly general audience, including Carlos Berlocq, Horacio Zeballos, Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson.

Per Guille Caporaletti, DelPo was the only ATP player among the group who had the chance to speak to the Pope this year.

A delighted DelPo shared his thoughts about his short meeting with the Pope at the weekly general audience (source):

Since the day Pope Francis was elected, I’ve wanted to meet him.  Thanks to efforts in Buenos Aires and the ATP’s assistance, I was able to have a meeting.  It was a nice coincidence that I did not have to play a singles match on this day.

It was a very beautiful moment when the Pope was speaking to the entire audience from the balcony. He turned to my side, looked at me, and raised his thumb at me.  He recognized me and that was surprising.  We had a few seconds of conversation.  He said that he knew I was playing the Rome Masters.  He blessed me and wished me all the best.  I congratulated him and thanked him for the opportunity to meet him.

Following his meeting with the Pope, DelPo promptly headed to the Foro Italico to play his doubles match:

The Italian team, Starace and Lorenzi defeated DelPo and Baghdatis, 6-3 2-6 10-8.  This loss can probably be blamed on Baghdatis.

DelPo will play his R3 match against Benoit Paire today.  They are second on court at the Supertennis Area.  Time will tell if the Pope’s good wishes help DelPo in Rome.

All in all, it was an eventful day in Rome, with DelPo’s meeting with the Pope and Jerzy Janowicz’s epic shirt-rip following his upset win over Tsonga in R2:

Screen shot 2013-05-16 at 2.23.05 PM


I’d noted in an earlier post that Fed met Pope Benedict XVI in May 2006:

federer popeIt turns out there is another ATP player who has also had the honor of meeting the Pope — former French player (and now DC captain) Arnaud Clement has had the honors as well:


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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2 Responses to Photos: DelPo Meets the Pope in Rome

  1. says:

    An historic day indeed: a tennis racquet is added to the Vatican archives where it will remain until the Second Coming and Benoit Paire beats his first top 10. I don’t dare speculate on the cosmic connotations. Will we ever know if Juan spent last night praying the rosary that he had the Pope bless? Was it his (I’m betting seldom-used) personal property or acquired for the occasion? Maybe he should have stayed at the Foro Italico and practiced instead; His Holiness would understand. Seriously, WTF is going on here? Is this a secret strategy to forsake moving up the rankings and just hang around the whole season at #7 which is working as long as Tsonga loses? Has he still not recovered his strength from the mysterious virus? Is he worried about Muzz? What else could explain his slug-like movement today? I’m no tennis expert but it doesn’t take one to see he doesn’t know how to handle things at the net where Paire made such a fool of him today.
    So what now? Does he fly home to cold, windy ARG or beg for a wild card for someplace warm like Nice where he can hang out with Nole and maybe get some pointers like Pico does with Rafa? I still say a long stay at some remote monastery in prayer, contemplation and complete celibacy would do the boy good.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      This was one of the most disappointing matches I’ve seen him play. He spent 2 weeks away with the virus and he looks noticeably thinner. I guess it really took a lot out of him. He was playing as poorly as he did in Monte Carlo, which is disturbing. Poor footwork and sluggish. He wasn’t even chasing down the balls he would normally go for. I don’t know what happened here, but his prep for Roland Garros is seriously weaker than last year. Ugo was in Rome this year, sitting in both Muzz and DelPo’s boxes. Maybe DelPo followed Muzz out of Rome? I certainly hope that doesn’t become a thing…

      I hope DelPo stays in Europe. If he flies back home to Argentina this week, he deserves to lose in R1 at Roland Garros. He can’t fly back home at every opportunity — it’s a waste of his energy. He needs to train in Europe — he should head to Paris and start training there on those courts. Qualies have already started, so he could make use of the courts.

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