Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Nicolas Almagro faces Janko Tipsarevic today.
Nicolas Almagro faces Janko Tipsarevic today.

'Honoured' Almagro has big shoes to fill as Nadal's replacement

Called in at short notice, all eyes will be weighing the Spaniard and how he does compared to his illustrious compatriot.

ABU DHABI // When the phone call came on Christmas Day, Nicolas Almagro's first instinct was not to leap at the fresh opportunity that was at hand.

He had been called about his possible interest in replacing Spanish countryman Rafael Nadal in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, which was set to begin in two days.

He was enjoying the holiday in Murcia, Spain, where he was kicking back with friends and family."I was taking the coffee," he said.

He would need it. After telling his manager to give him a few moments to see what travel arrangements were possible, he agreed to play, then began a long, red-eyed journey to Abu Dhabi.

"I said to him, let me check the flights and call you back," said Almagro, the world No 11. "It was Christmas. Everything is closed."

He finally arrived at 5am yesterday and slept for a couple of hours before heading to the Zayed Sports City for practice and pre-tournament activities.

Good thing he was given Nadal's opening-round bye and a spot in today's semi-final.

"Otherwise I could not have played," he said.

Almagro said he was completely unaware that he was on the list of possible tournament alternates for injuries and last-minute withdrawals.

"I didn't know nothing," he said. "I thought Rafa would be ready."

Standing in for Nadal, one of the biggest sports figures in his country's history with 11 grand slam titles to his name, seems a bit daunting.

"Rafa for us is amazing," he said. "He's our No 1, he's the best on clay, one of the best on every surface.

"For me, it is an honour, it is special, to be here. We miss him. He's our head. He did many things for the history of Spanish tennis."

Whether he has any inside information or not is debatable, but Almagro made a bold prediction about Nadal's future in the sport. "He is going to come back with the same power and the same mentality as early in his career," he said.

selling@thenational.ae

 

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National