Nadal and Berrettini, protagonists of a historic event: an unprecedented training session on Wimbledon’s central court four days before the start of the tournament

Wimbledon, the most prestigious tennis event in the world, celebrates the centenary of its emblematic central court. In addition to various festivities that are scheduled during the tournament (it will start next Monday), the major The British launched some changes and one of them breaks one of its most sacred traditions: allowing the players who train on the central court, usually reserved only for official matches in order to preserve the grass. This Thursday, Rafael Nadal y Matteo Berrettini were the protagonists of that unpublished essay.

The 36-year-old Spaniard, who this season did not stop increasing his legend (winning the Australian and Roland Garros trophies, with which he reached 22 major titles, two more than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic), and the 26-year-old Italian (and 2021 Wimbledon finalist; fell to Nole) walked the impeccable turf of the All England center court for approximately 45 minutes. They were able to finalize a training set in which Berrettini won 6-4.

Rafael Nadal practicing with Matteo Berrettini on Center Court at Wimbledon.Steven Paston – PA

Berrettini stands as one of the top favorites for the title. The Roman, number 11 in the world, arrives undefeated on grass at Wimbledon after winning consecutive titles at Queen’s (in the final he beat Serbian Filip Krajinovic) and Stuttgart (he beat Scotsman Andy Murray).

Nadal has also been adding hours of flight after having undergone treatment on his left foot a few hours after conquering Roland Garros. On Wednesday, Nadal beat Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3 in a warm-up match played at Giorgio Armani Tennis in Hurlingham, London. The practice set against Berrettini was after a light rehearsal that he did on the training courts of Aorangi Park together with two of his coaches, Francis Roig and Marc López (the other is Carlos Moya). The Mallorcan and number 4 in the ranking will play again this Friday in Hurlingham, although this time against the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Last year, the central court was more slippery than the rest of the courts and there were two serious injuries with subsequent withdrawals, such as those of the French Adrian Mannarino (against Federer) and the American Serena Williams (this year she competes again at the All England). To try to alleviate this, Wimbledon decided that this year the tennis players will step on and train on the central court (and also on court number 1), until now stadiums reserved only for the best matches.

The greeting between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.
The greeting between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.Steven Paston – PA

What’s more: the anecdote told by David Nalbandian from Cordoba, who reached the 2002 Wimbledon final without having set foot on the pitch in the central stadium, is still remembered. “After playing six games at Wimbledon he had never done it on center court, I was in the final and he had never entered. It’s those weird things that happen when you’re not seeded and you’re rowing from behind,” Nalbandian told THE NATIONduring a report in 2017.

David Nalbandian with his award, after losing to Australia's Hewitt in the 2002 Wimbledon final.
David Nalbandian with his award, after losing to Australia’s Hewitt in the 2002 Wimbledon final.AP

Gabriel Markus, at the time the coach of the player born in Unquillo, spoke with the organization and managed to get them to allow them to warm up there before facing the Australian Lleyton Hewitt, finally the champion. “Wimbledon’s center court is the most beautiful stadium I’ve ever played in,” Nalbandian said in the same interview.

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