Federer-Del Potro matches officially presented
By Gabriela Padín Losada
World number one Swiss Roger Federer’s two exhibition matches against top-ranked Argentine and current world number 8 Juan Martín del Potro were officially presented yesterday at a news conference held in Buenos Aires.
Both matches will take place in Tigre next to the Puerto de Frutos on December 12 and 13 and the opener’s 20,000 tickets sold-out in just six hours. Those for the second game will be available on Sunday.
CEO of Imagen Deportiva Guillermo Marín, Tigre Mayor Sergio Massa and tennis star José Luis Clerc were part of the presentation.
“As a former tennis player, I cannot believe we will be able to see Federer playing in Argentina. I consider this event as the greatest possible available in our country. Great musicians have come here such as Paul Mc Cartney, Guns and Roses and the Rolling Stones. For me, John Lennon comes on December 12,” said Clerc comparing Federer with the late Beatle.
“I want to congratulate Federer and Del Potro for the remarkable match they played at the Olympic Games singles tournament semifinals because it was great publicity for our event,” joked Marín. “We are very proud of this aim. Two great players will play in Argentina and Federer — the best of all time — for the first time.”
The stadium as well as the hard court will be especially built for these matches. “We received the exhibition between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi last year and it was a good experience but we expect this year’s event will be even better,” said Massa.
Clerc was the intermediary between Marín and Federer’s manager. “We started talking at the US Open last year. It was not easy but Roger was willing to come to South America and had reached a deal with Colombia and Brazil but it seemed difficult to arrange another match. Finally, we succeed thanks to Federer’s goodwill for changing some dates in his agenda,” said Clerc.
Federer will also give a tennis clinic for school-children in Tigre and will participate in a benefit dinner, atwhich money for the programme of 1,800 scholarships “Tigre educa” will be collected.
“Federer asked just a few things. Del Potro and (Juan) Mónaco have talked a lot to him about Argentine soccer and food. He knows (Diego) Maradona and (Lionel) Messi and expressed his desire of eating an “asado” but nothing more than that,” said Clerc.
After organizers dismissed the idea of setting a match between Guillermo Vilas and José Luis Clerc, they were trying to reenact 2004 French Open final between Gastón Gaudio and Guillermo Coria as a curtain-raiser but they have not yet reached a deal with both players.
“I remain in negotiations with Gaudio and Coria but if it fails, we will give spectators another first-quality show,” explained Marín.
The exhibitions are always suspected of being previously arranged in order to give a better performance but Marín rejected the idea. “Del Potro told me that it is very difficult to fix a match and that both of them always want to win. There are no special conditions in the contract. It will be a true match,” added Marín.