The French tennis federation, the Roland Garros organisers, in association with AITA (All India Tennis Association), invited Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to India for the third edition of Rendez-vous a Roland-Garros Masters. The 3-time Roland Garros champion, and the 4-time Grand Slam champion, Sanchez-Vicario visited 2 cities in India, namely Kolkata and New Delhi, to promote the young talent and clay-court tennis in India.
Prior to the Masters which took place in New Delhi, the qualifying rounds were held in March, in Pune and Kolkata. Sanchez was in New Delhi to witness the finals. The winners, Malikaa Marathe, and Siddhant Banthia (who won the final, 6-0, 6-1) received a boarding pass each, from Delhi to Paris, where they will face the qualifiers from Brazil, South Korea, China, Japan, and USA, in the play-off in Paris. The eventual winners will get a wild card into the juniors’ tournament of Roland Garros.
Before flying down to New Delhi, Sanchez said, “I am extremely excited to be part of the Rendez- Vous à Roland-Garros in partnership with Longines. Such initiatives help us grow the talent map for tennis across the world and I am very impressed with the Indian talent I am seeing today in the global circuit,”
“I have always felt that learning tennis on clay builds a very strong foundation for young talent. Having global partners like Longines really helps such tournaments to grow and nurture grass roots level talent,” she added.
In a meet-and-greet session with the fans at New Delhi, the retired champion greeted all her fans, varying from 4 years of to 40 years of age. Many aspiring future tennis players came to greet and play a shot against her. She very patiently played a shot with each one of them, gave autographs, and got clicked with her fans.
On being asked by a fan, about clay being the strength of Spanish players since ever, she answered that the Spanish players preferably begin to play tennis on clay, which is otherwise tough to learn once the player has begun playing on hard courts or synthetic courts. That makes the Spanish players the strongest on clay than any other surface.