Playing pranks and leaving conformity behind: Zeballos and Granollers’ road to the Wimbledon final

Zeballos y Granollers
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LONDON – Horacio Zeballos gets goose bumps when he thinks about how few Argentines have ever played in a professional Wimbledon final. Gabriela Sabatini, David Nalbandian, Javier Frana, Paola Suárez and him. This Saturday, Zeballos will play his second doubles final at the All England Club with the Spaniard Marcel Granollers: “I always focused on enjoying myself, but these days I am fully convinced that I want to win”.

Zeballos, a former singles player who will be able to tell his grandchildren that he was one of the few able to beat Rafael Nadal in a clay court final, takes with humor the fact that the attention for the discipline of the doubles is way different. “Marcel always laughs because when we do press it’s always for some Argentine or Latin American media. And sometimes news come out about Nadal on the yacht… and Marcel is in the Wimbledon final! (laugher),” he comments to CLAY and a couple of Argentinian media outlets.

“In Argentina we don’t have that doubles culture so much. I’m happy with the career I’ve had in singles and what I’m doing in doubles. I feel that here I have the chance to achieve things that I had far away in singles”, says the player who reached the top 40 in singles in 2013.

Zeballos and Granollers in their third Grand Slam final

After beating Krawietz / Puetz 6-4, 6-3, the left-hander says he will face his third Grand Slam final with a different approach: “I’m not going to lie to you that it’s nice to play a final. But I’m looking forward to winning it. I realized in Rome that I was being too conformist. But that feeling has changed.”

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At the same time, Granollers talks to a large group of reporters from Spain in the adjoining interview room. “Wow. How many journalists came to see me? It’s only a doubles final, man! I’m not Alcaraz!” exclaims Granollers, as Sergio Heredia writes in La Vanguardia.

“Well, this is a very good one!”, says the 37-year-old doubles player before telling a very funny joke he made to his Argentine tennis partner.

After winning in the quarterfinals, the Spaniard stayed in the club longer than Zeballos. When he went to grab his racquet bag, it was taped to one of the legs of the locker room chairs.

“I knew it was him,” he says. So to tease him back, he asked the physio to splint the fingers on his right hand, as if he had broken them.

“I got home like that with my fingers and I say ‘holy shit, I don’t know who tied my bag, I ripped it off and did it so hard that I fucked up the ligaments in my hand.”

Zeballos felt terrible for a few minutes, understanding that his joke had turned out too badly and that the dream of the Wimbledon title was ending in the most absurd way possible.

“I wanted to keep going with the joke, but I just saw him feeling really bad. Obviously I didn’t want him to sleep bad before we had to play a semi-final! I had to cut it off quickly,” he says with humor. The duo has a very good relationship that is transmitted on the court.

Thursday night will be dedicated to celebrate and enjoy a unique moment in London. Then they will concentrate on Saturday’s final against the number one ranked duo: the Dutch Wesley Koolhof and the British Neal Skupski. “We are not allowed to talk about the final tonight. We will analyze their match point by point tomorrow,” says Zeballos.

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He strongly wants the duo’s third Grand Slam final to be finally a victory to remember.

cover photo: Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers’ selfie for CLAY // HORACIO ZEBALLOS

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