“Rafa is my coach; Alcaraz, my teammate” – Sebastian Yatra kicks off the Pan American Games and remembers his tennis career
SANTIAGO, Chile – Who had more influence on Sebastian Yatra ‘s short amateur tennis career, Rafael Nadal or Carlos Alcaraz?
“Do you want me to lose a friend?” says the Colombian singer who in less than ten days lived two experiences for which any tennis fan would give anything. In Mallorca he trained with the champion of 22 Grand Slams as preparation for the great challenge he later had in New York: at the Arthur Ashe he won a doubles match against Frances Tiafoe and NBA player Jimmy Butler, as a duo of the world number number two.
“I come here undefeated since the US Open,” he says. And Sebastian Yatra, decides not to put one Spaniard over the other. “It’s just that Rafa is my coach and Alcaraz is my teammate. It’s different. They are two great athletes. It’s nice to get to know them as people, beyond the impressive things they do on the court”, assures the artist in Santiago de Chile, where this Friday will close the opening ceremony of the Pan American Games singing “Vagabundo” (Alcaraz’s favorite song) on the stage of the Estadio Nacional, the largest sports venue in Chile.
Yatra says he has experienced spectacular things in his tennis experience at Flushing Meadows: “As an amateur you can get to a certain point and what impresses me about high-performance athletes is their ability to unlock an inhuman level… the diversity and precision of the strokes seems extraordinary to me. When I meet people who do things that are impossible for me to do, it gives me a lot of excitement and of course a lot of intrigue to know how they have managed to do it”.
“I’m the worst athlete that will be here,” he jokes. In addition to tennis, Yatra is a football lover and says he is impressed with diving.
Santiago 2023 will host 7,000 athletes from 41 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean to compete in 39 sports. One of them will be tennis, which kicks off on Monday, October 23 at the recently restored Tennis Sports Center at the Estadio Nacional Stadium Park.
The focus will be on the Anita Lizana Central Court, named after the best tennis player in Chilean history, champion of the 1937 US Open and world number one that year. There, 15 medals will be awarded in the men’s and women’s singles and doubles categories, as well as in the mixed doubles.
The tastiest prize? The singles finalists win a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games main draw, which will be played on the Roland Garros courts.