Maxi Sanchez has searched. Both for form, spirit, and a partner since the break-up with Sanyo Gutierrez, 2019. Now Maxi Sanchez has found everything. After the turbulent start to this season, he showed the doubters this week that he is back.
The church bell rings by the first serve at 10 am. After lunchtime, a demonstration starts outside the temporary Center court on the square in Valladolid. When the sun goes down, a group of Spanish friends starts to sing Feliz Cumpleanos while drinking one glass of too many of the local Rueda wine at one of Plaza Mayor's bars.
The Valladolid Masters is unlike any other World Padel Tour tournament.
During the week, several players I have been spoken to find the disturbances in the square, the heat in the middle of the day, and the fact that players have no shower nearby uncomfortable.
But the crowd loves it. The Valladolid Masters is the spectator's tournament.
In Valladolid, young upcoming padel players are watching WPT stars like Sanyo Gutierrez. Paula Josémaria and Arturo Coello practice at the local club coached by WPT coaches like Claudio Gilardoni and Gustavo Pratto. And you can tell by the atmosphere in the Plaza Mayor, from the Round of 16 to the final day, that the crowd really likes their padel.
Just because it's the spectator´s tournament, this title is even bigger for Maxi Sanchez, who has had many doubters. He has searched and searched for both form and a partner to play well together since he and Sanyo Gutierrez separated in 2019.
Since the breakup, he's been trying to find his way forward with his old partner Mati Diaz and at the end of last season with Martin Di Nenno. But without much success.
Before this season, he decided to contact Tito Allemandi. But, unfortunately, that partnership lasted for one tournament, and the season started in the worst possible way.
The search for his own form, the spirit, and the right partner has seen the number one from 2018 slip to 11th place in the WPT rankings. Earlier this season, he and his new Argentinian partner Lucho Capra have only reached the quarter-finals. Until now!
In the square of Valladolid, among the ringing church bells, rooftops, and restaurants at Plaza Mayor, Maxi Sanchez looked like his old self again. The spirit of the game was back, his form was at its best, and he has found the right partner in Lucho Capra that now won his first-ever Masters tournament in his career.
Even if the players find the competition uncomfortable, I think the spectator's tournament should live on for a long time in Plaza Mayor.