I woke up with two songs in my head this morning. One goes: OLÈ OLÈ OLÈ like the 11000 padel crazy Argentines sang in Mendoza's Premier Padel tournament. The other one is just the sound of ”BEEELA, BEEELA, BEEELA.” The king of padel was home.
What a tournament. What a final. And what a Fernando Belasteguin. Well, this Monday, the champions of the Premier Padels tournament in Mendoza, Franco Stupaczuk and Pablo Lima, have to pave the way to the sport's and Argentina's number one of all time: "El Rey."
It was like the 43-year-old was rejuvenated five years on the plane from Madrid, where he played last week. A reborn Bela wanted to show his passionate Argentinian home crowd that the old man could still win.
And he gave it all.
The fact that he beat his former partners Argentines Sanyo Gutierrez and Agustin Tapia says a lot. He was here to get the most out of that body, which is now 43 years old.
I can't remember how many times I've seen the same scene play out on a court with Bela like yesterday´s final. But there was one thing that was different. The outcome. When the tiebreak started, I was absolutely convinced that he and Arturo Coello would take the title and, in tears, celebrated the trophy with his supporters and family.
Because when Bela was at his prime, he was not the best at all moments on a padel court. There were then, as now, players who were better at different strokes and were more spectacular.
The difference was the mental game. Fernando Belasteguin is a master at knowing exactly what it takes for him to win. And winning is what counts.
The king of padel
I had the honor of attending Fernando Belasteguin's last tournament in Argentina, that time in the Buenos Aires World Padel Tour, and therefore know what an incredible legend Bela is in the country.
People wear Bela's jersey here, just like footballers in the city. Here, security guards are needed to keep Belasteguin away from his supporters. Here his name is sung before, during, and after the match.
It's easy to understand that while other players have been given animal nicknames, Fernando Belasteguin has been given "El Rey."
Was it the last time he got the chance to win on home soil? Forget it. Next time he might rejuvenate ten years on the plane from Spain to Argentina.