I’ve been in Argentina since Monday and if I took time to visit Buenos Aires a little, I had the agreeable surprise of a proposal from my friend Diego yesterday (my original plan was to visit Recoleta): meet up with him at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club (BALTC) and visit the grounds where the Copa Claro will be held starting tomorrow. I was pretty excited at both prospects: seeing my friend and getting acquainted with clay. Both made a great day.
Under the scorching Argentinian sun, I visited the grounds of the BALTC, the courts where the matches will take place, the practice courts.
As I mentioned, it was the first time I ever saw real red clay other than on TV and I must say it was pretty special. There isn’t much clay in Quebec, and the clay I’ve seen there is green clay, at the National Training Centre, for instance. Having had a chance to take a few steps on the red clay yesterday, I can tell that the feel is very different from the Har-Tru, and I must say that I like the feel of red clay better. It’s not as rough on the foot as green clay, among other things. Very special when you don’t know that feeling.
After touring the grounds a little, we watched players practice. And what a treat for a fan of Argentine tennis such as me to see the young players I’ve only seen on TV before play in front of me, on their home soil: Diego Schwartzman, Facundo Argüello, Kevin Konfederak, Facundo Bagnis, Nicolás Pastor, and a few more, as well as veterans Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Pablo Brzezicki.
We also had the chance to watch Kei Nishikori practice on the Cancha Central with Spaniard Pablo Andújar and the level of play was pretty amazing on both parts too. Nishikori is improving a lot on clay and seeing Andújar on his most comfortable surface is really a sight to bestow. His volleys, particularly, were real poetry to watch.
In the end, this first acquaintance with clay made me even more eager for the tournament to begin.
The Copa Claro starts tomorrow with the qualifications, for which the draw will be available later today. The main draw action technically starts on Monday. Technically because the weather forecast, like every year, is far from pretty. I will, of course, keep you updated via Twitter and here as well.