Conde de Godó 2023: The charm of Godó: in the absence of space, a unique spirit | Sports

The hitting of the ball, the sweeping of the ground and the metallic noise of the portable bleachers are the three sounds most frequently heard in the facilities of the Reial Club Tenis de Barcelona (RCTB) during the week that Godó lasts. A singular and special tournament. “Different, different”, transmit the tennis players, who these days come and go through the quiet neighborhood of Pedralbes, located in the upper area of ​​Barcelona and that for two months changes its appearance as a pyramid of iron and canvas rises that rises higher of 20 meters. It is the central court, called Rafa Nadal since 2017, with a capacity for 8,000 people – thanks to the 2012 expansion – and whose stands are removable, like those of the Andrés Gimeno court and court two.

The club’s members, 2,200, live with the transformation and appreciate it; after all, for a week the best tennis players in the world parade through the clay of Barcelona and the tournament is already one of the most emblematic and recognizable on the calendar. They not only accept it, but are an active part. The youngest ones act as ball boys (80) and the older ones perform different functions, with a total of 120 collaborators. “For us it is a luxury to host such a historic and special event; Not only does it not bother us, but we are the first to help”, declares a member of the historic Catalan club.

The tournament belongs to the third category of the tennis ladder, the ATP 500. But this does not prevent numerous figures from having played it, who appreciate the proximity of the workers and staff. “Many players tell us that tennis and true history can be breathed here,” they say from the organization; “When they arrive and see the garden, the pool and the Masia (Club House), they find a warmth that perhaps is not found in other tournaments, where the facilities are mostly prefabricated. They like to be in the same place that Santana, Borg, Lendl, Nastase, Laver or even Suzanne Lenglen or Fred Perry stepped on in their day”.

Barcelona’s spirit has also appealed to such giants as Sampras, Agassi, Djokovic and, of course, 12-time champion Nadal. All of them, instead of going through luxurious corridors with red carpets, walk along a stone path surrounded by bushes, and come across janitors covered in clay who have come from watering the court, making them see that they are playing in a club and not in a a cold and artificial enclosure.

“They notice a lot that the land is well cared for and of good quality. Tennis is played here all year round and the court is prepared in the same way every month. It must be taken into account that the partners have such a high economic level that the demand is maximum. That is why we have the staff that prepares the slopes hired throughout the year; in fact, the track manager has been working here for more than 25 years ”, they emphasize from the organization.

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The complex is boxed in, surrounded by streets and houses, so there is no possibility of expansion. While other tournaments grow territorially, Godó compensates for this limitation through charm. But it is not the only obstacle that he has had to overcome. In 1986 he was about to leave the calendar when he closed the previous year with losses and from the high spheres of tennis they demanded that he increase the prizes to at least half a million dollars. The negotiation of the director, Sixte Cambra, with the IMG company, which professionalized the management of the tournament, unblocked the situation. From the 1987 edition the balance was always positive and today the 70th edition is celebrated with all the tickets sold.

“We are a closed club of 2,200 members. For a new one to enter, another has to leave and, apart from that, he needs a minimum of two guarantees from other partners. It’s like Wimbledon, a club with which we are twinned. We are also twinned with Barça and we will both be 125 years old next year”, they transmit from the executive management. David Ferrer is currently in charge of sports, who as a player played 45 games and lost against Nadal in four finals.

“We have made a great effort to make this a truly special year, with the luck that almost everyone wants to come,” says the 41-year-old from Alicante who has won 27 titles. “We are a tournament with characteristics that make it attractive to professionals, and different in that its facilities are completely transformed to accommodate those who visit us. We can’t grow in size, but we can grow in quality”, concludes Cambra, while the fans look forward to this Thursday’s meeting (not before 4:00 p.m., Teledeporte) between Carlos Alcaraz and Roberto Bautista.

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