Fernando Belasteguin carries the voice of padel and its athletes. Padel Magazine interviews the living legend of the Foro Italico and the Italian Major of Premier Padel.
Roland-Garros was my dream
Lorenzo Lecci López: How does it feel to play in Foro Italico, this emblematic place?
Fernando Belasteguin:“That’s great. I think this is now the beginning of a dream that we are living awake. It’s great to come and play in such an emblematic place of world sport. This is the beginning of something very big for our sport.
Lorenzo Lecci López: Then it will be Roland-Garros. If you had been told this 3 years ago, 20 years ago, what would you have thought?
Fernando Belasteguin †“I was talking about it recently with Wilson’s Iñaki Cabrera. We had gone to Roland-Garros in 2020 and when we entered the Roland-Garros site, I said to him: “My dream is that a padel tournament will be played here”. Not that I play it, but just to be able to see padel in the Philippe-Chatrier. Two years later we are going to play, it is unbelievable!”
Objective 2 and a half years
Lorenzo Lecci López: In the last interview we had, you told me you would keep going until you felt you were no longer competitive. Where do you draw the line? Fighting for #1? Win titles? Be competitive in the table?
Fernando Belasteguin:“Fighting to win tournaments. I think I still have the strength, and that is my goal, to play another two and a half years. I think I have the strength. Beyond the physical power I speak of the mental. I’ve always taken care of myself, but at this age I have to give it my all to be competitive. I think I have this mental strength at a good level for another 2 and a half years. I hope I can reach it because an injury and that could be the end.
Professional sport is not a cooperative
Lorenzo Lecci López: I’ve talked to players who are used to WPT previas who play the main draw here. They tell me they are going to spend what they earn here on their next trip to play a WPT. Do you think it is still positive for these professional athletes who play the WPT?
Fernando Belasteguin †“These are steps that professional sport has taken. We agreed a compromise with the prize money a few years ago, and we have to respect it, recognizing that it costs money for many. Hopefully that will change soon. With these tournaments that will start to change I think a lot will change there in the future. The player should not lose money, at least he should be able to cover the travel and training costs.
“More and more income streams have to come in for the player, because that will be reflected in the sports spectacle. The more the players train, the more they can cover their load, the more the sport will grow because the show will be better.”
Lorenzo Lecci López: Premier Padel has just started, but if we think in 2/3 years, do you think it will be possible for young Argentines to come and play in the professional circuit without taking too much risk? If they lose, don’t let it be a tragedy and let them continue without having to return to Argentina.
Fernando Belasteguin “It doesn’t have to be. Everyone takes a risk when they make the decision to make something professional. No one can guarantee you that it will work, it is by winning matches that you get more money.
Professional sport is not a cooperative. How many players invest in tennis to become professional? These people don’t lose money, they invest time and money. If it works, that’s fantastic. They should not be sure of anything, because then they will relax and without effort nothing will happen.”
The WPT lost its first lawsuit
Lorenzo Lecci López: The World Padel Tour did not win the lawsuit against Miguel Oliveira. The latter does not have to pay the WPT sanctions. There is no real pressure from the WPT on the players anymore.
Fernando Belasteguin:“Miguel’s case has nothing to do with ours, it’s different. I don’t think that will set a precedent for our situation, and that the WPT will stop threatening us because they lost this lawsuit against Miguel. What is true is that the first lawsuit they had, they lost.”
Lorenzo Lecci López: Another circuit, the APT Padel Tour, is doing good things, especially with young players, they had a great event in Seville. Do you think the FIP should recognize these events as they contribute to the spread of the sport?
Fernando Belasteguin †“It’s always good when tours help develop players. This has been a hallmark of Fabrice Pastor for years, in his own way he has always helped young players. I remember the Pastor Cup in Buenos Aires, he helped Stupa and Di Nenno, Chingotto/Tello, Tapia/Soliverez to come and play in Europe. It is good that young people are given the opportunity to travel.”
“From there to an international federation that recognizes it, I don’t know what the requirements are. But whether it is recognized or not, I always support initiatives that help the padel, whoever it is, whatever it does and whatever it says. We have to applaud and move on.”
From his names we guess his Spanish and Italian ancestry. Lorenzo is a polyglot passionate about sports: journalism by vocation and events by worship are his two legs. He is the international gentleman of Padel Magazine. You often see it at the various international competitions, but also at the major French events. @eyeofpadel on Instagram to see his best padel pics!