Thursday, September 2, 2021

2021 US Open: Win, Lose or Withdraw, the Spanish Men Will Do It In S-T-Y-L-E

Bernabe Zapata Miralles’ graphic tee by Lotto was a winner in his loss to Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. (7[7]-6[5], 3-6, 2-6) Photo by Andrew Ong/USTA.


is common knowledge that some of the most successful players on the men's tour are from Spain, and we're not just talking Rafael Nadal.

The field goes much deeper, from David Ferrer (highest rank 3; retired in 2019) and Fernando Verdasco (recovering; currently 132; highest rank 7) to Carlos Alcaraz (55) and 2021 US Open singles qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles (116) .

It is no surprise that a country around 1.3 times smaller than Texas can produce such a wealth of talent, considering that the mild climate is perfect for tennis most of the year.

This can be said, of course, about many other parts of the world. But what sets Spain apart is its tenacious dedication to developing its athletes, particularly footballers and tennis players. Indeed, it is not uncommon for Spaniards to start their training as young as 4.

Further, certain fundamentals are ruthlessly (for better or worse) drilled into them: fitness (for endurance), mastery of select shots such as forehands. Other key fundamentals are grinding, speed, agility (the latter two are required for success on clay). In recent years, more academies have been installing hard courts to give their pupils more of an advantage on this faster surface.
Of course, the tennis world can see the fruit of these labors in the number of Spanish men at the top of the rankings and their formidable court play.

All that written, one aspect about the Spaniards may have been overlooked. Or is it simply more apparent at this year's US Open?

And that aspect is ... their sense of fashion. They play with flair. And they dress with flair, from subtle to ebullient.

Consider the mesmerizing b&w geometric tee with a pop of chartreuse on the edge of the sleeve that Miralles wore during his second-round loss to Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7[7]-6[5], 3-6, 2-6). Meanwhile, the prints of Albert RamosiVinolas' marine blue shirt were fairly rippling like waves in his first-round win against Lucas Pouille of France. How soothing (or unsettling)! (6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4)

The female players have more to work with because they can don catsuits, dresses, skirts as well as shirts and shorts. The men, on the other hand, must rely mainly on the shirt on their back.

As a group, the Spanish men are the most fashionable "courtiers" at this year's US Open. Regardless of their results, they will win sartorially. See evidence in the photos that follow.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas’ multiprint marine blue shirt by Joma is reminiscent of waves. It was a fitting get-up for his topsy-turvy, five-set victory over Frenchman Lucas Pouille. (6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4) Photo by Mike Lawrence/USTA.
Pablo Andujar’s green, white and yellow cap and shirt ensemble lent him a commanding air in his victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. (6-4, 6-3, 6-1) Photo by Mike Lawrence/USTA.
Carlos Alcaraz, the 18-year-old presumed heir apparent to Rafael Nadal, wore a white-striped Nike T-shirt with navy sleeves and dashes of colors on the collar and shoulder that are similar to those of the insignia on the Spanish flag. Perhaps feelings of patriotism, plus his lethal forehand, helped in his victory over the UK’s Cameron Norrie. (6-4, 6-4, 6-3) Photo by Manuela Davies/USTA.
Carlos Taberner’s white shirt with a blue side stripe is cool and crisp – almost zen. That was not enough, however, to overcome Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands in five sets. (6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 3-6) Photo by Rhea Nall/USTA.
Roberto Bautista Agut floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee in his sleek black (or darkest navy), white and yellow Lacoste ensem. Just ask the mercurial Aussie, Nick Kyrgios. (6-3, 6-4, 6-0) Photo by Brad Penner/USTA.
Pedro Martinez looks like a superhero in a blue Joma tee that suggests both slanted raindrops and clouds (remnants of a hurricane?). Alas, his nemesis – Russian Andrey Rublev – got the best of him. No doubt, the super man will fight another day and be well-dressed for the occasion. (6-7, 7-6, 1-6, 1-6) Photo by Manuela Davies/USTA.
Roberto Carballes Baena, like countryman Bernabe Zapata Miralles (top), went for a Lotto graphic tee, while prevailing over Tommy Paul of the United States, possibly hypnotizing him in the process. (7[7]-6[5], 6-2, 1-6, 6-3) Photo by Mike Lawrence/USTA.

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