He was the first Spanish umpire to do the men’s final at the US Open
Then the Davis Cup final last year
He says it’s especially hard to umpire in foreign languages.
He’s fulfilled two of his dreams – to umpire a Grand Slam final and a Davis Cup final. But like the players, the hardest thing for an umpire is not just to reach that level, but to maintain it.
He was pretty good as a junior, but when it came to the crunch he decided to concentrate on his studies (PR
At age 14 he was a line judge at the Godo
Umpiring was a good way to stay in a sport he was still passionate about
In 1995 he got to level 2 (satellites, qualifiers and women’s tournaments).
In 1997 level 3 (challengers, some ATP and linesman at Grand Slams)
In 1999 – Silver category
In 2001 – Gold Badge (part of the umpiring elite)
Now he’s the only Spaniard in the official ITF team so he does a lot of Grand Slams, Davis Cup and ATP events… but it’s hard for him because at the Grand Slams they prefer to use a lot of local umpires (Australian, French, British & American), but if there aren’t any that’s when he has an advantage.
He want’s to do Wimbledon the most. He has a good record at the US Open where he did his first final. His first final had two great players – Federer and Agassi. It was a great atmosphere and he’d have paid to be there as a fan. As an umpire you don’t have time to watch the match but you can still get the feeling and it was a good match. That match and the Federer v Safin Australian Open semi last year were his 2 highlights.
He only enjoys it when things go well. He keeps stats from all the matches he umpires. He even bought a poster at the merchandising shop at NY as a souvenir. In Bratislava he was given a ball by Javier Moreno (the first Catalan to umpire a DC final in Dusseldorf in 1993)
His routine before a match is to be calm. He doesn’t totally isolate himself. In New York he went for a walk through Central Park and in Bratislava he had a stroll through the city, but there is still tension. You are happy to have been chosen but there are also nerves, but then you tell yourself that you are fulfilling a dream and if you are there it is because they have confidence in you. He never panics and tries to eat lightly before a match so he doesn’t get sleepy. He hardly drinks anything – never alcohol – so he doesn’t have to stop for a toilet break during a match (it’s happened to him twice – once at US Open he had to re-hydrate himself because it was 40 degrees C and he other time was at DC)
He was also the umpire at the match between Santoro and Clement which was the longest in history (6 hours 33 mins) over 2 days.