On the Tennis Tour with Alejandro Falla
by Vanity Fair July 14, 2010, 1:02 PM
The professional tennis circuit isn’t just about the Grand Slams. In this periodic series, VF.com goes behind the scenes at the tournaments that lead up to the U.S. Open, in August.
Thirty-two of the A.T.P.’s finest played at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, last week. It’s the only professional grass-court tournament on American soil. There was perhaps no player, however, who arrived with more buzz than Alejandro Falla, the 64th-ranked player in the world who had nearly pulled off the greatest upset in Grand Slam history. Drawing living legend and six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the first round of the British tournament this year, Falla shockingly won the first two sets and served for the match before losing to the Swiss champ in five sets. Despite a first-round exit in Newport, Falla, who resides in Bogota, Colombia, seems primed for a good run at next month’s U.S. Open.
KILLING TIME AT THE AIRPORT CAN BE DANGEROUS BECAUSE: I've missed a plane a couple of times. I was with [fellow Colombian A.T.P. player and Davis Cup partner] Santiago Giraldo, and we were on a connection here in America heading to Indianapolis. We were watching movies on the computer, just waiting for the plane, and once we realized a long time just passed [laughing], so we missed the flight. We waited for five hours to catch the next flight.
USUALLY TRAVELS WITH: Santiago and one coach, from Spain. The three of us travel everywhere.
TRAVEL LUGGAGE IS: just one big bag for the clothing and everything, and one bag for the rackets. So, just two bags.
PAYING EXTRA MONEY FOR OVERWEIGHT BAGS: is a nightmare for us, for tennis players. Usually, we have to pay for extra luggage.
THE HARDEST PART ABOUT TRAVELING FOR WORK: is that I have to be away from my family. They are in Naples, Florida. My family, my friends—I miss them a lot. And the Colombian food. Those three things are really special for me.
THE BEST PART ABOUT TRAVELING FOR WORK: is winning tennis matches—it’s an amazing feeling. You get to know many countries, many cities, many different people, different cultures. We are recognized in my country, which is also a good feeling.
FAVORITE TOURNAMENTS TO PLAY IN: Of course, the Grand Slams. They’re special for me and for most tennis players. Wimbledon is the one I like the most because once you get there, the first day it is all green and all new, and I think it’s nice. But I like all the Grand Slams.
MOST MEMORABLE TOURNAMENT: When I beat [A.T.P. sixth-ranked player in the world Nikolay] Davydenko in my first top-10 win. That was at Wimbledon in 2004. In Miami, I beat [former No. 2 player in the world] Tommy Haas with all the Colombian crowd there, so it was special for me. And of course this year I played an unbelievable match against Federer at Wimbledon. I had him at two sets to love, and I served for the match. That had a lot of people talking about me and about my game, so that was really special for me.
From Vanity Fair