Sheikh Mansoor, Sheikh Saeed, Saeed Hareb and Saeed Hareb pose for a picture with the players after the presentation ceremony.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Spain’s Juan Lebron, the padel tennis world number one, and enigmatic playing partner Miguel Lamperti claimed a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory in the inaugural Dubai Padel Cup, after a dominant display of clinical accuracy, devastating power and nerveless poise saw off Argentine legend Fernando ‘Bela’ Belasteguin and Spain’s Arturo Coello.
Played on a purpose-built court at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, the conclusion of the Dubai Padel Cup’s high-profile exhibition match series was watched by a capacity crowd, as well as dignitaries including Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council; Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Padel Association; Sheikh Rashid Bin Ammar Al Nuaimi; Sheikh Humaid Bin Ammar Al Nuaimi, Saeed Hareb, Secretary General and Board Member of Dubai Sports Council, and other dignitaries.
In an all-action final, Lebron, nicknamed ‘The Wolf’, and Lamperti secured a pivotal break in the seventh game before holding serve twice to seal the first set 6-3. Bela and Coello fought back valiantly in the second set, leading 5-4 and 6-5 before eventually going down 8-6 in a dramatic, and ultimately pivotal, tiebreak.
“It has been an amazing week with Miguel, we have had some incredible moments — I am very happy,” said Lebron. “It’s been an unforgettable experience in this incredible place. The fans have been calling me the wolf of the desert — it’s unbelievable, I thank them with my whole heart. I also want to thank the organisers because it is very difficult to create an event as magical as the Dubai Padel Cup.”
Playing partner Lamperti was equally effusive in his praise for the Dubai Padel Cup: “I’ve really enjoyed playing with Juan in these amazing matches, but I have also loved the people, the city and the event. The Dubai Padel Cup has been an unforgettable experience for the players, the fans and everyone connected to the sport,” said the Argentine.
With the final day seeing eight doubles pairings – comprising 14 international padel stars and Dubai-based NAS Sport Complex coaches professionals Javier Lopez and Sergio Icardo – battling for overall positions in the exhibition series standings, Argentina’s Fernando Poggi and Spain’s Gonzalo Rubio defeated Lopez and Icardo 6-2, 6-3 to claim third place overall.
“Javi and Sergio played a great game, they were in the match all the time, but we played really well – we were ruthless,” said Poggi. “I first came to Dubai in 2013 to play padel in an exhibition match for Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, and it is amazing how the sport has exploded in popularity,” added the 2021 world champion.
Garrido, the world number 37, revealed the win sealed a perfect week playing alongside one of his idols in Dubai: “It’s been a real pleasure to play here in Dubai, it’s amazing. Padel needs Dubai. Playing with Fernando is a dream for me, he’s a legend. I just put in the work, and he decides the point. He maintains so much intensity and his smash, wow, it is the best in the game.”
The fifth and sixth play-off match saw Brazil’s Pablo Lima and Spain’s Javier Garrido Gomez edge Argentine Luciana Capra and Spain’s Juan Mieres 6-3, 6-4, while Argentina’s Adrian ‘Tito’ Allemandi and Spain’s Jorge ‘Coki’ Nieto dispatched Spanish duo Pablo Lijo and Juan Martin Diaz Martinez 6-4, 6-3 to win the seventh and eighth place playoff.
“The match was very tough, only one break per set. The wind was strong, it was difficult to smash,” said Allemandi. “It’s amazing playing on this court, it is the best padel court I have seen in my whole life - all of the players want to come and play in Dubai.”
After seeing bumper crowds flock to the three-day exhibition match series, Ahmed Hamada, Co-Founder of the Dubai Padel Cup, revealed the world’s best professionals would be returning next year. “The response from the players has been amazing, they love the court, the city, the padel community here – we are already planning how we can grow the event concept to make it even bigger and better next year,” said Hamada.
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“The exhibition matches were bittersweet for us. It was a great honour to play against the best players on the planet and we tried to play our best in all the matches, but we knew we needed to train harder to reach our peak.
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