It was on track 1 of Roland Garros, known as the bullring. 15 years ago, Rafael Nadal premiered in the French Grand Slam, the tournament that has given him the most glory, champion twelve times and with unmatched statistics. That year, his debut year, ended in a bite, the first of many. Two years ago, when in 2017 Nadal conquered his tenth title in Paris, ABC wanted to speak to his first rival, a German who remembered that chapter in detail. His name was Lars Burgsmuller and he is now a radiologist. For the interest of that talk, ABC rescues that text to praise the anniversary. one of his three children. “I am no longer involved in tennis or the tennis scene, I only play for fun once a week with my children. I'm not a coach, I don't play competitions or anything like that. I studied medicine and now I work in a hospital. I'm a radiologist, "he explains. Who is Lars Burgsmuller ?, the majority will wonder, forgetting that it was the beginning of everything a living part of the history of Rafael Nadal in Roland Garros.
Well, Lars Burgsmuller is the first player to face Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, destroyed on that May 24 by a boy who is now a legend (6-1, 7-6 (4) and 6-1). With that green tank top, the pirates and that mane, Nadal appeared in Paris in style impossible to imagine then what is being said about him now. I can remember the game. I remember that everyone was already talking about Rafa Nadal, that everyone said he was going to become a great player. I had played with him before, in Indian Wells 2004 (6-2 and 6-3 for Nadal), so he knew what I was going to face. I knew I was going to become a very good person . The first time I played with him I already realized that when you thought you had won the point, I found a way to get to the ball. It was very fast and forced you to lengthen the points and pushed hard to finish them, "says Burgsmuller for ABC, exquisite in conversation while hearing the cry of one of his children on the other end of the phone.
None of the three knows that their father was there that day, in the Roland Garros bullring (track 1 is known for its circular shape), enduring a recital of harsh rights and exaggerated fists. . “The oldest of my children is 7 years old and he begins to be aware that I was once a tennis player, but even so he is very far away. They don't understand it yet. Once, we were at home, all on the couch, and I put a video of me playing tennis. It was there on television and my children couldn't understand it. "Dad, are you the one on TV? And how can you be with us at home too? ” They know I was a tennis player and they play once a week, although they prefer soccer, "explains Burgsmuller, who does not long for life on the circuit. «I can be at home and I don't have to travel 25 weeks a year to different countries of the world. I am with my family, with my three children and I like this a lot ».
The 96 of the world
But it is about talking about Nadal, about that baptism in Paris that lasted an hour and 45 minutes. Burgsmuller, who was 96 in the world, was measured at number five, with reason to be considered the favorite despite never having stepped on Roland Garros. Of course, what happened next is a empacho de locura . “When you see a player like him, even though you know he will be one of the best, you don't imagine that he could win what he has won. Seeing him win that year (2005) and the eight that came after … It was fantastic . First time playing at Roland Garros, first time he won. It is incredible. "
With the only title of Copenhagen (2002) in his honors Burgsmuller compliments the Majorcan, amazed by his evolution since that May 2005." He hit the club very hard ball. His defense, when he is defending, I think there is no better player than him . He is very fast in the corners and hits the ball very well from uncomfortable positions and that makes him one of the best in history, without a doubt. During these years, he has improved a lot on other surfaces and has remained in excellent physical condition. He is a very complete player. ”
Now, with perspective, between radiographs and games in the park, happy in his anonymous life, Burgsmuller assumes with some grace to be part of history . "When I played with him and lost, obviously I didn't like it. He was not happy. But years later, always I will be able to say that I was the first player that Nadal beat at Roland Garros. It is special . But at that time, when I lost to him, I would have chosen another player to play against and have had options to win. He already knew that, with Nadal in between and in Paris, he had nothing to do.