© Ella Ling

Miami 2012 - Rafa Nadal

Is Rafa Nadal no longer recession-proof?


Spain’s football team may be the World and European champions and Rafael Nadal has been the leader of a golden generation but it seems that the country’s economic crisis is finally beginning to bite into the sporting world.

According to El Economista newspaper, TVE, Spain’s equivalent of the BBC, announced this week that they do not have the financial resources to cover the French Open this summer. Considering that Nadal has won the title for six of the past seven years, it is a sad day for Spanish fans who can’t make it to Paris. Fortunately, Mediaset has stepped in to fill the void and is likely to show two live matches per day on its free-to-air channel Telecinco, but it is yet more indication that live sport is going to be in short supply on state-owned channels across Europe in the years to come.

British sports fans have become used to sport switching away from the BBC, which has been forced to make a series of cuts. Though government cuts have left its hands tied, when it comes to bidding for certain events, they have made it obvious that sport is no longer a priority.

Its coverage from Roland Garros may have been largely on the red button (interactive) and was not one of its most publicised offerings but the BBC was doing a good job at the French Open until losing the rights to this year’s event. Luckily for British fans who do not have Eurosport, which requires a subscription, ITV has stepped into the breach. But moving sports across channels is not good for continuity and it will be interesting to see what happens to the viewing figures this summer.

There seem to be more halls of fame than ever these days but there can be few arguments about Ivan Lendl being inducted into the Monte Carlo Country Club’s own version this week. Flanked by another former world No 1 Bjorn Borg and tournament director Zeljko Franulovic, Lendl received the honour this week.

The Czech-born American, who won eight grand slam titles in a stellar career based on hard work, fitness and dedication, is now a regular on the ATP World Tour again in his role as Andy Murray’s coach, a job he began at the start of the year and which he is already fulfilling with aplomb.

It was on clay where he made his name as a player, winning the title in Monte Carlo twice, in 1985 and 1988, and finishing runner-up on another occasion. Three French Open titles were the least he deserved and Lendl looked decidedly proud when accepting the honour.

Finally, just a word on Novak Djokovic and the sad news on Thursday that his grandfather, Vladimir, has died. The world No 1 was told the news at the end of a practice session in Monte Carlo and left the court in tears.

As anyone who watched Djokovic’s interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes recently (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwtUaO22IGA&feature=player_embedded) , the Serbian was very close to his grandfather, recently dedicating his Miami triumph to Vladimir, whom he credits for teaching him never to give up. The fact that Djokovic chose to play on in Monte Carlo, within hours of receiving the news, says an awful lot.