After having defeated Milos Raonic, Albert Ramos is the surprise guest of these quarter finals. The world number 55th proves that you should always fear a Spaniard on the Parisian clay. Even when his name and personal records don’t really ring a bell.
Alberto Berasategui (1994)
The first time that Sergi Bruguera saw his fellow countryman’s forehand, he thought that « he would never put a ball inside the court ». Alberto Berasategui was the first - and probably the last - to use a backhand grip to hit a forehand, stroking the ball with the internal side of his strings. A nonsense for any good tennis teacher, but with his own special technique, the Basque had mad power. After winning in Nice, he was ranked as the world number 24 before Roland-Garros and made a first big impression by defeating Cédric Pioline in the second round. Berasategui finally qualified for the quarter final where he defeated Goran Ivanisevic before knocking out Magnus Larsson. « It’s the quickest forehand in history », would even say his Swedish victim. Only his friend Bruguera was able to canalize his thunder in the final. Alberto Berasategui wasn’t even 21 years old, but had already reached the peak of his career. The rest would finally be less flamboyant than his famous forehand.
Albert Costa (1995)
In the spring of 1995, the Lérida-born player was only a promising youngster of Spanish tennis, and the homonym of Carlos Costa (Rafael Nadal’s future agent). Defeated with the honors by Pete Sampras for his first Roland-Garros a year earlier, Costa was ranked after the 30th spot, but benefited from a more merciful draw (Renzenbrink, Roux, Karbacher). In the fourth round, the ex-finalist in the junior category defeated Jim Courier before losing in four sets against the powerful Thomas Muster. Not always lucky in Paris, Costa will wait seven years before confirming all the hopes surrounding him, but in superb style. In 2002, he won Roland-Garros against his fellow countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero. The lesson learned ? Some Spanish homonyms can make their own name.
Galo Blanco (1997)
At the start of this 1997 edition, the Asturian was just a Spaniard amongst many others in the final draw. An ordinary size (1,73m, 65 kg), not really any strong shot and a record which only the people who follow the Challenger tournaments can truly understand. But the man with the headband will make the most of an easy table to go through three rounds and reach the fourth round, where he is drawn against the ex-finalist Petr Korda. In the quarter final, the step was a little too high against Patrick Rafter, who left him with no time to settle in long rallies. Blanco then rejoined a certain anonymity (one title won in San Marino in 1999) before getting his second fifteen minutes of fame at the Porte d’Auteuil after defeating Pete Sampras in 2001.
Félix Mantilla (1998)
Between the 90’s and the year 2000’s, Félix Mantilla was the archetype of the Spanish player. Almost caricatural. Big size, big forehand, a strong grass allergy, the Barcelona-born was taking part in all the clay tournaments. Seed number 15 at this Roland Garros 1998, Mantilla reached the second week and won his arm wrestling match against Thomas Muster. His moment of glory could have finally come, if he hadn’t met with two other fellow countrymen in the semi-finals : Alex Corretja and Carlos Moya. Mantilla lost in four sets against Moya, the future winner of the tournament. Winner of the Rome tournament in 2003 against Roger Federer, the Catalan won his most important match between 2006 and 2007 when he beat skin cancer.
Alberto Martin (2006)
Technically, Alberto (again) Martin, has reached the second week of the Parisian tournament, as his match against Julien Benneteau was scheduled on a Monday. One of the shortest matches of the history of the tournament, without a doubt. Martin’s journey in this Roland-Garros was marked by injuries and crippled players. In the second round, the Spaniard benefited from Andy Roddick’s withdrawal, who was the number 5 seed. He then won a tough match against Olivier Rochus, but felt pain in his back. At the same time, his opponent had to undergo an MRI on his adductor muscles. Who came out as the winner of this improbable duel ? The answer came pretty quickly. Suffering from his back pain, Martin couldn’t serve properly and had to withdraw at 5-1 for Benneteau in the first set. The unlucky will finally meet one last time with the Philippe-Chatrier court two years later, for a quick defeat against Roger Federer in the first round.