Zeljko Franulovic shared an interesting anecdote involving Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
Zeljko Franulovic, who has served as the Monte-Carlo Masters‘ tournament director for the last 17 years, regaled reporters with a hilarious anecdote involving Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the event.
The former ATP tennis player announced today that he will be stepping down from the position, and in what was his last presser as director, reminisced about an exhibition event he had planned in 2006.
The Croat revealed that a horde of celebrities and fans had turned up to watch the Swiss and the Spaniard put on a show at the prestigious Casino Square. But at the very last minute they encountered a major problem — the 21-time Grand Slam champion had forgotten to bring his racquets.
“An anecdote about our mini tennis exhibition on the Casino Square that I pushed and invented in 2006 with Federer/Nadal playing. We came to the Casino Square with Federer and Nadal all enthusiastic, the crowd was there, first year. It was in front of the Louis XV,” he said. “The terrace was full of celebrities. The players arrive in a vintage car that, I don’t know how much it cost, and then we had to play. The problem is Rafa Nadal didn’t have racquets.”
An embarrassed Franulovic admitted that he told Federer to stall the crowd by signing a few autographs while the Mallorcan’s agent ran off to fetch his racquet. Even 17 years later, the 74-year-old sounded relieved about how the agent got back in time without anyone realizing the mix-up.
“So I said to Roger, ‘Roger, talk a little bit to the kids, sign a few autographs.’ Rafa’s agent left quickly on the scooter, went back to The Monte-Carlo Bay, which is really not a long distance, but to me, it seemed like an eternity,” he said. “He came back with the racquets. Nobody really realized it.”
A similar situation arose during an exhibition event with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray too
A similar event took place with Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray later at another exhibition show
Zeljko Franulovic shared another anecdote during the press conference, involving Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray this time. The two were scheduled to play in an exhibition event in front of the palace, a show made all the more pompous by adding special stands built for the press.
“You say how can you make the same mistake twice? It happened. We were in front of the Palace this time, and again, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal again,” he said. “We even had the stands built for you, the press, so it makes it more important.”
Although the World No. 4 remembered to bring his racquet this time around, the tournament organizers forgot a key component instead — the tennis balls.
“We arrive there. We were all full of ourselves in front of — it never happened I think that tennis was played in front of the Palace. Monsignor was there, his Serene Highness, our dear supporter and our most fervent supporter, and again, we are there and nothing is happening,” he said. “This time we forgot the balls.”
Franulovic fondly recalled that they had to fetch a can of balls from inside the palace itself to carry on with the event since there weren’t any shops around. While the Croat conceded that it was funny to think about now, he added that everyone involved was a bit embarrassed at the time of its happening.
“But there is no sports shop around the Palace. So what do we do? Again, saved by the bell and by Monsignor, who quickly ran into the Palace and brought us a can of balls,” he said. “Two anecdotes that were funny, but at that moment we felt a little bit embarrassed. Everything ended well though, thank you.”