It was a slam dunk of a day for Argentine tennis Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau. National icon Manu Ginobli, a Basketball Hall of Fame NBA player for the San Antonio Spurs, spent time with some of his country’s stars.
Ginobli met 2022 semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo and Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who earned a first-round win against Pavel Kotov.
“[It was] fantastic to get to know Manu. He’s an amazing player. He’s one of the best athletes in Argentine sports, so he’s an idol for me,” Cerundolo told ATPTour.com. “He’s a great basketball player. I know he is a tennis fan. He likes tennis, so it’s a pleasure to meet him and get to know him. I remember watching him in the Olympic games, playing for the Spurs, so there are a lot of memories that come to my mind.”
Ginobli was more than a basketball star for his country. He transcended sport as an icon, not just a four-time NBA champion. Cerundolo was thrilled to meet him in person for the first time.
“It’s fantastic because for [someone from] Argentina to get to the NBA and be one of the best players in many years of the NBA and win championships, it’s super tough, so he’s an inspiration for me and for all other athletes in any other sport,” Cerundolo said. “Most of the people look up to him because he’s also a really nice guy. He’s always happy. We can always talk to him. He’s an example for everyone.”
It created for a special atmosphere in Miami when Ginobli became a fan in the stands for Etcheverry during his straight-sets victory. Having a legendary athlete made the World No. 73’s first ATP Masters 1000 match win even more memorable.
“Here in Miami it’s incredible because there are lots of Argentines, and to have someone like Manu there and Pico Monaco, a lot of people that had a great career in their lives from Argentina, it was incredible,” Etcheverry said. “It was incredible to have him in my team there supporting me. I was really motivated. It’s a dream come true to have this legend in my team in the [stands].”