Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic and wins 9th French Open title, Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal will remain on the French Open throne for yet another year as he claimed his fifth successive Roland Garros title and the ninth in total by overcoming Novak Djokovic in an evenly-contested final at the Court Philippe Chatrier this afternoon. It was the second championship match between the highest-ranked players at the tournament with the current World no. 1 also prevailing in four sets a couple of years ago. The king of clay’s Grand Slam title count now rose to fourteen, whilst he extended the head-to-head lead against Djokovic to 23-19.

The second seed Serb looked confident in the initial set where he created a double break point in the eighth game, but could only convert in the third attempt after the rival’s forehand flew wide of the mark. Serving for the set, Novak kept his nerves and came back from 15-40 to wrap up the opener. The defending champion raised the level of play in the second set to finally grab a break and go 4-2 up, yet he handed Nole a pair of break back points following a double fault in the subsequent game – the Serb accepted the gift to eventually make it 4 all. He needed a hold to force a tie-break at 6-5, but Nadal pounced again and squared things up with an unstoppable forehand winner.

The Spaniard sailed full speed ahead in the beginning of the third set to earn a 3-0 advantage and withstood Djokovic’s pressure later on. A more than ten-minute-long seventh game could have been a turning point in the set as Novak fought hard to generate a break point, but he spurned the chance in the end. He was unable to regroup by the follow-up service game and let Rafa move 2-1 ahead without delay.

Nadal kept pulling most of the strings in the set four and stole the opponent’s serve in the sixth game, yet the Belgrade native caught a lifeline once more by breaking back before making it 4-4. However, the Serb dropped a 30-0 lead two games later and was unfortunate to concede a double fault on the first championship point he had to defend. The Spaniard thus secured another big triumph by winning 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 6-4, whilst Djokovic missed an opportunity to complete a career Grand Slam this Sunday. His 11 (Nadal 3) aces were not enough to edge out the arch-rival who capitalized on all four break points in the last two sets. The 28-year-old from Balearic Islands has a 66-1 record at French Open with the only defeat coming in fourth round in 2009 against Robin Soderling.

 

The World Celebrates Spanish Language Day

In tribute to the writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, deceased on April 23, 1816, each year is celebrated in this date the Day of Spanish Language.

Known as “El Manco del Lepanto”, Cervantes left among their works the novel The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha, monumental text that contributed to the enhancement of world literature and Spanish language.

Described as the first modern novel, this has been the most translated and edited book in history, only by the Bible.

Initiative of writer Vicente Clavel, this date was first celebrated in Valencia in 1926 and then the holiday began to be celebrated throughout Spain for later in 1964, being adopted by all Spanish-Speaking countries.

However, this celebration today comes when the world says goodbye to another great writer of Spanish language, the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez, who recently died in Mexico City.

Author of extraordinary texts, included in Gabo’s work there is a play that many consider another Don Quixote, One Hundred Years of Solitude, which earned him the Nobel Prize in 1982.

It would be worth to devote then this Spanish Language Day to García Márquez, for his contributions to journalism, literature, and even cinema, one of his passions.

‘Legendary’ Spanish language novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies aged 87

ONE of the most-read bestselling authors of novels in Spanish, Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87.

‘Gabo’, as the Colombian writer is known to friends and family, was recently treated in hospital for a lung and urinary infection and severe dehydration, which turned out to be pneumonia, but was discharged and believed to be on the mend – even though his sister Aída said she had ‘prepared herself’ to ‘accept God’s will’ if her brother did not recover.

The 1982 Nobel Prize winner, whose iconic works include A hundred years of solitude, Love in the time of choleraand In the evil hour was initially hospitalised in México City, where he owns a house and has lived as an expatriate for most of his married life.

He was said to be in good spirits and progressing well, even jokingly telling reporters at the hospital doorway to ‘go off and do their jobs’.

Rumours abound at first that his lymphatic cancer, diagnosed in 1999 and cured after three months ofchemotherapy, had come back with some even claiming it had spread to his lungs, glands and liver, but this turned out not to be the case.

Although the most famous of Gabo’s works is undoubtedly A hundred years of solitude – written in 1967, based upon the life of his own ‘Granny Mina’, Tranquilina Iguarán Cotes and translated into 35 languages – his Anglo-Saxon fans and those from Spain will perhaps have better memories of Love in the time of cholera, which starred ‘Bond villain’ and husband of actress Penélope Cruz, Spain’s Javier Bardem.

Centring on nearly 52 years in the life of a late-19th and early-20th century man who waits his entire life to be with his beloved – through cholera, the symptoms of which are ‘similar to those of being in love’, her marriage, his own affairs and civil war and unrest – the film was premièred at the Rio de Janeiro festival in 2007, and was based upon the early courtship of Gabo’s own parents, Luisa Santiaga and Gabriel Eligio.

It was shot mostly on location in the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena de Indias in northern Colombia, close to Gabo’s birth town of Aracataca, but also on the river Magdalena in Mompox, and in Santa Marta.

 

Some scenes were filmed in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, where Shakira – dubbed once by Gabo as the ‘essence of a true Colombian’ – was born.

Shakira, who currently lives in Barcelona with footballer partnerGerard Pique, worked on the soundtrack to Love in the time of cholera together with Argentinian musician Pedro Aznar.

Songs included Hay amores, Despedida – which was nominated for a Best Original Soundtrack Golden Globe in 2008 – and Shakira’s ownPienso en ti (‘I think about you’), from her 1995 album Pies descalzos (‘bare feet’).

Gabo was also a member of the Colombian Academy of Language, the driving force behind the New Latin American Film Foundation – based in La Habana, Cuba – and the New Latin American Journalism Foundation.

He was, himself, a journalist and scriptwriter, as well as being a radical social and cultural activist and being credited as the ‘father’ of the literary ‘magical realism’ movement.

Gabo was famously quoted as saying, in 2012, that he wished the whole world was run by socialists and expected that one day, this would be the case.

A language revolutionary, he frequently called for grammar and spelling rules to be axed across the board.

Although entirely Colombian by birth and by blood, Gabo owned homes in Paris and México City, and lived in the latter for most of his adult life after marrying his childhood sweetheart Mercedes.

He had joint Colombian-Mexican nationality.

One of Gabo’s closest friends, the 2010 Nobel Prize winning author and former Peruvian president Mario Vargas Llosa said the legendary writer brought ‘great prestige’ to literature in the Spanish language.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos wrote on his Twitter site: “A thousand years of solitude and sadness now that the greatest Colombian of all time has died.”

Presidents from all over Latin America have made their condolences public, and in Spain, socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba wrote on Twitter: “Gabo has died. My favourite author, and that of millions of other readers.”

2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. SPAIN runner-up

The 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was the fourth edition of the youth association football tournament for women under the age of 17. The final tournament was hosted in Costa Rica.

The competition was played from 15 March to 4 April 2014. Japan beat Spain in the final 2–0, the same score the same match ended in the group stage. Japan in the fouth different champion in four editions.

The opening match of the tournament set a new tournament record with 34,453 spectators. In total 284,320 supporters attended matches averaging 8,885 per match beating the 2012 record.[2]

 

 

Spain’s first post-Franco PM, Adolfo Suarez, dies at 81

suarez

Spain’s ex-PM Adolfo Suarez, who guided the nation through the turbulent years following the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco, has died at 81.

Mr Suarez was taken to hospital on Monday suffering from a respiratory infection.

King Juan Carlos turned to him upon Franco’s death in 1975 to try to unite Spain’s disparate political factions.

Mr Suarez served as prime minister until 1981 and became one of the country’s most respected politicians.

He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for about a decade, and died on Sunday afternoon at Madrid’s Centro Clinic hospital.

King Juan Carlos has paid tribute, calling Mr Suarez an exceptional colleague and a true friend.

In a televised message, the king said Mr Suarez had been “guided at every turn by his loyalty to the crown and all that it represents, the defence of democracy, the rule of law, unity and the diversity of Spain”.

‘They changed history’

Mr Suarez’s son, Adolfo Suarez Illana, praised both his father’s and the king’s role in the post-Franco period.

He said: “Thanks to the king, he was head of government. Thanks to the king, he was able to do what he liked at a unique moment in the history of Spain. Together, they changed the course of history.”

Mr Suarez was a relatively unknown Francoist official in 1975, and faced criticism by both the left and right following his appointment by the king.

But in 1977 Mr Suarez contested and won Spain’s first democratic elections since World War Two.

He moved to legalise political parties, including the communists, and oversaw the formation of a constitution that was adopted in 1978.

He was also noted as a calming voice during the tense period surrounding the attempted coup by Francoists on 23 February 1981.

Former PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told Reuters: “Prime Minister Suarez’s political career calls to mind the highest spirit of our democratic transition: recognition of dissenting voices, promotion of tolerance and the practice of dialogue.

“Thanks to that attitude he had the capacity to forge great agreements.”

The Fallas in Valencia, SPAIN

In the middle of the Mediterranean coast, Valencia city, celebrates each year the final days of the winter and the arrival of spring with spectacular fires and pyrotechnics. From March 15 to 19 (the feast of Saint Joseph, day of the father in the whole country), Valencia is given over to a carnival of bonfires, fiesta, fireworks and a healthy dose of satire known as Las Fallas, the fires.

Displayed on every corner all over the city are colourful ninots, giant papier-mâché figures often 20 feet tall or even more that have been paraded through the streets and then placed in fantasy groups to tower over excited spectators. Each one in some way satirises a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or simply imagination. Some of them are grotesque – others playful and charming – all are larger than life and up for public scrutiny.

Every day at 2pm firecrackers rip through the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in an noisy event called la Mascleta. This concert of gunpowder is very popular and involves different neighbourhood groups competing for the most impressive volley, ending with the terremoto, (literally means “earthquake”) as hundreds of masclets exploting simultaneously. While this may not be for the frail or faint-fainthearted, you understand how hearted, the Valencians got their valiant name

Another important event is the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados, a beautiful ceremony every March 17 and 18, that honours Valencia’s patron Virgin. Thousands of Falleras and Falleros arrive to the city from every corner of the Comunitat (Valencia State) and take the streets wearing traditional costumes and dancing to their neighbourhood or village bands as they wend their way to the Plaza de la Virgen to offer bouquets to the giant image of the Virgin

Historians say that the origins of the festival go back to the time when carpenters cleared out their workshops and talleres at the end of winter, throwing out odds and ends of wood and old candles and lighting them on the street the day of Saint Joseph.

Nowadays, celebrations draw to an end with a fabulous firework display in the Paseo de la Alameda, called the Nit del Foc (literally “The Night of Fire”), on March 18. All Fallas burn all over the city the Crema night (including the winner of the competition) in a tremendous spectacle of fire and joy. Valencia is at that moment like Nero’s Rome, a city in flames. That’s why Valencians call this the best firework fiesta in the world! Don´t miss it!

Spain goes green for St Patrick

 
Various famous sites in Spain have been turned green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on March 17 from the famous Cibeles fountain in Madrid to a small town in southern Spain.

 
Whilst most people would expect to be surrounded by Guinness drinking, shamrock wearing Irishmen in the streets of Dublin or New York, its is surprising how the day celebrating a Welsh saint who travelled to Ireland to spread Christianity in the 4th Century has become an international event.

 

In southern Spain, especially along the Costa Blanca, St Patrick’s Day is taken very seriously. There are very many Irish bars, with areas such as Playa Flamenca on the Orihuela Costa having a very high density of Irish ex-pats. March 17 therefore is a day to get out your very large green leprechaun hat, join in the parade and drink lots of Guinness.

 
This year, however, the magic of green is spreading further afield. In Madrid, the famous Cibeles fountain is being turned green as part of a worldwide event to promote Irish tourism and culture abroad. It will be joined by famous landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, Niagara falls and Table Mountain in South Africa. Madrid’s Irish bars will have special events and offers over the weekend.cibeles de verde

ElBulli Spanish chef Ferran Adrià unveils plans for ‘cooking laboratory’ and museum

Spanish star chef Ferran Adrià unveiled plans on Tuesday for a “cooking laboratory”, museum and database of top recipes at his world-beating restaurant, elBulli.

Adrià, whose eatery was crowned best in the world five times by Britain’s Restaurant magazine before it closed in 2011, gave a preview of the “elBulli foundation”, which he said would open next year.

For over two decades the Catalan chef, now 51, pushed the boundaries of cuisine, using hi-tech methods to take apart and rebuild foods in surprising ways.

He served the last meal there in July 2011 and announced his plan to convert it into a training and research centre, so he could concentrate on culinary innovation instead of running the restaurant.

“This foundation has been three years in preparation and is now 95% finished,” he told reporters in Barcelona on Tuesday.

The new entity will consist of three parts, including an exhibition on the history of cooking entitled elBulli 1846 and a cooking research “laboratory” called elBulli DNA.

The laboratory will host “40 people from around the world, from cooks to designers to architects”, Adrià said. “We will work on efficiency and innovation and the final result will be about cooking and will be published on the internet.”

The third part of the foundation will be the “Bullipedia”, a “gastronomic encyclopedia” including a database of recipes and ingredients.

“There will be an exhibition space on the one hand and a creative space on the other,” Adrià said.

It will all be housed in the former restaurant’s premises, in a nature reserve overlooking the Mediterranean near the resort of Roses, a two-hour drive north of Barcelona.

Adrià said regional authorities were willing to change environmental norms so he could build an extension to house the exhibition space, a prospect that has raised concern among nature groups.

“There will be no environmental impact,” Adrià promised. “This is a social project. But we want consensus and good relations.”

Spain: Nine facts on the Sochi 2014 Paralympics

The alpine skiing powerhouse will hope that Jon Santacana Maiztegui has recovered enough from an injury earlier in the season to make his mark in Sochi.

• Spain has won 14 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 10 bronze for a total of 38 at the Paralympic Winter Games.

• Spain is one of 13 NPCs to have won more than 200 medals of each colour at the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games combined: 212 gold, 221 silver, 223 bronze.

• Spain has won all of its 14 gold medals in alpine skiing events. In total it has won 35 of the 38 medals in this sport. It has won the other three (two silver, one bronze) in cross-country skiing.

• Alpine skiing is Spain’s third most successful sport measured in gold medals at the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games combined after swimming (101) and athletics (74).

• Spain has won a medal in each Paralympic Winter Games after debuting without any medals in 1984.

• Eric Villalon (five gold, three silver, one bronze), Magda Amo (four gold, one silver, one bronze) and Jon Santacana Maiztegui (two gold, two silver, two bronze) are the most successful athletes for Spain at the Paralympic Winter Games.

• Villalon, Amo and Santacana Maiztegui have won medals in three editions.

• Amo is the only Spanish woman to have won four gold medals in alpine skiing in a single edition, in 1998.

 

 

Legendary Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia dies

Paco de Lucia, the Spanish guitarist who brought flamenco to a world audience, has died in Mexico aged 66.

Born Francisco Sanchez Gomez, he was credited with modernising the Spanish Gypsy tradition with jazz and bossa nova influences during a decades-long career.

The mayor’s office in his southern hometown of Algeciras, deep in flamenco country, said De Lucia died in Mexico of a heart attack. “Paco de Lucia’s death turns his genius into a legend,” said the mayor of Algeciras, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, in a statement. “Although he has gone, his music, his wonderful way of playing and his character will always be with us.”

The town called three days of mourning and flew flags at half-mast for “the greatest guitarist of all time”.

Born into a humble family in the southern Spanish region on December 21, 1947, de Lucia grew into a musical giant who blended jazz, pop and classical influences with the folk tradition of flamenco. He credited his father, a singer of Gypsy origin, with introducing him to music, encouraging him to practise for hours.

“The gypsies are better since they listen to music from birth. If I had not been born in my father’s house I would be nobody. I don’t believe in spontaneous genius,” the guitarist once said.

From the age of just 12 de Lucia was out playing and earning at flamenco “tablaos” – the intimate, smoky bars that are home to the authentic form of the tragic gypsy lament and dancing.

By 15 he had moved to Madrid and by 18 brought out a first album.

It was in Madrid that he met another gifted teenage flamenco artist, the singer Camaron de la Isla, then just 15 and freshly arrived in Madrid. The two young men formed a legendary flamenco partnership, touring and recording together until Camaron’s death from cancer in 1992.

In 2004, de Lucia was awarded Spain’s prestigious Asturias Prize for Art as the “most universal of flamenco artists”.

“His style has been a beacon for young generations and his art has made him into one of the best ambassadors of Spanish culture in the world,” the jury said at the time.

In the 1980s de Lucia teamed up with guitarists John McLaughlin and Al di Meola to produce the classic album “Friday night in San Francisco”.

He branched out into jazz and bossa nova, drawing the scorn of traditionalists.

But he claimed to stay faithful to his origins, hunched over his guitar and grimacing with emotion as the flamenco “duende”, or spirit, possessed him.

“Whatever I do my sound will always be flamenco – because I am what I am,” he said. “Being a flamenco player is what gives me strength.”