Bela: in the pantheon of sport

Padel's world number one, Fernando Belasteguin, claimed his 200th title at the Valladolid Open. He's broken every record in the sport.  

Bela: in the pantheon of sport

Who would have told that mischievous 13 year old boy that travelled with a group of people from his native Pehuajó to the capital city of Buenos Aires to participate in his first tournaments, who would have told him that those long hours on public transport, where he'd plead to the bus driver to turn on the light so he could study for his exams and avoid being told off by his parents, would pay off in the shape of wins that broke very record in padel. 200 titles from 238 finals.

Slowly but surely, with a lot of perseverance and determination, Fernando Belasteguin started his legedary career.


At the tender age of 22, he reached the top of the rankings alongside Juan Martín Díaz (since then Bela has never stepped down).

He dominated padel for over a decade alongside the man from Mar del Plata. It was the longest reign in the history of this sport.

In 13 years they reached 178 finals and won 158, and they were the only pairing to date that went unbeaten for a year and nine months.

Belasteguin recalls a lot of battles from those days, but one from 2004 holds a special place for him.

Lisboa pone a prueba el imperio de Juan Martín Díaz y Fernando Belasteguin

The World Padel Championships in Argentina. Juan and Bela take on Gaby Reca and Sebastian Neronetheir biggest rivals, in the final.

“I remember that extremely tough third set where I wasn't playing great, I was anxious, and Juan Martin pushed me on and we won. I remeber it being a very emotional championship and I even cried in the awards ceremony".


His biggest gamble came in August of 2014 when he proclaimed that he wouldn't play alongside Juan Martin in 2015. And that he's start a new chapter with his archrival Pablo Lima

An announcement that shook the world of padel. And that many struggled to comprehend. But with his characteristic mentality, Belasteguin didn't let it affect him and, as always, he only listened to his heart.

The stats show that it wasn't a mistake.

After those 13 years, he's continued on the up. Since his last match with Juan Martin Diaz, he's played 20 tournaments and won 18.

11 in 2015 with Pablo Lima, 2 with Willy Lahoz, in the absence of the Brazilian through injury, and this season he's already taken five of the six tournaments played so far.


His story alongside Lima didn't get off to the best start. In the first tournament Pablo picked up an injury. The Argentine didn't lose his rhythm however and won two tournaments on the bounce with Guillermo Lahoz, against all odds.

"I'll never forget the second title in La Palma with Willy because we were both battered, we were ill and we'd already won in San Fernando, not even we thought we could do it. But it happened and I still get goosebumps when I remember it".


His first title with Pablo came on his return at the Rio Gallegos Open and it was the dream start to a successful run. From then on, they won every tournament they played until the year end Finals, picking up an impressive 11 titles.

"The celebration in Rio Gallegos was special. I was afraid that Pablo would feel pressure after I'd won two tournaments with Willy Lahoz. I was worried that the pressure would affect him on court. But he dealt with it showing his characteristic grit and determination. And it happened after we lost a set, but we turned it around and that cemented our relationship as a pairing".

Bela y Lahoz hacen su sueño realidad

According to the Argentine, one of his skills is knowing how to choose his partner and getting the most out of him. And it seems as if he's found the perfect predator in Lima. This season alone they've won 5 titles from 6 tournaments.

But if we dissect the stats, it's even more overwhelming. They've lost one of their 25 matches (the semifinals in Valencia against Paquito Navarro and Sanyo Gutierrez). Of the 46 sets they've played in 2016, they've lost 3.

Bela is the only player on tour who can beat his own stats. Until 2031, no one will be able to break his record of having been the world number one for 14 consecutive years.

He's gone 63 matches without losing on the World Padel Tour. His former partner, Juan Martin Diaz, is second on this list with 33 consecutive wins.


But that's not important. While he played under the sun in last Sunday's Valladolid Open final, and the fans spurred on his opponents, in his mind all he could think about is winning every point to claim his 200th career win, to continue adding to a stellar career.

The scoreboard is always on his side, while the fans aren't. The spectators are eager to see someone else win on tour. But for now, top spot is his. And a great deal of consistency is needed to break those records.

"From the outside it seems easy, but Pablo and I give everything in training and we have a list of 20 things to improve after every tournament. And we go to every tournament knowing that we can lose against all of our opponents".

We asked the golden Argentine if he doesn't let so many wins get to his head. His answer is concise.

"Fortunately my team and my wife keep my feet on the ground. On the Monday after the tough tournament in Valladolid, my wife left a long shopping list for me on the table that I had to do on my morning off...I can assure you that you forget about any win like this, haha".

We'll never find out if on that shopping list, Belasteguin included a meal to celebrate his 200th title. Although knowing the world number one, his mind will now be on how to improve on his slow starts to matches.

Because Bela always competes against Bela. And there's no doubt that he'll keep fighting to improve on his own records.


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