How Grabiel helped Ortega and González get back to winning two years later

An analysis of how coach Maxi Grabiel got the best out of Marta Ortega and Bea González in 2022 through mental and physical coaching.

How Grabiel helped Ortega and González get back to winning two years later

"I want to dedicate this to Maxi with all my heart," said an emotional Marta Ortega after winning the Danish Padel Open 2022 on Sunday.

"He believed in me from the very first moment. He has always, always supported me, and I think this version we are showing is thanks to him."

It had been almost two years since Ortega, the youngest number one in World Padel Tour history, and Bea González, the youngest winner in WPT history, had won an Open or Master event.

The fact Ortega immediately dedicated it to coach and former player Maxi Grabiel speaks volumes about how integral the Argentinian has been within the team.

2020: Flashes of brilliance

At the start of the 2020 season, González and reigning number one Ortega announced they would be linking up for the season.

With Rodri Ovide at the helm of the operation, the duo reached its first-ever final at the third event of the season, the Vuelve A Madrid Open.

Facing former number ones Eli Amatriaín and Patricia Llaguno, they won in three sets, making then 18-year-old González the youngest winner in WPT history.

Making another final three weeks later, they lost in three sets to Mapi and Majo Sánchez Alayeto, and failed to reach the same heights for the remainder of the year. After falling in the Barcelona Master quarter-finals, they announced their split.

Together after a year apart

Ortega and González decided to get together once more ahead of the Menorca Open 2021.

Ortega had played with Marta Marrero in the meantime, while González had been with Paula Josemaría and Lucía Sainz. While both had reached finals, they had not managed to win in almost a full calendar year apart.

Early results of Ortega/González 2.0 were not particularly impressive to end 2021, but at the Estrella Damm Master Final, something changed. Maxi Grabiel sat on the coaches' bench for the first time.

New coach Grabiel turns the tide

After announcing his formal retirement from padel at the start of 2021, Grabiel focused full-time on coaching his players.

Over the off-season, he got Ortega and González to retool and adapt to a much more offensive and aggressive style of padel.

This was very different to how they played in their first stint as a couple, which was more built around the defensive solidity of Ortega and the hard-working nature of both players.

The new style suited hard-hitter González, with Ortega sharpening her blades in the form of a venomous vibora and a powerful bandeja.

On the other side, González had notably improved shot selection and reduced the number of unforced errors. It wielded good results instantly.

In the first five Opens, they would only lose to either the number ones Salazar and Triay, or number twos Ariana Sánchez and Paula Josemaría, reaching two semi-finals and three quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, they won both Challenger events they disputed, first in Getafe and then in Albacete, showing the world they belong at the very top of the mountain.

The plan comes together in Denmark

At the Danish Padel Open 2022, a breakthrough was finally made. With tough games from the round of 32, where Ortega/González played two-time semi-finalists Verónica Virseda and Bárbara Las Heras.

Concentration never wavered in all five matches, where they knocked out both four-seed Delfi Brea and Tamara Icardo as well as reigning number ones Salazar and Triay, who missed their first final this season because of the youngsters.

The intensity, the aggression but also the lack of errors in their game stood out. Grabiel has instilled this in them, to play on the front foot while remaining solid technically.

Taking down the number ones Salazar and Triay (in straight sets!) was perhaps the boost they needed. The final step they needed to take. In Sunday's final, pressure did not seem to play a part at all, despite Bea and Martita being the overwhelming favourites.

They were enjoying themselves, smiling throughout the final. Also a product of working with the positive Grabiel, whom they have grown very close to since becoming their full-time coach.

Marta Ortega and Bea González won the Danish Padel Open 2022 without dropping a set.

Both young stars were reduced to tears immediately when they won the match point at 6-2 5-4, and shared a big hug with their Argentinian coach in celebration.

This was deserved for us. We won games that were important for us and have worked tirelessly. We have also lost some difficult matches, losses that hurt a lot. But these have helped us to come back stronger and to train harder. Today, you can see that work paying off.
Bea González after winning the Danish Padel Open 2022

Sky is the limit

It was abundantly clear how much this victory meant. How much work has gone on behind the scenes, and how tough the going has been throughout the journey.

Maxi Grabiel has played a massive role in that journey. With his positivity, mental support, tactical sharpness but also his feel for the moment during matches as a recently retired player, he has been able to extract the best from his players.

The aggressive strategy has also been tweaked and tinkered with as the 2022 season progressed until things went perfectly. Finally, in Denmark, they did.

22 months after that win in Madrid, Ortega and González have matured, have honed their skills and have returned better than ever.

With two Challenger titles and an Open under their belt already in 2022, it seems like Grabiel, Ortega and González are more than ready to challenger the powers that be at the top of the standings.

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