The Tennis’s Great Entertainer’ Mansour Bahrami Brings Humour And Humility To Expo 2020 Dubai
DUBAI, 20 February 2022 — Known for audacious trick shots and his big personality, tennis legend Mansour Bahrami, 65, is also the oldest player currently competing on the doubles circuit — and the ebullient player has no plans to stop doing what he loves.
As a former professional tennis player. He is Iranian with dual French nationality since 1989. While only moderately successful on the ATP Tour, his showmanship has made him a long-standing and popular figure in invitational tournaments.
Ahead of his exhibition match against Fabrice Santoro at the Expo Sports Arena this evening (20 February), Bahrami shared his sporting predictions for 2022, and what keeps motivated.
Welcome to Expo 2020 Dubai. Can you tell us your first impressions?
I’ve never seen anything like Expo 2020 Dubai before — I’m really impressed. I first came last night [19 February] to watch my friends John McEnroe, Greg Rusedski, Richard Krajicek and Mark Philippoussis compete in the men’s doubles exhibition match for the Expo 2020 Dubai Tennis Week, and I’m looking forward to see more.
What can we expect from your match this evening against Fabrice Santoro?
I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t played a singles match for more than 20 years — I’m a doubles player, as you know — and I’m turning 66 in a few weeks. But things just happen once you’re on the court and my opponent this evening is a magician, he’s got great hands. Once we’re out there with the crowds, we’ll do our best to make it entertaining, but nothing is planned.
From the up-and-coming players, who do you think will replace Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer at the top?
Players like Daniil Medvedev will make it to No 1 and Stefanos Tsitsipas is going to be in the top three for a while. I’m not sure if he can make it to No 1, but Andrey Rublev will also make it to the top three or four. These are the next tennis champions.
How much has tennis changed since you started out?
We used to have wooden rackets, which weighed 200 grams more than the ones we have today. You could easily break two or three rackets in one match. That doesn’t happen these days — unless you smash it on the ground and really want to break it. The materials have changed so much — from the strings to the balls and the surfaces. All that is for the good of tennis: it’s much faster today. Personally, I think my serve is much stronger today than it was 40 years ago because of the rackets.
Do you think tennis is accessible to everyone or is it still a little elitist?
Tennis has been elitist in the past, but nowadays there are plenty of free courts or some courts that you just pay a few euros for. Of course, you have to buy the racket, which can be expensive. It costs more than a football. Which is why I always say football is the biggest sport in the world and tennis is the second.
You are turning 66 soon and are still in incredible shape. What’s your secret to staying fit and healthy?
The secret is that if you keep doing what you love doing, you can last for a long time. Tennis is my passion, is my life and something I’ve always done. It wasn’t easy at the beginning. I taught myself to play — I’ve never had a tennis lesson in my life — and I’ve had many obstacles thrown in front of me. But if you do something with passion and love, it gives you the energy to keep doing it. I am the oldest tennis player playing in exhibitions all over the world and I’m proud of that. I still play doubles in Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the French Open — which I also help to organise. I thank all of my fans who come to watch me. I get my energy from them and they keep me going.
See Mansour Bahrami trick shots here: https://youtu.be/Eyk7p0ealP4