In the absence of an audience, the soundtrack of the cicadas plays in Tokyo.
The clock strikes noon and Alejandro Davidovich goes to the mixed zone satisfied because he has just signed his first Olympic victory, against Pedro Sousa (6-3 and 6-0).
The always spontaneous Malaga native is struck by the deafening sound emitted by insects, a constant and invasive rattle that accompanies the development of the matches, and even dodges the high border that delimits the four walls of the very vertical main court.
The grove that surrounds the Ariake Tennis Park offers some shade, but the thermometer reads 35 degrees and the humidity is close to 80%.
The first day of the competition is a preview of where the tournament will go, a true oven with no escape.
Novak Djokovic's forbidden gold
Naomi Osaka, from impact to impact without stepping on the track
"You see me, I've sweated so much that now I can't even take off my shirt," Davidovich tells this newspaper, soaked from top to bottom and whose entire muscles are marked by the glued clothes, son of a Russian boxer .
"No, I have not had contact with those in boxing, but I have had contact with those in handball and basketball," he says in his first Olympic adventure, a "unique and special" scale for him in the middle of a season in which he has begun to show your real teeth, wanting to hit hard and go up;
He is already the 35th in the world, but ambition demands much more from him and he, 22 years old and with much to offer, demands: "I have come here with great force, for all."
Fortunately, the Andalusian has opened the morning and others like Roberto Carballés or Pablo Andújar have been caught by the most hostile strip. The first says goodbye to the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili (6-3 and 6-2) and the second against the French Hugo Humbert (7-6 (3) and 6-1). Spain, then, loses those two bullets in the men's box, although Pablo Carreño does manage to progress, benefiting in the afternoon shift (7-5 and 6-2 to Tennys Sandgren) due to the light blanket of clouds that the currents of hot air, quoted at the next stop with Marin Cilic. “I have been lucky with the schedule, but it is hard to play under these conditions. You are never comfortable, but in other places like Rio there is even more humidity ”, points out the Asturian.
Tokyo is not Australia or New York, but heat squeezes to similar levels.
“It is different, in Melbourne it is drier and here there is a lot of humidity.
I'm soaked, I haven't stopped sweating since I hit the track.
You take two steps and you already have your clothes made of foxes ”, continues in an impression not only shared, but accentuated by Paula Badosa, who started with a crooked foot but then corrected herself to prevail in 2h 45m over Kristina Mladenovich (6- 7 (4), 6-3 and 6-0) in the early afternoon.
Tropical climate and cement
“I think I have never played in such extreme conditions, but I have adapted very well. It is very hot, but above all you can see the humidity, which kills me. It is leaving you very exhausted ”, the Catalan woman tells EL PAÍS, who will face the Polish Iga Swiatek in the second round, the eighth of the circuit. "Physically it has grown a lot, and in days like today that makes a difference," slides its coach, Javier Martí.
After winning their debut in the doubles, Carla Suárez and Garbiñe Muguruza (6-3 and 7-6 (4) to Alison van Uytvanck and Elise Mertens) cool off before heading into the mixed zone.
And both are involved.
"Yes, it is not the most pleasant thing," adds the Canarian.
“Here it looks like Cincinnati or Miami.
It is that sticky heat that makes you sweat and leaves you a little
, tropical type ”, describes the second, which beyond the temperature affects another relevant factor in the tournament, the absence of an audience.
After a quarter of reunions with the fans, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the countries and their respective restrictions, but with people in any case, the Japanese stands show cement and plastic again.
Carla Suárez and Muguruza, this Saturday during their premiere in the doubles.EDGAR SU / Reuters
"The main difference that I notice with respect to the Rio Games is that there is no public", Muguruza, face to face with Kudermetova first thing (Spanish) this Sunday. “Unfortunately we have been getting used to this situation, but we need people, they always push you and help you. We miss him a lot, the sport needs the fans ”, Suárez abounds, who will debut even earlier against the Tunisian Ons Jabeur - Sara Sorribes being the most early riser, against Ashleigh Barty - and who jokes when he is told that 70% of the players, between the two tables, are new to the appointment. "That tells me that I am older now, that I am one of the veterans, but it is normal, the cycle of sport," he concludes when Novak Djokovic has already beaten Hugo Dellien without problems (double 6-2).
are a key element, the crowd, their energy.
But even and all, these are Games ”, underlines the mystic Nole while the cicadas ring and sound, err that wanders among the branches.
“And so all day, from morning to night ... Although there is no problem: since it is the same all the time, it does not harm us.
On the track, we are just doing our thing ”, Carreño closes.
to our special newsletter about the Tokyo Games