Underhand serves, Hantuchova and Simona dancing on the court, Halep playing against her former coach - Darren Cahill -, players entering the arena on tricycles and returning high speed serves from the stands were just a few of the highlights that happened during the exhibition match between Team World and Team Romania.
Fognini, Hantuchova, Simona Halep, Marius Copil and the two coaches – Darren Cahill and Andrei Pavel -, created a fantastic show for a great audience of 9000 people in Cluj-Napoca. The event sold out and was part of the 2019 Sports Festival.
The show started with a unique entrance of every participating player. Each one of them entered the court on an electric tricycle while all the spectators lighted up the arena with the blitzes of their phones. The event started with a match between Fognini and Copil that had everything: underhand serves, amazing shots, tweeners, high speed serves and a lot of humor from both players.
The women’s encounter between Halep and Hantuchova followed minutes after that. Hantuchova still looks impressive after two years since her retirement. The girls had a very good time on the court, but also delighted the fans with a short dancing scene.
The two coaches couldn’t stay on their sits and joined the players on the court. At a certain moment, the court looked like a training session between Halep and her former coach, Darren Cahill. Darren fooled the public into believing he lost his tennis talent after his time away of coaching, but after some bad serves and some racket switching with Fognini, the Australian started hitting the way he would do in a proper training session.
The final match of the exhibition was a mixed doubles match: Halep and Copil versus Hantuchova and Fognini. The doubles transformed in “triples” as the coaches joined in, but after a few shots, the players united against the coaches to make it four against two.
Lots of laughs and lots of outstanding shots from each of the players including Cahill and Pavel made Simona say: “I haven’t laughed so much in my entire career!” Besides this, Cahill brought Halep’s father on the field while Simona, clearly amused about her father’s game, invited the mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Emil Boc, to hit a few shots.
The mayor provoked cheers and chuckles in the stands after he imitated Nadal’s well-known serving ritual. Also, a kangaroo mascot went to hug Cahill, obviously because he is an Australian. At the end of the event, the players received trophies, but the money prizes were donated to the Simona Halep Foundation.