Six o'clock in the evening, Barcelona. Fernando Belasteguín, better known as “Bela“, is getting ready for one of the most difficult shots in his sports career. Although he is a padel legend, for 16 consecutive years the longest standing number 1 ranked player in the world, he still admits that “when they approached me with the challenge I thought it would be impossible, but now I'm not leaving here until I make it.”
From the eighth floor of a building in the Barcelona harbour, Bela's mission is to deliver a unique trick shot: hit the ball into the open sunroof of the CUPRA Ateca parked on the street from a height of 36 metres, and the target only measures 70x50 centimetres. Biophysics professor Enric Álvarez from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia analyses the requirements of the challenge. “The stroke has to be delivered with great accuracy, as from this height there is little room for error, so he must aim for the correct angle and speed with which he hits the ball. This shot is practically impossible”, muses the scientist.
An added complication
As he warms up his wrist with some practice racquet swings, Bela makes his way towards the setting for the challenge. He stops off at the nearby gym for some last-minute exercises, concentrating on the type of stroke he'll have to use. The lob is considered his best stroke, but on this occasion it will be of no use to him. “I think I'm going to have to hit the ball in a way I've never done before”, he maintains. When stepping out onto the terrace, Bela feels the wind, another added difficulty to the challenge. So close to the sea and from such a height, a sudden gust of wind could threaten even the most accurate stroke, as the ball only weighs 56 grammes, so he will have to choose exactly the right moment.
Getting a grip on physics and biomechanics
36 metres high, a 70X50 cm target and a swing executed with pinpoint accuracy.
Silence. With no hesitation, Bela takes a few steps back for an unobstructed swing, tosses the ball in the air and finally makes contact with his racquet. At a 10 degree angle of inclination, 54 km/h speed and 3 second descent time for the ball to fall into a target that looks tiny from so far up. Bela celebrates the accomplishment: “I took the wind into consideration when calculating the trajectory of the ball and I got it right on the first try. Who would have said that after 30 years of playing padel I'd have to try a new swing to rise to the challenge put before me by CUPRA?”
“What he has achieved was truly amazing for all the difficulties it entails. It involves outstanding biomechanical control”, concludes biophysicist Enric Álvarez. An extremely accurate stroke that the padel legend can add to his long list of triumphs. The face-off between Bela and CUPRA isn't over yet: “I hope they approach me soon with another challenge - whatever it is let's see if I can pull it off, too.” Without a doubt, because CUPRA is partnering with the World Padel Tour as Official International Sponsor in 2019, and in all of the competitions organised by the WPT in 2020 and 2021.
A Tie-Break between two masters of precision
BELA: At 22 years of age, youngest number 1 World Padel Tour player in history
CUPRA ATECA: The first model created by the new CUPRA brand
BELA: The longest standing number 1 player, 16 consecutive years
CUPRA ATECA: Six different driving modes to enjoy its high performance
BELA: 5 world championships
CUPRA ATECA: 300 hp output
BELA: 10 Silver Olimpia awards
CUPRA ATECA: Full LED headlamps with automatic beam adjustment