Leonardo Iannacci

“How’s your right?” “Bad, thanks.” And Adriano: “What’s the news?” And laughter. Him: «And yet your backhand, flat or backhand, works, let’s say it’s not unwatchable. But not the law, eh. It’s your drama.” Encouraging, isn’t it? And incomparable: likeable, Roman at heart (“But now I’ve become almost Treviso-born, since I married Anna and live in the Marca”, he says), star performer, a great Italian. “Hadrian? He is a good and brilliant man but a bit difficult »a person who knew him well told us. Other secrets that aren’t tennis? His amatriciana remains powerful, the ordinance forelock is always there and the innate curiosity to escape the ambushes of boredom leads him, at the age of 72, to write books together with Daniele Azzolini (the last one is Nothing is impossible for Sperling&Kupfer with protagonists Sinner and Berrettini and today’s tennis). Essays on tennis and life.

Adriano, would you like to talk about the Davis Cup? The Finals are taking place in Malaga with 8 teams, including Italy (live on Rai and Sky).
Davis Cup no longer exists. If you say Davis Cup, only memories light up in me».

Always caustic: today Italy at 10 is playing against the USA to chase a final that has been missing for centuries.
«It’s not Davis, it’s something else. For me it is the Piquet Cup, which has the former Barcelona defender among its creators. What does that have to do with my Davis?’

Oh well. As a Rai commentator, will you enjoy following these finals?
«I would have preferred Sinner, absent due to a problem with a finger, and Berrettini. Victims of this exhausting tennis, at 220 per hour».

Have we no escape?
“It’s all uphill. We rely on Musetti, who I really like how he plays, with that one-handed backhand. And to Sonego that he proved his worth this year. We hope well”.

On the other side of the net, however, there are two very difficult types: Fritz and Tiafoe.
«Fritz comes from the Finals, where he played well. We are underdogs but nothing is lost with this formula which I would describe as strange to say the least».

That is to say?
«In my Davis, four singles and one doubles were played. There was scope to correct a singles gone wrong. Not today and, on the eventual 1-1, only the double will decide. It’s a lottery game.”

Our double is competitive, isn’t it?
“Of course. If Musetti or Sonego win a singles match, everything is possible on a draw».

Tennis players collect an impressive series of injuries. How come?
And not just the Italians. Blame this exaggerated tennis, always torn and played as if the human body were a Formula 1. You play too much, too ».

Once upon a time there was your beloved “pof pof”.
«That was a philosophy of life, not just of tennis. It indicated beauty, art and lightness».

When will we see an Italian win a Grand Slam?
«Are you asking me this too? Let’s give them time, when they’re okay. Berrettini came close to him at Wimbledon, Sinner and Musetti have a career ahead of them».

But Alcaraz won the US Open at 20…
“So? I know a guy who won his first Grand Slam at 26».

What can’t you stand in this tennis?
«The house music fired in the field changes. Then the horrendous tank tops that some wear, those “unseen they can see”. And then the rudeness on the pitch.

They haven’t learned from the last performer who just said hello, King Roger.
“He was from another planet. He won a Grand Slam at 36, played until 40. Elegant, he never sweated like Borg. An extraterrestrial. If he hadn’t had that loose knee, Roger would still be around.’

With Paolo Bertolucci you have become social media stars for your transversal messages in which you do what you have always been: actors who entertain while having fun. Modern-day Jack Lemmon and Walther Matthau…
«We have always known Paolo. When, after 50 years, he admitted that he considers me the brother he never had, I was moved.”

What do you remember about your won Davis?
«We were expecting a Rolex as a gift, made of steel eh, and we got a Piaget».

But yours was the golden age…
«But what gold. In my career I have collected 776,187 dollars in prize money, the same amount that can be won today in 10 days by reaching a Wimbledon semifinal».

Beauty is…?
“Many things. For example Virna Lisi whom I met in South Africa was there on business with her husband. She without makeup she was a goddess ».

Madness is…?
«Antony Queen, in a Mexican restaurant, ordered me: a real man drinks tequila! I’m a teetotaler, I obeyed and recovered from the hangover after 3 days».

Adriano, seriously: will I really never be able to do something for my right?
“You’re hopeless. But don’t worry, real forehands and backhands aren’t on a tennis court. It is enough to avoid the setbacks of life and, there, play good rights».

By the way, who was that tennis player who waited until he was 26 to win a Grand Slam?
Adriano Panatta.



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