Federico Buffa: “The epic of tennis from Panatta to Berrettini”

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World capital of tennis. Turin becomes one on Sunday 14 November by hosting the Nitto Atp Finals, the tournament that elects the player of the year. The best eight in the world of 2021 participate: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Hubert Hurkacz, Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud. Yes, there is a blue, Berrettini, in the second participation, and the first reserve is Jannik Sinner. A sign that tennis has returned to being the sport of Italians, 45 years later, the victory of our only Davis Cup.

Sky Sport tells about the ATP Finals in Turin from 14 to 21 November with a program from 11 to 23.30 with the voices of commentators and special guests Filippo Volandri, Fabio Fognini and Roger Federer coach Ivan Ljubicic. Together it brings memory to 1976 with the new SkyBuffaTell: Davis ’76 – The other Camino de Santiago divided into two episodes, the first aired on Sky Sport One Friday 12 November at 6 pm, the second on the following Friday.

From then to today and vice versa with all the differences that time brings, from a tennis in which a point could be played for aesthetics to the much more physical game of today. Above all it was a different world and difficult to imagine what today Adriano Panatta, Corrado Barazzutti, Paolo Bertolucci, Tonino Zugarelli and captain Nicola Pietrangeli, took Davis home in the Santiago de Chile final in December 1976.

Carmine Conte

«The winners of the 1976 Davis Cup», says Buffa, «are the most mistreated champions in the history of Italian sport. Upon their return to Fiumicino, not only was no one there to receive them, but they even had to go out through a secondary exit because they risked having oranges. The real game was played in Rome when it came to getting them to leave. Sportingly it was a formality. The blues were much stronger. The PCI dropped the veto when from Chile or from some exponent of the Chilean Communist Party in exile they made it clear that it was better to go because a consensus was being created around Pinochet because the whole world was against them».

A political context that is difficult to explain to an Italian today. Impossible to think that we do not go to such an event. Politics, not sports. Rai did not send television crews, it broadcast the deferred programs, it only sent the radio. The images of the Chileans have disappeared. There remain 26 minutes of a documentary made by a person who filmed the event seeing that no one was doing it. He brought 1000 meters of film. «It is a forgotten enterprise, but very lively for this very reason: why it seems unlikely that such a victory has not been exalted by counting that we have not won another Davis Cup».

It was Adriano Panatta, in his wonderful 1976, who put Italian tennis on the map not only from a sporting point of view. In an Italy where a middle class had been created, the tennis it gained a surge of consensus, no longer being considered an elite sport. “The players were strong and he was a character who would be ten times more relevant today than he was then.”

Today Italy has found a series of world elite players in a sport that becomes a team only for a competition, the Davis Cup which is always played in Turin from 25 November. «Drivers and tennis players are freelance sportsmen. They go at their own expense to play tournaments and have a “singular idea of ​​the game”. In the Davis Cup a unique concept is generated, six free thinkers who join forces for a company that is unique in the world of sport. Tennis is difficult to tell because it doesn’t have episodes like football and basketball. It has an amazing literature because it has a different dynamic from the others. The tennis players know when they enter the field and they don’t know when they leave ».

The hope is that a blue will come out as a winner from the ATP Finals. It would be the first time, but in the year of grace in which an Italian won the 100 meters at the Olympics, nothing seems impossible.

Other stories of Vanity Fair that may interest you:

– Tokyo 2020: the best Olympics ever in a wonderful Italian summer

-The summer is over, the blue companies will remain forever

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