Omar Camporese: «Alcaraz stronger than Sinner. my tennis? Against Becker I destroyed the locker room”

«The Davis Cup? It is not just tennis, but much more. I transformed…». Omar Camporese runs through memories with a thread of nostalgia: “More than a thread, there is nostalgia well” smiles the former Bolognese tennis player, number 18 in the world in 1992 after defeating Lendl and Ivanisevic in the triumphant ATP of Rotterdam and Milan, today tennis teacher and director of the Green Garden of Mestre. “Turbodiritto”, as the legendary Giampiero Galeazzi called him in those direct marathons over Rai in the 1980s and 1990s, in the salad bowl tournament he beat the strongest of the time: from 1989 to 1997 there were many scalps, from Sampras to Bruguera . from Stich to Emilio Sánchez, to the swan song of Pesaro before Moya. Now he expects Davis to land in his Bologna from September 14 to 22, for the second phase at the Unipol Arena in Casalecchio di Reno. “It had been a lifetime since the city had hosted a major tennis event. It was time. In the 90s Bologna was the capital of Italian tennis with me and Paolo Canè, in fact, the capital of sport with Tomba in skiing, Virtus and Fortitudo who played in the Scudetto in basketball and Bologna who had Baggio. So tennis became a bit of a trend in the city.

The Casalecchio event can help regain interest…
«I hope so, in Italy it is happening. We have Sinner and Berrettini, and the Government and the Federation are bringing great events to our country such as the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup.”

When you think of Davis, what comes to mind?
«The trip to Maceiò, Brazil, in 1992. I have never seen such an audience. Among other things, we were also a bit scared because, in the previous round, Becker had been thrown by snakes and he was crazy.

You saved yourself from the snakes…
“Fortunately, yes, but it was crooked. Against Mattar I felt that she only won against the world ».

You and Canè in those years were among the most famous men in Italy…
“Back then, tennis was on Rai, millions of Italians were glued to television on Saturdays and Sundays to watch Davis. You came to mass. Then at Davis I almost always played well.”

He was transformed, he said. What did she feel?
«Tennis is an individual sport, you only think about yourself. In the national team, on the other hand, I was moved to know that I was playing for my country, along with other teammates. I was so busy that I was preparing my ATP season according to the Davis Cup schedule. I have always put something extra on it, I have won games that I could have lost in other contexts.”

He beat the greats, except Becker…
“I only beat him in doubles. But in 91 in Dortmund I suffered and we suffered a robbery. He had beaten Stich and with Becker, then world number one, it was the decisive match for the next round, but it was the only one in history where they changed the chair umpire so it was so inappropriate. I was two sets ahead and he didn’t give me a point at the 3-2 break point in the third set, when he made Becker repeat a second serve clearly out. With that point I would have put my hand in the game. I remember that between the third and the fourth set, in the 15-minute break, I destroyed the locker room with rage.

On the other hand, there is the victory with Moya in Pesaro.
«I hugged Adriano (Panatta ed) at the end. He was in the final phase of my career, after being sidelined for a long time due to epicondylitis in his right elbow, but they called me in the last stage due to Gaudenzi’s injury. However, that day I knew I could beat Moya. I repeat, I have always found particular stimuli in Davis».

You mentioned Panatta, what relationship did you have with him?
«Of admiration and esteem. Everyone knows the player, but he was also a great Captain, with an ability to read the game that he had never seen in anyone else. We were a real team: take Paolo Canè, people thought we were rivals, but we have always been and continue to be great friends.”

Sinner and Berrettini are stronger than you and Canè, but you were more popular. Why?
«Tennis is still too confined to pay television, or thematic channels. So you are only followed by the enthusiast niche. We had Rai and, allow me, we were playing the real Davis Cup, the one of the away games in hostile fields, the one of the best of five games concentrated in the weekend. A set of conditions that created the epic, have turned everything upside down for three years now.

In 2019 the new owners, led by former soccer player Piquet, revolutionized the formula. Panatta sarcastically calls it the “Piquet Cup”, but not even the public appreciated it given the half-empty stands in both Turin last year and the final in Madrid.
«Today with this bizarre formula we even play at night: but who watches tennis at night? And let me say…”

«The players of the nineties were stronger. Unlike today, all of the top ten had won at least one Grand Slam or Masters 1000; and number one alternated with Wilander, Becker, Edberg, Lendl, Agassi, Courier, then a certain Sampras arrived. There were impressive rivalries and we Italians always made ourselves respected against these phenomena and people got excited. Now there is Djokovic, he has played very few games this year, but no one has beaten him. It must mean something.”

Who do you like today?
«Alcaraz is fantastic, he knows how to play, he does everything very well, he has the hand and the touch. He is the strongest of all. Then there is Sinner, who, however, compared to Alcaraz has somewhat less and needs some time. Here, Sinner’s rivalry with Alcaraz could recreate an epic of Italian tennis.

In the past he has made some criticisms of Sinner…
«As I have always said that he is strong, I urged him to vary his game, now I see that he is trying. In the short balls he has grown a lot, he also begins to go more to the net. But above all, Sinner conquered me emotionally.

Before those who say it’s cold…
“But wow, he’s an atypical South Tyrolean, exuberant, he grows up and fights on the grass. And he punches the screen, he has charisma, people go crazy for him. Last year I was in Turin to comment on the Rai ATP Finals: with Berrettini there was the illusion that is normally reserved for an Italian champion playing at home, with Sinner that illusion in the stands has turned into delirium. And then there is another thing, the most important…

“Sinner is very interested in the selection, as seen in Davis in Bratislava and in Turin. In short, he has everything to become a popular icon ».

After saying no to the Olympics, he almost passed for anti-Italian…
«I think that choice did not depend on him, but I repeat in the Davis Cup then he redeemed himself in a big way. From that point of view he is like me and Canè ».

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April 30, 2022 (change May 2, 2022 | 09:28)


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