Vinci, Nalbandian, Testud and the others: from tennis to paddle tennis, how many… conversions

The US Open finalist is not the only one who has changed his instrument: “I experience the same emotions as when I was a professional”

Who approaches paddle tennis for the first time immediately asks: “What does it have in common with tennis?”. After all, the question is legitimate, but the reality is that the two sports are more different than you think. Other rackets, another type of ball, the shot from below, the glass, the benches, the smaller court, the style of play that changes. They have little in common, and for those who have played tennis at a good level, it is difficult to learn the tenets of padel on the fly. It takes time, patience and practice. A lot. However, several former professional tennis players, who after having closed their careers and who are still in the ford of the ATP circuit, have opted for paddle tennis.

The winner

The most notorious case is that of Roberta Vinci, 39 years old, 10 tournaments won in singles and the 2015 US Open final lost to Flavia Pennetta. In 2016 she was number 7 in the world on the WTA circuit. In doubles she won all the Grand Slam tournaments partnering with Sara Errani. For a few years she has chosen paddle tennis as a challenge with herself. In February, together with Giulia Sussarello (also a former tennis player, number 488 in the ranking years ago), she debuted in Madrid in the first tournament of the World Padel Tour, to later debut in the Miami draw. “It’s like you’ve gone back to ten years ago. I experience the same emotions as when I was a professional”. Some difficulties at the beginning, especially with the walls: “Little by little I understood. On the net I feel at ease.” Ella She is currently ranked 29th in the 2022 WPT Race with 306 points.


Padel also seduced the former world number. An Argentine with long blonde hair, the usual white headband worn during matches, and a deadly coat. Wimbledon finalist in 2002, four Grand Slam semifinals, 11 tournaments in his career. Let’s talk about David Nalbandian, who was also a rally driver before turning to the ‘shovel’. In 2016 he was involved in an accident. For more than a year he has been the coach of Miomir Kecmanovic, 22, winner of a tournament in his career (currently number 48 in the world). In 2018, however, after the parenthesis driving racing cars, he debuted on the professional padel circuit together with his friend Gonzalo Vera. “I want to have fun and pass the shift.” He stopped in the round of 16. And he still has fun.


Other former tennis players have decided to invest. This is the case of Potito Starace, former number 27 in the world, 11 Challenger tournaments won and 4 finals lost at the ATP level. After retirement he opened a sports center in Arezzo. Four indoor courts: “It’s not just a fad. Padel is less tiring than tennis. If I want to have fun, I play a game of paddle tennis, certainly not tennis”. Among the players, however, is Riccardo Sinicropi, 31, former world 430. He has won three Futures tournaments and a few games at the Challenger level. One of these against the Argentine Diego Schwartzman. “It all started in 2018 -he said- I was in Forte Village in Sardinia for a Futures tennis tournament, I saw that there was a paddle tennis court…”. Spark – spark. As for Sandrine Testud, a former French tennis player, number 9 in the world in 2000, three titles won and a couple of quarters achieved in the Slams. In 2001 she won a double with Roberta Vinci. She today she lives in Rome. She discovered paddle tennis a few years ago and never left it: “The differences are many. Meanwhile less force is needed, you have to place the ball calculating the rebound”. Secrets of the trade.

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