- About the tournament
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– I know that you’ve been playing with Thomas Fabbiano in 2013. Judging by the score, It was also a tough match. Can you compare those two matches and how do you evaluate your today’s performance?
– As you said it was a long time ago. If I remember right, it was Recanati Challenger 2013 in quarterfinals. I lost the first match, but I remember back then I was 4/1 up in the first set. And there, you know, back then I was pretty tired after two matches before quarterfinals. Maybe I was not as experienced as right now. Because it was first challengers for me, but I knew today’s match will be also a tough one. Because he is playing pretty well. He played well in New York. I didn’t start well in the first set I was making many errors. Especially at the beginning of the rallies. But I knew If I was able the rallies stay there, be better. I will win. There were two turning points in the match, both on 3/3 of the second and the third set. I am pretty happy that I won. It is never easy to play against your friend, like Thomas, and compatriot. But I think I played a good tennis after the first set.
– In the next round you opponent will be either Casper Ruud or Alexander Bublik. What do you think of them? Do you have a plan on how to prepare?
– I think, they are two completely different players. One guy is like Spaniard, likes to play rallies, strong with his forehand, the other one is serving like crazy, has strong shots. Not easy opponents to prepare for. We will see on who it will be. My coach is watching right now for sure. He will know what to do tomorrow.
– As you said, you have come to St. Petersburg with a coach. Is there anybody else who has come here to support you?
– Actually, my coach’s wife came to support us. She is Russian, by the way, from Samara. They came here with a small kid. She was really happy, when we told her, that we are going to St. Petersburg. Actually, for me, it is the first time in Russia. I am enjoying being here.
– Did you have a chance to sightsee St. Petersburg?
– Unfortunately, we didn’t. We arrived pretty late here on Monday evening, because I was in Sevilla, playing another tournament. I really want to walk through St. Petersburg. As I said before, I have never been to Russia. I have seen many pictures of the second Russian capital city, on the pictures it is beautiful. And I hope to have one or two days after the end of the tournament to see around. But right now, from the window a transfer car to the stadium it looks amazing.
-Where do you practice? Where is your training base?
– My coach and I are from Sicily, so my training base is there. I’m from South-East and my coach is from North-West, it takes two hours to go there, but he moved 12 years ago to play in a club and then we started to work together. Our base is still in Sicily in Syracuse, I live there I love being there, I love everything about it, as it’s my home, I love the weather, it’s amazing there. I think my home is the best place for me. I’m pretty lucky that I didn’t have to move, because I met my coach there, so I’m pretty lucky to stay home and I’m very happy about that.
– I’ve been there, it’s a very beautiful place.
– I think that your home for you is the best place, so my home is the best place. I love everything about there. I’m pretty lucky actually that I didn’t have to move, because, I mean, my coach – I met Paolo there, so I didn’t have to move and I’m pretty happy about that.
– Well, the weather is definitely better than here.
– It’s different. I have many friends – they like when it’s cold, instead me – no chance, I like when it’s very hot, actually. It’s a question of what you like more.
– Actually it’s very interesting what is happening with Italian tennis. Now we can see many young Italian players appearing on the courts – like Jannik Sinner, and now we see how the generation of the Italian players is changing. What is the reason for that, for the Italian tennis improved so much?
– I think, we are having actually a really good time, I mean, with Matteo in New York… I mean, every Grand Slam there is one Italian who is doing pretty well, and I think the reason why – we have so many challenges in Italy, I think almost twenty, so you can play in Italy for 20-21 weeks easy. It’s not what you can find easy in every country. For sure, we do a good job with the challenges. Of course now we need maybe more ATP tournaments maybe next year we will have Monza on the grass, Next Gen finals. We are having good movement so I think that is the reason because so many challengers. Once you are growing up on the Challengers then you are ready for ATP. And I think we have more players than all the rest countries in top-200, there are almost 20. So many! And that is the reason and then after Matteo [Berrettini] or [Lorenzo] Sonego, they also prepared themselves on Challenges and now they are doing pretty well on ATP Tour I hope we will have more players in Top-100 it is so important for the country.
– Are you a relative to Enrico Caruso, the operatic tenor?
– Actually I have this joke with Dominic’s Thiem coach Gunter [Bresnik], he never calls me my name, he always calls me “Enrico! Enrico!” because he knows the last name of the singer. We are not relatives because he is from Naples and I am from Sicily, unfortunately or fortunately I don’t know. You are not the first one to ask.
– Have you ever listened to him?
– Maybe once. Not like with attention. I mean I know he was pretty good but I am a big fan of the opera to be honest. My sister is working in the theater in Milan, in La Scala, but don’t ask me to go. My mother and my sister like it a lot, but me – not.
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