“A team” tells the story of the Italian tennis team that won the Davis Cup in ’76 and that in the following years he reached the final three more times. A heterogeneous group, made up of very strong personalities, with sometimes very difficult relationships, but, in those years, the strongest team in the world.
Different but united. A team despite everything and everyone, despite the endless and unrepeatable controversies that preceded the historical final of ’76, the one in cui Italy of tennis won the Davis Cup for the first and to date only time in its history.
Forty-five years later, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adriano Panatta, Paolo Bertolucci, Corrado Barazzutti and Tonino Zugarelli they found themselves all together again for the first time, again protagonists in front of the cameras, to remember, with the ease of time that passes and smoothes bitterness and disagreements, the splendor of those golden years of Italian tennis.
The memory of the protagonists
The occasion was the presentation of the docuseries that marked the directorial debut by Domenico Procacci. At the end of an exhilarating 74 ‘screening consisting of a selection of some of the best scenes, the protagonists deservedly took the applause and the scene of the Festival, recalling those moments starting right from the protests before the departure for Santiago, which Adriano Panatta he remembers like this: “I lived those moments really with discomfort. I was not well thinking about what had happened only two years earlier (editor’s note: Pinochet’s coup). Communication at the time was certainly different, less immediate, but the news that came from there were horrible, horrible “.
Perhaps also for this the collective, historical and sporting memory would have wanted to relegate that success to oblivion. The story of these men, however, was too disruptive not to re-emerge over time, even 45 years later.
Sociopolitical events kept the world in check almost everywhere. In Italy many felt solidarity and close to the Chilean people, which is why they did not accept that our national team could go and play in Chile an event that they claimed would have given visibility to the fascist regime of Pinochet. Barazzutti he recalls: “Yet the year before in South Africa we had discovered apartheid and no one had said anything …”.
“… Other than … – Panatta interrupts him – they did not have television in the hotel, because the regime did not want uncontrolled images to come out, but Santiago was something else entirely”.
Fits Pietrangeli: “But why go back to talking about all that or about Pinochet? We haven’t even seen Pinochet in Chile”.
“But we’ve never seen Hitler …” he interrupts Panatta.
“Wait, Adriano, Nicola considering his age, maybe yes” he notes Bertolucci.
One thing is certain, if they weren’t tennis champions, they could easily have rewritten the history of Italian comedy, for comic times, irony and playfulness. Never agree on anything, always able to come together if necessary.
The first two voices are always those of Adriano and Nicola, the others take turns from behind. Pietrangeli tries to say that he feels out of place, perhaps only to take back the scene, but he never has time to grab her, that Panatta immediately re-enters the game and puts her in caciara.
The role of Zugarelli
Seeing them together is fun, even more, it’s a show. It is today, who knows what it must have been then. One out of all is almost always silent. Tonino Zugarelli. Today as then. Except when Adriano teases him, making him promise not to get angry, when he tells of the time that “in Poland Bertolucci gets hurt playing soccer. He can’t play double. They tell me: you play with Zugarelli. Impossible. I can’t play with him. I can play. If Paolo isn’t there, I only want to play with Corrado Barazzutti. You won’t be offended by Tonì, you promised me! “.
“If that’s why I also preferred to play doubles with others and not with you, now that I told you, are you offended?” he replies Zuga, that group’s reserve for many.
“Tonino, on the other hand, has never been a reserve. Without him we would never have been able to win the Cup“underlines Adriano Panatta. “VI was, we have always recognized him all “he notes Pietrangeli.
A team. Despite everything and everyone
Neri Marcorè, luxury moderator, but relegated to the margins of these phenomena from the audience, finds just the space to propose a reflection on the Davis Cup that is being played in these days and on those who could be the heirs of that fantastic and unrepeatable winning generation in the 70s.
Nor here Pietrangeli sends them to say: “This new formula is shameful. I’m the one who has played the most games in Davis and I tell you … “”
He interrupts him Panatta: “Can you tell us that you are modest?”
“I’m not modest, but then you can get there, if you can!” he retorts and then continues on the current Davis: “This new formula is shameful. Mr. Davis is turning over in his grave. Monsieur Piqué, the great lord of the ball, does not realize. I would like to ask him if he would like to take the field at one in the morning. At that time the tennis players took to the field the other night “».
It queues up Bertolucci: “Davis died two years ago. I discovered that Italy will play tomorrow this morning and I am one of the environment. It’s scandalous. “
Barazzutti: “The Federations have collected a lot of money with this new formula …”, but it doesn’t even have time to finish that Pietrangeli continues to comment on our tennis movement: “We have to thank the women. They have kept us alive and standing as a Federation over the years. If we have remained alive as a movement we owe it to them. Today we are lucky enough to have some extraordinary guys. Sinner it is a real phenomenon. With Berrettini the reflection is that if after 61 years he has beaten my record, it speaks volumes about the value of my results … Only Russia has better players, but today someone like Sinner can beat anyone, including Djokovic. “
Bertolucci: “I envy Volandri”
Panatta this time he agrees and adds: “On rebound shots in my opinion Sinner And between the top two players in the world and still can improve… If he fixes the service, he gets to number one and how. Sonego he is tough and fights like a madman, Musetti is a growing talent. It’s a shame Davis didn’t stay the way she did then, because that would have been fun. I would recommend a double Berrettini-Sinner, curious as to who would be the answer ».
Zugarelli, almost surprisingly, he breaks the silence: “Sinner it seems to me mono-strings, it is at a very high level, but it gives little to fun. I like Berrettini“. Just as the topic finally seemed to interest Tonino, Bertolucci feels the itch of those who can’t stay out of the crowd: “I frankly envy Volandri“.
Opinion from a former captain, already because after winning the ’76 Davis Cup and reaching the final 3 more times in 4 years, those players have all been captains in turn, apart from Zugarelli, as Adriano Panatta does not fail to point out to him, stage showman: “We’ve all been there, except Tonino … the reserves were not allowed to become captains! I’m joking, of course, Tonì! … Ah, Nicola … if you knew what I said about you, off the air …”
“If you only knew what I said!”, Pietrangeli retorts.
… to be continued…
In May, on Sky. In 6 episodes, if they will be enough. Maybe…
SkyBuffaTells Davis 1976, the new Podcast
Relive the path that in 1976 led Italy to win the Davis Cup in tennis, the oldest and most prestigious men’s team tournament, with the unmistakable voice of Federico Buffa: SkyBuffaDavis ’76: The other Camino de Santiago. Four events to listen to your skysport.it and on the best platforms, at any time of your day, or two episodes to see and review, available in streaming su NOW e on demand.