Aug/19

30

US Open Biofile Paulo Lorenzi

Status: ATP no.  135. Turned pro in 1999. Highest singles ranking was 35 in 2016.

DOB: December 15, 1981  In: Rome, Italy

First Tennis Memory:  When I was playing with my older brother Bruno. I remember when he was taking a lesson, he had 50 minutes, then the last ten minutes with the coach was for me. I was six. That is my first memory of tennis.

Tennis Inspirations: My parents. My brother of course. I was the little one and I was trying to follow him.

Tennis Heroes:  Boris Becker when I was younger. Because my brother was for Stefan Edberg, so I had to find someone else [smiles].

Last Book Read: Right now, Donato Carrisi. It’s an Italian thriller.

Current Car: I drive a (brown) Mitsubishi here (in Sarasota, FL).

First Famous Tennis Player You Met or Encountered:  It was Pat Cash in an exhibition in Florence, I was eight or nine. I was going there to watch.

Greatest Sports Moment: When I won Kitzbuhel (defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili in 2016). It was my best memory. My first ATP title, it was great.

Most Painful Moment: I think last year, because I was injured for the first time. I broke my fascia, in the foot. Pretty big injury. I was 35 years old and I never had an injury. So of course, that one was tough. If you’re talking about a match, was against Simon in Indian Wells. I was 6-3 5-2 40-15. So that was pretty painful.

Best You Ever Felt On Court:  When I was a set up against Rafa in Rome (76 46 06 in 2011).  It was one of the first times I was playing in a big stadium. I was in Italy. I won the first set. I was feeling great. I was without pressure. It was a great feeling.

Funny Tennis Memory:  I had really good memories when I was playing some doubles with my friend Enrico Becuzzi. We played a lot of doubles in Challengers. With him I had a lot of fun.

Strangest Match:  I think last year in Houston during the Challenger was one of the coldest. It was zero degrees. They gave us things for the hands to stay hot. I never played in that cold, was the first time in my life.

Favorite Sport Outside Tennis:  Of course I’m Italian so I love football. When I have time, I’m a fan of Florentina. So when I have time I always go to watch some matches.

Three Athletes You Like To Watch & Follow:  That’s a good question…we cannot talk about tennis because it’s too easy. I think right now, if I have to ask, I would like to speak to some coaches, some great coaches like Arrigo Sacchi, coach of Italian World Cup team that made finals in USA in 1994, and Jose Mourinho. I would like to speak with the great coaches. I’ve been curious how they speak to the big locker room like in football. They have a lot of players. In tennis the coach just speak with one player. I think it’s hard to speak with a big team. The coach is someone also who doesn’t have to play. So I’m really curious to speak with them.

Embarrassing Tennis Memory:  I don’t know. You feel embarrassed because you’re playing really bad [smiles]. But right now I don’t have one. I don’t break many racquets so I didn’t have one really embarrassing time.

Fiercest Competitors Encountered:  I’m pretty lucky because my career would be so long not to find some. I’m not afraid about any competitor because I’m just thinking about myself. But I think in the future we have lots of good players, in Italy we’re lucky because we have Lorenzo Musetti, Matteo Berrettini, Lorenzo Sonego, Jannik Sinner, some young ones. But also if we look around, we have some young ones like Frances Tiafoe, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev. So I think tennis will have a great future.

Why Do You Love Tennis:  It’s my passion. Since when I was kid, every time that I’m on court I’m happy. And it’s what I still love. If you give me one court, one ball, one opponent, that’s my life.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:  It’s chocolate.

People Qualities Most Admired:  I like to have good food, good wine, with some friends. Most of my friends own restaurants. I really love the good food. To be with good friends is one of the best gifts that we can have.

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9 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 30, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Qualified for main draw. Wins two epic five setters in first two rounds. Age 37. Miracles do happen.

  • Leif Wellington Haase · September 1, 2019 at 3:27 am

    Glad to read this illuminating interview with Paolo Lorenzi, one of the great unsung stories of tennis.

    He talks of his passion for the game and few have ever shown his fortitude. Much like golfers who tried for a decade to reach the PGA Tour through the old Qualifying School, Lorenzi took twenty-three times in Grand Slam qualifying (I think) before reaching his first major, at age 28.

    By that time this Steve Buscemi look-alike had become a legend of sorts on the Futures and Challenger Tours. Even in a sport in which globetrotting for ATP points is standard Lorenzi’s peregrinations were exceptional—he would go to Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Chad, wherever tennis is played to rack up a few points and stabilize his ranking. As the author John McPhee wrote, roughly, of Ion Tiriac, Lorenzi’s manner and mien suggested that he had seen things that few men know exist, and fewer speak of.

    And he was by no means a finished product who was struggling to bring a great practice game to the match—he had difficulty hitting the ball through the court and on more than one occasion, seeing him struggle against players who never made a dent on tour, I thought that it was inconceivable that Lorenzi could possibly have a future in men’s tennis.

    But slowly the tide turned for Lorenzi. What had once been a race to stay afloat in the fringes of the sport became, from the perspective of an outside observer, a minutely calculated effort to make it into the first round of a Grand Slam, usually right on or around the entry date number, collect a big paycheck, and continue his peripatetic ways. He lost roughly the first thirteen or fourteen Slam matches he played.

    Yet, improbably, he continued to improve. He reached his first ATP tour final at 32 and by his mid-to-late-30s actually was off the Grand Slam qualifying bubble, for the most part. Yet in the past year his ranking has been backsliding and he entered the Open as a lucky loser. If you watched Kecmanovic, a young IMG European gunslinger of the now standard kind, practice side-by-side with Lorenzi you’d think it inconceivable that the older player would win. Yet he did, and his play against Wawrinka was really exemplary…not for a moment did it look like Stan would lose but Lorenzi was more than capable and entertaining and with this infusion of money and points…he may just make it on tour to forty, or beyond.

    Thanks to Scoop for profiling his remarkable story of passion, grit, and determination.

  • Hartt · September 1, 2019 at 7:16 am

    I am now officially a Paulo Lorenzi fan.

    “If you give me one court, one ball, one opponent, that’s my life.”

    That one sentence says it all about a passion for tennis.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 1, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Thanks Leif for those amazing details that illustrate Lorenzi’s dedication and perseverance. He first caught my eye at Sarasota Open when it was held at Longboat Key Club when Kyrgios won the title six years ago or seven years ago. Lorenzi was there looking like a maintenance man of the courts, long hair, beard, hodge podge outfit, but he could play. He’s definitely one of the unsung heroes of the sport who most tennis players can relate to. So happy he did this Biofile with me and it turned out to be better than expected, just like his own career.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 1, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Hartt, it is a special quote, spoken in his second language, in spontaneous response to an out of the blue question.

  • Hartt · September 1, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Scoop, I even posted his response to the why he loves tennis question on the Match Call Migrants blog, I was so taken with it. Giving credit to Tennis-Prose, of course.

  • Andrew Miller · September 1, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Leif bravo worthwhile to read your comment of the rise of Lorenzi. Italy on men’s side also looking like a future Spain (or a Spain without Nadal, but with a host of excellent players as Spain has had below Nadal).

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 1, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Lots of rising Italians, told there are now many futures and challenger events in Italy which is a big reason for this Italian resurgence.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 3, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    The kid who extended Lorenzi to five sets, 16 year old Zach Svajda, lost in the 1R of juniors to 4 seed Foretjek 63 63. Proves there are a lot of very good juniors out there. Keen an eye on Katrina Scott, Robin Montgomery, Alexa Noel, Melodie Collard of Canada, Toby Kodat, Martin Damm, Katie Volynets, Allura Zamarippa, Linda Fruhvirtova.

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