The new version of the Challenger, which is unveiling at TC Sanremo, brings back to fans the long tradition that Sanremo has seen in the past, from a prestigious catwalk to many big names in racquets, after years of great tennis absence from Flower City.
We Ligurians are well aware that the history of tennis in the city of Matuziana goes hand in hand with the history of Italian tennis, from the time when the English pioneers replaced our favorite sport, the Riviera de Ponente.
Without going too far over the years, tennis historians will remember the beautiful tournament held at TC Sanremo in the 60’s, which repeatedly saw our Nicola Pietrangelli take on the role of absolute hero, at the height of her career.
Pietrangeli won the four-set final against Beppe Merlo in 1960, just months before his second victory at the Roland Garros after his 1959 victory.
Around 1959, it was the year of the “first” for the Davis Cup in San Remo: in the third round, in fact, Pietranzelli, Cirola and Merlo’s Italy defeated France 4-1.
Nicola signed an encore in Sanremo in 1963, defeating the French Brichant in a decisive match.
Finally, in 1964, the blue record holder again reached the final at the City of Flowers in the Davis Cup appearance, but then lost to the Swedish Jan Lundquist.
The Sanremo tennis tradition was confirmed by many other national and international tournaments held between the 60s and 70s.
In 1967, another sacred tennis monster of Italian tennis, Adriano Panetta, as a teenager, together at the start of the junior national tournament, it was worth “penetrating” into one of the many absolute youth championships registered to attend TC Sanremo. With other future great players of Davisman and Marjano, Caimo and Matteoli’s caliber.
80s and 90s.
Even in the 80’s, Sanremo hosted many prestigious tennis events. Tc Solaro, a club founded in 1977, hosted a $ 25,000 prize money tournament in June 1981, and won the final 0/6 7/6 6/2.
A few months later, in October 1981, again at TC Solaro, Italy beat South Korea 4-1 with captain Vittorio Crota, Adriano Panetta, Barajutti, Bartolucci and Oclapo, saving themselves from exile and securing the result just after the second day. Double points that made him 3-0.
In September 1982, TC Solaro again hosted the Absolute Italian Championship, a very spectacular and tough fight match between the key players in the world rankings in the men’s draw. Suffice it to say that Claudio Panatta, “Panattino”, Adriano’s brother who rose to fame in those years as the hope of Italian tennis, Claudio Panatta won the men’s singles championship in the singles final due to his success in the fifth set.
In the doubles final, the Panatta brothers defeated the famous couple made up of Marchetti and Enzo Vatoun, a real genius who won the Grand Prix tournament in Palermo the same year.
In the 90’s, another international tournament of the Sanremo Open, included in the ATP circuit, was played on the magical night of the World Football Championship at CT Sanremo. A great week of tennis came. The Spaniards were crowned in the final on August 5 by Jordi Ares and Juan Aguilera, and the former was better off with a double 6/2. It was a very prestigious tournament, considering that the number one seed was given to a clay expert like Argentine Guillermo Perez Rolden and the finalists Aguilera came to Riviera after winning the tournament in Nice and Hamburg. The last one he had was even losing to Boris Baker in the final.
Feelings of Weaver Memorial and Novak Djokovic City Festival.
Great Tennis returns to TC Sanremo in the early 2000s, from 2002 to 2010 at the ATP Challenger Tour’s Sanremo Tennis Cup, played at Memorial Tesitor. More than nine editions, many big players reached the finals of the tournament. Fabio Fognini lost in the final to Francesco Aldi in 2007, and Roland Garros winner Gaston Gaudio in 2004 won the San Remo Challenger in 2010.
On the occasion of the 2005 edition of the Weaver Memorial, it was a very well-spoken young Serbian who picked up the winner’s trophy. The previous year, the Potito Stars had won in Sanremo, and in 2005 another Italian, Palermo Aldi, seemed to be the favorite in the final.
In the end, however, 18-year-old Novak Djokovic won his second career victory in the Challenger.
Yes, “that” Novak Djokovic is lucky to have won 20 Grand Slam tournaments (so far). In Sanremo, the world number one has always been lucky, since in 2001 he graduated from the Under-14 Solaro European Champion.
During the Weavers Awards ceremony, Djokovic said he wanted to return to the city of flowers and win the tournament again.
Fifteen years later, Djokovic actually returned to Sanremo, not even imagining that in 2005 he would be able to make it to the world rankings and number one on the stage of the Italian Music Festival.
In fact, on 5 February 2020, Fiorello, as a presenter, invited Novak, seated in the Ariston audience, to the stage to sing Eros Ramajotthi’s 80s cult song Terra Promesa.
From one stage of red clay to another, we thus arrive at the present day, waiting to taste the new Sanremo Challenger 2022 from 3 to 9 April. Number one in the new world.