The 1976 French Open winner Adriano Panatta commented on the Big Three, drawing some major differences. “Roger” federer>is a mixture of Tony Bennett, McCartney, Pink Floyd. Amazing. Rafael Nadal hits strong and he is very competitive, while Novak Djokovic gets all the balls back but their game is boring.
They play well, but they hit too strong. Back in the day, it was different. The elegant volley was so nice… And then there were funny boys like Ilie Nastase who liked to create buzz, but he was funny and at the end of the day I always thought he was a good guy.”
On taking his compatriot Nicola Pietrangeli’s legacy, Panatta added: “For me, he was not a master or rival either. Nicola was an important guy, but our careers coincided only for two years when I was 20. We are friends, although we have different characters.”
Can a new Panatta be around? “It cannot exist, we played at a certain rhythm, now everything goes faster, there is not even the time to think. Only Federer does it. Now it’s all so quick.” What was his best match ever? “I think the 1976 French Open semifinal match against Dibbs, I played better than I did in the final, I hit all the balls perfectly.
But in the US Open against Jimmy Connors too, despite I lost.” What did tennis give him? “Everything. So many satisfactions, the success, the chance to travel around the world doing what I liked. Maybe I could not spend more time with friends and my children when I was travelling all year.”