A fantastic spot for padel at the Foro Italico: Francesco Totti and Jannik Sinner shared the court with Michele Bruno, European gold in 2019, and Giulio Graziotti, among the italian team for the European Olympic Games in Krakow. They played a set. For the records, Totti and Graziotti beat Bruno and Sinner (who was replaced after three games because he had to go to practice tennis) 12-10 at the tiebreak after being ahead 9-6 and saving a match point on 9-10.
“Francesco was an extraordinary football champion and today he has proven to be the strongest also in padel,” said Luigi Carraro, president of the International Padel Federation.
“Watching it on television and watching it live makes a big difference,” said Totti, “For tennis players, the padel is more complicated because they are used to let the ball pass them. But I wish I had Sinner’s arm.”
The match was also a great opportunity to promote padel and the BNL Italy Major Premier Padel, the major that will return for the second edition from 9 to 16 July 2023. The tournament will also be the first combined event, a male and female tournament, in the history of the International Federation Padel circuit, with the support of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI). Italy is therefore confirmed as one of the pillars of the international Premier Padel circuit, also considering the event in Milan this year (category P1).
“Will you come and see the tournament?” asked sky journalist Angelo Mangiante, who was the commentator for the game. “I’m playing” replied Totti promptly, since he has been talking to Carraro about on a possible wild card at the BNL Italy Major Premier Padel during the match.
“Padel is an important sport, beautiful, fun, it has no age. It helps you meeting many people,” said Totti, who has also invested in padel.
“In Italy we have over 1.2 million practicing players, 7,600 fields; there are 25 million players in 150 countries around the world. Today we have seen a big event: a player like Totti, the players of our padel national team and Jannik Sinner. And our juniors on board in love with this sport,” said Carraro.
Teenagers and fans of all ages waited for Totti several minutes before seeing him coming down from the stairways towards the padel field. “You are so handsome, captain!” cried a boy as soon as he saw him from behind the fences. The choirs started while the phones were raised. Requests for autographs and photos were uncountable. There were those who would have liked to embrace him, some kissed him.
Jannik Sinner also joined, some steps behind Totti, while being chased by the screams of those who wanted to attract his attention. In the meanwhile, young boys sitting under the board of the Sala delle Armi, at the long sides of the court, were singing the anthem of AS Roma.
The game started and the show began. “Don’t hit short balls, Jannik,” said Totti. “With the side walls, it’s a mess”. Sinner smiled and took the first nice point in the game. The two players had microphones on, so when they were exchanging jokes, all the audience could hear them through speakers.
Sinner even showed an excellent ability with a paddle in his hand, with lobs and low volleys. “It was an honor meeting Francesco, we had so much fun. That’s the most important thing,” he said before leaving the court to go and train.
“He trained here, too” commented Totti, who received the invitation of Lorenzo Musetti during the same game. “He wants you in his box for the game with Tiafoe,” said Mangiante. “He better come here first…” replied the former captain of Rome, who joked there but when there was serious work on the court, he did not pull back. In fact, he proved to be very competitive, keeping the score, as well as winning some of the best exchanges of the match.
An early Christmas: Totti and Sinner are a gift to everyone
The atmosphere was magical, almost “Christmas-like”, especially for children coming from the various elementary and middle schools of Rome. They came on a tournament trip; some of them were lucky to have a seat inside the Arena in the plaza. It was not easy for them to sit and stay calm, due to the great emotion, the coming-true dream of meeting their idols. Even Lazio supporters were excited!
One could write a whole book with all Totti’s iconic jokes heard during the match. It all started with “the cat that gave him tickles”, and then many others, with the audience who had fun hearing them and “technical commentaries”, as elegantly defined by journalist Angelo Mangiante, who orchestrated the event.
When screams were heard from the Campo Centrale during the match lost by Carlos Alcaraz against Fabian Maroszan, Totti commented “aoo, Rome scored!”. And on Musetti’s invitation to his match, Totti joked: “Does he wanna play??”. The captain has shown that he is as talented as a padel player as he was in football. His son Christian also attended, together with the current girlfriend Noemi, who came in a total black look and dark glasses, without giving up her attention on him for a single moment.