“It will feel like being back to the future”, said Federazione Italiana Tennis president Angelo Binaghi during the presentation of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 2022. It will be the first edition of the tournament in full capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic: “We finally return to a full house, a pacific invasion of fans in the ways we knew from the past. This ‘invasion’ will be record-like, even compared to the past as the presale has already exceeded the previous best result of 2019 by 11%. If the weather will be kind, we expect to beat the selling records of that year, which amounted to 13.256.000€”.
Part of this success is also to be given to an unprecedented moment for Italian tennis that also feels like being back to the future: “it’s an exquisitely different time for our sport and the future prospects exceed any expectations that we had in the past.”
Binaghi underlined the improving results of the top Italian players: such results would have not been possible without the Giorgetti-Valente reform in 2018, he commented: “with the operational support of Sport e Salute given to the whole Italian sports system, we could envision new goals, gather more fundings and motivations for more efficient and competitive sports organizations.”
Data confirm that the growing enthusiasm of fans reflects in the increasing number of players in both tennis and padel. “The latest Istat studies in 2019 put our federation in second place, just behind football. We came out stronger from the past two years: we did not have the same inconveniences of team, indoor and contact sports. Instead, we have been certified as the safest sport to practice during the pandemic,” confirmed Binaghi who has ambitious future goals too: “We want to become the federation with the highest number of associates.”
In order to achieve that, three will be three main points: “The first is to introduce tennis and padel in mandatory school. We aim to have our sport 5 times more present than it is right now, continuing the collaboration with the table tennis federation. The second point will help us create a professional structure that overlooks the national case that padel has become. The third, and possibly the most important one, is the widespread diffusion of tennis and padel centres across the country. We want that in each and every council in Italy there will be a tennis and a padel court.”
The FIT president has announced that he wants to “devolve the whole of the gains from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to the funding of new tennis and padel courts across the country wherever there is none. We have spoken about this possibility with the undersecretary, and we hope that this project will be co-funded by the Department: the idea behind this is that high-class events should finance the promotion and the development of sport on the lower levels, so that future champions can be found.”
While presenting the 2022 edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Binaghi officially introduced Paolo Lorenzi next to tournament director Sergio Palmieri. Furthermore, he has explained the process behind the assignment of Wild Cards.
“All qualifications’ wild cards are given to the ones who will earn them via the pre-qualification tournament. For the main draws’ ones on the women side these will be given to Jasmine Paolini, Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Lucia Bronzetti. As for men, two are awarded to Lorenzo Musetti and young Flavio Cobolli, with the two remaining ones given to the finalists of the pre-qualies.”
The burning topic of an extension of the tournament in the future to a 2-week event was also discussed: “President Gaudenzi has almost got to that point, having gathered the support of all stakeholders. The only remaining issue is related to TV rights. The only thing preventing us from having a 2-week tournament in 2023 is Roland Garros. But we hope to be able to break this good news during the tournament.”
As for the presence of Novak Djokovic, the president of FIT made it clear that he is fully in line with Valentina Vezzali: “Laws regulating the presence of players are made by the government and by ATP.”
Similarly, the same understanding came in regards to the presence of Russian and Ukrainian athletes. “We are considering playing, at least one during the event, the Ukrainian national anthem following the Italian one.”