Filippo Volandri is not a stranger. Anyone who follows the world of tennis closely will know who he is, what his favorite surface is, and even his playing style. But perhaps you do not know that you have 8 victories against Top 10 players and wins against each of the Big 3. One of them, against Federer being number one in the world, in the Italian capital and before 60,000 people?
There is no point in crossing numbers because it would be boring. Needless to contrast the 1242 victories and 103 titles of Roger Federer with the 178 and 2 of Filippo Volandri to be clear about the abysmal differences between one and the other. Even so, the Italian can give himself the pleasure of being one of those who beat the Swiss legend.
It was the 2007 season, the tour on slow courts in Europe was already underway. Roger had just lost the Monte Carlo final against Rafael Nadal and in Rome he wanted to avoid an unprecedented event. Following his falls in Indian Wells and Miami against Guillermo Cañas, Federer arrived in the Italian capital with the weight of three tournaments without titles. To fall would be his worst record since he entered World No. 1 in February 2004.
The Italian was ready for that feat. Playing at home gave him a plus. And entering the box as a wild card and leaving Richard Gasquet, then 13 in the world, on the way, gave him another bonus. In addition, he already knew what it was to beat a Top 10. On his journey, in his last year and a half, he had victories against Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian and Tommy Robredo, among others.
The first set, a surprising 6-2 for Volandri. Things were not going well for Roger, who repeated himself in unforced errors and could not hurt with his right. Faced with a crowded stadium, the champion of St. Polten 2004 and Palermo 2006 did not miss the opportunity and, with a bit more closed 6-4, achieved his only victory against a No. 1 in the world in office.
“I don’t know what’s wrong,” said Federer in the post-defeat conference. “I have to analyze it myself. It ended too soon for me today,” he said, after 44 unforced errors and just two winners with his right.
It was the day, the stage, the event. The timekeeper Filippo gave at the right time and place. As well as you can say that it has victories against Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Yes it’s correct. Rafa beat him in the Cagliari Challenger 2003, when the Spaniard was 16 years old and 152nd in the world. And he was defeated by Nole at Umag 2004, when the Serb was 17 and was 368th in the ranking. A timekeeper.
“I often remember that moment, especially when I go to Foro Italico. I see others playing on that court and my eyes fill with tears because I would like to play that game again,” said Volandri, on Sky Sports. “That game was in the memory of the people. Many people when they meet me tell me: I was on the court that day … But the stadium does not have a capacity for 60,000 people!”
60,000, 10,000 or 100. The number of spectators is what matters least, clearly. What was undoubtedly valuable was this One-Hit Wonder by Filippo, who celebrated by throwing himself on the floor and with an Olympic return, as if it were a title. Or is beating Roger not equivalent to being a true champion?