After winning Wimbledon juniors, you were labeled as the messiah of Italian tennis: how much did the pressure affect you?
“Yes, after winning Wimbledon juniors, I had certain pressures and too many expectations on myself and I was not good neither to have the idea that I could have done really well in tennis, nor to face this ‘sour bubble’ in not getting involved with people who didn’t love me. I struggled a lot to divide these two things, and from then on I struggled to reset and think about the next tournaments."
What was, on a technical level, the weak point that prevented you from making the leap in quality among professionals?
“The second service I could improve it, the first serve was quite good, although sometimes with few percentages in the court, but the most important gap was on the forehand because I lost a lot of ground with my preparation, especially on fast surfaces. On the rest, however, I was good at improving year after year more and more, even in the most important aspects of my tennis.”
How much does the mental game count in tennis?
“The mental part counts at 70%, at certain levels everyone knows how to play very well, but at some point we no longer talk about who plays better or worse, and this is where the mental game makes the difference. Then there are players like Federer, Djokovic and Nadal: what distinguishes them is that in important points they never make hasty or wrong choices. The mental part is very important, you can be good physically, play tennis very well, but if you have mental blocks on the court it's not easy."
How do you live with the thought of not being able to break through in tennis?
“I have no regrets. With my gaps, with my ups and downs, I gave my best. With the ‘if’ and the ‘but’ you can't move on in life, I gave everything, I struggled a lot to achieve important goals, I trained seven hours a day to improve my tennis; but not all of them are phenomena, I tried in every way to be a determined guy, and I don't have any big regrets, I made good choices, but so did others.”