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Italian International Championships


The history of Italy’s International Championships (Internazionali d'Italia) started in 1930 but not in the present location of the Foro Italico Tennis courts. The first five editions were held in the Tennis Club Milano in Via Arimondi (Milan) thanks to the commitment and passion of Earl Alberto Bonacossa. Only in 1935 was the tournament finally located in the now traditional site of the Foro Italico. Construction of the present site commenced in 1928 following the blueprint of the architect Del Debbio on a drained area near the banks of the river Tiber. Since 1935, this event has been held in different locations only three times; once in 1961 when both the Men’s and Women’s draws were played at the Turin Sporting Club in celebration of the Centenary of the Unification of Italy and later—the Women’s Tournament only—during the 1980s when it was first held in Perugia and then later in Taranto. In total, the tournament has witnessed five Italian winners so far, and consequently five titles in the Men’s competition, with eight players participating in ten finals and three winners in the Women’s draw. The first editions of the Italian Men’s Tournament saw the repeated participation of the four stars of Italian tennis of those days: Valerio Uberto de Morpurgo, Emanuele Sertorio, Giovanni Palmieri and Giorgio de' Stefani. The first ever final was fought out between the Italian Valerio Uberto De Morpurgo and William “Bill” Tilden and ended in victory for the American player with a clean 61 61 62. Tilden arrived at the age of 37 in Milan with a long list of prestigious titles under his belt, including seven Davis Cup Trophies, seven victories at Forest Hills and 2 Wimbledon trophies. The first Italian victory bears the hallmark of Emanuele Sertorio (1933) who defeated the Frenchman Legeay with the score 63 61 63 and the following year marked the first all-Italian final with Giovanni Palmieri against Giorgio de' Stefani. Palmieri won the 1935 edition of the tournament with a score of 63 60 75. Following a long break from 1936 to 1949 due to the Second World War, the tournament was handed over to a new generation of remarkable tennis players of the 1950s; Drobny (with a total of 3 titles), Sedgman and Patty. The only significant Italian presence in those years was Gianni Cucelli who was defeated by Drobny 61 108 60 in the 1951 finals. Italian tennis started to pick up strength and become better known internationally during the second half of that same decade thanks to talented players such as Gardini, Merlo and Pietrangeli. The former two players were the protagonists of the second all-Italian final in the history of the tournament: Gardini winning over Merlo who was forced to withdraw because of cramps. The arrival of Nicola Pietrangeli into the Italian tennis scenario was confirmed in 1957 with a first final and victory against Merlo (86 62 64) in the third and last all-Italian final. Pietrangeli was a finalist once again in 1958, but beaten by Rose, but later went on to win the Turin event in 1961 defeating Laver (68 61 61 62). He played his last final in Rome in 1966 against Tony Roche. Ten years later, the Foro Italico once again spoke Italian with Adriano Panatta’s win against Vilas in 1976, (26 76 62 76). The following year, the Italian Zugarelli was beaten in the final by Gerulaitis and then Panatta again as finalist in 1978, losing to Borg after a very close match (16 63 61 46 63). This was the last appearance of an Italian finalist at the Foro Italico, which during the 80s and 90s became almost exclusive property of South America (seven trophies won by Vilas, Clerc, Gomez, Mancini, Rios and Kuerten), the United States (four trophies to Arias, Courier and Sampras), Austria (three trophies, all won by Muster) and by Spain (Sanchez and Corretja) and Sweden (Wilander and Norman), each with two trophies. The 2001 final went to the Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, while in 2002 André Agassi finally conquered the only title missing from his well-stocked trophy cabinet. A surprise winner came in 2003 with the Spaniard Felix Mantilla, the first unseeded player to win the tournament since 1963. His triumph culminated with a splendid win in the final match against the Swiss Roger Federer and tournament favourite. In 2004 The trophy once again was conquered by Spain but another player: Carlos Moya who defeated the Argentinian Nalbandian in what was then called the Telecom Italian Masters Final. In 2005 we had a memorable final, once again won by a Spanish player, Nadal who defeated the Argentinian Coria in five straight sets in an over 5-hour long match which was followed by 3.600.000 television spectators. Even more memorable was the 2006 final, which again saw Nadal winning with a tie-break in the fifth and final set against the world’s number 1 player Roger Federer, after eliminating two match points in favour of the Swiss player. These two finals are ranked number 1 and 2 in the list of longest final matches ever: 5 hours and 14 minutes in 2005, 5 hours and 6 minutes in 2006. Shorter but nonetheless as significant was Nadal’s third trophy in 2007 against Gonzalez from Chile. In 2008 Novak Djokovic beated the Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka and became the first Serbian player to win in Rome. In 2009 and again in 2010, Nadal returned to dominate the courts and the Spanish left-hander succeeded in conquering his fifth title, a record for this Tournament.
  1930  Tilden II, William Tatem (Bill)
  1931  Hughes, George Patrick (Pat)
  1933  Sertorio, Emanuele
  1935  Hines, Wilmer Moore
  1937  Palmieri, Giovanni
  1940  Punčec, Franjo
  1950  Drobny, Jaroslav
  1951  Drobny, Jaroslav
  1952  Sedgman, Frank Arthur
  1953  Drobny, Jaroslav
  1954  Patty, Jesse Edward (Budge)
  1955  Gardini, Fausto
  1956  Hoad, Lewis Alan (Lew)
  1957  Pietrangeli, Nicola
  1958  Rose, Mervyn Gordon
  1959  Ayala, Luis Alberto
  1960  MacKay, Barry Bruce
  1961  Pietrangeli, Nicola
  1962  Laver, Rodney George (Rod)
  1963  Mulligan, Martin Frederick
  1964  Lundquist, Jan Erik
  1965  Mulligan, Martin Frederick
  1966  Roche, Anthony Dalton (Tony)
  1967  Mulligan, Martin Frederick
  1968  Okker, Thomas Samuel (Tom)
  1969  Newcombe, John David
  1970  Nastase, Ilie
  1971  Laver, Rodney George (Rod)
  1972  Orantes Corral, Manuel (Manolo)
  1974  Borg, Björn Rune
  1999  Kuerten, Gustavo
  2000  Norman, Leif Magnus
  2001  Ferrero, Juan Carlos
  2002  Agassi, Andre Kirk
  2003  Mantilla Botella, Félix
  2004  Moya, Carlos
  2005  Nadal, Rafael
  2011  Djokovic, Novak
  2012  Nadal, Rafael
  2013  Nadal, Rafael
  2014  Djokovic, Novak
  2015  Djokovic, Novak
  2016  Murray, Andrew Barron (Andy)
  2017  Zverev, Alexander

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