INTERVIEW: Giorgio Errani


This afternoon we strongly suggest reading this exclusive interview by Riccardo Bisti for Tennisbest to Sara’s dad, Giorgio Errani.

Here you can find the original article – “La figlia del Re di Spagna”. (NdR. Non-official translation by G.Caporello)

Giorgio Errani, did you expect Sara to do such an amazing run before the 2012 exploit in Paris? Also, did you expect her to last within the Top10 until now? 

To tell you the truth, yes, I did. When she made it to the finals in Paris she proved the majority of media wrong, and still they have been skeptical about what she achieved at that time. On the contrary, I have been always sure it wasn’t just a matter of luck. I am not saying I already knew it, but I have always believed in her possibilities.

Right, the media. How do you judge media’s approach toward Sara? 

I have always been wary. They have been questioning her since day one. I was hoping they would give it a break one day, but the only one who had the guts to openly speak was Federico Ferrero: he said altough he never liked her tennis, he had to admit that she had undoubtedly accomplished amazing results. I am not expecting her to suit anybody’s taste – I wouldn’t dream of it – but for everybody to respect her. I know it might seem easy for me to say, but it is a girl who’s making our tennis history we are talking about. In 20 years, we would open the sports books and we would find her name just there. She deserves more respect, but still I keep hearing even major TV commentators talking strictly about how poor her serve is. Personally, I believe tennis is a percentage and points-based sport. You’re right, serve is an issue, she does not have that 140mph ball, yet she is always on top of the first serve-in ranking. I have been looking for a few stats lately and I found out a pretty interesting fact: aside from her match against Riske, before playing Serena (ref. French Open), she has always made more points than her opponents on the second serve: 50% over 41% against Witthoeft, 36% over 30 % against Petkovic and 43% over 15% against Goerges. I don’t think anyone could possibly question these stats and that is the reason why I totally agree with coach Lozano: Sara’s losses are not due to her serve.

It’s been a while now, Sara’s relations with media are almost cold-blooded, as if she feels not interested in talking to them anymore. Do you feel it might have something to do with the infamous Vanity Fair piece or is it because the questions do not stimulate her?

Both. Sara never complains about her job, while on the other hand there have been some journalists that almost forced her to do so. It was related to specific questions of course, but most of the times they distorted her answers and barked up the wrong tree. Yes, I suppose she has indeed changed her approach to media but frankly I have just given up reading media comments about it. I used to get upset before, but I decided to give up because I guess they cannot even understand what they are talking about sometimes. That is why I don’t read much nowadays: I used to do that, I tried to understand, I was eager to know anybody’s comment, but then I have realised there is no real logic in it. 

Do you feel this is strictly an Italian trait?

Well, if you read any Spanish article you will find out the media treat her like the King’s daughter. Shoot, it is even too much at times! But here is my point: they take pride in such a top player practising in Spain. I’m afraid Italy is not the place for hard workers to be. As for the Vanity Fair article: I admit Sara’s comments were slightly unfortunate, but again, they distorted her words. She might have been right after all.

Think about Sara as a world top player. Would tell us about her most difficult time? Which one it was?

The beginning of the 2013 season. She found herself dealing with a whole new situation she never expected to be in and was forced to prove herself once again. The year following your best performance is always the hardest. She felt the stress but she finally learnt how to get used to it. Judging it both by a technical and a personal point of view it was a tough period. I think I can say it now: she constantly felt under pressure.

Picture a debate on who should be awarded as the greatest female Italian player of all time. Do you think Sara must be taken in consideration?

I do not think such debate would be relevant. It is always a matter of personal opinion: I would say Gianni Rivera was the greatest, you might say Valentino Mazzola. It makes no real difference. Anyway, I do think Sara has the right to get the respect she earned, exactly like the other players, after writing a piece of history. Somebody may prefer Schiavone, somebody else Sara, others Pennetta. In my opinion debating on which one has been the best doesn’t worth the time, it is all about paying credit to the players and respect them, even thought you might not like their game. Let me give you an example: I am not a Juventus supporter but everytime Michel Platini used to play I always took my hat off. 

Rumors state that you invested a lot in Sara’s activies during her early years as a player, some say even 60.000 euros per year. Looking back at it today, what would you recommend to a parent? 

I would say the investments were definitively considerable but not as hard as some said. There is not doubt that tennis is always been an expensive sport for the ones who intend to support their son or daughter, nevertheless, there is no general rule. You might want to consider both parents’ and children’s intentions. I have always been fully aware of Sara’s eagerness. I have never had to do anything different than supporting her choices. She tried some 4-5 other sports like her older brother did, but then, when she showed some real interest in tennis, I had simply to support her. There is the chance – most probably, to be true – that not all the families would be able to sustain those kind of investments. Like I said, unfortunately, tennis is no cheap sport…

Changing up the subject, Roberta Vinci: how did you live the split? Sara has recently admitted she was the one who took the decision, altough Roberta is still her best friend and a key figure in her career. Do you think there is chance for them to play together again one day? 

I do not know. They decided to split just basing on the fact that they could not manage both singles and doubles anymore. After winning so much they decided to take a break and rest. It might not be a final decision, of course it will depend on their will, they could even get back together in 6 months or such. I think lately  everybody got caught in “too much ado about nothing”: both us – me and my wife – and Roberta’s parents took it well since there was no problem to deal with.  They plodded along for 3 years and felt the need to catch their breath. 

Was there ever a time when Sara thought about hiring a new coach? Of course Lozano did a superb job with her, yet she never had the curiosity to try something new? 

I guess not. Sara is still very pleased with their relation. I know it sounds unusual in a world where most of the players switch coach every 3 months, but Sara and Pablo have always been on the same page about any new change or decision to take. I do not think she would change. Also, I don’t think Pablo would coach any other player after her. It is just a feeling of mine, of course, but I guess once you find the squaring of the circle it gets harder to try other paths. 

There is some sort of myth behind Sara’s relocation abroad. Some say you have been advised by Raffaella Reggi: is it true?

It is, in a sense. Raffaella’s father was the accountant of my wife’s company. We were looking for any info about Nick Bollettieri Academy for Sara and we knew  Raffaella had amazing results in practicing there. We asked her for advice and she agreed it was a great idea. When Sara got back, we were almost sure she would have stayed in Italy and chose an Italian coach, but it turned out Spain had better conditions available than here.


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