Do you remember Filippo Volandri? The Italian clay court specialist who was under suspicion for both match-fixing (tennis betting related) and doping (of which he was later cleared). By tennis gear nerds and racquet-aholics he's mostly known for his “ridiculously” low string tensions (often around 30-35 lbs / 13-16 kgs).
On Monday was the first time in a while I saw him play on the ATP tour, when he was on the center court in Rome against David Ferrer. It took me back to the same court in 2007 when he came in as a wildcard and beat the seemingly unbeatable Roger Federer in straight sets and shocked a whole tennis world. He still calls it the highlight of his career, despite having won two ATP titles and won almost than four million dollar in prize money (almost 20 years on tour however). See highlights of the Volandri vs Federer Rome Masters 2007 match here.
The Volandri of 2007 was back against Ferrer. Hitting beautiful one-handed backhands and looking a hundred percent comfortable sliding around on the red dirt. I thought we would see an upset, but Ferrer steadied his game and managed to win in three sets.
When he's not on the court, and preferably a clay court if you look at his quite dismal hard court stats, he's started doing tennis commentary for Italian TV (read the latest ATP World Tour interview with him here). Looks like that where he will transition to when he puts his racquet on the shelf.
“Tennis is now a passion for me instead of work. I don’t have to keep doing this. I do it because I love to play. There’s no pressure for me because I’ve had a good career, so I just want to go on court and enjoy it.”
Volandri plays with a Babolat Pure Aero (it really seems to be a Babolat Aero Storm under a Pure Aero paint job) and is wearing the Italian avant-garde Hydrogen brand which makes me think of Christian Audigier and his “skull-infested” clothes.
Let's hope we see more of Volandri on the ATP tour in 2016.