“I hope Gaudenzi comes to Buenos Aires to see how is it like” – interview with Federico Coria

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BUENOS AIRES – Sometimes the best solution is to see, to witness what they tell you and you don’t quite believe: this is the proposal of Argentine Federico Coria to the Chairman of the ATP, Andrea Gaudenzi, to change his vision of the South American tennis swing.

“Hopefully next year he (Gaudenzi) can come to South America so he can see what it’s like,” said Coria during an interview with CLAY made in two parts, first in Córdoba and then in Santiago. He analyzed many other topics, from his relationship with Novak Djokovic to his suspension years ago; also the career of his brother, the now retired Guillermo Coria.

Interview with Federico Coria

– You were one of the few tennis players who publicly supported Novak Djokovic in Australia 2022. You trained with him in that unthinkable practice at the Rod Laver Arena before he was deported. What do you remember about that strange moment?

– He was extremely distressed, he was having a very hard time. He was very hopeful that they would let him play. We already know the end of the story. He had a lot of respect towards me, as many players turned their backs on him or did not agree with the way he proceeded. It was not his best moment, nor mine. I had to tell him to stop making me run because I had been locked up and I was about to die.

– Did several players reject him?

– It seems to me that at the time the Gringo (Andrés Schneiter), my trainer, sent him a message telling him that we were there to train with him. That’s how training sessions are organized. Obviously they, the ones who are at the very top, have already organized it a long time before, but well, in this situation it was a day to day kind of situation. I didn’t hesitate for a second. Nole laughed that I had a room with a small balcony and he did not. His windows were sealed, so he had to be in air conditioning.

Djokovic y Federico Coria el 2022 en Melbourne, antes de que el gobierno australiano deportara al serbio
Djokovic and Federico Coria in Melbourne 2022, before the Australian government deported the Serb.

– And about all the social and political turmoil that was going on, were you able to talk?

– No, no, I didn’t cross that line.

– You two get along very well.

– I think he saw a video where I say he was my favorite player. We played in Serbia in 2021 and after the match (Djokovic won 6-1, 6-0) I asked him for a photo. It started a good vibe back and forth. He also in the intimacy of the locker room has a very good vibe with everyone. He is very attentive. I don’t want to leave out the other top players. Nadal, Alcaraz. Rublev is a mastro, Zverev. I can’t say anything bad about any of the guys I get to share a locker room with. They all say hello and are very respectful. Obviously Djokovic is the best player in history and he gets the most attention. But the truth is that I think the circuit is quite healthy in that aspect.

– Did you see that Nick Kyrgios criticized you for taking that photo with Djokovic? He questioned your professionalism and said your mentality was very strange.

– Yes, I saw that. I would have loved to have been able to tell Kyrgios what my story was. Where I come from. What it took for me to get here. How many times I stopped playing tennis. In 2019 how much money I had to keep playing. If maybe I had told him my story, he would have obviously understood what it meant to me to play in the quarterfinals in Serbia against the best player in history…. Obviously I would have liked to do better and have a good result, but everyone lives his own story. The truth is that I saw it and I understand where it is coming from. Kyrgios has shot all over the place. He once criticized the ATP draw in Chile, he said that all the clay rats should be exterminated. We know that he gets off sometimes.

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“Very strange mentality”. Nick Kyrgios criticized Federico Coria in 2021 for taking a selfie with Djokovic after he lost 6-1, 6-0 // TENNIS TV

– Is there anything about him that you like?

– I think it’s part of a character that he sells. He’s pretty quiet now. I think tennis needs him too. I don’t share many things, I have other values. It is part of the show, it is good that he is there. He also criticized Carreño Busta once. It went like hell because Carreño Busta already has two semis in the US Open, he won a Masters 1000 on hard court. If he shot Carreño Busta, he’s going to shoot me.

South America has already lost the ATP of Cordoba, they didn’t upgrade Buenos Aires to 500… What will you say to Andrea Gaudenzi, president of the ATP, when you come across him?

– For me what should be done, I don’t know if it has already been done, is to invite him and let him see the passion of the South American fans, how they live the sport, how they add color to it. I believe that if he had been at Wawrinka’s match in Buenos Aires, he would have certainly understood how a South American fan lives the sport. Because in Buenos Aires a Swiss and a Chilean (Nicolas Jarry) are playing and the court has a spectacular weather and then a guy who has already won three Grand Slams leaves practically crying for losing a second round of an ATP 250… if you analyze it, it is incomprehensible. A guy who won everything, that it hurt him so much. All the love he had received from the people influenced him to feel like that. So hopefully next year he (Gaudenzi) can come to the swing so he can see how is it like.

– Is he a president close to the players?

– I don’t see him much. I’ve come across him at the big tournaments a few times, yes. Surely those who are higher up must have more contact with him.

Federico coria
Federico Coria in the ATP Córdoba 2024

– How do you look back on those months when you were suspended for failing to report a bribery attempt? Do you see any positives today?

– Yes, obviously it was a point that was one of the most difficult moments of my life. Because they were taking away from me the possibility of doing what I was passionate about. But also, looking at it today from everything that happened to me afterwards, I think it was a moment of impact that changed everything for the better. Because they say that what doesn’t kill you strengthens you, and well, something freed me, something clicked. As a result of that, El Gringo Schneider and my girlfriend also appeared. It seemed that everything had to come at the same time. Something very bad and something very good that is Flor and El Gringo. I’m not going to say that it helped me, but that it made me hit rock bottom and come out very strengthened, yes.

– Do you hold grudges?

– I try not to be resentful. The sanction, if you analyze it, when they gave me the verdict it was… uff, so much happened that I don’t remember, it was like… “Yes, we understand you, yes, you are innocent, but you are guilty”. I was sanctioned for not reporting a bribery attempt. I gave all the explanations and they took them all as valid, but they still sanctioned me for two months. I interpret it as they wanted to send a message to all the players. I think I will be the only player in history to be sanctioned for that. It seems to me that my family name was also going to make the news and I think it was more on that side.

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– How do you handle all the messages you receive on social media?

– I don’t even go into Instagram message requests, because they are practically all insults from bettors, win or lose. And sometimes I’ve seen them and some random guy who thanks you to life and loves you, the next game he wants your whole family to die.

– It is very good that picture you uploaded with football players Marcelo Salas and Marcelo Gallardo when you were a kid. The same time when your brother Guillermo was living a great moment in tennis.

– Yes, it was in the ATP of Buenos Aires that, in 2004. When my brother won the tournament, very important people went to see him play. I had the chance to watch the match with those two legends, great men for River Plate’s fans.

– That year you were in Paris when your brother reached the final at Roland Garros?

– Yes, it was an incredible two weeks with a bad ending. Because my brother was playing his best tennis. But for some reason life and destiny wanted him to lose that final. Obviously, it was my desire to see my idol and brother not being able to fulfill his dream. Gaudio was a fair winner, because he reached the final and he fought through a start that looked like it was going to be the fastest final in history. My brother had started with a 6-0, 6-3 lead. And I think he was 4-3 in the third. As a tennis player today, I would like to highlight that Gaudio stayed in the match and fought until the end, because the truth is that it was going to be a massive beating. As Argentines we have to value it. It was also something historic. If you think about it, it is crazy that there were three semifinalists from the same country in a Grand Slam.

Federico coria guillermo coria
Federico Coria and his brother Guillermo.

– A year later ypur brother lost another iconic final. With Nadal in the fifth set in Rome.

– I was in Venado Tuerto (the town in Argentina where the Coria brothers grew up) with my friends, we were getting kicked out of the bars because we ran out of money to pay more soft drinks, because lasted five hours..

– When you relive that match you realize how much tennis has changed in a short time. Very varied points, many drop shots, lobs, changes of pace, high balls.

– It is considered one of the best matches, I think, in the history of clay. It is one of the top ten. Many, many years have gone by and people still remember it. Nadal has also remembered it in some press conferences. It was a spectacular match, with a lot of strategy, a lot of long points. If you watch the summary, you don’t know who wins the point and if you think that one wins it, the other one ends up winning it. I think it was a battle and also, obviously, in the place where it was, in Rome, it looked like two gladiators in a coliseum. The truth is that it was a historic match.

If you liked this interview with Federico Coria, don’t miss, in this link to our site, many other interviews to the great protagonists of tennis.

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