In an interview, Adriano Panatta revealed a conversation he had with Roger Federer a decade ago when the Swiss did still not have the French Open trophy on his achievements list. “He won so much, 20 Grand Slams, most of them on fast courts while on clay he won the French Open just once”, said Panatta.
“I remember we once met each other in Rome during the tennis tournament, he was going to dinner to eat some pasta, we said hi each other, I congratulated him for the way he played. He said: “But you won a title I never won”
I was like: “Let’s do this way, I give you my French Open and you give me three or four Wimbledons and two or three US Open. We make an exchange” He said: “No, don’t joke! For me winning the French Open is a taboo”
He eventually made it when Nadal did not reach the final, but he deserved it.” On the 11-time Major winner Bjorn Borg, Panatta added: “We still see each other and it’s just great. He was a particular guy, I call him the calm crazy!
I first saw him playing in Madrid against Antonio Zugarelli, who was one of my Davis Cup teammates. I told Antonio, Look, this 15-year-old guy plays well. He could dominate you! And he was like, Okay he plays well, but how much well? And in the end, Bjorn prevailed 6-4 6-2!
He changed tennis and sometimes I tell him he ruined tennis because he started playing in a totally different way than us who were playing classical tennis. After his retirement, a lot of people started playing like him. He is unique, after Borg, I only saw one such physical strong athlete, who was not a tennis player: the Italian skier Alberto Tomba.
You could not destroy Borg, because he could play at his best for five hours. He won everything but the US Open, but they always scheduled him at night, he always played against big servers, there were uncomfortable lights.
He stopped but not because he could not deal with it physically, but mentally. His tennis, life were maniacal.”