Doubles bust up – Goodbye, Cichi: Errani and Vinci split up

From the Gazzetta dello Sport, Friday March 20, 2015 page 28. Article by Vince Martucci

Fatigue, quarrels or individual choices?
The number one doubles pair of the last 3 years is no more.

Two pieces of circumstantial evidence are not proof, but three, four, yes. So the divorce of the Cichi, the number one doubles pairing in the world made up of Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani, the most successful ever of all our Italian women, isn’t a bolt from the blue. It was in the air in September in New York and exploded here in Miami, like a letter from two lovers delivered to a mutual acquaintance (the WTA, the organisation which organises tournaments apart from the Slams and the Fed Cup.)

Is it possible that the pair, winners of 22 tournaments, 5 of which are Slams – with last year’s Wimbledon title win achieving the so-called “career Slam” – have quarrelled?  Yes, it’s possible. Even though Errani’s brother and manager David denies it:  “In South America they discussed the possibility of no longer playing doubles together to better plan their singles careers. They didn’t play together in Indian Wells because Roberta needed to recover from a shoulder injury. And in Miami they made the decision, as always in friendship and calm. In any case, in April in Brindisi they’ll be at the captain’s disposition for the Fed Cup meeting against the US.” Let’s infer that the Cichi wanted to leave as number one, rather than pass on the torch on court in a tournament – a possibility that seemed imminent. Perhaps Barazzutti OK’d the split, and will reunite the Pennetta-Vinci pair for the next Fed Cup, on paper the stronger team.

Quarrels

Would be a pity. Because the two small/big fighters who have reached their full potential – one reaching number 5 in the world [Sara in May 2013] and the other number 11 [Roberta June 10 2013] – have been tight since February 2009 when they were launched as a team during the Fed Cup in Orleans. Vinci, older by 5 years and the more technical of the two, is called the “women’s Ferrer”, and refined the volley. Errani taught her friend sacrifice and dedication. Both learned tactics and discipline form their current coaches Pablo Lozano and Francesco Cinà. The great successes of the one became the goals of the other, even if Roberta wasn’t happy about losing to Sara in the quarter-finals of the US Open 2012, and vice-versa, the Roman wasn’t happy about losing to the native of Taranto in the Palermo final 2013. Did they really quarrel in September after Roberta’s win over Sara in Cincinnati? “Nonsense” and “bullshit” insists Vinci: “Maybe someone wants our beautiful friendship to end … Maybe they’re envious.” Errani echoes: “It’s one thing to say we have words on court, that’s normal, it’s different to invent locker room arguments.”

Overdose

Something disturbed the idyll. Certainly, after having done double duty in singles and doubles in so many tournaments last year, the drop in performance for both of them was inevitable. Although it was offset by the doubles triumph at Wimbledon, the only Slam they were missing – and the most difficult surface for Sara (but the most coveted by Roberta, the Italian with the best serve and volley.) Certainly, as in the warmest friendships and love affairs, an overdose of togetherness played a part. Certainly the disappointment in Genoa against France – the first in blue for Vinci – was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In Australia the two inseparables took different paths, in Genoa they moved apart, and in Indian Wells they lost sight of each other: when had they ever trained separately? When they didn’t appear in the doubles draw, it caused enough of a stir that Serena Williams tweeted about it. They’d closed the last of three stages. They had lived in a symbiosis with coaches and family, totally differently from the many other more or less improvised pairings in tennis. And now the divorce via a letter: ” …We invested lots of energy, both mental and physical, to achieve our goals, which we are very proud of.  Therefore we now feel the need to rest and catch our breath. It has been an honour and a privilege for us to represent our Country…”

And thank you, Cichi.

~

Translation by MAN

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