Last Updated on May 6, 2023
The prestigious Italian Open, with roots extending back to the 1930s, originated in Milan before finding its permanent home in Rome’s iconic Foro Italico in 1935. Interrupted between 1936 and 1949 due to the Second World War and subsequent recovery, the tournament resumed in 1950 and has since attracted the world’s top tennis talent. In the men’s category, the “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal boasts an impressive record of ten titles, while American tennis icon Chris Evert holds the women’s record.
As the current edition unfolds, rising star Carlos Alcaraz emerges as a formidable contender for the men’s Rome Masters title, following his triumphant performance at the Barcelona Open. However, the top-ranked Novak Djokovic remains a significant threat, seeking to defend last year’s championship.
Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, the stakes are high for reigning champion and world No. 1 Iga Swiatek as she strives to secure another title. The Polish tennis star faces stiff competition with all top 10 WTA players participating in the event.
What’s The Foro Italico?
The Foro Italico was built by former Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, and was inspired by the Imperial Roman architectural style. It is located in the northeast of Rome, at the base of Monte Mario, the highest hill in the city.
The complex was the main spot of the 1960 Summer Olympic Games. Currently, it is not only home of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but also of the WTA Premier Tournament. Additionally, the Università Degli Studi di Roma Foro Italico headquarters are located in this emblematic spot of the Italian capital city.
The owner of the competition is the private company Sport and Health, which is in charge of organizing other sports events in Italy. Its CEO is Vito Cozzoli. Regarding the present edition of the tournament, the businessman proudly said: “After two years, finally, the spectators return carrying the magic that makes this place, Rome and this tournament, a unicum in the world, almost a ‘Master 2000’. And it’s not us, Sport e Salute, to say this, but the players themselves, the champions, via their social media channels, interviews, and the way they live their time in Rome”. The Italian Federation of Tennis, whose president is Angelo Binaghi, also took part in the organization of the event
Inaugurated in 2010, this cement-steel-glass construction has cost approximately 28,400,000 €. This rectangular building with seats for 10,500 people is the stadium where the most important matches of the Italian Open are played. As well as all the other courts, the surface is made of clay.
The election of the color gray in all the chairs gives a monochromatic and ascetic aspect to the building. Giancarlo Venelli, the architect of the construction, admitted he chose that palette because it “goes with everything”. In an interview with Spazio Mundo, he specified that he used five different tones of gray, from darkest to brightest in the upper seats.
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Because of the event’s attendance success, after the construction of the Center Court the organization decided to build a new venue. That’s why, in 2012, they raised a stadium called SuperTennis Arena, which increased the capacity. This court was available until 2017.
The actual Grandstand arena was built in 2019, and has a 7,000 capacity. Its structure is modular and light for adaptability. It has an 800-ton steel frame with recycled polyvinyl chloride siding and galvanized panel flooring. The south curve can be transformed into a stage. It’s also used for concerts or other sports. In fact, the beach volley World Cup 2019 was played here. During the pandemic of COVID-19, this stadium was converted into an open seven-days-a-week free gym.
Nicola Pietrangeli Stadium
By far, the most impressive construction for spectators. Surrounded by 18 statues of Carrara marble, depicting Olympic athletes, it is the emblem of the Foro Italico tennis club. Designed by Constantino Constantini, its inauguration was in 1934, in a Davis Cup match between Italy and Switzerland. Its original name was “Olímpico de la racquet”, and later, it was renamed to “Stadio della Pallacorda”. In 1948, it hosted the men’s european volleyball championship. In 2018 and 2019, it was the scenario of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix. it was the primary court of the complex up until the nineties, when that place was taken by a new laminated wood stadium.
The change of name
Since 2006, the stadium has been renamed “Nicola Pietrangeli”, after who is considered the most important Italian (despite he was born in Tunisia) tennis player of all time. Ironically, he could have died in World War II, when his house at Tunisia was attacked by the Germans.
Before the Open Era, “Nicky” won two French Open singles titles, and was a runner-up on two other occasions. In doubles competition, he obtained that title in 1959. In the 1968 Summer Olympics, he captured the bronze medal.
Prototype of the Italian tennis player, in a tradition continued by Fabio Fognini, Pietrangeli was also a so-called jet set athlete. He has been associated with Frank Sinatra, Marcello Mastroniani, Virna Lisi, Peter Ustinov, Omar Shariff and Grace, the Princess of Monaco. He was considered a playboy. Pietrangeli himself once confessed: “I could have trained more, and maybe won more titles, but I would have had less fun”.
Besides the big stadiums, the Circolo del Tennis del Foro Italico also has twelve secondary courts where the qualifiers matches and some of the main draw ones take place. It’s the place where some players also train. These courts were built below the street level of the Foro Italico complex, and they have the capacity for 6,000 spectators.