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Quella primavera che ha visto nascere il mito di Guga Kuerten
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Se c’è stata una vittoria inaspettata al Roland Garros, nell’era Open, questa porta sicuramente la firma di Gustavo Kuerten da Florianopolis, Brasile. E’ vero, le sorprese, anche in precedenza, non sono mancate. Pensiamo a Mats Wilander, allo stesso Michael Chang. Ma stiamo parlando di giocatori all’epoca estremamente giovani, già ben quotati in classifica, stabilmente in top-20.

Nulla a che vedere con quanto il brasiliano dal sorriso contagioso ha fatto in quella primavera del 1997. Quella primavera dopo la quale, per tutti, è diventato semplicemente, Guga. Ventunenne, arrivato a Parigi numero 66 del mondo, ne è uscito numero 15. E soprattutto, campione. Il primo – e al momento unico – brasiliano a vincere il Roland Garros.

Prima di quell’incredibile cavalcata, vale la pena ricordare, Guga aveva giocato solo 19 tornei Atp, senza mai riuscire a vincere tre match consecutivi. Appena una settimana prima dell’inizio degli Open di Francia 1997, Kuerten sgambettava al Curitiba Challenger, in Brasile. Sette giorni dopo era sulla terra rossa del Roland Garros, quella che diventò la “sua” terra. Entrando in tabellone come numero 66 non è difficile immaginare che il percorso per arrivare in fondo fu tutt’altro che semplice: incontrò cinque giocatori top-25 e due campioni di Parigi come Thomas Muster e Yevgeny Kafelnikov, entrambi all’epoca nei primi cinque posti del ranking Atp.

Per non parlare di quella finale contro Sergi Bruguera, che aveva già sollevato la Coppa dei Moschettieri nel 1993 e 1994.

Pochi mesi dopo quella vittoria, Kuerten entrò in top-10 e nelle edizioni del 2000 e 2001 replicò a Parigi lo storico trionfo del 1997, raggiungendo anche la posizione numero uno del ranking mondiale. Inutile dire che, anche in questo caso, fu il primo nella storia del tennis brasiliano. Quella di Guga, però, fu una carriera pesantemente condizionata dai problemi muscolari, che ne hanno determinato il precoce ritiro dall’attività agonistica, avvenuto nel 2008 proprio sull’amata terra parigina.

Fu l’ultimo Re della Terra, capace di vincere più edizioni del Roland Garros, prima dell’inizio dell’epopea di Rafa Nadal. Fu, e rimane, uno dei giocatori più amati di sempre, capace di generare simpatia ed empatia, sul finire di quegli anni ’90 in cui il mondo sembrava aver preso la direzione giusta. Fu il simbolo di un Paese e di un popolo che affrontavano la vita con la giusta mentalità e quella leggerezza, per niente frivola, ma molto consapevole della dimensione di ciò che si stava affrontando.

Disse di lui The Voice, il maestro Rino Tommasi: “Guga ci voleva proprio. Con le gambe di Mats Wilander, la fantasia di Adriano Panatta e l’allegria di Yannick Noah é il personaggio che John McEnroe auspicava per il tennis: “Un soffio d’aria fresca. Una nuova personalità per creare nuove rivalità e fare la differenza in un calendario troppo fitto e confuso“. Gustavo Guga Kuerten è l’emblema dello sport moderno”.

Disse lui di sé stesso: “Non succederà mai, alzandomi la mattina, che mi dirò: ‘Ehi, ora sono una superstar. Un grande’. Resterò lo stesso ragazzo normale, con più sicurezza in me stesso e nel mio gioco”.

Ogni parola in più è decisamente superflua.

La sintesi della finale tra Gustavo Kuerten e Sergi Bruguera

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