The penultimate dance by Riccardo Bonadio

The ASPRIA Tennis Cup – BCS Trophy is the penultimate tournament of Riccardo Bonadio, who will end his career in Cordenons in August. “I will stay in tennis as a coach.” In Milan he plays without pressure and aims for the main draw, relying on a great one-handed backhand. “It’s my natural shot, but I fear we’ll see it less and less. I’ll tell you why”

You don’t need to win dozens of trophies to fill your memory chest. The numbers are cold and show that Riccardo Bonadio played 728 matches as a professional, winning ten ITF titles, while on the Challenger circuit he stopped in the final a couple of times, in Trieste 2020 and Bratislava 2022. Perhaps he will not be remembered as one of the strongest Italians as always, but in the mind will remain a spectacular one-handed backhand, which some had compared to the much more famous one of Richard Gasquet. Although he is seven years younger than the Frenchman, Bonadio is about to say goodbye to playing tennis. The ASPRIA Tennis Cup – BCS Trophy (€74,825, clay) is the penultimate tournament of his career, which will end in August in his home Cordenons, where it all began in 2011. The Friulian opened the program on the central court, beating Gabriele Piraino with a score of 6-2 5-7 6-3. A physical battle, made even harder by a light rain and a very heavy pitch. “ Piraino started badly, he was very foul especially with his forehand and he gave me the first four games – says Bonadio – in the second it was a battle, it was me who was foul, perhaps because I was a little tired after the activity over the weeks pass. In the third I was good at managing myself physically and finding a break which I kept until 5-3, when he played a bad game which decreed the end of the match ”. Bonadio had chosen to stop already at the end of 2023, then made the decision official in March. “ It’s certainly not a question of level. I believe I could still compete at Challenger level, but spending too many weeks away from home is a physical and mental commitment that I was no longer willing to undertake. Furthermore, there are other factors of a personal and family nature that pushed me towards this decision .”


There will still be tennis in the future of the Friulian, in the role of coach. He has signed an agreement with the coach Maggioni of San Benedetto del Tronto and is intrigued by the new adventure . As spectators, however, the performance expressed in recent weeks (complete with the semi-final in Augsburg) leads us to wonder whether there may be room for rethinking. “ I really think it will be the end of my professional activity – He says, decided – I will still play team matches, but I am more inclined to be a coach. For sure I won’t play any international tournaments next year. Never say never, God forbid, but today I don’t think there is room to start again, also because – beyond my age – starting from scratch would put me in crisis. More generally, the reasons behind this choice are very strong .” And so, rather than the match that will give away a place in the main draw against the young Peruvian Ignacio Buse, the time has come to look back. And Bonadio, former ATP number 164 (today he is n.352), seems to leave without major regrets. “ You can always give more, but it could also have been worse. Everyone ends their career with regrets: I have some too, there were moments in which I let myself go, others in which I should have held on… The choice to become a professional at 16-17 may have had a negative influence, but at the same time at the same time it could have allowed me to be more hungry and fight through difficulties. I’m quite satisfied with my career, I would sign to have a similar one .” The sentence we started with becomes even more true when Bonadio expresses himself on his best memories. He mentions three, and in two cases it was a defeat. But the flavor of an emotion is independent of the result. Like the first professional match, in 2011, at Cordenons. “ We lost in two tight sets against Pastor, but it remains a good memory. Then I think about my first Slam, in Paris in 2022. I had come from a couple of years in which I had somewhat lost hopes of playing the qualifiers for a Slam, and the moment I did it I managed to enjoy the moment. I lost in three sets against Jason Kubler, a player of a different level than me, but it’s a moment that I carry with me .”


Although he beat three top-100 players, his favorite victory remains the one against Borna Gojo in the US Open qualifiers. “ I hadn’t played on hard courts for some time due to technical choices, but I managed to play and win a very high level match. It’s something that will stay with me .” Something that risks disappearing is the one-handed backhand, a shot of which you are a proud exponent. According to Carla Suarez Navarro, one of the best at playing it, she risks disappearing in about ten years. Bonadio quite agrees. “ In my case it’s the natural shot. My father Marco is a master in Friuli and gave me the basics, then all the masters and technicians who followed me made the most of it, always giving me something more. In his own small way, everyone contributed. As for the future… I’m afraid we’re unlikely to see it again. It forces you to lose position and step back, as well as being difficult on fast courts, where the return of the serve is fundamental and the two-handed return is less complex. In difficulty, it is easier to learn the two-handed strike. My thought is that we will see it less and less, but what we do see will be big showers. Whoever continues to play it will do so because it is their natural shot .” From August we will see one less. For this reason, Milanese fans will have the opportunity to admire him for at least one more match, against the Peruvian Ignacio Buse, to whom Bonadio had lost a couple of months ago at the Rome-Garden Challenger. “ But my arm was broken ” He says while waving, as if to fuel the hope of getting a place in the main draw. He will certainly approach the match with the usual professionalism. “ Not having to think about points or rankings is a benefit, but anyone who plays sport at a high level has to live with tension and counteract it when there is a bit too much of it. Of course, maturity helps .” As if to say that there will be the same tension as always. Once on the pitch, everything will fade into the background. Also that the end of his career is around the corner.