Born: May 20, 1969 in Misiones (Mesopotamia)
Height: 1.79 m
At the time (from mid- to late 80s) when two icons of Argentine tennis, Guillermo Vilas and José-Luis Clerc, were nearing the end of their careers, three new promising Argentinian players emerged on the scene: Martín Jaite (b. 1964), followed shortly by five years younger Mancini and Guillermo Pérez-Roldán. Among these three, Mancini showed the most potential, but his progress was unexpectedly halted at the age of 20. Despite his young age, Mancini, with his heavy top-spin style (he looked like a right-handed version of Thomas Muster), stunned the tennis world in the Spring of 1989, securing victories in two significant clay-court tournaments, then not yet named ‘Mercedes Super 9’ – Monte Carlo and Rome. His triumphs were especially remarkable given the caliber of opponents he faced in the (semi)finals and the manner in which he defeated them: after destroying the best player of ’88 Mats Wilander in the semifinal, Mancini overcame Boris Becker in a tight four-setter and a few weeks later Andre Agassi in the five-set Roman final, where he saved a match point in the fourth set. In Italy, Mancini enjoyed a support like an Italian, at the time Roberto Mancini – who was looking like a cousin at least – was a striker in the Italian national team.
He expressed his joy in Monaco, saying, “To beat Wilander and Becker on center court in Monte Carlo… it’s like a dream. I’m very happy.” Mancini’s success put him among the contenders for the French Open title. However, he struggled against the inclement weather and Stefan Edberg‘s serve-and-volley style in the quarterfinals, as the Swede had previously defeated him in Munich after his Monte Carlo victory and repeated the feat in Paris. Although Mancini had already clinched three titles in his first three ATP finals, including two big ones, he didn’t add to his tally in five more finals, including two ‘Mercedes Super 9’ events in Rome, and Key Biscayne on hardcourts, where he wasn’t expected to shine. He was never a favorite in any of the eight ATP finals he participated in. Injuries and inclination to partying, forced him into retirement at just 25, a year after the disappearances of Jaite and Pérez-Roldán (they led Argentina to the World Team Cup ’89 final; Mancini didn’t participate in that team event as he was preparing to conquer Paris). Mancini was a part of a trend in the late 80s/early 90s leading to specialization in focusing on the red surface; he was regularly skipping the grass-court sub-season. After reaching the Indian Wells ’93 quarterfinal, Mancini was losing the first rounds in majority of his appearances for more than a year. In 1996 he came back only to play a few Challengers. He later became the captain of the Argentine Davis Cup team (two finals: 2006 and 2008). A piece of trivia: he faced his compatriot Pérez-Roldán five times, losing their first two matches and winning the subsequent three. In the early 20s he coached Fabio Fognini, marking almost two decades since his own noteworthy coaching success with Guillermo Coria. Mancini unexpectedly went beyond the Latin sphere of influence, and the level he reached as a player, becoming a coach of a German – “second league” I’d say – player, Daniel Altmeier in 2023.
Career record: 134–132 [ 121 events ]
Career titles: 3
Highest ranking: No. 8
Best GS result:
Roland Garros (quarterfinal 1989)
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