Gianni Clerici, by Richard Evans

Gianni Clerici, whose productive and memorable life has ended at 91, never went unnoticed. He would have been appalled if it had. Gianni had a bright, fast moving, probing mind that took him far beyond the confines of a tennis court, annoying some, entertaining far more in Italian, English and French. Good enough to be on the fringes of the Italian Davis Cup team in the days of Gardini and Merlo, he quickly turned to writing and became one of the great chroniclers of the game, in print and on television, the latter in bantering partnership with his life-long friend, Rino Tommasi.

The manner in which he achieved that sometimes raised eyebrows, not least when, on a New York day of stagnant heat at the US Open, perched at the top of Louis Armstrong Stadium, he removed all clothing, save for his underpants, with barely a pause in his commentary. Nor was he averse to throwing things. If memory serves me, it was a shoe that got thrown in the direction of the court during the WCT event in Bologna back in the early 1970s. But with Gianni, a cross look was quickly replaced with a large, endearing smile. His reports on a tennis match in La Repubblica strayed far from serves and forehands. The plays and poems he wrote told of a restless, searching mind.