Petra Kvitova: “Definitely was one of the best matches what I played” - UBITENNIS
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Petra Kvitova: “Definitely was one of the best matches what I played”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 5th of July. P. Kvitova d. E. Bouchard 6-3, 6-0. An interview with Petra Kvitova

 

Q. Is that the best match you’ve ever played in your life?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, it seems like, right? Definitely was one of the best matches what I played.

I knew that I could play well on the grass, but I really played so well today. I exactly know what I have to play to beat her.

I just did really everything what I could in the moment. I was very focused for every point. I knew that I have to go forward for every shot what I’m playing to push her.

Yeah, I did it.

 

Q. Over the last three years what did you imagine it would be like if you got this chance again, and what was it like for you?

PETRA KVITOVA: No, I wasn’t really imagining this situation again. I was still believing in me that I can really have it for a second time, some Grand Slam. I don’t want to think about the Wimbledon again, but I want it really too much.

I really couldn’t imagine what this mean. For me, probably I know a little bit more right now about that, what it’s mean for me, how the feelings are and everything. I mean, it was certainly great journey for me here.

 

Q. What does it mean?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s mean everything, definitely. I mean, it’s a Wimbledon. Tennis here is tennis history. The Centre Court always great to play on. I feel really like at home.

I mean, you know, I was really up and down after my title here 2011. I was still work hard, believe in myself. My team believed in me as well.

We did good job and I’m just glad I have it for a second time.

 

Q. Are we seeing the dawning of the age of Petra, many Grand Slams to come? No pressure.

PETRA KVITOVA: Thank you. I feel more relaxed now (laughter).

 

Q. Did you feel like you were in the zone?

PETRA KVITOVA: Probably, definitely. I love to play finals. I love to play on the big stadium. This is something really special. I mean, it’s not feeling as a tournament for me. It’s something more, more, more.

Definitely I was in the zone, but I was still thinking it is the final and I knew the emotion. I can say it’s a little bit like a Fed Cup when I’m playing in the Czech and I feel the crowd. My stomach is a little bit funny. It just goosebumps.

Yeah, when I won the first set, I said, Okay, I still have to do the same work, but I was a little bit worry if I can really do it for all match. But I did it, yeah.

 

Q. You just said you played with more focus than you’ve probably ever played with. In the past, in the three years since you won last time, sometimes the confidence has been down. How important has your new mind coach been to changing things around?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I’m with him already since 2010 when I reach the semifinal here. From that time I think we did very good job.

It’s never easy to handle the pressure after my first Grand Slam here. It was really difficult for me, definitely.

We did a lot of job. I was staying in the top 10 every season. Like it was big help for me definitely. I mean, we did great job. It was still more focusing on myself because sometimes I was a little bit down because of the people expectations. Yeah.

 

Q. How close were you to not playing in Wimbledon after your injury in Eastbourne?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, that moment was really difficult for me definitely. I wanted to play. Of course, I wanted to have more matches before the Wimbledon, as 2011 when I played the final over there.

In the end it was a great decision not to play, because otherwise I don’t know how is feel in the first round when I should play on Monday.

Definitely I’m glad what we did. Yeah, I’m sitting here and my leg is quite okay (smiling).

 

Q. I believe it was the quickest final in terms of time in 31 years. Are you aware of that? I believe it was Martina Navratilova who picked you by just one minute. How much would it have meant to you if you could have beaten that?

PETRA KVITOVA: I don’t know what I can say actually. I’m just glad that it was in the two sets, of course. I didn’t really check the time what we are playing.

In the end, I was quite lucky, because otherwise we should close the roof. On the end I’m really glad that I did it before.

I mean, the time is not really important. The score made it. That’s it.

 

Q. At the moment you won, what went through your mind?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, when I sit on the bench when I was 5-Love, I was like, Okay, now you can try break her; if not, you have the serve. So I was a little bit more relaxed that I have few chances to do that.

I just tried to play every point. I knew that I can again break her. Then suddenly I did a winner from the backhand. I was so happy. I didn’t really know what’s going to be there. I just had the tears in my eyes. I was so, so happy.

When I saw my box after that, it was much more special for me.

 

Q. You were talking about Martina Navratilova when you received your trophy. She was watching you today. Is your goal to be achieve more than she did?

PETRA KVITOVA: It’s not my goal definitely. I mean, it is something what I don’t think that I really can achieve. Definitely she’s great champion. She has nine titles here.

You know, it’s nice to see her in the locker room and she’s smiling and she’s happy for me. She really cheer for me. It’s really so nice to have somebody as she is.

She’s a legend. She’s really huge in the Czech. Everywhere, actually. I’m just glad that I have this huge fan.

 

Q. Your dad was crying at the end. Does he cry a lot, your dad?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, he does actually (smiling). It’s nothing new, nothing special. Actually I think everyone was crying in my box, so I think he wasn’t only one.

I was crying, as well. My dad is very emotional. I have something from him, as well. It’s my dad. He has a birthday tomorrow, so I’m just glad that he has a nice present.

 

Q. So much was written and said about Eugenie Bouchard in the buildup to this final, the coming star from Canada. Anything in your performance today that said, Don’t forget about Petra Kvitova?

PETRA KVITOVA: I think Bouchard definitely play great tournament here. I mean, she reach final as a very young girl. I know that she can be very dangerous. I did what David told me, that I have to really go for every shot, to not really give her time for her game.

Definitely she’s talented player. I think she going to be better and better if she still will work hard.

What did you ask actually (smiling)?

 

Q. My point was, your performance was so emphatic. Nobody predicted it was going to be as one-sided as it was. Was that a statement of intent, you saying, Don’t forget what Petra Kvitova can do on a tennis court?

PETRA KVITOVA: Yeah, I think this game is something what is bring me this beautiful emotion in the moment. I’m glad how I played. She was still under the pressure and I was the player still putting the pressure on her and trying to do every point for really 100%.

Definitely I’m glad how I played. I was probably confident on the court. I hope that I can replay that again.

 

Q. Last time you won here you went on to end the year No. 2 in the rankings. Do you have ambitions to be No. 1? Would it be more important for you to win different Grand Slam titles somewhere else?

PETRA KVITOVA: You know, I mean, that’s really difficult when you have some great success during the year then you bring it to the No. 1. I was pretty close to No. 1 and, I feel this is something more special, to have this Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon, than to be No. 1.

I mean, of course the No. 1 means a lot to everyone. For me, I’m just glad that I have this Grand Slam. We will see what the future brings.

I mean, it’s nice to be No. 1, for sure. I will try everything what I can to be there.

 

Q. Be totally honest now. What’s more fun, clambering up on the roof to get to your friends and family or going through that boring old gate they installed?

PETRA KVITOVA: It was really funny today, really.

 

Q. To get the box, they put the gate in. It’s not half as much fun, is it?

PETRA KVITOVA: I mean, it was nice to be there, definitely, to have hugs with them. When I saw, for example, my coach, when he was crying, I was like, Oh, my God, woman, you make me cry. C’mon. It’s not nice.

I mean, everyone was crying over there. It was beautiful to be with them.

ATP

EXCLUSIVE: Daniil Medvedev On His Saudi Arabian Debut, No.1 Dreams And Russia’s Olympic Ban

The US Open finalist sat down with Ubitennis earlier this week.

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Within the past 12 months Daniil Medvedev has gone from a promising future prospect to one of the top players in the world of men’s tennis.

 

Up until June this year the 23-year-old was yet to crack the top 10, win a Masters title or reach the second week of a grand slam event. Then shortly after the conclusion of the Wimbledon championships, Medvedev enjoyed an emphatic period of success to achieve all three of those milestones. Within a three-month period he reached six consecutive finals at tournaments ranging from ATP 250 level to a grand slam. Enabling him to peak at a high of fourth in the world back in September.

Unfortunately for Medvedev, his surge came at price towards the end of his season. Losing in the first round of the Paris Masters and then all three of his matches in his ATP Finals debut. Something he blames on mental tiredness.

Not to be disheartened by the loss, the Russian is back on the court this week. He is one of eight players participating in the brand new Diriyah Tennis Cup. An exhibition tournament in Saudi Arabia, which has on offer $1 million for the champion.

“I do think in the middle of a pre-season a tournament like this is good. You can’t just practice for four weeks without knowing how your game is at the moment. Last year I also participated in one in France (Open de Caen).” Medvedev told Ubitennis.com about his decision to play.
“This is how we (my team) decided to do the preparation this year and are going to see how it works out.”

Kicking off his campaign on Thursday against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, Medvedev enjoyed an emphatic start. Disposing of his rival 6-3, 6-1, in less than an hour. Whilst the prize money is undoubtedly an appeal for all of those taking part, the Russian sees this week as a golden opportunity to evaluate his game.

“It is going to be important to see how my game is right now in the middle of the pre-season. To see what I need to improve more, what I need to work more on with my team.” He explained.
“Obviously after my last season, I have a lot of big expectations for 2020, but first of all I need to stay lucid and take it all match-by-match.”

Future dreams

Medvedev and Gael Monfils – Diriyah Tennis Cup (via Twitter, @DiriyahCup)

Given his recent breakthrough, Medvedev is being mentioned as a potential candidate to one day claim the world No.1 position. Since 2004 only four players have managed to hold the honour – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. To add to the pressure, former player Marat Safin has backed his compatriot to achieve the milestone in the future. Safin will be the captain of the Russian team in the ATP Cup, which Medvedev is participating in.

“I believe he can be number one in the world.” Safin told Russian media earlier this week. “His all-around game… we just need to work on certain small things.”

Despite the backing, Medvedev is staying grounded about the prospect. Insisting that he isn’t ‘obsessed’ with the world No.1 ranking. At present, he is more than 4000 points adrift from Nadal in the ATP standings.

“I have been thinking about it (the No.1 spot) since I was six-years-old, but the thing is that I’m not obsessed with it,” said Medvedev. “For example, if I was 40 and during my career, I achieved a best ranking of number two in the world, It would not change my life completely.’
“Of course working hard and playing so many tournaments you want to achieve the best ranking possible.” He added.

With his eyes on the grand slams next year, 2020 also gives Medvedev the chance to make his Olympic debut. However, it isn’t as simple as that. Earlier this week the Russian sporting federation was banned from major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) due to various violations. An investigation found that the Russian Anti-doping agency (RUSDA) deliberately tampered with athletes samples to hide positive tests.

The ITF notes that Russian tennis has never been linked to the controversy, however, players such as Medvedev will be under sanction. Unless the ban is overturned, they are only allowed to play at the event as neutral athletes.

“To be honest as a tennis player it is a little bit tough to talk about these things because I live in Monaco and we get tested in every country around the world. From 20 to 30 doping tests.” Medvedev states.
“I know what happened, but I don’t know how to react to it because I’m not in this (the Russian) federation.”

Asked if he will still play in the Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, Medvedev cautiously replied ‘I think so.’ Although he is far from certain in doing so.

“Looking at this decision, it’s disappointing that me as a Russian player, who hasn’t nothing to do with this, will have to play without a flag. It is a little bit strange for me. I don’t know why this decision was made exactly so I don’t know if it was the right decision.” He concluded.

Medvedev ended 2019 with 59 wins on the ATP Tour. More than any other player this year.

Interview conducted by Alessandro Stella in Saudi Arabia

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EXCLUSIVE: The Big Business Of Data Analytics In Tennis

Ubitennis speaks with the founder of Tennis Data company Sportiii, whose company is currently working with Stan Wawrinka’s coach Magnus Norman.

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Mike james with doubles player Ante Pavic and Tomislav Brkic at a Challenger tournament.

As tennis players head into their off-season, it is normally the same routine. A couple of days of rest followed by numerous training blocks to get them ready for the following season. They are guided by their coaches, physios and for a growing number with the help of a computer by their side.

 

With technology continuing to rapidly develop, the use of data statistics is becoming big business in the world of tennis. A method where players analyse the numbers behind their performance. Ranging from their service percentages to the average length of rallies they are playing. The idea being that their training is then customised to take into account those figures.

However, how much of a big deal is it?

Mike James is the founder of Sportiii Analytics. A company that provides detailed information on player’s strategies and patterns. They have a partnership with the prestigious Good To Great Academy in the pipeline and supply information to Stan Wawrinka’s coaching team. British-based James has more than a decade of experience in coaching and has previously travelled on the tour with the likes of doubles specialists Ante Pavic and Tomislav Brkic. At present Sportiii are working with several ATP and WTA players, but are unable to name them due to a confidentiality agreement.

“We are fortunate enough to be able to use Dartfish. Dartfish created a tagging part of their software package around 10 years ago. It allows us to make customized tagging panels or coding as they say in football or rugby. Essentially, we can tag or code whatever the player, coach or federation wants to look for.” James explained during an interview with Ubitennis.
“We are taking 30 KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) of information which allows us to take the data and move that into a strategy for the players and their teams to know what is working and what isn’t.”

Tennis is far from the only sport to be influenced by the rapid rise of technology. Although, is it really a necessity? During the 1980s with the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, they both managed to achieve highly successful careers without detailed statistical information. Some would argue that they most important aspect is a person’s talent on the court and how they mentally cope with different situations. Not how many rallies they win in under five shots.

Although James points out that without services like his, there is a chance that player’s could be training the wrong areas of their games. Therefore hampering their own development in the sport.

“If we know the 70% of the returns are going back into the court in the men’s game, then we know the first ball after the serve is extremely important. Also, if we know that 70% of the match is between zero and four, the serve and return is vitally important.” He said.
“Players hitting 20, 30, or 40 balls in a row before they have a break. They are not training the game, they might be training the technical aspects of their game but they cannot train tactically playing this many balls without a break.”

A method for the many, not the few

There are still a few stigmas when it comes to companies such as Sportiii. Many would think this service would be something mainly of interest to coaches and nobody else. However, James reveals that this isn’t always the case.

“Of course, some coaches want to know the information, but we have players we deal with without their coaches because they are the ones interested. If it’s going to work best with statistics, numbers and strategy, you’re going to want both the player and coach fully buying in to this way of thinking. That’s going to get the best result for sure.”

Novak Djokovic has previously worked alongside Craig O’Shannessy, who is the founder of Brain Game Tennis and writes numerous statistical articles for atpworldtour.com. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev once said ‘all the big guys are using data analysis, they just don’t like to talk about it.’ There is clearly a market, but is it only for those who can afford it?

Despite the rise of prize money earnings, the disparity on the tour remains substantial. Rafael Nadal was the highest earner of 2019 on the ATP Tour with $12.8 million in winnings. In contrast, the 300th highest earner, Federico Coria, made just over $81,000. Less than 1% of Nadal’s tally. According to one report from The Telegraph, leading agencies in the tennis data industry are selling their top packages in the region of £80,000 ($103,000) per year.

“We look to do individual tailor made packages depending on a player’s ranking, age, experience, support team, if they are funded by their federation or if they are funded by private sponsors.” James commented on how Sportiii handles the situation.
“But at the end of the day, of course the first part of a player’s budget is for their coach and then maybe the Physio. But I think having an analyst or strategy consultant is becoming higher in the pecking order for players going into 2020.” He added.

The future

James pictured with Magnus Norman (left) and Jonas Arnesen (middle)

Next year Sportiii will officially begin their work with Swedish tennis academy Good To Great, which is located to the north of Stockholm. Regarded as one of the top academies in the country, it was founded by Magnus Norman, Nicklas Kulti and Mikael Tillström. Their role will be providing information to those who use the facility.

“We’re really looking to steepen the learning curve and support their academy pro team. But also help develop their junior players they have coming through.” James explained about the collaboration.
“We support their team with educational workshops and I think this is the next phrase for data analytics. That will be going into junior tennis and not just looking at the top of the game.”

The desire to focus more on the younger generation of athletes emulates that of the ATP with their Next Gen Finals in Milan. An end-of-season event that features the eight best players under the age of 21. At the tournament, they use a series of new innovative methods. Including electronic line calling, the use of a handset to speak with coaches during changeovers and wearable technology.

There is no doubt that the new generation of players is more comfortable with the use of technology. But what does that mean for the future of coaching? Would it be possible that one day the profession could be replaced by a computer instead? This could appeal to those looking to save costs, however James isn’t convinced the complete removal of the human element will happen.

“If players are more certain and confident in knowing what they need to do, in my opinion the level goes up.” He states. “Then, if the level goes up, maybe we are not at the pinnacle of the sport seeing Rafa, Roger, Stan and Novak playing video game tennis. I think we are still going to get another level of tennis in 5-10 years, which is very exciting for the sport.”

It is inevitable that technology will have a greater presence in tennis over the coming years in some shape or form. The only question is where do you draw a line?

To find out more information about Sportiii you can visit www.sportiiianalytics.com or check out their social media pages.

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‘We Try To Fix Each Other’ – Aryna Sabalenka On Turbulent Relationship With Coach

The world No.11 speaks to Ubitennis about the reason why she departed and then reunited with her mentor.

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2019 has been a roller coaster season for Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka both on and off the court.

 

The 21-year-old has claimed a trio of titles on the WTA Tour with all of those occurring in China. Overall, she has won 39 out of 61 matches played, as well as winning the doubles title at the US Open with Elise Mertens. On the other hand, she has also lost her opening match at seven tournaments this year and failed get back-to-back wins in three out of the four grand slams she played in.

Sabalenka is currently guided on the tour by Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov. A former top 20 player on the ATP Tour who retired from the sport in 2017. They have been working together for more than a year. It looked as if the partnership had come to an end back in August when both announced on social media that they are ending their collaboration. Sabalenka wrote ‘Thank you for everything and all the best in your future.’ However, the two soon changed their minds after.

“After the US Open, I realized that there was a problem, too many things off the court was diverting my attention from the game and this helped me to win something and find certain sensations.” Sabalenka told Ubitennis.com earlier this month in China.
“I realized how stupid it was to give Dmitry the blame for my failures, so I found a way to recover my relationship with him .”

The mixed season experienced by Sabalenka is one she hopes will help her in the long term. She ends 2019 inside the world’s top 20 for the second year in a row. Becoming one of only four players under the age of 21 to do so on the women’s tour.

“I hope that all this can help me start the next season in a more… intelligent, more experienced way.” She explains. “There is a bit of disappointment with what happened in these months, but at the same time I said to myself, ‘ok, you finally understood’. This means you can work on it and move on. Every player spends moments like that and usually always learns something, I hope it can happen to me too.”

Despite still being a relatively newcomer in the world of coaching, Sabalenka isn’t the first player Tursunov has coached. He had previously worked with compatriot Elena Vesnina and guided her to the 2018 Australian Open doubles finals. During that same year, Vesnina also reached the finals of tournaments in Indian Wells and Madrid under his guidance.

There remains a question as to what the future has in store for Tursunov’s latest partnership. Was their brief break a blessing in disguise or is there more trouble ahead for their working relationship?

“I hope to continue working with Dmitry.” Sabalenka stated.
“We tried to ‘fix’ each other a few things and this helped me stay positive. The intention is simply to move forward because our collaboration is very good and working great, I don’t want to lose him as a coach. If things are going so well, why should I look for someone else?’
“We tried to solve all the problems we had and I think we did it quite well.”

Sabalenka closes out her season with three wins over top 10 players. Defeating Kiki Bertens twice and Ash Barty once.

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