WTA Cincinnati – Taylor Townsend: “I'm just moving in the right direction and learning from every match” - UBITENNIS
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WTA Cincinnati – Taylor Townsend: “I'm just moving in the right direction and learning from every match”

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TENNIS WTA CINCINNATI – 11th of August 2014. T. Townsend d. K. Koukalova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5. An interview with Taylor Townsend

 

Q. Another main draw; another pro win.

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Yeah.

 

Q. At this point, is this not new for you anymore? Is it getting to where you almost expect yourself to get past the first round?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Yeah, I mean, for sure. I definitely feel really good. Just having to qualify really just gives me a sense of entitlement when I get into the main draw.

I earned my way into here, and so now I got two matches, good matches, underneath my belt. Now just gotta keep the ball rolling.

I do expect myself to do well and win a couple of rounds because I know I can. I reached third round of a Grand Slam, so I know I can do whatever.

So, I mean, hopefully go farther than that.

So, yeah, it’s positive. I’m just moving in the right direction and learning from every match.

 

Q. Heading into the US Open, you have been third round obviously like you say. What kind of expectations do you have? Are you trying not to put pressure on yourself? What’s the frame of mind?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I’m going into the Open confident. I think playing these matches and being able to play here and playing in D.C. kind of gave me some really good    a lot of confidence leading up into the Open. I’m still not done yet. I’m getting some doubles play here so when I go to the Open as well I’m going to be fresh and ready to go.

As far as expectations for myself, I mean, I just want to continue to do my best, lay everything out on the line, fight as hard as I can, and learn, you know.

I mean, I’m put in a position in matches where I’m like, Oh, I have been here before. How can I improve from the last match or something like that?

I’m just trying to take the step to continue to learn and do the right things. I know that the results    if I continue to work hard and keep learning, the results will take care of themselves.

 

Q. It seems like you’re working hard. A lot of matches that you’re winning are 7 5 in the third or 7 6 or 6 4. Is that a good thing, getting yourself like time to stay in the point and pull it out?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Yeah, I mean, I think that you’ve got to do what you gotta do to win. Really, that’s what I’m proving to myself.

It’s like, you know, it comes down to the wire in these matches or a point here and there, and, you know, I can win that point and that can change the match.

It came down to one or two points today. So, I mean, these last couple of matches   and especially in D.C.   have given me just a lot of confidence to know that, you know, when I get put in these situations, number one, I can come out of it; and number two, if I get in that situation again I know that I have been there before.

I know that I can come out of it and I know what I can do and how to make myself click in those moments.

 

Q. What did you like most about the way you played today? Was it the mental thing you just talked about?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: Yeah, for sure. I definitely don’t think that I played my best. But at the same time, I did what I had to do to win.

She’s a very tough person to play. She hits really, really flat. Her serves, she mixes it up. Goes from slow to pops an ace on you. You really have no rhythm.

So I just tried to really focus on myself. It came down to a point here or there. Like I said, for me I just tried to fight and stay in the moment. I had two match points and missed two returns.

Instead of getting upset at that I just tried to focus on the next game and holding my serve and having another opportunity to take it.

 

Q. Is that the hardest thing to learn, that mental part, for somebody starting out trying to make a name for herself?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I think so. I mean, for different people, different things, for sure.

Some people have to work on technique. Some people have that mental edge. Some people understand the game at a younger age or understand their game.

For me personally, I’m having to learn myself as well as the game of tennis. So it’s a lot. But at the same time it’s so much fun because I’m just constantly learning, not only about myself, but every single match I play, whether I win or whether I lose, I learn something.

That’s the fun in it, because I know it’s like    I was just talking to my coach. Like, Okay, I know what I have to do or I didn’t do this or I didn’t do that.

So even though I won, it’s still stuff I want to continue to work on.

 

Q. What did you learn today?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I think for me I just really put myself out there today. I mean, I played her at Wimbledon and lost to her first round at Wimbledon. So first of all, I tried not to think about that, because it’s easy to get caught up into that and try to do something that    or do more than what I have to do.

But today I just really tried to fight as hard as I could. I tried to stay in every single point and not give her too many free points. Really, really focused on the return of serve, because that’s where I got in trouble in Wimbledon.

So I really, really tried to put a huge emphasis on the return of serve and making her play. Most of the time I did it; sometimes I didn’t. But when I needed to, it came through.

 

Q. It sounds like as your confidence builds that you’re able to kind of dismiss little moments of insecurity. Do you find yourself still having to deal with that, that you’re insecure about where you are or what to do?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: What do you mean, insecure?

 

Q. Doubt, I guess. What do I do now kind of thing, or does that kind of go away as you keep playing better?

TAYLOR TOWNSEND: I think it’s just a learning experience. For every single match that I play, like I said, I’m trying to learn and grow from it.

So if I take positives and negatives from the match and then go and practice and work as hard as I can on those things, then I know when I get put back in that situation I will hopefully do something different.

As I continue to play these matches on tour and get acclimated against the girls and playing against the high level people, the more that I do feel like I belong and the more that I do feel like, you know, I can win these matches and I can tough it out and, you know, I belong here.

I think that it’s just a matter of experience. The more matches that I get to play, the better.

 

 

Interviews

(EXCLUSIVE) Mats Wilander on Sinner’s Chances of Beating Alcaraz, Kyrgios’ Antics At Wimbledon

Ubitennis caught up with the former world no.1 for a brief chat on Sunday morning.

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Mats Wilander says changes should be made to the rules following a controversial third round meeting between Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas at Wimbledon. 

 

The Saturday night encounter was marred by controversy with the Australian arguing with the umpire and swearing. Meanwhile, his Greek rival received a point penalty for hitting a ball into the crowd out of anger. Following their clash, Tsitsipas sensationally accused his rival of bullying. 

Wilander spoke about the incident during a discussion with Ubitennis’ founder Ubaldo Scanagatta where he also previewed Jannik Sinner’s clash with Carlos Alcaraz at SW19. 

The full interview can be read below:-

UBITENNIS: What do you think about the chances of Jannik Sinner against Carlos Alcaraz?

WILANDER: First of all, I thought Jannik was going to have a much bigger problem with John Isner. Then I saw his match and he is playing unbelievably well. He’s incredibly aggressive and doesn’t make mistakes. 

UBITENNIS: But Alcaraz is also very agressive?

WILANDER: Yes, he is serving well and moving better than Jannik. But Jannik is older and we don’t know what the thing is between them. Just like Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios. We don’t know what it was when they were like 10,11, 12.. in practice. 

Maybe Jannik use to beat Alcaraz all the time in practice? This psychology is way more important than tennis (in their upcoming match), in my opinion. 

This is exactly what happened with Tsitsipas and Kyrgios, Zverev and Kyrgios. He (Kyrgios) beats them almost all the time because they have this respect and he is a couple of years older. 

UBITENNIS: Carlos has more variety than Sinner

WILANDER: He is more inconsistent, he is a little bit faster and has more options. But more options are not how Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon. The fewer options you have in big matches the easier it is to play your game. So for Alcaraz, can he get the drop shots right? Can he get the serve and volley right? Can he hit the right forehand at the right time? 

(But) Jannik goes in at the right time. So if Alcaraz played great he’s the favorite but when have we seen him play great in a big match (at Wimbledon)? We don’t know yet that he has only played two-out-of-three set matches. Maybe he did against Tsitsipas at the US Open but this is a different level.

UBITENNIS: Who was right in the Tsitsipas and Kyrgios argument? 

WILANDER: They both have a point, to be honest. Kyrgios said that Stefanos must be a bit soft mentally if he gets that bothered by him being himself. 

I would say the one to blame is the officials. They are playing within the rules we have now so you can’t blame them, they are trying to win a tennis match. This is what Kyrgios plays like, this is what he does. If you fall for it, then you need to improve your mental stability. At the same time, I would have also felt as Stefanos did. 

I think (the problem) lies with the official situation. I am not saying they could have done anything (during the third round match) but we need to put rules in place so they can’t do this. We don’t have tennis matches that look like that. I know the crowd loved it but tennis needs to be a sport where you can take your five-year-old and not worry about them getting hit with a tennis ball or hearing a player swearing loudly 20 times. The sport needs to be like that otherwise the sport is becoming entertainment and that is not what tennis is. it is a sport, it’s educational and inspirational more than entertainment. 

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(EXCLUSIVE) Ricardas Berankis’ Coach On Wimbledon Showdown With Rafael Nadal

Dirk Hordorff speaks to UbiTennis about the world No.106 and his chances against the second seed.

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Ricarcas Berankis at Wimbledon (image via http://www.yonex.co.uk/_assets/)

Ricardas Berankis is no stranger to Wimbledon as he marks the 12th anniversary of his first-ever main draw win at the tournament after coming through three rounds of qualifying.

 

A stand-out player in his younger years, the Lithuanian topped the world junior rankings and won the US Open boys title back in 2007 when he defeated Jerzy Janowicz in the final. Transitioning to the pro level was never straightforward for Berankis who is now 32-year-old. Nevertheless, he has made his impression on the Tour with runs to two ATP Tour finals in 2012 (Los Angeles) and 2017 (Moscow). He also won the 2015 US Men’s Clay Court doubles title in Houston alongside Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Today Berankis is ranked 106th in the world, which is 56 places below his career-high. His best performance on the ATP Tour so far this season was in Abu Dubai when he came through qualifying to reach the quarter-finals before losing to Denis Shapovalov. He also reached the final of a Challenger event in Lille.

At Wimbledon this year he started his campaign with a straight-sets win over former semifinalist Sam Querrey. Making it only the fourth time in his career he has won a main draw match at the tournament. His reward is a showdown on Thursday with the formidable Rafael Nadal who is seeking a historic 23rd major title and his third in a row. Nadal defeated Francisco Cerundolo in his opening match.

So can Berankis trouble Nadal on the grass?

The best person to ask is Germany’s Dirk Hordorff who coaches Berankis. The veteran coach has also previously collaborated with the likes of Rainer Schuettler, Lars Burgsmüller, Yen-Hsun Lu, Kristian Pless, Sergiy Stakhovsky, and Vasek Pospisil.

During an email exchange with UbiTennis, Hordorff shared his thoughts about Berankis’ upcoming clash with Nadal.

UBITENNIS: It wasn’t until Melbourne this year that Ricardas played Nadal on the Tour for the first time. He lost the match 6-2, 7-5. What did his team learn from that experience?

HIRDORFF: I was not in Melbourne, but I coached unsuccessfully in a lot of matches against Rafa. He is next to Novak (Djokovic) over so many years as a true champion and a great person outside the court. You learn every match against him and Ricardas is ready for this match.

UBITENNIS: When it comes to playing a member of the Big Three, how do you as a coach go about dealing with Berankis’ mentality?

HIRDORFF: Ricardas played a good first round against Sam Querrey. Nevertheless, to play Rafa is a different issue. You need to concentrate on your abilities and not worry about history.

UBITENNIS: Nadal was sternly tested during his opening match. Does this in any way give a confidence boost towards Berankis or do you think it is irrelevant?

HIRDORFF: Every match starts at zero. What Rafa played yesterday doesn’t affect Ricardas’ match. Anyway, Rafa won his first round quite solidly against a good upcoming player.

UBITENNIS: Whilst the odds might be against Ricardas, it isn’t impossible that he could defeat Nadal. What will the key areas be for him to focus on during their match? (e.g. return position, use of slice etc).

HIRDORFF: Ricardas needs to focus on his abilities and take his fine form from the first round in this match. Rafa is a complete player, so you need to perform well in all aspects of the game.

UBITENNIS: What is the most difficult thing about playing Nadal on the tour?

HORDORFF: He is a complete player with a lot of special strengths. Strong serve, good backhand, fast, perfect coordinate and no weak parts in his game.

UBITENNIS: Ricardas might be 32 but he has shown some good results on the Tour (runner-up at a Challenger event in Lille and QF in Dubai). Given the trend of players playing later into their careers, is his best yet to come?

HIRDORFF: Ricardas had to deal with a lot of health problems. I am sure that the best part of his career is yet to come for him.

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Interviews

EXCLUSIVE: Ana Ivanovic On Wimbledon Memories, Players To Watch And Her Admiration For Williams

The former world No.1 takes part in a special Q&A with UbiTennis ahead of the Wimbledon Championships.

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Former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic (image via https://twitter.com/anaivanovic)

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Ana Ivanović’s best-ever run at the Wimbledon Championships.

 

Just weeks after reaching her first major final at the French Open, Ivanović scored back-to-back wins over Nadia Petrova and Nicole Vaidišová (who she saved three match points against) to reach the semi-finals. She was eventually knocked out of the tournament by Venus Williams who went on to clinch the title. In total she played in the Wimbledon main draw 12 times and achieved a win-loss record of 24-12.  

Throughout her career Ivanović won 15 WTA titles, including the 2008 French Open. She also reached the final of another eight events. She holds the honors of being the first woman in history to win a major title whilst representing Serbia and the only player from her country to have held the No.1 position on the WTA Tour. Ivanović’s period of 12 weeks at the top is a longer streak than Williams, Garbine Mugurza and Karolina Pliskova.

This December marks the sixth anniversary of when Ivanović announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 29 following a series of physical issues. At the time WTA CEO Steve Simon hailed her as a “true champion and a great ambassador for the sport of women’s tennis.”

Leading up to this year’s Wimbledon Championships, UbiTennis managed to catch up with the former world No.1 who is married to former football star Bastian Schweinsteiger and has two young children. Through an email exchange, she speaks about life as an ex-player and gives her views on the upcoming Wimbledon Championships. She also reveals her desire to remain connected with tennis in the future but would she consider a coaching role on the Tour?

UBITENNIS: This December will mark six years since you announced your retirement. What do you miss the most about playing on the Tour?

IVANOVIĆ: To be honest the most I miss is the excitement of playing at the big courts in front of the fans and crowds. I have many special and unforgettable memories. I miss a lot that feeling. Besides that, the traveling and competing in different countries was always something I enjoyed.

UBITENNIS: Since retiring, how closely do you follow the sport now?

IVANOVIĆ: I still follow – obviously not as close as when I was playing – but I still have some friends on tour, so I like to see how they are doing, and I like to see new faces and to see new exciting players.

UBITENNIS: Wimbledon begins on Monday and you played in the main draw 12 times during your career. What are your happiest memories of the tournament?

IVANOVIĆ: Of course, my happiest memory of Wimbledon is reaching semifinal there, that was definitely a very special year for me. But also, I do remember one very special match for me, I played against Nadia Petrova, we had 7 rain delays, and we played from 11 in the morning until 7pm, and we manage to finish just before another rainstorm. That was definitely a unique experience and something I will always remember.

UBITENNIS: What was the biggest difficulty for you when it came to switching from playing on the clay to grass within such a relatively short time?

IVANOVIĆ: The biggest difficulty for me personally when it comes to switching from clay court to grass court were the movements. Clay court was always my favorite. I have enjoyed moving on clay and sliding which let me feel free. On the grass you sometimes feel like you didn’t have as good grip – at least me personally, so I think that kind of adjustment of timing of the movement was for me the most difficult.

UBITENNIS: This year’s women’s draw is headed by Iga Swiatek who is currently on a 35-match winning streak. How impressed are you by Swiatek and who do you think is her biggest threat at Wimbledon?

IVANOVIĆ: I think Iga has been playing really well, and she is also very composed, I think she handles her nerves well. As we all know, Tennis – or actually every sport – is becoming more and more mental game next to the physical and talent game.

I think maybe Serena has a chance, Ons also, because she uses lots of drop shots, on the grass, that can be tough to play against. As well as Angelique Kerber she loves to play on grass, she won Wimbledon before, so I hope she does well.

UBITENNIS: Wimbledon will see the return of Serena Williams to the tournament. How impressed are you that she continues to play at the age of 40? Has this ever given you the temptation to return to competitive action as you are six years younger than Serena?

IVANOVIĆ: It is amazing to see Serena back, I know she loves to play on the grass. I really admire her for everything she achieved and to still compete at the high level of sport at the age of 40 – it is incredible. I am really looking forward to see how she will do this year. For me personally to come back to competitive sport I don’t see myself in that direction. I have other visions and dreams and something that I want to do, to also give something back to society.

UBITENNIS:  As for the men’s draw, who are you most excited about watching? Do you think anybody other than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could win?

IVANOVIĆ: Novak and Rafa are both playing really well. I think Novak enjoys playing on grass more than Rafa does, and he is defending his title. Obviously, it is always exciting to watch them as they already have so many Grand Slams, and competing for more.

Others than them, there are many interesting players at the moment and I always say that new upcoming players can surprise the top players in early rounds while they are still kind of warming up. Players like Novak and Rafa gain more confidence and strength when they come further and further in the tournament, so it is more difficult for younger players to take them out in the semis or finals especially when it is played best of five sets at the Grand Slams.

UBITENNIS: You had such an impressive career as a tennis player, are you ever tempted to pass on what you learnt to others in the future as either a coach or advisor on the Tour?

IVANOVIĆ: I don’t really see myself as a coach on tour, but I do want to stay involved, because Tennis has been my life. I have been playing since I was five. I am happy to share my experience and give advise but definitely not as a coach.

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