Paes and Hingis: “I was never really completely out of the picture, away from tennis. It was always part of my life one way or another” - UBITENNIS
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Paes and Hingis: “I was never really completely out of the picture, away from tennis. It was always part of my life one way or another”

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 1st of February 2015. Paes/Hingis d. Nestor/Mladenovic 6-4, 6-3. An interview with Leander Paes and Martina Hingis

 

Q. What is it like to guide another young partner through the mine fields?

MARTINA HINGIS: That’s a good one. I love it.

LEANDER PAES: That’s a brilliant first question. It’s a treat to play with Martina. Like she said a little earlier today, I finally managed to learn some things from her returns and returned half decently today. It’s intriguing. In every match we’ve played, we’ve had to overcome some obstacle, a bad start, one day our serve wasn’t working, one day our returns weren’t working. Today we started great. But we played two champions. They kept oncoming at us. We broke them, they broke back. We broke them again, they broke back. Today was just a matter of patience, our understanding of the game of tennis, our understanding of each other came through. It’s just a treat to win your 16th, my 15th (laughter).

MARTINA HINGIS: You have plenty of time to catch up.

LEANDER PAES: It’s a lot of fun, mate.

Q. You made your first appearance here in 1994, Leander. Do you have any idea when your last will be? Can you see yourself coming back for a good few years yet?

LEANDER PAES: Actually, yes, I can. Actually I was really happy when I was in the gym just now. After all our matches we go and do our training and stuff. The best thing that happened today was my coach came back in and he said, Lee, your speed’s back. If you can impress your coach on any given day, you’re doing pretty well. Normally they’re your biggest critics, they’re the toughest ones that you struggle to impress. My dad said as soon as we won, I called him, he goes, Okay, now you have to focus on the next one. I said, Dad, it hasn’t even been five minutes (laughter). But I love the game of tennis. To play with this champion who I keep learning from every day is a lot of fun. I look forward to being back soon.

Q. Martina, did you get a chance to look at the walk of champions walking out?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, that’s the coolest thing about it, when you walk there. Lee, a couple times now we got to play on center court, I love that photo. It’s a very heavy photo when I won here. It’s full of excitement, the joy you have out there when you go and play. Lee is just a really great partner to have. Been there, done that, he knows what he’s doing. I don’t have to tell him anything. Just like today, he was really keeping me out there, stay focused, especially at the end, compared to the other matches, today there was a lot of tension. It’s finals, playing the defending champions. They both are, you know, great competitors, like he said. You think like you have them, then they bounce back. She serves great for a girl. She doesn’t have any letdowns, only a little bit at the end where we could really jump on that and take advantage. But the rest of the match, it was always like every point counts. It was a huge difference today. It was not as physical maybe, but it was more of a mental match today.

LEANDER PAES: Isn’t this your 15th Australian Open final today? Does any have that stat? No one has done their homework (laughter). I thought today was your 15th Australian Open final. That’s unbelievable.

MARTINA HINGIS: Only my second mixed. But I haven’t lost a finals yet. Feels good.

Q. Martina, what stage did you decide to make a commitment again to playing tennis, just in doubles? Did something in your life happen that you missed it too much? What was it and when?

MARTINA HINGIS: I was never really completely out of the picture, away from tennis. It was always part of my life one way or another. I was playing some exhibitions, then I was coaching a little bit. Now being back, I mean, the coaching probably got me more into it because I was playing with the girls, hitting, being face-to-face to the best players in the world like Anastasia, Sabine, obviously one of the biggest hitters. So that felt like, you know, maybe I can play with them, only halfcourt. I don’t have to run that much. Obviously when we’re practicing, it’s halfcourt only. I was playing with them. I felt like I could still hold my own. Lee has been on me for three years. We played TeamTennis for a couple years. Let’s play the US Open. We were holding the trophy, I told him, I was so scared. Maybe I should have done it earlier, played a couple tournaments together already. But I was just really scared to — I wasn’t ready to take the tension, be on court. But he kept going on me.

Q. Martina, what does it mean to you to be tasting success here so many years after your first visit to this tournament?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, no, in the ceremony my voice became really little. After 20 years being back on that court, like I said in my speech, who would have thought. It’s not even like the cherry on top, it’s more than that to be there and to be able to hold another trophy with Leander. It’s more than I could ever dream of, yeah.

Q. Martina, are you hoping to play the Olympics next year?

MARTINA HINGIS: Right now we’re very far away. We’re really enjoying the moment to be here, to have the title. I mean, it’s out there, definitely. It’s something that would be probably — I mean, I haven’t played Olympics since ’96, so…

Q. You’ve played with approaching 100 different partners. Obviously Martina is the very best. But for the grass-roots player, the regular player out there, what is the key for a doubles player to adjust to a new partner?

LEANDER PAES: The first thing is to know yourself really well. If you know yourself really well and you’re honest with yourself about your strengths and more importantly your weaknesses, then you choose a partner whose strengths are your weaknesses. So my return of serve on a good day is average.

MARTINA HINGIS: It was pretty good today.

LEANDER PAES: But to pick a partner who has got such quick thought from the baseline, even when she’s playing mixed doubles, when the guys are popping serves at her. Daniel Nestor is one of the best mixed doubles servers in the game. He is lefty. He has this wicked slice serve on the ad court, which is Martina’s side. He can hit his spot down the T. To see how quick Martina reacts to it in her thought process, then commits to a shot, that’s something I learned. Now, when I’m at the net, when I have less time, I’ve got sharp eyes, I pick up things quick. When I have less time, I’m lightning fast. When I have too much time, my Indian genetics, I think too much. Martina, you pick a shot and stick to it. Any up-and-coming youngster in any walk of life, it’s not about yourself. You got to learn yourself quick, then you play for the team. The sum of two individuals have got to be greater than two. So the sum of all the individuals has got to be greater than that many people that are there.

Q. Why do Indians think too much?

LEANDER PAES: Oh, boy, I could be all day here (laughter).

Q. Are there already plans to play further Grand Slams together?

LEANDER PAES: If she let me. I don’t know if she will. MARTINA HINGIS: Of course. We already talked about this. It’s not only the fact that we won, but just feel really comfortable with one another to go out there. Right now it does feel a little bit invincible, especially on the hard courts because we just really fulfill each other. I think it’s like what I don’t do as well, you do well, and the opposite. That’s how to choose a partner. I think it’s also the key. I feel like if I execute my things very well, he’s going to take over and do the rest of it. Like if I hit a great return, I know he’s all over the top of the net and he’s going to finish the job. So it makes me feel like, Okay, I do execute well, I’m done, my job’s good.

LEANDER PAES: But you know what’s actually special about you is that I’ve had so many partners, and as we’ve gone on winning Grand Slams and winning big things, the lesson to keep learning and improving diminishes a little bit. It gets a bit stale. I don’t know exactly how many Grand Slams you’ve won, but you’ve won a lot. To actually come off a match where you’ve won another Grand Slam here, to go out and say, Let’s go to the gym and do the hard yards, let’s do our biking, our abs and our back.

MARTINA HINGIS: Only because I have a partner. I don’t want to suffer by myself.

LEANDER PAES: But that’s really actually one thing that stands out. For a champion who has done it all, to still take that extra half hour after a Grand Slam win and enjoy the hard yards, to enjoy yesterday where we had booked a practice for one hour, ended up practicing two hours. We had fun.

MARTINA HINGIS: It was fun, yeah. It’s already two hours we’ve been out here.

LEANDER PAES: I think tennis, we’re so blessed as human beings or as athletes to have such a great sport, to have such a great profession. We put on shorts, we put on T-shirts, we have legends of the game going out onto a court in front of a packed stadium sometimes. People are paying top dollar in a hard economy. We go out and earn a living. We’re really blessed, you know. We’re really, really blessed. Thanks to you guys we get out there to reach our millions of fans around the world. Life has been very kind to us. We try and give back.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Previews Musetti Semi-Final, Aims For ATP Finals Spot

Felix Auger-Aliassime spoke to UbiTennis about his semi-final in Florence with Lorenzo Musetti.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@AlemTenis - Twitter)

UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta spoke with Felix Auger-Aliassime after his 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory over Brandon Nakashima in Florence.

 

The Canadian is into the last four at the ATP 250 event in Florence after defeating Brandon Nakashima in a routine straight sets victory in Italy.

Despite being broken in the opening game, Auger-Aliassime remained calm and collected as he secured victory in 90 minutes.

Next for Auger-Aliassime is Lorenzo Musetti who he has lost to twice with one of those meetings happening in Monte-Carlo this year.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, Auger-Aliassime spoke about why the match-up has been tough for him in the past and whether their meetings on clay will impact this match.

The world number 13 also spoke about aiming to reach the ATP Finals in Turin and how much it would mean to him be a part of the elite eight at the end of the year.

Scanagatta: Here we are with Felix Auger-Aliassime who won quite easily against Nakashima, Am I wrong if I say quite easily or easier?

Auger-Aliassime: Easier. It’s always relative to your level and the perspective you want to look at it because the score. I got broken first came and come back well, it’s always tough to come back from a break down but I did well to bounce back from the first game and then I played a great set of tennis in the first set, a really good level. Then again starting the second set very good, so then holding serve until the end. So it was a great match and a great performance but I had to play my best tennis in order to win like this.

Scanagatta: Listen, can I give you good news? Tonight you are eighth in the race, 20 points more than Fritz because Fritz 2,885 and you went to 2,905.

Auger-Aliassime: You know they have it on the internet?

Scanagatta: Yes but they had to take away 45, not everybody knows that you have already completed, you are only 20 points ahead, sometimes UbiTennis is better. Apart from that you have to play Musetti and against Musetti you are down 2-1, you won Barcelona, where he had to retire but was up one set and then the other two was always played on clay. Is this better for you? Because today Musetti said I like very much this surface and I have more time and so on.

Auger-Aliassime: Look, he’s been playing very well.

Scanagatta: Have you seen him today?

Auger-Aliassime: I watched a little bit of the match today. Seemed like he was playing very good. He was hitting the ball very well, aggressive and precise. He’s a good player and he’s one of the top young players. You know I lost twice to him so of course it proves the quality that he has not only against me but he beat a lot of good players so I have to be ready for a tough match. I think potentially it can be the toughest match that maybe I have to play this week. So I have to be ready for that.

Scanagatta: He is going to have his best ranking next Monday, he will be 24 and only 23 if he would win the tournament, 24 already for being in the semi-final. What do you remember of those matches when you played him? What you recall?

Auger-Aliassime: Well he has a great touch as we all know, especially on clay he was very precise and a great touch mixing it well, the backhand. We had a close match in Lyon, I don’t remember Lyon very well but I remember the first time and of course this year in Monte-Carlo where he played really good and I wasn’t serving well and being as aggressive as I am today. But he was playing really well, backhand cross and down the line, forehand was very aggressive so he is a good player and a complete player so that’s all I can say.

Scanagatta: How important is it for you to make the Finals, the ATP Finals in Turin? Which would give you another chance to come back to Italy and eat some pasta…

Auger-Aliassime: Yeah that’s why I want to do it. That’s why it’s important because it’s in Turin and it would be great of course. You know like I said earlier this week, I love to play in Italy and not only it’s in Italy but it’s one of the best tournaments in the year. It would be a privilege to be in that group of eight players. Of course my position now, like everybody on your sheet, we’re fighting hard to make it but the competition is tough so I mean it starts at the start of the year so at the end of the day it’s not like, all the results I had throughout the year some wins, some losses it has an impact now. Of course now I’m still in a good position, so I will try to push through the last tournaments of the year and to qualify will be great.

Scanagatta: OK last question, Why you always wear black, these days I always see you wear black. Does Adidas asking is it because you like to play at night because it’s more elegant or you choose one or the other?

Auger-Aliassime: No I have a collection from New York and I change the collection there. I have black and I have purple and I thought I like the black with colourful shoes so I’m interested in my style, so it needs to work. The collection that I have I have for the rest of the year, I like it that way with colourful shoes and very neutral colours.

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime Eyes Improvement In Florence, Opens Up About Friendship With Berrettini

Canada’s top player sheds some light on his current game during an exclusive interview with Ubaldo Scanagatta.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - (Ben Solomon/Kosmos)

Top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime kicked off his bid for a second Tour title at the UniCredit Firenze Open on Thursday with a roller-coaster win. 

 

The Canadian world No.12 outlasted Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2, in a match that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Auger-Aliassime’s triumph moves him into his 13th Tour-level quarter-final of 2022 and improves his win-loss record to 41-24. 

This season has seen Auger-Aliassime achieve new milestones in his career, including winning his first Tour title at the Rotterdam Open, reaching a ranking-high of No.8 in August and defeating a top three player for the first time (No.3 Alexander Zverev at the ATP Cup). 

Following his latest win in Florence, the 22-year-old spoke exclusively to Ubitennis. Giving a frank assessment of his current form and his chances of winning a second Tour trophy this week in Italy. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You won what was a very difficult match in three sets. I expected you to win in two, what about you?

Auger-Aliassime: You never know before the match. When the match was underway I won the first set 6-4 and then I was playing great in the second, I had an early break. I was serving good. 

So I didn’t play so bad but he played some good points. I got a bit tight. Then the tiebreak was terrible for me. That was very difficult to accept but after it was good to come back and finish the match in a good way. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: It was quite strange to see you lose two serves in a row (in the second set) and then you were serving a lot towards his backhand sometimes which was a surprise because he plays much better with his backhand than the forehand. Was that a tactical approach?

Auger-Aliassime: It depends. I was serving more to the forehand with my first serve and then I tried to mix it up with my second serve. Sometimes when you’re on the court you have to make a decision and you don’t know how your opponent is going to react. 

I think in the third set, in the games I was directing more towards his forehand side, making him move there and getting some short balls. After that, I was playing better tactically. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: You will next play Nakashima who is a player making great progress on the Tour. This year he has made a lot of improvements. Have you ever played him before?

Auger-Aliassime: I’ve never played him. We have only practiced together but he is a great player who has improved a lot. He’s consistent and very precise. He has a good serve and a good return. He has a complete game for a young player who I think will improve more and become a top player to play against. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Your best ranking was No.8 and you have won one tournament in Rotterdam. Also, you have lost quite a few finals but how do you find this surface in Florence? How do you rate your chances of winning? 

Auger-Aliassime: It’s always a good challenge. Today (Thursday) I played three sets but I know I have to play better in order to win the tournament. I have to take it match-by-match. 

It’s a good challenge because it is where I want to be as a player. I want to be at the top, fighting for this spot (the title). To be at the top of the draw and try to win. It starts at these tournaments, I have to be able to step up to the challenge. 

It’s also a good opportunity for me to try and prove myself, and become a better player. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Matteo Berrettini said that you are his best friend on the Tour. Do you still see him as much as before as he was dating somebody that you may know….? (tennis player Ajla Tomljanovic who is also cousins with Aliassime’s girlfriend Nina Ghaibi). 

Auger-Aliassime: He’s a good guy and I get along well with him. We have played a few doubles in the past years but now it is a bit less as he plays more with his brother. 

We also practice together and train in Monaco.

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Were you surprised that Matteo lost in Florence? He was complaining a bit about the slow surface. 

Auger-Aliassime: We practiced together (in Florence earlier this week), and it was a good set – 7-6 like every time we play. He won it, I had a set point but I lost. Of course, I was surprised, I think he had opportunities in the second set. So it’s tough. I saw him at breakfast, it is tough to lose when you’re at home. Everybody has come to see you. 

I know how he feels. I played in Montreal this year, had a tough loss and it is never easy to go out like this. But there are still a few tournaments this year and hopefully, he can bounce back. 

Ubaldo Scanagatta: Finally, what is your general impression about playing in Italy?

Auger-Aliassime: I used to come here when I was under 12. I remember going to Trieste, they had this tournament in Porto San Giorgio. I also played here many times in Challengers. It’s a country that loves tennis. As a player, you come here and on the first day of practice, everybody is there (to watch you). In the city, people say hello and wish you good luck, so it’s really lovely when you’re playing in Rome. Hopefully, if I play in Turn (at the ATP Finals) it will be the same or maybe even better. 

It is really nice that they (the ATP) were able to organize a tournament here (in Florence) and I love everything about it. I felt good from the moment I came, the city is great and the people have given me amazing support. 

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EXCLUSIVE: Mackenzie McDonald Reveals Minor Italian Connection After Reaching Florence Quarter-Finals

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, Mackenzie McDonald reveals his love for Italian culture.

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Mackenzie McDonald (@thenet_m - Twitter)

Mackenzie McDonald revealed his love for Italian culture in an exclusive interview after beating Francesca Passaro 6-4 7-5 to reach the Florence quarter-finals.

 

The American beat the Italian wildcard in straight sets to seal his place in the Florence quarter-finals where he will face another Italian in the form of third seed Lorenzo Musetti.

McDonald has suffered a number of injuries but has returned to the tour in fine fashion and is now a consistent top 100 player.

In an exclusive interview with UbiTennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta, McDonald revealed what it’s like to face an Italian player in Italy and why he loves the European country so much.

Scanagatta: First of all Congratulations, secondly tell us something about this match and you had to play an Italian and do you remember other matches played against Italians in Italy where you had all the crowd against you?

McDonald: I haven’t played in Italy a lot. Besides Challengers, I think this is my first ATP, well besides Rome, playing an Italian in Italy is definitely a tough feat and the crowd’s all for him, it was pretty difficult to deal with that but I think the next match too against maybe Musetti? It will be even crazier so we’ll see what happens.

Scanagatta: But the linesman and everything was fine, you didn’t have any problem with the umpiring and nothing else? Because 20-30 years ago, it was much more difficult to beat an Italian in Italy and what happened in Rome? Who did you play with? Do you remember?

McDonald: I think I lost to Sousa, the Portuguese player.

Scanagatta: How do you find this court and can you tell me if you saw anything of Florence, I mean is it the first time for you in your life? Do you have any impression about the city?

McDonald: Yeah, I mean I went out the other night, the first night I got in, which was nice went to downtown and walked along the river, across the bridge to the church and the cathedral in the middle. So I got to see the main basic things in Florence, there’s definitely more things I want to see. My sister actually spent a lot of time in Italy, it’s one of her favourite countries, she actually named her son Rome. So there’s definitely more I want to see and I’m going to Naples next week too so I’m enjoying the food and I’m going to be in Italy for at least another week so it will be fun.

Scanagatta: What about the next round? Say something about the two players you may have to play?

McDonald: I haven’t played either one. So not too sure what to expect I mean their both very good players, both in form. I mean everyone wants to do well here in the quarters, so it will be a tough match for sure. I think I’m just going to enjoy this one today and then I’ll focus on that one maybe later tonight or tomorrow but definitely will be a challenge tomorrow.

Scanagatta: There were five Americans here in this tournament, you were one of the five, quite a lot for a tournament in Italy. What do you expect about United States playing Italy in Davis Cup even if maybe you will not be in the team but Fritz and Tiafoe are playing very very well, how do you explain the comeback of the American Tennis after few years which were so-so?

McDonald: I think we got a lot of depth right now. We have a lot of guys in the top 200, just like you guys, and a lot of guys in the top 100. All different types of players too, we’re all competing and pushing each other at the top too. We’ve got Fritz who is top ten now, one of my best friends. We have a lot of talent so I think we have a good chance against Italy, it will be an exciting match for sure.

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