Vallverdu: “I can help Berdych to achieve what he’s never accomplished” - UBITENNIS
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Vallverdu: “I can help Berdych to achieve what he’s never accomplished”

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TENNIS – Vallverdu was Andy Murray’s coach for five years, now he works with Tomas Berdych and the two are set to meet in the Australian Open semifinal on Thursday. Spanish tennis writer Rafa Plaza caught up with Vallverdu in Melbourne ahead of this clash, and got all the lowdown from the Venezuelan coach regarding both players. By Bruno Bergareche Sans

 

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Read the original interview in Spanish here

Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray are poised to lock horns in the semi-finals of the Australian Open. If there’s one man who knows the keys to this match up it’s Dani Vallverdu. The28 year old Venezuelan is now working with the Czech player after a spell of over five years in the Scot’s corner. Spanish tennis writer Rafa Plaza caught up with Vallverdu in Melbourne ahead of this clash, and got all the lowdown from the Venezuelan coach regarding both players.

Question. Why did you end your working relationship with Andy Murray?

Answer. It was a joint decision. The World Tour Finals finished in London and two days later we sat down in his home. We talked calmly about the issue and reached the conclusion that it was the best thing for both of us. We’ve always tried to find solutions together. That was the nice thing about when we sat down together. We were trying to find solutions so that he could rediscover his motivation and win Grand Slams again. I’ve got a 15 year long friendship with Andy, since we were in Barcelona together. We worked together for over five year. In any professional relationship there comes a stage where you feel things are working or not. When we sat down, we discovered that perhaps they weren’t working as well as in the past. That doesn’t mean that we stopped being 100% committed to the relationship. We wanted everything to go well. It was a critical moment in Murray’s career because they’re the last three or four seasons of his career. As his friend I want him to reach as high as possible. And with the dynamic we were in it was going to be difficult to find that spark that was no longer alive. We’ve gone through a lot of good moments. Also through bad ones, which wear you out a bit. It was simply the right moment to leave it. In my case, to think about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take my professional career. And for Andy, to look for other options that would ignite that spark once again.

Q. What does it mean to you to be in Berdych’s corner?

A. A personal challenge and a professional opportunity. I’ve got the chance to help Tomas achieve things he still hasn’t accomplished. And to keep him at the standard he’s been at in the last five years, which is also very difficult. He’s had a fantastic career, but there’s that sensation that he can achieve more. That’s the interesting thing about the position I’m in now: I can help him to achieve what he’s never accomplished. And it is possible. He’s got the level of play, the attitude and the determination to do so. There are a lot of players who have the quality or the capacity, but not the attitude.

Q. Are you ready?

A. I’ve acquired sufficient experience in the last five years after everything I’ve gone through with Murray, there have been a lot of important moments. Besides, my relationship with Tomas in these weeks has been excellent. We’ve spent few weeks together but our relationship has been good, fluid. I’m excited about what’s ahead. I’m ready to do it.

Q. Do they have similar personalities?

A. They’re quite similar. Introverted and respectful. On court, Tomas is a bit more reserved than Andy, but that’s normal. At that level, personalities are very similar, especially from a tennis point of view. The determination and hunger to in is very similar in both of them.

Q. In the quarter finals he defeated Nadal, who had got the better of Berdych in their previous 17 encounters. How did you help him?

A. After losing to Nadal 17 consecutive time, he learned a lot of things. When you sit down to look at the videos of their matches you discover a lot of things: you can see how he was winning the points and how he was losing them. We both sat down and saw some things that were quite clear and that he didn’t see before. Nadal wasn’t in his best form on Tuesday, but Berdych played an impeccable match. He didn’t let him into the game, despite the fact that he improved a lot in the third set. The difference in level was evident there. Things can change. Nadal wasn’t at his level in the first two sets, but at the same time Tomas was playing exactly as I wanted him to play. Berdych would have probably won the match if Nadal was in good form also. It’s down to the small details. Things you don’t see. And when someone shows you them you can see that what was happening is very clear. It wouldn’t make any sense if I told you what it is, but at this standard, details are very small. These players have been on tour for 10 or 15 years and see tennis in a clear way. They know each other very well and know the tactics for every player.

Q. At 4-4 in the third set, the Spaniard had two break points to get back in the match. Berdych didn’t crumble, which would have been the case on other occasions.

A. It could be that I have helped him or that he has learnt himself from what has happened in previous matches. Maybe, it’s a combination of both. The truth is that we spoke about that. He’s quite an open person, who listens and also asks questions. I’m not going to lie, we spoke about that mentality. He sent a message to the locker room: “I went through tough moments against Nadal in the third set and knew how to react quite well”. That’s what impressed me most about yesterday’s game. He knew how to deal with those difficulties. When you’re winning a match easily, it can turn into a difficult encounter. It’s complicated to adapt to the game and realise what is happening mentally. And Tomas did that perfectly. I’m very satisfied, especially with regards to the future. It’s a sign.

Q. Tomorrow, Murray awaits. “I’m not playing Dani, I’m playing Berdych”, said the Scot in the build up to the clash.

A. I expected it. I’ll tell you an anecdote. In December I was travelling to Europe and I said to a friend that they would face each other in the semi finals of the Australian Open. Both head into the game in fantastic form, both physically and mentally. I’m happy for Andy and Tomas. Logically, tomorrow I’m going to focus on helping Berdych to win. At the end of the day my job with him is to do what we did today: prepare the match, but when they play it’s down to them.

Q. He mentions in his biography that you’re the only person that knows what he’s thinking at all times. Does that give you the edge ahead of the semis?

A. A small advantage. At that level, players know each other extremely well. Tomas and Andy have faced each other 10 times. I will tell Berdych a couple of things about Murray’s mentality, how he takes on matches and what he will be thinking. But one of Andy’s best qualities, especially in matches against top opponents, is that he plays with a plan and sees if it works or not. From there, he has the capacity to change and execute other options. Not a lot of players can do that. I’m going to tell him how I think he should play, but he might possibly change half way through the match. That’s why it will depend on Tomas to find out what his opponent id doing in the match. It depends on them because I will be watching from the stands. My work ends today.

Q. The locker room agrees that Murray is playing more aggressively than in 2014…

A. Andy is playing like he did when he won both his Grand Slams and the gold medal at the Olympics. He’s competing with quite a balanced mould of tennis, playing quite aggressively, which has worked quite well. That’s how he has to play. He’s played a great tournament until the semis. His level is at the adequate standard.

Q. Is Berdych ready to win a Grand Slam? Is the time now?

A. He’s always been ready to win a Grand Slam. He’s proven that by showing his quality consistently. The matches he’s lost have been against the best players of all time. At this stage of his career, Berdych understands how to prepare for the most important games, especially from a mental point of view, he knows what is really valuable in these encounters. In the first years of your career you think about things that aren’t as important. And Tomas now knows what to focus on to be able to win these top level duels.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Names His Best Personality Trait Ahead of Wimbledon Showdown With Kyrgios

The Greek has named one ‘defining aspect’ of her personality but will it have any relevance for his next match?

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) - Credit: AELTC/Joe Toth

Stefanos Tsitsipas says he is ‘thrilled’ to book a Wimbledon third round meeting with Nick Kyrgios later this week after seeing off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

 

The world No.5 rallied his way to a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5, over Thompson to record only his fifth main draw win at the tournament in his career. Despite his accolades on the Tour, Tsitsipas has endured disappointment at The All England Club. In his four previous appearances, he lost in the first round three times.

Nevertheless, the Greek appears to be heading in the right direction on the grass after winning the Mallorca Open less than a week ago. Although he will be truly tested on Saturday when he faces the dangerous Kyrgios who he lost to in Halle earlier this year after winning the first set. Kyrgios produced a clinical performance in his second round match which he said was a message sent to media criticism him.

“Nick has more matches on me in these courts. He claims to like grass. I think his game is good for the grass,” said Tsitsipas.
“I am definitely thrilled to be facing him. I respect him a lot, on the court, what he’s trying to do. Although he has been a little controversial in the past, I think he’s playing good tennis.’
“I’m going to try and concentrate on doing my thing and pay attention to my own game from start to finish. Hopefully I can stay there and do something great, have a great competitive match against him.”

Kyrgios’ talent has never been disputed but it is his mentality which has at times been his downfall. In his first round match, he was aggravated by the crowd, argued with a match official and spat in front of some people in the stands who were ‘disrespecting’ him.

As for Tsitsipas, the 23-year-old believes his mental strength is one of his best personality traits.

“My mentality is pretty strong. If I fall, I’ll always get up and work hard. I never really have these days where I’m saying, I don’t want to practice today,” he said
“I feel like other players would have that a bit more often than I do. If I fall, I always get up, one thing to get stronger.”

It remains to be seen if Tsitsipas will come back stronger against Kyrgios as he seeks revenge for his recent loss. Although he has lost to the Australian on two other occasions with his only victory in their rivalry being at the Laver Cup.

You just go out on the court hoping to have a good match, hoping to be able to get balls back, be precise with your shot selection. That comes with good preparation. The rest will hopefully follow if you’re able to approach that with the right mindset.” Tsitsipas explained.

Tsitsipas is the only seeded player remaining in his section of the draw after two rounds played.

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Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer form dream team for London’s Laver Cup

Build-up to September’s Laver Cup has already begun and some big names are set to feature.

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Andy Murray’s Wimbledon may have come to a disappointing end yesterday, but there is hope on the horizon yet.

 

It was announced shortly before his second-round encounter with John Isner, that the three-time Grand Slam champion has signed up to play in September’s Laver Cup.

This would mark Murray’s first appearance in the competition.

Being a home tournament for the Brit, fans will be hoping and praying he stays fit for September’s showpiece at the O2 Arena.

Team Europe assembles dream team

With the confirmation of tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, the addition of Murray adds more stellar firepower and history to Europe’s cast.

With three of six confirmed, who could the other three names be?

Surely, teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz should be given a place at the table.

The Spaniard has taken the ATP Tour by storm this season, winning not one but TWO Masters 1000’s in Miami and Madrid.

He also became the youngest member of the top ten since you guessed it, his idol Nadal.

Another strong contender would be Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

Having spent three months out with a hand injury, he stormed to titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s proving to be the season’s standout player on grass.

He unfortunately had to pull out of Wimbledon on the eve of his first-round match after contracting Coronavirus.

If fit, he would be a worthy addition after debuting at the event last year.

The romantics would love for another big name in Stan Wawrinka.

The Swiss is well and truly in the twilight of his career.

Like Andy, he has won three Grand Slam’s and would be warmly welcomed by close friend Roger, who he won the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold alongside.

And then there’s Marin Cilic who was in fine form to reach the semi-finals of the French Open, making him only one of five active players to reach all four Grand Slam semi-finals.

The former US Open champion played in the inaugural Laver Cup back in 2017.

Team World – Diego Schwartzman, Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime confirmed

The challenge of Team Captain John McEnroe is that his counterpart, Bjorn Borg has a wealth of talent at his disposal.

Whilst, the American doesn’t quite have the same luxury.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Indian Wells winner Taylor Fritz were the first two confirmed names.

Canadian talents Felix Auger Aliassime (confirmed) and Denis Shapovalov (not yet confirmed), are the standout names that Team World will bolster their ranks with.

That would then leave two places left with McEnroe likely to call on past stalwarts from previous editions.

This could be 37-year-old Isner, who was highly impressive in defeating Murray yesterday at Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, the seven-time Grand Slam champion is a known fan and admirer of the feisty Nick Kyrgios.

The two big servers could therefore be the final names.

Other possibilities would be American’s Frances Tiafoe, who has played the Laver Cup before, and the talented Sebastian Korda.

Following the announcement of Murray, more confirmations cannot be far away.

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Spain’s Bautista Agut Latest Player To Test Positive For Covid At Wimbledon

It is understood that The All England Club is reviewing their Covid-19 policy amid fears of an outbreak.

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Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

This year’s Wimbledon men’s tournament has had a third seeded player forced to pull out after testing positive for COVID-19.

Roberto Bautista Agut, who was the 17th seed in the draw, has withdrawn from his second-round match against Daniel Elahi Galan which was set to get underway on Thursday afternoon on Court Three. Announcing his decision on Twitter, the Spaniard said his symptoms are ‘not very serious‘ but he believes not playing is the right thing to do.

“Today I have notified Wimbledon of my withdrawal. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, the symptoms are not very serious but I think it is the best decision (not to play).” Bautista Agut wrote.
“I hope to be back soon.”

 

The 34-year-old was making his eighth main draw appearance at The All England Club this year. In 2019 he reached the semi-finals in what is his best-ever result at a Grand Slam tournament to date.

Earlier this week Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini also withdrew from Wimbledon after positive Covid tests. However, they hadn’t played their first round match which Bautista Agut did. The trio of cases raise fears of a possible outbreak in the tournament given how contagious it can be.

Wimbledon’s Covid-19 policy is made in conjunction with advice issued by local health officials. Although it is unclear if a player is required to withdraw from an event if they have the virus. Ubitennis asked a spokesperson for clarity on the matter but was instead given a generic statement.

As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority,’ An All England Club spokesperson said via email on June 26th.

“As a major event we have and continue to work in conjunction with the UK Public Health Security Agency and our Local Authority.

“We have maintained enhanced cleaning and hand sanitising operations, and offer full medical support for anyone feeling unwell. We are following UK guidance around assessment and isolation of any potential infectious disease.

“Our player medical team also continue to wear face masks for any consultation.”

The Guardian has reported that a review of Wimbledon’s guidelines is underway. This was before Agut said he had also contracted the virus. However, there has been no formal announcement concerning any review. 

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