Andy and Jamie Murray seal the 2-1 lead after a four-set win in the doubles match against Belgium - UBITENNIS
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Andy and Jamie Murray seal the 2-1 lead after a four-set win in the doubles match against Belgium

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Andy and Jamie Murray saw off David Goffin and Steve Darcis 6-4 4-6 6-3 6-2 in two hours and 49 minutes to take a 2-1 lead after the first three matches in front of 13000 fans who turned out at the Flanders Expo in Ghent. The British team are one win away from clinching the first Davis Cup Trophy since 1936 and their 10th overall title. Andy Murray will play against David Goffin in the first Sunday’s reverse rubber. British 20-year-old rising star Kyle Edmund will face Ruben Belemans in the second Sunday’s match. British captain Leon Smith could opt to bring in James Ward if the Davis Cup tie will come down to the fifth match.

 

Andy and Jamie fended off 10 of the 13 break point chances they faced and converted six of their eight break point opportunities.

The Murray brothers are the first British brothers to play together in a Davis Cup Final since David and John Lloyd in 1978. Reggie and Laurie Doherty were the last Brits to win a Davis Cup title against Belgium in 1904 at Wimbledon.

Andy and Jamie Murray now boast a 4-0 winning record in their four appearances in the Davis Cup as a team. They beat Laurent Bram and Mike Vermeer from Luxemburg 7-5 6-2 6-0 in 2011, Nicholas Mahut and Jo Wilfried Tsonga 4-6 6-3 7-5 6-1 in the quarter finals at the Queen’s last July and Samuel Groth and Lleyton Hewitt 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-4 in last September’s semifinal against Australia. In their careers they have a 32-23 win-loss record in all their doubles matches as team.

Goffin has played only one Davis Cup doubles in 2012 when he lost alongside Ruben Bemelmans to Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins in the previous match against Great Britain in 2012. Goffin and Darcis have played only four doubles tournaments as a team and haven’t teamed up since 2013. They played just seven matches together and have a 3-4 win-loss record.

Andy and Jamie Murray held their first service game without dropping a point. In the second game Goffin held serve to love in the second game with a drop-shot.

There was little to separate between the two teams in the first six games. Goffin had not dropped a point on his serve and  held his serve to love for the second time for 3-3.

Goffin hit a volley to earn the first break point in the 9th game at 4-all against Andy Murray’s serve. Andy saved with two serves.

Goffin dropped his first point against his serve with a backhand into the net. At the end of the first set the Murrays hit a couple of volleys to force the game to deuce. The brothers from Dunblane earned a break point on set point as Darcis hit an overhead smash wide

The Murray brothers earned a break point on set point, Murray swapped volleys with Goffin at the net before the Belgian hit the net to hand the break to the British team on the set point.

The Belgian team earned their third break point after a double fault by Jamie Murray. Goffin hit a volley winner to convert the break point for 2-1. Goffin sealed the second set with a volley.

Darcis brought up a break point in the third set with a passing shot past Jamie Murray. Goffin converted it by returning Jamie Murray’s serve down the line. Great Britain broke straight back on the second opportunity in the next game as Jamie Murray hit a volley. The Murray brothers went up 4-2 for a double break in the sixth game after two errors from the Belgian team.

The British team earned three break-back point chances at 0-40 in the next game and clinched the second opprtunity. The British team got the double break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. The Belgians earned two break points and converted the first chance when Jamie Murray hit a backhand into the net.

The Murrays bounced back by breaking to love for 5-3. After five breaks in the third set Andy Murray hit a huge service winner down the middle to clinch the third set for the 2-1 lead.

In the second game of the fourth set Great Britain rallied from 0-30 down. Andy Murray hit consecutive service winners to draw level to 1-1. In the third game Great Britain broke serve after a double fault by Darcis and a volley error by Goffin.

The Murrays saved seven break points in the decisive 15-point fourth game of the fourth set before getting a double break in the seventh game to pull away to a 5-2 lead. Andy Murray fired a service winner on the second match point to seal the win.

Great Britain is just one match away from clinching their first Davis Cup title since 1936. Andy Murray will need a win against David Gpffin to achieve the historic feat and follow in the footsteps of British legend Fred Perry who won the Davis Cup in 1936.

Andy Murray has won all his 10 Davis Cup matches played in 2015. A win by Andy Murray against Goffin would enable Great Britain to overtake France into sole possession of third place in the all-time ranking of Davis Cup title winners behind the USA and Australia.

 “There was a lot of stress and tension. Picking Goffin didn’t surprise me and we knew it would be a dogfight but our boys played better throughout and produced an excellent performance yet again”, said British captain Leon Smith.

“We just needed to find a way to win more points on Jamie’s return side. We got more aggressive and started to turn it around. It was a great tactical mix-up. I will prepare like any other match for tomorrow. He is a world class player and with the crowd behind hi it will be a difficult match. We have two chances to try and win it tomorrow and if you have offered us that at the start we would have take nit”, said Andy Murray.

“There was so much noise. It was mental. We were shouting to each other at times but it’s brilliant but that’s what what you expect  with so many passionate fans here for the final”, said Jamie Murray. 

 

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(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink Talks Djokovic’s Fitness, Nearest Rivals And Future Of American Tennis

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta to discuss Novak Djokovic’s tenth Australian Open title.

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Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic won his tenth Australian Open title last week but what does the future hold for the Serb?

 

This was something that was discussed between hall of fame writer Steve Flink and UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta.

After Djokovic’s stunning straight sets win to claim a 22nd Grand Slam title, the pair discussed who the Serb’s future rivals may be for the rest of the season.

Flink stated that Alcaraz is Djokovic’s nearest challenger and would love to see them face off several times this season, “I think the smallest gap is between Djokovic and Alcaraz, I think we’ll found that out,” Flink explained.

“I think that’s what we need to see this year, Ubaldo. Is Alcaraz going to pick up where he left off last year, winning his first major, finishing the year number one. Has the temperament, has the game?

“I want to see Djokovic and Alcaraz play this year, I hope maybe 3-4 times at least and I think that could be great for the game and that maybe the biggest test would be to play the young Alcaraz who’s so fearless.”

Reflecting on the Australian Open Flink was very impressed with the way the world number one played over the two weeks especially managing his injury.

Flink thinks that Djokovic getting to world number one is a great achievement given the circumstances, “Just imagine how far ahead he would be in the rankings,” the Serb explained.

“If he had 2000 points for Wimbledon as he should have received, he’d be way way ahead of the pack. But just the fact he got back to number one which no one was really expecting since last fall is a great achievement.

“He was all along the overwhelming favourite to come back and win the Australian Open for the tenth time. However I honestly believe that he was genuinely very worried about his leg. Some people didn’t want to believe that but I definitely believed it because he got hurt in Adelaide and then you saw he was cancelling practice sessions in the middle of the leading up to the Australian Open.

“He was very worried and he kept wearing that strapping on his leg. Plus there was those medical time-outs he was taking in the earlier rounds and I don’t think it was until he played De Minaur in the fourth round that he was physically close to his best. And then from that point on he looked pretty invincible but I do think coming in he had deep concerns about his physical condition.”

Also in their chat, they discussed other rivals to Novak Djokovic such as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Holger Rune and Sebastian Korda.

There was also much encouragement from Flink over the future of American men’s tennis with him comparing the current generation to the mid 1990’s, “This is the best group we’ve had since you have to go back, I mean we can look at the Roddick-Blake-Fish era and yes I mean Roddick was the last American man to win a major singles title at the 2003 US Open. And Blake was in the top five in the world and Fish had some great exploits but this group has more depth,” Flink explained.

“This is more like the mid-90’s, I’m not saying we’re going to have a Sampras, Courier, Chang, Agassi, you know the greatest American generation but all of these guys starting with Fritz and Tiafoe and then Korda who we already mentioned and Tommy Paul, his first major semi-finals despite the fact he lost to Djokovic in straight sets, Tommy Paul has burst into the top 20.

“And we’ve got an awful lot of talent in the top 50 now, I haven’t been this encouraged in a long time. I think it’s a very impressive American line-up.”

Below you can see the full video where they also discuss who has the most potential between Jannik Sinner, Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Musetti.

Video Breakdown:

00:00: Intro

00:26: Discussion over Djokovic’s level and injury concerns at Australian Open.

3:40: Reflecting on Djokovic’s post Wimbledon form

4:38: Reflecting on Djokovic’s physical state in comparison to Nadal and Djokovic’s competition

7:23: Discussion about Tsitsipas

12:45: Further discussion about Alcaraz  

14:55: Talk about Medvedev’s disappointing form

16:32: Talk about Ruud’s style of play

18:10: Talk about Auger-Aliassime

20:24: Discussion about Holger Rune, Sebastian Korda and American Tennis

24:26: Discussion about biggest potential amongst Sinner, Berrettini and Musetti

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EXCLUSIVE: Felix Auger-Aliassime’s Coach Fredric Fontang – ‘Felix Can Win Wimbledon This Year’

Fontang has been an instrumental figure in the development of Auger-Aliassime throughout his professional career. In a wide-ranging interview with Ubitennis, he sheds light on the mentality of the world No.7 who he believes has what it takes to win his maiden Grand Slam title this year.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

By Federico Bertelli

Just before the start of the Australian Open, Ubitennis spoke with Felix Auger Aliassime’s coach, Frederic Fontang. Fontang was nominated and voted by ATP colleagues as one of the five coaches of the year in 2022, as he helped Felix reach the Nitto ATP Finals and climb the rankings to world No. 6.

 

Ubitennis: To start, can you comment on how the past year has gone?

Fontang: This is the time of the year when we return to Australia and start a new season. We are happy with the just-completed season, Felix won four tournaments and qualified for the Finals in Turin, which is a wonderful city by the way. So many positive emotions and so many “check marks” on the list of goals to achieve. He won the Davis Cup, he also won ATP 500 level tournaments, so the next steps are naturally the 1000s, the Slams, and the number 1 ranking. But the competition doesn’t stop and so we have to keep going like this.

Ubitennis: My next question concerns the mental aspects of tennis. This sport is sometimes called the devil’s game. From your point of view, mentally, what are Felix’s strengths and weaknesses on a tennis court? For example, in 2022 Felix was comparatively better at saving break points than converting them.

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(Break point against top 20’s – Year 2022)

Fontang: Of course, one of Felix’s strengths is his serve, which helps him a lot in saving himself. While trying to convert a break point he is in response and therefore obviously starts from a defensive position. But this is only part of the explanation and it’s an aspect that we have to improve. As for the mental part, his strength is resilience. Regardless of the results, whether he wins or loses, he still comes back the next day to train with a positive attitude, as happened last year at Wimbledon and the US Open, where he lost in the first round. But he was able to get back on the court with all the attention and focus necessary to get back on track. He is very consistent, he knows where he wants to get to and this is definitely a strength of Felix.

Ubitennis: Yes, mental strength is definitely a key factor in the training of a professional tennis player and has been for several decades now. Are techniques such as the “16 seconds cure” of Jim Loehr and similar mental preparation methods still relevant today?

Fontang: Tennis is a tough competition, it’s a bit like boxing but without physical contact. Everyone wants to impose their game and be aggressive. This means always being ready on every point, every shot. During the exchanges, it is essential to be reactive. And then between one point and the next, you shouldn’t be discouraged by a wrong shot, the important thing is to stay in the present and focus on the next point. Let’s say that before, more attention was paid to trying to maintain aggressiveness on the court, while now we know the brain better. We have more tools to understand how the brain and the body work and we try to apply them. With Felix, we try to develop tools to communicate and guide him in the best way in the routines, in the match preparation and during the match. What I see is that today the toolbox from this point of view is much richer.

Ubitennis: I assume it’s somewhat a discovery process where you try different things and see what works? Also how much the player “buys into” what you are trying to propose; what is Felix’s attitude towards this?

Fontang: It is an aspect that we agree on and are working on, along with the physical, technical, and tactical aspects. Every player is different and you have to find the right keys for each one. But we are improving, to make things simpler. It is necessary to be consistent and to be able to switch the switch and go into “competition” mode. Furthermore, it is fundamental not to look neither forward nor backward but to stay in the present, a bit like in life. Only that sport is an accelerator, everything goes much faster.

Ubitennis: Have you ever seen Felix give the impression of giving up during a match, for example when an opponent is playing at their best and you can see negative body language signals? Have you ever seen Felix turn to your corner during a match as if to say “What do I do with this?” How do you handle these situations? Perhaps a burst of anger to give him a shake could be an idea?

Fontang: It’s like with technique, you have to train not only on the mechanics of the shots, but train to repeat how to handle certain situations well. Frustration and anger emerges when expectations are not aligned with executions. Sometimes it happens and it’s normal and emotions come. But the point is not to block emotions, it’s to learn to manage them, recognize them and deal with them appropriately. To do this, you need to apply techniques, but these things also need to be trained. In Felix’s case, for example, one key to his game is aggressiveness, his game is very physical and the energy he puts into the court must always be very high. The risk, however, is to put too much energy into it and go out of bounds. So, it’s necessary to show intensity, a positive body language, to release tension and be aggressive, but when the intensity starts to be too much and emotions exceed a certain threshold, he has learned to slow down and regain control of the situation. And here it’s a matter of applying the right tools: for example, focusing on breathing, visualizing certain images, and activating routines. But all this needs to be trained so that when you play seriously, things come out more naturally.

Ubitennis: “Let’s switch to a slightly different aspect: here we are talking about attitude: is it possible to have a fiercely competitive spirit in the field and be a normal and balanced person outside? I mean, always refusing to lose with all one’s might is perhaps one of the distinctive traits of a great champion, what do you think?”

Questa immagine ha l'attributo alt vuoto; il nome del file è Felix-Auger-Aliassime-al-pianoforte-Montreal-2022-720x480.jpg

Fontang: This is my personal view, which is also the view of Felix’s parents and how Felix was raised. For example, Felix is a good person, but this is due to his upbringing. I believe that one should behave well, both on and off the court, whether one wins or loses. At high levels, one also becomes a role model for children, and it is important to send the right messages. I believe that there are clear guidelines to follow, but this does not mean being passive. I think one can be a great fighter on the court, but still respect one’s opponents and fans, as Federer and Nadal have always done. Emotions can’t be eliminated, but there are limits. Showing emotions, both positive and negative, is fine, but there are still limits. For example, breaking a racket can happen in a moment of frustration, but the frequency at which it happens also matters. Children watch and we have to be good models. If we behave badly, it sends the message that to be successful, one must behave negatively. It’s not just a matter of winning and losing, but also how.

Ubitennis: Let’s play a little game since it’s the beginning of the year: if you had to bet in 2023, who would win the Grand Slam tournaments and who would go to Turin?

Fontang: Aside from Felix, who is now in a position to present himself as a contender for the win, I think that Rafa, even though many say he might retire, won 2 Slams last year and finished the season as world No. 2. I think Rafa remains the favorite for Roland Garros despite everything. For the Australian Open**, obviously there’s Djokovic. We trained together in Adelaide and Novak is ready for the challenge. And let’s not forget Medvedev. For the hard court tournaments, I would say that Djokovic and Medvedev are my two favorites, so for the US Open and Australian Open, I would bet on them. And finally, for Wimbledon, I think the discussion is more open. Felix has already made it to the quarters there, has a great serve and has all the weapons to do well. So my prediction is Felix winning at Church Road.

** Interview conducted before start of Australian Open 

Ubitennis: As an Italian, I hope that at Wimbledon there will also be Sinner and Berrettini as contenders.

Fontang: Yes, of course, Wimbledon is the tournament that lends itself best to surprises. Grass is always special. Djokovic obviously is among the favorites, but also Berrettini and Sinner should be remembered, Fritz is also not to be underestimated.

Ubitennis: Let’s end the interview with the last two questions: in the next few days the series “Break Point” will be released on Netflix, produced by the same team as the “F1 drive to survive” series. I saw that Felix appears in the teaser, so I assume you were involved: can you give us some feedback on this experience? In the end, it must have been something new, having TV crews following you even in the most private moments and in areas where media normally do not have access. Was it something that bothered you? Or in the end, was it a pleasure to share these aspects? And finally, one last thing: can you give us some advance/impression? Have you seen anything in preview?

Fontang: It’s true that the Netflix crew was present during the Masters 1000 and Grand Slam tournaments last year. Not always, of course, but they were seen before and after the matches and also in the gym or during training sessions. But they behaved extremely professionally, maintaining distance when required. In this respect, there is nothing to say. And on our side, it’s true that at first it was a little strange and maybe we weren’t very natural, but then we got used to it and it was a nice experience. As for the aftermath, I wouldn’t know: we know as much as you do. I’ve only seen the teaser too, so I can’t help you. Felix did well, it was a positive story, so I think they gave him space, but you can’t know. Netflix and the producers have their own agenda and priorities, even in terms of narrative. They need to build stories that are interesting, and I hope it reflects reality and that the need to put together a story still reflects reality.

Ubitennis: Closing with one last question: in a way the media is necessary for the show, but I understand that it can sometimes be a hassle; if you could decide how things should be organized, how would you like it to be? Would you like a more collaborative relationship?

Fontang: I believe journalists are very important, not just in sports. They have a connection with the athletes and can reach and disseminate information that would not otherwise be available. But I think for the players, things could be organized differently, in the end it’s always a bit the same, a bit monotonous. The questions almost always repeat themselves, it would be nice to make things more interesting. In the end, the players are young and are used to managing social media, so maybe it’s also a matter of content; and then there is also a timing issue, when to do these things. After the match, it is obviously necessary to talk to the athletes, but also talking to the coaches would be interesting, even for some insights, discussing the preparation for matches, or even mental aspects. But it is important to find tools and establish a process to make everything easier. I hope that in the future things can improve, there is certainly room for improvement.

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Nick Kyrgios Admits Assaulting Former Girlfriend But Avoids Prosecution

The tennis star says he ‘deeply regrets’ how he reacted during an argument with his former partner.

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios will not be charged with assault despite pleading guilty to shoving over his former girlfriend following an argument. 

 

The Wimbledon finalist attended court on Friday after he was accused by his former partner, Chiara Passari, of assaulting her during an incident that took place on January 10th 2021. Kyrgios was initially charged following an argument which took place outside of Passari’s apartment in the inner-city Canberra suburb of Kingston. 

At a hearing at the ACT Magistrates Court, it was revealed that Kyrgios’ ex-girlfriend was standing in front of an Uber car door which prevented him from closing it before he pushed her over. When she fell to the ground, he was heard saying ‘seriously.’ In the minutes leading up to what happened, Kyrgios told Passari “leave me the f*** alone” and to “just f***ing piss off” when he was asked to get out of the car and calm down. He had called for an Uber ride following their argument. 

Passari, who didn’t report the incident to the police until 10 months after it happened, suffered a grazed knee and hurt her shoulder as a result of her fall, according to her legal filing. Kyrgios apologized for his actions two days later when the two met at a Canberra cafe. Unknown to him at the time, that conversation was recorded by Passari. The two continued their relationship for some months before breaking up. 

Magistrate Beth Campbell has ruled in Kyrgios’ favour despite him owning up to his actions. In her verdict, Campbell said the seriousness of the matter was ‘low’ and the tennis star was not likely to re-offend again. 

“You acted in the heat of the moment,” she said.
“I am dealing with you in the same way I would deal with any young man in this court. You are a young man who happens to hit a tennis ball particularly well.”

During the hearing, evidence was heard from Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, who said his mental health issues were ‘recurrent’ and he has suffered from thoughts of self-harm. Although Borestein says his condition has improved in recent times. Furthermore, Kyrgios’ lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith, said there was “a relationship between the mental health and the offending – even though he no longer suffers it to the same extent today.”

In a statement issued following the court’s decision, Kyrgios said he reacted ‘in a way he regretted’ and apologized for his actions. He went on to attribute what happened to his mental health condition at the time. 

“I respect today’s ruling and I am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” he said.
“I was not in a good place when this happened and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.
“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I have found that getting help and working on myself has allowed me to feel better.”

Before his guilty plea, Kyrgios had argued that the charge should be dropped on the grounds of his mental health but that appeal was withdrawn when the court found that he is not currently suffering from a major depressive illness. 

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