Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Their Wins Commented by Steve Flink and Ubaldo Scanagatta - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Media

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Their Wins Commented by Steve Flink and Ubaldo Scanagatta

Tennis Channel’s Steve Flink discusses Roger Federer’s win over Berdych and Novak Djokovic’s win over Nishikori with Ubaldo Scanagatta in Melbourne. The two tennis experts also discuss Serena’s dominance over Maria Sharapova.

Published

on

Media

(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.

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Media

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.

Published

on

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.

Questa immagine ha l'attributo alt vuoto; il nome del file è Auger-BP-222-720x78.png

(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.

Continue Reading

Latest news

(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Australian Open: Steve Flink On Sabalenka’s Rise, Swiatek’s Tough Year Ahead

Tennis Hall of Famer Steve Flink joins Ubitennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta to look back on the highs and lows of this year’s Australian Open women’s tournament.

Published

on

Image via Australian Open Twitter

On Saturday Aryna Sabalenka ousted Elena Rybakina in an epic three-set encounter to claim her first Grand Slam title at the age of 24.

 

The triumph has been a long time coming for the Belarussian who has reached the semi-final stage of a major on three previous occasions. Steve Flink and Ubaldo Scanagatta take a look at Sabalenka’s technical game and what her recent breakthrough could mean for her future career. 

Sabalenka is calmer now, there is much more composure. Even when she served a double fault on match point in the last game (of the final) she kept her concentration, took a breath, and got on with it,” said Flink. 
“I think one of the separating factors between her and Rybakina was that she defended better and she is a better shotmaker from the baseline. 
“Sabalenka is a good all-around player, there is a way to go but she is getting there. “

There is also high praise for Rybakina who has reached two major finals within the past year, winning the Wimbledon title. The Kazakh is now in the world’s top 10 but would be currently in the top five if Wimbledon awarded points last year. 

“Rybakina has one of the best women’s first serve’s in tennis but maybe needs to improve on her second,” Flink pointed out. “It kicks up a bit and the better players can take advantage of that. She can also get a little shaky off the ground but by being in the final of two majors over the past year, I am very encouraged by her. “

Flink also explains where he believes Coco Gauff will have a better future than compatriot Jessica Pegula. Even though the latter produced a better result at Melbourne Park by reaching the quarter-final before losing to Victora Azarenka. 

“Gauff in the long term,” he said.
“She is working hard on improving her forehand which is still not good enough and the second serve. These have been holding her back. She had a good disposition on the court and doesn’t get too excited.’
“Over the next two and three years she is going to improve considerably. So I think the ceiling for her is greater but maybe this year it will be Pegula who will be better. “

The biggest shocks of the tournament came from the top two seeds – Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek. Jabeur lost in the second round and Swiatek crashed out in the fourth. In Flink’s view, the Tunisian will be able to turn her fortunes around but the world No.1 will not be ‘such a dominant force’ as she was in 2022. 

“With Swiatek, it is going to be interesting. She won 37 matches in a row leading up to Wimbledon (last year) and she won her second French Open in the process. I don’t think we will see her as a dominant force (compared to 2022). She will be in the top three or top four for a long time because of her consistency but Rybakina beat her really comfortably at the Australian Open,” he commented. 
“I think she relies a lot on her defence but I don’t think she is as comfortable now. She might hold on to her No.1 spot but I wouldn’t be surprised if she finished the year at three or four in the world.” 

However, Flink does back Swiatek to win this year’s French Open after winning two out of the past three editions. Although he is not so sure when it comes to who might win the men’s title…….

Video breakdown:

0:00 intro

0:30 – An analysis of the final between Sabalenka and Rybakina

2:20 – Flink takes a closer look at Sabalenka’s and Rybakina’s current form and what they can improve

3:40 – Ubaldo’s view on Sabalenka’s game 

5:40 – Sabalenka’s double fault woes – are they over?

6:50 – How could clay affect Sabalenka’s game?

7:30 – Flink on Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula 

9:30 – Jabeur’s and Swiatek’s Australian Open performances

15:00 – Who will win the French Open? 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending