Emilio Sanchez Exclusive: One Loss That Destroyed His ‘Winning Will’ And The Match That Could Have Changed Roger Federer’s career - UBITENNIS
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Emilio Sanchez Exclusive: One Loss That Destroyed His ‘Winning Will’ And The Match That Could Have Changed Roger Federer’s career

In an exclusive video interview the two-time French Open doubles champion believes the Federer-Nadal rivalry could have been a lot different if one particular match had gone another way.

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Emilio Sánchez (photo Barbara Crimaudo)

‘I never had a chance like that to excel in a grand slam’ was the words that came from the mouth of Emilio Sanchez as he looks back on one of his hardest losses. The Spanish tennis star turned coach speaks to Ubitennis about his career and the current state of the game.

 

54-year-old Sanchez, who is the brother of former world No.1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, was a top player throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In singles he peaked at a high of seventh in the world and won 15 titles with the most prestigious being at the 1991 Italian Open. In doubles he reached the top of the rankings back in 1989 and was best known for his collaboration with Sergio Casal with whom he won 45 out of his 50 Tour titles with. Overall, he scored eight wins over No.1 players, but it was the losses Sanchez remembers the most. Especially one that occurred in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

“As a player you always have this mindset where you always think you are going to play them again and beat them again. The win in Rome against (Mats) Wilander or other big wins that I had were very good,” he told Ubitennis.
“But you don’t remember so much the wins. You remember more the important losses. I played a match against (John) McEnroe at the Australian Open. I was two sets up and then he came back. I was then 6-5, 40-15, up (in the final set) and at that moment I made my first double fault of the match. I lost 8-6.’
“I remember that match because it destroyed my winning will. I said to my coach that I should quit. He asked me why and I said because I will not win a grand slam.’
“I never had a chance like that to excel in a grand slam.”

Sanchez is not the first player to have missed a golden opportunity and he will not be the last. Another is Roger Federer, who failed to convert two match points against Novak Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final. Although the Spaniard believes it is another match that had a massive impact on the Swiss Maestro’s career.

During the 2006 Italian Open, Federer looked on course to victory and was a point away from holding a 5-2 lead in the decider before nemesis Rafael Nadal broke back. Then the former world No.1 saw two match points come and go before losing to his rival, who was just 19 at the time.

“In that match the type of game he played was perfect for him to adapt his game to the clay. So he did everything perfectly on the physical, tactical, technical and mental side but when that key moment arrived he tried to overdo it and on the clay it doesn’t allow you to do that,” Sanchez reflected on Federer’s loss.
“He tried to overplay those two match points and then Rafa came out from that and had the confidence. He (Rafa) also went on to beat him in Paris (French Open). If Federer made one of those points, what happened after could have changed things completely in his career because after that it took him a while before he was challenging Nadal on clay again.”

The two players along with Novak Djokovic form the prestigious Big Three of the sport. A trio who dominance includes at least one of them winning 52 out of the past 60 grand slam tournaments. According to Sanchez, there is one key thing to their reign in the sport.

“The important points for those players are the return because normally they hold their serve very easily. Where they are better is that they are able to break their opponent once every three or four games,” he explains. “On top of returning well what they do is take away the initiative (from their rivals). With Nadal when he takes away the initiative he is the one who is not going to allow you to do anything. With that he is the best.”

After stepping away from the Tour, Sanchez remains involved in tennis through his work at the prestigious ASC Sanchez-Casal academy. Which he co-founded with his former doubles partner back in 1998. It has been a training base for some of the world’s best players including Andy Murray, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Grigor Dimitrov. The academy operates in Barcelona as well as both America and China.

“When I put the academy in place I realised that we had to make this like a system. I wrote all the exercises and videos about how we became players and through time I made that system much broader.” He explains.
“The thing I like about my academy is that when I ask players like Andy Murray or Grigor Dimitrov what they remember they don’t remember the forehand or the serve. They remember the hard work, effort and respect. You can’t ask for more.’
“I think this is the biggest legacy of our academy. We left some of the most intrinsic and important values for them (our students) to become whatever they do.”

The former Davis Cup captain also discusses the current state of American tennis. A country that once had 40 top 100 players on the ATP Tour when he began his career, but now struggles to have more than 10. What has led to this dramatic change?

Ubitennis’ full interview with Sanchez can be watched below.

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Steve Flink: “Jannik Sinner Will Be a Top 10 Player by the US Open”

The Hall-of-Famer journalist comments on Hurkacz’s surprise win in Miami and previews the clay season. Who was the biggest letdown, Medvedev or Zverev? Nadal will soon be world N.2 again, while Andreescu is striving to stay healthy.

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The first Masters 1000 event of the season wrapped up on Sunday, but another already looms in wait in Monte Carlo, and on a different surface. To comment on the situation of the two tours, Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta was joined by his colleague Steve Flink: they focused on Hubert Hurkacz’s surprise win as well as on Jannik Sinner’s great run in Florida – Asheigh Barty’s permanence atop the rankings was also discussed. Here’s their chat:

 

00:00 – The man of the hour is Hubert Hurkacz: “He had an amazing run, defeating five players with a better ranking than his!” What was the key strategy in his final win over Sinner?

07:30 – This was the first Masters 1000 event since 2005 not to feature either Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, or Murray – a wasted chance for Daniil Medvedev? He started as the clear favourite, but his attitude against Bautista Agut left something to be desired…

12.50 – What lies ahead for Sinner? Some of the greatest names in the game did well in Miami in the past – a sign of things to come?

16.20 – Hurkacz betrayed some nerves against Rublev and Sinner, but held on to serve those matches out. Sinner, on the other hand, wasted a 6-5 lead in the opening set – what can he do to improve?

22.50 – Whose great champion does Hurkacz’s serve remind Ubaldo and Steve of? A look at the other players who underperformed in Miami, starting with Tsitsipas and Rublev.

32.00 – “Alexander Bublik reminds me of Safin, he’s an entertainer and he is not boring in press conferences!” What about Sebastian Korda – does he have the mettle of a champion?

40.00 – The women’s tournament: “I expected a great final, but Andreescu was clearly spent – I hope she’ll manage to stay healthy.” Was Osaka’s no-show against Sakkari a worrying sign?

45.30 – If the Canadian is healthy, will she join Osaka and Barty as the defining players of the decade? Who else could make a run to the top?

49.30 – This week, 10 Italian players feature in the ATP Top 100 – will at least one of them feature at the ATP Finals in Turin?

Transcript by Antonio Flagiello; translated and edited by Tommaso Villa

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(VIDEO) Miami Open Final Preview: Jannik Sinner Is The Favourite But Don’t Underestimate Hurkacz

UbiTennis founder Ubaldo Scanagatta analyses the Miami Open final where a brand new Masters 1000 champion will be crowned.

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Jannik Sinner - ATP Miami 2021 (via Twitter, @atptour)

Earlier this year Jannik Sinner and Herbert Hurkacz were on the same side of the court playing doubles on the ATP Tour. However, today in Miami they will be facing off against each other with the biggest title in their careers at stake. Both players have already shown impressive tennis in the tournament with 19-year-old rising star Sinner fighting back from a set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Poland’s Hurkacz has beaten three top 10 seeds en route to the final.

 

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Steve Flink: “Naomi Osaka Will Win At Least A Dozen Slams”

The American tennis writer comments on the women’s singles event at the Australian Open. Can Brady win a Major? Is there any hope left for Serena Williams’ quest to clinch her 24th title?

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Naomi Osaka has been crowned as the queen of Melbourne for the second time. The 23-year-old beat Jennifer Brady in the final, conquering her fourth Slam title (all of them on hardcourts), and looks poised to dominate women’s tennis for years. Conversely, current world N.1 Ashleigh Barty couldn’t find her best tennis when she needed it most, bowing out as soon as she met some resistance. These are some of the themes that Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and his Hall-of-Famer colleague tackled during the second part of their chat.

 

Here’s the video: 

00:00 – “Osaka’s success was hardly a surprise…” 

01:55 – “The only time she struggled was when she had to rally from two match points and a break down against Muguruza in the fourth round – did she raise her level or was it the Spaniard who went missing in the clutch?” 

06:07 – What can the Japanese player still improve in her game? 

09:15 – “I don’t see why she shouldn’t win at the French Open or at Wimbledon as well, although she might struggle a little more on the clay.” How many Majors can she win? 

12:05 – Jen Brady had a dream run to the final despite not being able to train for two weeks prior to the Aussie Slam – can she make it in the future? 

16:34 – “Barty wasn’t able to find her rhythm again after Muchova called an MTO in the second set, that’s too bad because she could have played the final two matches in front of her home crowd.” 

18:28 – “Serena Williams was distraught after her defeat to Osaka, but she had an excellent tournament, beating both Sabalenka and Halep.” Was she perhaps too hard on her chances? 

25:30 – To get her 24th Major, Serena will need to play seven great matches in a row – can she still do it? “My dream is to see a Williams-Osaka match-up in a Wimbledon final…”

31:53 – Was Kenin the biggest letdown of the event? “She had an appendicectomy a few days after the event, and the pressure may have been too much for her, but I think she will keep being a contender for the biggest titles.” 

Transcript and translation by Gianluca Sartori; edited by Tommaso Villa

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