‘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.
Ubitennis Photographer Roberto Dell’Olivo Awarded in Monte Carlo
Every year the Monte-Carlo tournament awards the best photographers. First prize for Ubitennis’ Roberto Dell’Olivo thanks to his artistic eye
Every year during the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters the tournament holds a small award ceremony to acknowledge the best pictures taken by credentialed photographers during the previous edition of the event. This year the best photos from the 2019 tournament were awarded since the 2020 edition had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 edition took place behind closed doors.
Ubitennis’ photographer Roberto Dell’Olivo was already acknowledged in 2018 for his work during the week in Monaco, but this year he received an even more prestigious accolade. In fact, he has been awarded the ex-aequo first prize in the photographic contest, chosen among all the photographers credentialed at the tournament.
The ceremony was officiated by Alain Manigley, President and CEO of SMETT (Société Monégasque pour l’Exploitation du Tournoi de Tennis), the company in charge of the commercial development of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Roberto Dell’Olivo has been taking pictures at professional tennis tournaments around the world for several years: from the Australian Open to Roland Garros, from Wimbledon to Paris-Bercy, he has become a stable presence at the most important tennis events around the world.
Ubitennis wants to congratulate Roberto on this important achievement, thanking him for the coverage of his fifth Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and wishing him the best of luck for the rest of the season.
[VIDEO] Merry Christmas from Ubitennis!
Our CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta sends his greetings to all the readers of ubitennis.net
From everybody at ubitennis.net, we want to send to our readers our Christmas greetings: thank you for your ever-growing support! Here’s a message from the website’s CEO, Ubaldo Scanagatta:
“We Hope to Convince Federer to Play”: the Presentation of the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters
Director Zeljko Franulovic talked about next year’s tournament, scheduled from April 9-17
The 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will take place from April 9-17, so it’s difficult to guess what the pandemic situation will be in six months. At the moment, however, the prevalent hypothesis is that all spectators will need a Covid Pass or to bring proof of a negative test before being allowed in the Montecarlo Country Club at Roquebrune, France. If some players will refuse the vaccine, then they will need to be tested regularly in accordance to the rules devised by the French government.
Other than that, there will be no surprises when it comes to the event’s logistics, since the Country Club has already added a new players lounge and a new press room in the past few years. In 2020 the tournament was cancelled, while in 2021 it took place behind closed doors (while still being televised in 113 countries); the last edition staged with a crowd, in 2019, sold 130,000 tickets, constituting 30% of the total revenue – another 30% came from the sponsors, 30% from media rights (a number that tournament director Zeljko Franulovic hopes to see increase) and 10% from merchandising.
While it’s early days to know whether the tournament will operate at full capacity, Franulovic has made it clear that the organisers are already planning to provide a better covering for the No.2 Court, whose roof has not been at all effective in the past in the event of rain.
The tournament’s tickets can be bought on the official website of the event, but Franulovic has already vowed to reimburse immediately every ticket “if the government and the health authorities should decide to reduce the tournament’s capacity.”
Ticket prices have increased by 2 to 3 percent as compared to 2019, ranging from £25-50 for the qualifiers weekend, £32-75 for the opening rounds, £…-130 for the quarterfinals and semifinals, £65-150 for the final, £360-1250 for a nine-day tickets. Franulovic claims that the prices are in line with those of the other Masters 1000 tournaments.
Finally, Franulovic supports Andrea Gaudenzi’s decision to create a fixed prize money for the next decade. While tournaments like Madrid and Rome are trying to increase their duration from 8 to 12 days, the Monte-Carlo director has claimed that he prefers to remain a week-long event, especially because his is not a combined tournament. As for the players who will feature, Franulovic hopes to convince Roger Federer to participate: “I’m certain that he will give everything he has to be able to stage another comeback on the tour, ma no one knows where he’ll play. However, I think that on the clay he should opt for best-of-three events like Monte-Carlo and Rome rather than the French Open.”
For this and more information, you can watch the video above.
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