(VIDEO) Exclusive: Why Rod Laver Wanted To Kill Martin Mulligan at Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Media

(VIDEO) Exclusive: Why Rod Laver Wanted To Kill Martin Mulligan at Wimbledon

Martin Mulligan, three-time champion in Rome, reminisces about the match point he had against Rod Laver in 1962, the year of Rocket’s first Grand Slam. At the end of his playing days, he became a Fila manager (after previously working for Diadora), and got to know Borg, McEnroe, Pietrangeli, Hopman. Now he advocates for changes in the calendar, for which he proposes a model akin to that of F1.

Avatar

Published

on

At least two stories would be incomplete without mentioning Aussie-turned-Italian Martin (or Martino, as Gianni Clerici used to call him) Mulligan: that of the Internazionali d’Italia, which he won thrice (once every two years starting in 1963), and that of the Fila brand, picked over Diadora in 1973. He had hung up his racquet, and was working for both companies, advertising Diadora shoes and Fila outfits. After a while, both companies started to produce the missing element in their respective collections, forcing Martin to choose the latter and to move to San Francisco to monitor the American market – he still lives there, and still collaborates with the Biella sports brand, founded in 1923.   

 

However, we said that the incomplete stories would be “at least” two, since as a player (he was born in Marrickville in 1940, and will turn 80 on October 18) he earned a privileged spot in the saga of the second Grand Slam in Pre-Open tennis history, completed by Rod Laver in 1962 (he would repeat the feat in 1969, after the start of the Open Era). Not only did he play Rocket in the final of the Championships (on the very first occasion that the Queen was in the stands, no less!), but he also went less than inch from stopping Laver’s run in Paris, just a few weeks prior: up 4-5 30-40 in the fourth set, Martino countered an aggressive second serve with a passing shot down the line (as he’d done all afternoon), and could only look on as Laver hit a winning cross-court volley. Mulligan would then lose that set with a 10-8 score (no tie-breaks back then), without earning any more match points, before capitulating for 6-2 in the decider. “Oh Martin, what did you do?” is Ubaldo Scanagatta’s taunt to this day. You can watch the rest of their conversation in the video below, recorded before the cancellation of Wimbledon:

Mulligan’s maternal grandparents were born in Orsago, in the province of Treviso (near Venice), before moving to Australia at the onset of the 20th century. Martin would then take the reverse journey, coming back to his ancestral home to train and to earn a Davis Cup spot, something that he could have never achieved in Australia, where too many great players prevented him from breaking into Harry Hopman’s team. In Italy, he fulfilled his dream, starring in the 1968 team that lost the zonal tie against a Spanish team that could boast players like Gisbert, Santana, and Orantes with a score of 3-2 (Mulligan scored both points, winning a singles rubber after the tie was already decided along with the doubles, partnering Pietrangeli, who lost both singles against Santana and Gisbert, who was in turn the best player in the tie, having upset Martin too in the first rubber) – notably, Martin is the only foreign-born player to ever feature in an Italy Davis Cup team.

Throughout the interview, Mulligan recalls his early days working with Fila, when he tried to recruit a young John McEnroe for a company that already had Bjorn Borg as its showpiece. The plan was to deliver a test racquet to Martin, who would have checked it before passing it on to John, who was very faithful to his Wilson arsenal – however, “there was a delay in the delivery, and we were forced to send Mac the racquet without passing by my examination in San Francisco first.” That was the fatal error, since John’s surname was spelled with an “a” on the racquet. Not only wouldn’t McEnroe sign for Fila if his life depended on it, but, in Ubaldo’s recollection, he also yelled something along the lines of, “there’s no way they can make good racquets, they can’t even spell my name!” The original quote, which is slightly (and predictably) more colourful, can be heard in the video.

Ubaldo and Mulligan pictured together at Wimbledon

Mulligan also got quite honest while discussing today’s players – “They ace and then immediately go for their towel, there’s no need for that!” – and the game’s governing bodies: “The ITF should be in charge of tennis but their ineptitude in past years favoured the ascent of the ATP and of the WTA. There should be one big tournament per month at most. Moreover, there are far too many second-tier events.” He doesn’t hide his nostalgia for a time when life wasn’t this fretful, and yet people filled the Foro Italico to the brim anyway, cheering on their fellow countryman Martin Mulligan, who was able to defeat none other than Manuel Santana in four sets. It was 1965.

Text translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa

Interviews

“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

Avatar

Published

on

Stefanos Tsitsipas - ATP Montecarlo 2021 (ph. Agence Carte Blanche / Réalis)

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.

Continue Reading

Grand Slam

US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”

A recap of the last Major of 2021, from Raducanu’s triumphant journey to Berrettini and Zverev’s improvements. What was Rod Laver’s prediction for the men’s finals?

Avatar

Published

on

By

The 2021 US Open was historical from many points of view, starting with the full-capacity crowd coming back to Flushing Meadows. On court, we witnessed Djokovic’s bid for a Calendar Year Grand Slam fall short against Daniil Medvedev in the final, while Emma Raducanu took the tennis world by storm, winning as a qualifier and without dropping a set. These were just some of the topics of the tournament recap by Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta. Here’s their chat:

 

00:00 – Emma Raducanu’s historical feat: “She had an easier draw than Fernandez, who had to defeat many great players, but she was very impressive nonetheless!”

06:18 – Barty and Osaka’s premature exits: “Hadn’t she lost to Rogers, Barty would have won the whole thing…”

09:35 – Was Fernandez too tired during the final?

20:17 – The Canadian defeated Aryna Sabalenka, who once again missed out on a big chance: “She seems to have a split personality…”

25:24 – The men’s final – how distant was Djokovic from his best form?

28:59 – “Djokovic is the best at handling the pressure, I don’t think that was the main reason behind his defeat…”

35:05 – Was the crowd actually on Nole’s side or did they just want to witness history being made?

39:16 – What was the secret behind Medvedev’s winning tactics?

41:50 – Djokovic fell short of the Grand Slam in a similar way to Serena Williams – how similar are their performances?

50:16 – Rod Laver’s prediction for the final…

52:25 – Who is the best claycourt player, Djokovic or Federer?

55:05 – Carlos Alcaraz won over the hearts of the crowd – how quickly will he reach the Top 10?

56:29 – Is Zverev on the right track to win a Major? What about Berrettini and Sinner?

62:48 – The Canadians: who will have a better career between Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime?

Transcript by Giuseppe Di Paola; translated and edited by Tommaso Villa

Continue Reading

Grand Slam

US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy

A recap of the first week of the last Major of 2021: will Djokovic clinch the Grand Slam? Who will win the women’s title with Barty and Osaka out of the picture?

Avatar

Published

on

By

The 2021 US Open has reached its halfway point, with many wonderful five-setters and a few upsets. Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta discussed the events of the first week with Hall-of-Fame tennis writer Steve Flink, from the elimination of Barty and Osaka to the toilet break controversy involving Stefanos Tsitsipas, from Alcaraz’s breakout performance to the chances of Novak Djokovic to complete a Calendar Year Grand Slam. Here’s their chat:

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending