EXCLUSIVE: Todd Martin To UbiTennis: “Ubaldo, Come Work For Me!” - UBITENNIS
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EXCLUSIVE: Todd Martin To UbiTennis: “Ubaldo, Come Work For Me!”

A former world N.4 and a two-time Slam finalist, the American was known as “Marathon Man” due to his tally of nine wins from two sets down. Now the CEO of the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, he joined Ubaldo and Steve Flink to talk about his career, Pete Sampras in Davis Cup and the prospects of the game in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.

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UbiTennis brings you the latest instalment in a series of exclusive interviews with many relevant figures in the world of tennis. This time the guest was Todd Martin, while Steve Fink (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame when Todd was already in charge) completed the usual line-up.

 

Martin recorded 411 wins on the ATP Tour, won 8 titles over the course of his career (out of 20 finals), and enjoyed two stints as president of the Player Council between 1995 and 1999. Despite Wimbledon statistically being his strongest Slam, his best runs came at the 1994 Australian Open and at the 1999 US Open, where he finished runner-up to Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, respectively.

The chat happened at a momentous time, coming on the heels of the cancellation of all tournaments up to July 31, including his own grass event in Rhode Island – a double blow for the event, since the celebration for the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees, Conchita Martinez and Goran Ivanisevic, was also called off. However, he didn’t shy away from these unfortunate, albeit expected, news, using instead the opportunity to talk about the situation of the tennis tours as a whole.

Video schedule

00: Introduction and career achievements

2:42: Todd reminisces about the two Slam finals he lost, outlining his growth as a player: “Pete let you outplay him for a while, but then…”

8:52: Comments on Sampras’s retirement and which one his best season was: “I’m not sorry about his retirement, he killed me every time!” Is the peak of a player defined by ranking or by performance?

12:16: Ubaldo and Steve Flink’s relationship with notepads and a very timely scoop at Flushing Meadows…

15:16: The victorious doubles match in the 1995 Davis Cup final with Sampras. Would he rather play at home or away?

22:23: The Marathon Man, finishing at 1:22 in the morning and high-fiving the crowd in the Arthur Ashe stadium at the US Open after two comebacks a year apart from each other: “Physically, I’m here. Would you like to know where I am metaphysically?”

26:05: That Wimbledon semifinal against Washington in ‘96. Could he have won the final against Krajicek? “Tennis is like business: speculation is bad, and it was a distraction then as it is now. Put it this way: I’d have played Krajicek or Washington in a Slam final rather than Sampras!” Also, why he didn’t win more titles.

30:42: The Davis Cup tie against Rafter: “If somebody can come back against me, why on Earth wouldn’t I be able to come back against them?”

36:26: More Davis Cup, this time against Italy in Milwaukee, as Ubaldo chuckles chauvinistically. Remember Davide Sanguinetti?

38:58: To be the boss in Newport where he debuted as a professional, and the sacred trinity of US tournaments that were hallmarks of his career: “Why would you ever let Steve Flink get into the Hall of Fame?” Ubaldo typically jokes, smiling, about  his beloved American friend who of course is a much deserved Hall of Famer pushing Todd Martin to laugh.  “Hey Steve isn’t Ubaldo attacking you too much? Fight him back!”

42:44: How the cancellation of Newport happened and the vulnerability of the game’s business.

47:36: Should we try to play with no fans in the stands or should we wait for next year? “Sports weren’t meant to be public events, but they’ve grown to become so central in our lives. I’d like to see tennis active, but not at the risk of health or of challenging businesses to survive even more than now.”

49:50: Congratulations to the swiftness with which Newport is moving to refund tickets, especially as others are not letting go of the cash as quickly…

53:30: The logistics of tennis behind closed doors. “Travelling restrictions are the first of many challenges we are facing.”

56:51: “Having a tournament and then nothing for four weeks isn’t what we need, we have to accept that some decisions will be made that won’t be good for us from a business standpoint, but might be good for the sport as a whole. We need to remember that this is a tour.”

1:00:40: Todd for commissioner? “Not a good idea! However, I believe that having a commissioner for the sport would be a good experiment. Necessity could force us to finally unite.” How the power has shifted towards the Player Council since his days as President.

1:05:45: Are you in touch with new ATP Chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi? “I really like his vision, if we can approach the idea of unifying the stakeholders from a commercial point of view, then we will be able to do so in terms of governance as well.”

1:07:46: The situation in Rhode Island. Trivia: who is his British pal who also excels as a golf player?

1:12:06: How do so many players still do well in their 30s? Sports science and…

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Make sure you check out Ubitennis’ other interviews big names from the world of tennis:-

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

Raymond Moore On Playing During The Apartheid Era And Why Indian Wells Shouldn’t Be Played In 2020

Why Rod Laver Wanted To Kill Martin Mulligan at Wimbledon

 

Tennis Like “The Godfather”: Seven Families Fighting For Power (Video-Interview With Mary Carillo)

 

Patrick McEnroe: “Had I beaten John, he would have stopped talking to me!”

Article text written by Tommaso Villa

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‘He Could Become An Excellent Player’ – Remember Roger Federer’s Grand Slam Debut 21 Years Later

More than two decades ago on this day was the start of where it all began for the former world No.1. But what did he and his opponent think about his first match played at a major?

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Roger Federer at the 1999 French Open

On this day 21 years ago the most decorated grand slam champion in the history of men’s tennis began his major career.

 

Roger Federer embarked upon the 1999 French Open as the youngest player in the field and yet to break into the world’s top 100. Aged 17, the Swiss player was yet to play in the final of an ATP Tournament and only managed to enter the Roland Garros main draw thanks to a wild card. His opponent was third seed Pat Rafter who at the time was at the peak of his career. The Australian had won back-to-back US Open titles leading up to the tournament.

Undoubtedly the odds were piled heavily against a young and inexperienced Federer, but he still managed to make his mark. Surprisingly taking the first set before Rafter fought back to eventually win 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.

“The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,” the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote at the time.

Rafter echoed a similar view to L’Equipe during his post-match media engagements. He went on to become one of the few players to have a perfect winning record against Federer of 3-0. Also defeating him twice during the 2001 season.

“The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.”

Rafter’s prediction came true but even he at the time didn’t expect the 17-year-old to go on and become one of the greatest. Now Federer holds the records for most grand slam titles (20), most weeks as world No.1 (310) and has won more ATP Awards than anybody else (37). Approaching the age of 39, he remains a prominent fixture in the world’s top 10 18 years on from his debut.

Federer has spoken about his first taste of a grand slam a few times in the past. One of his most notable observations was during a conversation he had with Rafter at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. When speaking about losing his one set lead, the Swiss maestro said it was partly to do with his mental weakness and showing too much respect to the top guns at the time.

”I was up a set and I was just 17 years old and I wasn’t expected to win,” Federer recounted. ”I think I got broken in the second set and I was like ‘Oh, God, what am I doing?’
”Next thing you know I’m losing 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. It was very mental. I had a lot of respect for the older generation who were already accomplished. Obviously stars like Pat were, for me, people I really looked up to, even though I knew I could beat them. Mentally I was not so solid.”

Rafter has also admitted that his 1999 victory was partly down to the mental weakness of his rival during a 2018 interview with Blick newspaper. However, he blames losing the first set on never playing Federer before.

“I met Roger for the first time at the French Open in 1999. It was his grand slam debut. Since I did not know his game at the time, it took me some time to adjust to him. That’s why I lost the first set,” he said.
“Roger’s biggest handicap was his mental maturity, he was only 17 years old. That was one of the reasons why I came back and win in four sets.”

Whilst the French Open was where it all began for Federer, his record in the major is the worst out of the four grand slams. It is the only one he has failed to win multiple times, claiming his sole title back in 2009. Overall, he has played in the main draw 18 times with a win-loss of 70-17.

How old was the current top 10 when Federer made his grand slam debut?

  1. Novak Djokovic – 12
  2. Rafael Nadal – 12
  3. Dominic Thiem – 5
  4. Roger Federer – 17
  5. Daniil Medvedev – 3
  6. Stefanos Tsitsipas – 9 months
  7. Alexander Zverev – 2
  8. Matteo Berrettini – 3
  9. Gael Monfils – 12
  10. David Goffin – 8

(numbers in years unless otherwise stated)

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Nikoloz Basilashvili Domestic Abuse Case: Extraordinary Claims Emerge From Both Sides

One journalist says she has ‘inside knowledge’ that the tennis pro has a history of domestic abuse, but his family has issued a statement claiming the accuser has a record of making false allegations.

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On what has been a dramatic day for tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili, his family has now issued a statement in which they have made a series of allegations against his ex-wife.

 

The world No.27 was arrested on May 22nd over allegations that he ‘physically attacked’ Neli Dorokashvili during a confrontation on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Prosecutors have launched charges against him under the article ‘Domestic violence in the presence of a minor against a member of his family.’ Officials have confirmed that the alleged incident took part in front of their son.

After his initial hearing on Sunday, Basilashvili denied any wrongdoing and paid for a bail. His lawyer, Irma Tchkadua, has said that there is ‘no evidence’ in this case. However The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia is demanding a pre-trial detention of the 28-year-old.

In a new twist to the case, Basilashvili’s family has now issued a statement to news agency IPN in which they have accused Dorokashvili of deliberately making false allegations. Claiming she has made similar claims in the past in order to damage the reputation of the tennis star. Revealing that Basilashvili’s mother, Natalia, have previously faced child abuse accusations.

“We want to respond to the allegations made against Nikoloz and our family today,” the statement begins.
“First of all, we want to apologize to the fans for the false allegations. We declare with full responsibility that the information about violence is not true and there is no evidence that would prove any violent action.’
“It is not happening for the first time that Neli Dorokashvili, Nikoloz’s ex-wife, is trying to inflict moral, financial and reputation damage on Nikoloz and his family’
“After the divorce, Neli Dorokashvili sued Nikoloz Basilashvili’s mother about child abuse. The court considered the complaint and acquitted Basilashvili’s mother.”

Touching on the incident that is alleged to have taken place, the Basilashvili family has said that Dorokashvili broke into the property and tried to start a fight. However, the family statement didn’t address reports that Nodar Basilashvili, who introduced his son to tennis at the age of five, was issued with a restraining order.

“As for the May 21 incident, Neli Dorokashvili broke into the property of the parents of Nikoloz Basilashvili without permission, where she deliberately tried to provoke a conflict. Nevertheless, there was no any violent action against her, not even an attempt. Fortunately, there is evidence for this and the court will consider it on July 16, 2020,” the family insists.
“The trial continues. We believe that Nikoloz will prove his innocence very soon.”

The claims made by a journalist

Despite the calls to dismiss the case, one Georgian journalist has made an extraordinary claim in which she said that Basilashvili has a history of domestic abuse. Magda Kldiashvili, who is the former editor-in-chief of goal.ge, has claimed that the two have been separated for some time and there was a contract drawn up in which he has to pay his ex-wife 100,000 Georgian Lari per month. Their contract is said to be kept confidential according to the journalist. Furthermore, Kldiashvili claims the argument between the two started when Dorokashvili asked for her monthly payment to be increased from 100,000 to 300,000 Lari.

“I have behind-the-scenes information that Nikoloz Basilashvili has been abusing his wife for many years and they have been separated for many years,newsreport.ge quoted Kldiashvili as writing on Facebook.
“Neli Dorokashvili had a formal contract with her husband, according to which Basilashvili paid her one hundred thousand GEL every month. Basilashvili saw the child with the permission of a social worker and rarely!”

‘It might have been an axe’

The Recorder is one of the first news outlets to obtain a testimony from Dorokashvili herself on the incident. Contradicting a comment previously made by Kldiashvili, she said she has no idea as to why the alleged confrontation occurred. Although she claims that she was chased after by Basilashvili’s father Nodar who was holding what she ‘thought was an axe’ but is unsure.

“The reason for the controversy is still unclear to me, I just went to fetch my son,” Kldiashvili told The Recorder.
“An examination (investigation) has been conducted and is still ongoing. I was not expecting (him) to be released on bail.’
“At my sight, when I visited my son, I don’t know what happened, he (Nodar) was drunk or what he needed, I don’t know, he and his son chased me with some weapons.”
I can’t confirm what it was, because it had some big tarry, I think it was an axe.” She later added.

It is important to note that all three statements have not been verified and the police investigation is ongoing. The Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, is examining the case.

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World No.27 Nikoloz Basilashvili Facing Domestic Violence Charges

Multiple reports have confirmed that the former top 20 player has been released on bail ahead of a court hearing later this year.

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Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili has been arrested and will face court later this year over allegations of violence against his ex-wife.

 

The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that the tennis star was arrested on May 22nd. A day after he allegedly attacked his former partner, according to an official statement from the prosecution. The incident is said to have taken place on the outskirts of Tbilisi where Basilashvili has been accused of ‘physically attacking’ his ex-wife.

In the wake of the allegation, the world No.27 was hit with a 100, 000 GEL bail, which equates to just over $30,000 in US dollars. Although it has since been confirmed that the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia is demanding a pre-trial detention. Following the initial court session, lawyer Irma Tchkadua has said that Basilashvili denies any wrongdoing.

“He denies charges, as he has not committed anything. There is no evidence in the case”, Inter Presse News quoted the lawyer as telling reporters.

Radio Tavisupleba, which is the Georgian branch of Radio Free Europe, have obtained a statement from the head of the country’s national tennis association. Former Soviet player and 1973 Wimbledon finalist Alexander Metreveli has stated the organisation is firmly against all cases of violence.

“Everyone condemns the fact of violence. For us, because we all know Niko, it is an incredible topic … When a husband and wife leave (separate), there is always some disagreement, not only with Niko. I knew there was a problem,” he said.

The same news network has also reported that the father of Basilashvili has been issued with a restraining order in the wake of the alleged incident. It is unclear how that order is connected to this situation.

Basilashvili peaked at a career ranking high of 16th in the world last year. He has won three ATP 500 titles with two of those occurring in Germany where he won back-to-back titles in Hamburg. His best run at a grand slam was back in 2018 when he reached the fourth round of the US Open.

According to Georgian criminal code, if Basilashvili is found guilty he could face 200 to 400 hours of community service or between one and three years in prison.

A photo of Basilashvili attending his initial court hearing can be seen in the below tweet.

UPDATE:-

Since the publication of this article, The Public Defender of Georgia has confirmed that the alleged incident involving Basilashvili and his ex-wife took place in front of their child. Nino Lomjaria has already started to examine the case.

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