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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[EXCLUSIVE] Alexei Popyrin: “I’m Not Going To The US Open, It’s Too Risky”

The young Aussie talks to UbiTennis about his career so far, spanning from his win against Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open to his recent participation in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. He envisions himself as a future Top 10 player, but he knows how hard he’ll need to work.

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The latest exclusive interview brought to you by Ubaldo Scanagatta and Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink centres on one of the hottest prospects in tennis, the Australian Alexei Popryrin.

 

Born in 1999, he is currently ranked 103rd in the world, but his career best ranking is at N.87. A lanky 6ft5 power baseliner, he self-describes himself as “funny but shy,” meaning that it takes him a while to get going with strangers, but my impression during the interview was of a maturity level well beyond his years – he has a sense of purpose and clear objectives, and he’s also fully aware of the commitment they entail. A Sydney native, his family is Russian, while his tennis upbringing mainly happened between Spain and France. He had an outstanding junior career, winning the 2017 French Open while on a streak of four consecutive titles. Among the Next Gen studs, he has the peculiar distinction of being the only one who actually prefers long matches: he has an 8-6 record in the Slams, and he’s won at least a match in each of them, whereas he’s still finding his feet at the two-out-of-three level, where he is still required to play the qualies.

Here’s the interview:

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00: introductory statements.

01:09: The Ultimate Tennis Showdown: “An unbelievable experience, everyone is enjoying it! About the cards…”

04:13: A true citizen of the world, he talks about his globetrotting and diverse background…

05:51: Did he expect to climb the rankings more quickly?

10:20: His best win, against Thiem at the 2019 Australian Open: “To play an injured opponent is often very tricky!”

12:29: “The Australian media are very supportive; I don’t feel the pressure at all.” His relationship with his peer, Alex De Minaur, as well as with Nick Kyrgios…

16:15: His first-ever coach is 1980 Australian Open finalist Kim Warwick (who is still a member of his team). Warwick is noted in Italy for wasting 11 match points against Adriano Panatta at the
1976 Italian Open- did he ever tell Alexei about it?

21:03: His third-round encounter Matteo Berrettini at last year’s US Open: “Don’t remind me about what happened in the fourth set!”

26:06: “I’m not going to Flushing Meadows, the bubble is still very much up in the air. About the French Open’s plan to go for a 50-60% crowd capacity…”

31:11: His rapport with Pat Cash, who joined his team for the 2019 grass season but now coaches an American player, Brandon Nakashima.

Text translated by Tommaso Villa

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Chris Evert: “Navratilova and I transcended the game”

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Chris Evert at Wimbledon 2017 (photo Art Seitz)

The American legend reminisces on her long and incomparable career, and chimes in on Serena Williams and the US Open.

 

It feels almost uncomfortable to even attempt to summarise the achievements of today’s guest, because Chris Evert’s career is so extraordinary that it would require oodles of metaphorical ink. Anyway, here it goes, in a very compressed rendition: 18 Slam titles (seven at the French Open, six at the US Open on two different surfaces, three at Wimbledon, two at the Australian Open) with at least one victory for 13 straight years (she didn’t even compete in every event, nor were the Majors the biggest priority for female players back then, as she told us during the interview); 260 weeks as the world N.1 (she finished the year as the top-ranked player seven times); 52 semis and 54 quarters reached out of the 56 Slams she entered; 125 consecutive wins on clay with a final win percentage of 94.28 on the dirt – in short, Evert exegete Steve Flink and I had a chat with Tennis History herself. Nowadays, she helms a successful Academy in Florida with her brother John (it actually bears his name), works as an analyst for ESPN, and also serves as a publisher for “Tennis”.

THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW

Chat live with Chris Evert and Steve Flink

Pubblicato da Ubitennis su Martedì 7 luglio 2020

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00: introduction. After all this time, does Chris ever get bored while hearing her accomplishments listed over and over again?

03:49: “Luckily, I have so many unforgettable moments for me! Perhaps the one I cherish the most is the first time I entered the US Open, or the last two French Open titles. However, my rivalry with Martina will always hold a special place in my heart…”

07:26: Were the Slams as important back then? “We were the first professional league for women, so we had a duty to promote that…”

13:44: Steve Flink is the greatest living Evert expert, but does he know how many times she won in Rome?

17:00: Serena Williams and Margaret Court’s 24-Slam record: “You have to feel for her, just look at how her four final opponents played…”. Is she still competitive?

25:40: Was Serena’s defeat against Roberta Vinci at the 2015 US Open the biggest upset ever?

30:42: Her broadcasting career: “I had a few initial hiccups, but after opening an Academy with my brother…”

36:56: What does the women’s game need to stay relevant – a rivalry, a Serena-style dictatorship, or competitive balance?

41:53: “My longevity at the top is something I’m exceedingly proud of!” Her final Wimbledon run, and a bout she refused to concede…

47:34: “My father was the driving tennis force in my family – my sister Jeanne played on the Virginia Slims Circuit like me, and my other three siblings all won tennis scholarships!” Throwback to when she needed to phone her parents after her matches because they didn’t go live on TV.

50:52: Her career-revamping win against Tracy Austin, who had beaten her five times in a row, at the 1980 US Open: “I had some good advice from former Australian player Don Candy…”. How important is it to know the opponent’s game?

58:06: Is the US Open going to happen? Who had the better behaviour during the lockdown, the WTA or the ATP?

01:01:52: Will Nadal go to New York? What about Djokovic?

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[EXCLUSIVE] Patrick Mouratoglou: “I’m A Salesman, Not A Liar”

Speaking to UbiTennis, the French coach and creator of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown touched on many subjects, including on-court behaviour, the Adria Tour fiasco, and Serena Williams’ future.

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The Ultimate Tennis Showdown ended a few days ago with Matteo Berrettini’s victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

A few hours before the semi-finals, UbiTennis’s Ubaldo Scanagatta and Alessandro Stella interviewed via Zoom the man behind the event, Patrick Mouratoglou, to discuss the success of the first iteration of his experiment (the second is already in the works, and will take place before the US Open), a subject that was covered in a separate piece, which can be read here.

However, Mouratoglou is notoriously outspoken, and delved into several themes, including some of the hot topics circulating around the tennis stratosphere, which are summarised in the next few lines.

THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW

VIDEO SCHEDULE

3:45 – Was the UTS a success? Mouratoglou has no doubts whatsoever.

7:15 – A few technical notes: how were the viewers profiled? Was a new viewership lured in by the rule changes? What was the impact of social media? “I’m a salesman, not a liar,” he quipped.

9:19 – “The ATP and the WTA weren’t happy about my comments on the age of tennis fans growing higher? We have data to back it up, so I’m surprised they took it that way.” Are the people who go to watch tennis the same who follow the game on TV?

13:45 – More comments on social media: “I’m not saying they will be our future, but we certainly need them…”

17:38 – A few decades ago, it was easier for journalists to gain access to the players – is this the kind of proximity that the game has lost?

21:51 – Should the players be allowed to express their emotions and perhaps lose their temper? Wouldn’t it be counterproductive for their game? “Well, just look at John McEnroe…”

23:55 “According to my staff, 80-90% of a tennis match is “dead air”, mostly revolving around the players’ routines – the ball is in play for just 10-20% of the time.”

27:45 – “The players need to understand that press conferences are vital to their personal brand…”

30:14 “We’ll be hosting the second round of the UTS before the US Open. We want to have some female players in there.” Can the UTS run besides the main tours?

31:53 “Everybody wants to play a Slam, but will the players have to quarantine once they get back from New York? If that will be the case, I believe that many will skip the US Open.”

SERENA WILLIAMS

34:45 – Was she a little too optimistic when she was asked about the US Open? “When she spoke, the situation was looking far better than it does now…” Will the tournament actually happen now?

36:00 – “She’s planning to play the Cincinnati Masters in New York; it can be dangerous to play a Slam without some match time in your legs…”

39:00 – Will he go to New York to coach her? “There are no restrictions for Europeans going to the US, so I should be able to go. I believe she can still win a Major; however, she needs to be at her best.” Is she training now? Does Patrick have any way to oversee her preparation?

THE MEN’S GAME

42:35 “Berrettini really impressed me during the UTS. I didn’t know him beforehand, but his motivation level is outstanding, and his backhand has improved a lot…”

44:20 – Will there be a new Slam champion in 2020? “I heard that that Spanish bloke is going to play in Paris, so the only question is who he will win against! However, if Nadal and Djokovic don’t go to New York… I think that Medvedev and Thiem might have a chance. The issue is that to win a Slam you need to beat at least two of the greatest of all time…”

47:18 – The Djokovic affair now: “Life in Europe has almost gone back to normal, but if you’re a superstar like he is, you are supposed to be a role model. I think he made a mistake, but who doesn’t? It’s far too easy to criticise him while sitting on a couch.”

50:52 – On Kyrgios: “This is him; he tends to exaggerate and to be incendiary. That is why people gravitate towards him, he’s interesting and people love that – how many players can sell out a stadium crowd besides him?” Would he be a good fit for the UTS?

BACK TO THE WTA

54:30 – Who would be his picks for a female version of his league? “You know who the first one would be – a hint: I work for her! Then Coco Gauff, Cornet, Putinsteva, Giorgi… The idea is to have players with different playing styles, that’s why I called Feliciano Lopez.”

56:25 – Is it true that female players tend to have more interesting personalities? “Coaching is allowed, and that’s the key…”

59:30 – Closure with Serena – did motherhood change her? – and some banter about the infamous Mouratoglou-induced rant during the final against Osaka in New York…

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