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

Patrick McEnroe beat 13 Top 10 players throughout his career, reaching the 28th spot in the ATP Rankings. Now a brilliant sports-caster, he is currently confined to his basement after being infected by the Coronavirus. In an exclusive video-chat, he talks about his new podcast and reminisces over his time as Davis Cup captain, and his memory is rife with anecdotes about Sampras, Agassi, Roddick, and of course his brother John.

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Patrick and John McEnroe (photo Art Seitz)

UbiTennis has been talking to some of the most eminent figures in the game. In the latest instalment, Ubaldo interviews Patrick McEnroe – a singles title won out of four finals, with a best ranking of N.28 in the world – and is joined by their mutual friend and colleague Steve Fink, a member of the Hall of Fame.

 

McEnroe tested positive to Covid-19, but has recovered and now feels a lot better, while still self-isolating in his New York home. Notoriously, Patrick is John McEnroe’s younger brother. Over the course of his career, he defeated 13 Top 10 players (including former and future ones): Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic (these two are the only ones who were actually among the best when he beat them), Richard Krajicek, Jimmy Connors, Alex Corretja, Brad Gilbert, Thomas Enqvist, Wayne Ferreira, Guy Forget, Henri Leconte, Andrei Chesnokov, Mikael Penfors and Marc Rosset. However, he never managed to get a win against his sibling, who held a 3-0 head-to-head record against him. Particularly notable is his semifinal run in the 1991 Australian Open, surviving a five-setter against an Italian, Cristiano Caratti, before bowing out against tournament winner Becker after winning the opening tie-break.

 

Video schedule

  • Minute 00:00: Patrick talks about self-isolation in his New York home after testing positive for Covid-19.
  • 08:00: He reminisces about defeating Italian Cristiano Caratti in the quarter finals of the 1991 Australian Open, coming up with the quote of the year during the press conference. His career is summarised.
  • 11:00 / 14:00 – McEnroe vs Becker and why he beat him twice.
  • 16:00 – The famous US Open 1st round match against Jimmy Connors all’US Open ‘91, and how his daughter still taunts his about how things went down that day.
  • 17:20 – “John didn’t want me to train with Connors!
  • 19:00 – “I was invited to a wedding that weekend, and I was forced to watch Connors on TV, taking the stage that could have been mine.”
  • 18:20: Patrick is facing John in the Chicago final, when a phone rings: “Dad, mum’s calling!”
  • 21:00 / 24:00 – He and Hlasek face Korda and John in the Basel final… John tells Korda to serve to Patrick’s forehand, but… after that match John wouldn’t talk to Patrick for a while…
  • 24:00 – More Chicago: “Had I won, John wouldn’t have talked to me for God knows how long. I won the first set…
  • 25:00 – Gianni Clerici said: “I’m not gay, but John’s volleying touch is so delicate…”
  • 26:00 – Patrick talks about his podcast, “Holding court with Patrick McEnroe”.
  • 26:00 / 30:00 – Is it harder to partner John on-court or in the press-box? His brother’s great team spirit.
  • 30:00 / 36:00 –His tenure as Davis Cup captain. His anecdotes on Sampras, Agassi, Roddick, Blake. His sole home-soil defeat against Croatia and how it is to work with the USTA.
  • 36:00 / 42:00 – How he managed to be a captain for a decade (more than anybody else) while John only lasted a year and a half. How to get along with the players without treating each of them the same way.
  • 41:00 / 47:00 – His podcast with tennis-loving celebrities, such as Alec Baldwin and Ben Stiller.
  • 47:00 – Patrick’s predictions on resuming play.
  • 48:00 / 52:00 – “I’d have the US Open behind closed doors if it were possible.” Which is likelier, that the French Open or Flushing Meadows will actually happen?

McEnroe is the latest in a series of tennis stars to have spoken with UbiTennis during the Tour shutdown. Previous interviews include discussing how tennis is like The Godfather with Mary Carillo, why Rod Laver wanted to kill Martin Mulligan and why cancelling Indian Wells was the right move in the view of owner Ray Moore. UbiTennis also learned about the match that destroyed the ‘winning will’ of Emilio Sanchez

 

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Steve Flink: “Medvedev Deserved To Win, But Is This Really The Onset Of A New Era?”

A commentary of the last edition of the ATP Finals to take place in London. The Russian isn’t graceful but can do it all, whereas Thiem used the sliced backhand far too much. Were Djokovic and Zverev distracted by their off court problems?

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Daniil Medvedev (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

The 2020 season ended with Daniil Medvedev’s win at the ATP Finals, the sixth different winner in the last six editions of the event, emerging victorious at the end of three tightly contested knockout matches. The Russian dominated the last few weeks of the season, winning in Bercy as well, but was his victory in London somewhat predictable?

UbiTennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and Mr Flink met up (remotely) to discuss the tournament and the omens for tennis in 2021. Here’s their chat: 

 

VIDEO SCHEDULE

0:58 – Medvedev swept through the ATP Finals – an expected triumph? “He beat the three best players in the world, that’s hardly predictable…” 

3:51 – “The Russian showed his mental strength, coming back to beat both Nadal and Thiem…” 

5:27 – “Djokovic had won 24 of the last 26 tie-breaks he had played, and 16 of the last 17 – how did he relinquish that 4-0 lead at 6-6 in the decider?” 

7:40 – A few words on the final: “Thiem wasted a few big chances in the second set, missing a fairly easy forehand touch near the net.” Did he employ the right strategy?  

11:46 – “The Austrian said that he would make the same choices, and we should remember that he had a tougher semifinal match…” 

14:34“Medvedev isn’t beautiful to watch, but that doesn’t seem to bother him…” 

16:54 – Is this the beginning of a new era? “We said the same thing when Zverev won the Finals in 2018 and when Tsitsipas did it last year…” Will the Australian Open take place in 2021?

20:51 – Djokovic is in the midst of a political struggle – was he distracted during the week he spent in London? 

27:24 – What about Sascha Zverev and the accusations that his former girlfriend moved against him – did those play a role in his early exit? 

29:14 – The first winner of the Finals was Stan Smith, the current president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame: “You and I have a job with the Hall of Fame now, don’t we?” 

32:08 – A final word on Daniil Medvedev – will he win a Major in 2021? “He’s definitely not winning the French Open, and I think that grass isn’t his best surface either, but he definitely has his chances on hardcourts.” 

Transcript by Lorenzo Andorlini; translated and edited by Tommaso Villa

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Steve Flink On The Decline Of American Men’s Tennis: “We Need To Start Attracting The Best Athletes Again”

UbiTennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta is back with a new video to talk about the crisis hitting the country that used to dominate the game until less than 20 years ago.

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After Mark Winters’ contribution, here is a new entry in our website’s enquiry into US tennis. This time another American, the Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink, tries to answer some recurring questions? Why are there no US players left at the top of the ATP Rankings? Could the trend be bucked? This and more in the following video:

 

00:00 – “The best American player is 35 and outside the Top 20, and the only up-and-coming standout appears to be 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima.” Is this the lowest point for US tennis?  

02:30 – “In 1973, there were 23 Americans in the world Top 100, six in the Top 20 and three in the Top 10.” What happened? Flink: “We had perhaps our greatest decade in the 1990s, and that is probably when things went awry…”

06:10 – Could this be a financial stability issue? “There aren’t many tennis players with a huge income, while in basketball, football, ice hockey or baseball the situation is different.”

07:40 – “The road to success and wealth in individual sports is certainly tougher, but Europe has the same issue vis-à-vis football, so what could be another factor in the decline?” The role of private investments: “The USTA federal programme was created in the late 1980s, but I do not think that an emphasis on public spending is the problem.” Could this be just a cyclical fluke?

14:00 – What if the issue was commitment? “You need to really want to succeed in tennis.”  

18:42 – Mark Winters’ theory revolves around this last theme, that there is no drive to reach the top of the game: “I’m not sure I agree, but he is an insider and certainly knows what he’s talking about.”

20:40 – “Tennis players now start to make real money between 23 and 25 years of age, how many can afford to wait that long while relying almost exclusively on prize money?”

24:15 – “There might be a continuity issue, because the USTA changes its president every four years, and that doesn’t allow the creation of a stable system.” The role of deputy chiefs.

27:45 – How much money is devoted to the development of youths in the US?

30:27 – “Over the years, I’ve noticed that coaches who are on a federal payroll tend to lack a little bit of that hunger…” Can a national movement rely on the investments of young players’ parents?

35:15 – Why is women’s tennis doing so much better in the US than the male counterpart? “Nobody really believed in Sampras, Agassi and their generation, so there is still hope for a sudden comeback…”

39:10 – The changing role of the college game in the US: “Does it still work as a preparation for high-level tennis, and do the players have the patience to wait before they start making money by turning pro?” Flink: “I think that the shifting towards success at an older age might help in this sense.”

42: 20 – The raging debate of American sports – should university athlete receive financial support besides scholarship money?

44:15 – “Could we interview Stacey Allaster, the USTA’s president, on these issues?”

47:00 – Is it be important for the game to have a successful player from a country hosting a Major?

48:15 – “It’s a shame that American and Australian tennis are lagging this far behind, but we need to recognise that the game wasn’t as global and globalised when they used to dominate…”

Transcript by Filippo Ambrosi; translation and editing by Tommaso Villa

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French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is inhuman. He can play three or four more years and retire with Djokovic”

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The CEO of UbiTennis Ubaldo Scanagatta comments on Sunday’s one-sided final. What has Nadal improved over the years? Had there ever been another player who was so dominant on one surface?

 

The magnitude of Rafa Nadal’s thirteenth French Open title certainly impressed our Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink, who atone for their botched prediction and compare these two phenoms who can appear unbreachable at their best, which is, very often. Here’s the analysis of Sunday’s final:

00:00 – “We were wrong in our prediction, but so were McEnroe, Wilander, Becker and Courier! However, the Swede foreshadowed a bit of what would happen…” Why did Djokovic look so tame?  

04:31 – “This was Nadal’s tactical masterpiece, he didn’t let Djokovic dictate the play.” How is the Spaniard still so quick around the court?

07:37 – “I think that Nadal is following in Federer’s footsteps in the way he preserves his body, the six months of inactivity he just had were the best thing to ever happen to him.” Will he play the ATP Finals at the O2 in November?

11:58 – What did Djokovic do wrong? “The overuse of the drop shot finally caught up with him…”

17:08 – Last year, Djokovic beat Nadal just as decisively in the Australian Open final – revenge time? “The opening set’s bagel was a half-truth to be honest, Djokovic had a few issues closing out matches this week…”

21:48 – “Even Borg pales in comparison to Nadal’s clay dominance!” Rafa lost just two matches at the French Open – could he have achieved a perfect record?

27:20 – A comparison between the two champions: “Nadal is better at the net while Djokovic has a serving edge, even though he didn’t really show that yesterday.” What about their groundstrokes and athleticism?

33:40 – Two aspects in which they are the very best are their defence and mental strength, but who comes out on top? Is Federer’s under-pressure game relatively subpar?

39:50 – “Djokovic seemed shocked after he realised that the conditions weren’t working in his favour as expected.” What were Nadal’s key adjustments?

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