A Chat With Thiago Seyboth Wild: The First ATP Champion Born In 2000 And The First Player To Get COVID-19 - UBITENNIS
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A Chat With Thiago Seyboth Wild: The First ATP Champion Born In 2000 And The First Player To Get COVID-19

Aged only 20, he’s considered one of the hottest prospects in tennis. His wildest dream: to win the French Open final against Rafa Nadal.

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Ranked 114th in the world, on March 3rd Thiago Seyboth Wild celebrated his 20th birthday, and yet he had already won his first ATP tournament, in Santiago, Chile, right before the tennis action was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Becoming the youngest Brazilian to ever win a tournament, and also the first teenager to win a title after Alex De Minaur’s exploits in Sydney last year. He is coached by Joao Zvetsch and by his father Claudio Ricardo Wild, who manages a tennis academy. His mother, Gisela Christine Seyboth, is a doctor, and he also has a sister named Luana.

 

Thiago is fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish. He was born in Marechal Candido Rondon (in the state of Paranà, in the micro-region of Toledo), and moved to Rio at the age of 15. His favourite surface is clay. He’s an avid football fan, supporting Gremio FC and club captain Pedro Geromel. He aspires to play at the same level of intensity shown by his idol Rafa Nadal and defines himself as a brave player when it comes to the key points of the match, even though sometimes he feels he’s too lazy.

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00:00: His last name “Wild” is not to be read as the identical English word. The letter “W”, in fact, is to be pronounced with a German accent, a clear homage to his roots.
01:30: A recap of his win in Santiago, after he unexpectedly received a wild card to compete in the tournament. Special mention for the match against Garin…
04:50: The win over Ruud. Thiago was down 3-1 15-40 in the final set…
06:00: His coach has some Italian heritage; as a matter of fact, his complete family name is Pinnuzzi Zvetsch.
07:00: Thiago discusses getting infected by the Coronavirus…
08:40: The Covid-19 situation in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
10:00: “I’m not shocked, just very sad. Two friends of mine got Covid-19, but thankfully they’re fine now”.
11.45: His plans for the US Open: would he go or not?
12:00: “I don’t have to many ATP points to defend…”
13:00: He talks about the good bond with fellow brazilians Guga Kuerten, Melo, Bellucci. Where do they usually train?
14:00: Guga Kuerten’s influence. “He’s so popular even outside the tennis world…” Does he know much about Maria Esther Bueno, the greatest Brazilian female player of all time, inducted in the hall of fame in 1987?
16:30: “When I was 12 I went to San Paolo to watch the Brazilian championships and while I was watching Bellucci playing I thought…” Is he already well-known in his home country?
18:00: The biggest difference between Challenger and ATP events.
18:50: His Junior Slam final against an Italian, Lorenzo Musetti.
20:00: I love Nadal, I started watching and playing tennis when he was already the man.”
21:00: “If I could have dinner with three different players, I’d pick…”
21:46: US Open or Roland Garros?
22:00: His playing style: “I like to hit flat, I don’t like players that spin too much the ball 10 feet behind the baseline….”
24:00: “You need to be professional and mature in this circus. I always had tennis as my first priority. I never took a day off in training, even early in the morning, just to go to some party.”
25:00: His thoughts on another Italian, the NextGen champion Jannik Sinner.
27:00: His main goal is easy to understand, just go to 27-minute mark…
28:00: What’s his dream victory? Same as before, watch the video and just know that he has some lofty objectives…
29:00: His favourite shots.
30:00: Aspects of his game that he’s working on. Tennis and chess?
32:00: Watching YouTube videos to scout his opponents.
32:45: His thoughts on the new Davis Cup.
34:00: “My dad played tennis too, I don’t know about his ranking though. He played in Nice, Lille… my parents didn’t really want me to become a professional tennis player, they would rather me to choose a normal life, but it wasn’t my intention.”
35:00: “My parents never forced me to choose any path. I think they’d come to New York if I manage to get to play there.”
36:00: Would he change any rules?
37:00: He finishes the interview in style…

Translated by Antonio Flagiello; edited by Tommaso Villa

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[EXCLUSIVE] Brandon Nakashima: “I Love Federer, But My Game Resembles More Djokovic’s”

Nakashima speaks to UbiTennis about his liveliest memory of training with Nadal at Wimbledon. The duels he had with Lorenzo Musetti and Tseng Chun-Hsin, the high praise for Sebastian Korda and Hugo Gaston. Why he doesn’t like clubbing and what his new coach Pat Cash has been advising him to do.

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The latest instalment of UbiTennis’ video series sees Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink speak with Brandon Nakashima. An 18-year-old American tennis star born on August 3, 2001, who goes by the nickname B-Nak.

 

He is at No.220 in the ATP Rankings (with a career best at 218) and is second-best among those who were born in 2001, trailing only Jannik Sinner. His surname is of Japanese origin, but it was his Vietnamese maternal grandfather who initiated him to the game of tennis when he was three. He is 1.85 metres tall and weighs 78 kilograms. He was born in San Diego, and his father Wesley was also born in California – his parents are both pharmacists. He played for the University of Virginia, where he was the Freshman of the Year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, before moving on to the pros.

Since Delray Beach, in February, he’s been working with Pat Cash, immediately reaching the quarter finals and beating four Top 100 players. His best shot is his two-handed backhand, and his favourite player is Federer. A superb athlete, he is considered the best American prospect. He is self-described as shy, but he actually isn’t that much, once he gets going. He loves sushi, but also admits to having a sweet tooth. Given the status of some of his victims, it can be assumed that he’s already better than his ranking.

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00:00: Introduction and recap of his highest-profile wins.

03:40: His behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic: “I wear a mask whenever I’m outside. I’ve been trying to stay cautious as much as possible in public areas”. He also appreciates the chance of being able to train at some local private courts.

05:07: The special relationship with his grandfather: “My mom’s dad is from Vietnam. He first started to get me out on the court when I was about three and a half years old, just feeding me balls at a local park and from that time onward I started practicing more and more everyday”.

06:45: Bonding with his main coach, Pat Cash, during the pandemic.

07:38: Cash claims he noticed immediately Brandon’s “extraordinary racquet control” – does he think that this is his best quality too?

08:42: Their first meeting: “We had a couple of mutual friends; at the time I had just turned pro and I was looking for a good coach…”

11:53: His idols growing up: “I always liked to watch Federer play, but I think now my game is more similar to Djokovic’s”.

12:40: The experience of hitting with Nadal: “A couple of years ago I was playing the junior Wimbledon tournament…”

14:36: His thoughts on the best future prospects…

17:20: His transition as a pro aged only 17: “It was crucial on and off the court for me to go to college and to then play a full season at 17 [Editor’s Note: at the University of Virginia], it helped my game and made me mature as a person. I’d advise most players to go to college and get that experience…”

19:45: Recapping his best junior Slam results.

21:25: Developing his game with Pat Cash: “During these training blocks here in California, we definitely decided to work a lot on the transition and net game to add more variety into my game…”

23:55: What are his current plans? “It’s tough to plan tournaments right now since we don’t know when or if they’re even starting…”

25:35: How does he feel about the issue of playing behind closed doors? “It will be interesting, everybody is so used to people watching, so I think most players will find it maybe a little weird at the beginning…”

26:47: His off-court life: “I try to relax and have fun. I like playing other sports, on days off I play golf with friends or relax at home watching TV, just getting the mind away from tennis. I don’t like going to dance or clubs, it never was my type of feeling of going out; I like a more chill state with my friends.”

30:04: His knowledge of tennis history.

31:30: Where does Brandon see himself in 2022/23? “The goal is to keep improving my results and my rankings, and maybe…”

33:20: After the Big Three era, who is his pick to become the next world N.1?

36:10: Pat Cash’s most frequent tip: “I have to train to get ready for the Slams…”

Article written and translated by Tommaso Villa

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(EXCLUSIVE) Stan Smith: “Some People Still Think I’m A Shoe”

Despite being “Mr.100 million pairs”, Smith has been at the top of the rankings (albeit without the computerized system to certify the achievement), has won two Slams on his way to over 100 titles, and has been part of a record-breaking seven winning Davis Cup teams. He’s the current president of the Hall of Fame.

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Stan Smith, the 6-foot-4 American champion, was born in Pasadena on December 14, 1946, and is considered by some to have been the best player in the world between 1971 and 1972, before the ATP Rankings as we know them were introduced. But how many tournaments did he actually win?

 

According to the ATP website, Smith has 36 titles in singles and 54 in doubles under his belt… but that’s without adding the pre-ATP victories to the haul. To be honest, though, he doesn’t seem certain of the definitive amount himself. However, as Bud Collins said, “Stan is a bona fide Centennial.” A couple Slams are part of his resumé, and they could have been more, while he also won five in doubles (when doubles were still “a serious business,” in his own words), out of a grand total of 17 finals. To be precise, he reached 13 showdowns in the men’s doubles (10 with Bob Lutz, with 5 victories, and 3 more, all losses, with either Van Dillen or Gorman), one in the mixed doubles, which he won partnering Rosie Casals, and three in the singles (he lost at Wimbledon in ’71 against Newcombe, but won a couple months later at Forest Hills against Kodes before triumphing a year later at SW19 versus Nastase).

He also won the first year-end Masters event, surviving a round-robin tournament in Tokyo, in 1970, and, more importantly, he is the only seven-time winner of the Davis Cup, along with Bill Tilden. This chat will feature some unbelievable anecdotes, such as the two years he spent without talking to Ion Tiriac after what happened in the Davis Cup final in 1972, or the heart-breaking losses against Kodes and Rosewall in two Slam semis, matches he lost after squandering match points. Stan will also show us the trophies he won in Tokyo, New York, and London. Finally, he’ll show us some of his eponymous shoes (which have sold over 100 million pairs), and everything will be topped off with same trademark banter with me and Steve Flink.

VIDEO SCHEDULE:

Minute 00: How many tournaments has Stan Smith won, and why was he unlucky?

02:50: Playing mixed doubles with the diminutive Rosie Casals

03:32: All the best players used to play both singles and doubles, up to Connors and Borg…

04:21: The NCAA tennis tournament (the university championships in the US) and all the great champions who won it in the past, from Ashe to Smith himself to McEnroe, who did it after reaching the Wimbledon semifinals as a qualifier. Who are the collegiate players that have found pro success in the last few years? Stan, the last graduate to win his maiden Slam (although the last graduate to win is Arthur Ashe). When Ubaldo beat an NCAA champion – to Stan’s utter amazement!

11:56: “I realised I’d be among the world’s best when I beat Laver and Rosewall in Tokyo…” What Rosewall said about him… Here’s trophy #1!

13:56: Trophy #2, the US Open. Stan reminisces on that tournament and on his defeat at Newcombe’s hands in the 1971 Wimbledon final.

18:17: Some unexpected tactical advice from Pancho Segura, who also coached Connors and Chang, propelled him to beat Jan Kodes at Forest Hills… What kind of player was Segura?

21:05: Boycotting Wimbledon in 1973 for a guy who wasn’t particularly liked by his peers…

22:47: The WCT win against Ashe in 1973, in front of… Ben Hur! A hallmark event in Ubaldo’s career.

25:26: Lamar Hunt’s party in Dallas where Ubaldo met Stan’s future wife. A very shy teenager called John McEnroe and the likenesses between him and Nastase…

29:14: The 1972 Wimbledon final against the Romanian, one of the greatest matches of all time. His Davis Cup record against Nastase, who still thinks Smith was lucky against him. That with Billie Jean King before the final, a good omen?

33:41: The Davis Cup final in Bucharest and Tiriac’s concocting ploys to cheat the trophy out of the Americans’ hands… How to deal with security and guns after the terrorist attack against the Israeli team at the 1972 Olympics – two members of the American Davis Cup team were Jewish. Smith had won at SW19, Nastase at Forest Hills. Tiriac’s 100th tie: “Should I shake hands with him after what he’s done?”

40:58: That tie was remembered with a 30th anniversary party in Bucharest, culminating in a doubles exhibition match between the same four players. Remembering when Stan stopped talking to Tiriac, who now has a private jet…

44:05: Smith shows us the replica of the Renshaw Cup, Trophy #3!

44:51: Those two semifinal matches he lost after having match points in his favour, one against Kodes at Forest Hills (1973) and one against Rosewall at Wimbledon (1974): “Had I beaten Ken…”

49:27: The new Davis Cup versus the ATP Cup and the Laver Cup.

57:00: Smith is the current president of the International Hall of Fame. He tells us how hard it was to promote the whole endeavour, both as a concept and from a financial standpoint…

1:02:56: Stan’s Top 6 ever in the men’s game: “One of them is the current GOAT, another will overtake him. When Borg won his 6th French Open title…”

1:07:02: More GOAT debate. Head-to-head comparison versus years spent at N.1. The role of the crowd.

1:08:00: Was anybody ever cherished as much as Federer? The sport’s greatest personalities.

1:10:47: Does Stan agree with Patrick Mouratoglou, who thinks that there are no more huge personalities in tennis?

1:13:01: Ubaldo’s children’s Stan Smith shoes, and some very special shoe models…

1:15:26: Some people wore the crocodile without knowing who Lacoste was, then it happened with Fred Perry and his laurel: “That’s why the title of my book was ‘Stan Smith, some people think I am a shoe’!”

1:16:53: Stan’s four children and his Tennis Academy.

Article written by Tommaso Villa

 

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[EXCLUSIVE VIDEO] Borna Coric: “My Dream Is To Win Wimbledon Beating Federer”

Chief Editor Ubaldo Scanagatta chats with Croatian player Borna Coric about the lockdown, tennis’ immediate future, his past coaches and his Wimbledon dream

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01:35 – How did you spend the lockdown?

As soon as the pandemic started, I went to Split, renting a house in the woods where I set up my own gym. I worked physically for five weeks, playing tennis only a couple of times. Then I took a week off and I went to Zadar, about two hours away from my house in Zagreb, and I had a two-week tennis camp.

04:26 – Do you keep in touch with other players in this uncertain period?

I talk to a couple of guys, I discussed with them about the ideas being proposed of having the Cincinnati tournament in New York. I don’t know what to expect, there’s not much I can do about it. I try not to worry about it, it would be a waste of time to think about it too much. I am ready to play, the new rules will be tough, I have not made up my mind about whether it would be good to go to New York. It will not be perfect this year, it will be tough to play without fans, but if we have a chance to play a few tournaments maybe we should do it.

08:18 – Will Federer 2021 be a repeat of Federer 2017?

We have been saying he’s too old for 10 years. So until he says he stops playing tennis I will never count him out.

09:27 – How did you keep in touch with your team during the pandemic?

My physio and fitness coach were with me in Split, and I met with my coach Martin Stepanek in Zadar after I had not seen him since Indian Wells.

10:26 – You have changed quite a few coaches throughout your career. What would you say the reason is?

With some of them, it had nothing to do with me. I didn’t want to say the reason publicly and I believe that may have been a mistake. Some of them had family issues, with others we were not agreeing on what to do with my tennis. I am definitely not an easy person to work with, I always look for perfection.
One of the main reasons I split with Riccardo Piatti was his commitment to other players so that he could not concentrate on me. There were other reasons I don’t want to disclose, but he helped me a lot in my career, and it was great for me to be in Bordighera, away from the distractions I have in Zagreb.

14:45 – What do you think of Sinner? What are your thoughts about him?

The first time I saw him in 2018 I thought he was average, but then the last time I played with him in April 2019 he had made huge progress, with a big game, big shots. In modern tennis it is very important to have weapons and he has big weapons.

16:24 – You were the youngest player in the Top 100 in 2014, the youngest player in Top 50 in 2015, then you started to have physical problems

Yes, I stayed between 35 and 50 for almost three years. I am a great example of a kid who did not improve his game. I did not train well, my focus was not where it needed to be. Those very early results distracted me, I got too relaxed, thinking everything would come automatically. Sinner has a great team around him that can keep him grounded and make him improve.

19:13 – How high a priority is for you to represent Croatia in team competitions and at the Olympics?

I do not have plans to make a special preparation for the Olympics, for us the season is very long. I would not play the week before the Games as “preparation” but for us it is not for the guys running the 400 meters.

21:17 – When you were excluded from the Davis Cup team for the final in Zagreb in 2016, was it the saddest moment of your career?

For sure it was. I was not happy about many of the things that happened in that final. I felt I deserved to be in the team – I was injured, so maybe I was not good enough to play, but I should have been in the team.
But winning the Davis Cup final in 2018 was the happiest moment, even more than beating Federer twice. When I was playing Roger I was playing for myself, while in Davis Cup I was representing my country and everybody was behind me.

27:05 – It feels that in tennis Serbian and Croatian players are quite good friends on tour despite all that’s happened in the past. Is it true?

Absolutely! One of my best friends on tour Filip Krajinovic, is Serbian. I speak to him once a week I will go to his place in Belgrad to train for a week on 15 July. I am aware of the past, I know there are a lot of people who still think about it and cannot forget about it. But I spend time with some of the Serbian guys, I think they are great guys, I hope they think the same of me.

29:01 – How difficult is it for you to switch from one surface to another?

It’s easy to switch from hard to clay, it’s a lot tougher to switch from clay to hard, it takes about two weeks. It’s difficult to say anything about grass because sometimes I feel very good, sometimes I feel very bad.

36:03 – What is the tournament you would like to win the most, and beating whom in the final?

Wimbledon beating Roger in the final. Maybe next year.

37:04 – Do you think it’s easier we will play in Europe in 2020 rather than in the USA?

I heard many options, but I will use this time for myself, to do the things I never get the chance to do. I have not read any email about this topic, because I will know within an hour anyway. I don’t want to think about this because it will bother me. I want to spend this time enjoying summer in Croatia, which I never get to do. Weather has not been great yet, but in 15 days it will get better, the sea will get warmer, people will come to the beach.

39:50 – What is your favourite beach in Croatia?

I love Zadar because it is partly my own town. There is a very calm beach, it’s for older people, you would enjoy it Ubaldo…
But if you go to Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik, that’s more lively: parties, girls, etc…

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