(EXCLUSIVE) Stan Smith: "Some People Still Think I'm A Shoe" - UBITENNIS
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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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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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