Pat Cash Exclusive: Novak Djokovic Is Better Than Nadal and Federer - UBITENNIS
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Pat Cash Exclusive: Novak Djokovic Is Better Than Nadal and Federer

The 1987 Wimbledon champion talks about his famous climb in the stands, and reminisces on the glory days of the Davis Cup. Also: the match point against Lendl in New York and that Swedish teenager who never missed; what makes the Big Three stand out and how his body would have coped in today’s game; his stance on vaccines, similar to Nole’s.

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UbiTennis brings you one more exclusive interview during the tours’ hiatus, and, as usual, Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink joins the party.

 

This time, our guest is none other than Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion. Now 55 years old (his birthday was six days ago), the Aussie’s best results in the other Slams are two finals at his home tournament (in 1987 and 1988, on two different surfaces), a semi-final at the US Open (in 1984), and a fourth round at the French Open (in 1988). Throughout his career, he won seven titles in singles, twelve in doubles, and two Junior Slams (Wimbledon and the US Open, both in 1982 as a 17-year-old). He also reached the fourth spot in the rankings in May of 1988 and was a member of two Davis Cup-winning teams, in 1983 and in 1986. He now coaches an 18-year-old American, Brandon Nakashima, currently ranked 220th in the world, the second-best among those born in 2001.

Minute 01 – Introduction

04 – Pat Cash recalls training in Milan with an unknown Swede: “He didn’t miss a shot for 20 minutes, I got scared because I thought my level wasn’t good enough. Turns out that his name was Mats Wilander.” 

06 – However, Pat actually beat Wilander five times out of nine meetings (four while he was a Top 10 player), so Steve asked him why he felt so comfortable against him. 

11 – “I knew I’d lose that final against him in Melbourne as soon as I opened the ball cans…” Would Wilander agree? 

12 – The other loss in an Australian Open final, the year before against another Swede, Stefan Edberg. “We ran into each other during the night…” 

15 – “It’s sad to walk through Melbourne Park’s hallways and look at the pictures of every Australian Open champion without seeing myself among them…” 

16 – Cash suffered countless injuries – would he have fared better today? “I never thought Nadal would make it past the age of 28…” 

22 – That 1984 US Open semifinal, perhaps the best Super Saturday ever. He lost after failing to convert a match point against Lendl: “I just copied Mac’s tactics!” 

25 – McEnroe himself had something to say to Pat the day after… 

27 – The kerfuffle with a journalist who asked him about waving his middle finger during the Lendl match… 

29 – The 1987 Championships – one set lost against Schapers before steamrolling past Forget, Wilander, Connors and Lendl. 

31 – “I never felt as much as pressure as I did in the Davis Cup…” 

34 – Wimbledon again. “Borg and Connors were the only ones who could win the Championship from the baseline, Lendl and Wilander just didn’t have my serve-and-volley skills.” The post-winning banter of his friends…  

36 – “I had a good psychologist… the grass was replanted for the final, I had never played on such a slippery surface, but it’s important to be able to adapt, and I was more agile than Ivan.” 

38 – His famous climb in the stands on Centre Court, the first ever. 

44 – Davis Cup vs ATP Cup vs Laver Cup. “Agassi and Sampras ruined the Davis Cup. Madrid was the wrong city for the finals, in Australia would have packed the arena!” “The Laver Cup is an exhibition but it somehow got the best available week…” 

58 – The Coronavirus. “My girlfriend and my son had it, I didn’t have any symptoms…” Vaccination or not? 

1:05 –Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. “They’re not normal people! Federer would have been exceptional in every era, while Rafa and Novak…” Federer is the most entertaining to watch, but who is the best? Can you be the best ever if you’re not the best in your time?

1:10  “The Slams are not everything!” The case for Laver and Rosewall. 

1:12 – Tennis and technology. “Nadal took the game to a whole new level with his topspin and endurance. Djokovic has no flaws; he’s even become good at the net!” 

1:13 – Who would he pay to watch among the Fab Four? His favourite player is a certain hot-headed Italian… 

1:14 – Federer’s head-to-head with Rafa, and the Swiss’s incredible streaks in the Slams. “You can’t learn to play like him!” 

1:17 – Who’s the best musician among himself, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah? “Noah is a professional, you can’t really compare! However, the real rockstar was Vitas Gerulaitis.” Partying with the Stones… 

1:19 – How’s coaching? Pat tells us about his Academies all over the planet. “My way of thinking about the game is different now, and some of my strokes are better than they were in ’87!” 

1:24 – The differences in coaching men and women. What to tell them after a defeat, and who needs more support. His new protégé, Brandon Nakashima. 

1:30 – The 109 titles won by Connors, as compared to Federer’s and Laver’s. The WCT Finals, and partying with Gerulaitis.

Translated by Tommaso Villa

 

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Jannik Sinner takes the positives from his defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Jannik Sinner has taken the positives from his straight-set defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter final at the Australian Open. The Italian 20-year-old star believes that the experience will help him to continue improving. 

 

“It’s a positive tournament. I think that what I have to improve is tennis in general. I have to serve better. I have to serve better, I have to do everything more, especially when you play against the top guys. My goal is to play many matches like this, important matches against the best guys in the world, and then we see and then I grow. I think it was good. I played matches, and I had a good experience. Let’s see what I can do here next year. I think I can go back with a positive mindset, knowing that I have to improve many things. There is a lot of work”, said Sinner. 

Sinner praised Tsisipas, who has extended his win-loss record to 3-1 in the four head-to-head matches against his Italian opponent. 

“I think he played better than me than me today. He served better. He moved the ball better than me. He was moving better than me. It’s tough to play against him when he plays like that. I could not generate the power that I would have wanted. I was trying to move him, but I was maybe a little bit too far back because he played incredible today. I didn’t have many chances. Especially he was serving well, so returning his serves was not easy. My return serves were not so good, especially when he had second serves, or I played very short or I missed. This is why he didn’t play so many second serves. I tried to step a little bit closer, tried to open the court, but today it was tough. I know what what I have to improve many things. This was a lesson for me”, said Sinner. 

Sinner, who was making his third appearance at the Australian Open, dropped just one set en route to his second Grand Slam quarter final two years after losing to Rafael Nadal in this stage at Roland Garros in 2020. 

“In the past few months I have matured as a player in many aspects, but above alla s a person. This is the most important aspect. 

Sinner has become the fifth Italian male player to advance to the last eight in Melbourne after Matteo Berrettini, who beat Gael Monfils in five sets reaching the semifinal the previous day. Berrettini has reached at least the quarter finals at all four Grand Slam tournaments. With a win over Rafael Nadal in the semifinal of the Australian Open, Berrrettini would become joint second Italian player for most Grand Slam semifinals in history alongside Adriano Panatta, who won Roland Garros in 1976. Sinner reached a career-high world number 10 last November. When Berrettini was that age, he had never been inside the top 500. 

Sinner has a bigger respect for his friend Berrettini on and off the court. 

“I enjoy watching Matteo’s matches. I admire him as a player and as a person. We are good friends I wish him all the best for the next matches. During the ATP Cup we practiced on the court and I now know him better. I have learnt a lot from training with him. Matteo is a very good guy. We get along well. Our rivalry is helping us to push beyond our limits”, said Sinner.

Sinner will return to the court to play at the Rotterdam ATP 500 indoor-court tournament. 

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Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis secure the semifinal spot in the Australian Open doubles tournament

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Australian wild cards Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios knocked out sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 7-5 3-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 15 minutes to advance to the semifinals in the doubles tournament on Kia Arena at the Australian Open in Melbourne. 

 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios hit 25 aces and won 86% of their first service points. 

Kokkinakis and Kirgyos, who won the Wimbledon Junior title in the doubles together, earned the only break in the 11th game to claim the first set 7-5. The Aussies fired 13 aces and won 91% of his first serve points. 

Puetz and Venus broke Kyrgios in the second game at deuce in the second game and saved four break points to hold serve at deuce for 3-0. The early break was enough for Puetz and Venus to seal the second set. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis broke Puetz to love to open up a 3-1 lead. The home team fended off a break point in the seventh game to move ahead 5-2 and closed out the third set 6-3 with a double break in the ninth game.

The Aussie doubles team have never won a doubles Grand Slam title, but have won a singles ATP title each with different players. Kyrgios won the 2018 ATP Tour title with Jack Sock, while Kokkinakis claimed the Brisbane International with Jordan Thompson in 2017. 

“We are stoked with the win. We came big in the big points”, said Kokkinakis. 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios recorded their third consecutive win against a seeded team to reach their first Grand Slam semifinal. 

“It’s been incredible. Another tough win. I think that’s probably the toghest pair that we have played. They brought some serious tennis today and it wasn’t easy”, said Kyrgios. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis set up a semifinal clash against Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who took down John Peers and Filip Polasek 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in 1 hour and 49 minutes. Granollers and Zeballos fended off a set point on serve at 5-6 30-40 in the first set, before breaking twice in the second set to close out the match. The Argentine and Spanish team have won six titles as a team, including four Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal 2019, Rome 2020, Madrid and Cincinnati in 2021. 

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“It was crazy” – Kaia Kanepi Ousts Australian Open Second Seed Aryna Sabalenka In An Epic

The Estonian is through to the last eight at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career.

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World number 115 Kaia Kanepi produced one of the shocks of the tournament to send Aryna Sabalenka crashing out.

 

The 36-year-old Estonian saw three match points come and go but prevailed in the super tie-break to seal it; 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10-7).

Through to the quarter finals for the first time in her career, she will face Poland’s Iga Świątek. The 2020 French Open champion saw off Sorana Cîrstea in three sets.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1485600320264847364

The first set saw power tennis from both players out on Margaret Court Arena. 

Kanepi held serve right up till 5-5, when Sabalenka turned the screw.

The Belarussian was pushed to deuce on her own service game but did enough to edge ahead.

She then applied enough pressure, opening up three break-points and only needing one, took the first set 7-5.

But the veteran Estonian roared back in the second set, nailing a huge break of serve to go 1-0 ahead.

Kanepi secured the double break, soon steaming ahead at 4-0 and eventually pocketed the set 6-2.

The 23-year-old from Minsk was beginning to look jaded in the deciding set, as Kanepi took an immediate break of serve.

She soon went 4-2 ahead but Sabalenka fought back for 4-4, as the set went back on serve.

Kanepi got the decisive break to move 5-4 ahead and serve for the match.

Nerves got to the Estonian, however, as Sabalenka saved four match points.

Three times at deuce, and on her third break point, Sabalenka levelled the set for 5-5.

Both players held serve, under enormous pressure, to send the match to a super tie-break.

Kanepi surged into a 5-2 lead but Sabalenka played clutch to level at 5-5.

It was soon 7-7, but the pressure got to Sabalenka, and Kanepi won three straight points to win the biggest match of her career.

https://twitter.com/KanepiKaia/status/1485614786473861122

Kanepi said she was shocked to have won. “Actually, I thought I was going to lose it after the match points I had on my serve.”

“It was really difficult to come back. I don’t know how I managed to do it.

“I was really tight. My hand was shaking when I started serving. I didn’t make any first serves in, and that added to the pressure. It was crazy.”

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