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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Alexander Zverev and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova claim UTS title

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Alexander Zverev and Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova took the Ultimate Tennis Showdown titles in the Sudden Death. 

 

Zverev beat Felix Auger Aliassime 19-10 11-13 11-18 18-8 2-1. The German took the early lead in the final pulling away to 9-4 at halfway in the first quarter. The umpire made an overrule decision to give Auger Aliassime an ace. Zverev held on to win the first quarter 19-10. 

Auger Aliassime took a 9-4 lead in the second quarter, but Zverev used his next point x2 card to claw his way back to 8-9. Auger Aliassime led 12-9 with a minute to play. Zverev came back to 11-12. Auger Aliassime hit a passing shot to win the second set 13-11. 

In the third quarter both players were level at 8-8. Zverev used his Next Point x 2 card to take a 10-9 lead. Auger Aliassime won both his Nex point x2 cards to take a 13-10 lead en route to winning the third quarter 18-11. 

Zverev won both points against Felix Auger Aliassime’s Winner x3 Card and took a 7-3 lead in the fourth quarter. He held his own service points to pull away to 9-3. Auger Aliassime clawed his way back to 8-10. The Canadian player did not use his Next Pointx2 card with a forehand error. Zverev cruised to 18-8 forcing the match to the Sudden Death. 

Auger Aliassime won the first point with a powerful serve. Zverev hit an unreturnable first serve to save a championship point and converted his first own match point to become the second UTS men’s champion, as Auger Aliassime netted a backhand. 

“It was high-quality. It was intense. He was winning more cards in the middle of the set and then running away with it. I needed to focus a little better on the important points”, said Zverev. 

Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova also needed the Sudden Death to win the women’s final beating French player Alizé Cornet 16-8 12-11 11-14 9-16 3-1. Pavlyuchenkova led two quarters to love, before saving a championships point before taking the win in the sudden death. 

Pavlyuchenkova won two consecutive points on her own serve and two straight on Cornet’s serve at 5-5 in the first quarter. Cornet was the first to play a card with a take away one serve option, but Pavlyuchenkova won both of those points to cruise through to a 11-5 lead. Cornet dropped eight consecutive points, but she played a next point counts two card and converted one to claw her way back to 7-12. Pavlyuchenkova pulled away to 16-8. 

Cornet earned a 5-2 lead in the second quarter. Pavlyuchenkova used each of her cards and won two of those points to take a 6-5 lead, but she netted a backhand on one of the double points. As Cornet was serving at 11-9, Pavlyuchenkova fired two consecutive winners to draw level to 11-11. The Russian player won the deciding point to claim the second quarter 12-11. 

In the third quarter Pavlyuchenkova raced out to a 4-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova used her card to force Cornet to serve and volley. The French player won both of her serve and volley points. Pavlyuchenkova hit two big serves to take a two-point lead at 8-8. Cornet won six of the next seven points to win the third quarter 14-11. 

Cornet started well in the fourth quarter and pulled away to a 8-3 lead, as Pavlyuchenkova missed an overhead that would have been worth two points. Cornet extended her lead to 11-5. Pavlyuchenkova showed signs of a comeback, but Cornet took the fourth quarter 16-9 forcing the match to the Sudden Death. 

Cornet saved one match point in the Sudden Death by forcing Pavlyuchenkova into a forehand error. Cornet attempted a drop-shot on her championships point. Pavlyuchenkova survived a long rally on her second championships point to claim the title. 

“I love winning no matter what it is. It’s just nice. There were so much nerves. Ihated the sudden death. I practiced it, but practice is much different. Now it was full on”, said Pavlyuchenkova. 

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Maria Sakkari Pondered Temporary Sport Switch During Tour Suspension

This summer could have looked very different for the world No.20.

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Greek tennis star Maria Sakkari could have been preparing to take part in a completely different sport this week if it wasn’t for the Palermo Open taking place.

 

The world No.20 considered switching her tennis shoes for running ones amid the uncertainty surrounding when the sport would start again. All professional tennis tournaments have been cancelled since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the WTA Tour is restarting this week in Italy.

Although if it wasn’t for Palermo staging the eagerly awaited return of tennis, Sakkari reveals that she might have instead switched her focus to athletics in order to maintain her competitive thirst. Taking part in the Greek athletics championships. Her discipline of choice would have been the 100 meters which her fitness trainer believes she would have made the final in.

“If the Tour was cancelled I was going to compete in the 100m track and field event at the National Championships,” Sakkari told reporters on Sunday.
“Greece National Championships starts on Aug. 8. We were kind of joking with my fitness coach, but inside of me I really needed competition.
“There were rumours going around that the Tour would get cancelled so I thought if the Tour gets cancelled I need to find something. I’m fast, I knew I was not going to win it for sure because I’m not a professional. But yeah, I was thinking of doing that.”

Sakkari can run 100M in a time of 12.7 seconds but that is without both running spikes and starting blocks. Her idea stemmed from the type of training she was doing back in Athens during the tour shutdown. Although tennis remains her first priority.

“I started playing tennis on May 4th, but before that, I was working with my fitness coach at outdoor areas where we were allowed to work out,” she said. “I was running a lot. I think I was running more than I ever did.”

In Palermo Sakkari will be the third seed in the draw and faces Czech Republic’s Kristýna Plíšková in the first round on Monday. The world No.20 started 2020 by winning nine out of 15 matches played on the Tour with her best runs being to the fourth round of the Australian Open and semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open.

We’re back in competition so I’m blessed,” Sakkari said. “Blessed to be back.”

Sakkari is bidding to win the second WTA trophy of her career this week after triumphing last year at the Morocco Open.

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The Trial Has Ended: David Ferrer Is Now A Head Coach Of Alexander Zverev

The former French Open finalist is set to become a regular face on the men’s Tour once again but in a differnt capacity.

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By Emil Evtimov

David Ferrer is the new head coach of Alexander Zverev alongside his father Alexander Sr. The news was revealed by the world No.7 after his win against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice.

 

In the beginning of July Zverev announced that he and Ferrer will work together on a trial basis for two weeks in Monte Carlo. Now the German confirmed that the former world No.3 and Roland Garros finalist will be on his side as a coach at least until the end of the year. 

“The trial period is over. We are together. We understand each other great and now we are a team,” said Zverev.

Ferrer won’t be the first prominent name in team Zverev. Previously the three-time Masters 1000 champion worked with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. Since the end of his relationship with Lendl, Zverev has been trained mainly by his dad.

“David and my father are both my head coaches now. My dad doesn’t get any younger. Both are extremely important for the team.”

For Ferrer this will be the first coaching experience. His playing career ended in May 2019 during the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid with his last opponent on the court being none other than Zverev.

For quite a long time Zverev was considered the big star from the young generation but in 2019 was a bit overshadowed by players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and  Daniil Medvedev.

The German began 2020 with a great performance at the Australian Open reaching the semifinals where he lost to Dominic Thiem in four sets.

Zverev is on the entry list for the first tournament after the pandemic – the Western & Southern Open which will be staged in New York to create a “protective bubble” for the US Open. The 23-year old talks also about the Grand Slam tournament, saying he would prefer it not to happen, although he is going to play at this point.

“It is a bit crazy to play the US Open now. I would prefer if it would not happen and we just restart in Europe. Because of the pandemic it is not the right time to fly. But when they host the open – what shall we played do? Especially when everyone plays’ it is about ranking points, too. At this point I didn’t think about withdrawing. If everyone reacts within hygiene rules and it will be similar to the NBA bubble it could work out.”

Zverev was one of the tennis players most criticized for his behaviour during the pandemic. The reason was his participation in the Adria Tour where he and his colleagues weren’t following the social distancing rules very strictly. The German gave a negative test for COVID-19 after finding out about the positive test of Grigor Dimitrov. He promised to be in quarantine for safety reasons but was seen partying a few days after. This caused a criticism from Nick Kyrgios, as well as a Twitter war between the Australian and German legend Boris Becker.

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