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Chris Evert: “Navratilova and I transcended the game”

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Chris Evert at Wimbledon 2017 (photo Art Seitz)

The American legend reminisces on her long and incomparable career, and chimes in on Serena Williams and the US Open.

 

It feels almost uncomfortable to even attempt to summarise the achievements of today’s guest, because Chris Evert’s career is so extraordinary that it would require oodles of metaphorical ink. Anyway, here it goes, in a very compressed rendition: 18 Slam titles (seven at the French Open, six at the US Open on two different surfaces, three at Wimbledon, two at the Australian Open) with at least one victory for 13 straight years (she didn’t even compete in every event, nor were the Majors the biggest priority for female players back then, as she told us during the interview); 260 weeks as the world N.1 (she finished the year as the top-ranked player seven times); 52 semis and 54 quarters reached out of the 56 Slams she entered; 125 consecutive wins on clay with a final win percentage of 94.28 on the dirt – in short, Evert exegete Steve Flink and I had a chat with Tennis History herself. Nowadays, she helms a successful Academy in Florida with her brother John (it actually bears his name), works as an analyst for ESPN, and also serves as a publisher for “Tennis”.

THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW

Chat live with Chris Evert and Steve Flink

Pubblicato da Ubitennis su Martedì 7 luglio 2020

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00: introduction. After all this time, does Chris ever get bored while hearing her accomplishments listed over and over again?

03:49: “Luckily, I have so many unforgettable moments for me! Perhaps the one I cherish the most is the first time I entered the US Open, or the last two French Open titles. However, my rivalry with Martina will always hold a special place in my heart…”

07:26: Were the Slams as important back then? “We were the first professional league for women, so we had a duty to promote that…”

13:44: Steve Flink is the greatest living Evert expert, but does he know how many times she won in Rome?

17:00: Serena Williams and Margaret Court’s 24-Slam record: “You have to feel for her, just look at how her four final opponents played…”. Is she still competitive?

25:40: Was Serena’s defeat against Roberta Vinci at the 2015 US Open the biggest upset ever?

30:42: Her broadcasting career: “I had a few initial hiccups, but after opening an Academy with my brother…”

36:56: What does the women’s game need to stay relevant – a rivalry, a Serena-style dictatorship, or competitive balance?

41:53: “My longevity at the top is something I’m exceedingly proud of!” Her final Wimbledon run, and a bout she refused to concede…

47:34: “My father was the driving tennis force in my family – my sister Jeanne played on the Virginia Slims Circuit like me, and my other three siblings all won tennis scholarships!” Throwback to when she needed to phone her parents after her matches because they didn’t go live on TV.

50:52: Her career-revamping win against Tracy Austin, who had beaten her five times in a row, at the 1980 US Open: “I had some good advice from former Australian player Don Candy…”. How important is it to know the opponent’s game?

58:06: Is the US Open going to happen? Who had the better behaviour during the lockdown, the WTA or the ATP?

01:01:52: Will Nadal go to New York? What about Djokovic?

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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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Scanagatta And Flink: “We Both Think Djokovic Will Win The French Open, So Nadal Will Definitely Pull It Off!”

The CEO of UbiTennis and the American Hall-of-Famer previewed tomorrow’s final and discussed Iga Swiatek’s dominant performance at the Roland Garros – will the young Pole win more in the future?

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We are at the end of the seven most intense weeks in the history of professional tennis, with two Slams and two Masters 1000/Premier 5 taking place. All this time, Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink’s videos have accompanied the reprisal of the action after months of hiatus. Now that that the French Open is concluding as well, they have met for one last time, discussing the women’s final and taking a stance on who will win what Flink has dubbed “the biggest final of their career.” Here’s their chat:

 

00:00 – Swiatek became the first Polish player to win a Major – a surprising feat? “Kenin just got outplayed, Iga is such a complete player.” On Monday, she will be N.17 in the world – will she make it to the Top 10? 

03:40 “Swiatek had never won a WTA title, just like Wilander did in 1982, also at the French Open.” Will she win more Slams in the future, and who could stop her? “She lost just 28 games in 7 matches; this is what you call ‘dominance’…”

07:48 – Kenin required an MTO and looked downtrodden throughout the match – was she injured, and if so, how much of an impact did her struggles have on the outcome of the match? 

11:40 – The men’s final. “This was probably the most predictable final match-up in the history of the tournament!” What do the numbers tell us about their previous encounters at this lofty stage? “Nadal won their two finals in Paris, but they were both a long time ago, while Djokovic won their most recent final…”

17:16 “Yannick Noah said that, as much as you can love a movie, you will never watch it 50 times – does he have a point?” 

18:42“Djokovic is 11 years older than Tsitsipas, but he looked a lot fresher by the end of the match!” Will Friday’s five-setter affect the Serbian’s fitness and/or confidence? 

19:50 “This is a particularly tough match to call, because I never felt like they were playing their best, either because their opponents were too inferior or because they had some lapses in concentration like Djokovic did. However, they both agreed on who is favoured by the conditions…” 

24:35 – Nadal and Djokovic played an epic French Open semifinal in 2013, which the Spaniard won 9-7 in the fifth set – should something similar be expected for tomorrow’s bout? “I think so, because they both have some good reasons to feel confident going in, so they will give all they have.”

28:06 – Both players have lost just once while leading by two sets to love – should one of the two be counted out if the other take a commanding lead? 

29:16 – Prediction time: who will win? 

33:30 “I want to conclude by going a little off-topic, because both the American and the French tennis federations (the USTA and the FFT), and especially the latter, were scorched for following through with their respective events. However, despite the difficulties and the criticism they drew, they managed to give us two great tournaments without exposing the players to the danger of contracting the virus.” 

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French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is close to his best. Sinner will be in the Top 10 within a year”

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UbiTennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and his Hall-of-Famer colleague previewed the semi-finals of the Roland Garros, with the women’s matches about to start. Who would Roger Federer cheer for in a Nadal v Djokovic final?  

 

The women’s semi-finals of the French Open (Swiatek v Podoroska and Kenin v Kvitova) are slated for today at 2pm, while tomorrow will feature the showdown between Nadal and Schwartzman followed by the one between Djokovic and Tsitsipas. Ubaldo Scanagatta commented on what has happened so far in the Parisian Major, and was joined as usual by his American peer, Steve Flink. Their chat can be seen in the following video:

00:00 – Is it suprising to have Kvitova and Kenin this deep in the tournament? “After she got a double bagel against Azarenka in Rome, few expected to see her this far.” She has already lost four sets, but were her matches actually that close? And what about her Czech opponent? “Kvitova is at the top of her game, but you never know what to expect from her…”

05:13 – Swiatek v Podoroska. “The Pole was very impressive against Halep, losing just three games against the first seed and 20 in total without dropping a set.” Can the Argentine, whom nobody really knew before the tournament, give her a run for her money?

09:48 – The men’s draw: “Schwartzman just beat Thiem after defeating Nadal in Rome as well, so the Spaniard will not underestimate him. However, he lost nine times in a row against Rafa in the past, and he’s coming off a marathon match…” Will the diminutive Argentine put up a fight?

14:13 – A few words on Jannik Sinner, who impressed against Nadal on Tuesday night: “He could have won the opening set, he just got tight while trying to serve it out. Who would have expected to see him dictate the play against the greatest clay-courter of all time?” What does his future look like?

21:23 – Djokovic v Tsitsipas: “The Greek put up a dominant display against Rublev, showcasing his entire arsenal of shots.” After getting disqualified in New York, Djokovic struggled once more against Pablo Carreno Busta – does the Spaniard get the credit he deserves?

25:44 – Who will win the second semi-final? “The most important theme is whether Djokovic will have gotten over his physical issues.” Who would be the favourite in a Nadal v Djokovic final, and whose win would be more historically relevant? “Nadal would tie Federer’s record, while Djokovic would become the first man in the Open Era to win every Major at least twice…”

29:08 – A million-dollar question for Steve Flink: who would Federer root for in the event of such a final?

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