[EXCLUSIVE] Alexei Popyrin: “I’m Not Going To The US Open, It’s Too Risky” - UBITENNIS
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[EXCLUSIVE] Alexei Popyrin: “I’m Not Going To The US Open, It’s Too Risky”

The young Aussie talks to UbiTennis about his career so far, spanning from his win against Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open to his recent participation in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown. He envisions himself as a future Top 10 player, but he knows how hard he’ll need to work.

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The latest exclusive interview brought to you by Ubaldo Scanagatta and Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink centres on one of the hottest prospects in tennis, the Australian Alexei Popryrin.

 

Born in 1999, he is currently ranked 103rd in the world, but his career best ranking is at N.87. A lanky 6ft5 power baseliner, he self-describes himself as “funny but shy,” meaning that it takes him a while to get going with strangers, but my impression during the interview was of a maturity level well beyond his years – he has a sense of purpose and clear objectives, and he’s also fully aware of the commitment they entail. A Sydney native, his family is Russian, while his tennis upbringing mainly happened between Spain and France. He had an outstanding junior career, winning the 2017 French Open while on a streak of four consecutive titles. Among the Next Gen studs, he has the peculiar distinction of being the only one who actually prefers long matches: he has an 8-6 record in the Slams, and he’s won at least a match in each of them, whereas he’s still finding his feet at the two-out-of-three level, where he is still required to play the qualies.

Here’s the interview:

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00: introductory statements.

01:09: The Ultimate Tennis Showdown: “An unbelievable experience, everyone is enjoying it! About the cards…”

04:13: A true citizen of the world, he talks about his globetrotting and diverse background…

05:51: Did he expect to climb the rankings more quickly?

10:20: His best win, against Thiem at the 2019 Australian Open: “To play an injured opponent is often very tricky!”

12:29: “The Australian media are very supportive; I don’t feel the pressure at all.” His relationship with his peer, Alex De Minaur, as well as with Nick Kyrgios…

16:15: His first-ever coach is 1980 Australian Open finalist Kim Warwick (who is still a member of his team). Warwick is noted in Italy for wasting 11 match points against Adriano Panatta at the
1976 Italian Open- did he ever tell Alexei about it?

21:03: His third-round encounter Matteo Berrettini at last year’s US Open: “Don’t remind me about what happened in the fourth set!”

26:06: “I’m not going to Flushing Meadows, the bubble is still very much up in the air. About the French Open’s plan to go for a 50-60% crowd capacity…”

31:11: His rapport with Pat Cash, who joined his team for the 2019 grass season but now coaches an American player, Brandon Nakashima.

Text translated by Tommaso Villa

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Luigi Serra: A Tribute To A Great Friend In 50 Snapshot

Our unforgettable friend, who passed away on December 9, gifted us with hundreds of pictures – here is a selection of his best work.

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All of us at Ubitennis send our love to Luigi Serra’s family, including his wife Bonnie, his sons Alessandro and Gianluca, as well as the tribe of grandchildren (Isabella, Gabriella, Daniela, Lexi and Vincent) of whom he was incredibly proud and whom he loved dearly – they reciprocated their affection for a grandfather who was often as genuine as they are, always mirthful, funny, unique. Here is Ubaldo Scanagatta’s tribute to the late Luigi, and here are his best shots:

 

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Steve Flink: “Medvedev Deserved To Win, But Is This Really The Onset Of A New Era?”

A commentary of the last edition of the ATP Finals to take place in London. The Russian isn’t graceful but can do it all, whereas Thiem used the sliced backhand far too much. Were Djokovic and Zverev distracted by their off court problems?

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Daniil Medvedev (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

The 2020 season ended with Daniil Medvedev’s win at the ATP Finals, the sixth different winner in the last six editions of the event, emerging victorious at the end of three tightly contested knockout matches. The Russian dominated the last few weeks of the season, winning in Bercy as well, but was his victory in London somewhat predictable?

UbiTennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and Mr Flink met up (remotely) to discuss the tournament and the omens for tennis in 2021. Here’s their chat: 

 

VIDEO SCHEDULE

0:58 – Medvedev swept through the ATP Finals – an expected triumph? “He beat the three best players in the world, that’s hardly predictable…” 

3:51 – “The Russian showed his mental strength, coming back to beat both Nadal and Thiem…” 

5:27 – “Djokovic had won 24 of the last 26 tie-breaks he had played, and 16 of the last 17 – how did he relinquish that 4-0 lead at 6-6 in the decider?” 

7:40 – A few words on the final: “Thiem wasted a few big chances in the second set, missing a fairly easy forehand touch near the net.” Did he employ the right strategy?  

11:46 – “The Austrian said that he would make the same choices, and we should remember that he had a tougher semifinal match…” 

14:34“Medvedev isn’t beautiful to watch, but that doesn’t seem to bother him…” 

16:54 – Is this the beginning of a new era? “We said the same thing when Zverev won the Finals in 2018 and when Tsitsipas did it last year…” Will the Australian Open take place in 2021?

20:51 – Djokovic is in the midst of a political struggle – was he distracted during the week he spent in London? 

27:24 – What about Sascha Zverev and the accusations that his former girlfriend moved against him – did those play a role in his early exit? 

29:14 – The first winner of the Finals was Stan Smith, the current president of the International Tennis Hall of Fame: “You and I have a job with the Hall of Fame now, don’t we?” 

32:08 – A final word on Daniil Medvedev – will he win a Major in 2021? “He’s definitely not winning the French Open, and I think that grass isn’t his best surface either, but he definitely has his chances on hardcourts.” 

Transcript by Lorenzo Andorlini; translated and edited by Tommaso Villa

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Steve Flink On The Decline Of American Men’s Tennis: “We Need To Start Attracting The Best Athletes Again”

UbiTennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta is back with a new video to talk about the crisis hitting the country that used to dominate the game until less than 20 years ago.

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After Mark Winters’ contribution, here is a new entry in our website’s enquiry into US tennis. This time another American, the Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink, tries to answer some recurring questions? Why are there no US players left at the top of the ATP Rankings? Could the trend be bucked? This and more in the following video:

 

00:00 – “The best American player is 35 and outside the Top 20, and the only up-and-coming standout appears to be 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima.” Is this the lowest point for US tennis?  

02:30 – “In 1973, there were 23 Americans in the world Top 100, six in the Top 20 and three in the Top 10.” What happened? Flink: “We had perhaps our greatest decade in the 1990s, and that is probably when things went awry…”

06:10 – Could this be a financial stability issue? “There aren’t many tennis players with a huge income, while in basketball, football, ice hockey or baseball the situation is different.”

07:40 – “The road to success and wealth in individual sports is certainly tougher, but Europe has the same issue vis-à-vis football, so what could be another factor in the decline?” The role of private investments: “The USTA federal programme was created in the late 1980s, but I do not think that an emphasis on public spending is the problem.” Could this be just a cyclical fluke?

14:00 – What if the issue was commitment? “You need to really want to succeed in tennis.”  

18:42 – Mark Winters’ theory revolves around this last theme, that there is no drive to reach the top of the game: “I’m not sure I agree, but he is an insider and certainly knows what he’s talking about.”

20:40 – “Tennis players now start to make real money between 23 and 25 years of age, how many can afford to wait that long while relying almost exclusively on prize money?”

24:15 – “There might be a continuity issue, because the USTA changes its president every four years, and that doesn’t allow the creation of a stable system.” The role of deputy chiefs.

27:45 – How much money is devoted to the development of youths in the US?

30:27 – “Over the years, I’ve noticed that coaches who are on a federal payroll tend to lack a little bit of that hunger…” Can a national movement rely on the investments of young players’ parents?

35:15 – Why is women’s tennis doing so much better in the US than the male counterpart? “Nobody really believed in Sampras, Agassi and their generation, so there is still hope for a sudden comeback…”

39:10 – The changing role of the college game in the US: “Does it still work as a preparation for high-level tennis, and do the players have the patience to wait before they start making money by turning pro?” Flink: “I think that the shifting towards success at an older age might help in this sense.”

42: 20 – The raging debate of American sports – should university athlete receive financial support besides scholarship money?

44:15 – “Could we interview Stacey Allaster, the USTA’s president, on these issues?”

47:00 – Is it be important for the game to have a successful player from a country hosting a Major?

48:15 – “It’s a shame that American and Australian tennis are lagging this far behind, but we need to recognise that the game wasn’t as global and globalised when they used to dominate…”

Transcript by Filippo Ambrosi; translation and editing by Tommaso Villa

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