[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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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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