(EXCLUSIVE) Mats Wilander: “Lendl Had Nightmares Playing Me And Djokovic Meant No Harm With Adria Tour" - UBITENNIS
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(EXCLUSIVE) Mats Wilander: “Lendl Had Nightmares Playing Me And Djokovic Meant No Harm With Adria Tour”

Spanning from his unforgettable 1988 season to his thoughts about the public role of professional athletes, the Swede is never trivial in his comments. Now an Idaho resident, the seven-time Slam champion talks about Bjorn Borg’s influence on his game, the epic Davis Cup tie against McEnroe in ’82, and the behind-the-scenes of his infamous quote on Federer’s balls.

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UbiTennis’ latest exclusive video chat with Ubaldo Scanagatta and Steve Flink’s includes a guest who really needs no introduction.

 

Mats Wilander is one of the most recognisable tennis figures. He is arguably the greatest player to speak with Ubitennis in our special series so far and is also the face of tennis on Eurosport. His résumé includes 33 singles titles, 7 Slams in the singles (plus one more in the doubles), he was the 1988 world champion, when he clinched the first-ever Australian Open played on hardcourts as well as the French and the US Open, winning the longest final in Flushing Meadows history (tied with the 2012 one).

A three-time Davis Cup champion, he spent 20 weeks at the top of the rankings after becoming the youngest Slam champion ever (he was subsequently overtaken by Becker and Chang), and was just the second man to win a Slam on three different surfaces after Connors (he and Nadal are the only ones to have won multiple titles on each surface, though) – the list could go on. In addition, he had a decisive role in the creation of the ATP Tour, starting the Parking Lot Revolution just outside the US Open’s grounds in 1988, when he announced the split of the players from the Grand Prix, spear-heading the first ATP Tour edition in 1990. Nowadays, when he isn’t anchoring “Game, Schett & Mats” on Eurosport, he coaches at a club in Hailey, in Idaho.

THE FULL INTERVIEW

 

VIDEO SCHEDULE

Minute 00: Introduction. A quick glance through Wilander’s resumé while he talks about his life in Idaho.

5:51: Moving from New York to Greenwich thanks to some unexpected advice from a rival… Why did he move to Idaho next?

6:51: Djokovic and the Adria Tour fiasco – who’s to blame, and will the tennis season suffer from this mishap?

11:18: Why is Djokovic alone getting most of the criticism?

13:21: US Open or US Closed? Will it be a proper Slam tournament?

15:18: On Kyrgios and his sudden moral high ground…

17:07: Should Djokovic resign from the presidency of the Player Council? Why the political engagement of the Big Three is a good thing…

20:16: 1988, the best year of his career…

22:18: … followed by a sharp downturn – what happened? Mats reminds us that all players are human…

25:28: How his game changed through the years, and his best match – an impromptu hit…

29:14: Why did he often beat Lendl in Slam finals? Also, go to the 31:17 mark to catch his impression of the Czech champion…

31:43: Borg’s influence on Swedish players, and what the two had in common…

34:30: The respect that the greatest players have for each other, plus an infinite Davis Cup tie against John McEnroe that sent his confidence through the roof…

39:11: His great record against Jimmy Connors, countered by a subpar tally against Miloslav Mecir…

42:52: An unprecedented moment of sportsmanship at the 1982 French Open, which his brothers didn’t take well… Also a few words about fellow countryman and friend, Stefan Edberg.

49:08: How was it to coach Marat Safin? His broadcasting job on Eurosport, and the type of player he sympathises with, as well as a few missteps vis-à-vis his choice of words in the past.

59:17: Mats concludes with a passionate manifesto of what he looks for in the game, and what the players should do as public figures.

Article written 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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