(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

Interviews

“We Hope to Convince Federer to Play”: the Presentation of the 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Director Zeljko Franulovic talked about next year’s tournament, scheduled from April 9-17

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Stefanos Tsitsipas - ATP Montecarlo 2021 (ph. Agence Carte Blanche / Réalis)

The 2022 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters will take place from April 9-17, so it’s difficult to guess what the pandemic situation will be in six months. At the moment, however, the prevalent hypothesis is that all spectators will need a Covid Pass or to bring proof of a negative test before being allowed in the Montecarlo Country Club at Roquebrune, France. If some players will refuse the vaccine, then they will need to be tested regularly in accordance to the rules devised by the French government.

 

Other than that, there will be no surprises when it comes to the event’s logistics, since the Country Club has already added a new players lounge and a new press room in the past few years. In 2020 the tournament was cancelled, while in 2021 it took place behind closed doors (while still being televised in 113 countries); the last edition staged with a crowd, in 2019, sold 130,000 tickets, constituting 30% of the total revenue – another 30% came from the sponsors, 30% from media rights (a number that tournament director Zeljko Franulovic hopes to see increase) and 10% from merchandising.

While it’s early days to know whether the tournament will operate at full capacity, Franulovic has made it clear that the organisers are already planning to provide a better covering for the No.2 Court, whose roof has not been at all effective in the past in the event of rain.

The tournament’s tickets can be bought on the official website of the event, but Franulovic has already vowed to reimburse immediately every ticket “if the government and the health authorities should decide to reduce the tournament’s capacity.”

Ticket prices have increased by 2 to 3 percent as compared to 2019, ranging from £25-50 for the qualifiers weekend, £32-75 for the opening rounds, £…-130 for the quarterfinals and semifinals, £65-150 for the final, £360-1250 for a nine-day tickets. Franulovic claims that the prices are in line with those of the other Masters 1000 tournaments.

Finally, Franulovic supports Andrea Gaudenzi’s decision to create a fixed prize money for the next decade. While tournaments like Madrid and Rome are trying to increase their duration from 8 to 12 days, the Monte-Carlo director has claimed that he prefers to remain a week-long event, especially because his is not a combined tournament. As for the players who will feature, Franulovic hopes to convince Roger Federer to participate: “I’m certain that he will give everything he has to be able to stage another comeback on the tour, ma no one knows where he’ll play. However, I think that on the clay he should opt for best-of-three events like Monte-Carlo and Rome rather than the French Open.”

For this and more information, you can watch the video above.

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Grand Slam

US Open, Steve Flink: “Djokovic’s loss had more to do with fatigue than pressure”

A recap of the last Major of 2021, from Raducanu’s triumphant journey to Berrettini and Zverev’s improvements. What was Rod Laver’s prediction for the men’s finals?

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The 2021 US Open was historical from many points of view, starting with the full-capacity crowd coming back to Flushing Meadows. On court, we witnessed Djokovic’s bid for a Calendar Year Grand Slam fall short against Daniil Medvedev in the final, while Emma Raducanu took the tennis world by storm, winning as a qualifier and without dropping a set. These were just some of the topics of the tournament recap by Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink and Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta. Here’s their chat:

 

00:00 – Emma Raducanu’s historical feat: “She had an easier draw than Fernandez, who had to defeat many great players, but she was very impressive nonetheless!”

06:18 – Barty and Osaka’s premature exits: “Hadn’t she lost to Rogers, Barty would have won the whole thing…”

09:35 – Was Fernandez too tired during the final?

20:17 – The Canadian defeated Aryna Sabalenka, who once again missed out on a big chance: “She seems to have a split personality…”

25:24 – The men’s final – how distant was Djokovic from his best form?

28:59 – “Djokovic is the best at handling the pressure, I don’t think that was the main reason behind his defeat…”

35:05 – Was the crowd actually on Nole’s side or did they just want to witness history being made?

39:16 – What was the secret behind Medvedev’s winning tactics?

41:50 – Djokovic fell short of the Grand Slam in a similar way to Serena Williams – how similar are their performances?

50:16 – Rod Laver’s prediction for the final…

52:25 – Who is the best claycourt player, Djokovic or Federer?

55:05 – Carlos Alcaraz won over the hearts of the crowd – how quickly will he reach the Top 10?

56:29 – Is Zverev on the right track to win a Major? What about Berrettini and Sinner?

62:48 – The Canadians: who will have a better career between Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime?

Transcript by Giuseppe Di Paola; translated and edited by Tommaso Villa

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Grand Slam

US Open, Steve Flink on the Murray-Tsitsipas Controversy

A recap of the first week of the last Major of 2021: will Djokovic clinch the Grand Slam? Who will win the women’s title with Barty and Osaka out of the picture?

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The 2021 US Open has reached its halfway point, with many wonderful five-setters and a few upsets. Ubitennis CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta discussed the events of the first week with Hall-of-Fame tennis writer Steve Flink, from the elimination of Barty and Osaka to the toilet break controversy involving Stefanos Tsitsipas, from Alcaraz’s breakout performance to the chances of Novak Djokovic to complete a Calendar Year Grand Slam. Here’s their chat:

 

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