(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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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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