‘Losing Early Doesn’t Seem Like An Option’ - Taylor Fritz Aiming High Ahead Of US Open - UBITENNIS
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‘Losing Early Doesn’t Seem Like An Option’ – Taylor Fritz Aiming High Ahead Of US Open

The world No.24 says he has been ‘killing himself’ in practice ahead of the Grand Slam.

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American tennis star Taylor Fritz has proclaimed that he is currently in the best shape of his career ahead of his return to professional tennis next week.

 

The world No.24 has set his sights on becoming the highest ranked player in his country as well as what he hopes will be a breakthrough run in the upcoming US Open. Fritz started the 2020 season by winning nine out of 16 matches played prior to the Tour break due to COVID-19. In Acapulco he recorded his best run of 2020 so far by reaching the final before falling in straight sets to Rafael Nadal.

During the pandemic-related break, Fritz has kept himself in shape by taking part in an exhibition event, as well as the World TeamTennis Cup. Although these matches are somewhat different to what he will encounter on the ATP Tour, the 25-year-old remains full of confidence heading into the New York bubble. For the first time the Western and Southern Open will take place in the same venue as the US Open.

“It’s tough to set expectations right now, but my expectations are so high. If I don’t do really well at both tournaments, I’ll be disappointed,” Fritz told The Olympic Channel.
“I’m fully expecting to go in and go deep in both. Losing early just doesn’t seem like an option for me, even though I know it is because you have bad days, you know… things happen. But that would be really disappointing. My expectations are very high.”

A former US Open boy’s champion, Fritz is currently at a ranking best of 24th in the world. His resume so far consists of five appearances in ATP Finals with his only title triumph occurring on the grass at Eastbourne last year. Although in the Grand Slams he is yet to progress beyond the third round in 15 appearances.

Nevertheless, Fritz is confident that his hard work done in recent weeks will pay off for him. Saying that he has been ‘absolutely killing himself’ with his training schedule. He is currently coached on the Tour by David Nainkin and Paul Annacone. Annacone is best known for his work with former world No.1 Pete Sampras.

“I’ve really stepped it up with this being the first time ever that we’ve had more than a month of not playing tournaments. I really feel like I’ve made big strides in my fitness on my game in the last two months,” said Fritz.
“I’ve been having three-hour practices and then some days go and do tennis again or go and do gym (a second time). It just depends if it’s like a double gym day or a double tennis day. I’ve just been absolutely killing myself these last couple weeks.”

Closing in on his top 20 debut, the fast-serving American is not setting a limit on how high he believes he can rise. It seems like the surge in confidence from Fritz is also echoed by Annacone.

“I know I’m in by far the best shape my life. Paul last week said that it was the best week of practice we’ve ever had. I can just see the difference in my body and tennis.”

This year’s US Open will be unlike any other due to the pandemic. There will be no fans, players will be subjected to regular COVID-19 testing and restricted as to where they can go to in the city. Some players have voiced concern that the conditions could have a negative impact on them. However, Fritz believes the element of seclusion could be an advantage for him.

“The good news about the bubble is it suits people like me who love to just stay in the (hotel) room and just watch shows and do nothing. I actually think it’s going to give me a bit of an advantage,” he commented.
“I think staying in the room and ordering in every night and relaxing… I don’t mind it. It will be more boring, but it’s actually not going to be too different to what I normally do at a tournament anyway.”

Fritz will start his campaign at the Western and Southern Open against a qualifier. If he wants a deep run, he could have to play Christian Garin in the second round followed by Daniil Medvedev.

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Nick Kyrgios Weighs In On The Greatest Of All Time Debate

The world No.44 opens up about who he considers the best ever tennis player and why.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has described Rafael Nadal’s French Open dominance as an achievement that is unlikely to be repeated ever again but it is another player who he believes is the greatest.

 

In Paris Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic to claim his 13th title at Roland Garros to make him the first player in history to have won the same Grand Slam that amount of times. He now has 20 major titles to his name which ties him with Roger Federer for the most ever won by a male player. Djokovic, who is the other member of the Big Three, currently has 17 titles.

I wasn’t surprised when I saw Rafa pretty much easing his way through the draw at the French Open. That’s his backyard, he loves playing there and he has only lost two matches in his entire career,” Kyrgios told NBA program Courtside Huddle.
“Honestly, in my opinion I don’t think we are going to see anything like that ever again. Somebody so dominant on a surface he’s right there with the greatest of all time. You can argue that he is the greatest.’
“You look at Federer, he’s the most dominant player of all time, but in this era it’s actually Rafa. It’s a debate you can have.”

During his career Kyrgios has played a member of the Big Three 17 times on the ATP Tour and has won four of those encounters. The majority of his success has been against Nadal who he has defeated on three different occasions. Kyrgios has also beaten Federer once but is yet to get the better of world No.1 Djokovic.

Weighing on the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) debate the 25-year-old has come out in favour of Federer, who currently holds the record for most weeks spent as world No.1 and has won 103 ATP titles which is the second highest tally in history after Jimmy Connors. Kyrgios compares to Swiss maestro to six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan

“In my opinion, I think Federer is still (the GOAT). I think he is almost like a (Michael) Jordan status type thing. He was the main guy that was so dominant on every kind of surface. I think the way he plays the game is something special,” he explains.

Renowned for his fiery temperament on the court Kyrgios is an outspoken figure in the sport. He once said Nadal was his ‘polar opposite’ and a ‘super salty’ loser. Although the two have since shown respect towards each other with the Spaniard describing Kyrgios as ‘one of the highest talents’ in men’s tennis following their Australian Open clash in January.

“We had our differences when we played each other,” Kyrgios admits. “We’re fiery, we’re competitors and are going to go after each other. But at the same time I am not going to take anything away from him . He’s an absolute champion and 20 Grand Slam is ridiculous and I don’t think we are ever going to see that again.”

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On The Decline Of American (And Australian) Men’s Tennis

The best player from the US, John Isner, is 35 and ranked outside the world Top 20, while the only truly great prospect seems to be 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima – this might be the lowest point for American tennis.

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A few days ago, a reader sent us some interesting observations: “While sifting through the latest ATP Ranking, I asked myself: who is the highest-ranked American? How high is he? When I realized it was John Isner, sitting at N.23, I thought of the famous Latin phrase, ‘sic transit gloria mundi.’ When I was young, the Yankees dominated along with the Australian’s, who seem to be on the rocks themselves. Is it just my impression? If it isn’t, which could be the reasons for such a decline?

 

It seems to us that the topic may be of interest to many, so we decided to answer the first part of the question, starting from some statistical data obtained by:

· The first ATP Ranking released in 1973.

· The first ranking of the four following decades.

· The most recently released rankings.

Here is the result:

Here are some observations.

The first ITF global report in 2019, which was elaborated by 195 national tennis federations, shows that there are about 87 million tennis players in the world; in the areas of our interest the numerical distribution is this:

 USAEUROPAAUSTR.
    
Number of practitioners (millions)18272.3
Number of male practitioners (m)8.2161.4

In Europe, there is a Top 100 player every 235,000 men; in Australia, one every 280,000; in the USA, one every 911,000 (we think that is appropriate to reflect on these data, dear parents and kids, before making a decision vis-à-vis whether or not trying to follow the path of professional tennis).

In 1973, the United States occupied 23 of the Top 100 positions and 6 of the Top 20; at the beginning of the following decade, their edge over the rest of the world was equally if not more overwhelming. In the last thirty years, however, this prominence has gradually disappeared: first in terms of quantity and then of quality; the last American to occupy top spot was Andy Roddick on January 26, 2004, and the last one in the Top 10 was John Isner on January 27, 2019. The new faces of American tennis do not appear to point to the imminent advent of an American Male Renaissance: among the 9 players present in the top 100 today, the youngest is Frances Tiafoe, who will turn 23 next January and occupies the 63rd spot; the best-positioned teenager is 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima at N.203, followed by his peer Jenson Brooksby at N.299; far behind is Govind Nanda, N.709. Given such premises, it will be difficult for the US to get back to winning ways in the Davis Cup, a competition in which their record tally is stuck at 32 since 2007. 

Australia cannot yet be called a bygone men’s tennis power, since it hasn’t been that long since they boasted the best player in the world, i.e. Lleyton Hewitt on May 12, 2003 – he was also the last Australian to make the Top 10 in July 2006. However, this is a far cry from the age when this nation competed with the United States for the sceptre of world tennis. To give a more complete idea of ​​what Australia represented in the past for tennis, between 1950 and 1967 they won the Davis Cup 15 times (the USA won the remaining three); since 1973, the Aussies have bagged six more, the last one in 2003. For the foreseeable future, they can count on twenty-one-year-old Alex de Minaur, ranked 29th in the world, and on the wayward moods of Nick Kyrgios, currently 43rd; further down the line, they can count, to a lesser extent, on Alexei Popyrin, a peer of De Minaur, but more untested at high levels, but mostly they will have to rely on the Divine Providence, since the best-ranked Australian teen is 19-year-old Hijkata at N.672.

The numbers tell us that, since 1973, Europe’s trajectory has been almost specular to the Australian one. At the beginning of the 1980’s, men’s tennis in the Old Continent was going through a period of severe crisis, from which it was able to brilliantly recover – since February 2004, a European has occupied the throne in the world rankings with no interruptions. At the team level, since the beginning of the new millennium, a European country has lifted the Davis Cup 16 times out of 19. There are no credible alternatives to this sporting dictatorship on the horizon: among youngsters, the sole Denis Shapovalov (who has European origins himself) seems to have the potential to be able to aspire to a Major win; extending the analysis to the very young – i.e. the top ten tennis players born after January 1, 2001 – the tune is the same, since five of them are Europeans including the three most promising:

1.      Sinner, Italy, 46     

2.      Musetti, Italy, 123          

3.      Alcaraz, Spain, 136           

4.      Nakashima, USA, 203     

5.      Tseng, Taiwan, 288

6.      Draper, UK, 297            

7.      Brooksby, USA, 299        

8.      Zeppieri, Italy, 317          

9.      Baez, Argentina, 330               

10.  Cerundolo, Argentina, 345      

Countries belonging to the former Iron Curtain (and Yugoslav) block have been giving a significant contribution at the success of the European tennis for a long time; as a matter of fact, there are 19 representatives of these nations in the top 100:

  • Serbia 5          
  •  Slovenia 1         
  • Russia 3           
  • Poland 1          
  • Moldova 1        
  • Lithuania 1         
  • Hungary 2       
  • Czech Republic 1                       
  • Croatia 2          
  • Belarus 1     
  • Bulgaria 1          

At the end of our analysis, we believe that the feelings of our reader have been largely confirmed.  However, the second part of the question (the most important) he posed to us remains unsolved: if the USA and Australia are really in decline, what are the causes?

Website CEO Ubaldo Scanagatta and his good friend Steve Flink, with their deep knowledge of the top tennis systems, could try to give us an answer in one of their future videos. We are simply humble scribes of the editorial staff – lacking such knowledge and aware of the fact that the vision that is drawn from the numbers we have presented is partial, because of the limited sample examined. All we can hope for is that our work can at least offer some interesting food for thought.

Original article by Roberto Ferri; translated by Matteo Pelliccia; edited by Tommaso Villa

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Paul Annacone On Why Nadal’s French Open Record Should Be Considered As ‘Greatest In History’

The former mentor of Pete Sampras explains why he believes no player will become the GOAT in tennis.

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One of America’s most prominent tennis coaches believes that Rafael Nadal’s run at the French Open is unlikely to be repeated again as he weighs in on the Great All All Time Debate.

 

Paul Annacone, who is a former top 20 player that went on to coach the likes of Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, has hailed the world No.2 during an interview with Tennis Magazine Italia. Earlier this month Nadal became the first player – male or female – to win the same Grand Slam tournament for a 13th time following his triumph at the French Open. Overall, he has won 100 out of 102 matches with his two losses being to Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling.

Nadal’s latest triumph has added fire to the continuous debate over which player should be considered as the GOAT out of the Big Three. A group that also includes Federer who also has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, as well as world No.1 Novak Djokovic. Some have argued that Nadal’s dominance at the same event could be a negative because the player who receives the honour should have it based on a variety of events. Although Annacone has dismissed this view.

“I understand the concept, but just considering that having won a Grand Slam 13 times could be a flaw in some way is madness,” he said.
“Indeed, I believe it can be considered the greatest achievement in the history of the sport.
“it is a goal that I cannot even think can be beaten.”

The 57-year-old is a critic of the subjective GOAT debate and believes that a player’s place in history should be based on the records they set alone. He revealed that Sampras once said to him that he considered finishing six separate seasons as world No.1 a greater achievement than the Grand Slam titles he has won. Sampras’ year-end tally is currently a record on the ATP Tour but it is likely that Djokovic will equal it at the end of 2020.

“I don’t believe in the concept of ‘greatest of all time’. I think we can debate, if anything, the “most successful”, who has achieved the most in their career. And to do this we can consider yes, the Slams won, the weeks spent at the top of the ranking, the number of Masters 1000 tournaments, the Davis Cups … .” Annacone explains.
“Most people tend to consider Grand Slam wins as the most important meter, and so do the players themselves. But I’m not sure: for example, once Pete Sampras told me that his biggest success was not the 14 Slams, or the 7 Wimbledon’s, but the 6 years in a row as number one in the world at the end of the year.’

Instead of GOAT Annacone has his own acronym that he feels is more fitting to the debate. In his view one of the Big Three will earn the right to be called the ‘MAOAT’ which stands for the Most Accomplished Of All Time.

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