Steve Flink on the US Open’s female draw: “Is this Serena Williams’ last chance? Osaka is the favourite, if healthy” - UBITENNIS
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Steve Flink on the US Open’s female draw: “Is this Serena Williams’ last chance? Osaka is the favourite, if healthy”

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Here’s the men’s preview too

 

UbiTennis’s own Ubaldo Scanagatta is joined by Hall-of-Famer Steve Flink to predict the outcome of the New York Major. Will Serena benefit from more rest between matches? How will she cope with the lack of public? Osaka could be the best in the field, but her withdrawal from Saturday’s final is a concern – was it just precautional? Steve also talks about his new masterful book, “Pete Sampras. Greatness Revisited”, available on Amazon starting September 1.

Here’s the chat:

VIDEO SCHEDULE

00:00: Will an asterisk be needed for this edition of the US Open? “Well, six members of the Top 10 are missing… However, it will also depend on who the winner will be.”

02:24: Can Serena Williams notch her 24th Major title? “She has gone to a decider in every single match she’s played after the lockdown – she was gutsy, but perhaps not as dominant as she needs to be.”

06:10: Can she be counted out, though? “During a Slam, players have more time to recover…”

07:21: More about Serena: “The absence of the crowd is sending a shock through her system; it would have been the same had Federer come over.” Can she overcome the lack of support and maybe even influence the umpire? A potentially interesting match-up in the third round with another former US Open champion, Sloane Stephens…

12:05: A second round rendez-vous between Olympic champions? “Williams v Puig would be interesting; the Puerto Rican would not be intimidated, that’s for sure!”

14:56: “Next up for Serena would be a fourth-round encounter with Maria Sakkari, who just beat her in New York, and then either Muguruza or Keys – who would you rather have her play?”

17:12: Bottom half of the draw: “Kenin could have her hands full with Jabeur’s variety in the third round…”. How would the Australian Open winner fare against Sabalenka in the quarter finals?

19:24: “Jo Konta is in Sabalenka’s eighth, and she is a very consistent player, while some the other players are more unpredictable…”. Final predictions on the bottom half of the draw. 

21:57: Top half of the draw: “Karolina Pliskova is the first seed, but she might play Garcia or Brady early on, players who are better than their ranking shows…”. Is Kerber going to flame out early too?

24:17: “Osaka is the favourite to at least reach the final.” Will her stand on racial injustice distract her? What about the injury that forced her to miss the Cincinnati final against Azarenka? “She wasn’t very constant in Cincinnati, especially against Kontaveit, whom she might face again in the fourth round, but she would still be my pick to win it.” Could Camila Giorgi be a hurdle in the second round?

27:10: “Sevastova v Gauff is a very interesting first-round match, even though the American was very disappointing this week…”. Could Coco set up a meeting with Osaka in the third round?

27:59: “Kvitova is an underdog who could actually be better than the seeds!” She could play Osaka in the quarter finals.

28:24: “So many European players are staying home, so there are lots of good American players. Who will fare better among them?” Whose groundstrokes are more wayward – Ubaldo’s or Townsend’s?

30:33: Steve Flink’s new book is “Pete Sampras. Greatness Revisited”, available for purchase on Amazon starting September 1: “It’s a journey through Pete’s career, through what his peers say about him, and through what he says about himself.”

32:30: Sampras won 14 of the 18 Slam finals he played: did he have any weaknesses?

33:10: His final win came at his very last tournament, the 2002 US Open, after Greg Rusedski claimed that he was not at his peak anymore – what does the Brit think now about his past comments? “He sharpened Pete’s game for the later round, we can definitely say that!”

35:13: “Ivan Lendl claims that Sampras had the bad luck of being followed by Nadal, Federer and Djokovic – is he right? How would he fare against the Big Three?”

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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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