Alexander Bublik Illustrates His Philosophy: “Tennis Is 30 Percent Luck” - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Bublik Illustrates His Philosophy: “Tennis Is 30 Percent Luck”

The Kazakh, who scored his first Top 10 win against Monfils at Roland Garros last Monday, talks about his view of the world and of the time when he stopped worrying about the future.

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It spells Alexander Bublik, and yet it reads Jeffrey Lebowski. UbiTennis interviewed the 23-year-old Russian born tennis player who represents Kazakhstan last Monday, at the end of his first-round win against Monfils.

Bublik can be considered a press conference diesel engine, he starts slowly but then soars into a can’t miss one-man show. According to him, tennis is a simple game: “If you are missing the lines of the court, it means that you shouldn’t be aiming at them.” Above all, overthinking is a player’s greatest foe because “if you are overthinking, you will lose the match.” There is no strategy or premeditation even when it comes to his famous underarm serve, which, according to him, he doesn’t really use that often (“Basically, I did only one underarm serve per match in the last three matches”). On Monday, his attempt became an ace and maybe Monflis give him a glare, but we cannot be sure about that, because Bublik wasn’t looking at him, and he wouldn’t care anyway: “I don’t study my opponents, I focus on my game, and even when I hit an ace with an underarm serve, I don’t look at the opponent, I don’t care, so I don’t know how he reacted. In the end, the best strategy when you serve is to hit 25 aces in two sets, like I did in the match against Ramos in Hamburg [Editor’s Note: he actually had 17, which is still a lot].” 

 

The underarm serve is a crucial aspect, a synthesis of Bublik’s zeitgeist. According to him, not only is tennis an easy sport in which tactical preparation isn’t needed, but it is also a game in which Lady Luck plays a big role. He said, “Luck amounts to 20-30 percent in tennis, because one day you hit a big serve to the T and you ace, another day the ball is out and you lose the match. Obviously, skills are important when a Top 10 player faces someone who is ranked 150. However, when two players with similar ranking face off, luck matters. 50, maybe 70 percent of my underarm serve comes down to luck. For example, I hit an ace (against Monfils) even though he had his feet on the baseline – I just got lucky with the timing of the shot.”

He also talked a bit about his victory against Monfils, and about what it means for him. “The worst part of facing Monfils is… well, facing Monfils! It wasn’t a good start for him, because even if I was a break down, he gave me the opportunity to get back into the match. I’m happy because towards the end of the fourth set, I was fighting against myself and I’m happy I was able to get through it. It’s my first Top 10 win, furthermore coming on clay, which is not my favourite surface. This match makes me think that I can fight and win against anyone on the dirt, except maybe Rafa or Dominic.”

However, the truth is that this win is important, for sure, but up to a point, because even this kind of result must be achieved without any sort of worries. Here’s what he said about the end of the match, when he won despite having lost the third set: “I don’t know how I got back into the match, maybe I’ve just grown up, I don’t know, whatever” (which, fittingly, seems to be his favourite English word).

It was already clear that the Kazakh is a peculiar person, but the facets revealed by this interview make him even more fascinating, because even his simplicity manifesto is the result of lived experiences and of reflection. His mindset has clear foundations and reasons, and the underarm serve is linked to clear choices as well: “I do it only from the left side, because it is the only spot where I can make a drop shot.”

When did Alexander stop worrying? “In 2018, when I fell as low as World N. 220, or similar [N. 253], and I felt like quitting tennis. This helped me during the pandemic as well. I was not stressed out because I cannot do anything about it. In the tennis world, you can see many people who break down mentally, in particular on the Challenger Tour or in the Futures. When you reach the ranking that allows you to play at Grand Slam Tournament, you are not completely under pressure and most importantly, you have achieved your goals.”

Ambition (or lack thereof) is another main theme for Bublik. When he was 16 years old, he told Monfils that he would win against him within the next three years, but today he takes it easy, mindful of the vicissitudes of the past seasons. “I’m not ambitious, you must have goals but without being ambitious, because if you fail, you could become an alcoholic or a neurotic. This is why I don’t spend 15 hours a day training and I don’t sleep with my racquet. Great people like Roger, Rafa, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, they have reached the top, but we are not talking about many people, the vast majority of people don’t get those results.”

Bublik’s long-term goal is to lead an ordinary life, to have a wife and children, but at the moment he talks a lot about the need of an elder guide. This is another sign that acting indifferently is a tool that he uses to learn how to “control what I can control. I know that if my opponent hits a winner on the break point, I cannot do much about that.”

His sensei is a 75-year-old friend whose name he does not mention – his biggest quality is to point him to other venerable mentors, those you can find in the right books. “I don’t read for fun, I read in order to find an answer; for example, the mental coach is important, too, but I think that you could find the answers you need in books. You only need someone older and wiser than you are to suggest what to read. I read a couple of books a month. I’m reading Goethe’s ‘Faust’ these days for the second time”.

Even in this case, the answer is more complex than the one that could be expected of someone who doesn’t care, and according to the Bublik Manifesto, the relationship between Mentor and Telemachus must follow a well-defined path: “I don’t believe in giving advice, you have to show how to do it – smart people to whom I talk, they don’t give me advice but rather an idea, a thought to work with.” There are many different aspects to the replies that Bublik gave us, and perhaps his approach to conversations this way hides a strategy. He doesn’t want to tell us who he really is, even if we know what he is, i.e. a great tennis player and a very interesting person.

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Alexander Zverev Confident ATP Finals Will Be Safe To Attend

The US Open finalist speaks out about travelling to the British capital during the pandemic.

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Alexander Zverev at the US Open 2020 (photo Twitter @usopen)

Germany’s Alexander Zverev believes the ATP Finals will be one of the safest places to be amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The world No.7 will head to London next month to play in the season-ending event which features the eight best players in the world of men’s tennis. London has recently been moved from level one to level two on the British Government’s COVID-19 tier system following a rise in cases of the virus towards 100 per 100,000. People from different households are now no longer allowed to mix inside under the new rules. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, recently said that the number of infection cases is doubling every 10 days.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Zverev says he is confident that the event will be safe to attend. For the first time this year it is taking place behind closed doors in accordance with government rules. In 2019 242,883 fans attended the tournament over an eight-day period.

“We will stay in a hotel next to the stadium, which will be bolted. I think this will be the last place, where people are vulnerable to the coronavirus disease,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.

US Open runner-up Zverev is hoping for a strong end to what has been a testing season for the sport which was halted for five months due to the pandemic. On Sunday he added to his title collection by defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to win the bett1HULKS Indoors in Cologne. The tournament was also held without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Although we didn’t have any fans inside the arena, I felt the support from home. I had the feeling playing on home soil and I hope that many fans watched the final on TV,” Zverev commented.
“It is different and more difficult this year, as we played less tournaments than usual. I hope that I can keep it up like this.” He added.

At present six players have already qualified for the ATP Finals. Besides Zverev, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev are all set to play. World No.4 Roger Federer has also qualified but will not be playing after deciding to pull the plug on his season due to a knee injury.

The O2 Arena has been home to The ATP Finals since 2009 and has welcomed more than 2.8 million fans to the event over that period. However, the event will be moved to Italy from next year.

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Andy Murray Outlines Next Steps Following Cologne Defeat

The Brit says he has lost his way on the court following another early exit in a tournament.

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Former world No.1 Andy Murry has admitted he is losing his way on the court following his first round exit from the Bett1HULKS Indoors event in Cologne on Tuesday.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was knocked out 6-4, 6-4, by Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco in a late-night encounter that took exactly 100 minutes. Making it the second tournament in a row he has lost his opening match following the French Open. Against Verdasco, Murray struggled with his first serve throughout as he could only win 37% of points and failed to convert nine out of his 11 break point opportunities.

“I need to get back to playing my game on the court, I’ve kind of gone away from that a little bit,” Murray told reporters after.
“I’m maybe making a few more mistakes than usual because of that.”

Currently ranked outside the top 100, Murray is still on the comeback from injury. In January 2019 he underwent hip resurfacing surgery which involved inserting a metal rod into his joint. In a recent interview the Brit said the procedure would take his body an estimated 18 months to get used to. On top of that issue, at the start of this season he was sidelined with pelvic bruising.

Injury woes aside, Murray admits that there are ‘a lot of things’ he still needs to improve on as he describes his performance as only a marginal improvement on what he produced at Roland Garros. On that occasion he could only win six matches against Stan Wawrinka before crashing out.

“I need to practice, I need to play matches and physically I need to get better,” he said.
“Some things I did a little bit better but overall it was not that much better than that match (against Wawrinka in Paris).
“It’s a surface that I’m a little bit more comfortable on, so that probably helped me. But in terms of my game, it was not much better.”

Cologne is Murray’s fourth tournament of the season due to the five-month break related to COVID-19 and his injury setback. His win-loss record currently stands at 3-4 with his best run being to the third round of the Western and Southern Open. It was at that event where he defeated Alexander Zverev whom he would have played again this week if he had defeated Verdasco.

Organisers of the Bett1HULKS Indoors have confirmed that from Wednesday no spectators will be allowed to attend the event amid a rise of COVID-19 cases in the region. Tennis Net has reported that the 250 fans are still allowed to attend under local regulations but tournament director Edwin Weindorfer has decided for it to be held behind closed doors.

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Andy Murray Eyeing Revival In Form Following French Open Misery

The injury-stricken Brit outlines his goals for the remainder of the 2020 season.

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Former world No.1 Andy Murray is hoping to get back on track over the coming weeks as he targets a rise to the world rankings before the season concludes.

 

The three-time Grand Slam winner is returning to action this week at the Bett1Hulks Indoors in what will be his first match since his one-sided defeat at the French Open. In Paris Murray could only win six games in his first round match against Stan Wawrinka as he recorded just 36% of his first serves in. The performance drew criticism from former tennis player Mats Wilander who questioned if it was right to hand the Brit a wildcard to play in the Grand Slam to begin with. A view that was branded as ‘pathetic’ by Murray’s former training partner Daniel Vallverdú.

With the Paris disappointment behind him, Murray is eager to make up for his loss on the European indoor circuit. He has been handed a tough draw in Germany this week where he will start against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. The winner of that clash will then take on top seed Alexander Zverev. A player who Murray has already beaten this year.

“It will be good to get a few matches in over these next few weeks – I hope to perform better than I did in Paris,” said Murray.
“I want to win tournaments and move up the rankings.
“Physically, my body tends to feel better the more I play.
“Hopefully, I will play a lot over the next two weeks, perform well and see how it goes after that.”

Murray is currently ranked 115th on the ATP Tour and has only managed to play six matches this year. At the start of the season he was sidelined from action due to pelvic bruising. He is seeking a return back inside the world’s top 100 for the first time since May 2018.

In recent years Murray’s progression on the Tour has been hindered by various injury setbacks with the most serious concerning his hip. The 33-year-old has already undergone two hip surgeries with the last taking place in January 2019.

“It has gone well at times and sometimes been a struggle,” Murray reflected.
“I was told it would be an 18-month process for my body to get used to it.
“It changes the way your pelvis moves and your body needs to adjust.
“Hopefully with a few matches this autumn and some good training, next year will be a good one.”

Murray will start his campaign at the Bett1Hulks Indoors against Verdasco on Tuesday afternoon.

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