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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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Novak Djokovic Claims 375th Major Win To Reach Wimbledon Final

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Image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic is a win away from a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title after beating a spirited Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-3, in the semi-finals on Friday. 

The second seed was challenged by his 22-year-old but had all the answers to the questions that were asked of him. Djokovic dropped serve twice in his latest match but managed to come out on top with the help of 34 winners. He is through to his 10th Wimbledon final which is the second-highest tally in history among male players after Roger Federer (12).

I have said it many times Wimbledon has been a childhood dream for me to play it and to win it. It is worth repeating I was a seven-year-old boy watching the bombs fly over my head and dreaming of being on the most important court in the world which is here in Wimbledon.” Djokovic said afterwards.
“I was constructing Wimbledon trophies out of any material in the room!
“I have the tremendous support from my family and my wife has been with me for many years and my children too – it has been an incredible journey.
“I try not to take it for granted every time I find myself on this unique court. Obviously during the match it is business time and trying to do your work and I try out play my opponent.
“I am satisfied and pleased, but I don’t want to stop here – hopefully I get my hands on the trophy.”

The seven-time champion first drew blood six games into the match. A roller-coaster rally between the duo ended with Musetti hitting an unforced error that granted Djokovic a break for 4-2. Immediately afterwards he tried to generate more support from the crowd which triggered mostly cheers, as well as some booing due to what he said earlier in the tournament. Meanwhile, on the court, Djokovic looked to be in control when leading 5-3, 40-15, before Musetti unexpectedly broke back. Despite the blip, he sealed the 6-4 lead in the following game.

Djokovic continued to be sternly tested by Musetti, who produced moments of brilliance with his shot-making to rightfully earn the 3-1 lead in the second frame. But once again, he managed to fight back against the Italian by claiming three games in a row. With little to separate both players, proceedings headed into a tiebreaker after Musetti fought off a set point.

It was largely one-way traffic in the tiebreaker as Djokovic surged to a two-set lead by hitting a smash. However, the best point was undoubtedly produced by his rival who hit a stunning around-the-post winner that clocked in at 103 mph.  

Closing in on a record 375th win in a Grand Slam tournament, the 24-time Grand Slam champion broke once in the third set before sealing after a shot from his rival landed beyond the baseline.

“There was plenty of doubt. I came into London eight days before the tournament stared. I didn’t know [if I would play] and I was keeping everything open until the day of the draw,” said Djokovic who had knee surgery last month.
I have played a couple of practice sets with top plays and that proved to me I was in a good enough state to not just be in Wimbledon, but to go deep into the tournament. 
“That kind of mentality is there and is ever present. Thank you to the team members for helping me.”

The Serbian has broken another Open Era record to reach the title match at SW19. He is the first player to reach this stage on three separate occasions after turning 35. He will next take on Carlos Alcaraz in what will be a rematch of last year’s title match. Alcaraz came back from a set down to beat Daniil Medvedev earlier in the day. 

“Last year it was a really difficult match. He put me in real trouble,” Alcaraz said of his 2023 final clash with Djokovic.
“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. I’ve played a few times in Grand Slams, the final of Master 1000, multiple times against him. 
“I know what I have to do. I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me. It’s going to be a really interesting one”

Djokovic leads Alcaraz 3-2 on their head-to-head but only one of his wins have been in straight sets.

“He’s a great example of someone as a young player who has a well balanced life. A good family… a lot of charisma… carries himself well on and off the court.” He said of his next opponent.
“He’s deservedly one of the greatest 21 year olds we’ve ever seen in this sport. We’re gonna see a lot of him in the future no doubt. He’s gonna win many more grand slams. Hopefully in 2 days, not this one.”

Should Djokovic win the title on Sunday he would become the oldest player to ever do so at the age of 37.

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Carlos Alcaraz Beats Fiery Medvedev To Reach Second Wimbledon Final

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Image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz has become the second Spanish man in history to reach multiple Wimbledon finals after beating Daniil Medvedev who had a run-in with the umpire during their semi-final clash. 

The defending champion battled back from a set down to beat his opponent 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Making it the fifth time in a row he has defeated a top-five player at Tour-level events. Alcaraz has now won 18 out of 20 matches played at Wimbledon so far in his career.

Meanwhile, ex-US Open champion Medvedev produced a solid fight early on before getting outmanoeuvred on the court. The world No.5 got caught up in a dispute with umpire Eva Asderaki concerning one call which resulted in him receiving a code violation. Whilst his exact words were not picked up on camera, it appeared that he used offensive language against Asderaki. 

(It was) Different conditions, but I’m happy with my performance today.” Said Alcaraz.
“He (Medvedev) was dominating the match and playing great tennis with his serves. It was difficult for me and he tried to pull out all the shots. 
“It was helpful to be up 2-1 (in sets) and after that I could enjoy the match. In general I think I played a good match.”

A roller-coaster opening set saw Medvedev start by coming through a six-minute service game before his defensive shot-making began to draw a series of unforced errors from Alcaraz, who was struggling to find the right balance in his powerful hitting. Three consecutive breaks of serve midway through the set moved Medvedev to a 5-2 lead.

However, another twist unfolded on Centre Court with Alcaraz clawing his way back to level. It was during this period that the Russian landed himself in hot water. During a rally, the umpire called a double bounce against the 28-year-old, who then appeared to swear multiple times at the official. Following a brief discussion with the supervisor, he was hit with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“If you use a swear word you’re going to get a code violation and a warning and a fine, but if you verbally abuse the umpire, that’s when there’s a question mark. It could be a default,” The I quoted Tim Henman as telling the BBC.
“Just from where we’re sitting to see the umpire get down off the umpire’s chair, to see the umpire and the supervisor to go on the court, that doesn’t happen unless something has gone on.”

The controversy did little to unsettle the fifth seed who cruised through the tiebreaker by winning seven out of eight points.

Urging the crowd to cheer him on by putting his finger to his ear, Alcaraz produced a clinical fightback in the second frame to turn the match around in his favour. A three-game winning run guided him to level the match. 

The Spaniard continued to weather the storm with the help of back-to-back Medvedev forehand errors handing him a break for 3-1 in the third. It wasn’t a perfect performance from Alcaraz, who made the occasional mistake such as a mishit on a smash which would have given him a set point when leading 5-3. Nevertheless, it was enough for him to extend his lead to two sets against one. 

Closing in on victory and elevating the quality of his tennis, he dismantled the Medvedev two more times before converting his first match point by hitting a forehand shot that his rival returned out.

I tried to play long rallies and tried to play to the net as much as I can. I tried to not play his game.” He said of his tactics used against Medvedev.
“There were a few points that were really long rallies, but I tried to put my own game [on the match]. It was difficult to break the wall!”

Alcaraz is bidding to become the first player outside the Big Three to defend the men’s Wimbledon title since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. 

“I feel like I am not new anymore,” he commented.
“I know how I feel before the final I have been in this position before – I will try to do the things that I didn’t do last year and be better. 

In the final, he will play either Novak Djokovic, in what will be a repeat of last year’s title clash, or Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti. 

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