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.
Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’
Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’
German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.
The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.
“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.
Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.
Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.
Zverev’s Instagram statement in full
“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”
No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government
The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?
Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.
The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.
Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.
“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.
Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.
Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.
“In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”
This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.
The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.
Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt
A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.
Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.
Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.
There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.
The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.
Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal joins star-studded Rotterdam field
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina decides to skip the Australian Open
Monte-Carlo postpones the ticket sales for the 2021 edition
Turin and London are potential co-host of the Davis Cup Finals in 2021
Lorenzo Musetti reaches the second round at the ATP Challenger in Istanbul
Ion Tiriac Launches Fresh Tirade Against Serena Williams
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Fitness Not The Reason Behind Roger Federer’s Australian Open Withdrawal, Says Official
Australian Open Champion Sofia Kenin Loses Management Contract
Novak Djokovic Hits The Magical 300 Mark As He Closes In On Federer’s No.1 Record
Steve Flink: “Medvedev Deserved To Win, But Is This Really The Onset Of A New Era?”
Steve Flink On The Decline Of American Men’s Tennis: “We Need To Start Attracting The Best Athletes Again”
French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is inhuman. He can play three or four more years and retire with Djokovic”
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