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.
Monte Carlo Breakthrough Leaves Andrey Rublev With Mixed Emotions
The world No.8 takes confidence from his latest run but admits it is ‘impossible’ to play at his very top level every week on the Tour.
After achieving a career milestone at the Monte Carlo Masters, Andrey Rublev was sent crashing down to earth on Sunday.
The Russian tennis star broke new territory at the tournament by reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final at the age of 23. However, he was denied the title by Stefanos Tsitsipas who produced a clinical performance to seal victory in just 71 minutes. Ending Rublev’s run of winning seven finals in a row.
“I feel happy with the week, and I feel super sad with the final, that I couldn’t show my game,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Of course, I’m happy with the week because I beat so many great players and I beat one of the best players in history. It’s a special week.”
Earlier in the tournament Rublev stunned the draw when he upset Rafael Nadal in three sets en route to the semi-finals. Making it the fourth time in his career he has scored a win over a player ranked No.3 in the world. He is also the first player in history to come back from a set down to defeat Nadal at the tournament.
Besides the king of clay, Rublev also dismissed Roberto Bautista Agut and Casper Ruud. He has now won 24 matches on the ATP Tour this season which is more than anybody else. However, he is reluctant to link all of his match play with his latest performance.
“I feel tired after all the matches that I play, exhausted. But this is not excuse. He was just better than me, and that’s it,” he stated.
“Not always everything goes your way. It happened today. I was completely exhausted. Stefanos, he showed great game. He was just better than me, and that’s it.”
Despite his recent success, Rublev is eager to not get too far ahead of himself heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam where he has only played in the main draw twice before, including last year where he reached the quarter-finals.
“I would like to play really good in Madrid and I would like to play really good in Rome. I would like to play all of the weeks good. But it’s impossible,” he explains.
“Some of the weeks for sure will be better, some will be worse and some will be amazing.’
“For the moment I’m playing really consistent. I’m really happy I’m playing my best season so far. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Rublev is set to return to action next week at the Barcelona Open where he will be the third seed.
Former Australian Open Semi-Finalist Kyle Edmund Undergoes Surgery
It has been reported that the world No.69 may not be able to return to the Tour for ‘several more months.’
British world No.69 Kyle Edmund is set to be sidelined from the Tour for some time after having surgery to treat a long-standing problem in Switzerland.
The former British No.1 has confirmed he had a ‘small procedure’ on his knee after being hampered with issues in the area ever since 2018 when a scan revealed that he had fluid behind his left knee. Details of the surgery have not been disclosed by the person who conducted the operation was Dr Roland Biedert, according to BBC Sport. A specialist Orthopaedic surgeon who has also operated on Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro.
“I had a small procedure on my knee. I’m currently rehabbing. The recovery is going well and I hope to be back on court as soon as possible.” Edmund said.
Currently ranked 69th in the world, Edmund hasn’t played a competitive match since losing in the first round of qualifying at the Vienna Open last October due to his knee. 2020 saw mixed fortunes for the 26-year-old. After winning the New York Open during February of that year, he lost seven out of 10 matches played during the rest of the season. Including five defeats in a row.
No return date has been outlined by Edmund or his team following the surgery. However, British media have reported that he may be out for ‘several more months.’ Casting doubts over his chances of being ready in time for Wimbledon which starts on June 28th. He hasn’t been absent from a Wimbledon main draw since 2012.
Edmund has been ranked as high as 14th in the world with his best Grand Slam run being to the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. Overall, he has won two ATP titles and has earned more than $5.7 in prize money.
Grigor Dimitrov Blames Poor Monte Carlo Performance On ‘Big Infection’
The 29-year-old reveals the reason behind his error-stricken performance at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Thursday.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov said he simply ‘didn’t play’ in his latest match at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning just two games against Rafael Nadal.
The world No.17 fell 6-1, 6-1, to the 20-time Grand Slam champion in less than an hour on Thursday. He won 48% of his first service points and 32% of his second, as he hit 32 unforced errors. A dismal performance from Dimitrov who had beaten Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy earlier in the tournament.
Whilst it was never going to be easy playing somebody of Nadal’s calibre, Dimitrov has revealed that he had been troubled by an issue away from the court. He has been suffering from a ‘big infection’ in his tooth which has had an impact on his preparation for the match.
“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days,” he said. “I have a big infection in my tooth. It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that.’
“I was bearing it for a while this whole week.”
It is another case of bad luck for Dimitrov on the Tour this season. At the Australian Open he reached the quarter-finals in what was his best Grand Slam performance since the 2019 US Open. However, in his last eight showdown with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev he was hindered by a back injury.
“It’s straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately,” he commented on his tooth. “Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is.’
“At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.Hopefully it’s not too serious and I’ll be able to come back as soon as possible.”
Speaking in his press conference, Nadal said he ‘felt sorry’ for his opponent who ‘played a bad match.’ During the match the world No.3 wasn’t aware of Dimitrov’s problem but was told about it afterwards.
“I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a good friend. I just hope the situation is to improve as soon as possible,” he said.
Nadal, who is seeking a record 12th title in Monte Carlo, will play Russia’s Andrey Rublev next.
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