Karolina Pliskova Hoping To Turn Positivity From New Coach Into Success - UBITENNIS
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Karolina Pliskova Hoping To Turn Positivity From New Coach Into Success

Will a change of coach help the Czech end her Grand Slam title drought?

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With dreams of winning her first Grand Slam title in 2021 Karolina Pliskova has turned to the help of somebody who has already guided some of her rivals to the top prize.

 

In November it was confirmed that the former world No.1 will be coached by Sascha Bajin. A 36-year-old German who guided Naomi Osaka to her first two Major titles between 2017-2019. During that period he was named WTA coach of the year in 2018. Since then Bajin has also spent stints working with both Kristina Mladenovic and Dayana Yastremska but only achieved moderate success compared to his work with Osaka.

Now Bajin’s focus is on the 28-year-old left-hander who has already won 16 WTA titles during her career. The partnership is very much in its early days but Pliskova admits she likes what she is seeing so far.

“I think it is too early to judge something, but during the past few weeks he has been putting in everything possible to make me feel at my best. I cannot say everything about it now as I don’t want to be in heaven. Let us wait and see how things work out during the season,” she told reporters earlier this week.

Pliskova’s coaching history is one with many tiers. Her previous mentors include Jiří Vaněk (2014–16), David Kotyza (2017), and Tomáš Krupa (2017–18). Furthermore, she has also collaborated with former players Rennae Stubbs and Conchita Martinez, as well as Danni Vallverdu who is best known for his work on the ATP Tour.

Amid a history of coaching changes, Pliskova explains that she is trying to work with those who ‘put their heart into what they do.’ Her hope is that Bajin’s coaching history and commitment will make a good combination for the future.

“One thing for sure is that he [Bajin] has had success with many players. He knows how to be in a big team. He is super positive and there are lot of positive people around him as well, and that’s what I need. I am trying to find the right sort of people who put their entire heart into what they do. I feel Sasha is one of them and I am sure he will put his heart while he is in my team,” Pliskova explained.

Whilst there are high expectations the world No.6 stresses that she believes a large portion of her success is down to her on the court.

“Every time I have had a new coach I have played okay as I still believe that most of the success on court lies in me and not just on the coach. The coach is there to make me feel better and confident,” she added.

Pliskova is the third seed in this week’s Abu Dhabi Open. It will be the first tournament she has played since losing her opening match at the Ostrava Open in October.

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Jannik Sinner, Nick Kyrgios, Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta in the spotlight in Montpellier

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Jannik Sinner, Nick Kyrgios, Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta and David Goffin will grab the headlines at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, an ATP 250 tournament. The Southern French tournament is scheduled from 22 to 28 February 2021. 

 

Sinner made his Open Sud de France debut in 2020, but he lost to Swede Mikael Ymer in the round of 32. The 19-year-old Italian player will play in his first indoor tournament in 2021. Last year Sinner advanced to his first ATP 500 quarter final in the ABN AMRO indoor tournament in Rotterdam. In his most recent indoor tournament the 2019 Next Gen Finals champion beat Alex De Minaur, Adrian Mannarino and Vasek Pospisil to claim his maiden ATP 250 title at the Sofia Open. 

On French soil Sinner reached his first Grand Slam quarter final in his Roland Garros debut before losing to Rafael Nadal in three sets. He was the first debutant to reach the Roland Garros quarter final since Nadal achieved this feat in 2005 en route to his first Paris title.

Nick Kyrgios won his first ATP Tour title in Marseille in 2016. The Aussie star will be bidding to win his seventh title in his first appreance in Montpellier. Kyrgios beat Rafael Nadal en route to his first Grand Slam quarter final at 2014 Wimbledon, his first Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati 2017 and the second of his third ATP 500 titles in Acapulco 2019. He reached the 2015 Australian Open quarter final at the age of 19, becoming the youngest quarter finalist in Melbourne since Andrej Cherkasov in 1990.

The line-up will also feature three top 20 players: 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist and Davis Cup champion Roberto Bautista Agut, two-time Montpellier finalist David Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta (two-time US Open semifinalist in 2017 and 2020). Eight French players from ten editions have won the Montpellier title since the first edition in 2010. Richard Gasquet has won three Montpellier titles in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lifted his only tophy in the French tournament in 2019. Ugo Humbert will be bidding to win his career title after claiming two tournaments in Auckland and Antwerp in 2020. 

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Next Gen Star Carlos Alcaraz Praises ‘Idol’ Nadal

The rising star talks Nadal, Ferrero and his hopes for the future.

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Growing up in Spain is unsurprising that Carlos Alcaraz is inspired by the achievements of tennis legend Rafael Nadal.

 

The 17-year-old tennis star is labelled as one of the most promising youngsters on the ATP Tour following a breakthrough 2020 season where he won a trio of Challenger titles. Becoming the second-youngest player in history to do so after Richard Gasquet. It was also during the same season where he became the youngest player to win an ATP 500 match since the series began in 2009 and he ended the year ranked 136th in the world.

Finding his footing on the Tour, Alcaraz is hoping that he will be able to follow in the footsteps of his idol Nadal who has won 20 major titles so far in his career. The teenager believes the mentality of his compatriot is one that can serve as an example for everybody to follow.

Rafa is my idol,” Alcaraz told itftennis.com. “His hunger, his attitude. It doesn’t matter if he plays a first match or a final, his level of concentration is the same. He wants to win every match.
“His mentality is an example for anyone, a tennis player or any person. He motivates everyone because he never surrenders. Everyone wants to be the best, no matter if you´re an athlete, a football player, a doctor, a journalist… everyone has an objective in life.”

Alcaraz is currently preparing for the Australian Open after successfully qualifying for the tournament earlier this month. In Doha he scored wins over Filip Horanský, Evgeny Karlovskiy and Hugo Dellien. It is the first time he has qualified for a grand Slam main draw in his career. An impressive achievement for a player who is also currently studying for his Segundo de Bachiller exams and driving test.

Guiding the tennis prodigy on the Tour is Juan Carlos Ferrero. A former world No.1 player who won the 2003 French Open. The two have been working together since 2019.

“I’m very proud to have Juan Carlos as a coach,” said Alcaraz. “He has great experience and knowledge and I’m very proud to be able to learn from him.
“He contributes to my knowledge in a way that other coaches probably wouldn’t be able to. He understands the situations that I’m living now, because he experienced them in the past. He knows how to manage the pressure.”

It remains to be seen just how successful Alcaraz will become but the expectations are high. He is already the youngest player ranked in the world’s top 600 and the only player born in 2003 to be inside the top 400.

“I don’t focus on the records or if I’m the youngest player,” he stated. “I want to improve every day and to focus on my objectives. My aims in 2021 are to play at Roland Garros, to be in the top 100 and to finish the season in the top 50.”

Alcaraz is set to return to competitive tennis next week.

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Filippo Volandri believes that Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti are the future of Italian tennis in the Davis Cup

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Former world number 25 Filippo Volandri has been named as the new captain of the Italian Davis Cup. 

 

Barazzutti served as Italian Davis Cup captain for twenty years and won the Davis Cup trophy in 1976 in the final against Chile. He also played in three more finals in 1977, 1979 and 1980 and served as Fed Cup captain from 2002 to 2016 guiding Italy to four titles with a great team formed by Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Barazzutti was the longest-serving Italian Davis Cup team captain in national tennis history. 

Volandri made his debut in the Davis Cup in 2001 in a dead match against Finland. Later that year he beat Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic. He played in ten Davis Cup ties from 2001 to 2010, finishing with a 10-7 win-loss record. 

Volandri talked about his plans as Davis Cup captain in an interview to Italian Sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

Volandri has served as Italy’s national technical director since 2018 and worked on the Over 18 project aimed to guide Italian young players in their transition to professional tennis. Volandri’s work is now paying off, as eight Italian players are ranked in the top 100 and four players are in the top 40. Young stars like Matteo Berrettini, Lorenzo Sonego, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti have made their impact on the ATP Tour. 

“I have not slept much in the last few days. I feel emotional and I wanted to talk to every Italian player. I contacted the most experienced and the youngest players. I want to build a solid relationship to them and I am planning to meet them frequently. I met Jannik Sinner in Bordighera before he left to Australia. Jannik has showed that he is a mature player and works hard in training. He will continue improving in the future. Lorenzo Musetti needs more time for his tennis style, but he made a big step forward and we follow him with great enthsiasm. Sinner and Musetti are the future of Italian tennis in the Davis Cup. Thanks to the Italian Federation I have built a team of professional people, who have contributed to the growth of Berrettini, Sinner and Musetti. I will work with mental coaches. I believe in the psycological aspect of tennis. We are working with tennis statistician Craig O’Shannessy. With his data we have been able to change our training methods and the ways to prepare matches”, said Volandri.

Volandri succeds Corrado Barazzutti, who let him debut in the Davis Cup in 2001 when he was a young player. The new captain wants to thank Barazzutti, who guided Italy to the semifinal in 2014. 

“At such an important moment for my coaching career I want to thank Corrado, who let me debut in the Davis Cup even though I was just a kid, when he was just named captain. I hope I am able to honour what he did in this position. I learnt a lot from Corrado. I know exactly what means to compete in a Davis Cup tie. It’s like playing four tounaments in a row. I played in the Davis Cup for many years, but I cannot compare to being Davis Cup captain. I have a big responsibility”, said Volandri. 

Italy secured its spot in the Davis Cup Finals in 2021 with a 4-0 win over South Korea in Barazzutti’s final tie as captain. 

“Italian tennis will always be grateful to Corrado Barazzutti for his extraordinary contribution for our movement, first as player and then as a coach”, said Italian Tennis Federation Angelo Binaghi 

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