Tennis United Episode 15

Rublev, Medvedev and Khachanov - the players who have been waiting for a long time

Seven-time champion of Grand Slam tournaments, former first racket of the world Mats Wilander , commentator of the Australian Open tournament on Eurosport channels, in an interview with the Championship, spoke about Maria Sharapova's chances to return to the top, about promising young Russian players, about Marat Safin's contribution to the popularization of tennis and Nadal's fight against Federer.

Rublev, Medvedev and Khachanov - the players who have been waiting for a long time

Mats Wilander

Photo: Eurosport

- Mats, do you think there is a chance for Maria Sharapova to return to her previous positions? And how difficult will it be for her to cope with the pressure that is on her?
- It can be seen that after a forced break, Sharapova is eager to achieve as many victories as possible. I think that in the near future it may well return to its previous form and again be among the top players. Maria comes to tournaments to win. Even at the US Open, she said that she was ready to play on any court, in any environment, in order to start winning again. Sharapova had already paid for her mistake when she was disqualified. After that, she came back and began to take her previous form.

- What can you tell about the young Russian woman Daria Kasatkina?
- Kasatkina is an excellent player, very talented. She moves well, she has a great mood. Besides, Daria can play on any surfaces. She is one of those young tennis players who can win a Grand Slam, like Roland Garros Ostapenko.

- What else does she need to improve in the game in order to catch up to the level of the winner of the Grand Slam tournament?
- Kasatkina has everything. As I said, she knows how to play a slice from the backhand, go to the net ... She is somewhat similar to Caroline Wozniacki in her style of play: she moves quickly, keeps the ball in play, feels the position. But she also has her own X-factor - great hands. It needs a little more power and it becomes one of the best in the world.

- There was no clear leader in the women's tour last year. Do you think something will change this season?
- No, it doesn't look like it. We all thought that Garbinier Mugurusa would stand out a little from the others, but she obviously has certain health problems, with injuries. Staying healthy over time is part of the profession. If you don't, you won't be able to dominate the entire season. And if you remember how Serena Williams performed over the years, it is just incredible! She did not just win something, but collected a collection of 23 Grand Slam trophies. I do not yet see anyone in the new generation who could approach her.

- Do you think Serena Williams will be able to return and replenish that collection of trophies?
- In principle, she can recover pretty quickly, she is already playing, and she is not onbefore a lot of workouts. Rather, she needs to win a few matches. The question is different. Will she have peace of mind and a desire to win a tennis match when she knows that her child and husband are waiting in the hotel room.

- Let's move on to men's tennis. What do you think of young Russian players?
- Rublev, Medvedev and Khachanov are three young players we have seen in different situations. I will assume that they will not stay in the category of promising players, but will probably get into the top 10 after some time. All three have already won tournaments. Medvedev just won in Sydney and Rublev made it to the quarterfinals at the US Open. All three of them show excellent tennis, they are dangerous, they are very serious, and I think that over the past 10 years they are the best representatives of Russian men's tennis.

I think they are at about the same level. They are friends, train together, have the opportunity to follow each other, compete with each other, this is very important. We missed such a group of Russian players, so it's great that they are progressing.

- You worked with one of the representatives of the past brilliant generation of Russian tennis players. This is Marat Safin. How strong was he as a player?
- Marat was very talented! It is no coincidence that he, as one of the great players, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Many believe that he could have achieved more, because he is the same age as Federer. And we know what he has achieved.

But I think that it is even more important that he is an idol for those young Russians about whom we spoke - Rublev, Medvedev and Khachanov. Obviously, as a child, they admired him when he showed his emotions and amazing game - he is really cute both as a person and as a tennis player. I think that Marat Safin contributed a lot to the development of Russian tennis when he played himself, and now the effect of these investments has begun to show even greater.

- Are you sorry that he is not involved in tennis now - neither as a coach, nor as a commentator?
- Well, I think that he is still young enough to feel that he lacks tennis. But it seems to me that after 40 he will start thinking about coaching or commenting.

- You mentioned Federer. Can you explain why he plays his best tennis at 36?
- I'm not sure if he plays his best tennis. Rather, he plays his most efficient tennis. For me Roger Federer is the best player, because he is very strong tactically. And his tactic is not only to be the best player, but to make his opponent the worst. I don’t think Roger was the same in the past, but he’s doing it very well now.

- Do you think Nadal can beat Roger Federe againra? After all, last year he lost all matches to the Swiss.
- I think Nadal needs patience, because Federer is playing as well now as last year, and hardly anyone can beat Roger, when he shows this kind of tennis. Nadal has to be careful not to fall into his traps. Federer will make Raphael play more aggressive, the rallies will get shorter, and in the end it will be better for Federer. Nadal needs to try to drag out the rallies so that the opponent gets tired quickly and starts making mistakes. It won't be easy, but this is Nadal's only chance to beat Federer.

Rublev, Medvedev and Khachanov - the players who have been waiting for a long time

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