As the women’s season comes to a close and the ATP prepares to start its final tournament of the season at the ATP Tour Finals, Beyond the Baseline host Jon Wertheim and Jamie Lisanti look back on 2018 and hand out awards, including the top moments of the year, the men’s and women’s MVPs, newcomers and breakout stars, matches of the year and more. The pair also gives a lookahead to the 2019 season with some quick-hitting predictions and wishes for the next year in tennis.
“In my experience, not even one week, it’s one match—if I’m able to get through that one match to give me the confidence back—honest to God, that’s usually all it takes to turn something around.”
Podcast co-hosts Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi met up in Lake Nona, Fla. to chat with American pro Alison Riske. She was preparing for this weekend’s Fed Cup final against the Czech Republic in Prague where she will be the veteran on a team that includes newcomers Sofia Kenin, Danielle Collins and Nicole Melichar.
Riske shares behind-the-scenes facts about what it’s like to play Fed Cup—from finding out who made the team and being part of the 2017 title-winning team to choosing opening night outfits and making rookie speeches (00:40).
The world No. 63 talks about her off-seasons plans (11:00) and reflects on her 2018 season (18:25)—her highlights include reaching the Nurnberg final, winning a $100,000 ITF title in Surbiton and scoring three Top-15 wins. She opens up about overcoming doubt throughout her career (21:38), why she turned pro (29:53) and how influential her dad was in keeping her in the sport (33:38).
The 28-year-old adds in some tips for being witty on Twitter (26:00) and gives her no-nonsense strategy for dealing with keyboard warriors (28:00).
Ahead of his appearance at the ATP Finals Next Gen in Milan, Taylor Fritz joins the Beyond the Baseline podcast to talk about the year-end event; his thoughts on innovations such as on-court coaching, towel racks on the court, the shot clock and more; his expectations and goals for the 2019 season; his approach when it comes to coaches; his experience with Paul Annacone and what he’s learned from him; his relationship with other players on tour, particularly the young Americans; his plans for the offseason and more.
On this week’s episode, Reem Abulleil joins the podcast to discuss the current year-end championships in women’s tennis, her time spent with Naomi Osaka after she won the 2018 US Open, whether or not winning a major has changed Osaka as a person and what she expects for her during the 2019 season and more. Abulleil also offers insight into her own career, discussing her unique story of how she became a tennis journalist and the challenges she faces covering sports in Dubai. Wertheim and Abulleil also talk about the upcoming exhibition match between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic that is planned for Dec. 22 in Saudi Arabia and whether or not the men should cancel their participation and what the possible implications are.
Tennis giveth, and tennis taketh away. The end of the season is finally in sight, and with so many players defending—or losing—huge chunks of points in Singapore, Zhuhai and London, podcast co-hosts Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi discuss the art of defending points (02:14).
It’s no secret that Jack Sock has struggled on the singles court this year (his record is 7-19). He could lose 1,400 points in the next few weeks—but instead of focusing on the negative, it can all be about perspective (06:28). Let’s also not forget his two Grand Slam doubles triumphs this season.
Two players, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kyle Edmund, won their first career ATP titles last week (13:26). It’s a big deal because…you never forget your first. Irina looks back at her WTA title win in Bogota in 2016, and tells an unforgettable story about her semifinal drama (14:04).
In Singapore, one of the biggest storylines (aside from the matches, of course) has been the on-court coaching debate. Nina and Irina give their opinions on what coaching should look like in the future, on both tours (18:55).
Current Eurosport commentator and seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander joins the podcast to discuss various tennis storylines, including Novak Djokovic’s resurgence this season and the obstacles he faced over the last year; Roger Federer’s 2018 season and where he could fit into tennis after he is done playing; what tennis will be like without stars like Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams; and much more. Wilander also talks about his work with Wilander on Wheels and his new wearable technology NeuroTennis, which provides instantaneous auditory feedback from a wrist-based device.
Eleven-time Grand Slam champion Gordon Reid joins the podcast to talk about his career and the growth of wheelchair tennis, and he settles some of the most common misconceptions. He’s been ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles, won a singles gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic games and has captured two singles Grand Slams and nine doubles Slams, including the US Open and Wimbledon this year.
In the episode, the 27-year-old Scot talks about the misconceptions of the sport (1:30), the rules of the game (2:30), making a career out of wheelchair tennis (3:30), the hardest part of his sport (4:20), the progression of the wheelchair tour (6:20), getting recognition in Scotland (8:10), being the first-ever singles wheelchair men’s Wimbledon champion (10:08), a fun fact about his legacy back home (13:56), how some wheelchair players can stand and walk (15:46), the challenges of traveling in a chair (17:21), and prize money discrepancies (18:53).
Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi discuss wheelchair tennis from their perspectives, the importance of watching wheelchair tennis live and the growth of the game.
Following the WTA’s decision to cut the U.S. part of its worldwide rights deal with beIN sports, the Tour’s head Steve Simon discusses the move to Tennis Channel, which includes a five-year deal for television and digital streaming broadcast rights, and what it means for American fans, how it can help build excitement and growth around the sport and more. Wertheim and Simon also talk about the future of the WTA in Asia, what Serena Williams means to women’s tennis and what will happen when she decides to move on from the sport, the tour schedule and impact of injuries, and much more.
In the midst of the fall tennis season, host Jon Wertheim and Jamie Lisanti discuss some of the sport’s current hot topics and storylines, including the success of Naomi Osaka during the Asian swing after her US Open triumph; Serena Williams’s decision to skip the fall tournaments and withhold any comments on the events during the final against Osaka in New York; the U.S. Davis Cup team captain vacancy and possible candidates for the position; Fernando Verdasco’s unfortunate incident with a ballkid and the debate over towels in tennis; and much more.
The podcast’s Nina Pantic caught up with world No. 9 Kevin Anderson in Chicago ahead of the Laver Cup (which Team Europe would win over Team World). The 32-year-old talks about choosing to go to the University of Illinois (00:50), his website RealLifeTennis.com (02:30), why he thinks his best tennis is still ahead of him (03:21), Novak Djokovic’s comeback (4:24) and what it’s like to spend time with Rod Laver (06:00).
Co-hosts Pantic and Irina Falconi discuss the aging trend on the ATP tour and ask: What is old anyway (07:45)? They talk about the pressure for young teens to choose to go pro or go to college (08:49), how Irina ended up leaving Georgia Tech early for the WTA tour (11:17) and the stress of the sport’s unforgiving calendar and how it leaves little room for celebrations (17:20). Irina also shares why she’s taking a break from the pro tour (25:12).