Why it’s great for ATP Tour to experiment with coaching, Serena’s return and expectations – Match Points #40, audio version

Josh Cohen and Marion Bartoli are in conversation ahead of the start of Wimbledon

June 26, 2022
The figures

Ahead of Wimbledon, there are plenty of talking points – from the ATP’s announcement that they will be introducing in-match coaching for the second half of the season to Serena Williams’s return as a wildcard. Roland-Garros champion and world No 1 Iga Swiatek heads to London looking to extend her unbeaten streak – while Rafael Nadal, fresh from treatment on his injured foot, is seeking a triumph and to keep alive his chances of the calendar Grand Slam.

It’s going to be a busy tournament – and so host Josh Cohen and former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli are in conversation for a Match Points podcast ahead of the year’s third Grand Slam.

Key moments

1.14 – What is it like to play Wimbledon? Bartoli is jealous of the players who are getting to practise on Centre Court ahead of the tournament – and she talks about her “special” memories of her time there. “You dream to have your name engraved into that board – it makes your focus that much more than usual.”

6.50 – What do you remember ahead of walking on court ahead of the WImbledon final? Bartoli says she remembers being alone in the upstairs locker room, listening to music, taping up blisters on her left foot, and her physio telling her: “It’s your moment – it’s your day.”

9.15 – What Bartoli remembers about match point on her win – “I remember turning to the same ball kid, which was on my left…I remember looking at my box, looking at my father, almost telling him where I’m going to serve.” She says it reminded her of being a child when she dreamt of winning Wimbledon and imagined having match point on Centre Court.

12.13 – The ATP are to test in-match coaching during the second half of the season, verbal and non-verbal. Cohen and Bartoli discuss Patrick Mouratoglou’s Twitter debate with Nick Kyrgios and Todd Woodbridge, and give their own views.

“When I was courtside [at Roland-Garros], I could hear what coaches were saying to their players,” says Bartoli. “Definitely there is interaction between players and the player’s box during a match.”

16.15 – Could tournaments provide coaches for players who don’t or can’t travel with one? That’s Cohen’s suggestion, and Bartoli thinks it could be a great option.

22.38 – Serena Williams is back. “I really wanted to see her play the doubles in Eastbourne with Ons Jabeur…to see her so eager to win, to find solutions, to see her spirit after everything she has won, it’s incredible to me,” says Bartoli. “If she finds some momentum and she goes through that first week with decent scores, she has absolutely a chance. All the players know it – when Serena gets going, she is so hard to stop.”

26.00 – Cohen suggests that 2022 Wimbledon will be a welcome-home party for Serena – and she might be surprised by the reaction she receives from the crowd.

31.14 – “The longer Serena is around, the more it may benefit Iga,” says Cohen, who thinks the pressure and attention might be off Swiatek, the world No 1. Bartoli gives a run-down of the players she thinks might be a challenger to the current dominant force of women’s tennis.

35.01 – Rafael Nadal is third favourite going into Wimbledon for the men’s singles – behind Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini. Bartoli says that the Spaniard can always spring a surprise and do the unexpected. “You can absolutely never write him off,” she says.

37.04 – Djokovic is currently an odds-on favourite to win the tournament. “He has found for me enough momentum through the clay to get going and win the title, for sure, at Wimbledon,” says Bartoli.

39.21 – The two discuss potential surprise packages to make a deep run into the tournament – on both sides of the draw.

41.02 – And find out what Bartoli says is the greatest part of becoming a Wimbledon champion!

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