The U.S. Open gets underway today in New York and there is no one more insightful on tennis than Nick Bollettieri, indisputably one of the greatest tennis coaches in the history of the game. Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, Serena Williams — the list goes on: if you’ve heard of a tennis player, chances are Nick trained him or her. We interviewed him in our September issue on the secrets of his phenomenal success. Now, Nick offers his exclusive thoughts and predictions to the Octavian Report on the top players in the U.S. Open.
Serena Williams: We can go this way, that way, northeast, southwest — the best player now and before is Serena. However, there’s a lot on her mind right now. She’s wanting to break records. I have talked to her and urged her to just play the game and not worry about records. What she’s done in the past would be very, very difficult to every equal.
Maria Sharapova: She is hurting physically, and if she can’t move, if she has less mobility then she normally has, it would be disastrous because her game is built on hitting the ball early and controlling play. If she is unable to do that and has to start moving for a ball, it goes against her. So, the question mark is: will she be ready physically to play?
Belinda Bencic: Wow, wow, wow. She is 18 and she is ready to take on elephants, lions — you name it, she is ready. She’s beating many of the top-ten players. The only tentative side of her game is her second serve. But in her corner is Martina Hingis, and we all know what a champion she was and how strategically she played the game.
Novak Djokovic: You could go back 75 years and I still don’t believe you’d find anyone more balanced in technique and movement. The only question mark there: do I hear rumors that he’s hurting a little bit? Very important, because his game is built on an attitude of “I’m ready, boy — I’m ready to do whatever it takes.”
Andy Murray: Under Armor is thrilled to have Murray wearing their clothes because Under Armor stands for “Fight baby, fight — get into it!” And Andy Murray is right into it, right now. He is on fire.
Roger Federer: Oh, baby, does he have one more left? The answer is: listen to your coach Stefan Edberg. You can have one more left but not from the baseline. You must play the all-around game and go to the net. Do you hear me? Go to the net.
Kei Nishikori: Yes, he is small in size but he has the heart of a tiger. He is the shot maker: can you teach that? Watch out for him. If he stays healthy and does not get hurt, he could be right up on top with the big boys.
Rafael Nadal: Anytime you play Nadal you are ready for the fiercest fight of your life. He may be hurt, but, baby, no matter how wounded he is, he gives everything he has and then more. He never gives up.
Women’s Doubles: Martina Hingis, baby. She’s dangerous. She’s right up on top in the doubles. Why? She’s smart. She doesn’t have a weapon — but her weapon is her mind. She makes no mistakes.
Men’s Doubles: Right now what’s interesting is teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Knowing exactly what your partner does and how to respond without thinking about it. And no one does that better than the Bryan brothers.
For the audio version, hit play below.