Feb/19

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Biofile: Radu Albot Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: ATP no. 82. Career high ranking was 79 earlier this year. Won ATP doubles title in Istanbul in 2015 with Dusan Lajovic.

Ht: 5-9 Wt: 160

DOB: November 11, 1989 In: Kishinev, Moldova, Soviet Union

First Tennis Memory: Well, all the time when I think about first touching tennis, it’s the tennis ball, the racquet and the wall. I was hitting the ball against the wall when I was a kid, about six year old.

Tennis Inspirations: David Ferrer. Marat Safin. Sebastian Grosjean.

Nickname: Machine.

Last Book Read: I’m still reading – The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

Current Car: I don’t have a car.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: The first professional tennis player I met I think it’s Sargis Sargsian from Armenia. Because we played Davis Cup in Moldova against Armenia. And I was a ballboy. And he came there and he was the first pro that I ever saw. That’s who I met the first time.

Greatest Sports Moment: I think it’s last year US Open semifinal in doubles (with Malek Jaziri), if we talk about doubles. If we talk about singles, the best result in ATP was semifinals (Moselle 2018) and the best result in Grand Slam was third round (2018). I think these are the most memorable things.

Most Painful Moment: Losing matches from match points. I think for everybody it’s painful. I had a match against Goffin in Gstaad two years ago, I lost 62 67 67 having four match points. I think this is one of the toughest matches.

Favorite Tournament: I think I would call the Grand Slam…US Open.

Closest Tennis Friends: I have a friend who I don’t see as often now, his name is Ilya Marchenko, he’s from Ukraine. He’s a little bit injured. We talk a lot, even if we’re not at the same tournaments. And usually with the Romanian and the Russian players.

Funniest Player Encountered: Maybe Benoit Paire. I played against him and he tried to make always like trick shots, drop shots. And he was missing and I tell him keep trying, keep trying [smiles]. And he was trying to make. And apparently he made one at the end [smiles].

Favorite Sports Outside Tennis: Yes, I like snooker. From winter sports – biathlon. And curling.

Three Athletes You Like To Watch and Follow: I like Cristiano Ronaldo. For snooker – Ronnie O’Sullivan. And from tennis – Roger Federer, still I’ll say.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Pistachio.

Interesting Fact: Radu can speak English, Romanian and Russian and a bit of German and Spanish.

Strangest Matches: I can say there were a couple of matches where it was very windy and raining. It was on clay courts. It was in a Challenger in Moscow. We kept on going. I was up in the score so I wanted to finish as fast as I can. I was just taking the ball and throwing it in to continue, continue to finish the match before the storm comes. And I finished it. Also the strange match happened at Wimbledon where two years in a row I didn’t finish my first round. So I was supposed to come the next day to finish the match. It happened last year in 2018 and 2017. Because of darkness, because of rain, different things. Also it happened at one match, it was delayed four times in Gstaad because of rain. So you go to the court, just warm up, get out. Get on court, warm up. If I can think about it more, I can think about more. [Radu’s girlfriend Doinita reminds him of one by saying, “lights.”] Actually, two weeks ago I was preparing for a serve and the lights indoors just shut off. So it was dark. So we sit down for ten minutes. It was dark and we couldn’t continue (versus Gulbis). I was a set up and 1-0 in the second.

Embarrassing Career Moment: I don’t think so. (Ever lost by double bagel?) I have lost 0 and 0 but I don’t think this is embarrassing. It’s sport, if the other guy is playing good then you play not so good on that day and you lose love and love, just keep on. Try and forget this as fast as possible. But I can’t remember now an embarrassing moment. So I would say I don’t have.

People Qualities Most Admired: I like the guys who are honest of course. I like the guys who are straight, who don’t talk behind you. If you have a problem, maybe solve it straight away, like face to face. To be as simple as possible – not to become superstar and keep walking and don’t say Hi. Just basic.

Why Do You Love Tennis: Okay, that’s interesting. First of all, lots of traveling. I like to travel. I like to compete. Competing is interesting against different opponents. Thinking of different tactics. Sometimes if you lose, you want to take the revenge. Sometimes you win and you want to prove that it didn’t happen by mistake, that win. I think tennis is an interesting sport. Everybody is on the same Tour, the same guys, basically like 100 top ATP. And just meet friends here, talk. And of course, it’s an interesting sport. I love the chances to play the best tournaments in the world. And you have a lot of chances to play against the best players in the world. Which is great I think. And why not try to beat them [smiles].

Has Career Wins Over: Karlovic, Bagdhatis, Kohlschreiber, Millman, Carreno Busta, Seppi, Isner, Youzhny, Gulbis, Opelka, F Mayer, de Minaur, Escobedo, S Johnson, Nishioka, Almagro, Cecchinato.

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41 comments

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2019 at 10:57 am

    I first noticed Albot at US Open qualies in 2012 when he won one round. A woman at my tennis club was also there and she was talking about how she liked his game. He stood out beause he looked the size of a regular park player and he is from a country most people never heard of before, Moldova. Then he made the main draw and lost in 1R in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and then he got to 3R in 2016. He has stayed around 100 for years while occasionally breaking through with good wins and good, tough showings vs top players. Could he be the next Goffin or Schwartzman or Ferrer? You never know.

  • Hartt · February 21, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Scoop, thanks for this interesting Biofile. Some time ago Albot did a Q&A on reddit, and got some new fans as a result. I have sort of followed his career since then, but did not know a lot about him as an individual. And he is reading a book! 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    It’s funny how fans gravitate to him. I’ve seen parts of several of his matches at US Open and Miami and Delray and people like the way he plays and competes, class competitor who gives 110% effort. He is the complete opposite of a clown like Kyrgios. People like honest, fair, tough, underdog players like Albot. He just scored a major win today over Kyrgios 64 in the third. He had lost to Kyrgios at US Open last year after winning the first set. He could become a Ferrer, Schwartzman, Victor Estrella type player.

  • Hartt · February 21, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    I did not see Albot’s match against Kyrgios, but was very glad he won. Like many others, I have a soft spot for the smaller guys who give everything they have on the tennis court.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 21, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    I like Albot too, but don’t compare him to Ferrer or Schwartzman. He’s not that good. He’s better than Estrella Burgos, but he’s more in line with a Dudi Sela, not as good either in his prime, or another little man, Dzhurmur. But Albot is at his high-water mark and he’s 29. I don’t see him going too much further up the rankings.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Albot played fantastic, he forced Kyrgios to man up and play real tennis but Nick crumbled like a crumb cake. Albot was simply too tough for him. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It got hot in the kitchen and Nick fled the kitchen like a mental midget. Nick is a dog with just a little fight in his heart, Albot is a warrior with a huge fighting heart. This was the difference. Don’t judge the fighting heart by the size of the dog. Kyrgios is just a big pussycat. Albot is a lion.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 21, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    Albot is superior to Sela, French Open doubles QF, US Open doubles semi, doubles title in Istanbul, I think the best is yet to come from Albot, he’s one of those slower later bloomers is my sense. Like Victor Estrella, I see Albot’s best years coming at around 32-33-34. He takes care of himself, his body and he keeps getting better. Huge win today for him, this win could spark his career. Johnson next, Johnson is beatable.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 22, 2019 at 5:40 am

    Albot is not better than Dudi. Dudi’s beaten much higher-caliber players and then Dudi’s top ranking is like #29, Albot’s is what? #79. Dudi’s won 143 ATP matches, Albot 47. Come on!

  • Hartt · February 22, 2019 at 7:07 am

    Scoop, I looked to see if you’d done a Biofile of Mackenzie McDonald but couldn’t find one. He would make a terrific subject.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 22, 2019 at 8:10 am

    I’ll tell you, Opelka was El Stinko last night against Delpo. He lost 4 and 4 to the big Argentine who’s like the hometown favorite at Delray Beach. But the big American, still only 21, who set last week at the NY Open the single tournament (non-slam) record for aces hit, looked sloppy and was error-prone. Isner has had a good career, but I think everyone would be disappointed if at the end of his career, Opelka like Izzie only has one quarter and one semi slam showing.

    Opelka is a fine athlete and no doubt, an ace machine, but his backhand is so hit and miss and his forehand is not what Pete Fischer, Pete Sampras’s old coach, would call a “repeatable” stroke. He hits everything way too flat. It reminded me of my son yesterday as he was training with another boy, who has his own private coach, hearing the coach tell his opponent: “Put more spin on the ball. What are you a WTA player?”

    Opelka is like Pliskova only he doesn’t have the tattoos.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Albot has a few years to catch up to Sela, I think he will. Similar type warriors.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2019 at 8:15 am

    Hartt, I have not done it yet. Better get it soon too, one coach in Delray told me he thinks McDonald has the best strokes of all the Americans and he will be top 15 eventually.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2019 at 8:18 am

    It’s very difficult to play Delpo in his house, it’s a cauldron of Argentine heat and passion. Opelka had no chance buthe showed he could hang with him. Eventually he will beat Delpo, within a year or two. Opelka will be better than Isner, higher ranked and win bigger titles. He’s progressing and well ahead of Isner at the same age. He moves better and his a better athlete. He’s a very aggressive player and has the strikes to end points as Isner is actually more of a grinder in his return games. I see a major upside for Opelka and he will be top 5 and possibly no. 1.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 22, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    I’ll take that bet, Mac Mac won’t be top 15. You don’t win the NCAA championship singles as a junior if you’re going to be top 15 unless you’re a freak like Izzie who never won NCAA’s. You win it as a freshman. Mac Mac’s not that good.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Dan you always said Blake wasn’t that good. You never said Schwartzman was that good. You always said Sock wasn’t that good. There’s probably several more that your wrote off or stuck your famous fork in. McDonald is a rising force and we have to wait and see where he goes. I think he hasn’t come close yet to his plateau, that will come in the future years. I think he has the potential to be a Goffin or Ferrer or Schwartzman type force.

  • Hartt · February 22, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    Felix just beat Jaume Munar in SS in Rio, 6-4, 6-3. Outside of a couple dips, Felix played very well, serving well, showing strength off both wings and also his terrific foot speed. He will play the winner of Cuevas vs ARV in the SF. A nice run for the 18-year-old, making the SF of a 500 tourney.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 22, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    What an incredible win by Albot to beat Johnson 16 63 76. and the eruption of emotion after. This is a special player, that Kyrgios win was a career changer. I see something special in this guy Albot, great fighter, so smart, so brave under pressure. Mixes things up, goes to net and he has a tremendous passion and desire underneath the stoic exterior. Absolutely devastating win tonight by Albot over a desperate Johnson. He was too good, too cool, too brave at the end. Crushing loss for Johnson. Albot heading to top 50.

  • Hartt · February 22, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Albot beat Johnson in 3 sets and now is No. 69 in the live rankings.

  • Chazz · February 23, 2019 at 6:59 am

    I guess that Fritz loss to McDonald isn’t looking so bad now, eh Dan? Evans playing great and into the semis too.

  • Hartt · February 23, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Felix Auger-Aliassime has a tough task in the Rio SF today, facing the wily vet, Pablo Cuevas, who won this tourney in 2016. But if Felix does win, he will be in the top 60 of the rankings. He is No. 77 in the live rankings now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 23, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Well, McDonald looked like a top 15 player beating Delpo last night and don’t blame the Delpo knee, Delpo kept on playing and believed he would win but McDonald came up with the shots over and over and over again, volleys, backhand so solid, forehand a weapon. McDonald has the best strokes of any American. Delpo got shocked by a rising force. If Delpo was so hurt why didn’t he retire to prevent further damage to his knee? Please answer this.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 23, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Evans has a newfound urgency and desperation and he’s playing his best, he looked lethal in qualies and all the way though the draw. Force to be reckoned with in 2019.

  • Dan Markowitz · February 23, 2019 at 8:49 am

    No, still a bad loss, Chazz. You’re not going to the top 20 if you lose to Mac Mac. Look does Mac Mac have talent, oh yeah he does, but he’s up and down player and these tournaments like the NY Open and Delray are deceptive. What did Tiafoe do after winning Delray last year. Basically nothing except for the unexpected Aussie O fine result. Let’s see what Mac Mac and Fritz and Izzie and Albot and Evans do when they have to play the varsity in Indy Wells.

  • Gordon K. · February 24, 2019 at 2:50 am

    Can someone tell me who Albot’s coach is and whether he’s recently changed his coach or his routine? He was fantastic today against Mackie McDonald in every facet of the game and he looks WAY better than he did just a few months ago. He’s now hitting huge serves which is something new, also has much more power on his groundstrokes. Would love to know if he has a theory as to how he improved so much in such a short period of time.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 24, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Gordon, he is no longer with Liam Smith, he’s with a Swede who was a pro and who coached Thomas Johansson to the AO title, can’t recall his exact name. Yes Albot is a real powerhouse, he’s on a strict diet, no sweets, really taking care of his body, massage a little yoga. The wins over Karlovic were huge and super stressful, it’s not tennis, it’s a different game, you can’t miss your opportunities when they come and you have to hope Ivo misses. Like Ivo DFed on the first point of the tiebreak and that’s all it takes but you can’t miss against Ivo. To get by Ivo two weeks in a row seems to have sparked Albot. He had super tough matches with big serves Kyrgios and now that he got by that, his baseline game is thriving.

  • Hartt · February 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Felix won against the wily vet and clay court specialist, Pablo Cuevas, and will play Dzere in the Rio final. Felix is the youngest finalist in an ATP 500 tourney since they started that designation in 2009. I think Felix is the favourite against Djere, certainly if he can play at the level he showed against Cuevas.

    Scoop, back in Dec. 2015 had high praise for Felix. This was after Felix won the Eddie Herr tourney over Alex de Minaur:
    “Felix is the kind of player and person that just stands out from the rest – he has the countenance and aura of a prince – who someday surely will be the king.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 24, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for finding that quote Hartt, keep hoping Felix makes me look so smart 🙂 There have been some bumps in the road, as to be expected, but he’s on the right path. To be top 50 after this final will be a major step. If this progression continues for the next two months, a major title shock the world win could come sooner than anyone expects.

  • Hartt · February 24, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Felix showed some serious nerves in today’s final and never got his serve, or his game, working. But he is now No. 59 in the rankings, and doesn’t have many points to defend over the next few weeks, so he could make the top 50 if he wins some matches. His opponent, Laslo Djere, jumped even more spots and is now at No. 37.

    Scoop, I did not have to search for your quote. I have pages and pages of notes on Felix, and I recorded your quote at the time. Last night I had fun reading through my Felix notes. Now I have to update them. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 24, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Felix just got outplayed but he put up a fierce fight at the end and almost stole that second set. Djere earned it, he was fantastic, he’s become a player on the verge of cracking the elite pantheon, the win today and the upset of Thiem proved it. Felix is rocketing up but so is Djere. Interesting final but the Delray beach final was one of the best finals I’ve seen in years. It’s a cult classic like the Houston final last year Johnson vs Sandgren.

  • Hartt · February 25, 2019 at 7:28 am

    I wish I’d seen the Albot vs Evans match, it sounds terrific. I did see the final set TB, and that was highly entertaining.

    I was disappointed in the Felix vs Djere match. Not just because Felix lost but because both guys were far from their best. They were both nervous playing in their first ATP final. But it was a great tourney for Laslo, first beating Thiem and then Ruud, a pretty good clay court player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Hart, it was a sensational final, as good as any I’ve seen, Agassi vs Sampras, Fed vs Nadal, Fed vs Djokovic, Djokovic vs Nadal, Johnson vs Sandgren, Albot vs Evans. Don’t laugh. It was that good. In it’s own way.

  • Hartt · February 25, 2019 at 10:38 am

    I’ve bookmarked the highlights and look forward to at least seeing that much.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 11:20 am

    I dont think the highlights will do the match justice. They battled the whole way and they both played daring, courageous brave tennis, they went for their targets and tried to get to net. Each point was like this, and they both were desperate to win and both came up with their best tennis through to the very end. I will never ever forget this match, it was tennis at it’s very best. Could not have been any closer and both were feeling the same feelings of urgency and pressure and both responded to it positively. Shame Evans had to lose, or vice versa. Hope Evans wins his first title soon, he deserves it.

  • catherine · February 25, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    No mention of this match in the UK press – or not in the Guardian. Even allowing for the time difference. Maybe Dan’s still in disgrace.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Catherine, is Evans really a disgraced figure in UK sports? I feel the opposite, he deserves credit for taking the full blame for his cocaine bust and not blaming it on some BS or fake excuse, he just manned up and said I did it. How rare is that today??! Everybody who gets busted for using cocaine or steroids always seems to have excuses. But Evans just admitted it and moved on and paid his price. I like Evans, how he acts and how he plays.

  • catherine · February 25, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    No, I was joking a little. I think most people have forgotten about the cocaine now – it wasn’t a PED after all. I was just surprised there was no mention of the match. Maybe Kevin Mitchell’s busy with boxing in the Guardian. Other papers may have something. I have adblocker so don’t see the Telegraph as I used to.

  • Hartt · February 25, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    In today’s Tennis Podcast they talked about Dan Evans and said he is determined to make the main draw of Wimbledon to avoid any controversy about whether he should be given a WC.

    He does seem to understand that he threw away a pretty good thing, and now has to work his way back up.

  • Hartt · February 25, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    The Telegraph does have a couple articles about Evans. He certainly owns up to the impact of his cocaine ban.

    “After Evans’s narrow 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 at the hands of Moldova’s Radu Albot, he was asked about the year he had been forced to spend away from the tennis court. “It was the worst time in my life,” he replied. “And it’s not just me. It would be selfish to think that it didn’t affect anyone else. Those people have been good to me and hopefully now I can repay it.

    “Those feelings of anger and hurt of what you did to people don’t go away easily. You have to realise what I did to people and what I did to myself and the sport of tennis. It was a terrible thing.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 25, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Catherine, we already discussed here how cocaine is a tennis performance enhancing drug, in a different way than steroids. We don’t have to rehash that topic. I like Evans, he gave me a good vibe when I approached him to do a Biofile as he was leaving the venue after practice, he said he was coming back later and could do it then. I saw him walk by later alone but I was busy and didn’t run over and grab him. Maybe in Miami I will try harder. I like Evans, he’s a good chap, I got that vibe clearly.

  • catherine · February 26, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Scoop – I must have missed that conversation and I certainly wasn’t intending to bringing it up again. I’m just puzzled why Dan’s exploits weren’t written up in the Guardian. I know Mitchell is no longer full-time on tennis so maybe there’s a vacancy at present. Long line of applicants I imagine.

  • catherine · February 26, 2019 at 2:11 am

    Hartt – thanks for the Telegraph info. I’m hoping Simon Briggs might move over to the Guardian. I have insider info that he’d like the job.

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