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WHAT’S INSIDE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
NO TOP RANKED MALE HAS EVER WON A GOLD MEDAL
p.8-11 OLYMPIC DARKHORSES
p.12-14 ORDER ON THE COURT
Letterfrom the Editor
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GOLDEN AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Theodore L. LePak email@example.com Erwin Ong Blair Hemley
To advertise with us firstname.lastname@example.org General comments or questions email@example.com
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p.20-21 MEN’S AND WOMEN’S DRAWS
Alberto Capetillo Juan Esparza
Once every four years the greatest athletes in the world compete in the Olympic Games to bring home the elusive gold medal for their country. This year the tennis world is fired up about the London games being hosted at the Wimbledon grounds. The colorful spirit of the Olympics mixed with the prestigious aura of Wimbledon will certainly make these summer games a legendary experience for all. In celebration of the Olympics, we incorporated the five rings into the cover with five of the biggest stars in the game. We wrote feature articles on how a top-ranked male has never taken home the gold, took a look at the dark horses in the draw, and focused on the once in a lifetime combination of the Olympics and Wimbledon. We also review the latest shoes from Adidas, and teach our readers that effort is actually a skill in our instructional article. Thanks to our other editors Blair Henley and Erwin Ong for their contributions to Tennis Now, as well as our writers Chris Oddo and Erik Gudris who are the driving force behind our publications. Thanks also go to our visionary graphics team for painting such vivid imagery of the Games. Finally, thanks to Ian Westermann with Essential Tennis for sharing his instructional insight with us. Enjoy our magazine, and be sure to watch the Games as they promise to be unforgettable and inspire a generation.
200 West 39th Street, Suite No. 11 New York, NY 10018 914-595-4211
Theodore LePak Editor, Tennis Now Magazine Ted@tennisnow.com
Roger Federer will attempt to do something remarkable—what else is new?—that no other tennis player has ever done at the 2012 Olympic Games in London: Win a gold medal while ranked No. 1 in the world. With obscure names such as Nicolas Massu, Marc Rosset, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov gobbling up half of the six Olympic gold medals on offer in men’s singles since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988, times have been tough for the ATP’s top dog at the Olympics. The top-seeded male player has won Olympic gold once since 1988, but never the top-ranked player. And even Andre Agassi, who was ranked sixth when he claimed the gold in Atlanta in 1996 (he beat World No. 67 Sergi Bruguera in the final), knows that he benefitted from a tangible lack of interest in the Olympics by many of his contemporaries. “I attribute my success [in ‘96] to Jim not playing,” said Agassi, with a chuckle, in a conference call last week. “As well as Pete by the way. We don’t need to put an asterisk by my gold, but if you’re looking for one it’s sitting right there.” It seems strange, with the 1996 Olympic Games on American soil, that Pete Sampras and Jim Courier—two of the game’s brightest stars at the time—would elect to skip. But the truth of the matter is that the Olympics were long seen as a burden by tennis players who viewed the four annual Grand Slams as their ultimate goal. In the past, many top players held the belief that the Olympic week would be time better spent resting the body for the rigors of the American summer tour and in preparation for the US Open. John McEnroe was one of them. “I didn’t play the ’88 Seoul games,” he said. “I thought having professionals in the Olympics at that time was wrong—to me at least.” “Tennis in Barcelona was kind of an afterthought,” says Jim Courier of the 1992 Games, which saw largely unheralded World No. 44 Marc Rosset of Switzerland take the gold. “There wasn’t much going on, it didn’t have any kind of feel or emotion to it.”
A Top-Ranked Male Has Never Won Olympic Gold. Will Roger Federer Be the First? 8
But Courier acknowledges that things have changed for the better of late, both in perception and in reality. “I think they’ve made some good changes for the players,” he said last week in a conference call. “It used to be best-of-five from first ball in singles and doubles, which was a big ask when you’re playing in hot, humid weather. So they’ve made the right moves to make it palatable for the players.” The Olympics changed to a best-of-three format in everything but the final in 2000, and that has helped cajole more players into competing, but what Olympic tennis has truly lacked in the years since it has been reestablished in the Olympics is a signature, classic match. In other words: a number one performance from a number one player.
Could this be the year? “Let’s look at Roger Federer: it’s the only thing that he doesn’t have in his career,” says Courier. “He’s won every other tournament of importance. He’s won a gold in doubles but he hasn’t done it in singles. Imagine what he’s feeling coming into the Olympics at Wimbledon.” “I think a lot of guys now treat it as an opportunity of a lifetime, and the only thing that can make a gold medal better—quite honestly—is to win one on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon,” adds Agassi.
Or perhaps he, like so many other tennis players in an age of increasing physical and travel demands, has been slow to embrace the whole tennis at the Olympics thing? Whatever the case, Federer’s Olympic singles bad luck continued when the World No. 1 lost to James Blake in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Games in Beijing. His loss opened to door for Rafael Nadal to win the event (Nadal is the highest-ranked player to ever win Olympic gold), but it closed the door on another ATP No. 1 at the Olympics, making it the six times in six Olympic games since 1988 that the No. 1 man has either not participated or has had his gold medal hopes dashed.
Agassi’s impact upon the way that players perceive the prestige of the Games has undoubtedly raised the cachet of Olympic tennis in the minds of young players, but it has done nothing to change the luck of the World No. 1 in the event.
But it shouldn’t be long before a No. 1 grabs the gold. Participation is up, interest is up, and Olympic tennis is now seen as a reputationdefining event by the tennis cognoscenti.
In 2000, Yevgeny Kafelnikov (seeded 5th and ranked 8th at the time) defeated an unseeded Tommy Haas in the final. Gustavo Kuerten was the only other top ten player to make the quarterfinals.
“I think the Olympics are right on par with the majors, and because it’s once every four years it’s a rare occasion,” Courier says. “I think it’s special for the players in a way that maybe 20, 30 years ago it wasn’t.”
Not exactly must-see TV. In 2004, 14th-ranked and 10th-seeded Nicolas Massu defeated an unseeded Mardy Fish in the final. Roger Federer was ranked No. 1 at the time and winning everything in sight in the midst of a 74-6 season. But that didn’t stop him from losing to unseeded Tomas Berdych in the second round.
Perhaps that extra incentive for Federer will make the difference in 2012. Perhaps being in Wimbledon, a place where he has won seven titles, and on a surface where he excels more than any other current player, will finally give us that men’s singles moment at the Olympics that we’ve always craved.
– Chris Oddo
Perhaps Federer, tired after a long, arduous Wimbledon title run and a Masters title in Toronto just after Wimbledon, had nothing left?
Olympic Darkhorses Aim For Medals on Wimbledon’s Lawns
The former Wimbledon champion is in the draw with thanks to a generous wildcard. Despite Hewitt’s age and long-running injury woes, his recent run to the finals of Newport proved he can still be a force on the grass.
Olympic Tennis, especially since it returned as an official competition to the Summer Games back in 1998 has had its fair share of upset results and surprise medalists. With the event being held this year on the grass courts of Wimbledon, there’s an added chance it could favor someone who knows their way around the green stuff into taking that first step onto the medal podium. – Erik Gudris
Andy Roddick - U.S.A.
Lleyton Hewitt - Australia
“Rusty” as he’s known to Aussie fans will have to hope for another gift in a good draw and that his return game provides him with even bigger presents especially if he face a top seed early. He’s a longshot for sure, but if anyone can use the Olympic spirit to fuel himself to a big run, it’s Hewitt.
After a prolonged losing streak stretching back to Miami, Roddick has won 11 of his last 12 matches and picked up two titles one in Eastbourne and one just last week in Atlanta. Though it looks like the three-time Wimbledon finalist has his swagger back and could be a dangerous floater in the first week of the event, some have wondered if Roddick should have played Atlanta at all with it being so close to the Olympics. But if anything his title run has given the American an extra boost of confidence. Roddick will have to stay healthy, serve extremely well and hope he gets a kind draw. If all three things happen, watch out.
Richard Gasquet - France
A former Wimbledon semifinalist, Gasquet has said he plays his best on grass and he certainly has an all-court game that can beat almost anyone. But Gasquet’s well-known mental fragility has cost him at times during his career. The Frenchman has quietly posted a 25-14 record so far in 2012 that includes reaching the fourth round of Melbourne, Paris and Wimbledon.
Sabine Lisicki - Germany
After upsetting Maria Sharapova at this year’s Wimbledon, Lisicki proved that when her big serve is on she can beat anyone. And since she loves playing on the grass there more than anywhere else, Lisicki just might be inspired once again to make another run to a semifinal on the lawns of SW19 as she did back in 2011. The likable German, if she can avoid another freak injury, can get a little nervy in close matches but with the venue being a happy hunting ground for her in recent years, an excited and inspired Lisicki could well steal a spot onto the podium.
Gasquet has played for France in Davis Cup but his win/loss record is a lackluster 6/7. Still, it could be that competing for his nation but in a singular way as the Olympics allows might take the pressure off of him just enough that he is inspired to put in a dazzling effort at another big event that many feel his stylish game deserves.
Tamira Paszek - Austria
Paszek was officially not on the list of direct entrants into the Olympics only a month ago. But with her title run in Eastbourne and another run to the quarters of Wimbledon that saw her knock off Caroline Wozniacki, Tennis Austria successfully lobbied the ITF to allow Paszek in after Timea Babos withdrew. Fans may enjoy watching her big, flat hitting style, but it’s Paszek’s iron will to win every point that proves to be her biggest weapon especially when she’s taking on the elite of the game. Simply put, no one wants to play Paszek first round and if she can survive an early test against a top seed, she could be tough to beat in the second week.
Pointers from the Pro
Tsvetana Pironkova - Bulgaria
Very few tennis players in the modern age are referred to as “grass court specialists” but that moniker is an apt one for Pironkova who has reached the semis of Wimbledon and seems only to make a name for herself during the shortest season of the year. With her funky slice forehand and crafty court coverage, Pironkova can be a headache for anyone unable to simply overpower her. Pironkova was recently considered to be Bulgaria’s flag bearer in the opening ceremonies, but if she can get her grass court groove going during the fortnight, she might just watch someone else have the honor of hoisting her nation’s flag as she stands on the podium during the medal ceremony.
Next time you step out onto the tennis court, whether it’s for practice or competition, make these commitments to yourself:
I will run for every ball until I either get to it or it bounces twice. When I run for a difficult ball I will actually run full speed (and not slow down at the end).
by Ian Westermann USPTA Tennis Professional
Effort is a Skill When asked the question “what skills are needed to be a good tennis player?” the first things that come to mind for most of us are athletic abilities such as good eye hand coordination, quickness, agility, or strength and flexibility. Other players may cite more cognitive traits such as being a good strategist, picking out an opponent’s weakness, or having rock-solid mental toughness. A skill that people overlook is putting in maximum effort. Maximum effort is an an athletic trait that can be practiced and learned -- not something that you’re either born with or not. This is great news for all of our readers; it means that you’re capable of great things if you just focus and try as hard as you can.
Make a Commitment
Separate Yourself When I graduated from college and started teaching full-time I was blindsided by the type of people that I worked with. I had grown up with a huge appreciation for the tennis lessons I received because I actually paid for most of them myself. I didn’t take a single one for granted and worked incredibly hard on the court. Imagine my frustration when my students showed up at the tennis club simply to have something to do with their time; the two of us had completely different ideas about what it meant to “play tennis”. Many recreational tennis players have a very leisurely and laidback attitude about their tennis. Is there anything wrong with this? No, absolutely not. These players have different priorities in life, and tennis isn’t extremely high on their list overall -- it’s just a fun activity to participate in. This is where you can gain a huge advantage on the court: by separating yourself from the casual player in attitude and effort level.
I will make at least three steps towards every shot my opponent/partner hits, even if I think it’s going out or into the net. I will remain mentally focused on the drill I’m completing or the strategy I’m trying to implement.
If you can make it through an hour of tennis and can honestly say that you’ve stayed focused on those four elements, I can promise you that your game will advance more quickly. Few people take the game seriously enough to put in this kind of effort both physically and mentally; if you make the commitment to do it every part of your game will be better for it.
Train Your Body As you continue to follow the four guidelines listed above you will start to notice a difference in your athleticism. Your anticipation and reaction time will start to increase as you build up your habit of immediately making a move for every single ball. Your physical quickness and agility will improve as you actually try with full effort to run down every single ball, rather than making a subjective decision whether or not you could get there and just watching it bounce twice from afar. These are the types of things that we see in high level players and say to ourselves: “Wow, what an amazing athlete! I wish I could run down shots like that.” The only difference between you and them is that they’ve actually practiced running down every ball. They’ve built up their reaction time, quickness, and agility over time. You can do the same thing! At first you may start getting to more shots but missing them due to the difficulty level. Don’t get frustrated and stop trying, it will take time to practice the actual stroke needed to make these shots on the run, often times in awkward positions with your body and on the court. Make the commitment, keep working hard, and build your skill at putting in 100% effort!
The Grass is Always Golden at the Olympic Games After a 104-year absence, Olympic Tennis returns to Wimbledon.
Even with the usual excitement and anticipation that comes once “I probably won’t know ‘til I actually will start competing,” said U.S. every four years before the start of the Summer Games, tennis fans Olympic team member Varvara Lepchenko when asked how she got an extra shot of adrenaline when it was announced that the would feel when she walks out onto the grass courts again. “But historic lawns of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club would be the honestly Wimbledon is the start of all tennis and it’s very special to site of the Olympic Tennis competition for the fortnight. For some be able to play out there.” tennis players competing in London, it’s a second chance this year to compete again on the most famous stage in tennis while others are This isn’t the first year that Olympic tennis has been held on the just happy to embrace the moment of representing their country in Wimbledon grounds. Way back in 1908 during London’s first the biggest event in sports. Olympic Games, tennis was held during separate times of the year both indoors and outdoors with the outdoor matches held at the “I certainly wasn’t disappointed when London won the Games and AELTC when it was based on its former site of Worple Road. When it looked like it would be played at Wimbledon on grass,” said Andy the Olympics returned to London in 1948, tennis was no longer Roddick who competed in the Olympics back in 2004 and is now part of the Games so it’s only now in 2012 that the event returns to back on Team USA for the London Games. “Obviously there are Wimbledon after a 104-year absence. another couple of clay court venues in the mix for tennis which I probably wouldn’t have liked as much. I think our team generally Though Wimbledon is steeped in its own traditions and protocols, likes playing on the grass, so it fits well.” many of them will be ignored during the Olympic fortnight as the familiar green backboards of the courts will instead be covered with
the Olympic colors. In fact, wearing bold colors will be encouraged That sentiment is echoed by Andre Agassi who took home the gold as players won’t have to wear all-white clothing while the ball kids medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996 when playing tennis at the will be decked out in bright red and purple uniforms. These changes, Olympics was still viewed by many professionals as an afterthought. though temporary, are actually welcomed by those who run the AELTC all year long. “I certainly think playing at Wimbledon adds a great deal. Since my gold in ’96 I think there were some players that didn’t want For some players, the thrill of competing again at Wimbledon won’t to burden their schedule with it, but since then it seems like it’s just be about the grass courts but also the site’s tennis history – really grown in its popularity as it relates to what these player’s the lawns of the AELTC are more familiar to the players than the dreams and objectives are. I think a lot of guys now treat it as an courts built for the 2008 Beijing Games, says former Olympic silver opportunity of a lifetime, and the only thing that can make a gold medalist Mardy Fish. medal better—quite honestly—is to win one on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon.” “I think the Olympics this time around as opposed to maybe 2008 is a little more appealing considering that we’re playing at Wimbledon. Though only a special few will win Olympic medals, all who compete You’re playing at a familiar place as well and a pretty localized place at the event will probably agree that this tennis fortnight at too. There’s not many easy ways to [travel] to Beijing. London -- it’s Wimbledon will be a special one that they won’t ever forget. a pretty Euro-dominated sport, so naturally it’s pretty easy to get to London for those guys. And then obviously playing at Wimbledon – Erik Gudris will be special and will be interesting as well to see people not in white clothes and things like that. I think all those things together, a lot of people are looking forward to it.”
RANKINGS As of 07/23/12
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Federer, Roger Djokovic, Novak Nadal, Rafael Murray, Andy Ferrer, David Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried Berdych, Tomas Tipsarevic, Janko Del Potro, Juan Martin Monaco, Juan Isner, John Almagro, Nicolas Fish, Mardy Simon, Gilles Cilic, Marin Verdasco, Fernando Dolgopolov, Alexandr Nishikori, Kei Granollers, Marcel Monfils, Gael Gasquet, Richard Roddick, Andy Kohlschreiber, Philipp Mayer, Florian Raonic, Milos
SUI SRB ESP GBR ESP FRA CZE SRB ARG ARG USA ESP USA FRA CRO ESP UKR JPN ESP FRA FRA USA GER GER CAN
11,075 11,000 8,905 7,460 5,455 5,230 4,515 3,320 3,180 2,695 2,620 2,545 2,105 2,070 2,015 1,720 1,690 1,680 1,635 1,625 1,600 1,600 1,600 1,545 1,540
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Azarenka, Victoria Radwanska, Agnieszka Sharapova, Maria Williams, Serena Stosur, Samantha Kvitova, Petra Kerber, Angelique Wozniacki, Caroline Errani, Sara Bartoli, Marion Li, Na Ivanovic, Ana Cibulkova, Dominika Zvonareva, Vera Kirilenko, Maria Kanepi, Kaia Lisicki, Sabine Petkovic, Andrea Petrova, Nadia Jankovic, Jelena Pennetta, Flavia Schiavone, Francesca Safarova, Lucie Goerges, Julia Zheng, Jie
BLR POL RUS USA AUS CZE GER DEN ITA FRA CHN SRB SVK RUS RUS EST GER GER RUS SRB ITA ITA CZE GER CHN
8,800 8,530 8,370 7,830 6,195 5,275 5,170 4,091 3,620 3,595 3,245 3,190 3,025 3,000 2,635 2,514 2,297 2,260 2,235 2,220 2,205 2,050 2,040 1,945 1,910
S H O E R e v ie w s adidas adizero Feather 2
adidas adizero Tempaia 2
I’ve always liked the adidas Barricades, but if you’re looking for something lighter and flashier, then the adidas adizero Feather 2.0 tennis shoes are the way to go.
With gleaming, bright pink outsoles and a sleek design, the recently released adidas Women’s adizero Tempaia 2.0 tennis shoes make a strong impression right out of the box. Immediately, I knew they would remove me from my classic, all-white tennis shoe comfort zone, but the promise of light, yet sturdy footwear made the switch worthwhile.
The Feather 2.0’s are snug-fitting lightweight shoes that work really well with my hard court game. I tend to stretch out for a lot of shots and drag my toe. The Feather 2.0’s not only have adiTuff material built into the toe guard, but they also have extra adiTuff material on the forefoot. That is a big plus for me because I have beaten up several pairs of shoes by dragging my inner forefoot on hard courts. While they don’t feel quite as stable as the Barricades, the Feathers 2.0’s make up for that with their quicker foot speed and lateral movement. A large part of that speed comes from Sprint Web construction in the forefoot which increases stability during extreme cut movements. The Feather 2.0’s are a bit bulky in the soles, but when I researched why I realized it was because of the thick adiPrene and adiPrene plus technology. The adiPrene material is highly shock absorbent material that protects your heel on impact. The Feather 2.0’s were a bit stiff and required a little bit of breaking in before my floppy clown feet got used to them. Once they were broken in I felt faster than Nadal as I chased down drop shots that normally would have eluded me. The Feather 2.0’s are also compatible with micoach, adidas’ exclusive interactive technology that records data like maximum speed, average speed, rally length, rally distance, and total distance covered. Overall, the durable Feather 2.0’s are great for a fast-paced player. The shoes are available in dark blue with highlighter yellow or in metallic silver with infrared orange colorways.
As a former owner of the famously durable adidas Barricades, I was concerned that the Tempaia 2.0’s would feel flimsy by comparison. But with adiTuff and adiWear technology supporting the outsole, it was clear adidas created this shoe to withstand the high-speed footwork of the most advanced player. Though not quite as light at the adidas Feather 2.0’s, the Tempaia 2.0’s (size 8.5) weigh in at a comfortable 11.2 oz. After years of suffering from foot pain (plantar fasciitis), I was particularly pleased with the ample adiPrene padding in the heel region. With that comes the feel of additional bulk, but adidas expertly implements SprintSkin technology to wrap the foot in a streamlined “second skin,” balancing out any resulting instability. Unlike many of the tennis shoes on the market today, the exterior of the Tempaia 2.0’s is made almost exclusively of synthetic leather, prompting ventilation concerns. But in lieu of traditional mesh pockets, adidas added perforations in the material to keep air circulating. While not the coolest shoes on the market, the heat factor is negligible. Traditionally an adidas size 9, I would have been well-served by an 8.5 in this model. Slightly wider than the original Tempaia shoes, they felt too spacious in the forefoot, leading to discomfort upon abrupt direction changes. Lastly, the Tempaia 2.0’s are miCoach compatible for the player interested in tracking their every move. A small compartment in the sole allows insertion of the miCoach Speed_Cell, which records distance and speed data. As a whole, this shoe is light, sturdy, and functional – perfect for players of any level. And, don’t worry, if pink is not your thing, the Tempaia 2.0’s are also available in a clean, crisp white.
Olympic rings projected onto the famous White Cliffs of Dover, England.
Special Olympic balls at this yearâ€™s Games.
The gold, silver, and bronze medals that will be awarded at the London 2012 Olympics.
\WIN A FREE BRYAN BROS. AUTOGRAPH BALL ($150 value)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER The Bryan Brothers may face previous Olympic champions as early as the quarters. However we have high hopes for the greatest U.S. doubles team ever at this yearâ€™s Olympics. 30
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Rafa Nadal collapses to the ground after winning the gold medal for Spain back in 2008.
Federer and Stan Wawrinka attack a ball at the net. They won the gold medal in doubles at Beijing.
Fernando Gonzalez (left), Rafael Nadal (middle), and Novak Djokovic (right) hold their medals at the 2008 Olympics.
A few memorable gold medal winners of the past. In clockwise viewing order Jennifer Capriati, Steffi Graf, Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu, Venus and Serena Williams, and Andre Agassi.