Rafael Nadal, Rio 2016

Here’s the updated list of singles and doubles entries for the Rio Olympics. Mixed doubles entries will be confirmed on site during the Olympic Tennis Event.

Argentina
Men’s singles: Juan Martin del Potro, Federico Delbonis, Juan Monaco, Guido Pella
Men’s doubles: Juan Martin del Potro/Maximo Gonzalez, Federico Delbonis/Guillermo Duran

Australia
Women’s singles: Sam Stosur, Daria Gavrilova
Women’s doubles: Daria Gavrilova/Sam Stosur, Anastasia Rodionova/Arina Rodionova
Men’s singles: John Millman, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jordan Thompson, Sam Groth
Men’s doubles: Chris Guccione/John Peers

Austria
Men’s doubles: Oliver Marach/Alexander Peya

Barbados
Men’s singles: Darian King

Belarus
Men’s doubles: Aliaksandr Bury/Max Mirnyi

Belgium
Women’s singles: Yanina Wickmayer, Kirsten Flipkens
Women’s doubles: Kirsten Flipkens/Yanina Wickmayer
Men’s singles: David Goffin

Bosnia/Herzegovina
Women’s singles: Mirza Basic
Men’s singles: Damir Dzumhur

Brazil
Women’s singles: Teliana Pereira
Women’s doubles: Teliana Pereira, Paula Cristina Goncalves/Teliana Pereira
Men’s singles: Thomaz Bellucci, Rogerio Dutra Silva
Men’s doubles: Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares, Thomaz Bellucci/Andre Sa

Bulgaria
Women’s singles: Tsvetana Pironkova
Men’s singles: Grigor Dimitrov

Canada
Women’s singles: Eugenie Bouchard
Women’s doubles: Eugenie Bouchard/Gabriela Dabrowski
Men’s singles: Vasek Pospisil
Men’s doubles: Daniel Nestor/Vasek Pospisil

Milos Raonic was one of the poster boy for Canadian Olympic Committee campaign, but decided to withdraw from the Games (you know, Zika and all that…), that tells a lot about the man…

Read: Team Canada unveils ‘Ice in our veins’ campaign for Rio 2016

Chile
Men’s doubles: Julio Peralta/Hans Podlipnik-Castillo

China, P.R.
Women’s singles: Peng Shuai, Zhang Shuai, Wang Qiang
Women’s doubles: Xu Yi-Fan/Zheng Saisai, Peng Shuai/Zhang Shuai

Chinese Taipei
Women’s singles: Hsieh Su-Wei
Women’s doubles: Chan Hao-Ching/Chan Yung-Jan, Chuang Chia-Jung/Hiseh Su-Wei
Men’s singles: Lu Yen-Hsun

Colombia
Women’s singles: Mariana Duque-Marino
Men’s doubles: Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah

Croatia
Women’s singles: Ana Konjuh
Men’s singles: Marin Cilic, Borna Coric
Men’s doubles: Marin Cilic/Marin Draganja

Cyprus
Men’s singles: Marcos Baghdatis

Czech Republic
Women’s singles: Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova, Barbora Strycova
Women’s doubles: Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka, Lucie Safarova/Barbora Strycova
Men’s singles: Lukas Rosol
Men’s doubles: Lukas Rosol/Radek Stepanek

Denmark
Women’s singles: Caroline Wozniacki

The former world number one is Denmark’s flagbearer, but her medal chances are quite limited.

Dominican Republic
Men’s singles: Victor Estrella Burgos

France
Women’s singles: Kristina Mladenovic, Carolina Garcia, Alize Cornet
Women’s doubles: Carolina Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic
Men’s singles: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Benoit Paire
Men’s doubles: Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, Gael Monfils/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Georgia
Men’s singles: Nikoloz Basilashvili

Germany
Women’s singles: Angelique Kerber, Andrea Petkovic, Annika Beck, Laura Siegemund
Women’s doubles: Angelique Kerber/Andrea Petkovic, Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Laura Siegemund
Men’s singles: Philipp Kohlschreiber, Dustin Brown, Jan-Lennard Struff
Men’s doubles: Philipp Kohlschreiber/Jan-Lennard Struff

Tennis brought Germany quite a few medals in the past:
Steffi Graf won the gold in Seoul in 1988 to complete the Golden Grand Slam, as well as the womens doubles bronze medal with Claudia Kohde-Kilsch. They were representing West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) back then.
– Graf won silver in Barcelona four years later, while Boris Becker and Michael Stich, who were not the best of friends, teamed up to win gold in mens doubles.
– the teams of Marc-Kevin Goellner/David Prinosil and Nicolas Kiefer/Rainer Schuettler took respectively bronze in Atlanta in 1996 and silver in Athens in 2004.
– in 2000 in Sydney, Tommy Haas made an unexpected run to the final to catch silver.
Australian Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up Angelique Kerber is Germany’s biggest tennis medal hope in Rio.

Read: Steffi Graf: There’s no comparison in tennis for the feeling of standing on the podium

Great Britain
Women’s singles: Johanna Konta, Heather Watson
Women’s doubles: Johanna Konta/Heather Watson
Men’s singles: Andy Murray, Kyle Edmund
Men’s doubles: Andy Murray/Jamie Murray, Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot

The 2012 London Olympics proved a turning point in Andy Murray‘s career: one month after his devastating defeat to Federer in the Wimbledon final, he turned the tables and he beat the same opponent on the same court to win the gold medal in front of his home crowd. He went on to win his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September and his first Wimbledon title a year later.
He will compete in the three events: singles, doubles (with his brother Jamie) and mixed doubles (with recent mixed doubles Wimbledon champion Heather Watson) and will be the flag bearer for Team GB.

Read: Andy Murray: I felt that incredible sense of pride like I had never experienced before

Hungary
Women’s singles: Timea Babos
Women’s doubles: Timea Babos/Reka-Luca Jani

India
Women’s doubles: Sania Mirza/Prarthana Thombare
Men’s doubles: Rohan Bopanna/Leander Paes

1.3 billion people – 1 medal: Leander Paes won the singles bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the one and only medal for India in these games. Both his parents are former Olympians: his father won a bronze medal in field hockey in Munich in 1972, and his mother was a member of the Indian basketball team at the same games.

Israel
Men’s singles: Dudi Sela

Italy
Women’s singles: Roberta Vinci, Sara Errani, Karin Knapp
Women’s doubles: Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci
Men’s singles: Fabio Fognini, Andreas Seppi, Paolo Lorenzi, Thomas Fabbiano
Men’s doubles: Fabio Fognini/Andreas Seppi

Japan
Women’s singles: Misaki Doi, Nao Hibino
Women’s doubles: Misaki Doi/Eri Hozumi
Men’s singles: Kei Nishikori, Taro Daniel, Yuichi Sugita

Kazakhstan
Women’s singles: Yaroslava Shvedova
Women’s doubles: Yaroslava Shvedova/Galina Voskoboeva

Latvia
Women’s singles: Jelena Ostapenko

Liechtenstein
Women’s singles: Stephanie Vogt

Lithuania
Men’s singles: Ricardas Berankis

Luxembourg
Men’s singles: Gilles Muller

Mexico
Men’s doubles: Santiago Gonzalez/Miguel Angel Reyes Varela

Montenegro
Women’s singles: Danka Kovinic

Netherlands
Women’s singles: Kiki Bertens
Men’s singles: Robin Haase
Men’s doubles: Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer

New Zealand
Men’s doubles: Marcus Daniell/Michael Venus

Paraguay
Women’s singles: Veronica Cepede Royg

Poland
Women’s singles: Agnieszka Radwanska, Magda Linette
Women’s doubles: Klaudia Jans-Ignacik/Paula Kania
Men’s singles: Jerzy Janowicz
Men’s doubles: Lukasz Kubot/Marcin Matkowski

Portugal
Men’s singles: Joao Sousa, Gastao Elias

Puerto Rico
Women’s singles: Monica Puig

Romania
Women’s singles: Irina-Camelia Begu, Monica Niculescu
Women’s doubles: Irina-Camelia Begu/Monica Niculescu, Andreea Mitu/Raluca Olaru
Men’s doubles: Florin Mergea/Horia Tecau

Russia
Women’s singles: Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Daria Kasatkina, Ekaterina Makarova
Women’s doubles: Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, Daria Kasatkina/Svetlana Kuznetsova
Men’s singles: Andrey Kuznetsov, Evgeny Donskoy, Teymuraz Gabashvili

Serbia
Women’s singles: Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic
Women’s doubles: Jelena Jankovic/Aleksandra Krunic
Men’s singles: Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki
Men’s doubles: Novak Djokovic/Nenad Zimonjic

Slovakia
Women’s singles: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
Men’s singles: Andrej Martin
Men’s doubles: Andrej Martin/Igor Zelenay

Slovenia
Women’s singles: Polona Hercog

Spain
Women’s singles: Garbine Muguruza, Carla Suarez Navarro
Women’s doubles: Garbine Muguruza/Carla Suarez Navarro, Anabel Medina Garrigues/Arantxa Parra-Santonja
Men’s singles: Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Roberto Bautista Agut, Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Men’s doubles: Marc Lopez/Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut/David Ferrer

Since tennis returned to the Olympics in 1988, Spanish players have won medals at every Olympiad except London 2012. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario won 4 medals in two Olympic Games (2 silver, 2 bronze) and Conchita Martinez was the first player to win medals at three Olympic Games (silver with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in Barcelona ’92, bronze with Arantxa in Atlanta ’96 and silver with Virginia Ruano Pascual in Athens 2004).
Gold medallist in Beijing in 2008, forced to pulled out of London 4 years ago, Rafael Nadal will make his comeback to competition after a 2 months injury break. Nadal will also compete in the men’s doubles competition with Marc Lopez with whom he won twice in Dubai and twice in Indian Wells, and in mixed doubles with Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza. He will be Spain’s flagbearer.

Read: Rafa Nadal: To finish the two weeks ith a victory was something so so special to me

Sweden
Women’s singles: Johanna Larsson

Despite Sweden’s rich tennis history (3 former number one and multiple top 10 players), 71th-ranked Johanna Larsson is the only tennis player representing Sweden in Rio. Stefan Edberg took the gold medal in Los Angeles at the tennis demonstration event and won singles and doubles (with Anders Jarryd) bronze medals in Seoul in 1988. Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johannson took the silver medal in the men’s doubles in Beijing.

Read: Stefan Edberg: it does feel good to be an Olympian

Switzerland
Women’s singles: Timea Bacsinszky
Women’s doubles: Timea Bacsinszky/Martina Hingis

Thailand
Men’s doubles: Sanchai Ratiwatana/Sonchat Ratiwatana

Tunisia
Women’s singles: Ons Jabeur
Men’s singles: Malek Jaziri

Turkey
Women’s singles: Cagla Buyukakcay

Ukraine
Women’s singles: Elina Svitolina, Lesia Tsurenko
Women’s doubles: Olga Savchuk/Elina Svitolina, Lyudmyla Kichenok/Nadiia Kichenok
Men’s singles: Illya Marchenko
Men’s doubles: Illya Marchenko/Denys Molchanov

Uruguay
Men’s singles: Pablo Cuevas

USA
Women’s singles: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens
Women’s doubles: Bethanie Mattek-Sands/CoCo Vandeweghe, Serena Williams/Venus Williams
Men’s singles: Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Brian Baker
Men’s doubles: Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan, Steve Johnson/Jack Sock

US female players won 4 of the 7 singles gold medals: Jennifer Capriati (Barcelona ’92), Lindsay Davenport (Atlanta ’96), Venus Williams (Sydney 2000), Serena Williams (London 2012). They also won 6 out of 7 womens doubles titles: Zina Garrison/Pam Shriver (Seoul ’88), Gigi Fernandez/Mary Joe Fernandez (Barcelona ’92, Atlanta ’96), Serena Williams/Venus Williams (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, London 2012). Serena is the heavy favorite to retain her titles in both singles and doubles.
On the men’s side, only Andre Agassi in 1996, took the mens singles gold, while Ken Flach/Robert Seguso (Seoul ’88) and Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (London 2012) won the doubles events.

Uzbekistan
Men’s singles: Denis Istomin

They have withdrawn: Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova, Belinda Bencic, Francesca Schiavone, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, Feliciano Lopez, Ernests Gulbis, Jiri Vesely.

Rafael Nadal, 2008 Olympic Games

I felt very big emotions. It is one of the most important victories in my career, without a doubt, so I was just happy about that and I really enjoyed the whole experience in Beijing. To finish the two weeks there with a victory was something so, so special for me.

It’s different than any other event but at the same time it is the most difficult event to win, because you’re only going to have maybe one or two, or if you’re lucky, three chances in your career. So you appreciate the thing that you made it, and those were my thoughts at that moment. (I had) very high emotions when listening to the national anthem, and at the same time knowing it’s something special.

Winning the Olympic gold medal is one of the most important things in my career, for sure. At the end of the day the most important thing is your personal feeling. And, for me, that I won the Olympics is at the higher level.

I keep all my trophies and my medal in the museum of the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre which includes the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, Mallorca.

Every event is important to us on the tour. On the tour we have amazing events. (But) the Olympics is more than just sport. It is the world of sport in general, so it’s the most important event in the world of sport. The experience of enjoying it with the rest of my (Spanish) colleagues in the Village for two weeks, and knowing a little bit more about different sports, is something that has been very interesting and I really enjoyed it a lot.

All the moments in the Olympic Village – that was unbelievable for me. To enjoy those two weeks with the rest of the Spanish athletes but at the same time with the biggest stars of different sports of the world is something unforgettable.

I watched other sports. I watch other sports all the time. I am a big fan of sports in general. I only had the chance to go to the basketball.

I enjoy knowing that I’m an Olympic champion. Some experiences since 2008 have been tough for me. I didn’t have the chance to compete at London 2012. I hope this time I’m going to have the chance to enjoy the experience again and I’m really excited about it.

I don’t think very often about the things that I won. That’s the real thing. I go day by day and I’m happy with all the things that have happened in my career and my life. In the world of sport there isn’t a lot of time to think about what happened. There’s only time to think about what’s coming.

Rafa Nadal, Beijing Olympics

Excerpt from Rafael Nadal‘s autobiography Rafa:

I stayed in the Olympic village with all the other athletes, and once again, as in the Davis Cup, I had a taste of that team spirit that I loved so much when I played football as a kid. Living with my Spanish teammates, in the same residential compound, meeting and making friends with the Spanish basketball team and track athletes (some of whom, a little embarrassingly, would stop me in the corridors, or in the communal laundry room where we all washed our clothes, to ask me for my autograph) and stepping out in uniform alongside them all for the opening ceremony – these were unforgettable experiences. But my sense of good fortune came accompanied by a strong dose of indignation.

I understood better than ever just how privileged we professional tennis players are, and how unjust is the predicament of so many Olympic athletes. They train incredibly hard, at least as hard as we do, yet the rewards tend to be far smaller. A tennis player ranked number eighty in the world has economic benefits, social privileges, and a degree of recognition beyond the dreams of someone who is number one in track and field, swimming, or gymnastics. On the tennis circuit everything is laid on for us all year round, and the money we receive allows us the chance to save for our futures. These people train with the discipline of monks over a period of four years in preparation for the one competition that stands out above all others, the Olympics, yet the vast majority of them receive very little support relative to the effort they invest. It’s admirable that they should prepare so rigorously, at so much personal sacrifice, for the mere satisfaction of competing and because of the passion they feel for their sports. That has a value beyond price. But that shouldn’t have to be enough. With all the income the International Olympic Committee generates from the Games – an event that depends for its success on the commitment of the athletes – you’d think they might be able to share the cash a little more fairly. In my case, I have no need to be paid, luckily, but an athlete who runs in the 400 meters or the marathon needs a lot of financial backing just to be able to train at the level required to make it to the Olympics and then compete for the top prizes. I understand that tennis has broader public appeal, at least over the course of a calendar year, but I think it’s unjust that more of an effort is not made to allow these incredibly dedicated people to live more decently and train in better conditions.

But these were my reflections after it was all over. Moaning and griping was not what defined my time in Beijing. What stays with me, above all, was the camaraderie between the athletes and the chance I had to learn about so many different new sports and discover how much we all had in common. Just to be able to participate, and to have access to a world I never thought I’d get to know, was uplifing enough.

Then to win gold in the men’s singles, after beating Djokovic in the semis and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in the final, and to see the Spanish flag being raised to the accompaniment of the national anthem as I stood on the winner’s podium: well, it was one of my life’s proudest moments. People don’t usually associate the Olympic Games with tennis. I certainly didn’t when I was growing up. The game only reappeared as an Olympic sport in 1988, after a 64 years absence. But in tennis players’ minds Olympic gold has become something to covet. After a Grand Slam, it’s now the prize we most cherish.

Andy Muray climbs into the stands, Wimbledon 2013

Like strawberries and cream, the Queue and all-white outfits, the champion’s climb to the players’ box to celebrate his victory with his closed ones has become a tradition at Wimbledon. It all started with Pat Cash back in 1987:

“Champions of the past had celebrated their wins in time honoured fashion. Most used to jump the net and run up to commiserate with the person they had just beaten; this was the style of the Australians such as Laver, Emerson, Hoad and Fraser. But I wasn’t prepared to do that with Ivan Lendl; I didn’t like the guy at all and I wasn’t about to sympathise with him.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a great lover of Wimbledon’s traditions and everything they stand for, but I wanted to go where no champion had ever gone before. Suddenly I made up my mind, and nothing or nobody was going to stop me. I had looked up to the players box, and so many of the people who meant so much to me were there: my coach Ian Barclay, my girlfriend Anne-Britt, my dad, my sister Renee, my uncle Brian, and the woman who had helped me become one of the fittest players ever to walk on a tennis court, Ann Quinn. I had to be up there with them, and I was going to show my gratitude by climbing up to them.

Why did I do it? Growing up I’d always seen myself as just a normal Aussie kid who liked rock and roll music, football and girls, but I suppose I was just a little bit left of centre. I was kind of crazy, and always tried to be a bit different. My family upbringing had never involved a lot of hugging, but I had it in my head that if I ever won Wimbledon I would show the world how much I actually felt for those people. I wanted to be with them for these most memorable minutes of my life, and the most public way of showing my thanks was to do it in this greatest arena in tennis. So off I went.” [1]

Pat Cash, Wimbledon 1987

Since then, 14 players have scaled terraces to the players’ box to embrace their family and coaches.
The most unexpected – and out of character – climb was probably Sampras‘ when he beat Pat Rafter in 2000 and broke Roy Emerson’s Grand Slam record:

“I finally won it, 6-7 7-6 6-4 6-2. It was dusk by then, and flashbulbs went off like a thousand lightning strikes. I looked over at Paul [Annacone] in the players’ box. He gestured up toward the area where we knew my folks were sitting. I was disoriented, but I knew what to do next – I climbed into the stands to find and hug my folks. And those flashbulbs just kept exploding. The scene was surreal.
Left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have climbed into the stands. Thinking about it in advance, I would have said “None of us likes to make a really big scene, and my parents would find it embarrassing, I don’t think I’ll do that.” But when Paul signaled me, I knew immediately it was the right thing to do. Much like when I had to speak at Tim Gullikson’s funeral, my first reaction was to avoid drama and attention. But when the moment arrived in both those cases, I knew enough to do the right thing. As Paul said later, when I asked him why he had thought to signal me, “How often to you break the Grand Slam record, at a place that’s been so good to you, in front of people who have been so good to you?” [2]

The most spectacular was Nadal‘s one after his thrilling marathon win over Federer in 2008.

“I collapsed flat on my back on the Wimbledon grass, arms outstretched, fists clenched, roaring with triumph. The silence of the Centre Court gave way to pandemonium, an I succumbed, at long last, to the crowd’s euphoria, letting it wash over me, liberating myself from the mental prison I had inhabited from start to finish of the match, all day, the night before, the full two weeks of the greatest tennis tournament on earth. […] the tears came, and there was nothing I could do to stop them, and there was one more thing I had to do before the ceremony, one emotional release I needed before I could behave with some semblance of the restraint that Wimbledon tradition required.
I ran toward the corner where my father and mother and Toni, Titin, Carlos Costa, Tuts and Dr Cotorro had been sitting, and were now standing, and I clambered up the seats and scaled a wall to reach them. I was crying, and my father, the first to greet me, was crying too, and we hugged, and I hugged my mother, and I hugged Toni and the three of us all held one another in one great, tight family embrace.” [3]

After Rafa celebrated with his family, he made a U-turn towards the Royal Box to greet the Spanish Crown Prince and his wife.

Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon 2008

And the one the British crowd had been expected for so many years, is of course Andy Murray‘s celebratory climb in 2013:

“A few fraught minutes (and deuces) later, the title was mine. In the celerations after Novak’s decisive netted backhand, I was aware that people had started to come onto the court. When I finally sat down, I saw Andrew Jarrett coming over.
“Have I got enough time to go to my family and friends?” I asked.
“You need to be quick.”
I climbed up to the players’ box and went to Ivan first. He was sitting next to Novak’s team. It wasn’t a conscious decision to seek him out, but it was fitting that he was the first person I saw.
I’ve no idea if Ivan said anything to me or not. Two things I recall: my uncle, Neil, was sitting a few rows back and he was so desperate to high-five me that he reached forward and stuck his armpit right in Sir Chris Hoy’s face. Then, of course, I hadn’t seen my mum and someone shouted “Your mum, your mum”, so I went back and gave her a hug.” [4]

Sources:
[1] Uncovered by Pat Cash
[2] A champion’s mind by Pete Sampras and Peter Bodo
[3] Rafa by John Carlin
[4] Seventy-seven my road to Wimbledon glory by Andy Murray

Tony Pickard and Stefan Edberg, Wimbledon 1991

By Arthur Brocklebank, Tennis Week, 2008

The fox is becoming extinct in England, but deep in middle England, Nottinghamshire an old silver fox sits alive and well in his armchair reflecting on his days of coaching Stefan Edberg and reviewing the state of the spot today. Tony Pickard coached six-time Grand Slam champion Edberg, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004 and is set to make his senior debut on the Blackrock tour this year. The 42-year-old Swede will compete in Paris, France at The Trophée Jean-Luc Lagardère, September 18-21 and at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England at The BlackRock Masters Tennis, December 2-7.

Pickard still has that energy in his heart to stoke up a burning desire for anyone in the tennis profession who wants to listen and learn. He owns one of the most impressive coaching resumes in the nation, having worked with Edberg, Marat Safin, Petr Korda and a Canadian, oppphhhh I mean an adopted Brit, Greg Rusedski. Edberg amassed 41 singles titles, including two Wimbledon crowns, and 18 doubles championships in his career. Edberg and John McEnroe are the only men in Open Era history to hold the No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles simultaneously.

It was a turn of circumstances at the beginning that would bring Tony Pickard and Stefan Edberg together. I asked Pickard, when he started playing tennis himself.

“My parents never played tennis. I was nuts on football. It all started by an accident when I was 14 years old. I loved football but one day I jumped into a swimming pool and landed on a broken bottle that cut my foot. I was in a wheelchair for six months. My sister took me to the tennis court where she played and I watched. I thought this is an easy game to play so I took it up,” Pickard says with a bemused smile as he gazed up to the ceiling.

Pickard soon played county tennis and later played several times at Wimbledon. He represented his country in the Davis cup and captained the under 21 and Davis Cup teams for Great Britain.

One incident that stands out in his playing career was in Rome at the 1963 Italian Open. He was playing the big-serving New Zealander Ian Crookenden in the Italian Championships and not only the crowd, but the line judges were losing interest.

Pickard takes up the story: “It was a match point. He served and it was at least nine inches long. The umpire looked to the baseline judge for the call, but he was turned round buying an ice cream over the fence.’ Crookenden won the point and went on to win the match. I felt as sick as a pig,” says Pickard.

Was there any possibility of an appeal I asked?

“In those days you could never appeal or you would have been brought up before a governing body committee and banned. A protest was not possible.”
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Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros magazine

Prior to Roland Garros 2015, Rafael Nadal talked to Roland Garros Magazine about his past decade at Roland Garros. Here are a few extracts:

2003 and 2004: injuries

In 2003, I was high enough in the rankings (No. 87) for direct acceptance into the main draw but I hurt my elbow, so I had to withdraw.

In 2004, I had a bad left foot injury and I was off from April until July. This time though I came to Paris as I was invited by one of my sponsors. It was the first time that I’d been at Roland Garros. I was on crutches, but it didn’t stop me from going all the way to the top of the stands at Philippe Chatrier Court. I sat on one of the seats to the right of the court to drink in the atmosphere. It’s a fond memory for me. I was disappointed not to be able to play but deep down, I knew that sooner or later I would be able to take part in the tournament.

Tennis on clay:

Tennis on clay is the most complete expression of the sport as far as I’m concerned. The rallies are longer since the surface is slower, so you have to construct every point and implement a strategy to try to grind down your opponent. You need to be more patient, know how to defend and find a way to take control of points. And if you like this surface and feel at home on it, Roland Garros is obviously the temple of clay. It’s a unique point in the season.

2005, first Roland Garros trophy:

I’d won a lot of titles on clay – in Brazil, Acapulco, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, so I had a lot of confidence. I knew that I had the game and the strength to go deep. During the tournament, I just took one match at a time, but I knew that if I played my best, I could achieve something.
When I see myself in 2005, I see a player with an incredible energy and enormous powers of concentration. I was on such a good form. I played with real intensity and passion. I was young and I had a carefree attitude you would expect of a 19-year-old. In the final against Mariano Puerta, I knew that it would be a difficult match and that’s what it was. But I knew that anything was possible. This win will always be a key moment in my career. In the space of two months, I went from No. 50 in the world to winning Roland Garros. I handled it well in my head, because after this win, I stayed the same, I carried on working hard to keep on the right path as best I could.

It’s true that after that first win, I thought “That’s it, my dream has come true, so now the rest of my career, I will be calmer.” But I’d got it all wrong. Because each season, it was the same thing – you’re nervous, you want to win because you want to get back that indescribable feeling of emerging victorious at a Grand Slam tournament. So this feeling of calm that I thought I had got with that win turned out to be very temporary because a few months later, the tension and the desire to give it my all came back – stronger than before.

Not only the King of clay:

Winning at Roland Garros gives you the strength and the confidence to win elsewhere. Because when you start winning, you get into a virtuous circle: winning boosts your confidence, it makes you calmer, you gain more experience and it gives you a healthy dose of positive energy. Roland Garros is therefore a unique tournament in my career because it also enabled me to win on hard courts, on grass and everywhere else. In 2005, a lot of people thought that I could only play on clay, but after I won the French Open, I went on to win the Masters 1000 in Montreal and the tournament in Madrid (then played on hard courts), so I was good enough to win on other surfaces.

2008, 2012, 2014:

Lots of things have happened to me at Roland Garros. 2008 for example was the year that I was further ahead the pack than ever before. I didn’t drop a set and think that this is the tournament where I played my best tennis.
In 2014 against Novak Djokovic, it was the toughest final physically. I’d never felt that tired – at the end of the first set as well. It was very hot, humid and muggy even though it had been quite cool throughout the fortnight. My body struggled with it. I also had some fitness problems during this tournament.
In 2012, I had cortisone injections to play because my knee was hurting. Thee was another year, I forget which one, when I also needed injections, this time on my foot. But injuries and fitness issues are part and parcel of being a tennis professional. With hindsight, I can see that the injuries led to me missing some important moments and tournaments but at the same time, they allowed me to put into perspective everything that I’ve achieved.

Rafael Nadal, Roland Garros Magazine

2009:

That defeat in 2009 was a hard one to swallow, I won’t deny that, but at the same time it wasn’t a tragedy. You mustn’t blow it out of proportion. I’d won the tournament in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. And I told myself that I wasn’t going to win Roland Garros every year and that’s normal, I can actually lose, I know that, so I went home and decided to prepare as best I could to try to win it again.

2010:

It was a very special victory. Even if I didn’t drop a set this year, it wasn’t as easy as in 2008. I was coming from a long way back. 2009 was a very tough year, both personally and physically. I hurt my knee before Roland Garros then after that it was my stomach muscles during the American swing. I went through some bad times. And after all that, I came back and won Roland Garros again. I was very, very emotional, and this win was the starting point of an exceptional period because I went on to win Wimbledon and the US Open. And once again it all started at Roland Garros.

Source: Roland Garros Magazine

Also read:
Roland Garros 2005: Nadal defeats Puerta
Roland Garros 2014: a fan’s perspective on Nadal’s win
Roland Garros 2015 coverage