The second-ever World Tennis Day took place on Monday 3 March 2014. World Tennis Day aims to promote tennis and increase participation among players around the globe, and this year’s celebrations were centred around exhibitions featuring Grand Slam or Davis Cup champions, on three different continents:
- Li Na vs Sam Stosur and Tomas Berdych vs Lleyton Hewitt in Hong Kong
- Pat Cash vs Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras in London
- Bob and Mike Bryan vs John and Patrick McEnroe, and Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic in New York
For the first time this year an event was organized in London, and obviously I couldn’t miss that! Read my recap below and stay tuned for more pics and videos.
Cardio tennis demo
To start the evening, a demo of cardio tennis, a group fitness activity featuring fast paced drills and games. It combines the best features of tennis with cardiovascular exercise.
It does not require tennis skills, but is all about keeping your heart rate up, burning calories and having fun. The main purpose is to get fit.
Ivan Lendl vs Pat Cash
The Ivan Lendl from today is really different from the somewhat cold and robotic player he was back in the days. Believe me or not, Lendl was the real entertainer of the event, he kept talking and joking with the crowd and his opponent.
Ivan Lendl to Pat Cash:
Are you ok? I am supposed to be the old guy!
Cash attacked the net and Lendl demonstrated his back-court skills: drop shots, passing shots and powerful backhands. The Australian took the set 8-6.
Pat Cash, Andrew Castle, Ivan Lendl and Jonathan Ross:
Below, Ivan Lendl being interviewed by fellow legend Mats Wilander:
ITHF rings ceremony
The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was announced on Monday, newly elected Hall of Famers are: three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, wheelchair tennis pioneer Chantal Vandierendonck, former USTA President Jane Brown Grimes, legendary coach Nick Bollettieri and the “voice of Wimbledon”, John Barrett.
Chantal Vandierendonck and John Barrett were in attendance in London and were honored in a special ceremony.
One of the early stars of wheelchair tennis, Chantal Vandierendonck was the Esther Vergeer of the 90′s: she was the first Wheelchair Tennis World Champion in 1991, she won seven US Open and five Paralympic medals. She is the first Dutch tennis player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.
A former British Davis Cup captain, John Barrett was the “Voice of Wimbledon” on the BBC from 1971-06. His wife, former top-ranked player Angela Mortimer Barrett, was inducted into the Hall in 1993. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are the only other married couple in the ITHF.
Said Christopher Clouser:
“These one-of-a-kind rings are a symbol of all that they have accomplished and their legacy in the sport.”
Gordon Reid vs Marc McCarroll
Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis. Except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The second bounce can be either inside or outside the court boundaries.
Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras
And finally, the match everyone was waiting for: Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras.
With contrasting styles and temperaments, they played each other 34 times from 1989 through 2002, with Sampras winning 20 of their matches. They played some memorable matches like the 2001 US Open quaterfinal, 2002 US Open final. Their rivalry was the Nadal-Federer of the 90′s.
Of the four Grand Slam champions that played that evening, Pete Sampras was the only player I had never watch playing live before, and I enjoyed watching his smooth serves and volleys.
Sampras struggled a bit at the beginning but from what he said after the match, he doesn’t play much tennis these days. I guess it’s easier to find back your rythm when you play from the baseline than when you play serve and volley.
Agassi took the match 6-3 7-6 on a Sampras double fault.
There was not much interaction with the crowd and despite what they said it’s obvious these guys will never be friends, they just tollerate each other.
Pete Sampras, Elaine Paige and Andre Agassi:
Sampras and Agassi lap of honor of the court:
Despite the (really) high price of the ticket I really enjoyed this evening of tennis featuring four tennis legends. A suggestion for next year: what about Rafter-Ivanisevic and Becker-Edberg matches?
Stay tuned for more pics and videos of the matches Cash-Lendl and Agassi-Sampras!
Andre Agassi will take part to the World Tennis Day Showdown in London on Monday, where he’ll meet archrival Pete Sampras – in another Wimbledon final rematch Ivan Lendl will face Pat Cash.
Prior to his return to London Agassi talked to Tennis Oggi about Wimbledon and its importance in his career.
Interview by Roberto Angelelli, translated by Tennis Buzz
22 years after his first Grand Slam triumph, Agassi recounts the historical moments on that magical green mantle, which helped him to grow as a player but also as a man.
“The last time I played in London – says Andre – was for the opening of the roof on Centre Court in 2009. But other times I came back just to enjoy the city.”
“I’ve always looked for an excuse to set foot on those courts again, and I think the best way is just that: play with Pete. Wimbledon makes me reflect and memories resurface. My career owes much to this tournament and to these people. I’ve learned so much here, I’m very fond of London. Here my wife shined and I grew up and matured, any excuse is a good one to come back and I look forward to it.”
“My first experience in England was not good,” admitted Agassi. “It coincided with a particular period of my life, I felt overwhelmed by the big city and from different cultures. Playing for the first time on a totally different surface made me feel like an intruder. I felt like I was in a dollhouse. I have lived a unique, bizarre experience that blew me away enough to not want to come back, because of a number of reasons, for three or four years.”
Opposed to the dressing code of the tournament, which always requires a predominantly white clothing, Agassi ended his self-imposed exile in 1991. And one year after, he won the first of his eight Grand Slam titles. A real turning point in the career of the American tennis player, who then wrote some of the most memorable pages in the history of tennis.
“When I really understood what Wimbledon meant to our sport, I came back and was forgiven by the British people. I think it was a great relationship, something unique, that grew over time. Every time in my career I played in London, regardless of the outcome, I always felt people were ready to support me and this helped me a lot in my life and career, to realize most of my dreams.“
To celebrate the relaunch of the iconic Stan Smith, adidas opened last month in London a pop-up store that was a scale replica of the iconic footwear’s shoebox.
Paying homage to the classic all white silhouette, the Stan Smith Shoebox hosted a custom installation featuring 120 Stan Smith shoes as well as experiences including an interactive floor, a digital ‘Stan Yourself’ station and a 3D printing post.
The Stan Smith pop-up was open to the public until January 19th. It offered a limited number of Stan Smith shoes to buy.
Read part one here.
The 12,000-capacity Basketball Arena is the third-largest venue in the Olympic Park. For the Paralympics, the Basketball Arena has been transformed to host the Wheelchair Basketball and Wheelchair Rugby events before being taken down, with parts expected to be reused or relocated elsewhere in the UK.
The next Andy Murray?
Enjoying the Park
Water Polo Arena
Designed by Iraq-born architect Zaha Hadid, the Aquatics Centre was the last structure to be completed before the Games began.
After the Games, the two temporary wings will be removed while the Centre will be transformed into a leisure facility for local and elite swimmers, complete with creche, family-friendly changing facilities, a cafe and a new public plaza.
The main Olympic Park entrance:
The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium
Enjoying a bit of music to put an end to this fantastic day at the Paralympics.
On my way to the Olympic Park:
A swift and hassle-free passage through security and here I am.
The 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium played host to the Olympic and the Paralympic Athletics as well as all the opening and closing ceremonies.
London 2012 Megastore
World’s largest McDonalds:
Panasonic 3D Theatre
There were lots of free activities provided by Paralympic sponsors, like the Panasonic Theatre, Samsung booth, Coca Cola Beatbox… but I was there to watch some sports and I’m not a huge fan of lines, so I can’t report on them.
Coca Cola Beatbox
British Airways have sponsored a giant screen perched in the middle of the River Lea. Park Live is the only place to catch up on sport if you’re not inside a venue.
The Olympic Park is really big, from one end to the other it’s about two kilometres. It took me more than 20 minutes from the Olympic Stadium to Eaton Manor, at the northern end of the park.
For people having trouble getting around, there were stacks of Games Mobility Vehicles parked up, with Games Makers ready to spring into action.
And finally, Eton Manor, where I spent most of the aftenoon watching the women’s singles final and the women’s doubles bronze medal match.