OTGT caught up with Andy and James at the Powershares' Tour stop in Brooklyn, NY and got their perspective on two key aspects of their current lives.
What keeps you playing competitively on this tour?
Andy: It’s been a love affair with tennis since I was 6 years old so I’m thankful for something like this where I can continue. It’s a fun atmosphere to play in. It’s fun to play in front of the fans but tennis is not my daily priority anymore so it’s nice to have this kind of outlet and still kind of pretend sometimes.
James: This is a ton of fun for me. It gives me a good reason to stay in shape, to keep working out. Most people don’t get a competitive outlet in their day to day life and they certainly don’t get to do it in front of 5,000 to 10,000 people or on tv so for me to get to do that and have fun with guys I really respect and care about makes it very special. One of the most pleasant surprises is how much I’ve really enjoyed it and how much these guys have enjoyed it. We have so much fun in the locker room beforehand, hanging out then going out and playing the matches, beating each other up during the match and then coming in and laughing about it. There is a lot less pressure than there was on the main tour so we can be a lot more cordial and friendly and be a little bit more of ourselves instead of being so singularly focused on tennis. This has been a ton of fun so I’m probably not going to stop until they stop inviting me.
What’s the best thing about being a father?
Andy: Oh man, I don’t know. It’s one of those things. I think people overuse dramatic clichés and I normally don’t agree with them but I do think that most of them about parenthood are true. You don’t know until you know and it’s just so much fun seeing our little guy develop and seeing him kind of get a sense of humor and just all of those little moments, I don’t know how you choose one. It’s changed my life dramatically.
James: Oh wow. There are so many good things. It’s just the sense of pride you feel when they pick up something you’ve taught them. When you teach them something and they learn. It’s just amazing. It’s tough to describe and so different than anything you do on the tour, on the court. You work hard, you do your best, you accomplish something but now you’re not doing it for any sort of selfish reasons. I’m not going to get any trophies or prize money for teaching my kid to ride a bike but it’s just so much more gratifying. To see them accomplish something and to see the look on their faces when they learn something new. It’s been an amazing experience and I really didn’t know how much it would change my life when I started and I can’t express that enough to first time parents and they wouldn’t believe me anyway. I didn’t believe what everyone told me but now that I’ve experienced it, it’s been life changing.
Interview and photos by Jennifer Knapp
OTGT caught up with Roberta following her 2nd round win in the Connecticut Open. She's had quite a year and despite fantastic doubles results with Sara Errani in the past, she's 100% committed to singles and is very happy to finally be ranked in the Top 10.
It's an election year here the U.S. and we've been subjected to way too many national debates but I think this is by far the best one of them all. With Caroline Wozniacki as the moderator, the candidates (Aga Radwanska, Roberta Vinci and Petra Kvitova) are asked hard-hitting questions in their quest to become President. The candidates unite in their dislike of Pokemon but the the pizza versus pasta topic pretty much goes off the rails.
Many thanks to the folks at the Connecticut Open for putting this together.
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – Success hasn’t changed Dominic Thiem.
The 22-year-old Austrian has been a rising star among ATP World Tour tennis players.
He finished 2014 ranked 39th in the world. Last year, he was 20th.
After claiming four titles so far this season, his ranking hit a career high, earning him a place among the coveted top 10.
Along the way defeating Rafael Nadal on clay and Roger Federer on grass, he won the tournaments in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Acapulco, Mexico; Nice, France; and Stuttgart, Germany.
“It’s not different at all. I’m the same person, and I will always be the same person. I won’t change only because I’m top 10,” Thiem said.
“It’s nice. It was a big goal. But still I’m the same person like a couple years ago.”
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – You win some. You lose some.
If you’re Rafael Nadal, you win a lot.
And, yes, even he loses.
But that shouldn’t alarm anyone. It definitely does not concern him.
“Everybody have defeats in important matches, no? I don’t understand that like a ‘low moments,’ because the world of tennis and the sport of tennis is a sport that almost every week you lose, even if you are so good,” the Spanish tennis icon said.
“It’s obvious that you have periods of your career that if you are so good, then you lose less, but every week there is only one winner. So you need to accept that every time that you start the tournament. The normal thing is that you going to lose later or soon.”
Dealing with injuries also doesn’t panic Nadal, the winner of 14 Grand Slam singles titles.
Competing at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, the 30-year-old is playing his first ATP World Tour match since May.
by JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – Even after losing, you still can win.
During the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, American Steve Johnson lost in a third-set tiebreaker to England’s Andy Murray, the world’s No. 2-ranked player, in the quarterfinals of singles.
Dropping the first set 0-6, Johnson dramatically rebounded and claimed the second set, 6-4. Murray, a three-time Grand Slam champion and also the defending Olympic gold medalist, then prevailed in the tiebreaker, 6-7 (2).
Just an hour and a half later, Johnson was back on the tennis court with partner Jack Sock in men's doubles.
“It was emotional. I left a lot of heart and soul out there in the loss to Murray. He played great. To turn around 90 minutes later to come play doubles, if you lose that, you know it’s going to be even more heartbreaking and you leave Rio with nothing, essentially,” he said.
Johnson and Sock, however, defeated Canada’s Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil to win the bronze medal.
“I was in tears after the singles,” Johnson recalled. “It was pure joy after the doubles.”
Johnson said he was proud to represent the United States in the Olympics, as he did during his Davis Cup debut in the World Group playoff against Uzbekistan last September.
“Anything for a team, something greater than yourself,” he beamed.