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The Mind of a Champion



ATLANTA – On the tennis court – or judo mat – a positive mental attitude is the difference between winning and losing.

“When it comes down to it, obviously skill is paramount in any sport and preparation. But once you have the skill and you’ve done the preparation, then ultimately what makes the difference is the mind,” said retired judo competitor Jimmy Pedro, Olympic Games bronze medal winner in 1996 in Atlanta and 2004 in Athens.

Pedro now coaches Kayla Harrison, who made history at the 2012 Olympics in London as the first American, man or woman, to win a gold judo medal.

“On the mat or on the tennis court, it really comes down to a battle of wills,” he said. “Are you willing and able to go to that place where that other person is not? Are you willing to push the pace? Can you dig deep?”

The BB&T Atlanta Open tennis tournament is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Olympics in Atlanta. Tennis fans can talk and take pictures with athletes and see rare memorabilia in a special exhibit.

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Reflecting on the 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

Last Saturday’s International Tennis Hall of Fame induction offered it all: tears and laughter, feelings of grandeur and humility, memories and hopes for the future. Also, lots of sun.

Class of 2016 Inductees Marat Safin and Justine Henin were joined by last year’s honoree Amelie Mauresmo (who missed the 2015 cerem

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#ATPNewport Semifinal Saturday Wrap Up

It’s how you use it

Saturday’s semifinals at the Tennis Hall of Fame Championships were both straight-set affairs. Gilles Muller soundly defeated Donald Young in the first match of the day, 6-3, 6-4. Following his loss, the American said he had “no rhythm” and could not get into any of Muller’s service games. In fact, he only won five points on Muller’s serve, only one of which came when returning first serve.

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Marat Safin: "Tennis is Where I Belong

OTGT had the chance to spend a few minutes with Marat prior to his enshrinement into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  

See Marat playfully wax poetic about his career and his desire to get back into tennis as well as relive some "terrible" memories.  Watch the video above or read the transcript below. 

Q:  Marat, you’ve been out of tennis life for a while. So, what does it feel like coming here and what does it mean to you? 

A: Basically, I’m back to the roots, back to basics. Completely different lifestyle, of course, now, but it’s nice to come back to tennis and to understand… really, to understand the history. It’s the first time I’m really in touch with it. I mean, the Museum, the Newport tennis stop is amazing. It’s where the history starts and belongs. So, first time I really can see it and can feel it. What it means for tennis.

To be part of such thing, it’s a huge honor to be able to be part of it. For me, especially, [as] the first Russian. Especially now, the situation in the world, it’s even funnier.

But I really appreciate it, people… I don’t know… they really like my tennis, the way I played, I’m really thankful for that. Really thankful.

Q: Is it especially important because your family has been in tennis all your life? I know your sister and your mom are here. Is it a more meaningful experience?

A: Well for us, our family, it’s a little deeper than for others, probably, because my mother was a tennis player. She tried, in Communist times, [played] a couple times French Open juniors, Wimbledon juniors, and she always wanted to… she couldn’t make it as a pro, so that’s why she wanted to achieve this. She wanted to achieve what she wanted to achieve through us. What she did, only one family, boy and girl, No. 1 in the world. So, two sisters, Williams sisters, and us.

So, I think it’s a little bit deeper because it’s also, thanks to my mother, my sister, my father, that we’ve been a tennis family and that, really, if I did not play tennis, I don’t know where I would end up.

So, yeah, basically, thanks also for my roots, that she [his mother Rausa – ed.] kept me out of trouble and she put me into tennis. I didn’t want to play tennis at all, I wanted to play soccer all my life. But my mother, she knows better, the best, of what the son needs.

Q: Going back to your career, what’s your most memorable memory?

A: Santoro matches. Disaster. But always will remember that.

Q: What about the proudest moment you had.

A: Still to come! Still to come.

Q: What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?

A: Young, stupid, fearless. [Laughs]

Q: This is now, or during your career?

A: Now I’m older. I don’t know if wiser or not. But, improving myself.

Q: If you could switch lives with one person for one day, who would it be, and why?

A: My life, to give to somebody? No way! He will makes such damage for me in one day, he will destroy my life. No, I keep my life to myself.

Q: So, you’ve achieved the highest honor in tennis. What is the next goal for you?

A: The sky is the limit is what I’m saying. I don’t know, but I would like definitely to [be] sticking to tennis. I think I can be useful in a certain way tennis-wise, in ATP, ITF, or something.

Q: And give up your political career?

A: No, afterwards! I finish my political career, so I have enough experience – what to do, how it works, and then I try to do something in tennis because it’s… it’s where I belong. It’s where the roots are. I need to improve it, to make the game better. And if I’m allowed to be a family [sic] part of the big story, I’ll be very pleased with that.  

Q: We also want to ask you about your Olympic experience. Just your memories from 2004.

A: Terrible memories. Great places, good experiences, terrible results. I still do regret that I didn’t really pay attention the right way for the Olympic Games.

I told you, young and stupid. And fearless. 

Interview by Mariya Konovalova


Hawkeye Lands at #ATPNewport

One of the many enhancements to this year's tournament was the installation of two huge electronic scoreboards on the southeast and northwest corners of stadium court.

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On The Go With Marcos Bagdhatis

What does it mean to represent your country in the Olympics?  I have played Davis Cup since I’m 14 and I rarely miss Davis Cup until maybe two or three years ago when I started to get older, some injuries and having a family, you know it’s not always so easy but I always was proud and I am still proud and it’s an honor to play for my country always and when there is an opportunity. Sometimes I saw my country before my career and for me it’s an honor but to play Olympics, every athlete should do that. I am very happy I am in the entry and I be part of the team.

Are you staying in the Olympic village?  Yes.  For me it is very important to be part of the experience.  Did you do that in London? No, because it was too far but I did stay in the Village in Athens and I am really looking forward to doing the same in Rio. 

What was your most memorable match? Nalbandian match. Semifinals of the Australian Open (2006) and I think it’s because I had so much emotions after that match you know, it was my best run in a Grand Slam, my best round ever. 

How would you describe yourself in three words?  Easy going guy. 

What is the one phone app you can’t live without? WhatsApp or Skype 

If you could switch lives with anyone for one day who would it be and why?  Hmm. I’ve never really thought about it and I don’t think I would want to. I love my life and I love what I’ve done with it. I mean everybody can do more but I’m happy with what I have. 

What’s the best thing about being a father? The smile of your children. Just a cuddle when they wake up in the morning and the innocent love. It’s so innocent and so true. I think that is where you realize what it most important. 

Interview and photos by Jennifer Knapp


On The Go at the #ATPNewport Quarterfinals


In 2013, Ivo Karlovic came to Newport following a battle with viral meningitis that started when he was rushed to a hospital in April of that year. Karlovic reached the quarterfinals at the Tennis Hall of Fame Championship and has made it to the semifinal or better in each of the last three years.

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