- Tennis at the 2008 Summer Olympics
Tenniscompetitions at the 2008 Summer Olympicsin Beijingwere held from August 10 to August 17 at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre. The DecoTurfsurface rendered the event a hardcourttournament.
The women's single event proved notable for being one of only two Olympiads — and the first since 1908 — in which all medalists were from the same country.cite web|url=http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/summer08/tennis/news/story?id=3539303|title=Dementieva beats Russian compatriot Safina for gold|date=2008-08-17|accessdate=2008-08-17|publisher=ESPN.com] Despite their singles victories, however, the Russian women failed to advance past the quarterfinals of the women's doubles. Instead, Beijing brought the return of the gold medal to the United States, following their only failure to capture the gold since the event's re-introduction at the Seoul games.
The men's singles featured the first time an Olympian had medaled in consecutive Olympiads since the 1920 games, [cite web|url=http://en.beijing2008.cn/news/sports/headlines/tennis/n214546331.shtml|title=Gonzalez locks consecutive Olympic medal|date=2008-08-15|accessdate=2008-08-17|publisher=The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games] while the men's doubles gave Switzerland its first medal in the event. The doubles also returned Sweden and the United States to the medals stand for the first time since the 1988 re-introduction of the sport.
The majority of players in the singles competitions (56 of 64 players in the draw) gained entry through their position in either the ATP (men) or WTA (women) rankings. The remaining eight places were given to six players who gained ITF places (wild cards) and two who received invitations from the Tripartite Commission, which were intended to go to
National Olympic Committees (NOCs) with small teams.cite web|url=http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_31490_original.PDF|title=IOC Qualification System Summary - Men and Women|publisher=ITF|date=2008-03-13|accessdate=2008-08-19] [cite web|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/news/newsarticle.asp?articleid=18514|title=Olympic Tripartite Invitation places announced|publisher=ITF|date=2008-03-31|accessdate=2008-08-19] For the doubles competitions, 10 players qualified directly. The remaining 86 places were allocated by the International Tennis Federation(ITF) based on world rankings.cite web|url=http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_31441_original.PDF|title=2008 Olympic Tennis Event Regulations|publisher=ITF|date=2008-03-10|accessdate=2008-08-19] In the doubles, as in every team event at the Olympics, athletes had to compete on the side of athletes from the same NOC. This method of forming teams meant that Canadian world number one Daniel Nestor[citeweb|url=http://www.atptennis.com/5/en/rankings/entrysystem/doubles.asp?showall=0&RankDate=8%2F4%2F2008&country=&rank=100&image.x=4&image.y=6|title=ATP Doubles Ranking (August 4, 2008)|publisher=ATP|date=2008-08-04|2008-08-19] had to find a new partner (his partner at the time was Serb Nenad Zimonjic) [citeweb|url=http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/players/playerprofiles/playeractivity.asp?query=Doubles&year=2008&player=N210&selTournament=0&prevtrnnum=0|title=Daniel Nestor (playing activity)|publisher=ATP|2008-08-19] and led one South African player, Liezel Huber, to seek U.S. citizenship so that she had the opportunity to play. [citeweb|url=http://www.tennis-ontheline.com/07cgwtt7.htm|title=Playoffs On The Line As Buzz Host Smash|publisher=Tennis-ontheline.com|author=Christopher Gerby|date=2007-07-26|accessdate=2008-08-19] Each NOC could submit a maximum of 6 players; this sextet could be composed of a maximum of four singles players and four doubles players (two teams).
The rankings of July 9 were used to determine the direct entrants. A number of tournaments, including the prestigious Wimbledon Championships took place between this date and the time of the Games beginning, and some players re-entered the qualification places during this time.
Rainer Schuettler, who was propelled up the rankings by his semi-final appearance at Wimbledon, [cite web|url=http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/players/playerprofiles/RankHistory.asp?playernumber=S636&selyear=2008|title=Rainer Schuettler ranking history|publisher=ATP|accessdate=2008-08-19] [citeweb|url=http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/players/playerprofiles/playeractivity.asp?query=Singles&year=2008&player=S636&selTournament=0&prevtrnnum=0|title=Rainer Schuettler (playing activity)|publisher=ATP|accessdate=2008-08-19] went to the Court of Arbitration for Sportand won his right to play at the Olympics, provoking a hostile response from the ITF, as it was a deviation from their original regulations. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/tennis/7539737.stm|title=Schuettler wins Olympic decision|publisher=ITF|date=2008-08-04|accessdate=2008-08-19]
ITF places, ostensibly a form of wild card,citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_3118_original.PDF|title=ITF basic regulations|publisher=ITF|accessdate=2008-08-15] were awarded to six players in both the men and women's singles, with one further place dispensed in the women's competition after
Stephanie Vogt, entering via the Tripartite Commission, withdrew. [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/news/newsarticle.asp?articleid=18984|title=Changes to Beijing entry list (28 July 2008)|publisher=ITF|date=2008-07-28|2008-08-15] [citeweb|url=http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/1/global/Pdfs/events/2008/olympics_draws.pdf|title=Women's Singles draw|publisher=WTA|date=2008-08-07|accessdate=2008-08-15 Highlights that Tanasugarn entered as an IP (ITF place) rather than an INV (Tripartite Commission Invitation)] The four official criteria for ITF place consideration were world ranking (no numeric specification), whether the country was represented in the tennis event, the number of players on site, and geographical location. However, there was some flexibility to these regulations: ITF president Ricci Bittistated that it was his intention for the ITF places to grant opportunities to young players and players from under-represented countries, and to reward players who had competed diligently for their nation in the Davis or Fed Cup, or whom were former medalists.citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/news/newsarticle.asp?articleid=18874|title=ITF places announced for 2008 Olympic Tennis Event|publisher=ITF|date=2008-07-30|accessdate=2008-08-15]
The ITF places were announced on July 30.
Sun Pengwas originally the only Chinese man to enter the men's singles, and did so through the ITF places. Accompanying Sun were multiple Grand Slam doubles titlists Max Mirnyiand Jonas Bjorkman(who was retiring at the end of the year), nascent stars such as Kei Nishikoriand Kevin Anderson, and defending champion Nicolas Massu. In the women's singles, the ITF places went to Alicia Molik, a former top ten player, and Chan Yung-jan, a young player, with the remaining spots going to Mariya Koryttseva, Nuria Llagostera Vives, Ayumi Morita, Selima Sfar(a veteran Fed Cup player), and Tamarine Tanasugarn, who gained the retrospective place.
Despite debate being re-ignited about tennis's place at the Olympics,citeweb|url=http://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/la-spw-olydwyre12-2008aug12,0,6700990.column|title=For tennis players, Olympics lack luster|publisher=
LA Times|author=Bill Dwyre|date=2008-08-12|accessdate=2008-08-16] [citeweb|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/olympics/2008/05/should_tennis_be_an_olympic_sp.html|title=Should tennis be an Olympic sport?|publisher= BBC Sport|author=Ollie Williams|date=2008-05-15|accessdate=2008-08-13] and the attestations of some players (such as Andy Roddick, who chose to play an American tournament in order to prepare for the U.S. Open), that the Grand Slams remained the pre-eminent tennis tournaments, [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/tennis/7292527.stm|title=Roddick to miss Beijing Olympics|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-03-12|accessdate=2008-08-16] the 2008 Games saw the strongest field of competition since tennis's re-introduction to the Olympics in 1988. The singles competitions featured 17 of the top 20 men, and 18 of the top 20 women, with all of the top five men in attendence. [citeweb|url=http://en.beijing2008.cn/news/sports/headlines/tennis/n214441436.shtml|title=Beijing 2008: top players head Olympic tennis tournament|publisher=Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games|date=2008-07-08|accessdate=2008-08-16] This was a huge improvement on only 12 years ago in Atlanta, when only 3 men from the world's top 10 entered. [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/history/podium/secure.asp|title=Tennis on the Podium - Tennis Secure|publisher=ITF|accessdate=2008-08-16] Players had been further incentivized to compete at the Olympics after the ATP and WTA began awarding ranking points as of the 2000 Games. [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/history/podium/beyond.asp|title=Tennis on the Podium - Now & Beyond|publisher=ITF|accessdate=2008-08-16] Apathy towards the Games was still present, as Roddick and 2004 Men's Singles silver-medalist Mardy Fishopted not to play in Beijingto better prepare themselves for the U.S. Open, [citeweb|url=http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/2008-08-08-countrywide-classic_N.htm?csp=34|title=Decision to skip Olympics paying off for Fish, Roddick|publisher= USA Today|date=2008-08-09|accessdate=2008-08-16] but many players expressed their enthusiasm for the Games, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal,citeweb|url=http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/sports/story.html?id=f155fea3-cdb9-4fb7-9d9f-80a69f13f449&p=1|title=Fellow athletes mob tennis stars|publisher= Leader Post|author=Rob Vanstone|date=2008-08-12|accessdate=2008-08-16] Jonas Bjorkman, Nicolas Massu,citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/news/newsarticle.asp?articleid=18874|title=ITF places announced for 2008 Olympic Tennis Event|publisher=ITF|date=2008-07-30|accessdate=2008-08-15] Andy Murray, [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6327379.stm|title=Murray wants to win Olympic medal|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2007-02-03|accessdate=2008-08-16] Jelena Jankovic, [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/news/newsarticle.asp?articleid=18975|title=Olympic spotlight on...Jelena Jankovic|publisher=ITF|date=2008-07-25|accessdate=2008-08-16] Elena Dementieva, [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/news/newsarticle.asp?articleid=19055|title=Olympic spotlight on...Elena Dementieva|publisher=ITF|date=2008-08-06|accessdate=2008-08-16] Alicia Molik, and Venus and Serena Williams.
In the calendar year preceding the 2008 Olympics, there was a shift at the hierarchy of men's tennis as
Rafael Nadaldisplaced Roger Federeras the world number one, after his record consecutive 237-week stay at the top of the rankings. From the second round of the 2008 Hamburg Mastersto the semi-finals of the 2008 Cincinnati Masters(the last tournament before the Games), winning the French Open and Wimbledon in between, Nadal had won 32 consecutive matches.citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7539389.stm|title=Djokovic ends Nadal's winning run|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-08-03|accessdate=2008-08-15] [citeweb|url=http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/players/playerprofiles/playeractivity.asp?query=Singles&year=2008&player=N409&selTournament=0&prevtrnnum=0|title=2008 playing activity for Rafael Nadal|publisher=ATP|accessdate=2008-08-15] Due to the way the rankings are accrued, Nadal became number one on August 18, the day after the Olympic tournament, although this had been confirmed earlier. Nadal was therefore considered a strong favorite, as was Federer, who, despite reaching two Grand Slam finals, had had a poor year by his standards.citeweb|url=http://en.beijing2008.cn/news/sports/headlines/tennis/n214520681.shtml|title=Olympic Tennis Preview: World's best on Beijing courts|publisher=Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games|date-2008-08-09|accessdate=2008-08-15] Other top-ten players considered to be favorites included the reigning Australian Open champion, Novak Djokovic, Spanish world No. 4 and 2007 Tennis Masters Cupfinalist David Ferrer, James Blake, David Nalbandian, Nikolay Davydenko, and British player Andy Murray, who was lauded in the British press after winning the Cincinnati tournament and reaching the semi-finals of the previous week's Toronto Masters.citeweb|url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-07/17/content_8561583.htm|title=Tennis preview: Beijing to witness strongest field ever in Olympic tennis tournament|publisher=www.chinaview.cn|author=Wang Jimin|date-2008-07-17|accessdate=2008-08-15] [citeweb|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/2498083/Andy-Murray-targets-Olympics-and-US-Open-after-Masters-Series-triumph---Tennis.html|title=Andy Murray targets Olympics and US Open after Masters Series triumph|publisher= The Telegraph|author=Telegraph staff and agencies|date=2008-08-04|accessdate-2008-08-15] [citeweb|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article4456443.ece|title=Andy Murray eyes Olympic Games gold after Masters win|publisher= The Times|author=Times Online and agencies|date=2008-08-04|accessdate=2008-08-15]
Three Chinese nationals appeared in the men's draw, but none qualified automatically, with
Sun Pengrelying on the places issued by the International Tennis Federation(ITF), and Yu Xinyuanand Zeng Shaoxuanreplacing withdrawn players as alternates. [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/shared/medialibrary/pdf/original/IO_35058_original.PDF|title=Men's Singles draw|publisher=ITF|date=2008-08-07|accessdate=2008-08-15]
The women's game also underwent a period of transition in 2008.
Justine Henin, the incumbent world number one and reigning Olympic champion, retired on May 14, citing a lack of motivation for the game. [cite news|author=BBC Sport|title=Henin announces shock retirement| url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7399963.stm|date =2008-05-14| accessdate =2008-06-11] Since then, three women had held the number one spot, and two, Maria Sharapovaand Ana Ivanovic, had grappled with injury and poor form after successful first halves of the year. The pair were subsequently forced to withdraw from the Olympics. [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/tennis/7548997.stm|title=Injured Ivanovic out of Olympics|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-08-10|accessdate=2008-08-13] [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/tennis/7536416.stm|title=Sharapova to miss US Open & Games|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-08-01|accessdate=2008-08-13] The favorites included Jelena Jankovic, who assumed the world number one ranking on August 11, the second day of the tennis tournament; Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova, the world number three, Elena Dementieva, who was a silver medalist at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and Dinara Safina, the French Open finalist who had won back-to-back tournaments in the weeks before the Olympics; and the Williams sistersVenus and Serena, who had strong Olympic pedigree having won the singles (Venus) and doubles in 2000, and who had recently played each other in the Wimbledon final.
A trio of players also represented China in the women's draw, although all three qualified automatically, unlike in the men's. They were Li Na, who was a semi-finalist at the Tier I Doha before succumbing to injury for most of the Summer; [citeweb|url=http://chinadaily.com.cn/sports/2008-04/01/content_6581373.htm|title=Li Na likely to undergo knee surgery|publisher=
China Daily|author=Zhao Rui|date=2008-04-01|accessdate=2008-08-15] Zheng Jie, who raised hopes by becoming the first Chinese player to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam singles tournament at Wimbledon; [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7486378.stm|title=Chinese revel in Zheng success|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-07-02|accessdate=2008-08-15] and Peng Shuai.
Olympic Green Tennis Centre;Capacity:
* Centre Court - 10000 seats.
* Show Court 1 - 4000 seats.
* Show Court 2 - 2000 seats.
* Remaining Courts - 7 courts seating for 200 seats each.Surface -
The tennis competition at the Olympic Games consisted of a
single eliminationtournament. The size of the singles draw, 64, meant that there were six rounds of competition in total, [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/drawsheets/index.asp|title=Men's Singles Main Draw: 1st Round|publisher=ITF|accessdate=2008-08-21] with five in the doubles owing to its smaller draw size of 32. [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/drawsheets/index.asp?Tournament=1100018553&Event=1100104056|title=Men's Doubles Main Draw: 1st Round|publisher=ITF|accessdate=2008-08-21] Players reaching the semi-final were assured of an opportunity to compete for a medal, as the two losers in the semi-finals contested a bronze medalmatch.
Matches were best-of-3 sets, except for the Men's singles and doubles finals which were best-of-5 sets. No
tiebreak, a first-to-seven points game initiated when two players or teams reach a score of 6–6, was played in the final set. With athletes needing a two game advantage to win the match, this led to one match's final set, the men's doubles semi-final between Arnaud Clement& Michael Llodraand Simon Aspelin& Thomas Johansson, extending to 19–17 in Aspelin & Johansson's favour. [citeweb|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/tennis/7562986.stm|title=Nadal to face Gonzalez in final|publisher=BBC Sport|date=2008-08-15|accessdate=2008-08-19]
Rankings points determine the position of a player in the ATP (men's) and WTA (women's) rankings, which are based on players' performances in the previous 52-weeks. For the Olympics, the men's player who won received 400 ranking points [citeweb|url=http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/event/ranking.asp|title=Ranking Points 2008 (Olympic Tennis Event)|publisher=ITF|accessdate=2008-08-13] —put in perspective, this is 100 more than a win at the most prestigious
International Series Goldtournaments, 100 less than a Masters Serieswin, and 600 less than a triumph at one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. [citeweb|url=http://www.atptennis.com/en/players/ATP_Rulebook2008.pdf|title=The ATP 2008 Official Rulebook (p. 153)|publisher=ATP|accessdate=2008-08-13]
* [http://www.itftennis.com/olympics/ International Tennis Federation - The Tennis Event at the 2008 Olympics]
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