Tennis: ITF Updates Qualified List Again

With several late withdrawals in tennis the list of qualified athletes has changed again. In total 56 nations will send at least one athlete. As a reminder mixed doubles will be made up of athletes which have qualified in other events.

 

Athletes by Nations

  • United States – 11
  • France – 9
  • Spain – 9
  • Germany – 8
  • Russia – 8
  • Australia – 7
  • Brazil – 7
  • Czech Republic – 7
  • Great Britain – 7
  • Italy – 7
  • Poland – 7
  • Ukraine – 7
  • Argentina – 6
  • Japan – 6
  • Romania – 6
  • Serbia – 6
  • China – 5
  • Chinese Taipei – 5
  • Canada – 4
  • Croatia – 4
  • India – 4
  • Slovakia – 4
  • Belgium – 3
  • Colombia – 3
  • Netherlands – 3
  • Switzerland – 3
  • Austria – 2
  • Belarus – 2
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – 2
  • Bulgaria – 2
  • Chile – 2
  • Hungary – 2
  • Kazakhstan – 2
  • Mexico – 2
  • New Zealand – 2
  • Portugal – 2
  • Thailand – 2
  • Tunisia – 2
  • Barbados – 1
  • Denmark – 1
  • Dominican Republic – 1
  • Georgia – 1
  • Israel – 1
  • Latvia – 1
  • Liechtenstein – 1
  • Lithuania – 1
  • Luxembourg – 1
  • Moldova – 1
  • Montenegro – 1
  • Paraguay – 1
  • Puerto Rico – 1
  • Slovenia – 1
  • Sweden – 1
  • Turkey – 1
  • Uruguay – 1
  • Uzbekistan – 1

 

Reference

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Tennis: Athlete List Updated After Withdrawals

After a number of late withdrawals the International Tennis Federation has announced an updated list of qualified athletes. In total three men and three women withdrew and have been replaced.

For the men Milos Raonic (Canada), Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) and Richard Gasquet (France) have withdrawn and Jordan Thompson (Australia), Benoit Paire (France) and Teymuraz Gabashvili (Russia) have replaced them. For the women Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) and Simona Halep (Romania) have withdrawn and Mariana Duque-Marino (Colombia), Ana Konjuh (Croatia) and Cagla Buyukakcay (Turkey) have replaced them.

Due to these changes a number of doubles partners have changed. In the men’s doubles Daniel Nestor, whom has been added and Vasek Pospisil (Canada), Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) and Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) will compete together. Also the Czech Republic will only send one doubles team meaning Mexico’s Santiago Gonzalez and Miguel Angel Reyes Varela will compete in the event. For the women’s doubles only the Czech Republic contain a change with Lucie Safarova partnering up with Barbora Strycova.

 

Net Athlete Changes by Nations

  • Mexico – 2
  • Australia – 1
  • Colombia -1
  • Croatia – 1
  • Russia – 1
  • Turkey – 1
  • Canada – 0
  • France – 0
  • Belarus – -1
  • Romania – -1
  • Czech Republic – -2

 

References

Tennis: Qualified Athlete List Released

The International Tennis Federation has announced the full list of qualified athletes based on the ATP and WTA rankings. A nation can only qualify a maximum of six athletes for each gender. The ATP and WTA rankings contain various events throughout the year, specifically events taking place from June 8th 2015 to June 5th 2016.

For the singles the top 56 eligible athletes in the men’s ATP and women’s WTA rankings are qualified to the Olympics. A nation can only qualify a maximum of four athletes in each singles event and the athlete must fulfill their requirements to the Davis and Fed Cup or get special permission. Six quotas are classified as ITF places which are allocated to the (if unqualified) host nation, continental representation (must be in top 300) and former Olympic gold medalists or Grand Slam champions (must be in top 200). Should those quotas not be filled the next highest ranked eligible athlete will qualify. Also two tripartite quotas were allocated to each of the singles events.

For the doubles athletes in the top 10 of the men’s ATP and women’s WTA are qualified. Similarly they must fulfill the Davis and Fed Cup requirements. The athletes can partner with any eligible player from their nation provided that they do not exceed the maximum of two doubles teams in an event. 14 spots go to the teams with the highest combined rankings (singles or doubles). 8 spots are classified as ITF places which are allocated to the (if unqualified) host nation (must have combined ranking of less than 500) and continental representation (must have combined ranking of less than 300). Should those quotas not be filled the next highest ranked doubles will qualify.

The men’s singles list contains a few missing top athletes with the 4 in the top 20 missing. Reasons for not competing ranged from not fulfilling the Davis Cup requirements (South Africa’s Kevin Anderson), issues with their NOC (Australia’s Nick Kyrigos) and wanting to focus on the ATP season (Austria’s Dominic Thiem and United States’ John Isner). Of the four Thiem was the highest ranked athlete at the time of the Olympic rankings publication at seventh.

One of the interesting developments on the men’s side is that the ITF has provisionally included some athletes provided that they compete at the July Davis Cup or have an appeal. This was reserved for athletes who have not completed their Davis Cup requirements; the most notable athlete subjected to this is Spain’s Rafael Nadal. In the men’s singles seven athletes qualified through protected rankings, usually reserved from athletes returning from long term injury. Athletes which qualified through the injury list include. Argentina’s Juan Monaco and Juan Martin del Potro, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis, Chinese Taipei’s Lu Yen-Hsun, Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz and United States’ Brian Baker. Overall the ITF Places were reallocated to the next best ranked athletes while the tripartite commission selected Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur and Barabdos’ Darian King to compete at the Olympics.

The women’s singles on the other hand had relatively few missing top athletes. Out of the top 40 only two are missing, recently retired Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Russia’s Maria Sharapova whom is serving a doping ban. Three athletes also used their protected rankings as a way to qualify to the Olympics; China’s Peng Shuai, Italy’s Karin Knapp and Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva. Also three athletes qualified through the intended use of the ITF Places; Brazil’s Teliana Pereira qualified by being from the host nation, Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur qualified by being the highest ranked athlete from Africa and Italy’s Francesca Schiavone qualified by being a former Grand Slam champion. The other three quotas were reallocated to the next highest ranked eligible athletes. The tripartite commission selected Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg and Liechtenstein’s Stephanie Vogt to compete at the Olympics.

Unlike during the ATP and WTA tour doubles pairs must be from the same nation. This has caused many pairs to break-up and compete with someone else for one tournament. In the men’s doubles brother Mike and Bob Bryan of the United States will attempt to depend their gold medal. Overall six athletes will compete with someone else in the top 10 meaning three quotas are reallocated to the combined ranking list. Like with the men’s singles some athletes are provisionally chosen with the expectation that they will compete in July’s Davis Cup competition or submit an appeal. None of the ITF Places were used as intended and were reallocated to the highest combined ranked pairs which applied.

The women’s doubles will have the United States’ Serena and Venus Williams defending their Olympic gold medal. Four athletes will compete with someone else in the top 10 meaning two quotas are reallocated to the combined ranking list. One ITF Place was given to Brazil’s Teliana Pereira and Paula Cristina Goncalves so that the host nation will have participation. The other seven places were reallocated to the highest combined ranked pairs which applied.

The mixed doubles pairs won’t actually be announced until after the Olympics begin. Only players which have already qualified in other events can participate. A total of 16 pairs will compete, with 4 ITF Places included.

 

Athletes by Nations

  • United States – 12
  • Czech Republic – 10
  • France – 9
  • Germany – 9
  • Spain – 9
  • Russia – 8
  • Brazil – 7
  • Great Britain – 7
  • Italy – 7
  • Serbia – 7
  • Ukraine – 7
  • Argentina – 6
  • Australia – 6
  • Switzerland – 6
  • Chinese Taipei – 5
  • Romania – 5
  • Canada – 4
  • China – 4
  • India – 4
  • Japan – 4
  • Kazakhstan – 4
  • Poland – 4
  • Slovakia – 4
  • Belarus – 3
  • Belgium – 3
  • Croatia – 3
  • Netherlands – 3
  • Austria – 2
  • Bulgaria – 2
  • Chile – 2
  • Colombia – 2
  • Hungary – 2
  • Latvia – 2
  • New Zealand – 2
  • Portugal – 2
  • Tunisia – 2
  • Barbados – 1
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – 1
  • Cyprus – 1
  • Denmark – 1
  • Dominican Republic – 1
  • Israel – 1
  • Liechtenstein – 1
  • Lithuania – 1
  • Luxembourg – 1
  • Montenegro – 1
  • Paraguay – 1
  • Puerto Rico – 1
  • Sweden – 1
  • Uruguay – 1
  • Uzbekistan – 1

 

References

Opinion: Will Golf Follow the Same Path as Tennis at the Olympics?

In 2009 Golf was one of two sports chosen to be part of the 2016 Olympics. The decision was criticize not only by people who dislike the sport, but even among fans of the sport. Does it really encompass Olympic values, are there enough nations competing, is it even a sport were questions asked by people without the full knowledge of the sport. The golf supporters weren’t any better; the schedule is already too full, will the top players choose to compete, does golf need the Olympics? All these questions were also asked when Tennis made its re-entry to the Olympics in 1988.

While some of the top players went to the 1988 Olympics the field was severely lacking with many of the top players, especially in the men’s draw not participating. Who can blame them; while nations do compete in the Davis or Federation Cup tennis for the most part was considered an individual’s sport and with no money or even ranking points at the time, a gold medal was considered nothing more than a trophy. Of course if you ask the men’s and women’s singles winners at the 1988 Olympics, Miloslav Mecir and Steffi Graf respectively they may give you a different answer, but that was the general overall feeling at the time.

It has been almost 27 years since the 1988 Olympics which means there are very few active players that remember a time when tennis wasn’t played at the Olympics. Many of these players have watched their idols win medals and the joy they’ve shown which makes them in turn want to become Olympians. For example while about half the top players declined to play in 1988 by 2012 only 18 top men and 17 top women missed the Olympics; 18 of them were due to nations only allowed to bring 4 athletes per gender while 9 were due to injuries. Of the 8 remaining six of them did not meet minimal Davis/Fed Cup requirements while Mardy Fish was eligible to compete, but declined. The status for Florian Mayer is unknown.

While the minority would rank Olympic gold as the pinnacle of tennis, today it is at least seen as the next best thing after winning the Grand Slam while others feel a gold medal is comparable to winning a Grand Slam. This is despite the ATP and WTA tours only giving ranking points that would place it between 1000 and 500 level events (between 2nd and 3rd tier at the tours) which essentially means the Olympics is the 15th most important event in a calendar year. Of course reasons for the low point value could be because of the 4 athletes per nation limit and the associations not wanting an event which shows up once every four years messing with the rankings.

Where does this leave golf? Well if history is going to repeat itself the strength of the 2016 field will be called into question. While the International Golf Federation has done a decent job on getting commitments from the highest ranked players and while no player has flat out declined a spot yet it will be interesting to see who competes when the rankings and acceptances are published.

The International Golf Federation also has not done itself any favors with its qualification format. Unlike in tennis where 4 athletes per nation can compete golf only allows 4 athletes per nation to compete if they are all in the top 15, after that only 2 athletes per nation will compete. Looking at the Olympic rankings in golf and assuming everyone accepts the lowest ranked man is ranked 340 and the lowest rank women is ranked 450 meanwhile in 2012 tennis whom has a similar size field the lowest non-wild card ranked athletes were 72 for men and 70 for women and that’s taking into account injuries and declined spots.

Even if the strength of field for golf is like 1988 tennis I do believe the sport will head in the same direction and maybe in about 20 years people will begin ranking Olympic gold alongside the four Opens in golf. The unfortunate part however, is that golf won’t have the same luxury tennis had when it first joined. With the increase competitive nature of summer Olympic events golf is only guaranteed to be an Olympic sport for 2016 and 2020, after that it risks being removed. Their first impression in 2016 will be very important (though the golf course controversy in Brazil isn’t helping) as the IGF will need to work extra hard to assure at least the top 15 eligible athletes attend and hope that the magic of an Olympic medal ignites the desire for other golfers to play at the Olympics.

References

Paul Fein. How Important Is an Olympic Gold Medal in Tennis? Access on March 19 2015.
Wikipedia. Tennis at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Qualification. Access on March 19 2015.
IGF. Golf and the Olympic Games. Access on March 19 2015.