David Fearnhead, long-time reader of Women's Tennis Blog, professional journalist and author of novel Bailey of the Saints (out now!), did a Q&A with Kaia Kanepi about the Olympics. The interview's timing is perfect, as Kanepi is now under a watchful eye of the tennis world following her big victory over Caroline Wozniacki and over her own chokes in the third round of Roland Garros. Today she's facing Arantxa Rus.
Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi has had a great start to 2012, collecting trophies in Brisbane and Estoril. Then she ousted Wozniacki at the French. It’s hopefully the start of a special summer for the 26-year-old. This July Kanepi is set for her 3rd appearance at the Olympic Games. She has the game which could put her in contention for a medal… as long as she stays clear of injury. Here she speaks exclusively about her Olympic Dream.
Before Athens in 2004 I went running and fell, breaking my little finger on my left hand, it meant that I couldn’t really hit my backhand very well. I still had a great time there with all the other Estonian athletes. My favorite thing was the foodcourt, it was huge!
I had my appendix out one month before Beijing 2008. It was my first tournament back following that operation. I still made it through to the third round before going out to the home favorite Li Na. I didn’t get to go to the opening ceremony in Athens or Beijing because it lasts for such a long time and I had to play the next day. I hope I have the chance to go in London. I also want to go and see some of the track and field.
The Olympics do feel very different to the grand slams because there are so many athletes around from my own country. We stay in the same house and it feels like one big family for that time. For me, I don’t prepare for the Olympics any differently than I do for a Grand Slam. The only unusual thing will be that it’s also being played on the courts at Wimbledon so it might be harder to realise that we are actually playing at the Olympics because it’s the same venue as the Grand Slam event.
I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I changed my diet and lost around 5 kilos. It’s not hard to lose kilos but it’s hard to stay physically fit at the same time, and to have the energy to practice. I’m a power hitter, so I try to stay aggressive and use more slice when I’m playing on grass.
Grand Slams are very important to tennis players, but a medal from the Olympics – that’s big too!
Thank you, David, for letting me share this interview with my readers! (photos: Tennis Buzz)