Five months before he was charged for transporting human growth hormone at an airport in Brisbane in January of 2010, I briefly interviewed Wayne Odesnik in Washington, at the 2009 Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
Odesnik had just won his first round match in three sets over Paul Capdeville, and had just returned from Austin after a week of practicing there with Andy Roddick. Odesnik would go on to beat No. 13 Igor Andreev in the second round, eventually losing to No. 4 Fernando Gonzalez in the third.
I didn't publish the interview at the time because I had done a ton of interviews that week, and had to pick and choose the better ones to transcribe and publish for time reasons. And Odesnik's was not close to being the most interesting at that time.
So this interview didn't see the light of day for a couple years, until I dug it up and transcribed it yesterday, on the eve of his first ATP main draw match since the end of his suspension. There's nothing especially earth-shattering here, but it does give an interesting look into the mind of the man before he got caught.
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SBN: How do you think your summer has gone so far, your US Open preparations?
Wayne Odesnik: Yeah, my first hard court tournament was in Aptos, where I made the quarterfinals. I went to Indianapolis where I made the quarterfinals again, beat some good players, lost a tough match to Isner, 7-5 in the third. Thought I got shafted with no wild card into LA. I was one out. Being that I played Friday night I couldn't even go play qualies. Kinda screwed me over there. Typical. (laughs).
So I had to miss LA, but I had a good practice week in Austin with my coach, and with Andy [Roddick]. Came here, and am getting ready for this tournament and the next one.
SBN: In 2007, you beat Juan Martin del Potro here. To see someone you've beaten do as well as he has and make the top five, does that give you encouragement that you can get up there with him?
Wayne Odesnik: Yeah, sure. I mean, I'm still young, and trying to keep on to improve my game. I know that if I keep doing the right things, my breakthrough will come.
SBN: You aren't usually mentioned in that group of young Americans who are coming up, and you haven't gotten pushed along as much, and aren't getting much hype. Why do you think that is? Is there anything you can do about it?
Wayne Odesnik: I would love to. Yeah. I feel like pretty much everything I've gotten I've worked for. It's cool that when I do get those results, it means more to me. It means that I've done it through hard work. Maybe you guys can help, the media can try to get my name out there, get a little more recognition. That'd be awesome.
SBN: What do you think prevented you from becoming part of the American hype machine? Because you play on clay more, or play more events outside the US?
Wayne Odesnik: Maybe the fact that I didn't do the whole college scene? Guys like Isner went to college, and making the finals of the NCAAs helped him. Querrey at a very young age was ranked high, and same with Andy. I think I'm still the sixth- or seventh-ranked American right now, so hopefully in the next couple years I can get even higher.
SBN: What's the mental strain like for you, in an individual sport, traveling week to week and having to play qualifying, and dealing things like wild cards? How much mental strength do you need to deal with that.
Wayne Odesnik: Yeah, I mean as far as wild cards go, at the end of the day, the results should speak for themselves. If you're good enough you're gonna do it with or without wild cards. A lot of guys from other countries don't have these wild card opportunities, so I'm not complaining about that.
I think tennis, if you go outside the US, tennis is a huge sport in Europe and South America. In the US, it's one of the sports where people don't understand how tough it is. How big of a grind it is to have to go city to city, continent to continent. Hopefully it can get some more recognition in the next couple years. I think it's definitely one of the toughest sports there is out there, being that you're out there by yourself.
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