2014/08/01

Donald Young Reaches Citi Open Quarterfinals

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Donald Young photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

By Dave Gertler

(July 31, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Donald Young has bounced back from a four-match losing streak to find redemption at the Citi Open this week, where today’s win over Denis Istomin places him in his second ATP quarterfinal of 2014.

“I had to fight some nerves, and it’s tough to play an opponent who you can visually see was not on top of his game,” said Young of Istomin who appeared exhausted at times throughout the match, “I asked him at the end. He said he was a little tired.”

The 25-year-old American broke his opponent late in the first set, before consolidating the break – and the set – with a love service game, taking the opener 6-3.

Aforementioned losing streak aside, Young has found himself on a mid-career upswing in the last 12 months, and has raised his ranking from outside the top 150 to where it is now at No.73, mostly through wins at Challenger level.

Along with his second-round win against Julien Benneteau yesterday, today’s win against Istomin means Young now has an even 7-7 win/loss record against top-50 players in 2014, a sure sign he himself is heading in that direction.

“It’s been three years since I’ve been in the top 50,” said Young, “It took me a while to get my head together. Next time I get there – which I think I will – I want to stay and be consistent, at least for a good part of the rest of my career.”

Istomin swung the momentum in his favor in the second set, capitalizing on an early break and holding the advantage for 6-3, but with the Grandstand One crowd well and truly behind him, Young outlasted Istomin in the decider, proving more physically equipped than his opponent to gain the advantage in the majority of their long baseline duels.

Closing out the match, however, required a different approach. Young said his strategy on this crucial 5-3 service game was to, “Put some good first serves in, be aggressive, move forward. When I move forward, the nerves don’t have a chance to kick in, ‘cause it’s so instinctive.”

Now enjoying his sixth career appearance in Rock Creek Park, the 6-foot former junior world No.1 from Georgia is hoping to outdo his 2011 run to the Citi Open semi-final, but to reach that stage in 2014, he’ll need to turn the tables on his next opponent, Kevin Anderson, who has beaten Young the last five times they’ve played.

It was a good day for American men at the Citi Open, with Young, as well as Steve Johnson getting through to the quarter-finals, Johnson taking out 9th seed Ivo Karlovic in three sets and two hours.

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Raonic Set to Take on Hewitt in Round of 16 match at Citi Open

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

 

By Dave Gertler

(July 31, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Last year’s Citi Open in Washington, D.C. played a crucial role in the lead-up to what would be Milos Raonic’s first appearance in a Masters 1000 final. At the time, he was still ranked outside the top 10, had never made it past the round of 16 at a major, and promptly bowed out to Australian journeyman Marinko Matosevic in the second round.

 

“I didn’t play well here last year,” said Raonic of his reasoning for returning to this year’s event, “And I really would not have wanted to start off Montreal that way. So I think even though I had a poor result last year, it helped me a lot with the result in Montreal. I think it’s a positive for me to come and play here.”

 

The Montenegro-born Canadian earned his first single-figure ranking in March and, given his transposition to a higher echelon of men’s tennis this year, is now within striking distance of the top 5, especially considering the rest of the year will play out on his favorite surface – hard courts – and in his home continent of North America.

 

“After spending four months of playing tennis where I’m adjusting to figure out the surface,” said Raonic about his transition to the hard courts of the Emirates US Open Series, “It’s a surface I come to and I don’t have to worry about – ‘OK, in this situation, I gotta hit this shot’ – I have that stuff sort of ingrained in myself naturally.”

 

In his first match in D.C. last night, Raonic served 16 aces against Jack Sock on his way to a straight-sets win over the American. In a match characterized by the consistency that has helped the Canadian to five career ATP 250 titles, the 23-year-old Canadian served an even eight aces in both sets, and only allowed his opponent three points in each of the tie-breaks they played.

 

In their third round match tonight, Raonic will face a significant obstacle in the form of Lleyton Hewitt, who as well as winning their only meeting so far, is also the tournament’s last remaining former champion. A lot has changed since their 2012 meeting at the Australian Open, including Raonic reaching the semi-final of the most recent slam.

 

While the No.2 seed seems to have shifted his focus towards winning majors, he has not made the final of any tournament since September 2013, something Hewitt has done twice, winning both times and bringing his overall career tally to 30. While Hewitt’s slam-winning days are arguably behind him, the Canadian is focused on his own upward career trajectory, and the opportunity to go deeper in the next slam. “I can do much better than I did at Wimbledon,” said Raonic, “And that doesn’t put me far away from giving myself an opportunity to win that tournament.”

 

In other men’s round of 16 matches at the Citi Open today, Vasek Pospisil takes on top seed Tomas Berdych while American Donald Young plays Denis Istomin.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Dominican Journeyman Victor Estrella Burgos Sets Sights on Career High Ranking as he Topples Eighth Seed Feliciano Lopez at Citi Open

estrella burgos 1

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 30, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Victor Estrella Burgos, the Dominican journeyman who broke into the top 100 for the first time in March, will celebrate his 34th birthday with a new career-high ranking, after claiming the scalp of the Citi Open’s eighth seed, beating Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 6-4 on Wednesday.

 

With no breaks of serve in the first set, Lopez served three consecutive aces to take it to a tie-break. Estrella – basking in the Washington, DC heat – used his power and whipping topspin from the baseline to gain a vital mini-break at 5-4, and managed to hold on for the opening set, much to the delight of a small but vocal nucleus of Dominican supporters.

 

“I tell you, if you have ten Dominican people here, it’s gonna be like 100,” said Estrella Burgos, who along with his first-round win against Tobias Kamke, has now compiled four main-draw career wins over top-100 players at ATP events, all of which have remarkably have come in 2014.

 

Lopez was broken to 15 early in the second set, and showed signs of nursing a slight arm strain in between points. Serving only three aces in the second set compared to nine in the first, the 32-year-old Spaniard also showed signs of irritation at the enthusiasm with which his unforced errors were welcomed by Estrella Burgos’ supporters. The 5’8” Dominican would save the only break point Lopez could muster in the second set, closing the match out in 78 minutes.

 

“If I can still play till Saturday, it’s gonna be the best birthday of my life, for sure,” said Estrella Burgos, of his potential progress at the Citi Open. Ranked No.386 a year ago, he reached the second round of the Claro Colombia Open as a qualifier. This year at the same event, he reached the first ATP semi-final of his career, claiming a win over world No.14 Richard Gasquet along the way.

 

Now ranked No.87, Estrella Burgos has the chance to go even deeper in the Citi Open draw if he can replicate his recent form in his third-round match against Santiago Giraldo. “I working hard to be here,” said Estrella Burgos when asked how he feels about his late-career purple patch, “Every unbelievable shot I do today, I think, I worked for that.”

 

In a March interview with Josh Meiseles of  ATPWorldTour.com, Estrella Burgos described a 6-month layoff due to injury in 2012/13 as being fundamental to his ascension to the top 100, from outside the top 300, in just under a year, saying, “When I began the recovery process I became more determined, more physically energized and I looked forward to returning. I matured a lot and got stronger mentally too. I trained hard and returned to the tour with the strong desire to win (Emirates ATP Ranking) points, build my confidence and here I am.”

 

“Today I do some backhand passing shot for broke him in the second set,” said the 5’8” Dominican, who has spent most of his 13-year career on the Challenger and Futures tours, “I never do that in Challenger. I think it’s a motivator.”

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

 

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws from Toronto and Cincinnati with Wrist Injury

Nadal at changeover

 

(July 30, 2014) World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from both the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati due to a right wrist injury.

 

“I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my Rogers Cup title this year,” said Nadal through a Rogers Cup press release. “I was looking forward to coming there and playing again in Toronto as I have always loved to play in Canada and had great results in the past at a very important event.

 

“Unfortunately I injured my right wrist yesterday during practice and after the tests I have undergone today in Spain, including an MRI, and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks,” Nadal said via a news release from the Western & Southern Open. I am sorry and wish the best to the tournament and thank all of the fans for their support,” said Nadal. “I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my titles and compete in Toronto and Cincinnati this year. I was looking forward to coming and playing again after my great results last year.”

 

Official announcement from Nadal’s management team in Spanish:

Rafa Nadal no podrá participar y defender los títulos que ganó en la pasada temporada en los torneos de Toronto y Cincinnati.
El jugador ha sufrido una molestia en los entrenamientos preparativos para la gira norte americana y tras unas pruebas realizadas hoy en la Clínica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis, se ha encontrado una pequeña desinserción de la vaina del cubital posterior de la muñeca derecha.
El tenista tendrá que estar de 2 a 3 semanas con una célula de inmovilización de la muñeca derecha.
En función de la evolución, que será seguida detenidamente por el Doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro incluyendo pruebas de ecografia y resonancia magnética, se valorará el retorno del jugador a la competición prevista inicialmente para el US Open.

 

More to follow…..

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Isner Among the Top Seeds in Action at Citi Open on Wednesday

John Isner

John Isner

By Dave Gertler

(July 30, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – The top seeds in the men’s draw at the Citi Open are all in action today, and with defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro still recovering from injury, as well as the pre-tournament withdrawal of would-be No.3 seed Grigor Dimitrov, fifth seeded American John Isner might be sensing the opportunity to finally raise the trophy of the tournament that has meant so much to him during his professional tennis career.

 

“For me, Washington has always been a special place,” said Isner during a USTA-organized conference call two weeks ago. “I’ve always played extremely well there, but I’ve never won it. I know I’ve made two finals and two other semi-finals, so I’ve always played well there, but haven’t quite finished it off. So hopefully this year will be different.”

 

“I was lucky enough to get a last-minute wildcard in 2007,” said Isner of his first appearance in Washington as a 22-year-old, “If I remember correctly, Fernando Gonzalez pulled out or something and I was able to get a wildcard. I was extremely lucky.” Having found success later in his career than most players, Isner’s nine career titles have all come in the last four years; five of them have been on hard courts, and all but two having come on American soil.

 

“I had nothing to lose,” he told of his debut at what was then the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, “And that’s how I played that week, and I made the finals. It helped me out so much. I sort of made a name for myself, and got my ranking up there pretty high really quickly.”

 

By making the finals that year, albeit one that he would lose to Andy Roddick, Isner’s dramatic rankings jump took him from 416 to 193 in the world.

 

Isner has since lost as many ATP finals as he has won. His most recent opponent in Washington, Del Potro, took a 4-0 winning record against the American into their 2013 final. One of those wins had in fact come in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Legg Mason. In 2009, Isner would lose once again to Roddick, this time in the semi-finals.

 

Along with Del Potro’s absence, the withdrawals before the tournament of No.3 seed Grigor Dimitrov, as well as Gael Monfils – a player who’s stopped Isner’s progress here in the past – has considerably opened up  the field for the 29-year-old, who maintained that, “Even without (Del Potro), I think the field is stronger than it was last year,” said Isner. “There are a lot of, lot of good players. This is one of the toughest 500 tournaments in the world, no doubt about that.”

 

While Isner’s best recent result was reaching the second week of Roland Garros, world No.7 Milos Raonic made the semi-finals of Wimbledon a few weeks ago, and can now be considered amongst the favorites to take out any ATP 500 Series tournament, as can Kei Nishikori, and world No.5 Tomas Berdych, who accepted a late wildcard into the Citi Open two weeks before it began, and plays as tournament’s top seed. Berdych has played the tournament three times, making a semi-final and two quarterfinals, most recently in 2010.

 

“I think it’s more exciting for me,” said Isner about the high caliber of players in attendance at the Citi Open, “Me personally, I always want to go up against guys that are ranked higher than me. That means I’m progressing well within that tournament. But it’s good for the tournament, it’s good for everyone.” Isner’s first match will be a second-round encounter with compatriot Steve Johnson, while fellow big man Ivo Karlovic awaits the winner in the third round.

 

While Isner will be making his seventh appearance at the tournament since 2007, one dangerous floater will also be making his seventh appearance since first appearing in the 1998 Washington draw as a 17-year-old. 33-year-old Lleyton Hewitt – who refuses to discuss any plans for retirement – will be celebrating ten years since he won the 2004 Washington title. Hewitt’s second-round win against countryman Marinko Matosevic pits him against the winner between Jack Sock and Milos Raonic, who are billed as the third match on Stadium Court today. Also on Stadium Court today, Americans Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri to face Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych respectively, while 4th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet takes on in-form Israeli Dudi Sela.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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WTA Results for July 29, 2014

BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC – STANFORD, USA
$ 710,000.00
26 July – Aug 3, 2014

RESULTS – JULY 29, 2014

Women’s
Singles – First Round

[5] A Ivanovic (SRB) d S Lisicki (GER) 76(2) 61
G Muguruza (ESP) d [6] D Cibulkova (SVK) 62 46 62
M Puig (PUR) d [7] C Suárez Navarro (ESP) 63 75
[Q] C Zhao (CAN) d Y Wickmayer (BEL) 62 10 ret. (viral illness)
[WC] V Williams (USA) d [Q] P Kania (POL) 63 62
D Hantuchova (SVK) d P Ormaechea (ARG) 63 64

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

[2] A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) d M Lucic-Baroni (CRO) / K Pliskova (CZE) 61 60

First Round
V Lepchenko (USA) / A Tomljanovic (CRO) d M Osaka (JPN) / M Shamayko (RUS) 61 60
C Garcia (FRA) / S Zhang (CHN) d K Ahn (USA) / C Zhao (CAN) 36 61 12-10

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014
STADIUM start 11:00 am
M Puig (PUR) vs [Q] S Vickery (USA)

Not Before 1:00 pm
V Lepchenko (USA) vs [2] A Radwanska (POL)
[Q] N Osaka (JPN) vs [8] A Petkovic (GER)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S Williams (USA) vs K Pliskova (CZE)
[4] H Chan (TPE) / A Petkovic (GER) vs P Kania (POL) / K Siniakova (CZE)

COURT 6 start 1:30 pm
D Hantuchova (SVK) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs D Gavrilova (RUS) / Y Xu (CHN)

Not Before 3:00 pm
C Garcia (FRA) / S Zhang (CHN) vs [3] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP)

 

CITI OPEN – WASHINGTON DC, USA
USD 250,000.00 (WTA)
28 JULY – 3 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – JULY 29, 2014
Women’s
Singles – First Round

K Mladenovic (FRA) d [1] L Safarova (CZE) 26 63 63
[2] E Makarova (RUS) d M Rybarikova (SVK) 61 61
C McHale (USA) d [4] S Stephens (USA) 64 46 60
[5] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d V Razzano (FRA) 62 62
M Erakovic (NZL) d K Pliskova (CZE) 46 62 64
B Jovanovski (SRB) d [Q] O Rogowska (AUS) 67(5) 75 75
K Flipkens (BEL) d H Watson (GBR) 63 16 76(3)
L Davis (USA) d S Peng (CHN) 16 64 62

Women’s
Doubles – First Round

[3] V King (USA) / T Townsend (USA) d L Litvak (USA) / A Mueller (USA) 67(5) 64 10-3
J Rae (GBR) / A Smith (GBR) d F Abanda (CAN) / S Rogers (USA) 62 64
H Kuwata (JPN) / K Nara (JPN) d N Slater (GBR) / E Webley-Smith (GBR) 62 61
I Falconi (USA) / K Wong (USA) d [WC] R Ellison (USA) / S Ellison (USA) 64 61

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014
STADIUM COURT start 1:30 pm
WTA – [WC] S Rogers (USA) vs M Erakovic (NZL)

Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – [4] K Nishikori (JPN) vs S Querrey (USA)

Not Before 6:00 pm
ATP – J Sock (USA) vs [2] M Raonic (CAN)

Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [1] [WC] T Berdych (CZE) vs [Q] R Ginepri (USA)
ATP – [1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [WC] J Donaldson (USA) / S Kozlov (USA)

GRANDSTAND 1 start 2:00 pm
WTA – Z Diyas (KAZ) vs K Nara (JPN)

Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – V Estrella Burgos (DOM) vs [8] F Lopez (ESP)

Not Before 6:00 pm
ATP – [5] J Isner (USA) vs S Johnson (USA)
ATP – D Sela (ISR) vs [6] R Gasquet (FRA)
ATP – E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) vs [WC] S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA)

GRANDSTAND 2 start 4:00 pm
WTA – K Mladenovic (FRA) vs [Q] T Townsend (USA)

Not Before 5:30 pm
WTA – B Jovanovski (SRB) vs [8] S Cirstea (ROU)
ATP – [Q] R Ram (USA) vs [13] V Pospisil (CAN)
ATP – T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
ATP – D Young (USA) vs [17] J Benneteau (FRA)
ATP – [10] S Giraldo (COL) vs B Becker (GER)
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs J Rae (GBR) / A Smith (GBR)
ATP – R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) vs [4] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA)

COURT 2 start 4:00 pm
WTA – I Falconi (USA) / K Wong (USA) vs [2] S Aoyama (JPN) / G Dabrowski (CAN)

Not Before 5:30 pm
WTA – L Dekmeijere (LAT) / N Melichar (USA) vs A Cornet (FRA) / K Flipkens (BEL)
ATP – S Groth (AUS) / L Paes (IND) vs J Chardy (FRA) / R Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) / M Llodra (FRA) vs J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)

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Kristina Mladenovic Stuns Citi Open Top Seed Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova photo by Christopher Levy @Tennis_Shots

Lucie Safarova photo by Christopher Levy @Tennis_Shots

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 29, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – It’s still only the first round, but the Citi Open women’s draw is now without a defending champion or a No. 1 seed.

Top seed at the Washington, D.C. event, Lucie Safarova, has been eliminated in the first round by French world No. 78 Kristina Mladenovic.  This upset came off the back of a straightforward win by No.2 seed Ekaterina Makarova over Magdalena Rybarikova, albeit not an upset other than the fact that the Rybarikova had never lost a match at the event, include her match against Makarova at last year’s Citi Open.

 

While Makarova’s was a straightforward 6-1, 6-1 win in under an hour, Mladenovic needed two hours, five minutes and three sets to topple world No.17. Broken twice in the first set, Mladenovic would turn the match around in the second set, breaking at 4-3 on a Safarova double fault, from which point, she held and continued to pour pressure on the Czech veteran, breaking her once at 2-2, and again at 5-3, when she converted a match point brought about by three consecutive errors from the Czech 27-year-old.

 

Kristina Mladenovic  photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Kristina Mladenovic photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

It will be a second-round battle of the young guns when 21-year-old Mladenovic faces 18-year-old American qualifier Taylor Townsend who won through her first-round battle in three sets against Julia Goerges. Makarova is now the top seed remaining in the WTA draw.

 

Dudi Sela

Dudi Sela

On the ATP side, Dudi Sela’s run of form since Wimbledon continued in a tight 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 win against Australian Sam Groth, which lasted exactly two hours. Sela managed to get a read on Groth’s serve – one of the biggest in the game – in time to take control of a tight first-set tie break. Groth’s reaction to losing the first set – smashing a racquet to smithereens and receiving a code violation – would normally indicate a mental breakdown, but in fact Groth was spurred on to breaks in the first and last games of the second set, which he won 6-3.

 

By the decider, Sela had regained the confidence that has seen him go 8 wins to 3 losses since Wimbledon, and although Groth would recover one of them, Sela’s two breaks of serve allowed him to take the final set 6-4. “He has a very big serve,” said Sela of Groth, “But he’s serving-volleying so I have more target on the returns, so it was a little bit easier for me. He played some great games, some terrible games, and these terrible games that he played, I took my chance and broke him.”

 

It was a successful day for American men, with Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson getting through their first-round matches in straight sets.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Serena Williams, Azarenka, Bryan Brothers and More To Headline First-Ever Taste of Tennis Week

 

tot-web-banner-350x250

 

August 20, 2014 – August 23, 2014

 

Press Release: NEW YORK, NY (July 29, 2014) – AYS, the creators and producers of the Taste of Tennis, New York’s premier pre-US Open experience, announced today the first-ever Taste of Tennis Week will take place from August 20th – August 23th, 2014 in New York City.  In addition to the renowned Taste of Tennis Gala, Taste of Tennis Week will feature even more tennis-meets-food events, including the Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge on August 20th, Citi Dining Series on August 21st and Party with The Pros on August 23rd.

 

The 15th Annual Taste of Tennis Gala offers guests the opportunity to sample sensational cuisine prepared by the most prestigious chefs in the world, sip on handcrafted cocktails all while rubbing elbows with professional tennis players. World #1 Serena Williams, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Host of Today Show and MSNBC’s NewsNation, Tamron Hall, will be joined by top tennis players, celebrities and a number of New York’s finest chefs and culinary personalities.

 

“The Taste of Tennis concept has proven to be so popular, and we are pleased to offer these exciting new events that provide foodies and tennis fans with unprecedented access to their favorite chefs and pro tennis personalities,” explains Penny Lerner, CEO of AYS.

 

Tickets for the Taste of Tennis Week are currently on sale and can be purchased online via the links below. The complete Taste of Tennis Week schedule of events includes:

  • Wednesday, August 20th -  Celebrity Chef Tennis Challenge, 9AM-12PM (Midtown Tennis Club – 341 8th Avenue): Hosted by Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan. At this exciting event, professional chefs will serve up something a little out the ordinary as they compete in a round-robin style doubles tournament to determine who is the King (or Queen) of the court!

o    Participating chefs include: Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Daniel Holzman (The Meatball Shop), Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop), David Seigal (Cull & Pistol), Francois Payard (FPB, FP Patisserie), Zac Young (David Burke Group), Chad Brown (Davio’s), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto), Phil Conlon (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), Alfred Portale (Gotham Bar and Grill), Philippe LaJaunie (Les Halles), Carmen Quagliata (Union Square Café), Floyd Cardoz (Celebrated Indian American Chef) and Andrew Friedman (Cookbook Author)

  • $150 to Participate in the Challenge: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrity-chef-tennis-challenge-tickets-12319053621
  • Thursday, August 21st – Taste of Tennis Gala, 7PM-10PM (W New York- 541 Lexington Ave.): The party that started it all! To celebrate the US Open, AYS created the Taste of Tennis, a one of a kind event featuring fine food prepared by 25 of NYC’s top culinary minds, signature cocktails, interactive sponsor experiences, live music and appearances by the world’s greatest tennis players. Hosting this year’s gala will be Today Show’sTamron Hall, headlining Chef Masaharu Morimoto and professional tennis star Serena Williams. The evening will be a curated culinary evening with US Open stars, the brightest chefs in New York and celebrities who will be on hand to enjoy the slew of offerings with proceeds benefiting City Harvest.

o  Participating chefs include:Headlining chef, Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto), John Mooney (Bell, Book, & Candle), Marc Murphy (Landmarc), Peter Andino (Heartbeat), Daniel Holzman & Michael Chernow (The Meatball Shop), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Kerry Heffernan (Top Chef Masters Finalist), Bill Telepan (Joel Javier/Larissa Raphael) (Telepan Local), David Seigal (Cull & Pistol), Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga and The Fat Ham), Jimmy Bradley (The Red Cat), Phil Conlon (Corkbuzz Wine Studio), Chad Brown (Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse), Carlos Llaguno (Les Halles), Harold Moore (Commerce Restaurant), Ben Pollinger (Oceana), Zac Young (David Burke Group), Georgeann Leaming (Suppa), Admir Alibasic (Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse), Sebastien Chamaret (Bagatelle), Paul Evans (Secrets St. James, JTB) among others.

o  Participating athletes include: Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Bryan Brothers, Sloane Stephens, Gael Monfils, Aga Radwanska, Dustin Brown and more to be announced.

o  Major sponsors for the 15th Taste of Tennis include Citi, Rado, Guadalupe Islands Tourist Board, The Cheesecake Factory, Jamaica Tourist Board, W New York, UnBurn, Mouton Cadet and Franciscan Estate Napa Valley, among others.

  • Ticket Information: Individual tickets for the event are available for $275/per person; http://tasteoftennisnyc.eventbrite.com/?aff=PressRelease
  • Saturday, August 23rd Party with The Pros, 6PM-9PM (Measure Lounge at Langham Place Fifth Ave.): Guests at the Party with the Pros will enjoy an evening of great food, handcrafted signature cocktails and live music, with some of the top names in professional tennis. This exclusive event takes place a Measure Lounge at the luxurious Langham Place Fifth Avenue hotel. Attendance is limited to 150 guests so get your tickets now!

o    Participating athletes include: Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and John Isner

ABOUT TASTE OF TENNIS

“Taste of Tennis,” the world’s premier food and tennis experience, brings professional athletes, influential chefs, the entertainment industry and global brands together for a unique tasting event with a sports twist.  The ultimate kick-off celebration to US Open in New York City, “Taste of Tennis” is the perfect convergence of sports fans and culinary enthusiasts.  Produced by AYS, Taste of Tennis and its sister event, Taste of Tennis Australia, have become the most widely recognized and anticipated events on the yearly calendar.  Visit our website at www.tasteoftennis.com.

 

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WTA Event Enters Its Fourth Year at Citi Open

Alison Riske at  Kid's clinic at Citi Open. Photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Alison Riske at Kid’s clinic at Citi Open. Photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 28, 2014) Now in its fourth year, the WTA Citi Open event in Washington is hosting one of its most impressive fields to date, even with the withdrawal of tournament favorite Eugenie Bouchard. Now seeded at No.1, Lucie Safarova leads an exciting field of 32 women including some top European hard-courters as well as American up-and-comers.

 

For the last two years running, it has been Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova who has capitalized on a line-up that has been improving from scratch since Washington began hosting the WTA International event in 2011. The world No. 37 is undefeated across ten straight matches at the tournament, and has defeated the top seed both years – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 2012, and Angelique Kerber in 2013. Russian Pavlyuchenkova was ranked 28 at the time, while this year all eight top seeds are within the WTA’s top 29. Rybarikova did not play the Citi Open’s inaugural tournament in 2011, when world No.24 at the time, Shahar Peer, reached the final as No.1 seed, losing to second-seeded Nadia Petrova.

 

While Rybarikova is back in 2014 to attempt to prolong her dynasty at the Citi Open, Bouchard, Peer, Petrova, Kerber and her opponent in the 2013 final, Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, are prominent names missing from this year’s player field. The impact of their absences on the tournament, however, will be heavily reduced by the fact of the players that ARE attending.

 

Sloane Stephens leads the camp of exciting ‘new-wave’ of WTA players that will be in attendance this year. The world No. 22 – known for being much more solid at majors than she is across the WTA Premier and International calendar year – first entered the Citi Open in 2011, when she was 18 years old and ranked outside the top 120, losing in the first round. The following year, ranked just inside the top 50, she would reach the Washington semi-finals, losing to the eventual champ Rybarikova. In 2013, as a top 20 player, she would lose in the first round once again. It would seem apparent, therefore, that she’s due for another enduring showing at the Citi Open this year.

 

Although Bouchard has withdrawn from the 2014 tournament as the top seed, citing a knee injury, her results have been mixed since the Citi Open initiated their relationship with the Canadian in 2011 when they offered her a wildcard into her first main draw of a WTA event. In 2012 she lost a quarterfinal to Stephens, while last year – ranked No.62 in the world – she lost in the first round. Having reached at least the semi-finals of all three grand slams since then, Bouchard’s ranking has shot up to No.7 at the start of the Emirates Airlines US Open Series.

 

While the tournament has secured the first-time attendance of its high-profile Czech top seed Lucie Safarova, this only serves to augment the returned appearance of Romanian Sorana Cirstea, France’s Alize Cornet and American Madison Keys.

 

Cornet last year reached semi-finals on her first appearance at Citi Open. While the third seed will be vying for her fifth career WTA title, many Washingtonian tennis enthusiasts will have their eye on rising American talent, Madison Keys, who will be taking her career-high No.27 ranking into the Citi Open draw for her second appearance there. Despite retiring injured from her most recent match, a third-rounder at Wimbledon, Keys has been one of the big movers since clay season ended, going 8-2 on grass, and taking her first WTA title at Eastbourne along the way. Keys’ big serving game is a force to be reckoned with on hard courts, and has already ushered her to two WTA Tour semi-final appearances over the past year.

 

While unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova has managed to upset the field for the past two years straight, this year she faces a much tougher task if she’s to three-peat, considering the elevated level of play that will be coming off the racquets of top seeds with whom the Citi Open has been developing strong relationships over the past few years.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Citi Open Set to Begin

Milos Raonic (R) poses for a "selfie" on Saturday at Citi Open. Photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Milos Raonic (R) poses for a “selfie” on Saturday at the Citi Open. Photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

By Dave Gertler

(July 28, 2014) The Citi Open in Washington D.C. is the only North American fixture on an 11-event ATP World Tour 500 series calendar. The defending men’s champion is Juan Martin del Potro, who hasn’t completed his rehab from left-wrist surgery in time to defend his title, leaving Czech Tomas Berdych as the highest-ranked player in a strong men’s field that also includes world No.7 Milos Raonic, No.11 Kei Nishikori, No.12 John Isner and No.14 Richard Gasquet. The withdrawal of stars Grigor Dimitrov and Gael Monfils before the draw was announced did not impact the fact that this is one of the strongest men’s draws the Citi Open has seen.

 

The tournament takes place at the William HG Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park, with a Stadium Court that holds 7,500 people at full capacity. The arena took a year to build, opening in 1991, and was named after a man who was one of Washington’s leading philanthropists, and who helped establish what is now the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF), and organization that uses tennis to help disadvantaged youth in the D.C. area.

 

The WTEF is the owner and beneficiary of the Citi Open, and has organized a series of fundraisers and community programs throughout the week, including top seed Tomas Berdych leading a community tennis clinic, a ‘Celebrating Our Heroes Day’ which featured WTA drawcard Sloane Stephens, and the screening of a documentary called ‘Queens At Court’, about struggles and successes of four lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender amateur tennis players.

 

While the WTA Citi Open event has only been going for three years, the history of the men’s singles event goes back to 45 years ago, when Thomaz Koch from Brazil beat Arthur Ashe in a five-set final. Since then, the tournament has been won by luminaries of the sport such as Ken Rosewall, Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Guillermo Vilas, Ivan Lendl, Yannick Noah, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt. Agassi currently holds the record at five titles, Connors also won all three finals he appeared in (as well as being doubles runner-up with Ashe in 1974), as has Argentina’s Del Potro.

 

Inaugurated as the Washington Star International from 1969 to 1981, the tournament was also known as the Sovran Bank Classic from the early ‘80s to the early ‘90s. Pete Sampras, whom many consider the greatest player that ever lived, was actually born in Washington D.C. but never played the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, as it was known from 1994-2011.

 

While Sampras is long retired, the D.C. crowd will still be able to cheer on a few of their own. Treat Huey, a D.C. native and resident, will take the court with doubles partner Dom Inglot in an attempt to reclaim a title they won in 2012.

 

Considerably more hype, however, has been placed around the 16-year-old winner of the Citi Open Wildcard Challenge, Francis Tiafoe, who grew up a short drive north of Rock Creek Park, at College Park Tennis Center. Taifoe’s wildcard was initially purposed for qualification-round entry, but after the withdrawal of France’s Gael Monfils, it was upgraded to a main-draw berth. Tiafoe faces Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy in their first round match on Monday night.

 

Australia’s Sam Groth, who lost in qualifying, has been named Lucky Loser in Dimitrov’s absence, and will play Israel’s Dudi Sela in their first round match on Tuesday.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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