August 3, 2015

On Court 17 Youth is Served and Gets Served On Day 2 of the US Open Qualies


Setfan Kozlov, USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, CA

Setfan Kozlov, USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, CA

(August 20, 2014) Court 17, played host to a combination of veterans, college players and juniors on day two of the US Open qualifying tournament on Wednesday.

The day led off with a three-set women’s battle between former world No. 29, Poland’s Urszula Radwanska and last year’s Australian and US Open junior champion, Ana Konjuh of Croatia.

The younger sister of Agniezska Radwanska rocketed to a 6-1 first set, but the 16-year old Konjuh rebounded in the second set which consisted of mostly service breaks between to the two women.

The match took a turn the youngster’s way when the Croatian jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start off the third set. Unforced errors, which Konjuh fell victim to throughout the match crept back into her game and Radwanska won six out of the next seven games to claim the set and the match 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Konjuh made 52 unforced errors in the match.

Second match on the fourth largest show court in Flushing Meadow saw 16-year-old junior Stefan Kozlov face off against former University of Virginia player Mitchell Frank. After a slow beginning from the two-time junior Grand Slam finalist, who lost the opening set 6-3, the match turned. Koslov took the next set 6-0. Frank had a medical time out for a trainer to work on his back. His movement appeared hampered and Koslov finished off his opponent by claiming the third set 6-2.

The third match on Court 17 saw former US Open quarterfinalist from 2009 and Mixed doubles champion from 2011, American Melanie Oudin play Sesil Karatantcheva, born in Bulgaria, but now representing Kazakhstan. The 22-year-old Oudin needed just 70 minutes to stop the 25-year-old, breaking her serve five times.

To round-up the evening, American junior 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe fell to No. 11 seed Tatsuma Ito in a two hour and 22 minute contest 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3.

Related article:

A Q & A with No. 1 US Junior Tennis Player Stefan Kozlov


Kvitova, Wozniacki, Bouchard and Halep “Meet the Press” in New Haven for All-Access Hour at Connecticut Open (Podcast)


(August 17, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Top seeds for the Connecticut Open – Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova,  Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Woznacki met the media on Sunday.

Petra Kvitova3

Petra Kvitova – The 2012 winner of the New Haven event is just off her second title at Wimbledon back in early July. She said the the second win at the All England Club is even more special.


Caroline Wozniacki – A four -time champion at New Haven, the Dane says she’s very happy with her current form on the court and is looking forward to running the New York Marathon in the fall to raise money for charity.



Eugenie Bouchard – The world No. 8 and recent Wimbledon finalist evaluated her season so far and spoke about what separates the Top 50 players is the mental side of the game.



Simona Halep – Last year’s champion, the top seed and world No. 2 discussed her rise over the past two years and that she likes to eat chocolate.

(Note – due to the news conferences being held outside, there is background noise from the wind and crowd sounds in the recordings.)




Quotes of the week from the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club


Quotes of the week from the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club


By Wendy M. Grossman


(June 14, 2014) LONDON – Feliciano Lopez, asked if he regrets learning to play the very unSpanish game of serve and volley: “God gave me this serve when I was really young, so I have to take advantage of it.”


Radek Stepanek, asked how he still finds motivation to play: “I know what’s behind the question.”


Stanislas Wawrinka, asked how much force it takes to break a racquet in half, as he did during his straight-sets semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov: “I don’t know. You should try.”


Marinko Matosevic, asked about comments he made earlier in the week to the effect that he’d never have a female coach because he doesn’t think highly of women’s tennis, comments Sam Stosur called “thick-headed”: “Women are a big inspiration to me. I didn’t mean it to be sexist at all.”


Andy Murray, asked whether he thought there might be advantages to having a woman as a coach: “Well, to be honest, I don’t know because not every woman is the same.”


Ernests Gulbis, asked how he celebrated reaching the semi-finals at the French Open: “I smoked a cigar with my friends outside in Jurmala…Then everybody went to Kazanow and we had just one special room and we played Blackjack.


Grigor Dimitrov, asked if the shirt he was wearing was an England (football supporter) shirt: “You wish.”


Andy Murray, asked if he finds peace and quiet pushing a lawnmower: “Actually, I have never done it in my life… The lawn wouldn’t look great if I tried it.”


Former Nationally Top Ranked Junior and Collegiate Tennis Player and World Ranked Player who lived life in the closet as a Gay athlete and Coach Announces Book and Foundation

By Karen Pestaina

(August 29, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – Former top US Junior, collegiate player and ATP World Tour player Bobby Blair who lived in the closest as a gay athlete announced his upcoming book “Hiding Inside the Baseline,” in addition to hi LBGT foundation at the Roger Smith Hotel on Thursday morning.


In attendance to speak and support Blair were his former coach Nick Bollettieri, LZ Granderson of ESPN, co-author of his book – Barry Buss and friend and former tennis academy classmate Carling Bassett-Seguso and Luke Jensen.


Blair was an American professional tennis player in the 80s and ranked in the top five tennis players in the United States Nationally in the Boys 18 and under, was a member of the 1983 US Junior Davis Cup Team reaching the finals of The USTA Boys 18 and under National Clay Courts Championships in the summer of 1983 where he lost a three-set marathon match to future top 10 player in the world Aaron Krickstein.


Blair was one of the first top-ranked players who were developed at the  Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.  Blair was an All American at the University of Arkansas in 1986 and was ranked among the top 5 Division One singles players in the United States, a member of the 1986 US Junior Davis Cup College Team and participated in Russia as a member of the American team in the US Goodwill Games.


Blair founded the US Rookie Professional Tennis Team in 1988. In 1990, Blair was hired to serve as the head coach for Billie Jean King for the World Team Tennis Franchise Wellington Aces for the 1990 & 1991 season. In 1992, Blair was hired as head coach and general manager of the World Team Tennis Franchise Tampa Bay Action. In 1992 Blair started his own Tennis Academy with a World Tennis Magazine “collectors edition” feature story “Will Bobby Blair Be The Next Nick Bollettieri?”  Blair was hired in 1996 as a USTA National Coach.

Listen to the news conference below:


Victoria Azarenka: “I got a bigger ball”

Red Bull chronicled Azarenka’s weekend in NYC, which included taking on Tim “Timbo” Gonzalez, the #1 wall ball player in the world and the US national champion, in a match on NYC’s popular hand ball courts. Before beginning play, Gonzalez and Azarenka whipped out their respective balls to compare sizes. Azarenka noted that her ball was bigger than the bouncy, rubber version used in American-style handball.

While the Belarus-born Azarenka played with her trusted racket, Gonzalez relied on his bare hands in a competitive back-and-forth match. In the end, “Timbo” slipped by Azarenka – with her already looking forward to a re-match down the road. New York has been a hotbed for bare-hand wall ball since the 1930s. Thousands of one-wall courts, both indoor and outdoor, have been built throughout the city.

After her on-court adventures, Azarenka slipped into more fashionable attire for a fun photo shoot, which included dancing and jumping on the bed inside The Standard Hotel.

Since winning the Australian Open last month, the 23-year old Azarenka has also won the Qatar Total Open, beating Serena Williams in three sets. Azarenka is currently playing in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. She is the defending 2-time champ of the Australian Open.


“I Tried My Best,” Said Venus Williams After Loss to Puchkova in Florianópolis

Venus Williams loss in Brazil

Venus Williams photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

By Barbara Galiza

(March 1, 2013) Venus Williams looked apathetic in her semifinal loss to Olga Puchkova in Florianópolis, but made no excuses. The American, normally an ace machine, was hitting serves at around 62 mph and, during a few points, seemed close to collapse. The Russian won in 2 hours and 31 minutes, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 and made her first final since 2006.

“Olga played a good match, from start to the end. I did the best I could on the court today, she just played better. It was very close. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the final but hopefully I will return again next year”, said the former number one. “My next tournament is Miami so I’ll go home, rest a little, and get ready to play there.”

Puchkova, all smiles in her post-match news conference, shared a curious story about her and Venus. In the final, the Russian-born player, that trains in California, faces Monica Niculescu.

“When Venus was 18 or 19, and I was about seven, they were throwing this huge campaign for her in Florida and my dad took me there. So I have this picture with her, hugging me, and I still have the ball she autographed for me. It’s pretty amazing, I didn’t know I was ever going to play her. Actually, I wanted to find the picture and ask her to sign it. How crazy would that be?”

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro and is covering the WTA tennis tournament in  Florianópolis, Brazil as media in  for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her updates on @TennisNewsTPN.


Venus Williams March 1 2013 news conference Brazil Cup

Florianopolis, Brazil

February 24-March 2, 2013

Results – Friday, March 1, 2013
Singles – Semifinals
Olga Puchkova (RUS) d. (1) Venus Williams (USA) 46 64 75
Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. (7) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 60 62

Doubles – Final
(1) Medina Garrigues/Shvedova (ESP/KAZ) d. Keothavong/Savinykh (GBR/RUS) 60 64

Order Of Play – Saturday, March 2, 2013
Centre Court (from 20.00hrs)
1. Singles Final: Olga Puchkova vs. Monica Niculescu


On the Red Carpet with Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten at the Legends Ball


Gustavo Kuerten photo by Jennifer Pottheiser

By Karen Pestaina

NEW YORK, NY (September 7, 2012) – Tennis Panorama News caught up with recent inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten at the Legends Ball held during the US Open at Cipriani’s on East 42nd Street.

Kuerten spoke about what it means to him to be in the Hall of Fame and his involvement in his foundation.

Gustavo Kuerten talks to Tennis Panorama News



From the International Tennis Hall of Fame website:

One of Brazil’s most beloved and successful athletes, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten, received the highest honor in the sport of tennis– induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Guga was the world’s No. 1 player for 43 non-consecutive weeks, and he is a three-time major tournament champion, having captured French Open titles in 1997, 2000, and 2001. Gustavo Kuerten’s induction was announced in a special presentation in São Paulo at the offices of Banco do Brasil, a long-time sponsor of the tennis champion.

With his beaming smile, engaging personality, and high energy game, the lively atmosphere that Guga brought to tennis stadiums around the world was nothing short of extraordinary.  Universally adored by both fans and peers, the Brazilian star is quick to state that the feeling is mutual, and that this support was integral to his success.  

Often referred to as “King of the Clay Courts”, although it was not a final, Guga often cites his fourth round French Open match in 2000 as one of the most memorable and treasured of his career. After saving three match points for the win, Guga first etched his iconic heart in the clay court, in an expression of love for his fans.

In 1997, Guga was ranked world No. 66 and had just eight ATP World Tour level wins to his name when he entered Roland Garros. While no one may have seen Guga coming that year, when he lifted the champion’s trophy and thanked the fans with his giant smile, it was clear that a star had arrived.  In the years that followed, Guga became one of the most dominant clay court players of his time. He captured the French Open title again in 2000 and 2001, and won a total of 20 singles titles and 8 doubles titles.

Guga started playing tennis when he was six years old, and his family was always very much part of his career. His father, a talented player himself, first taught Guga the game, before tragically passing away when Guga was just eight years old. Guga’s mother supported her son’s career emphatically. His older brother, Raphael, served as his business manager. His younger brother, Guilherme, who had cerebral palsy, was undoubtedly one of his biggest fans. Guga presented Guilherme every one of his tournament trophies, including the coveted Roland Garros trophies.

In 2000, for the first time in history, the No. 1 year-end position came down to the final match of season. Guga defeated superstar Andre Agassi in the match, breaking an eight-year reign of No. 1 finishes by Americans. It was the first time that a South American had ever been ranked world No. 1, a position Guga held for 43 weeks over his career. 

That same year, Guga embarked on another important venture, to which he is still dedicated today. Inspired by his late brother, Guilherme, he opened the Institute Guga Kuerten to help disabled people. The institute is dedicated to providing developmental opportunities, sports, and education, as well as to promoting social inclusion throughout the nation. The institute is located in Guga’s hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil, and since its inception, it has assisted more than 40,000 people in over 168 Brazilian cities. Guga was awarded the ATP World Tour’s Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award in 2003, and in 2010, he was honored with the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation. Currently, he works in order to win a new challenge: to support the social activities developed by Institute Guga Kuerten.

A national hero to Brazilians,  champion beloved by tennis fans worldwide, three-time winner at Roland Garros,  world No. 1, and now, a Tennis Hall of Famer, Guga Kuerten.

Grand Slam Record

French Open

Career Achievements


Serena Williams, Azarenka, Del Potro Celebrate Next Year’s BNP Paribas Showdown

New York, NY – On Wednesday the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden was announced. The event which is scheduled for Monday, March 4, 2013 will feature World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, facing off against Serena Williams. Following the ladies will be Juan Martin del Potro, versus Rafael Nadal.

Friday early evening Azarenka, Williams and Del Potro met a select group of media at a small party to celebrate the Showdown.

Tennis Panorama News asked Del Potro about playing in the “World’s most famous arena.”

“I’m very proud to be part of this big, big show with big players, Rafa also playing, said the 2009 US Open winner. “It’s nice, I will enjoy it.”

Azarenka also spoke to Tennis Panorama on playing for the first time in Madison Square Garden: “I’m really excited to be part of this event and playing against Serena I think will be a great show. I always have been watching it on TV, so it’s definitely a great honor to be a part of and to play in Madison Square Garden, you know it’s extra special. I’ve never been here so, I’m really, really excited as well.

Rafael Nadal out of the US Open with a knee injury, was unable to attend.

Azarenka is the top women’s seed at the US Open which begins on August 27, with Williams at No. 4. Del Potro comes in to the tournament as the No. 7 seed.


Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama


On the Green Carpet – Bryan Brothers, Serena Williams attend Taste of Tennis

NEW YORK, NY (August 23, 2012) – On Thursday at the W Hotel on 49th and Lexington, tennis players and chef walked the “green” carpet to participate in the 13th annual Taste of Tennis, sponsored by BNP Paribas. The evening raised funds to benefit the New York Junior Tennis League.

The Bryan Brothers and “Just Desserts” host and “Top Chef” judge host Gail Simmons played hosts for the event.

First Mike Bryan, then Bob Bryan spoke to Tennis Panorama about their careers, Bob’s baby Micaela and cooking at the event.

Mike Bryan Bob Bryan on TOT Green Carpet


Janko Tipsarevic spoke to Tennis Panorama about how these type of events help to promote the players and the sport of tennis.

Janko Tipsarevic at Taste of Tennis

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All photos provided  and used with permission by Taste of Tennis and Getty Images

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama


New Haven Open – WTA All-Access Hour


By Jack Cunniff

On Sunday, three of the top four seeds of the 2012 New Haven Open met with the press to talk about on a variety of topics. Here are excerpts from those conversations.

Italy’s Sara Errani, the fourth seed in New Haven, is one of the most improved players on the year. She started her year by reaching her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January. Her year peaked in June, when she reached the French Open final in both singles and doubles. While she came up short in the Ladies’ Singles final against Maria Sharapova, she and partner Roberta Vinci won the Ladies’ Doubles title. As a result of her strong play in Paris, Errani cracked the Top Ten in the world for the first time.


  • On what’s changed this year that has resulted in her new-found success: “I have changed rackets, so it was an important thing, a good change for me, and made me play better. It was more confidence and more matches won and everything.”


  • On why the racket change was successful: “It is a bit longer and has more power. Before it was not easy for me, I’m not very tall so it was important for me to make more power as possible.”


  • On why she decided to change rackets: “I tried, I don’t know why, another player in the academy where I practice was playing with that racket, so I just take it and play a few shots. It was an amazing feeling from the first ball.”


  • On Venus Williams, who defeated Errani twice this summer (Summer Olympics and Cincinnati): “Both Williams have, I don’t know, they have another category against other players, so much stronger than the others… Everything I tried was bad. I tried to make changes, change the spin and everything, try to make her run. But last weekend and the Olympics, I had no chance.”


  • On how life has changed after the French Open success: “It’s a bit different, more things to do like this (the interview), maybe before I never did… but I try to keep near me always the same people I like, and the same thing that I’ve done to arrive to these results.”


  • On the recent success of Italian players in the WTA, and Italy’s Fed Cup titles (2009 and 2010): “I think we are a good team, all four of us, Schiavone, Pennetta, Roberta (Vinci). We motivate each other, if one is going well, maybe the others see and so it’s a good competition.”

 Sara Errani WTA All-Access New Haven Open 08192012

Like Errani, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland also reached her first Grand Slam final this year, at Wimbledon. On the strength of that result and several tournament victories over the last twelve months, she has been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world. However, since Wimbledon, she’s hit a rough patch, losing in the opening round of the Olympics to Julia Goerges and two overwhelming losses to Li Na. She is the top seed at the 2012 New Haven Open.


  • On what’s the next step for her to reach No. 1: “Winning a couple more matches, that’s for sure. I’m working on it.”


  • On her shoulder : “It’s OK, it could be better, but I think I played this year so many tournaments, so many matches, and changed the surface so many times and the balls. It’s always the worst part of the season because it’s almost the end.” (Note: Radwanska retired in her first match in New Haven.)


  • On whether she has been able to finish her degree: “I’m trying, I’m trying to finish because I think it’s a great thing to finish university.”


  • On her improvement in 2012: “I didn’t really change anything. I was working hard off season… I think a little bit more experience, for sure. It was a great experience at Wimbledon being for the first time in the final. This is such a different feeling, being in the finals of a Grand Slam.”


  • On her impact on Poland, and whether girls look up to her as a role model: “I think so, I think more people are planning tennis (in Poland) more kids are playing tennis. I’m just very happy I can be part of Polish history, tennis in Poland. It’s a great feeling that I’m doing something good.”


  • On what she remembers from her early years of playing tennis (having started at age 5): “It was so much fun, especially when we were playing with other kids, with the balloons, the plastic rackets, and actually I think I was smaller than the net!”


  • On her sister’s success (Urszula, world rank No. 44): “She really starting to play much better. I’m very happy for her that she can have some good results, after she was really struggling with her back for a long time before. I’m just hoping we can play all the tournaments together.”


  • On her fame in Poland: “They know who I am, yes, for sure. There are not so many athletes in Poland especially playing a sport that’s famous around the world.”


  • On her mobile phone tennis game, and whether she has played it: “Yes I did, but I think I’m better on court, for real! It’s a nice thing to have and I’m very happy that other people like it as well.”

 Agniezska Radwanska WTA All-Access New Haven Open 08192012

Caroline Wozniacki is no stranger to New Haven, as the four-time defending champion. While she’s no longer the No. 1 ranked player in women’s tennis, she has maintained a Top Ten ranking, and continues to challenge the best in the world, including a win over Serena Williams in Miami earlier this year. Wozniacki, from Denmark, is seeded third at the 2012 New Haven Open.


  • On why New Haven is so successful for her: “It’s a very homey tournament. Anne (Worcester, Tournament Director) really takes care of the players. I just like the courts and the atmosphere here.”


  • On working with coach Thomas Johansson: “I haven’t worked with him so much lately because he’s been on holidays and relaxing a little bit, but he’s coming here. He’s a great guy and he knows the whole tennis life because he’s done it before himself.”


  • On what Thomas Johansson brings to her game: “It’s tough to say for me without going in to details and I don’t really feel like going into details. He comes with some good advice, and it’s nice to have my dad on court, as always, and nice having Thomas on court as well coming with a few different inputs.”


  • On boyfriend Rory McIlroy’s success, having won the PGA Championships: “It’s great. I’m really happy for him and proud of him because of what’s he’s achieved. Winning by 8 (strokes) in the PGA is unbelievable.”


  • On how she deals with the madness in New York City during the U.S. Open: “I love it. I think it’s great; I like Manhattan, I like the whole buzz around the U.S. Open. But the week before you don’t really want to be around that all the time, because you can get tired, you can start thinking about it too much, too early. So it’s nice to be here (in New Haven) and kind of just ease into it.”


  • On her recent Summer Olympics experience: “This was my second Olympics and it was a bit different than it was in Beijing. Because in Beijing you could stay at the Olympic Village and feel as part of a team, you really got that whole Olympic feeling because you’re eating with all the other athletes, the site was very close to the village so you just basically walk from and back. In London, it was a bit different because the Olympic Village was an hour and a half drive from the site, and we played at Wimbledon where the site was sold out but it wasn’t packed, and a lot of security around. It just wasn’t the same feeling. Hopefully in four years in Brazil we’ll be able to stay at the village and get that whole Olympic spirit.”


  • On what drives her competitively: “I’m just a competitive person, so no matter what I play, if I play cards with my family, or if I play Monopoly, or whatever, I hate losing. I can be so groggy if I lose. And if someone loses on purpose to let me win, I get even more upset. Just so competitive, but I think the whole family is, really, my brother, my mom, my dad, but especially my dad. He will do anything to win as well, so we get up into these small family fights!”


  • On balancing her competitive streak with her tournament winless streak: “You always want to win tournaments, that’s what you play for. But if you don’t, it’s not like the world is going to break down in front of you and you always have a next week. I always look at it in a positive way. So many people in the world are in a much worse position, I just enjoy what I do actually. That feeling you get after a win or a good point, that’s something that no one can take away from you.”

 Caroline Wozniacki WTA All-Access New Haven Open 08192012

Jack Cunniff is covering the New Haven Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.