May 28, 2016

John Isner and Caroline Wozniacki Headline World TeamTennis Draft

wtt 40th season

(March 25, 2016) MIAMI – Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and top-ranked American John Isner were among the top names selected today at the Mylan World TeamTennis Draft in Miami. Isner returns to the Springfield Lasers while Wozniacki was selected by the Philadelphia Freedoms.

 

The 2016 regular season runs July 31-August 13 with the top two teams advancing to the Mylan WTT Finals on Friday, August 26 at Forest Hills Stadium at The West Side Tennis Club.

 

America’s top doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan will join current WTA doubles No. 1 Martina Hingis and former world No. 7 Mardy Fish in the lineup for the defending champion Washington Kastles.

 

Former world No. 4 James Blake was selected by the San Diego Aviators with their marquee round selection. The New York Empire previously acquired marquee player Andy Roddick.

 

In the Roster Draft, a plethora of fresh faces headlined team selections. After trading up for the No. 1 roster pick, the Empire drafted New Jersey native Christina McHale. Top 40 players Daria Gavrilova, Daria Kasatkina and Guido Pella were selected by the Lasers, Freedoms and Empire.

 

The Kastles, who have won five consecutive titles, brought back the core of their 2015 championship team. Washington will be looking to rewrite the record books in 2016 by winning a record seventh Mylan WTT title.

 

A team-by-team breakdown of the 2016 Mylan WTT Draft:

 

New York Empire

In the New York Empire’s inaugural season, the team started strong by acquiring the rights to seasoned Mylan WTT star Andy Roddick in a transaction with Orange County Breakers prior to the draft. For their first round selection, the Empire went with hometown favorite Christina McHale. In Round 2, New York selected top 40 Argentinian Guido Pella, who will make his Mylan WTT debut in 2016. Rounding out their 2016 roster, the Empire chose two doubles players — Argentinian Maria Irigoyen and Austrian Oliver Marach, both of which will play their rookie season of Mylan WTT this year when the team kicks off their season at the historic Forest Hills Stadium. The Empire will be coached by Patrick McEnroe.

 

Orange County Breakers

Building on experience, the Orange County Breakers used their first and second round roster picks to bring back up-and-coming American Nicole Gibbs and 2015 Mylan WTT Rookie of the Year Alla Kudryavtseva, who will play their second consecutive season together this summer. In Round 3, the Breakers took American doubles player Scott Lipsky, who will be playing his second successive season in the league, but first with the Breakers. For the last pick of their 2016 draft, the Breakers added American UCLA standout Dennis Novikov, who will be making his Mylan WTT debut in Orange County this summer. Rick Leach will coach the Breakers this season.

 

Philadelphia Freedoms

With the first marquee selection of the 2016 Mylan WTT Player Draft, the Philadelphia Freedoms selected fan-favorite Caroline Wozniacki. Building their roster, the Freedoms drafted Slovakian Lukas Lacko in Round 1 and Russian teen Daria Kasatkina in Round 2, both of which will play their first season of Mylan WTT. In the third round, Philadelphia top-50 doubles player Fabrice Martin, who will play his first season in the league this year. With their final picks, in Rounds 4 and 5, the Freedoms selected British player Naomi Broady and American Donald Young to set their 2016 team. Josh Cohen will return as the Freedoms coach.

 

San Diego Aviators

For their marquee selection in 2016, the San Diego Aviators selected popular American and experienced Mylan WTT star James Blake to lead the team. The Aviators then used their first round roster selection to take rising American Shelby Rogers who will be playing her first full Mylan WTT season this summer. In Round 2, San Diego protected Raven Klaasen, who is returning to the team for the third consecutive season. For the third and fourth rounds of the draft, the Aviators added British singles player Daniel Evans and then protected Darija Jurak, who played for the team in 2015. The Aviators will once again be coached by John Lloyd.

 

Springfield Lasers

The Springfield Lasers are bringing back top-ranked American John Isner, who will be playing his sixth Mylan WTT season. In Round 1 of the Roster Draft, the Lasers brought on Canadian doubles specialist Daniel Nestor, a former Mylan WTT Male MVP. With their second roster selection, Springfield took German Benjamin Becker, who will be making his Mylan WTT debut in 2016. In the final two rounds of the draft, the Lasers added No. 34 Australian singles player Daria Gavrilova and Dutch doubles specialist Michaella Krajicek to round out their 2016 team. John Laffnie-de Jager will return to coach the Lasers.

 

Washington Kastles

After protecting the rights to marquee player Martina Hingis, the defending champion Washington Kastles made a strong trade with the Orange County Breakers to move up in the Marquee Round to select Bob and Mike Bryan. With five straight Mylan WTT titles, the Kastles also bolstered their team with the addition of American Mardy Fish.  The Kastles Round 1 and 2 roster picks were used to protect 2015 champion teammates Sam Querrey and Leander Paes. Keeping with a lineup that earned them the King Trophy last season, the Kastles protected both Madison Brengle and 2015 Mylan WTT Female co-MVP Anastasia Rodionova to begin their campaign to add another title to their dynasty. The team will be coached by Murphy Jensen.

 

Team-by-team look at each of the team’s roster, including their coach:

Washington Kastles: Martina Hingis, Bob & Mike Bryan, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, Leander Paes, Madison Brengle, Anastasia Rodionova. Coach: Murphy Jensen

Philadelphia Freedoms: Caroline Wozniacki, Lukas Lacko, Daria Kasatkina, Fabrice Martin, Naomi Broady, Donald Young. Coach: Josh Cohen

New York Empire: Andy Roddick, Christina McHale, Guido Pella, Maria Irigoyen, Oliver Marach. Coach: Patrick McEnroe

San Diego Aviators: James Blake, Shelby Rogers, Raven Klaasen, Daniel Evans, Darija Jurak.  Coach: John Lloyd

Springfield Lasers: John Isner, Daniel Nestor, Benjamin Becker, Daria Gavrilova, Michaella Krajicek   Coach: John-Laffnie de Jager

Orange County Breakers:  Nicole Gibbs, Alla Kudryavtseva, Scott Lipsky, Dennis Novikov.   Coach: Rick Leach

 

 

ROUND BY ROUND –

Marquee Draft

Springfield Lasers: John Isner (protection)

San Diego Aviators: James Blake (designated)

New York Empire: Andy Roddick (acquired via Orange County in pre-draft trade)

Philadelphia Freedoms: Caroline Wozniacki

Washington Kastles: Martina Hingis (protection), Bob & Mike Bryan, Mardy Fish

 

1ST ROUND – ROSTER

New York Empire: Christina McHale

San Diego Aviators: Shelby Rogers

Springfield Lasers: Daniel Nestor

Philadelphia Freedoms: Lukas Lacko

Orange County Breakers: Nicole Gibbs (protection)

Washington Kastles: Sam Querrey (protection)

 

2nd ROUND – ROSTER

Springfield Lasers: Benjamin Becker

San Diego Aviators: Raven Klaasen (protection)

New York Empire: Guido Pella

Philadelphia Freedoms: Daria Kasatkina

Orange County Breakers: Alla Kudryavtseva (protection)

Washington Kastles: Leander Paes (protection)

 

3rd ROUND – ROSTER:

Springfield Lasers: Daria Gavrilova

San Diego Aviators: Daniel Evans

Springfield Lasers: Michaella Krajicek

Philadelphia Freedoms: Fabrice Martin

Orange County Breakers: Scott Lipsky

Washington Kastles: Madison Brengle (protection)

 

4th ROUND – ROSTER:

New York Empire: Maria Irigoyen

San Diego Aviators: Darija Jurak (protection)

New York Empire: Oliver Marach

Philadelphia Freedoms: Naomi Broady

Orange County Breakers: Dennis Novikov

Washington Kastles: Anastasia Rodionova (protection)

 

5th ROUND – ROSTER:

Philadelphia Freedoms: Donald Young (exempt)

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BNP Paribas Showdown Sees Serena Williams win “Garden Party”

BNPPS Serena Wozniacki

By Vito Ellison

(March 8, 2016) NEW YORK, NY – The match-functional braid was traded for a sleek shoulder-length ‘do, the intense self-flagellation for ingratiating smiles.  Yes, the groundies still stung at times; yes, the serve was still fluid, but as Serena Williams took to the court with Caroline Wozniacki last night in midtown Manhattan, the mood was not combative, it was celebratory.

The ninth edition of the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden segued into the night’s headliners, Williams and Wozniacki, after a stirring opening act delivered by the matchup between World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka and superstar showman Gael Monfils.

BNPPS Monfils wawrinka

Everyone wore their loyalty on their sleeves throughout the evening. The 2-time major champion, Wawrinka, was greeted with polite applause when he entered the arena in a Henrik Lundqvist jersey, before Monfils entered to full-on cheers in the Knicks’ home whites.

Determined to draw more of the crowd to his side, Wawrinka came out firing, engaging Monfils in high-octane exchanges headlined by his renowned one-handed backhand including a winner to take the first break in the match. Monfils, though, would not be denied.  At times, he let his (not so) inner clown prince get the best of him, including an attempted header where a put-away forehand into the open court would’ve sufficed, before securing a 7-6 (6) first set.

The rest of the match played out like a competitive friendly between the two Swiss residents (the Frenchman, Monfils, maintains a residence in the country), with Wawrinka setting Monfils up for a couple attempts at show-stoppers that, to the dismay of the Garden crowd, didn’t materialize. Late in the second set, Williams joined Wawrinka while Wozniacki teamed with Monfils for some light-hearted mixed doubles during which Serena jokingly chastised the Swiss that her sister, Venus, would’ve gotten to a shot that he missed. Before Monfils ultimately dealt Wawrinka the 7-6 (6), 6-3 loss, Wawrinka tried to convince Chris Evert to join them on court, but the 18-time major winner was a few steps ahead of him, demurring and holding up her glass of wine.

Where previous editions maintained the facade of full-on competition, this year’s BNP Showdown felt more like a “Night with Serena and Friends.” The first time we saw the 21-time major champion last night she was pitching in on background vocals with a kids’ choir.  Then there was the mixed doubles jaunt in a figure-hugging bodysuit that recalled Serena’s late Puma era, before the main event, a “showdown” between the two BFFs and WTA No. 1s.

 

After decades of watching the younger of the Sisters Sledgehammer sometimes play in front of often ambivalent crowds, it was heartwarming on this March evening to see the lovefest between Williams and the crowd. While Wozniacki could count a couple of fans in the near-capacity MSG crowd, the vast majority were here to watch–and celebrate Serena who won the match 7-5, 6-4. She was at turns, gracious, giving tips to a young player during a mid-match interview and gritty, leaving Wozniacki lunging after winners during play.
Amid the smiles and light-hearted attitudes of the participants, there lurked the feeling that the celebration was still a bit muted. There was the lingering feeling that the powers that be, and Serena herself, when signing the contract months ago, might have expected this night would celebrate, not only Serena and her Sportsperson of the Year title, but a Calendar Slam and perhaps an Open-era majors record. None of that mattered though, not for this crowd, not for this night, not for Serena either.

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Juniors Hurricane Black and Carson Branstine to Kick Off BNP Paribas Showdown at MSG on March 8

BNP Paribas Showdown

From Madison Square Garden: (February 10, 2016) New York, NY –  The BNP Paribas Showdown will once again present two  junior circuit players when Tyra Hurricane Black squares off against Carson Branstine in an opening match presented by HEAD Penn Racquet Sports as part of World Tennis Day at Madison Square Garden on March 8.

 

The future pro stars take to the court to kick off the annual BNP Paribas Showdown featuring the colorful Gael Monfils, world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and 21-time Major Champion Serena Williams.

 

Born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida, 14 year old, Tyra Hurricane Black is currently ranked No. 86 on the ITF World Junior Ranking.  She won three ITF junior titles in 2015 and reached the finals in the recent 52nd Coffee Bowl in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Additionally, Black helped lead the US team to the finals of the 2015 ITF World Junior Tennis Competition in the Czech Republic.  Her older sister, Alicia Black is a former top-5 world-ranked junior now playing on the pro circuit.

 

Branstine, who started playing tennis at seven years old, is 15 and hails from Orange County, California.  She is currently No. 184 on the ITF World Junior Ranking and holds 26 career singles titles.  She has played in the 2015 US Open Junior Slam and was a member of the USA Team National Junior Team. Additionally, Branstine played on an 18s national team where she went undefeated and was a finalist in the 2015 Plantation ITF.

 

Black and Branstine add to a considerable list of exceptional juniors who have taken to the Madison Square Garden tennis court at the BNP Paribas Showdown including the likes of Francis Tiafoe who turned pro in May 2015 and is said to be one of the prominent young up and coming stars as well as Sloane Stephens who is ranked No. 26 on the WTA Tour and currently representing the United States at the Fed Cup in Hawaii.

 

Previous junior matches featured:

2008: Denis Kudla (15 years old) vs Junior Ore (15)

2009: Sloane Stephens (15) vs Gail Brodsky (17)

2010: Nicole Gibbs (16) vs Sachia Vickery (14)

2014: Tiafoe (16) vs Reilly Opelka (16)

2015: Cori “Coco” Gauff (10) vs Gabriella Price (11)

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Serena Williams vs. Wozniacki and Monfils vs. Wawrinka Headline BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in March

 

 

Serena Williams MSG

 

New York, NY (October 28, 2015) – It was announced  that 21-time Grand Slam Champion and  Serena Williams, will take on close friend and former No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, while current No. 4 men’s player Stan Wawrinka will square off with French star Gael Monfils in the 9th annual BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden.  The one-night tennis event, which is being held on World Tennis Day for the fourth straight year has become a staple on the tennis calendar and is set for Tuesday, March 8.

 

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets starting at $35.00 will go on sale November 1 at 9:00 a.m. and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

 

“I have been fortunate to play in World Tennis Day events in New York and Hong Kong,” said Caroline Wozniacki.  “It is a great day to celebrate our sport. This year will be even more special as I return to Madison Square Garden with Serena. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

 

Stan Wawrinka said, “There are certain things in your tennis career that you want to do: win Grand Slams, win the Davis Cup for your country. Playing in Madison Square Garden is one of the things on that list so I am excited about the invitation to play in the BNP Paribas Showdown and look forward to walking onto The Garden court.”

 

“I have always loved playing for the New York crowd which inspires me very much,” said Gael Monfils.   “So coming back to New York with Stan on World Tennis Day will be a great opportunity to play for the fans. We will put on a great show for them.”

 

StarGames President, Jerry Solomon added, “I am excited that once again the BNP Paribas Showdown will offer fans great tennis and entertaining matchups. Moreover, I think Serena has really become the ‘people’s champion’ and we have priced tickets to encourage her fans to be in attendance at Madison Square Garden as we honor her on World Tennis Day. It promises to be another night full of memorable moments that you won’t want to miss.”

 

“Year in and year out, the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden continues to attract the top tennis stars in the world and this year is no different,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports.  “We are thrilled to host these top athletes in what has become one of the most exciting and fun nights on the tennis calendar.”

 

The 9th edition of the BNP Paribas Showdown, which consistently attracts the biggest names in tennis, will follow the likes of Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Ivan Lendl, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Mike and Bob Bryan, John and Patrick McEnroe, Grigor Dimitrov, Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, Monica Seles, Gabriela Sabatini and Jelena Jankovic, all of whom took part in previous Showdowns and provided unforgettable memories for New York tennis fans.

 

As in years past, the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden will once again headline a full day of worldwide activities as part of World Tennis Day, a global tennis participation effort. All events promote tailoring the game to players 10-and-under with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring.

 

Williams, who will make her third appearance in the annual BNP Paribas Showdown, is currently ranked No. 1 in the world, a ranking she has held on six separate occasions dating back to July 8, 2002.  She has a total of 21 Grand Slam singles titles – the third-most of any tennis player, male or female of all time.  Williams holds the most major singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles combined amongst active players and her record of 36 major titles puts her fifth on the all-time list.  Additionally, Serena has won four Olympic gold medals, one in women’s singles and three in women’s doubles.

 

Williams captured the inaugural “BNP Paribas Showdown” held on March 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over sister Venus Williams. The field also included 2008 French Open Champion Ana Ivanovic, as well as year ending No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

 

Wozniacki is a former World No. 1 who is currently ranked No. 11 and will be making her second appearance at Madison Square Garden in the BNP Paribas Showdown.  She made her professional debut at 15 years old in 2005 and has since won 23 WTA singles titles.  In 2008, she was named WTA Newcomer of the Year award. She took on Maria Sharapova in her MSG debut in 2012.

 

Wawrinka and Monfils will make their Madison Square Garden debuts when they step onto the Garden court on March 8.

 

Wawrinka, currently ranked No. 4 in the world, has won two Grand Slam titles including the 2014 Australian Open and 2015 French Open title.  Additionally, Wawrinka was a member of the Swiss team that won the Davis Cup in 2014 and also won a Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics.  Stan and doubles partner Marco Chiudinelli played in the longest known doubles match when they faced Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosal in a match that lasted over 7 hours.

 

The Frenchman, Monfils, is currently ranked No. 21 in the world. In 2014, he finished in the Top 20 for 1st time since 2011 and 5th time overall and advanced to the quarter finals of both the US Open and French Open.  He made it to the semi finals of the French Open in 2008 and to the quarter finals of the US Open in 2010.   In recent Davis Cup play, Monfils went 3-0 in singles to help France reach its first final since 2010.

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More Women’s Seeds Lose, Young Beats Simon, Federer Cruises at US OPen

Lucie Safarova

Lucie Safarova

(September 1, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The upsets continued on the women’s side of the draw at the US Open on Tuesday. French Open finalist sixth seed Lucie Safarova lost to No. 37 Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-1, while 14th seed Timea Bacsinszky lost to Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-0 Alizé Cornet 27th seed Alizé Cornet also was defeated. Ten women’s seeds have lost in the first round at the US Open, half of the Top 10.

No. 11 Gilles Simon led Donald Young by two sets to none and 3-0, when the American rallied to win the match 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

“Down two sets to love and 3-0 actually, that’s when I decided to swing a little freer, start to, you know, push the envelope a little bit and start to come in more, just assert myself to the match,” Young said. “I was going to go down swinging. That was pretty much my mentality at that point.”

“I love playing in New York. I love playing on hard courts. It’s the last slam of the year. I haven’t had the results I wanted at the other slams. I didn’t want to go out like that.

“If I was to go out, I really wanted to go out swinging and giving him a battle and making him earn it. I didn’t feel at first I was able to do that. To be able to do that was great. Emotionally I just felt, you know, it gives you confidence to know you can come back from 2 sets to love against such a quality opponent, a top 10 guy, wins titles and, competes at the highest level every week.”

This was the first time Young had ever come back in a match from two sets to love down.

There was no such drama for high seeds (2) Roger Federer, (2) Simona Halep, (4) Caroline Wozniacki, (6) Tomas Berdych and (9) Garbine Muguruza.

Federer destroyed Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in 77 minutes.

“I feel good now,“ Federer said. “I actually wasn’t so confident yesterday and today. I just felt like maybe could be one of those matches I just couldn’t see it coming.

“So thankfully I took this match extremely serious. I thought at times almost I was taking it a bit too serious. I got that lucky in Shanghai, so that’s why that was just — it was just creeping around in my mind that maybe today was going to be a bad day.

“Plus I had practiced with him, you know, here, I don’t know, the day of the draw, and he was playing very well in practice, too.”

A record was set for retirements during the first round of the U.S. Open than in any round at any Grand Slam tournament in the open era.

Twelve men and women have retired during matches on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday pull-outs included Marcos Baghdatis, Ernests Gulbis, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Marina Erakovic.

Andy Murray bested controversial Nick Kyrgios in four sets in the night match. The young Australian Kyrgios was playing his first match since and episode in Montreal where he verbally abused Stan Wawrinka. He’s been put on probation by the ATP, and if he misbehaves in the next 6 months at an ATP event, he could face a suspension and fine. However this would not apply for the US Open as it’s a Grand Slam.

RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 1, 2015
Women’s
Singles – First Round

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) def. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 6-2, 3-0 (retired – knee injury)
[4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) def. Jamie Loeb (USA) 6-2, 6-0

[5] Petra Kvitova (CZE) def. Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-1, 6-1
Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) def. [6] Lucie Safarova (CZE) 6-4, 6-1
[20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-1, 6-2
[11] Angelique Kerber (GER) def. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 6-3, 6-1

[18] Andrea Petkovic (GER) def. Caroline Garcia (FRA) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
[9] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) def. Carina Witthoeft (GER) 6-2, 6-4

[22] Samantha Stosur (AUS) def. Timea Babos (HUN) 6-3, 6-4

[16] Sara Errani (ITA) def. Mayo Hibi 6-0, 6-1
Johanna Konta (GBR) def. Louisa Chirico (USA) 6-3, 6-0
Elena Vesnina (RUS) def. Laura Robson (GBR) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5

Kurumi Nara (JPN) def. [27] Alizé Cornet (FRA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4

Petra Cetkovska (CZE) def. Christina McHale (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

[24] Sabine Lisicki (GER) def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 6-1, 6-4
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) def. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-1, 6-1

Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) def. Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 6-3, 6-1

Qiang Wang (CHN) def. Maria Sakkari (GRE) 7-5, 6-2

Shelby Rogers (USA) def. Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-2, 6-2
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) def. Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3, 6-4
Nicole Gibbs (USA) def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
Barbora Strycova (CZE) def. [14] Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 7-5, 6-0
Danka Kovinic (MNE) def. Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
Mona Barthel (GER) def. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-1
[26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) def. Annika Beck (GER) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) def. Tereza Mrdeza (CRO) 6-2, 6-2
Karin Knapp (ITA) def. Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4
Olga Govortsova (BLR) def. [28] Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-1, 0-6, 7-6(3)
Camila Giorgi (ITA) def. Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-3, 6-3
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) def. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-0, 6-3

Monica Niculescu (ROU) def. Alexandra Panova (RUS) 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-3

Men’s
Singles – First Round

[2] Roger Federer (SUI) d. Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 61 62 62
[5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 75 64 76(6)
[6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 63 62 64
Donald Young (USA) d. [11] Gilles Simon (FRA) 26 46 64 64 64
[12] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 46 61 46 63 20 ret.
[13] John Isner (USA) d. Malek Jaziri (TUN) 62 63 64
[21] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) d. Federico Delbonis (ARG) 63 75 75
[30] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. James Ward (GBR) 61 75 63
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Denis Kudla (USA) 63 75 61
Austin Krajicek (USA) d. Santiago Giraldo (COL) 36 76(6) 76(6) 76(1)
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) d. John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 61 36 75 76(4)
Jiri Vesely (CZE) d. Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 64 64 64
Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
Aljaz Bedene (GBR) d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 36 64 30 ret.
Robin Haase (NED) d. Dustin Brown (GER) 46 46 63 75 64
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) d. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 64 26 67(7) 61 62

More to follow…

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2015 Connecticut Open Preview

petra kvitova CTOpen15 all access by Jack Cunniff

Petra Kvitova (Photo by J. Cunniff)

By Jack Cunniff

(August 23, 2015) NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – For the first time since 2006, the field at the 2015 Connecticut Open features five of the world’s top ten women’s players, and that depth should make for an unpredictable event. Here are some highlights of this year’s top entrants:

 

Simona Halep (No. 2) 2013 New Haven champion was the top seed, and she has played well this summer, coming off of back-to-back finals in Toronto and Cincinnati. She withdrew from the tournament on Sunday night.

 

Second seeded Petra Kvitova (No. 4), the defending champion, also receives an opening round bye. Kvitova has not won a match since Wimbledon, and she recently disclosed that she was diagnosed with mononucleosis, which helps to explain her recent listless form. The good news for Kvitova is that she thrives in the laid-back environment of New Haven, having reached three consecutive finals here, and is one of two players to have defeated top ranked Serena Williams in 2015.

 

Caroline Wozniacki (No. 5) is a four-time winner in New Haven, and seeded third at this year’s event. She was not initially planning to play the Connecticut Open, but early round losses in Stanford, Toronto, and Cincinnati have her looking for more match play before the U.S. Open, which begins August 31st. In pre-tournament interviews, Wozniacki has proclaimed herself fit and ready for action.

 

Lucie Safarova (No. 6) had the best result of her career in advancing to the 2015 French Open final, where she battled Serena Williams for three sets before losing. That result has catapulted her into the top ten for the first time in her career. Safarova has had mixed results since Paris, including a first round exit in Toronto to Daria Gavrilova, who she will face in a re-match in her opening round in New Haven.

 

A year ago, Karolina Pliskova (No. 7) was ranked 69th and won only two games in her first round qualifying match in New Haven. Much has changed in the last 12 months for the 23-year old Czech. She has reached eight WTA finals, winning three of those (Seoul, Linz, Prague). Success has evaded Pliskova in the Grand Slam events, but she has proven to be a consistent threat at the other tour stops.

 

Other players that could contend at the Connecticut open include: a pair of Wimbledon finalists, 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska (No. 15), and 2014 runner-up Genie Bouchard (No. 24); another major finalist in 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani (No. 16), former top ten player Flavia Pennetta (No. 26), rising young American Madison Keys (No. 19) who reached the 2015 Australian Open semifinals, the Swiss veteran Timea Bacsinszky (No. 14) who reached 2015 French Open semifinals, and Elina Svitolina (No. 20) a 20-year-old Ukranian who has risen quietly up the rankings in 2015.

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

 

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WTA All-Access at 2015 Rogers Cup

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By Brodie Widdifield

(August 10, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – The beginning of August always represents one of the most exciting times of the year for Canadian tennis fans with the Rogers Cup tournament getting underway. For players on the WTA, it represents the beginning of the North American hard court swing, and the end of a short but enjoyable post-Wimbledon holiday.

It’s definitely my favourite time of the season,” said Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has dealt with a back injury this season and stressed the importance of fitness for this difficult yet important part of the season. “The most important thing is to stay healthy.”

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Petra Kvitova has been less lucky with her health, unfortunately. “I spent a few days off in Monaco as a vacation. I was trying to practice a little bit, but unfortunately I was diagnosed with mono.” The Czech emphasized that she was working with her team to properly schedule her practicing in order to conserve energy. “I probably got it during the spring time and I still have a little bit of it. I’m still going to play, but I need to worrying about the practicing, and I’ll try to be ready for the matches.”

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Ana Ivanovic also took some time off, and emphasized switching to hard courts would not be a challenge. “It’s not such a difficult change. A lot of players take time off, which was the case with me. The hardest transition is clay to grass, so I look forward to playing on the hard courts here in the United States and Canada.”

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Romanian Simona Halep was one of the stand out players of 2014, but has found success more difficult to come by in 2015. She seemed excited to get her hard court season under way in Toronto after deciding late to enter the tournament on a wild card. “I need some matches.” However, she enjoyed her time off after Wimbledon and is looking forward to getting back on court. “It was really good. I stayed calm, all four weeks, with my family, with my friends. Now I feel good, I feel confident, and I hope to have good matches here.” “I was a little bit tired after Indian Wells and Miami.”

 

The other hot topic on the lips of reporters and players was the continued success of the world’s best player, Serena Williams. With the season’s first three grand slams in her pocket, she will look to complete what was originally known as “The Grand Slam” – winning all four majors in a calendar year.

Not even Serena Williams herself could say it would be business as usual in New York. “It definitely feels different. Winning the Serena Slam this year took some pressure off.” Even at age 33, the world number 1 has no intentions of slowing down as she enjoys one of the best years of her career. “I feel like every year that goes by I start to love the game more than I did the previous year.”

Other players were genuinely happy for the success of Williams this year. Ana Ivanovic even said she would like to see her win the US Open. “I really hope she can do it. She’s been working really hard, she’s been on top of the game so long so I think she deserves it. We’re so lucky to have someone like her in our sport, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for what she has achieved.”

Simona Halep shared her views. “For me she is the best player in the world. She has a lot of power, and also mental power. I think she can do all four, and win the US Open this year.” But when asked if it was frustrating to constantly have such a dominant player, the Romanian only laughed. “For me it is not. It’s really nice to have a player [like her]. She’s very competitive and she loves to be number one.”

Finally, Garbine Muguruza was perhaps one of the most engaging interviews on the afternoon. Now in the top 8, the Spaniard invites all the attention that comes along with reaching a grand slam final at just 21. “Obviously things are changing, media, people are looking more at what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it. You have to be ready, you have to be more mature. The good moments go so quickly, and the bad ones are so slow.” She mentioned that she learned a lot from the Wimbledon final, but laughed when asked if she had watched any of the match again. “I just watched the two minute highlights. No more than that.”

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.

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“Nobody beats me 5 times,” Lepchenko Upsets Wozniacki at Stanford

Varvara Lepchenko

Varvara Lepchenko

By Curt Janka

(August 6, 2015) STANFORD, CaliforniaVarvara Lepchenko played steady to beat top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki at the Bank of the West Classic 6-4, 6-2 despite a number of brief rain delays. Neither player exhibited much emotion on court, as Wozniacki appeared slowed by a leg taped heavily from the knee down. The win is Lepchenko’s third over a Top 5 player, but only her first over Wozniacki who held a 4-0 record over the qualifier.

 

“Nobody beats me 5 times,” Lepchenko finally cracked a smile in her on-court interview.

 

Asked if her leg was her main problem tonight, Wozniacki said “Physically, I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. It wasn’t pretty out there, that’s for sure. At the end of the day she played better. Hats off to her.” The injury did not seem to worry her too much, however, as she explained “Hopefully, a few days and I’ll be okay.”

 

Lepchenko, who battled illness early in the season, has worked hard to get back in good condition. “The very first day after Wimbledon I started my physical conditioning,” she said. “I worked pretty hard to get myself to this point. I think I’m in better condition now than at the beginning of the season.”

 

Both players remarked on how quick the court is playing here, but Wozniacki thought that might help her for her next event. “Now, hopefully everything will feel slow in Toronto.” At least she found a silver lining amidst tonight’s scattered showers.

 

Curt Janka is covering the Bank of the West Classic this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN and his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

 

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Varvara Lepchenko

Varvara Lepchenko

 

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Serena Williams Beats Sister Venus To Reach Wimbledon Quarters

 

(July 6, 2015)

On the second Monday of Wimbledon, it was “Sister Act” part 26 as No. 1 Serena Williams defeated her sister and the 16th seed Venus 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. It was the younger sister’s sixth victory of the last seven, raising her head-to-head record to 15-11.

“I just thought,`Wow, I’m 33, and she just turned 35. I don’t know how many more moments like this we’ll have.’ I plan on playing for years, but you never know if we’ll have the opportunity to face each other,” Serena said after walking off the court. “I just took the moment in, and I thought, `We’re at Wimbledon.’ I remember when I was 8 years old, we dreamed of this moment, and it was kind of surreal.”

“When that moment is over, it will be over,” Venus said, shrugging her shoulders. “It’s not now.”

Tuesday’s win puts Serena closer to winning her 21st major title, fourth in a row, keeping hope alive the possibility of a Grand Slam should she win at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“I no longer answer questions about Grand Slams,” Serena told media.

“It’s been six years since we played each other,” Serena said.  “I just really was enjoying the moment out there.  It was such a great vibe, such a great situation to be in, when we were both so young and dreaming of coming to Wimbledon.

“Not only did we fulfill our dreams, we both won it five times.  That’s pretty amazing.

“I just had an opportunity to reflect on that.”

Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka on Tuesday for a spot in the semis. Azarenka defeated Belinda Bencic 6-3. 6-2.

I’ve had a couple of tough matches with Victoria,” Serena said.  “It doesn’t matter who I play, I’m going to be ready.  I’m going to have to be ready.  She’s due to win big and to do really well.”

“I look forward to tomorrow.  I feel like my tournament has finally begun.  This is where I feel really comfortable in a Grand Slam.”

“Well, the key is for me, I still need to find it because I haven’t beat her in the Grand Slam,” said Azarenka.  “So for me, I still have to find that extra step to go a little bit further.

“But she’s a great player.  I mean, one of the greatest players of all time.

“I just try to really focus on what I have to do instead of thinking who is on the other side and try to execute my game.

“I think I have been playing pretty well, trying to climb and put my game together more and more.  So I’m just trying to focus on tomorrow, is another day, another match, and keep it simple.”

Two more Americans join Serena Williams in the quarterfinals – Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe. Keys beat qualifier Olga Govortsova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1while Vandeweghe beat French Open finalist and sixth seed Lucie Safarova 7-6(1), 7-6(4)

“I mean, every moment there is a breakthrough whether it’s in a WTA tournament or in a Grand Slam,” Vandeweghe said.  “Yes, this is the farthest I have ever gone in a Grand Slam and I’m playing really well at this time, but, you know, I’m not really considering it like, wow, a breakthrough.

I mean, I had set goals of what I wanted to do, and because I’m achieving it doesn’t mean it’s a breakthrough.  I think it’s stepping stones more than a breakthrough.  You know, I would more say it’s on the lines of it’s been a while coming because of what I felt that I have dedicated to my game of tennis.”

Vadeweghe will face Maria Sharapova next. The 2004 Wimbledon champion beat Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-4.

 

“I think there is still going to be the nerves,” Madison Keys said about reaching her second major quarterfinal.  “It’s second quarter and it’s against a different person.  But I think there is at least some, Okay, I have done it before, I have been through it, I know what to expect.

“No matter what, it will be fun and will be exciting, and I just have to go out and try to focus on the match.”

Garbine Muguruza had the upset of the day when she ousted fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4.

“I went very like focused and prepared because I knew that she was going to try to do a long and physical match against me,” the Spaniard said. “So I think I used my opportunities of the short balls, good shots, the serve.  I think I played really good.  This helps me a lot against these types of players.”

On the men’s side of the draw Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson will have to complete their match on Tuesday. Djokovic lost the first two sets in tiebreaks and won the next two. Play was halted on Court 1 due to darkness.

Marin Cilic awaits the winner in his quarterfinal.

Roger Federer and Andy Murray moved into Wimbledon’s “elite 8.” Second-seeded Federer won 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 over No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut. Murray bested Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

The other men’s quarterfinal pairings are: Roger Federer vs. No. 12 Gilles Simon, Andy Murray vs. Vasek Pospisil, and Stan Wawrinka vs. No. 21 Richard Gasquet.

 


Ladies’ Singles – Fourth Round

(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (16) Venus Williams (USA) 64 63
(4) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 64 64
(20) Garbine Muguruza (ESP) d. (5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 64 64
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) d. (6) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 76(1) 76(4)
(13) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (28) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 75 64
(15) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 16 75 62
(21) Madison Keys (USA) d. (Q) Olga Govortsova (BLR) 36 64 61
(23) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (30) Belinda Bencic (SUI) 63 62

Gentlemen’s Singles – Fourth Round

[2] Roger Federer (SUI) d. [20] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 62 62 63
[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. [23] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 76(7) 64 57 64
[4] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. [16] David Goffin (BEL) 76(3) 76(7) 64
[12] Gilles Simon (FRA) d. [6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) 63 63 62
[9] Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Denis Kudla (USA) 64 46 63 75
[21] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. [26] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 75 61 67(7) 76(6)
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) d. [22] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 46 67(4) 64 63 63

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Belinda Bencic Wins Eastbourne for First WTA Title

Belinda Bencic photo courtesy of the LTA by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA

By Ros Satar

(June 27, 2015) EASTBOURNE, England – On a bright and breezy day, it seemed fitting the moment could go to one of the WTA Rising Stars, as Belinda Bencic rode the winds of Eastbourne to claim her first WTA Singles title.

 

At first glance it looked as through former champion Agnieszka Radwanska would have all the momentum on her side. She was rounding out nicely to form, save for a worrying fade away in the Nottingham semi-final a couple of weeks ago, and she had pretty much coasted through the draw until the semi-final where she had to fight against a determined Sloane Stephens and dropped her first set of the tournament.

 

By contrast, even though players never like to admit they even cast an eye over the draw, Bencic had no idea she would be contesting the final when she first looked her draw.

 

She said, after advancing to the final after Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawal: “I actually saw the draw and I saw like Barthel first round, which is not easy. Then Madison Keys second round. I was like, okay.”

 

The final was a nervy affair for the first two sets, with three exchanged breaks of serve towards the end of the first, Bencic having the advantage to edge the Pole for a one set lead.

 

Radwanska had spent a lot of the latter part of the first set exasperated that things were not going her way, and where she needed to be fare more inventive, she was so, stepping up the aggression for an early break. Even when a sloppy game allowed the Swiss teen back, Radwanska looked to be just slightly sharper, going for her shots more and breaking with conviction to level the match.

 

But grass is nothing if not terribly unforgiving, and Bencic did not panic, breaking the Pole twice before the first change of ends, as well as holding on to her serves with confidence that belies her young years.

 

We wondered what nerves might prevail as she stepped up to serve out for her first title. None, as it happened – serving it out to love, and more than making up for the straight sets loss to Camila Giorgi just a couple of weeks ago at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

 

Not only that but this makes her a pretty useful prospect on grass, much like a couple of other famous Swiss players we could think of.

 

It was an emotional Radwanska who carried out her on-court interview after the 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 loss. In a somewhat turbulent year, Radwanska has suffered the embarrassment of her appointment of Martina Navratilova as a coach folding after barely a few months. The results have been average and Radwanska found herself slipping out of the Top 10 as the general hubbub around the latest crop of WTA Rising Stars has encroached on the old guard’s limelight.

 

She said: “I think I had a lot of good matches, Nottingham and here. I think that’s the main thing. I think I did the best preparation before Wimbledon, and I really played good tennis.”

 

With Radwanska in Petra Kvitova’s section of the door she can expect a Tuesday start.

 

Meanwhile there was just pure unadulterated joy in Bencic as she followed in Madison Keys’ footsteps last year and lifted her maiden tour title.

 

She described those final moments with a maturity that marks her out as one to watch at SW 19, saying: “I was very focused and really I played very free. Of course I was disappointed I didn’t close out the second set. I was also starting to get tired. It was a lot of running and, yeah, long rallies. But then I started very focused. I did the 3‑0, so after that I relaxed a little bit and could close it out very good. I think I will just realise maybe when going to bed or maybe tomorrow.”

 

She will start against Tsvetana Pironkova when Wimbledon begins on Monday 29 June.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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