2014/07/31

Tennis News Net Notes

 

(December 1, 2013) A quick look at the recent news in the world of tennis.

Nadal 89m1

After skipping last year’s Sony Open, the tournament announced that Rafael Nadal would be returning in 2014.

“I was very disappointed that I was not able to attend last year’s tournament and am looking forward to returning in 2014,” said Nadal. “I love to play in Miami because of its beautiful location and tremendous fans support. Miami is an international city, and the diverse crowds that attend the tournament create an unbelievable atmosphere. I am excited to see all my fans in Miami this year.”

The world No. 1 has never won this Masters 1000 event. The Sony Open, which is a combined event, runs from March 17-30 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami.

 

 

News out of Berlin - Peter Graf, the father of 22-time major champion and former No. 1 Steffi Graf died on Sunday in Mannheim, Germany from cancer. The former coach and manager of his daughter was 75.

The elder Graf was sentenced to three years in jail for tax evasion. He served only one.

 

Serena

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka will play an exhibition later this month in Thailand.

The event which was announced by the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand, will be part of the regular invitational event in Hua Hin.

 

Richard Gasquet

According to sports daily L’Equipe, France’s No. 1 Richard Gasquet has a new coach – former double French Open winner Sergi Bruguera of Spain.

Gasquet and his former coach Riccardo Piatti split during the ATP World Tour finals. Gasquet, told the paper that Bruguera, would begin his coaching duties in February.

Gasquet reached the ATP World Tour finals this year for the first time since 2007.

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

ATP top ten Milos Raonic has been named Sportsnet’s 2013 Canadian Athlete of the Year. Sportsnet’s 11th annual Athlete of the Year award was voted on by a panel of contributors from Sportsnet’s TV, radio, web and magazine platforms. Past winners include soccer star Christine Sinclair (2012), figure skater Patrick Chan (2011), and three-time winner UFC champ Georges St-Pierre. In honor of the award, Sportsnet is donating $10,000 to Raonic’s charity of choice.

“It’s a great feeling. There’s an aura around Canadian athletes,” said Raonic. “Whether it’s in the NBA, college sports, figure skating or hockey, there’s a bit more of a spotlight, and I think it’s special to be part of that and to receive this award for 2013 is an honor.”

Raonic is the first Canadian male to crack the top 10 of the world rankings and helping his country’s Davis Cup team to its first tournament semifinal in the Open Era.

 

Murray BNP paribas

The Financial Times was announced as the first global sponsor of World Tennis Day on March 3, 2014. The arrangement calls for the Financial Times to be presenting sponsor of the World Tennis Day Showdown at Earls Court in London that will feature Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras and Pat Cash vs Ivan Lendl. The Financial Times will also be the official business publication of the other three World Tennis Day events, including the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden as well as events in Bangkok and Hong Kong.

 

 

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

Former world No.1 and three-time Australian Open champion Martina Hingis will play a special exhibition at Hobart International 2014.

The 33-year-old will play fellow Swiss and current world No.1 junior Belinda Bencic on January 5, 2014.

The Hobart International will take place at the Domain Tennis Centre from January 5-11 2014.

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Sorana Cirstea: Focused on Improvement and Full of Belief

Cirstea Press

By Brodie Elgin

(August 8, 2013) TORONTO – When people refer to the “power game” in women’s tennis today, they often base it off of their experience with women’s tennis in the 1990s or the serve and volley days of the 1980s and prior. Not only are the racquet technologies of today different, but players are more fit and strong, and most women play their games from the baseline. It has been a gradual upward correlation between big hitting and big success.

 

While some of the top players in the game, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova hit the ball with incredible pace, ripping the cover off the ball isn’t an exclusively top 5 trait. Sorana Cirstea is known for her big ground strokes. Her blistering forehand is even more impressive courtside, so much so that it often leaves fans unfamiliar with her oohing and aahing at the sight of her first few big shots.

 

Back on her beloved hard courts for the first time since Miami, Cirstea made an impressive run to the Stanford semifinals and then lost in her quarterfinal match in Washington before heading to Toronto. Her impressive form from Stanford has continued in Toronto as she won two of the biggest matches of her season, defeating two former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic in under 24 hours to reach the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.

 

After saving two match points against Wozniacki, Cirstea reeled off 15 straight points, including the second set tiebreak to love. “I kind of started to take charge, you know, and be in control of the points.” She looked primed to control the third set with chances to hold and consolidate a break to take a 1-4 lead. However, she was eventually broken and quickly found herself locked at 3-3. Instead of letting frustrations boil over, she took a walk to the backboard, put her hands on her hips and gave herself a talking to. It worked, and holding twice she eventually broke Wozniacki to love as the Dane served at 4-5, and Cirstea took the match 5-7, 7-6(0), 6-4. “I’m proud of the fact that from the first moment until the last moment that I had the belief in me.  I feel I earned that victory.  I fought very hard for it.”

Sorana Cirstea

Eventually getting back to the hotel early Thursday morning at 1:30am, Cirstea was faced with the difficult task of taking on Jelena Jankovic, a short 16 hours later. She frustrated Jankovic by going for big winners when the time arrived, and the Serbian failed to effectively counterpunch Cirstea’s overwhelming power. Jankovic became particularly frustrated in the second set, and Cirstea moved on into the quarterfinals, winning 6-3, 6-4. “I think I made a huge step forward today by backing up the win from yesterday, because I think this was one of the issues in the past.  I would have a good win but then couldn’t really back it up.”

After Wimbledon, Cirstea spent two weeks in Las Vegas with the Adidas Player Development Program including Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi, as well as his long time fitness coach Gil Reyes. The fitness training appears to have helped.” I actually woke up, and I was very surprised nothing was hurting, nothing was sore,” Cirstea said about the morning after her Wednesday night marathon match, “so I was like, “oh, this is a new feeling.” The fact that after playing three hours yesterday, today I was actually fine, and I knew Jelena is a tough player and she’s going to make me run a lot.  I was like, Okay, I have no problem.  That’s why I’m here, no?”

 

Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic at 2012 BNP Paribas Open Players Party

Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic at 2012 BNP Paribas Open Players Party

The opportunity to hit with Steffi Graf was not just a fun opportunity, but somewhat of a daunting one as well. “I started tennis because of Steffi Graf, so of course the first time I met her I couldn’t even talk that’s how nervous I was. Even now, every time she comes I’m so nervous,” Sorana laughed. “Every time Steffi comes in, the rhythm that she plays [with], so 45 minutes with her feels like an hour and a half. She’s so professional, still so fit, even now. She’s my idol, and my biggest example. I think I’m quite lucky to interact with them and learn.”

 

While hitting big has never been a problem for the Romanian, Cirstea is hoping to take her game to the next level through improved fitness and mental maturity on court. This is already the ninth time she has won this year after dropping the first set. “Everyone knows that I start a little bit slow. This year I’ve been trying to change a little bit of things, and for me to actually start better from the beginning, and try to get ahead. But right now, I never lose my belief. If you’re better than me, you have to beat me.” The Romanian has looked particularly composed on court this week, with few outbursts towards her coaches, and often catching herself to walk to the back board and tap her racquet on it as a mental reminder to stay focused.

 

While big hitting players can often gain a lot of hype as potential top 10 players, Cirstea insisted she’s more focused on improving the parts of her game that she wants to work on than focusing on a specific ranking number goal. “I’m enjoying more, and I’m learning more things about myself.  I think I grew up and matured along the way.  I have been through great times, tough times, and I’m happy that I had all those, because they helped me be stronger and just be a better person and also athlete.”

Brodie Elgin is the writer of 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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Serena Destroys Pennetta, Venus Edges Date-Krumm in Miami

Serena Williams with Noah Makarome, aged 13 from Wesley Chapel, Dylan O'Brien, aged 12 from Altamonte Springs, Morgan Cooley, aged 14 from Boca Raton and Ashley Kratzer, aged 13 from Juno Beach. Photo by Robin Fenlon

Serena Williams with Noah Makarome, aged 13 from Wesley Chapel, Dylan O’Brien, aged 12 from Altamonte Springs, Morgan Cooley, aged 14 from Boca Raton and Ashley Kratzer, aged 13 from Juno Beach. Photo by Robin Fenlon

(March 21, 2013) Playing her first tournament since reaching world No. 1 again, Serena Williams demolished Italy’s Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-1 on Thursday in the second round of the Sony Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.

 

“I don’t think it was too much rust,” Williams said of her tennis. “I think I missed a few shots, but only because I was off footwork-wise. It’s always just good to win a match and stay in the tournament and keep going.”

 

“It was a little frustration because I felt like I should be putting the balls away for my opponent quick, but she was so quick and she was running every ball down,” Williams added.  I was trying to get myself more pumped up and more energy because I was playing a former ‑‑ I believe she was in the top 10 at one point.”

 

Should Williams win the tournament, she would break the tournament record of five titles, a record she shares with Steffi Graf.

 

“That would be really cool,” Williams said.  “I have a lot of matches to play.  If I can just stay relaxed ‑‑ I really feel like I can do it, but, you know, I’m sometimes my own worst enemy.  I just want to get through every match one at a time.”

 

American Sloane Stephens, who defeated an injured Serena Williams to make the Australian Open semifinals in January, recovered from a first set bagel to beat Olga Govortsova of Belarus 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.

 

“I wasn’t playing that great,” Stephens said of the first set. “I mean, it’s not that I wasn’t playing great.  I was asleep out there.  I definitely just needed to wake up and start playing.
“I thought I played some good points even in the first set when I was, like, not there.  But definitely tough.  A lot of just battling and just hanging in there.”

 

“I was just happy to get through in the end.”

 

“I think after I won a game in the second set I was much better and I thought, I’m just going to go ahead and play,” added Stephens.
“She played actually really well.  It wasn’t all just me, but she was playing some good tennis.
So it was tough in that case, too.  But just, you know, once I got a game, I was like, Okay, now I can play.

 

Stephens will be taking on Venus Williams in the third round.  In a clash of veterans, 32-year-old Venus Williams defeated 42-year-old Kimko Date-Krumm in a very tight contest 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4  which lasted more than two-and-a-half hours in the evening session.  Venus Williams needed 7 match points to close the match. The match was so close that Venus Williams won just two pints more than her opponent – 106-104.

“The toughest part is when you reach the finish line and you’re not able to get across,” Venus Williams said after the match. “Really it’s credit to her as she really hit amazing shots. I was pretty determined out there and one (match point) had to come through if I kept putting myself in that position.”

 

Defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland took out Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-2 in the second round.

 

“Just very happy to have a quick match,” Radwanska said. “The first match is always a little bit tough and tricky.”

 

“I was really trying to focus on my serve especially.  You know, against the wind it’s a little bit difficult.  Really tried to stay close to the baseline to be strong, as well.
“And I think that was the key.”

Tenth seed Marion Bartoli was forced to retire from her match with Andrea Petkovic with a left foot injury.

On the men’s side,  Bernard Tomic  earned second round meeting with second seed Andy Murray after beating qualifier Marc Gicquel 7-5, 7-6(3) on Thursday afternoon. Jarkko Nieminen came back to beat David Nalbandian 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

 

Other winners on the day included Viktor Troicki, Yen-Hsun Lu, Santiago Giraldo,.Alejandro Falla, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Olivier Rochus and Guillaume Rufin.

More to follow…

 

Results so far for Thursday, March 21, 2013

 

WTA Singles – Second Round
[1] S Williams (USA) d. F Pennetta (ITA) 61 61
[4] A Radwanska (POL) d. S Hsieh (TPE) 63 62
[5] N Li (CHN) d. K Bertens (NED) 63 61
[7] P Kvitova (CZE) d. S Peng (CHN) 57 62 62
[9] C Wozniacki (DEN) d. [Q] K Pliskova (CZE) 57 63 63
[WC] A Petkovic (GER) d. [10] M Bartoli (FRA) 63 41 ret. (left foot)
[13] D Cibulkova (SVK) d. K Mladenovic (FRA) 62 63
[16] S Stephens (USA) d. O Govortsova (BLR) 06 64 64
R Oprandi (SUI) d. [17] L Safarova (CZE) 76(4) 46 76(5)
[19] V Williams (USA) d. K Date-Krumm (JPN) 76(3) 36 64
[WC] G Muguruza (ESP) d. [23] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 46 62 62
[WC] A Tomljanovic (CRO) d. [24] J Goerges (GER) 76(4) 62
[25] V Lepchenko (USA) d. I Begu (ROU) 63 64
M Rybarikova (SVK) d. [27] M Barthel (GER) 63 76(5)
[30] K Flipkens (BEL) d. [Q] S Voegele (SUI) 64 62
A Morita (JPN) d. [31] Y Wickmayer (BEL) 76(2) 26 63

ATP Singles – First Round
B Tomic (AUS) d. [Q] M Gicquel (FRA) 75 76(3)
J Nieminen (FIN) d. D Nalbandian (ARG) 26 64 63
T Bellucci (BRA) d.*[LL] D Brands (GER) 26 64 62
Y Lu (TPE) d. [Q] R Ginepri (USA) 63 61
S Bolelli (ITA) d. J Levine (CAN) 46 63 76(4)
D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) d. D Istomin (UZB) 62 64
S Giraldo (COL) d. [WC] R Williams (USA) 62 64
V Troicki (SRB) d. P Andujar (ESP) 62 63
[Q] G Rufin (FRA) d. [Q] M Copil (ROU) 64 46 61
L Kubot (POL) d. [Q] F Dancevic (CAN) 46 64 63
[WC] G Pella (ARG) d. C Berlocq (ARG) 21 ret. (left knee)
[Q] O Rochus (BEL) d. T Ito (JPN) 46 64 31 ret. (cramping)
D Goffin (BEL) d. R Haase (NED) 76(4) 36 61
I Dodig (CRO) d. L Lacko (SVK) 46 60 64
A Bedene (SLO) d. B Becker (GER) 64 63
A Falla (COL) d. G Soeda (JPN) 75 61
WTA Doubles – First Round
[WC] L Raymond (USA) / L Robson (GBR) d. [6] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) 75 62
[8] J Goerges (GER) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) d. D Jurak (CRO) / K Marosi (HUN) 26 75 10-8
D Hantuchova (SVK) / A Medina Garrigues (ESP) d. [WC] M Keys (USA) / A Tomljanovic (CRO) 62 63
A Groenefeld (GER) / P Martic (CRO) d. V King (USA) / M Niculescu (ROU) 26 62 11-9
T Babos (HUN) / M Minella (LUX) d. L Dekmeijere (LAT) / O Govortsova (BLR) 62 62
S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) d. M Lucic-Baroni (CRO) / J Zheng (CHN) 16 62 10-6

ATP Doubles – First Round
[5] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) d. J Janowicz (POL) / F Mayer (GER) 46 64 10-6
[7] M Llodra (FRA) / L Paes (IND) d. C Kas (GER) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) 63 75
N Almagro (ESP) / O Marach (AUT) d. J Cabal (COL) / S Gonzalez (MEX) 63 64
T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) d. J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) 64 63
SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 22 MARCH, 2013

STADIUM start 11:00 am
[WC] M Keys (USA) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [Q] D Tursunov (RUS) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
T Kamke (GER) vs [5] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[WC] E Bouchard (CAN) vs [3] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA

Starting at 8:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs L Rosol (CZE) – ATP
[8] S Errani (ITA) vs D Hantuchova (SVK) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[18] E Makarova (RUS) vs S Kuznetsova (RUS) – WTA
[WC] J Blake (USA) vs [24] J Benneteau (FRA) – ATP
[19] A Dolgopolov (UKR) vs N Davydenko (RUS) – ATP
[11] G Simon (FRA) vs [WC] L Hewitt (AUS) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[22] J Jankovic (SRB) vs [WC] V Duval (USA) – WTA

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
I Sijsling (NED) vs [15] T Haas (GER) – ATP
[6] A Kerber (GER) vs F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA
[14] M Kirilenko (RUS) vs [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) – WTA
U Radwanska (POL) vs [12] A Ivanovic (SRB) – WTA

Not Before 6:00 PM
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs M Mirnyi (BLR) / M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[15] R Vinci (ITA) vs C Mchale (USA) – WTA
[12] J Monaco (ARG) vs A Ramos (ESP) – ATP
[Q] D Sela (ISR) vs [7] J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
[6] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
S Devvarman (IND) vs [30] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
J Hampton (USA) vs [20] C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
M Llodra (FRA) vs [32] F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
[32] A Cornet (FRA) vs L Robson (GBR) – WTA
[26] K Anderson (RSA) vs H Zeballos (ARG) – ATP

COURT 6 start 11:00 am
V Hanescu (ROU) vs [13] K Nishikori (JPN) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs [21] K Zakopalova (CZE) – WTA
J Zheng (CHN) vs [11] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA
[4] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) vs N Grandin (RSA) / V Uhlirova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 7 start 11:00 am
[22] J Chardy (FRA) vs X Malisse (BEL) – ATP
[31] M Granollers (ESP) vs J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
S Halep (ROU) vs [26] T Paszek (AUT) – WTA
[WC] S Kuznetsova (RUS) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [2] A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Hradecka (CZE) – WTA

Not Before 4:00 PM
[WC] C Harrison (USA) / R Harrison (USA) vs G Dimitrov (BUL) / F Nielsen (DEN) – ATP

COURT 8 start 11:00 am
[29] E Vesnina (RUS) vs [Q] D Vekic (CRO) – WTA
G Zemlja (SLO) vs [23] F Mayer (GER) – ATP
[Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) vs [28] S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) vs [WC] G Muguruza (ESP) / F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
M Cilic (CRO) / L Dlouhy (CZE) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / J Knowle (AUT) – ATP
R Gasquet (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs [3] M Bhupathi (IND) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP
[4] R Lindstedt (SWE) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs M Klizan (SVK) / A Seppi (ITA) – ATP
I Begu (ROU) / A Rosolska (POL) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / H Watson (GBR) – WTA
[5] L Huber (USA) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) vs K Mladenovic (FRA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA

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Raonic Looks To Make History At This Year’s Final SAP Open

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Kevin Ware

(February 12, 2013) SAN JOSE, California -This is a bittersweet moment as I prepare my preview for this year’s SAP Open.  The SAP Open, the second-oldest tournament in the US, is ending its’ illustrious run with this final week at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA.  Many great and legendary players have hoisted the trophy through its’ various names and incarnations.  But whether it was the Siebel Open, the Sybase Open, or whatever, it didn’t matter to those of us in the Bay Area who were grateful for a chance to see world-class tennis. This tournament will be greatly missed!

This year’s edition promises one final hurrah with a great field and the addition of a mixed doubles exhibition match on Saturday, featuring longtime SAP Open stalwart Andy Roddick, 3-time Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, and 22-time Slam champion Stephanie “Steffi” Graf.  Defending champion Milos Raonic is also back to try for an historic SAP Open hat trick.  So even though this is the final SAP Open, it definitely promises to go out on a high.

Main draw action started Monday night with Xavier Malisse and Jesse Levine winning first-round matches. With qualifying rounds completed, the action starts in earnest on Tuesday with main draw matches for both singles and doubles.

Here is my breakdown of the quarters as I look for Raonic to make history for the tournament with his third straight title.

 

Milos Raonic [1]

The top quarter features top seeded Milos Raonic, who has a chance to pull off a rare “hat trick” win at this year’s SAP Open after title runs in 2011 and 2012.  How rare is it? No player has won three straight SAP Open titles since Tony Trabert accomplished the feat with wins in ’53, ’54, and ’55.  This includes greats like Ashe, McEnroe, Sampras, Agassi, and Roddick. a win in this final SAP Open would certainly put Milos at par with this very select group of players.

Milos likes the conditions in San Jose, and has played some of his best tennis on this center court over the past couple of years.  His serve has been off the charts, both in terms of pace and placement, and his ground game has been damaging off both his forehand and backhand wings. There isn’t much that’s likely to stop his march to the semifinals; not even a potential quarterfinal rematch against his 2012 finalist, Denis Istomin.

Sam Querrey [3]

The second quarter features Davis Cup hero, Sam Querrey.  It would be easy to peg Querrey as the favorite to make his way through to the semifinals, but he will have his hands full with his most likely second-round challenger, former champion Lleyton Hewitt.  While Hewitt has a first-round encounter with Blaz Kavcic to help him settle into the tournament and get used to the conditions, Sam has a first-round bye.

Most players will tell you that there’s nothing trickier than playing an opponent who’s “into” the tournament when you’re still trying to get used to the conditions. And even if they haven’t played since 2009, Hewitt’s 2-0 head-to-head over Querrey doesn’t help matters much either.  But if Sam settles into the match quickly, he should be okay for the win. On the other hand, Hewitt’s success at this year’s Kooyong exhibition showed that he’s a legitimate contender in best two out of three matches with significant wins over Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Juan Martin Del Potro.

After Hewitt, seventh seed Marinko Matosevic of AUS will likely be Querrey’s last hurdle for a spot in the semifinals.

Tommy Haas [4]

Speaking of best two out of three set matches, the combination of the format and the quicker indoor court gives the number four seed a decent shot at making the quarterfinals. Once he gets there, however, he’ll have a tough battle to get by Fernando Verdasco [5] for the third semifinal spot.

Tommy has a 2-1 head-to-head edge over Fernando on tour, but they haven’t played since 2009.  In many ways, it’s either player’s match to win or lose.  If Tommy’s body and game hold up, it could happen for him.  Fernando is no slouch, though.  He’s one of three former champions in the field (along with Raonic and Hewitt), and knows what it takes to win in San Jose.

Also, I’m sure Fernando would like a chance at redemption for the title he felt that he wrongly lost in the 2011 final after a fan’s yell on match point distracted him while returning Raonic’s serve.

John Isner [2]

In spite of recent knee issues that kept him from performing his best in Australia, Big John looks to be moving decently and serving at close to his best level.  He lost a five set heartbreaker to Thomaz Bellucci in Davis Cup, but should be okay in San Jose even though he hasn’t played there since 2009.

With a 2-2 head-to-head record, veteran player Xavier Malisse might cause Isner some issues in their probable quarterfinal match-up.  But I’d be hard-pressed to see him not make it through to Saturday’s semifinals.

Semifinal Picks

Milos Raonic [1] versus Sam Querrey [3]

Head-to-head: Querrey leads 2-0

Querrey might have the advantage in the head-to-head numbers, but Milos has owned this court for the past two years.  In a battle of evenly-matched big guys with big serves and big groundstrokes, I have to give the edge to the guy who has won back-to-back titles in the past two years.

Raonic in straight sets.

Tommy Haas [4] versus John Isner [2]

Head-to-head: Isner leads 3-1

Make that 4-1 after this semifinal battle.  Isner has way too much firepower for Haas.  He will make the big guy work for it with smart shot-making, but it won’t be enough to counter Isner’s untouchable serve unless Tommy has a great returning day.

Isner in straight sets.

Final Picks

Milos Raonic [1] versus John Isner [2]

Head-to-head: Isner leads 1-0

They’ve played only once before on a Canadian hard court in last year’s Rogers Cup, with Isner winning a close 7-6(9), 6-4 match.  Serve dominated the stats, as one would expect.  But while Raonic served more aces than Isner, Isner won 91% of his first serves as compared to 78% for Raonic.  In a close match that can make all the difference.

I expect this match to go the distance, with the winner being determined by the same factors i.e. winning serve percentages.  If John keeps his percentages high, he’s got a good shot at thwarting the Raonic three-peat.  If not, Raonic has a “slightly” better ground game on which to fall back than Isner.

For all practical purposes, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top.  For history’s sake at this last SAP Open, I’ll go with Raonic for the three-peat.

Raonic in three sets.

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Oz and Ends – Day One at the 2013 Australian Open

Melbourne park grounds

Oz and ends  and bits of news from the Australian Open for January 14, 2013

 

Bagels and breadsticks

Maria Sharapova won her first match of the Australian Open 6-0, 6-0 in 55 minutes over fellow Russian Olga Puchkova. It was her third career “double bagel” in a major tournament. She only needs a double bagel at Wimbledon to complete a “double bagel slam.”

Three women have completed the “double bagel slam” – they are Hall of Famers Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.

Venus Williams added to the bagel set count with a 6-1, 6-0 demolishing of Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva.

 

Win streak continues

Agnieszka Radwanska has extended her 2013 win streak to 10 by defeating Australian wild card entry Bojana Bobusic of 7-5, 6-0 on Monday.
Twitter News

Maria Sharapova has officially joined twitterverse. Follow her at @MariaSharapova

[tweet https://twitter.com/MariaSharapova/status/290778598774829058]

 

Tweets of the day

 

 

Lucky Loser is a winner
Tim Smyczek is lucky loser was a winner on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 victory over Ivo Karlovic. The American it into the draw thanks to housemate John Isner who pulled out of the tournament with a right knee injury.

 

Tough day for Aussies

Matthew Ebden, Ashleigh Barty, Olivia Rogowska, Sasha Jones,  John Millman, Lleyton, Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua all exited on day one of Australian Open. Sam Stosur was the only victorious Australian on Monday.

 

Two seeds falls

The 11th seed Juan Monaco was the only seeded played not to win on Monday. The Argentine who withdrew from last week’s Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament with a hand injury was clearly stuggling clearly struggling on the court in his straight set loss to Alex Kuznentsov, was applauded by spectators for not retiring from the match.

Monaco told Reuters: “My leg tightened up at the start of the second set and it was very tough for me,” pointing to his right leg.

On the women’s side Ksenia Pervak  stopped 32nd seed Mona Barthel 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Federer out of Davis Cup

Roger Federer will not participate in Switzerland’s first round Davis Cup tie versus the reigning champions, the Czech Republic

 

Five set marathons

[22] Fernando Verdasco def. David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
[10] Nicolas Almagro def Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2
Edouard Rogers-Vasselin def. Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-7, 2-6, 7-5, 11-9
Daniel Gimeno-Traver def. Lukasz Kubot 6-7, 6-4, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4
[23] Mikhail Youzhny def. Matt Ebden 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3
[28] Marcos Baghdatis def. Albert Ramos 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Roberto Bautista Agut def. Fabio Fognini 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
[31] Radek Stepanek def. Viktor Troicki 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5;
Brian Baker def. Alex Bogomolov 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-2.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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WTT Smash Hits raises a record $1 million as Team Billie Jean beats Team Elton 19-17

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Oct. 16, 2012) — The 20th anniversary edition of Mylan WTT
Smash Hits presented by GEICO, was one for the record books with the event
posting a record $1 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation with a
portion of those proceeds benefitting the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. The
event, hosted annually by Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King, has now
raised more the $11.5 million to support HIV and AIDS prevention and
awareness programs since the first Smash Hits was held in Los Angeles in
1993.

Team Billie Jean King won the match, besting Team Elton John, 19-17.

Tuesday’s match at the Petersen Event Center on the University of Pittsburgh
campus featured one of the first tennis appearances of Andy Roddick since
announcing his retirement from the sport, and hall of famer Andre Agassi in
men’s singles. Team Elton’s Roddick won the final set of men’s singles over
Agassi, 5-3, to push the match into Overtime. Agassi captured the first
game of Overtime to give Team Billie Jean the win and even the 20-year
series at 10-10.

Sir Elton John kicked the evening off, partnering with Martina Navratilova
to take a 3-2 victory against Agassi and Stefanie Graf in an entertaining
celebrity doubles set.

Women’s singles brought two of the top junior players in the world and saw
Team Elton’s Taylor Townsend post a 5-2 win over the 2012 US Open girls
singles champion Samantha Crawford. In mixed doubles, Roddick paired with
the legendary Martina Navratilova to lead Team Elton to a 5-3 win over
Agassi and Graf.

In women’s doubles, Christina McHale teamed with Crawford and cruised to a
5-0 win over Navratilova and Townsend to bring Team Billie Jean even with
Team Elton 10-10 after three sets. “I am so happy with my team tonight,”
said King following the match. “Girls doubles really turned it around for
us. The young ones got us back in the match.”

King’s squad increased their lead in men’s doubles as Mark Knowles joined
Agassi to pick up a 5-2 win over Roddick and Jan-Michael Gambill.

Earlier in the evening, a silent and live auction raised more than $375,000
of the night’s total. The top auction item of the night went for $200,000
when two bidders paid $100,000 each for a package that included tickets to
Sir Elton John’s “The Million Dollar Piano” show at Caesar’s Palace in Las
Vegas and dinner with Elton and Billie Jean King. A hitting session with
Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf in Las Vegas sold for $55,000. Other auction
items were a 2013 Super Bowl Package with a dinner hosted by NFL legend
Franco Harris, an Elton John-signed piano bench, a hitting session with
Martina Navratilova, and Wimbledon and US Open packages.

For more information on Mylan WTT Smash Hits, visit www.WTTSmashHits.com.

Final Results – Mylan WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO at Petersen Events
Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
PRO-CELEB MATCH (didn’t count towards final match score): Elton John /
Martina Navratilova def. Andre Agassi / Stefanie Graf, 3-2
Coaches for the pro-celeb match were Anna Kournikova (Elton/Martina) and
Franco Harris (Andre/Stefanie)

Team Billie Jean def. Team Elton 19-17 (1-0 Overtime)
Mixed Doubles: Andy Roddick / Martina Navratilova (Team Elton) def. Andre
Agassi / Stefanie Graf (Team Billie Jean) 5-3

Women’s Singles: Taylor Townsend (Team Elton) def. Samantha Crawford (Team
Billie Jean) 5-2

Women’s Doubles: Christina McHale /Samantha Crawford (Team Billie Jean) def.
Martina Navratilova / Taylor Townsend (Team Elton) 5-0

Men’s Doubles: Andre Agassi / Mark Knowles (Team Billie Jean) def. Andy
Roddick / Jan-Michael Gambill (Team Elton) 5-2

Men’s Singles: Andy Roddick (Team Elton) def. Andre Agassi (Team Billie
Jean) 5-3

Overtime:
Andre Agassi (Team Billie Jean) def. Andy Roddick (Team Elton) 1-0

TEAM ELTON:
Elton John, Andy Roddick, Martina Navratilova, Taylor Townsend, Jan-Michael
Gambill.
Co-captain: Anna Kournikova.

TEAM BILLIE JEAN:
Billie Jean King, Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, Mark Knowles, Christina
McHale, Samantha Crawford.
Co-captain: Franco Harris

All photos by Fred & Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA

no images were found

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Anna Kournikova and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris Celebrity Coaches for WTT Smash Hits

Pittsburgh, Pa. (October 15, 2012) — NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris and two-time Grand Slam doubles champion Anna Kournikova are lending their support to Mylan WTT Smash Hits presented by GEICO, the annual charity event co-hosted by Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King.

 

Harris and Kournikova will kick off the October 16 event in Pittsburgh by serving as celebrity coaches in the opening pro-celebrity set featuring Elton John teaming with Martina Navratilova to take on Andre Agassi and his wife Stefanie Graf. Kournikova is a co-captain of Team Elton and will be the coach for John and Navratilova. Harris, who is co-captain for Team Billie Jean, will be the coach for Agassi and Graf in the opening set. Action begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.

 

During a pre-match reception, Harris will also help auction off a Super Bowl package that includes tickets to the big game along with an autographed commemorative football celebrating the 40th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception”.

 

After the pro-celebrity set, some of tennis’ biggest names will form two teams and play five sets of World TeamTennis (WTT) – one set each of men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles – on teams captained by King and John.

 

Playing for Team Billie Jean are Hall of Famers Graf and Agassi, along with former world No. 1 in doubles Mark Knowles; world No. 30 Christina McHale and the 2012 US Open junior girls singles champion Samantha Crawford.

Team Elton includes former US Open champion Andy Roddick; Martina Navratilova, a 59-time Grand Slam champion in singles, doubles and mixed doubles; No. 1 ranked junior Taylor Townsend, and former top 15 player, WTT veteran Jan-Michael Gambill.

 

This year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of Smash Hits, which has raised more than $10.5 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and various local AIDS charities since 1993. Mylan WTT Smash Hits will benefit EJAF and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and will also include a pre-match VIP Reception and Auction hosted by Allegheny Sports Medicine.

John, King and all players will participate in the pre-match live auction, which will include an Elton John signed piano bench and King’s Wimbledon tickets among other items.

 

Official event sponsors include Mylan, GEICO, Highmark, Allegheny Sports Medicine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mercedes-Benz of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, Horizon Properties, Wells Fargo, Buck Consultants, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cravath, Skadden, Alston+Bird LLP, Kelley Drye, Wiley Rein LLP, Frommer Lawrence & Haug LLP, Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP, Rakoczy Molino Mazzochi Siwik LLP, Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, The Norton Agency, GA Communication Group, Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Re/Max, Heeter Direct, Mansions on Fifth, 94.5 3WS, KDKA, and Pittsburgh Magazine.

 

For more information on WTT Smash Hits, visit www.wttsmashhits.com.

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New Haven Open Preview: Wozniacki’s Drive for Five is Alive

By Jack Cunniff

NEW HAVEN – For the fifteenth straight year, several of the top Women’s Tennis Association professionals will be at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven the week prior to the U.S. Open.  And defending New Haven Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark, hopes to be holding the winner’s trophy for the fifth straight time.  As always, the path to the title has a lot of obstacles, with eight of the Top Twenty ranked women entered in the draw.

When Wozniacki defended her title last year, she was holding seven other tournament titles and ranked No. 1 in the world.  Her form has dropped off in the last 12 months; she’s been unable to win a title since the 2011 New Haven Open.  As a result, her ranking has dropped to No. 8, and she’s seeded third.  But Wozniacki still has to be considered a title contender.  She holds a perfect 17-0 record at the event, and nine of those wins have come against opponents ranked in the Top Twenty.  Is that enough to snap a streak of twenty straight events that Wozniacki has lost? She will make history if she can win her fifth title; only three other women in tour history have won an event in five consecutive years, Chris Evert (Charleston), Steffi Graf (Hamburg), and Martina Navratilova (Wimbledon, Eastbourne, and Chicago).

The top seed at the 2012 New Haven Open is Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.  Radwanska had her best career result just a few weeks ago, reaching the finals of Wimbledon before losing to Serena Williams in three sets.  She’s improved her world ranking to No. 3 on the strength of five titles in the last 12 months, including three Premiere events (Miami, Tokyo, and Beijing).

The hottest player coming into this year’s event is Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.  She is the only woman who has reached the quarterfinals at each of the 2012 Grand Slam events.  More recently, she won the Canadian Open in Montreal last week, and reached the semifinals in Cincinnati this week.  But on the downside, that’s a lot of tennis for Kvitova, and she could be feeling the effects here.

Rounding out the Top Four seeds in New Haven is the Italian who made a surprise run to the French Open final a few months ago, Sara Errani.  Since moving off of clay courts, Errani has found things more difficult, winning only four matches on grass courts or hard courts since June.  She has been able to show winning form on hard courts earlier this year, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

In looking at title contenders, recent history in New Haven shows that you must look past the seeded players.  While the first nine New Haven finals did not feature an unseeded player, there has been an unseeded surprise finalist in four of the last five years.  Some names who could continue that trend in 2012 include Andrea Petkovic, Sloane Stephens, and Laura Robson.  Petkovic, the entertaining German player, reached No. 9 in the world last year, but has played only a few events this year because of injury.  New Haven marks her return to the tour after a four month absence.  Stephens, from the United States, has made her breakthrough this year reaching the fourth round of the French Open.  She is also the youngest player ranked in the Top 50, at age 19. Robson is even younger, at 18, and is coming off a silver medal win in the London 2012 Summer Olympics, where she partnered with Andy Murray in Mixed Doubles.

It’s a difficult field to handicap, but one thing is for sure: whoever is holding the trophy next Saturday will have a great chance of making a run at the U.S. Open title as well.  In the last fourteen years, the New Haven champion has reached at least the semifinals on ten occasions.

Around the Grounds – Saturday August 18th: Nicole Gibbs, the Stanford sophomore who swept the NCAA singles and doubles title this year, defeated her first Top 100 opponent Saturday, dispatching No. 77 Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain in the second round of qualifying… Melanie Oudin, the surprise 2009 U.S. pen quarterfinalist, continued her comeback by ousting Silvia Soler-Espinosa in three sets.  After her win, Oudin confirmed that she and Jack Sock would be attempting to defend their 2011 U.S. Open Mixed Doubles title… Andrea Petkovic isn’t the only player on the comeback trail at New Haven; 2007 runner-up Agnes Szavay of Hungary is playing in her first WTA main draw of 2012. Szavay also played in The London Summer Olympics this month as she returns from a career-threatening back injury.

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

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Agassi, Graf, Roddick to Headline WTT Smash Hits on October 16

 

Pittsburgh, Pa. (June 25, 2012) — Longtime friends Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King are bringing their annual charity night of tennis, Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT) Smash Hits presented by GEICO, to Pittsburgh for the first time in the event’s 20-year history. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl joined WTT CEO/Commissioner Ilana Kloss and Mylan CEO Heather Bresch at Pittsburgh City Hall this afternoon to announce the event, which will raise funds for the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Tennis greats Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, and Andy Roddick will join other top players for Mylan WTT Smash Hits on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the Petersen Events Center. Tickets for the one-night event go on sale Monday, July 16, at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Mylan, a global pharmaceutical company based in the Pittsburgh area, has signed on as the title sponsor of this special 20th anniversary celebration of one of tennis’ longest-running and most successful charity events. Mylan will also be an official sponsor of the WTT Pro League, the innovative coed professional tennis league co-founded by Billie Jean King.

Smash Hits has raised more than $10.5 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and various local AIDS charities since 1993. This year’s event will benefit EJAF and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. The funds raised at the pre-match VIP Reception and Auction hosted by Allegheny Sports Medicine will be specifically targeted for local programs.

“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary of Smash Hits, we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Mylan, whose leadership work in the AIDS arena has continued to make such a positive difference on a global basis,” said WTT co-founder Billie Jean King. “Together, we will continue to use all our assets to expand awareness and ensure as many people as possible have access to affordable drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.”

“Mylan is honored to be sponsoring the 20th Annual Smash Hits event in Pittsburgh, as well as the WTT Pro League,” said Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan Inc. “Mylan’s mission is to provide the world’s 7 billion people with access to high quality medicine. As one of the world’s leading providers of affordable antiretroviral medicines used to treat HIV/AIDS, Mylan has a long history of taking an active role in the fight against this disease. In fact, one in three people in the developing world being treated for HIV/AIDS depends on a Mylan product. We strongly support the missions of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and World TeamTennis and share in their passionate commitment to reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and around the world.”

“We’re really excited to host this world-renowned event in Pittsburgh and bring light to such an important issue,” Ravenstahl said. “The generous support of companies such as Mylan and Highmark takes our City’s history of neighbors-helping-neighbors to a global level, enabling us to have a greater impact while still helping local residents in need.”

“It is always such a great pleasure to co-host this wonderful event with my dear friend Billie Jean King,” said Sir Elton John. “I’m so pleased that we will be teaming up with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force to raise awareness about the continuing challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic both locally and nationally and to raise urgently needed dollars for community-based HIV prevention, education, treatment, and care services. I urge all of the tennis fans and concerned citizens in the Greater Pittsburgh area to support this event and bring their families for a wonderful evening of tennis for a great cause.”

Captained by King and John, the players will form two teams and play five sets of World TeamTennis (WTT) – one set each of men’s and women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. The music legend is expected to participate in a celebrity doubles match to open the event. Additional participants will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Pittsburgh also served as home to one of the WTT Pro League’s first teams, the 1975 WTT Champion Pittsburgh Triangles, a storied franchise led by tennis greats Vitas Gerulaitis and Evonne Goolagong.

Tickets for Mylan WTT Smash Hits go on sale at 10 a.m. Eastern on Monday, July 16. Corner reserved seats are $40; premium reserved seats are $75; and courtside seats are $125. Order tickets through www.wttsmashhits.com or ticketmaster.com. For group sales of 10 or more tickets, call 412-924-8270.

Special VIP ticket packages, including VIP courtside seating and admission to the VIP Reception and Auction, will also be available for $500. John, King and all players will participate in the pre-match live auction, which will include an Elton John signed piano bench and King’s Wimbledon tickets among other items. To buy VIP ticket packages or for more information, call 412-924-8270.

This will be 12th Smash Hits appearance for Agassi. The 8-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1 is well-known for his philanthropy, which includes starting the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas. Agassi was inducted into The International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011.

This is the second Smash Hits appearance for Graf, a fellow Hall of Famer. Graf has long been considered one of the greatest players in tennis history, winning 107 singles titles, 22 Grand Slam singles championships, and an Olympic gold medal before retiring in 1999. Graf and her husband Andre Agassi have two children, daughter Jaz and son Jaden.

Roddick, who is playing in his 8th Smash Hits event, is a former world No. 1 and continues to be one of the most popular and successful players on the ATP Tour. The 29-year-old American has won 30 singles titles, including the 2003 US Open and has been ranked in the top 10 for nine consecutive years. In 2001, Roddick started the Andy Roddick Foundation (ARF), a charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and enhancing educational and economic opportunities for all children based on the principles of respect for family, education and morality.

Official event sponsors include Mylan, GEICO, Highmark, Allegheny Sports Medicine, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Magazine.

For more information on WTT Smash Hits, visit www.wttsmashhits.com.

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Longines Future Tennis Aces Event Completed in Paris

Paris (France) / St. Imier (Switzerland), 9 June 2012 – After two days of highly emotional tennis, the final of the Longines Future Tennis Aces Roland Garros 2012 tournament was held over the final weekend at Roland Garros. Destanee Aiava from Australia won the tournament, beating Haruna Arakawa from Japan. This exciting duel was followed by an exhibition match that brought together three generations of players. The two finalists of the Longines Future Tennis Aces Roland Garros 2012 tournament teamed up with Stefanie Graf and Sabine Lisicki, with Mansour Bahrami also joining in the fun. Afterwards Longines presented the two youngsters with an annual bursary of $2,000 to pay for their tennis equipment until their 16th birthday.

The U.S. was represented in Paris by Rachel Lim, a 12-year-old, from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., who won the Longines Future Tennis Aces qualifying tournament for U.S. participants last month. Lim, USTA ranked No. 22 in the 12-and-under division, lost in the first round last Thursday against the top-seeded player from Russia.

The Longines Future Tennis Aces Roland Garros 2012 tournament was a huge success. Through this tournament, Longines – the official partner of Roland Garros – aims to look for tomorrow’s tennis champions and to promote sport as well as respect, fair play and tolerance, which are essential for the enjoyment of sport. Over two days, the 16 players, all under the age of 13 and from all corners of the world, did their best to qualify for the final on Saturday morning.

A press conference was held in the Tennis Museum at Roland Garros to wind up the Longines Future Tennis Aces Tournament Roland Garros 2012, with the presence of Walter von Känel, President of Longines, Graf, Lisicki, Florence Ollivier-Lamarque, General Director Swatch Group France, Gilbert Ysern, General Director of the French Tennis Federation and Director of the French Open and Nelson Montfort.

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