Randy Walker

communications and media specialist, tennis historian and investor in TennisGrandstand, LLC. He worked for 12 years in the USTA’s Marketing and Communications Division where he coordinated media activities at 13 US Opens, 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties and for three U.S. Olympic teams. He is also the Managing Partner for New Chapter Press Media and the author of the book On This Day In Tennis History.

A Look At The “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest tennis players of the current generation, but his best performances have always been on the clay court, with the French Open at Roland Garros being his tournament.

With a record 11 French Open titles to his name, Nadal is undoubtedly the “King of Clay”, and he could potentially add to his record this year when the French Open returns.

Nadal has been named as the favourite for this year’s title, with the odds being found here – https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/tennis/competition/11948682 – but could this just be start of a great season for the Spaniard?

His first Grand Slam title came in 2005 at the French Open, where Nadal didn’t drop a single set until his fourth-round match against Sébastien Grosjean. He eventually defeated his French opponent 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 to claim a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.

At the quarter-final stage, he met fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, but returned to his dominant form, winning in straight sets 7-5, 6-2, 6-0 to set up a tantalising semi-final match against an already-established Roger Federer.
His Swiss rival was always likely to prove to be his toughest test, and so it proved, as Nadal wasn’t quite so dominant in the match. Regardless, he managed to win in four sets, defeating Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. 6-3, to reach the first singles final of his professional career.

He met Argentine Mariano Puerta in the final, and lost the first set via a tie break. He hit back to comfortably win the second and third sets 6-3 and 6-1 respectively before Puerta put in an attempt at a comeback and forced Nadal to win by seven games to five in the fourth set.

Victory in the final not only gave Nadal his first taste of success, but also showed the world that he was one to watch out for. Not once during the tournament was he taken to five sets, and ever since then, he has only been taken to five sets twice at the French Open – in 2011 against John Isner and 2013 against Novak Djokovic.

Until 2012, the record for the most French Open titles belonged to Björn Borg, one of the greatest players to have ever played in the Open Era. Between 1974 and 1981, Borg won six French Open titles, which Nadal surpassed in 2012 with his seventh.

During his historic 2012 victory, he lost just one set in the seven matches he played. From the first round until victory in the semi-final, he defeated every opponent in straight sets. It was only in the final that he final dropped a set. Novak Djokovic was the man to prevent him from having a clean sweep in the French Open, winning the third set 6-2.

Two years later and Nadal won his ninth French Open, which meant that he broke the record which included the French Championships, which were part of the Amateur Era. Max Decugis won eight French Championships prior to 1968 and looking at Nadal’s current record of 11, it’s hard to see anyone surpassing that number any time soon.

Wobbly Nadal, Resurgent Djokovic, Stranger Federer Ready For Intriguing Italian Championships

The Internazionali BNL d’Italia, or the Italian Championships in Rome, is the fifth ATP Masters 1000 event of the year and the last big test before the start of the French Open, the second major championship of the year. This year’s tournament is full of intrigue that will provide for many dramatic moments.

Perhaps the biggest surprise and question mark leading into the event is the form of Rafael Nadal. The “King of Clay” and eight-time tournament winner is in the worst clay-court slump of his career, winning only nine matches on his favorite dirt surface so for this season and had not even reached a final in his three previous clay-court events. He lost to Fabio Fognini handily in the semifinals of Monte Carlo, in straight sets again in the semifinals of the Barcelona Open and to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Is this spurt of mediocre play an indication that the soon-to-be 33-year-old Nadal is finally starting to wear down and perhaps may be closer to retirement than we think or will the Mallorcan channel his frustration and anger at poor results by his lofty standards that will he win for a ninth time in Rome and again later in Paris for a 12th time?
Last year, Nadal also wobbled into Rome, following a quarterfinal loss to Thiem in Madrid, but recovered to win his eighth title in Rome, beating defending champion Alexander Zverev in the final.

This will be his 15th consecutive appearance in Rome and he comes in with a 56-6 career record (8-2 in finals). He has advanced to the quarterfinals or better in 13 of his previous 14 visits to the Italian capital. Nadal will attempt to become the first player on the ATP Tour this year to defend a title from last season.

The Rome field features 17 of the top 20 players including former champions Nadal, an eight-time winner, Novak Djokovic, a four-time champion, and 2017 winner Alexander Zverev. These three account for 13 of the past 14 titles. Djokovic, fresh off his important win in Madrid, is aiming to hoist the Rome trophy for the first time since 2015, after losses in the final in 2016 (to Andy Murray) and 2017 (to Zverev), and a semifinal loss to Nadal last year. Last Monday started the 250th week the Serb was at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

The most intriguing entry in the Rome field this year is Roger Federer, who is making his first appearance at the event since 2016. It is one of the very few events in his career that he has not won. His last showing in Rome was a third-round loss to Dominic Thiem on May 12, 2016. That loss to Thiem was the Swiss star’s last clay-court match at any event until he played in Madrid this past week, where he reached the quarterfinals before falling to Thiem once again.

After his win on Monte Carlo, top Italian Fognini is on the verge of cracking the top 10 and is a legitimate contender for his home nation’s title. Fognini, however, is only 10-11 lifetime in Rome, with last year’s quarterfinal as his best result. The last Italian in the ATP Rankings Top 10 was Corrado Barrazzutti on January 22 1979 and Fognini would have to likely better his quarterfinal result to jump into the top 10. The last home country player to win the most prestigious title in Italy was Adriano Panatta in 1976.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece comes into Rome as the ATP Tour match wins leader, earning his 27th win of the season with his semifinal victory over Nadal at Madrid. Tsitsipas was ranked No. 43 at Rome in 2018, and had to qualify for last year’s main draw. His win in Portugal on the clay earlier this season and his final-round effort in Madrid make him a tennis betting contender for the title in Rome and later this year in Paris.

Dmitry Popko, Italian Duo Frigerio and Virgili Crowned Mardy Fish Vero Beach Champions For 2019

Despite some afternoon rain showers delaying play for five of the seven days of play, the 2019 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships concluded on time early Sunday evening after Italians Lorenzo Frigerio and Adelchi Virgili won the doubles title, defeating top-seeds Boris Arias of the Bolivian Davis Cup team and Sekou Bangoura of Bradenton, Fla., 6-4, 6-3 in the final.

Earlier Sunday, Dmitry Popko of Kazakhstan was crowned the singles champion of this 25-year annual Vero Beach tennis tradition, a $25,000 event on the ITF World Tennis Tour, defeating Bangoura 6-1, 7-6 (1) in the singles final. Popko, the No. 8 seed and a member of Kazakhstan’s Davis Cup team, was dominant this week in Vero Beach, putting on a dazzling display of shot-making for the scores of enthusiastic spectators and volunteers and won his seventh ITF event this year, a $3,600 payday, and more significantly, three ATP ranking points.

“This one means a lot because it’s a $25,000 event and also gave me three ATP points and put me in the Top 10 of the ITF rankings,’’ said Popko, 22, ranked 12th before the tournament and just 608th in the ATP, down from a career-high of 178 in 2017. “Now I can play Challenger level tournaments and hopefully I’m going to earn as many ATP points as I can and then see where it’s going to bring me.’’

Popko cancelled his plans to play in next week’s Pensacola ITF stop because he has been accepted into a more prestigious ATP Challenger tournament in Shymkent, located in his adopted Kazakhstan. He sped to the airport to fly half way around the world immediately following the singles final Sunday.

This year Popko has won three ITF tournaments in Turkey and four in Florida, including Naples, Sunrise, Orange Park and Vero Beach. He has won his last three ITF tournaments while winning 15 consecutive matches and 31 of his last 33.

“I’m hungrier now and enjoying the wins,’’ Popko said.

Just as hungry was his opponent, as Bangoura got to No. 213 in 2016, but has since dropped to 400. His ITF ranking of 30th will surely improve after his second final of the year, along with a title in Naples. He was forced to play twice on Sunday because his semifinal against Diego Hidalgo of Ecuador was stopped on Saturday with Bangoura trailing 7-5, 5-3.

Early Sunday morning, Bangoura staved off a match point before capping off his comeback victory, 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-1. A few hours later, he was getting hammered by Popko’s titanic forehands and pinpoint two-hand backhand, quickly dropping the first set 6-1.

Bangoura, 27, an accomplished chess player, used his analytical skills on a different squared surface, and began attacking the net, pressuring Popko to come up with the passing shot. Suddenly, the match flip-flopped and Bangoura jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second set.

“He started to come in more and kind of broke my rhythm,’’ said Popko, who was only truly tested this week in his second-round, three-set victory over young Colombian, Nicolas Mejia. “He adjusted it by himself and made me uncomfortable. I was down 2-5 and had to fight back. I picked up my level and that’s how I went up 6-5.’’

However, Bangoura, again living on the edge, saved two match points and broke Popko’s serve to force a tiebreaker. It was there Bangoura ran out of fuel as Popko, perhaps buoyed by his 45-6 match record this year, reeled off six consecutive points in the tiebreaker before finishing off his fleet-footed opponent with a wicked crosscourt forehand passing shot. Checkmate.

“The tiebreaker was a game of nerves and I think I played better because it had a 1-0 [set lead],’’ Popko said.

Perhaps the most illustrious player to have won this event was Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who was ranked No. 513 in 2013 when he took the title. Last year Edmund reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and was ranked a career-high No. 14. Why not Popko?

The USTA reports that ITF events such as the Mardy Fish ITF championships can bring in approximately $500,000 to the local economy and several thousand more for the foundation’s charities, which are geared to getting children involved in healthy activities.

“This tournament didn’t feel like an ITF, it felt like a much bigger tournament because of the great atmosphere,’’ Popko said. “More than 50 people came up to me after to congratulate me.’’

The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships is regarded as one of the best entry-level professional tennis tournaments in the world. Proceeds from the event benefit the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, the former top 10 tennis star and the current U.S. Davis Cup captain. Fans can continue to follow news and developments on the tournament on Facebook and on Twitter at @VeroFutures. Future sponsorship and ticket information can be obtained by emailing Tom Fish at [email protected] or Randy Walker at [email protected] Approximately 3,000 fans annually attend the event, which is seen as one of the best-attended entry-level professional events in the world.

Some of the past competitors at the USTA Vero Beach Futures have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007, competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and most recently world No. 50 player and teen sensation Denis Shapovalov, who played in Vero Beach in 2016. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Seven former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young, Ryan Harrison and Frances Tiafoe.

Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishChildrensFoundation.org and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,200 children in 15 elementary schools, six middle schools and two after school centers in Indian River County, Florida by funding after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.

Tournament sponsors for 2019 include Presenting Sponsor PNC Bank, Grand Slam Sponsors Boston Barricade, George E. Warren Corporation and the Jake Owen Foundation, Cabana/Box Seat Sponsors John’s Island Real Estate, John Klein, Gene Simonsen, TeamChristopher.com, Dan Holman, Hadleigh Investments, Pene Chambers / Lynn Southerly, Lace and Bob Milligan / Mickey and Rob Stein, William Barhorst, CPA, Michael and Kathleen Pierce, The Pitcher Family, Shirley Becker, Scoreboard Sponsor Fit for Life / Syde Hurdus Foundation Backhand Sponsors Vero Beach Magazine, Rossway Swan, Nalzaro Music, Coastal Van Lines, Diamond Resorts International, Forehand Sponsors Karen and Steve Rubin, Mike and Meg Hickey / Premier Estate Properties, Shaklee / Suzie Sunkel, Indian River Animal Hospital – Charles B. Johnson, DVM, Marjorie Johnson, DVM, MS, DAVP, Serve Sponsors Cravings, Bistro Fourchette, Willem and Marion DeVogel, Foglia Custom Homes Topspin Sponsors Alex MacWilliam Real Estate, Eternal Water, Kit Fields Realtor, Patrick Williams / Tom Collins Insurance, Riverside Café, MinuteMan Press, Center Court Tennis Outfitters, Drop Shot Sponsors Treasure Coast Financial Planning, Inc., Peter and Judith Saidel, Deb Benjamin, Paul & Linda Delaney, Stewart Dunn, Susan Flannery (Aluma Tower), Tom Flannery (Malesardi, Quackenbush, Swift and Company LLC, Jim & Suzi Keegan, Don Moyle, Dee Patberg, Fran Smyrk (Treasure Coast Sotheby’s), Gary & Beth Williams, ABCO Garage Door Company, Inc., Barker Air Conditioning & Heating, Busy Bee Lawn & Garden Center, Coastal Comforts at the Village Shops, Colton, Williams & Reamy, CPAs, Complete Electric, Inc., Complete Restaurant Equipment, LLC, Glacier Clear Pool Service, Jack’s Complete Tree Service, Inc., Jimmy’s Tree Services, Ken’s Pool Service, ML Engineering, Inc., Nozzle Nolen, Inc., O’Haire, Quinn, Casalino, Chartered, Rich Look Lawn Care, Rick’s Custom Care, Statewide Condominium Insurance, Steve Supplee Construction LLC, Summit Construction of Vero Beach, LLC, Sunshine Furniture, White Glove Moving & Storage and Wilco Construction, Inc.

Tommy Haas Win Invesco Series QQQ Title In Hawaii

MAUI, Hawaii – Tommy Haas defeated Mardy Fish 6-4 Sunday to win the Hawaii Champions Cup at the Royal Lahaina Resort, the fourth of ten events on the 2019 Invesco Series QQQ tennis circuit.

Haas, 41, successfully defended his title that he won last year when he beat John McEnroe in the final on the Kohala Coast. In his second year on this North American tennis tour for champion tennis players over the age of 30, Haas has now captured four career titles.

“I’m very happy with the way I played,” said Haas of winning for a second time in Hawaii. “It’s always tough to play against someone as tough as Mardy whom you could see was very serious once again out there today. We had quite a few battles on the regular tour and now on the Invesco Series. I have fun playing him every single time and I have to always bring my best to beat him.”

The players had to deal with gusty Hawaiian winds Sunday afternoon, causing the players to adjust balls tosses, spins and shot velocities.

“You have to move your feet a little better and you have to keep your eye on the ball a little more,” said Haas of the windy conditions. “For us tennis players, we are adjusting pretty much every week. We go to different cities, we go to difference countries, play on difference surfaces. We have many excuses but at the same time we find many different solutions. That’s really what is all about, problem solving out here.”

En route to the final, Haas beat Mark Philippoussis 6-2 while Fish defeated Michael Chang 6-3. The win moves Haas into the lead in the Invesco Series QQQ rankings with 800 points afte tournament victories in both of his 2019 appearances.

The 2019 Invesco Series QQQ circuit continues July 21 with the Invesco Legends Newport at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Earlier this season, Haas kicked off the 2019 Invesco Series QQQ circuit by defeating Roddick 7-6 (2) in the title match at the Oracle Champions Cup in Newport Beach, California. James Blake won the second event of the season at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., defeating Courier 6-3 in the final. Lleyton Hewitt won the third title of the season in Charleston, S.C.

The remaining 2019 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

Newport, RI – July 21 (International Tennis Hall of Fame): Todd Martin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander
San Jose, CA – August 3: James Blake, Andy Roddick, Mark Philippoussis, Michael Chang
New Haven, CT – September 7 (Venue and Players TBA)
Toronto, ON – September 26 (Mattamy Athletic Centre): Players TBA
Los Angeles, CA – Date and Venue TBA: Players TBA
Austin, TX – November 15: Venue and Players TBA

In 2018, Blake won his first Invesco Series QQQ year-long points championship by winning titles in Winston-Salem, New Haven and Houston, while also finishing as runner-up in Los Angeles and Orlando.

In 2017, the year-long points championship was decided in the final match of the season when Andy Roddick defeated James Blake in the Los Angeles final at the Sherwood Country Club. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and world No. 1, won four Invesco Series QQQ titles in all in 2017, winning in Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Lincoln, Neb., and Los Angeles. Blake, the former world No. 4 and former U.S. Davis Cup star, won series titles in Charleston, S.C., Winston-Salem, N.C. and in Lynchburg, Va.

In 2016, Mark Philippoussis won the Series points title with 1600 points and tournament titles in Memphis, Tulsa, Newport, Winston-Salem and New Haven. Roddick finished in second place, also earning 1600 points but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Philippoussis 5-2, while winning titles in Charleston, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Orlando. Blake finished in third place with 1100 points and tournament titles in Chicago, Portland and Brooklyn.
In 2015, Roddick won the Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Invesco Series QQQ tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $5 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or InvescoSeries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA
Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, pleasevisithorizonmedia.com.

ABOUT INVESCO
Invesco Ltd. is an independent investment management firm dedicated to delivering an investment experience that helps people get more out of life. NYSE: IVZ; Invesco.com, Invesco Distributors, Inc. is the US distributor for Invesco Ltd. and is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Invesco Ltd.”

Turin, Italy To Be New Home For ATP Finals From 2021-2025

Turin, Italy, has been selected to host the ATP Finals from 2021-2025, the ATP Tour has announced. The five-year agreement will see the world’s greatest players in men’s professional tennis compete for the biggest indoor tennis title in the world at Turin’s Pala Alpitour stadium, Italy’s largest indoor sporting arena.

The winning Turin bid was put together by the Italian Tennis Federation and Sport e Salute SpA in partnership with the Italian Government, the municipality of Turin and Regione Piemonte. The move to Turin brings the ATP Finals to Italy for the first time in its 50-year history and makes Turin the 15th city to host the prestigious season-ending tournament since its inception in 1970.

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President, said: “Our congratulations to Turin on putting together such a comprehensive and impressive bid. Italy provides us with one of the strongest and most established tennis markets in Europe and has a proven track record for hosting world class tennis events with the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, as well as the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. We’re delighted to expand on our successful partnership with the FIT and Sport e Salute SpA and we look forward to bringing the ATP’s flagship season-ending event to tennis’s growing fanbase in Italy for the first time.

“The success of the ATP Finals is critical to the health of the ATP and we believe that Turin has all the ingredients to take the event to new heights and to continue the tournament’s growth following a highly successful 12-year stint in London that will come to an end in 2020. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our event partners in London, particularly AEG, and all the fans that have made the tournament such a success at The O2 since 2009.”

Novak Djokovic, World No.1 and President of the ATP Player Council, said: “The ATP Finals is the biggest and most prestigious event that we have at the ATP. It’s a tournament that has historically moved around and so I’m very excited to see it move to Turin from 2021. It’s still a few years away but I know that the players will be very excited to compete there, and I also hope to be part of what will be a very special event.”

Chiara Appendino, Mayor of Turin, said: “We are extremely proud that Turin has been chosen to host the ATP Finals 2021-2025 as sport has long been a significant part of the history and the culture of our city. As a City we will come together to harness the knowhow of a vast range of local experts in organizing international sporting events and we are confident that our unique combination of passion and experience will deliver opportunities to appreciate this exhilarating sport in sustainable and innovative ways. Turin looks forward to building a truly spectacular event for players and fans the world over!”

Angelo Binaghi, President of the Italian Tennis Federation, said: “The assignment of the great task to organize the ATP Finals in Turin from 2021 to 2025 represents a remarkable international success of our country. Our project has proved to be extremely successful thanks to the great work carried out together with the Italian Government and the local authorities. A team work which I am sure will live up to the wonderful tradition of the end-of-season historical Masters, and offer a very brilliant future”.

The unique season-ending tournament, featuring only the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams of the season, will boast a record prize purse of US$14,500,000 in 2021.

Turin was the first capital city of Italy from 1861 to 1865. The city has hosted some of the world’s biggest sporting events, such as the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, and is also home to two Serie A football teams, Juventus FC and Torino FC. The ATP’s decision brings to a close an extensive international bid process that began in August 2018 in which more than 40 cities worldwide expressed an interest in hosting the ATP season finale.

An official presentation with representatives from ATP, FIT, Italian government and City of Torino will take place in Turin on Monday 29th April at 12:30PM at Palazzo Madama, Piazza Castello.

ATP Promotions Work To Connect With Pop Culture

by Sharada Rajagopalan

Both on the men’s and women’s side of the game, tennis action has been gung-ho on the professional front. The first quarter of the season featuring hard-court action have made a segue to the naturally-occurring clay, both of the red, and as seen in Charleston, of the green variety.

On-court action, however, has not been the sole determiner of discussions about the twists and turns of the circuit. Most specifically, this aspect pertains to the men’s side of the game with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) trying to slot in pop-culture references to bookmark the winding of the season on social media, especially on Twitter.

The results of this initiative remain mixed. The picture the ATP created – and used – to talk about the clay season, which borrowed from the Netflix series Stranger Things brought out tennis fandom en masse. What started off as an innocuous shout out seemed to take a cacophonous turn as Rafael Nadal’s fans objected to the marginalised depiction of their favourite in the picture. Which, thus, forced the ATP to pull it down – delete the tweet – and come up with another picture with the size of the players in the image and their positions visibly altered to soothe and placate the ones who were miffed.

On the other hand, even with this episode not having died down entirely, the ATP came up with another gimmicky creation. This time, of using Game of Thrones as a metaphor for the fight for the year-end top-spot of the men’s singles rankings. There was one picture of Novak Djokovic released as a White Walker/Night King, followed by a depiction of the current top-nine players in the ATP rankings as White Walkers, and a video of GoT’s introductory theme song feat featuring the players, each with a sigil of a House from the Thrones’ saga.

The last bit of creative adaption was undoubtedly fun. Even more so when considered the careful planning that had gone in trying to match each player with the right kind of sigil. Like it was the case for Rafael Nadal who was matched with the Dorne sigil – signifying the Dornish kingdom which was known for its desert, dryness and, sand, with its people’s mettle remaining unbent even at the peak of Aegon Targaryen’s conquest, based on inferences drawn from George RR Martin’s work.

Making use of these TV shows – particularly when it comes to GoT – as a point of correlation forms a good marketing policy not only for the sport which can be perceived as stodgy sometimes but also for the series, too. At the same time, it is not without its pitfalls.

Conceived as ideation of harmless fun, such pick-me-ups become an unnecessary point of conflict with fans taking umbrage as seen in the Stranger Things’ illustration. Removing it and reposting it with alterations, then, only accentuates the unpalatability of what went wrong instead of side-lining it. As yet, there do not seem to be any fall-outs from the ATP’s eager and feverish appropriation of Thrones but that could also be because there are many who do not watch the show – just as there were those who did not understand the hullaballoo about Stranger Things – and therefore, are outliers to the significance of this analogising. Or even if they watch the shows, do not care about them much to be affected by these trivialities.

This, then, is the biggest shortcoming of such social media engagement tactics. That they are niche even as they are fleeting in relevance, unlike the series upon which they are based. That is, while the concept has resonated among a certain section of fans, it would not make much sense even a few months down the line. For one, given the quicksilver-like change in cultural preferences among audiences. Secondly, because some of the players featured here may not even be a part of the race as the year progresses further. Thereby not only restricting the scope of such inventiveness but also giving it an unwanted frivolity.

Does Tennis Feature in the Online Casino Scene?

While tennis may be a hot sport for fans all across the world, we wonder if the sport does indeed feature in the online casino gaming scene. We have noticed a spike in online casino gaming and the main attraction for sporting fans is the live online sports betting category which has been gaining the attention of high stakes punters on some of the biggest sporting events in all of the world. Tennis, not much like football, has been rumoured to be a popular sport amongst online sports bettors, but we wanted to see if tennis did in fact feature in the online casino scene and if so what does this mean for fans and is there a market for wagering on tennis games? We take a look into the world of tennis and find out if it does indeed feature in the online casino gaming scene.

Tennis and Live Casino Betting

Some of the most important sports games are aired, viewed and bet on at online bookie sites. These same sites are home to numerous casino games and lotteries. When it comes to matches of football, ice hockey, basketball and baseball we already know that live sports betting sites open these matches for bets. But are tennis matches aired also?

Surprisingly enough, tennis is in fact one of the more popular sports to place in play bets on. Right next to golf the sport has been capturing the attention of punters since before online gambling became a thing. It wasn’t until recently that online sports books were allowed to operate in certain states, let alone any countries. Now, thanks to modern laws and the evolution of gaming and gambling laws, we are able to not only bet on some of the biggest tennis matches, but we are also able to watch these matches from live sports betting sites. The best sports betting odds are available to you through these sports books, so be sure to check them out.
Tennis and Video Slots Games

Another genre of casino gaming has been video slots which grace both the online and land based casino gaming industry. Video slots are one of the biggest casino attractions as they offer an amazing amount of highly interactive entertainment which can be enjoyed in so many various themes. One of the more popular sporting themes is indeed tennis!

Playtech, one of the online industry’s biggest gaming software developers, has in fact created an alluring tennis themed video slots game which has been a hit since its release in 2011. Now almost a decade later and online casino games are in fact being released based on our most loved and adored sport.

Tennis has to be one of the best sports around and thankfully the casino industry has taken note and made it possible for us fans to enjoy the best matches, make some money off of them and enjoy casino gaming in our spare time. Tennis does indeed feature in the online casino scene.

Nadal vs. Djokovic – Arguably The Greatest Rivalry In Tennis History

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have, arguably, the greatest rivalry in the history of tennis.

No two men have faced each other more in pro tennis than these two tennis titans.

Their meeting in the final of the 2019 Australian Open was their 53rd career professional match, with Djokovic holding the slight lead 28-25 in the head-to-head. These two legends have played in Grand Slam quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, at ATP Masters 1000 Series events, ATP 500 level events, the Olympics and in Davis Cup. Look at their complete head-to-head analysis, it’s amazing.

In Grand Slam events, the biggest stage in the tennis betting world, Nadal holds the head-to-head edge nine wins against six losses to Djokovic. Nadal won six of these Grand Slam confrontations on the clay at the French Open, although Djokovic did hand Nadal one of his two career Roland Garros losses in the quarterfinals of the event in 2015. Their first career meeting came at the 2006 French Open in the quarterfinals, Nadal winning by a 6-4, 6-4, retire scoreline as Djokovic was forced to quit with a back injury.

On hard courts at Grand Slams, Djokovic’s decisive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win in the 2019 Australian Open final gave him a 3-2 head-to-head advantage. Nadal won his two Grand Slam hard court matches with Djokovic at the US Open – in the 2013 final by a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 margin and also in the 2010 final by a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 margin. Djokovic won the 2011 U.S. Open final over Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 and also in the epic 2013 Australian Open final by a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in what tennis historian and “Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book author Steve Flink named the No. 7 match in the history of the sport.

Lleyton Hewitt Wins Invesco Series QQQ Title In Charleston

It’s been two events and two victories for Lleyton Hewitt in his Invesco Series QQQ career. The former world No. 1, Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion and still part-time doubles specialist on the ATP Tour won his second career title on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30 Saturday night defeating Andy Roddick 6-2 in the one-set title match to win the Invesco Legends Charleston, played in conjunction with the WTA Tour’s Volvo Car Open.

Hewitt, 38, made his Invesco Series QQQ debut last July in Newport, R.I. on the grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame defeating James Blake in the semifinals and Tommy Haas in the final. Saturday night on clay in Charleston, Hewitt remained undefeated on the Series by dominating with his grinding baseline game that earned him 30 career ATP singles titles.

Hewitt and Roddick played 14 times during their ATP Tour career, each player winning seven matches and Hewitt was able to move ahead in the bragging rights department with his victory in their first Invesco Series meeting. Roddick joked that he was not looking forward to playing Hewitt in the final saying “I know Lleyton plays like 40 weeks a year” and remembering their hard-fought slug-fest matches from their ATP days, including a memorable five-set quarterfinal night match in 2001, won by Hewitt en route to winning his first major title. Hewitt played his last career ATP singles match at the 2016 Australian Open, losing in the second round to David Ferrer. He played nine doubles events in 2018, along with his one Invesco Series appearance, and so far in 2019 he has played four events. While serving as Australia’s Davis Cup captain, he has managed to earn an ATP doubles ranking of No. 228.

Roddick is playing his sixth season on the Invesco Series after retiring from the ATP Tour in 2012 and was seeking his 18th career title on Series and his first since beating James Blake in the title match in Los Angeles in October of 2017. Saturday marked the second straight year that Roddick lost in the Charleston final. In 2018, he was defeated by Tommy Haas 6-1 in the title match.

En route to the final, Hewitt beat 54-year-old Mats Wilander 6-3 while Roddick beat 48-year-old Jim Courier 6-4. Hewitt said he grew up idolizing Wilander, who won his first major title at the French Open at 17 years old in 1982 when Hewitt was one year old. “This was the first time we ever hit balls together so it was a lot of fun,” said Hewitt. Roddick’s win over Courier moved him to a perfect 7-0 against the two-time French and Australian Open champion on the Invesco Series. Quipped Roddick of the win, “I got a little lucky. I’m just not that good anymore.”

The Invesco Series QQQ circuit continues Sunday, May 5 in Maui at the Royal Lahaina Resort at the Hawaii Champions Cup with John McEnroe, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas and Michael Chang in the field Earlier this season, Tommy Haas kicked off the 2019 Invesco Series QQQ circuit in January by defeating Roddick 7-6 (2) in the title match at the Oracle Champions Cup in Newport Beach, California. James Blake won the second event of the season on Thursday at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., defeating Courier 6-3 in the final. Through three events so far in 2019, there is a four-way tie for the top spot in the year-long Invesco Series QQQ points rankings with Haas, Blake, Hewitt and Roddick all having 400 points.

The remaining 2019 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

Maui, HI – May 5 (Royal Lahaina Resort): John McEnroe, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas, Michael Chang

Newport, RI – July 21 (International Tennis Hall of Fame): Todd Martin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander

Boston, MA – September 7 (Venue and Players TBA)

Toronto, ON – September 26 (Mattamy Athletic Centre): Players TBA

Orlando, FL – Date and Venue TBA: Players TBA

Los Angeles, CA – Date and Venue TBA: Players TBA

Austin, TX – November 15: Venue and Players TBA

In 2018, Blake won his first Invesco Series QQQ year-long points championship by winning titles in Winston-Salem, New Haven and Houston, while also finishing as runner-up in Los Angeles and Orlando.

In 2017, the year-long points championship was decided in the final match of the season when Andy Roddick defeated James Blake in the Los Angeles final at the Sherwood Country Club. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and world No. 1, won four Invesco Series QQQ titles in all in 2017, winning in Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Lincoln, Neb., and Los Angeles. Blake, the former world No. 4 and former U.S. Davis Cup star, won series titles in Charleston, S.C., Winston-Salem, N.C. and in Lynchburg, Va.

In 2016, Mark Philippoussis won the Series points title with 1600 points and tournament titles in Memphis, Tulsa, Newport, Winston-Salem and New Haven. Roddick finished in second place, also earning 1600 points but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Philippoussis 5-2, while winning titles in Charleston, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Orlando. Blake finished in third place with 1100 points and tournament titles in Chicago, Portland and Brooklyn.

In 2015, Roddick won the Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Invesco Series QQQ tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $5 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or InvescoSeries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA
Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, pleasevisithorizonmedia.com.

ABOUT INVESCO
Invesco Ltd. is an independent investment management firm dedicated to delivering an investment experience that helps people get more out of life. NYSE: IVZ; Invesco.com, Invesco Distributors, Inc. is the US distributor for Invesco Ltd. and is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Invesco Ltd.”

Fresh Off Running The Miami Open, James Blake Wins Invesco Series QQQ Title In Palm Harbor, Florida

Just four days after presiding over the final day of the Miami Open tennis championships as the event’s tournament director, James Blake quickly made the transition from tennis administrator to tennis player.

Blake defeated Jim Courier 6-3 in the one-set final Thursday to win the ADT Champions Classic at the Innisbrook Resort, the second of ten events on the 2019 Invesco Series QQQ tennis circuit. The win was the 14th career title for Blake on the Invesco Series, the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. Blake joined the circuit in 2014, just five months after retiring from the ATP Tour at the 2013 U.S. Open.

Blake, 39, is coming off his second year as the tournament director for the Miami Open, one of the biggest events in tennis played for the first time this year in Hard Rock Stadium. After presiding over the men’s final trophy ceremony featuring the champion Roger Federer and the runner-up John Isner, Blake traveled 300 miles north to the Innisbrook Resort just north of Tampa to resume another of this professions as a competitor on the Invesco Series. The former world No. 4 and member of the 2007 winning U.S. Davis Cup team is coming off his most successful season of champions tennis having won the year-long points championship last season, capturing titles in Winston-Salem, New Haven and Houston, while also finishing as the runner-up in Los Angeles and Orlando.

Courier, 48, was playing in his first Invesco Series event of 2019, his 14th career season on the champions tennis tour he co-founded in 2005. The former two-time French and Australian Open champion was playing just 50 miles from his childhood home of Dade City, Florida and on the 20th anniversary of perhaps his most famous Davis Cup match victory, defeating Greg Rusedski 8-6 in the fifth set to clinch the U.S. 3-2 win over Great Britain in Birmingham, England in the final year of his Hall of Fame career.

En route to the final at Innisbrook, Blake defeated his good friend and U.S. Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish 6-3 while Courier defeated 60-year-old John McEnroe 7-6 (4).

The Invesco Series QQQ circuit continues Saturday in Charleston, S.C. at the Volvo Car Open with Courier, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Mats Wilander in the field. Tommy Haas kicked off the 2019 Invesco Series QQQ circuit in January by defeating Roddick 7-6 (2) in the title match at the Oracle Champions Cup in Newport Beach, California.

The remaining 2019 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

Charleston, SC –April 6 (Volvo Car Open): Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander

Maui, HI – May 5 (Royal Lahaina Resort): John McEnroe, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas, Michael Chang

Newport, RI – July 21 (International Tennis Hall of Fame): Todd Martin, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander

Boston, MA – September 7 (Venue and Players TBA)

Toronto, ON – September 26 (Mattamy Athletic Centre): Players TBA

Orlando, FL – Date and Venue TBA: Players TBA

Los Angeles, CA – Date and Venue TBA: Players TBA

Austin, TX – November 15: Venue and Players TBA

In 2018, Blake won his first Invesco Series QQQ year-long points championship by winning titles in Winston-Salem, New Haven and Houston, while also finishing as runner-up in Los Angeles and Orlando.

In 2017, the year-long points championship was decided in the final match of the season when Andy Roddick defeated James Blake in the Los Angeles final at the Sherwood Country Club. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and world No. 1, won four Invesco Series QQQ titles in all in 2017, winning in Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Lincoln, Neb., and Los Angeles. Blake, the former world No. 4 and former U.S. Davis Cup star, won series titles in Charleston, S.C., Winston-Salem, N.C. and in Lynchburg, Va.

In 2016, Mark Philippoussis won the Series points title with 1600 points and tournament titles in Memphis, Tulsa, Newport, Winston-Salem and New Haven. Roddick finished in second place, also earning 1600 points but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Philippoussis 5-2, while winning titles in Charleston, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Orlando. Blake finished in third place with 1100 points and tournament titles in Chicago, Portland and Brooklyn.

In 2015, Roddick won the Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Invesco Series QQQ tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $5 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or InvescoSeries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA
Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, pleasevisithorizonmedia.com.

ABOUT INVESCO
Invesco Ltd. is an independent investment management firm dedicated to delivering an investment experience that helps people get more out of life. NYSE: IVZ; Invesco.com, Invesco Distributors, Inc. is the US distributor for Invesco Ltd. and is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Invesco Ltd.”