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Kim Clijsters To Make WTA Tour Comeback At Age 36

The WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) announced that former World No.1 Kim Clijsters, winner of 41 career singles titles including four Grand Slams and three season-ending WTA Finals, is in training with plans to compete on the professional tennis tour in 2020.

Clijsters, who played the first professional matches of her career on the ITF Circuit in 1997 and made her WTA debut age 15 at Antwerp in 1999, was 29 years old when she played her last competitive matches at the US Open in 2012. Now 36, the Belgian eyes her return to the tennis circuit as a mother of three – daughter Jada was born in February 2008, followed by sons Jack (2013) and Blake (2016). She is also a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, having been inducted in the Class of 2017.

“Kim Clijsters ranks among the greats of the game and her return to the Tour is exciting news for the WTA family and tennis fans around the world,” said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life – and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women’s tennis. I wish Kim all the best in this next chapter of her playing career.”

Clijsters’ ‘first career’ was highlighted by two victories at the WTA Finals (2002-03), 19 non-consecutive weeks as World No.1 on the WTA Rankings (first attained on August 11, 2003 for 10 weeks), and a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open. That triumph at Flushing Meadows came after four runner-up finishes at Slams: Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003, the US Open in 2003 and the Australian Open in 2004.

She stepped away from tennis in May 2007, marrying Brian Lynch shortly after and giving birth to a daughter, Jada, the following year. But in July 2009, after 26 months away from the tour, she launched a famous comeback that began with a run to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Then, in just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980. She defended the Flushing Meadows crown in 2010, before going on to capture a third WTA Finals title at Doha and win the 2011 Australian Open. Her victory in Melbourne helped Clijsters return to No.1 for a 20th career week in February 2011 – the only mother to hold the top spot since computer rankings began in November 1975.

Her last singles match was against Laura Robson in the second round at the 2012 US Open, which she lost in two tie-break sets. This was followed by a first round doubles exit partnering with fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and finally, a second round appearance with Bob Bryan in the mixed doubles.

With 41 singles titles (41-19 record in finals), Clijsters still places third among active players, behind Serena Williams (72 titles) and Venus Williams (49) – and 14th on the Open Era list. She reached at least the semifinals on 16 of her 35 Grand Slam appearances and also shone in doubles, winning 2003 Roland Garros and Wimbledon (both with Ai Sugiyama) among 11 titles and spending 4 weeks at No.1. She remains one of just six women to simultaneously hold the top spot in both singles and doubles.

In addition to being a fan favorite, Clijsters won the WTA’s Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award in 2010 and the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award a record eight times – both accolades decided by peer vote. She was named Most Impressive Newcomer by international media in 1999; Comeback Player of the Year in 2005 and 2009; and Player of the Year in 2005 and 2010. In recent years she served as a Legend Ambassador for the WTA Finals in Singapore.

As a former World No.1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wildcards at WTA tournaments. She will need play three tournaments or earn 10 ranking points to re-establish a ranking.

Rafael Nadal Beats Daniil Medvedev In Third-Longest U.S. Open Final

Rafael Nadal overcame a near comeback for the ages from first-time major finalist Daniil Medvedev to claim his fourth US Open title and 19th career major title on a night of high drama on Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.

Taken to a fifth set after leading by a break in the third, Nadal held on for a 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4 victory in four hours and 49 minutes, the third-longest men’s final ever at the U.S. Open, just five minutes shy of the longest U.S. Open final in history. Both the 2012 final where Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic and the 1988 final where Mats Wilander beat Ivan Lendl lasted longer, each at four hours, 54 minutes.

The Spaniard broke down in tears shortly before the trophy ceremony as the screens around Arthur Ashe Stadium paid tribute to his 19 major titles, just one shy of Roger Federer’s 20, the current men’s singles record haul.

“This victory is so important for me, especially as the match became more and more difficult,” Nadal said during the trophy presentation. “I was able to hold the nerves. They were so high. It was a crazy match and I’m just very emotional.

“It was an amazing final. Daniil is only 23 years old, and the way he was able to fight and change the rhythm of the match was amazing. He will have many more opportunities like this.”

Nadal led Medvedev by two sets and a break and was seemingly on course for a second straight-set victory over the Russian in a month, having cruised to the Rogers Cup title in Montreal in their first encounter for the loss of just three games.

But even at that stage the match was far closer than Nadal’s lead suggested, and when Medvedev broke straight back to level up at 3-3 in the third the crowd energised the 23-year-old, who ramped up the aggression and produced some of his best tennis to break once more and force a fourth set.

Nadal fended off a break point early in the fourth but after failing to find a way through himself, he was undone in the 12th game as Medvedev forced a decider, cheers from the stands flooding down for both men as the match approached its fifth hour.

The Russian’s serve and forehand had dragged him back into the contest, but the physical cost began to catch up with him in the fifth as he had work on his left thigh, already taped ahead of the match. Nadal was quick to take advantage, breaking twice to move 5-2 up with the chance to serve for the title.

Again, Medvedev refused to go quietly. Breaking to stay in the final, he survived two match points at 3-5 and even brought up a break-back point at 5-4. But Nadal was not to be denied, collapsing to the court after Medvedev’s final return sailed long to seal victory.

“Because of the crowd, I was fighting like hell,” Medvedev said. “In the third set, in my mind, I was already thinking what to say in the speech. I didn’t give up, but unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”

Nadal now joins John McEnroe with four US Open titles, trailing only Federer, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras on five – and this, his first five-set final win in New York, will live long in the memory.

“The last three hours of the match were very, very intense,” Nadal said. “Very tough mentally and physically, too. The crowd has been as always amazing, all these facts that make the moment super special. It was an unforgettable moment.

At the same time Daniil created this moment, too. The way that he fought, the way that he played, he is a champion. Just well done for him. I really believe that he will have many more chances.

“The way that the match became very dramatic at the end, that makes this day unforgettable, part of my history of this sport. I’m just very happy. This trophy means everything to me today.”

Tommy Haas Beats Mark Philippoussis For Oracle Champions Cup Title In New Haven

NEW HAVEN, CT – Tommy Haas defeated Mark Philippoussis Saturday to win the Oracle Champions Cup at Yale University to claim his third title for the year on the Invesco Series QQQ circuit and retake the No. 1 ranking on the tour’s season-long points rankings.

Haas needed only one service break to beat Philippoussis 6-4 in the one-set championship match in the seventh of the 10 tournaments on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. The event was held as part of the Oracle Pro Series tournament at Yale that features men’s and women’s professional challenger level events.

“I had a good time out here,” said Haas in his post-match interview. “Obviously one break in the set against Mark. He served really well at the beginning. He gave me one opportunity, one look, and I took advantage of it. I served pretty well myself. Overall, I’m pretty happy.”

The win earned Haas 400 ranking points that vaulted the former world No. 2 and 2000 Olympic silver medalist back into the No. 1 position on the season-long Invesco Series points rankings with 1200 total points, 200 clear of James Blake in the No. 2 position. Last month, Blake jumped ahead of Haas in the season-long Invesco Series QQQ points rankings after beating Philippoussis in the final of the Invesco Legends San Jose, played in in conjunction with the WTA Tour’s Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

To advance into the final, Haas beat 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick 6-2 in the semifinals after Philippoussis beat Blake 6-4. After his semifinal win over Blake, the local favorite who grew up in nearby Fairfield, Connecticut, Philippoussis jokingly thanked in his post-match interview the “two fans” in the capacity crowd who cheered for him.

Earlier this year, Haas won Invesco Series titles in Newport Beach, Calif., and in Maui, Hawaii.

The remaining 2019 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

Toronto, ON – September 26 (Mattamy Athletic Centre): Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mark Philippoussis)

Los Angeles, CA – October 26 (Sherwood Country Club) Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Tommy Haas, Mardy Fish)

Houston, TX – November 15: (Rice University) Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mark Philippoussis, Juan Carlos Ferrero

Results from earlier this year are as follows:

January 26 – Newport Beach, CA (Newport Beach Tennis Club) F: Tommy Haas def. Andy Roddick 7-6(2); SF: Tommy Haas def. Mardy Fish 6-3, Andy Roddick def. James Blake 6-3

April 4 – Tampa, FL (Innisbrook Resort) F: James Blake def. Jim Courier 6-3; SF: James Blake def. Mardy Fish 6-3, Jim Courier def. John McEnroe 7-6(4)

April 6 – Charleston, SC (Volvo Car Stadium) F: Lleyton Hewitt def. Andy Roddick 6-2; SF: Lleyton Hewitt def. Mats Wilander 6-3, Andy Roddick def. Jim Courier 6-4

May 4-5 – Maui, HI (Royal Lahaina Resort) F: Tommy Haas def. Mardy Fish 6-4; SF: Tommy Haas def. Mark Philippoussis 6-2, Mardy Fish def. Michael Chang 6-3

July 21 – Newport, RI (International Tennis Hall of Fame) F: Todd Martin def. Mats Wilander 6-2 SF: Todd Martin def. Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-4, Mats Wilander def. Jim Courier 6-2

August 3 – San Jose, CA (San Jose State University) F: James Blake def. Mark Philippoussis 7-6(4); SF: James Blake def. Michael Chang 6-2, Mark Philippoussis def. Andy Roddick 7-6(4)

September 7 – New Haven, CT – September 7 (Yale University) F: Tommy Haas def. Mark Philippoussis 6-4; SF Mark Philippoussis def. Andy Roddick 6-4, Tommy Haas def. James Blake 6-2.

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.”

Oracle Makes Major Investment In Grass Roots American Pro Tennis, Partners With InsideOut Sports & Entertainment

Oracle announced today the creation of the Oracle Pro Series, a schedule of more than 25 new ATP, WTA and ITF World Tennis Tour professional tournaments to be held across the United States over the course of 2019 and 2020. The Oracle Pro Series will create more than 40 percent new playing opportunities in the United States for tennis professionals.

Nearly all the tournaments will be combined men’s and women’s events with equal prize money ranging from $25,000 to $108,000 per tournament. The six combined tournaments scheduled for the fall of 2019 offer equal prize money of $25,000 and will be played in California, Texas and Florida. The 2019 Oracle Pro Series schedule is as follows:

October 6 – 13 – The Claremont Club – Los Angeles, Calif.
October 13 – 20 – Baylor University – Waco, Texas
October 20 – 27 – Texas Christian University – Fort Worth, Texas (ATP)
October 20 – 27 – Southern Methodist University – Dallas, Texas (WTA)
November 4 – 10 – Pepperdine University – Malibu, Calif.
November 11 – 17 – USTA National Campus – Orlando, Fla.
November 17 – 24 – Sanchez-Casal Academy – Naples, Fla.

The final schedule for 2020 will include more than 20 tournaments, most of which will be combined events. Locations will be announced later this year.

“At Oracle, we’re looking at this holistically,” said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “We want more exposure for tennis at all levels in the United States. All of our efforts, from awards to tournament series to collegiate sponsorships and strategic partnerships, are pieces of an overall plan to raise the quality of American tennis.”

In addition to more playing opportunities in the U.S., the Oracle Pro Series will expand the pathway for the next generation of aspiring champions from college tennis up to the ATP Tour and the WTA Tour. The Oracle Pro Series will reward success with immediate access to higher level tournaments by connecting all Oracle events into one merit-based path to the highest levels of international professional tennis.

Oracle is partnering with InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, led by former World No. 1 and Hall of Famer Jim Courier and his business partner Jon Venison, to manage the Oracle Pro Series. InsideOut brings more than 15 years of experience producing live and televised events.

“The Oracle Pro Series is an unprecedented expansion in the number of U.S. professional tournaments and reinforces Oracle’s commitment to advancing the sport,” said Courier. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Oracle to give up-and-coming players more opportunities to compete for prize money, improve their rankings and launch their careers. Together, we will play a big part influencing the future of tennis in the U.S.”

Oracle also supports collegiate tennis through sponsorship of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). This includes hosting several marquee ITA championship events throughout the year such as the Oracle ITA Masters and the Oracle ITA Fall Championships. At the grassroots level, Oracle supports tennis through its strategic partnership with Universal Tennis Rating (UTR). UTR leverages Oracle’s industry leading cloud technology to power its algorithm-based, big-data rating system and digital platform.

Tennis Associations Endorse Oracle Pro Series
“This series of events has been created to provide an unprecedented level of opportunities for aspiring young players to compete and earn the valuable WTA ranking points needed to earn a ranking that will provide them the ability to realize their dreams of playing at the highest levels of the sport.” ~ Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO

“The ATP continues to focus on enhancing and strengthening the ATP Challenger Tour, and we welcome Oracle’s growing involvement at this level of the sport. The Oracle Pro Series will provide increased opportunities for players competing on the pathway to the ATP Tour, and we look forward to seeing the series come to life.” ~ Ross Hutchins, ATP Chief Player Officer

“We are incredibly excited that Oracle is providing even more opportunities for American players to compete throughout the year, as well as more opportunities for fans to attend professional tennis events throughout the country. These events help develop American talent and serve as a stepping stone for players to reach the highest levels of the game, while at the same time inspire kids across the nation to pick up a racket and play this sport.” ~ Stacey Allaster, USTA Chief Executive, Professional Tennis

About Oracle Tennis
Oracle is committed to supporting American tennis for all players across the collegiate and professional levels. Through sponsorship of tournaments, players, ranking, organizations and more, Oracle has infused the sport with vital resources and increased opportunities for players to further their careers.

About Oracle
The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for Sales, Service, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Supply Chain and Manufacturing, plus Highly Automated and Secure Generation 2 Infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database. For more information about Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), please visit us at www.oracle.com.

Trademarks
Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Another Juan Martin del Potro Withdrawal

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion from Argentina, was scheduled to have the first-ever English language biography on him entitled “The Gentle Giant” officially released at the 2019 U.S. Open. However, due to “injuries” in the translation of the book from Spanish to English, the book has “withdrawn” from the tournament and its original September 1, 2019 release date.

“Juan Martin del Potro: The Gentle Giant” was written by Sebastian Torok, a globally respected tennis writer from La Nacion newspaper in Argentina. The book tells the life story and rise to prominence of del Potro, also focusing on his inspiring comebacks from his many injuries, culminating in his winning the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, leading Argentina to its first Davis Cup title in 2016 and reaching the final again at the 2018 U.S. Open. The injury narrative for del Potro, however, continued once again in 2019 after he a knee injury forced him to miss Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“Like Juan Martin del Potro himself, the book will not have a presence at the 2019 U.S. Open,” said Randy Walker of New Chapter Media, the publisher of the book. “We are proud to publish this inspiring and informative biography of Juan Martin, which all sports fans will enjoy. The reality is that with Juan Martin’s absence from the tour and the U.S. Open, and a slight hiccup in the development process, we felt it best to delay the launch of the book to a more appropriate time in the not-to-distant future.”

Fans can pre-order the book on Amazon.com here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559920/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_IfvBDbTMABNJN

New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is a global leader in tennis publishing founded in 1987. It is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Sport of a Lifetime: Enduring Personal Stories From Tennis” by Judy Aydelott, “Trojan Tennis: A History of the Storied Men’s Tennis Program at the University of Southern California” by S. Mark Young, “Absolute Tennis: The Best And Next Way To Play The Game” by Marty Smith, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Your Playbook For Beating Depression: Essential Strategies For Managing and Living with Depression” by Cliff Richey and Mary Garrison, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All-Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “Cattle to Courts A History of Tennis In Texas” by Ken McAllister, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.

Polish Players Win First Tour Titles – Mondays with Bob Greene

Mondays with Bob Greene (Courtesy of WorldTennisMagazine.com)

STARS

Hubert Hurkacz beat Benoit Paire 6-3 3-6 6-3 to win the Winston-Salem Open in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

Magda Linette beat Camila Giorgi 5-7 7-5 6-4 to win the NYJTL Bronx Open in New York, New York, USA

SAYINGS

“I was really surprised how many Polish people are around here, so I’m really thankful for them, that they came and supported me. It’s great because we don’t have a tournament in Poland, we’re not really used to having a home crowd.” – Magda Linette, who won the NYJTL Bronx Open.

“She’s our Jackie Robinson of tennis. I saw what it meant to be the best.” – Billie Jean King, who at 13 watched Althea Gibson play. A statute of Gibson, who broke tennis’ color barrier, will be unveiled on opening day at the US Open.

“For me, I love tennis. Sometimes I feel like I don’t, but I wake up every morning and if I don’t play, I feel like I’ve done nothing during the day.” – Naomi Osaka, the defending US Open women’s champion.

SNARES FIRST TITLE

Hubert Hurkacz won his first ATP World Tour title when he stopped top-seeded Benoit Paire to capture the Winston-Salem Open. The 22-year-old Hurkacz is the first Polish man to win a tour-level tournament since Wojtek Fibak won in Chicago in 1982. The champion beat four straight seeded opponents in the final week before the US Open begins its two-week run. “It’s a huge win for me today,” Hurkacz said. “Benoit is an amazing player, so it is a really great win for me. … I had to fight a lot, but I am so excited that I lifted my first trophy here.” In all three sets the first two games began with consecutive breaks of serve. And the match was slightly delayed by rain before the decisive set. Hurkacz played his best tennis in the final set, breaking Paire at love with deep returns. He converted his first match point when Paire netted a forehand. “For me it was a good week,” Paire said. “Honestly, I could have lost I (my second match), so it was really good to be in the final.”

SUPER WEEK FOR POLAND

It was a great week for Polish tennis. Not only did Hubert Hurkacz win in Winston-Salem, Polish qualifier Magda Linette captured the NYJTL Bronx Open in New York City, rallying from behind to down Italy’s Camila Giorgi. “I’m 27, so it’s not super super young,” Linette said after winning her first career WTA tournament. “So, it means really a lot. It gives a lot of boost, you know, for the confidence, and also a reward. Finally, it’s a reward for us, for all the hard work.” The champion played eight matches, including three rounds of qualifying. And Giorgi, who won their only other matchup, took the opening set. But Linette wo the first three games before Giorgi broke back to level the score at 4-4. Linette then broke back in the 12th game to level the match at one set apiece. Giorgi got the early break and led 3-2. It was all Linette after that as the Pole won the final four games. “I think it was a lot with the confidence,” Linette said. “I’ve played in practices with many top players and I know I’m able to beat them. But when I went to the matches, something was missing. And that was confidence.”

SICK BAY

Two former Grand Slam tournament finalists will miss this year’s US Open because of injuries. Canada’s Milos Raonic, the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up, pulled out because of an injured glute muscle. He was replaced in the men’s singles draw by Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak, who lost in qualifying.

Kevin Anderson withdraw with an injured right knee. The 33-year-old South African was runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the 2017 US Open and to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last year. Anderson, who was seeded 16th, hasn’t played since losing in the third round of Wimbledon in July. He was replaced in the main draw by lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi of Italy.

An injured right foot forced Germany’s Mona Barthel out of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Her spot in the women’s singles draw was taken by 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, who lost in qualifying but now will compete in her 11th US Open. Barthel hasn’t played since losing her opening match at Lausanne, Switzerland, last month.

STATUE OF ALTHEA

Althea Gibson not only broke the racial barrier in tennis, she dominated the women’s field in 1956-58, winning 11 titles, including the French, Wimbledon and United States Championships, now the US Open. That was a decade before Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win the inaugural US Open in 1968. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) unveiled a statue of Gibson on the first day of this year’s tournament. Among those expected to attend the ceremony was Angela Buxton of Great Britain, Gibson’s doubles partner. “It’s about bloody time,” said the 85-year-old Buxton, who teamed with Gibson to win the French and Wimbledon doubles titles in 1956. When she retired from tennis two years later, Gibson had won 50 singles and doubles titles. But that was before the professional era began in 1968, so she broke the color line in women’s golf, joining the LPGA. No other African American woman won the US Open until Serena Williams in 1999 or Wimbledon until Venus Williams in 2000.

SET FOR SINGLES

Since he reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, Hyeon Chung of Korea has missed so much time because of a back injury that he had to qualify to gain a spot in this year’s US Open men’s singles. He missed more than five months due to a back injury and his ranking fell outside the top 150. Chung began his comeback by winning an ATP Challenger Tour event before traveling to New York. He beat Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-1 6-3 to qualify for the main draw.

Other men’s singles qualifiers included 18-year-old American Jenson Brooksby, Italy’s Jannick Sinner; Elliot Benchetrit and Gregoire Barrere, France; Soonwoo Kwon, Korea; Ilya Ivashka and Ego Gerasimov, Belarus; Santiago Giraldo, Colombia; Evgeny Donskoy, Russia; Tobias Kamke and Dominik Koepfer, Germany; Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Spain; Sumit Nagal, India; Jiri Vesely, Czech Republic; and Marco Trungelliti, Argentina.

Joining two Americans, Caroline Dolehide and Taylor Townsend, in qualifying for the women’s singles draw were Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan; Magdalena Frech, Poland; Jana Cepelova, Slovakia; Peng Shuai and Wang Xinyu, China; Johanna Larsson, Sweden; Ana Bogdan, Romania; Mariam Bolkvadze, Georgia; Denisa Allertova and Tereza Martincova, Czech Republic; Harriet Dart, Great Britain; Timea Babos, Hungary; Richel Hogenkamp, Netherlands; and Anna Kalinskaya, Russia.

SENIOR FED

By playing in his 19th US Open, Roger Federer is closing in on another record. The Swiss star, then 19, made his US Open debut in 2000, losing to another promising youngsters, Juan Carlo Ferrero of Spain. Federer won five consecutive titles between 2004-08 and 85 matches. This year he’s seeded third, behind defending champion Novak Djokovic and French Open winner Rafael Nadal. Both also have won the US Open. Having just turned 38, Federer is now third behind two Americans on the most US Opens played. Jimmy Connors holds the mark, playing in 22 Opens, while Andre Agassi retired at the US Open in 2006 after playing in his 21st straight main draw appearance. Frenchman Fabrice Santoro played in 18 US Opens.

SET FOR DOUBLES

Youngsters Coco Gauff and Caty McNally will be seeking to add to their winning streak as a doubles team. The 15-year-old Gauff and 17-year-old McNally were granted a doubles wild card by the USTA. Each previously was given a wild card for the singles draw also. Last year, Gauff and McNally won the US Open junior girls doubles title. Then then paired up and won their first WTA trophy, capturing the doubles title at the Citi Open in Washington, DC, earlier this month.

SEEKING MATCHES

Great Britain’s Andy Murray is looking for work. Returning to the game after undergoing hip surgery earlier this year, Murray has decided to play a Challenger event in Mallorca, Spain, in order to get more singles matches. With his ranking of 329th in the world, Murray is ranked lower than any of the 41 players who earned direct entry into the Rafa Nadal Open. With most players competing in the US Open qualifying and main draw, the Mallorca tournament did not receive enough applications to run the usual qualification tournament. As a result, Murray’s first match will be against 17-year-old Imran Sibille, who is training at the Rafa Nadal Academy, which is hosting the event. Sibille does not have an ATP ranking and won total of USD $150 in his career.

SET ASIDE

Umpire Carlos Ramos will not be in the chair in any US Open matches involving either Serena or Venus Williams. Last year, Ramos officiated the women’s final when Naomi Osaka beat Serena 6-2 6-4. Ramos assessed Williams a penalty game, which gave Osaka a 5-3 lead in the second set. “This is our collective decision,” USTA president Stacey Allaster said in announcing Ramos would not umpire any Williams family matches. “We want to focus on the competition.” US Open tournament referee Soren Friemel said the tournament has made similar decisions in the past. “It’s not the first time that we made decision where it’s good for the tournament, good for the players, good for the umpires as well, to not be on those matches,” Friemel said, noting that Ramos “has worked all the other Grand Slams, he has done Davis Cup, Fed Cup, he’s going to the Davis Cup finals. He’s considered still for all high-profile matches.

SIGNED FOR TOKYO?

Japan could have a high-profile mixed doubles team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There’s a small possibility that Kei Nishikori, the UP Open runner-up in 2014, could team with defending US Open women’s champion Naomi Osaka for the fight for the gold next year. “I will play men’s doubles, for sure,” Nishikori said. “With that condition – very hot, very humid – playing singles and two doubles, I don’t know if I can. I haven’t (had to) think too much yet honestly. I don’t know. I will talk to Naomi later.”

SHARED PERFORMANCES

New York: Darija Jurak and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Margarita Gasparyan and Monica Niculescu 7-5 2-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Winston-Salem: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Nicholas Monroe and Tennys Sandgren 6-7 (6) 6-1 10-3 (match tiebreak)

SURFING

New York: https://www.usopen.org/index.html
New Haven: http://ww1.oracelchallengerseries.com/
Genova https://www.challengergenova.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

MEN and WOMEN

US Open, New York, New York, USA, hard (first week)

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN

US Open, New York, New York, USA, hard (second week)
$162,480 Jinan Open, Jinan, China, hard
$162,480 Oracle Challenger, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$153,218 Aon Open Challenger, Genova, Italy, clay

WOMEN

US Open, New York, New York, USA, hard (second week)
$162,480 Oracle Challenger, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard

Sumit Nagal Joins Prajnesh Gunneswaran In Representing India In U.S. Open Men’s Singles, The Most Since 1985

by Sharada Rajagopalan
@rsharada22

It has taken Sumit Nagal near about four years to make it to the main draw of a major since his success in the junior circuit in the same event category. In 2015, the then 18-year-old won the junior boys’ doubles title at Wimbledon with Vietnam’s Ly Hoang Nam. In 2019, he will play Roger Federer in the first round of the US Open as a qualifier.

In these four years, Nagal’s career widely seesawed with injuries and poor results forcing him to take step backs. These not only affected his professional time-line but also curtailed Indian aspirations that longed to see more names among its tennis-playing ranks make it to the biggest event of the sport.

From the Indian perspective, it also seemed as though injuries would mark another promising name adding Nagal to the likes of Somdev Devvarman, Saketh Myneni and Yuki Bhambri, each with injury scars of his own. Devvarman retired in 2017 but Myneni and Bhambri are still out there fighting past their own physique as much as trying to defeat on-court opponents.

In Nagal’s main-draw debuting at the US Open, there is an unmistakeable cutting through of the prevalent gloom for Indian tennis. For once, there will not be just one home favourite for a nation’s people to root for what with Prajnesh Gunneswaran already taking his place as a direct entry in the 128-man draw.

This will be the first time in almost 21 years that there will be two Indians in the men’s singles main draw at a major tournament. Prior to this, it was in 1998 that Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi had played in the Wimbledon men’s singles main draw. The 22-year-old Haryana native who made it possible was less than a year old when that happened.

In a chat with Randy Walker, the world No. 190 spoke about the milestone he had accomplished. “There was Somdev and then you know there was a time where Somdev and Rohan (Bopanna) was playing singles a bit ago,” the New Delhi resident said. “And since then there was not too much happening, then we had Yuki coming up making main draws which is nice. Then, two years nothing happening and now we had Prajnesh playing well, making all main draws. Was very nice. And then we always had Ramkumar playing qualies and now I’ve secured a ranking where I can play all the qualies. So at least we have two between us playing singles instead of one guy playing main draw and then nothing coming up for 2-3 years.”

In his conversation with Walker, Nagal also mentioned about the Amritraj brothers and the father-son duo of Ramanathan and Ramesh Krishnan who had upheld the Indian banner aloft for a long while. However, his mentioning them was almost in passing as though these were merely names for him. It is easy to understand why.
The year 1998, despite its distance from 2019 is still within memory’s reach. More so, because (in a manner of speaking) both Paes and Bhupathi are still Nagal’s colleagues. Paes is still active on the ATP Tour while Bhupathi is the Indian Davis Cup captain. As regards the older generation, especially speaking about Vijay Amritraj and Ramesh Krishnan as contenders at the US Open, the calendar needs to be turned back to 34 years, specifically to the 1985 edition of the Slam.

The year in question turned out to be the last time that two Indian men were in the singles main draw of the season’s final Major. The length of this interlude contextualised the chasm greeting India’s past, present and future vis-à-vis its contribution to the tennis world. In that, no matter how great its past was, it was not susceptible from being forgotten or worse still, only meriting a passing glance.

This is the biggest upshot to Nagal and Gunneswaran being in the main draw at Flushing Meadows in 2019. That theirs is not merely a long-delayed continuation of India’s tennis ambitions but also a viable map to monitor the Indian tennis trajectory hereafter.

Madison Keys, Daniil Medvedev Win Cincinnati Titles

Madison Keys and Daniil Medvedev each produced signature triumphs of their early careers on Sunday by winning the Western & Southern Open singles titles in Cincinnati.

Keys defeated former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7-5, 7-6(5) to win her second title of 2019 and first at a Premier 5 event. The victory means the 24-year-old Orlando resident will return to the Top 10 at No. 10 and become the second-highest-ranked American, behind No. 8 Serena Williams.

Medvedev, appearing in his third singles final in as many weeks, won his first ATP Masters 1000 crown, defeating Belgium’s David Goffin, 7-6(3), 6-4. The 23-year-old Russian, the youngest Cincinnati champion since 21-year-old Andy Murray in 2008, is projected to reach a new career-high ranking on Monday, at No. 5, becoming the first Russian in the Top 5 since No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko in June 2010.

The US Open Series wraps up this week with the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina. Tennis Channel will have weeklong cover from Winston-Salem, through to Saturday’s singles final at 5 p.m. ET. View the full television schedule here.

With Success of Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty and Coco Gauff, Comes Added Pressure

by Sharada Rajagopalan

It took Naomi Osaka a few years on the tour to build up her professional resume, with the biggest titles and rankings. The fall was much quicker – building up within months – with various reasons spouted to rationalise her sudden loss of form. No matter what was being speculated, it was not until Osaka clarified what had not been working for her that the matter became clear. Not just about her career alone but also of other fellow youngsters on the professional tennis tour.

“The last few months for me have been really rough tennis wise… I can honestly reflect and say I probably haven’t had fun playing tennis since Australia and I’m finally coming to terms with that while relearning that fun feeling…” Osaka shared in a Twitter post. Though the entirety of the 21-year-old’s post stood out, the portion in which she spoke about “not having fun” stood out sharply than the rest.

Going back to her matches after the Australian Open, it became obvious to what she was referring. After the US Open, making her way into the new season as the most in-form player, alongside her results, expectations boomed. And, direct proportional to these expectations, pressure also rose on her to justify these – as though, these were of her making.

When Osaka won the Australian Open, she seemed to have found a way to negate both while fulfilling her potential. The way things have turned out, it now feels as though Osaka only – albeit successfully – masked the circumstantial despondency. Articulating the same now, is her attempt of coping with it while subtly putting out an advisory that she needs her space to re-find herself.

Borrowing from what Osaka wrote, a case for leaving a player alone can be made for other such players who are considered as the successors on the professional tour. Among the men, the scenario has been pushed to its zenith with touting such as “NextGen” forcibly nudging the idea that the present is all about the future. As youngster after youngster stumbles along the road, the idea of present – older players – being dominant versus a future that has letdown the sport in its uncertainty is also being polished in its reiteration.

In contrast, the WTA lot, especially the youngsters evade such deeply-poring intensity until obliviousness is not an option. That is, while talent abounds among the juniors, somehow or the other, the men’s action takes more precedence shoving the women into the shadows. That, however, is a debate of men’s tour vis-à-vis the women’s remains a topic to be discussed at some later, finite point. Yet, this existing chasm between the reception of the men’s and women’s game helps the younger WTA players focus on developing their game and make their way upwards, literally, through the ranks.

Once they step into the tour events and the world at large cottons on to their aptitude, and paean-like articles are sung about them being the proverbial future that is when reality enters the fray, disrupting years’ worth of carefully-nurtured concentration. Be it Osaka, or be it Jelena Ostapenko, or even Ashleigh Barty to name a few.
In case of the Australian, praises about her finding her place among the major champions do make it a point to include how she took a sabbatical from tennis to play cricket. Barty, too, has credited how cricket helped center her. The 23-year-old’s confessions aside, these narratives do not talk about how Barty moved on to play a team sport that does not receive much attention (if any, at all) from non-Commonwealth countries. If she needed to regroup, the 11-player game gave her as much of an opportunity to be connected with the sports’ world as much as there was a gulf separating her from expectations.

More than her win on a surface that was always thought to be non-conducive to her playing style, Barty’s winning a singles major at the French Open when everyone’s usual picks fell off the draw sheet was the bigger surprise. As if it were a given offshoot, it was also not surprising that Barty’s Roland Garros title led to chants of her winning Wimbledon.

This externally-driven pipe dream may have been extinguished for Barty. But onlookers latched on to another player to fuel their aspirations – in 16-year-old Coco Gauff. It also became convenient to do so since she defeated 38-year-old Venus Williams, one of her idols, in the opening round thereby earning the moniker of being someone-like the Williamses in the years to come.

However, the irony is that Venus and Serena Williams did not become who they are now while starting off as teenage prodigies. It has taken the Williams sisters over two decades on the tour to get to where they are now. In a way, they are outliers to the usual plotlines spun around tennis because they have not only shunned expectations – while battling against odds – but also used them as expedient benchmarks to be surpassed.

If they are to be used as examples, more than their achievements, it is this quality of theirs that the likes of Gauff and Osaka need to be expected to emulate – in their wins as in their losses.

Can Roger Federer Win A 21st Grand Slam Title?

Roger Federer, a formidable force in the men’s singles tennis, going down as a legend in the sport. He has positioned himself at the top of the table for the most Grand Slam singles titles of all-time with a current total of 20. Although his titles are pretty spread out across the four major competitions, he has seen most success at Wimbledon. From his first win in 2003 to his most recent win last year at the Australian Open, Federer has provided us with numerous intense matches – most of them facing his biggest rivals, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. With these top three dominating in each Grand Slam it is hard to see someone disrupting their flow, but can Roger Federer make it number 21 at the US Open this year? If you think you know who will win this year’s final Grand Slam you can bet on US Open 2019 with Betfair.

Although Federer has seen unprecedented success across all Grand Slams, his best years were earlier on in his career. Between the years of 2003 and 2010, we saw Federer claim 16 of his Grand Slam titles, which means in the last nine years, he has only won four. It could be fair to say that Federer has slowed down (especially as he has recently celebrated his 38th birthday), but it is also a valid argument that he has been overthrown by the arrival of Nadal and Djokovic who have both seen most of their successes after 2010, but have collectively claimed 34 Grand Slam titles.

It is true that since Nadal and Djokovic came on the scene they have made things slightly trickier for Federer, and although he has not won as many titles since they came about, he has still been reaching the finals at least once every year with the exception of 2013 and 2016. In fact, most of the Grand Slam finals since 2003 have been contested between these three tennis players with only a handful of exceptions.

In his recent years, we have seen Federer consistently challenging for a title but with Djokovic dominating at Wimbledon and the ‘King of Clay’ Nadal dominating at the French Open, he seems to be struggling to breakthrough. Federer has seen some success at the US Open in previous years, totalling five Grand Slam titles there, but he hasn’t won a title at Flushing Meadows since 2008 and the last final he reached was in 2015. However, at the Australian Open, we have seen Federer claim the Grand Slam in 2018 and 2017, so although he missed out on the win this year, he could be in with a greater chance of achieving number 21 there next year. There is a lot of debate as to where Federer could achieve his next Grand Slam title, but actually, will he claim it at all?

Is the era of Roger Federer’s Grand Slam title wins starting to phase out, or has he got a few more victories left in him? There has recently been a lot of speculation regarding his retirement. His reign has already been incredible and landed him well and truly in the history books of the sport, but it might be possible that his struggle to claim a title in recent years is a sign, that his last title in the Australian Open, was his last.

Whether you believe Federer’s time as a champion is up or that he has still got some glory moments left, one undeniable thing is his dedication and incredible achievements within the sport.