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Agassi, McEnroe, Roddick, Courier Highlight 2016 PowerShares Series Fields

The PowerShares Series, the tennis circuit for champion players over the age of 30, announced its slate of player fields for its 12-city circuit that begins April 8 in Chicago. Competing players in 2016 are Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis, James Blake and Mardy Fish.

The PowerShares Series also announced the addition of an event in Denver at the 1stBank Center on November 5. Ticket and VIP experiences information – including play-with-the pros opportunities – can be found at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. The full schedule with player fields are listed below;

 

April 8                       Chicago  (UIC Pavillion) – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, James Blake

April 9                       Charleston (Family Circle Tennis Center) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mardy Fish

April 14                    St. Louis (Chaifetz Arena) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

April 22                    Memphis (Landers Center) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

April 23                    Tulsa (BOK Center) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

July 17                      Newport, R.I. (International Tennis Hall of Fame) – Andy Roddick, James Blake + 2 Players TBA

August 21               Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest University) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mardy Fish

August 25, 26       New Haven (Yale University) – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, James Blake, Mardy Fish

November 4          Portland, Oregon (Moda Center) –  Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mardy Fish and TBA

November 5         Denver (1stBank Center) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake and TBA

December 1          Orlando (Amway Arena) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

December 3          New York (Barclays Center) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

 

Each PowerShares Series event features two one-set semifinal matches and a one-set championship match. For the second straight year, players will make their own line calls, with assistance of electronic line-calling.

In 2015, Roddick won the PowerShares 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 Champions Series 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 $4 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 www.powersharesseries.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, please visit horizonmedia.com.

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC is leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its lineup of more than 140 domestic and international exchange-traded funds, which seek to outperform traditional benchmark indexes while providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. With franchise assets of nearly $100 billion as of October 2, 2015, PowerShares ETFs trade on both US stock exchanges. For more information, please visit us at invescopowershares.com or follow us on Twitter @PowerShares.

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

PowerShares QQQ™, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the NASDAQ-100 Index®, is one of the largest and most traded ETFs in the world. Under most circumstances, QQQ will consist of all of the stocks in the index which includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market based on market capitalization.

 

Novak Djokovic Makes 100 Unforced Errors In Five-Set Win Over Gilles Simon

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Gilles Simon gave Novak Djokovic everything he could handle on Sunday at the Australian Open, but in the end it was the Serb who was able to come through after a five set battle that lasted more than four and a half hours. Despite losing 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, Simon was able to provide many challenges for Djokovic and perhaps created the blueprint for how to stop the No. 1 player in the world.

The entire match was tightly contested, including the first set despite the overall lower quality of play. It appeared as if Djokovic would roll through another easy win early on as he dominated his first two service games and broke at love to take a 3-1 lead. It was then that Simon proved he would make things difficult as he broke back immediately and went on to have four break chances in Djokovic’s 3-3 service game that lasted 20 points. Djokovic was able to fight through that game to get the hold, and then break in the next game as Simon let the disappoint of not converting on the break points linger, eventually leading to a 6-3 first set win for the Serb.

Djokovic completely controlled the second set, only losing five points on serve, until the tiebreak. Simon, who saved 10 break points and had to play 25 more service points in the second set than Djokovic did, felt a sense of relief as he made it through the set and showed that in the tiebreak as he loosened up and only lost one point.

Djokovic was able to settle back down in the third set and broke Simon in his first service game, running out to a 3-0 lead. Simon, just like in the first set, made things difficult for Djokovic though, as he bounced back and broke to get the set back on serve at 3-2. Each player looked confident on their serves throughout the rest of the set, until Djokovic found a break point at 5-4 and pounced on it to win the set.

Once again, Simon put his persistent style of play on display as he looked in control in the second set. It started early as Simon played only 10 service points in his first two games compared to Djokovic’s 24, allowing Simon to look at five break points. He was unsuccessful in converting those break chances, but did go on to earn two more later in the set. Simon converted on his seventh break point of the set to go up 5-4 and went on to serve out the set, taking the match to a decider.

In the fifth set, Djokovic played his best tennis, racing out to a double break lead at 5-1. He was unsuccessful at serving out the match the first time as Simon just would not go away, but the Serb held on and served out the match at 5-3 for the five set win.

Djokovic was pleased with the win, but disappointed in his quality of play. The credit has to be given to Simon as he was able to force Djokovic into making exactly 100 unforced errors after he made less than 80 in the first three rounds combined. The errors matched with an unsuccessful break point conversion rate of less than 25 percent would normally lead to a loss for most other players, but the No. 1 player in the world was able to find a way to tough out the valiant effort from Simon.

Djokovic will hope to bounce back to his normal quality of play as he takes on Kei Nishikori, who is coming off a win in which he handily beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, in the quarterfinals. Nishikori will be looking to repeat his form from when he beat Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2014 US Open in hopes of pulling off another major upset.

Ana Ivanovic’s Coach Collapses Mid-Match, Madison Keys Posts Three-Set Win

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Madison Keys fought her way into the fourth round at the Australian Open amidst difficult circumstances. In the only women’s match that went three sets on Saturday, the American defeated the No. 20 seed Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, but not before the match had to be delayed for an hour as Ivanovic’s coach collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital.

The first set was very straightforward as both players were able to handle their serves well. At 3-3, Keys was the first to create an opportunity on return as she saw two break chances in a game that lasted 14 points. Ivanovic, who only lost three points in her four other service games in the first set, was able to fight through the adversity of that game to hold and then create three break chances of her own at 5-4. Ivanovic only needed the first opportunity though, as she broke at love to close out the first set winning eight straight points.

It was early in the second set when Ivanovic’s coach, Nigel Sears, collapsed inside Rod Laver Arena. Sears, who is also the father-in-law of Andy Murray, had not been feeling well throughout the match and attempted to leave the stadium, but on his way up the stairs, Sears reportedly collapsed and required immediate medical attention. It was reported by Ben Rothenburg, before play had even resumed, that Sears was “alert and responding.”

Once the delay had ended and the players returned to the court, Ivanovic fought off the distraction to go up a break at 2-0 on her fourth break point of the game. Keys quickly fought back to get back on serve at 2-1, though, before each player went on to hold at love. With Ivanovic up 3-2 on serve, she was able to once again break the American but was unable to consolidate as Keys broke straight back. At 4-4, Keys broke for the third time in the set to go up 5-4 and was able to hold her serve after a very difficult fight from Ivanovic that saw six break points and 18 points total.

The momentum did not completely shift to Keys’ side of the net despite levelling the match at one set apiece, as Ivanovic broke in Keys’ first service game of the third set to go up 2-0, just like in the second set. The Serb was able to hold onto the lead until her 3-1 service game that saw her save four break points before Keys broke on the fifth to get back on serve. Keys then held a tough deuce game before breaking Ivanovic again to go up a break. It was no looking back from there for the No. 15 seed as she closed out the match with an impressive hold.

Keys, who made the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2015, is now only two wins away from repeating that result as she will face Zhang Shuai in the fourth round and either Johanna Konta or Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinals, should she get there. Keys showed her fighting spirit on Saturday as she was able to come back from a break down three times and overcame hitting more than double the unforced errors compared to her opponent, and will hope that her momentum carries into the next rounds.

Daria Gavrilova Pleases Home Fans With Continued Australian Open Run

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Daria Gavrilova kept Australian tennis fans’ hopes alive for a deep run as she was able to defeat the No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 on Friday at the Australian Open to advance to the round of 16. Gavrilova has been the sole Australian representative in the women’s singles draw since Tuesday, as she was the only Australian woman to advance out of the first round.

In the first set, Gavrilova and Mladenovic exchanged breaks in each of their second service games before Gavrilova would go on to break in the seventh game and hold on to that lead to close out the set. The efficient 32-minute first set included zero deuce games and only saw two games in which the loser of the game got to 30.

The second set was more tightly contested as the first game lasted nine points before Mladenovic was able to hold. Gavrilova then held for 1-1, the last hold before four consecutive breaks were exchanged. After being down a break twice and battling back both times, Mladenovic went on to get a break in the tenth game and close out the second set, forcing a decider.

Gavrilova and Mladenovic wound up playing the longest third set of the women’s singles tournament at the Australian Open as they needed 20 games to decide a winner. Once again, Gavrilova was able to break early in the set, but was unable to consolidate as she was broken right back by Mladenovic to get the set to 1-1. There was minimal trouble on serve until Gavrilova broke Mladenovic again to go up 5-4 and have a shot at serving out the match. Her consolidation troubles continued, though, she was broken at 15 and Mladenovic prolonged the match. Finally at 9-9, Gavrilova got the decisive break to go up 10-9 and went on to hold to make her first fourth round at a slam.

One of the main differences in the match came in the unforced errors department as Mladenovic committed 61 while Gavrilova contained hers to 30. The two were not unfamiliar with each other though, as they had faced off in the 2009 final of the French Open juniors, where Mladenovic was able to get the straight sets win. Gavrilova was able to get her revenge on Friday, and is able to continue her dream run in front of her home fans.

The Aussie winning the 171 minute match is a testament to her maturity and ability to keep her composure in difficult situations as she continues her best run at a slam. The 21 year old dubbed the win as the “best win of [her] whole career,” but has an opportunity to get an even better one as she will take on the No. 10 seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the fourth round.

Lleyton Hewitt Bids Adieu In Australian Open Loss To David Ferrer

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Lleyton Hewitt played the final match of his career on Thursday at the Australian Open as he bowed out to David Ferrer in straight sets. The 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 score line shows how easy of a victory it was on the court for Ferrer, yet Hewitt, as well as the entire crowd in Rod Laver Arena, never gave up hope until the last point was played that he would be able to pull out the victory.

The match started promisingly for the Australian as he was able to get to 2-all with Ferrer, but the 2013 French Open finalist had other plans in mind, as he went on to win four games in a row to close out the set.

After the routine first set for the Spaniard, there was more of a fight in the second set. In a repeat of the first set, Ferrer was able to break at 2-all, but when Ferrer served at 4-3, Hewitt had seven break points in a game that lasted over 10 minutes. He was unable to convert any of them, though, as Ferrer was able to continue being simply the better player.

In the third set, Ferrer went up an early break before seeing another resurgence from Hewitt, in which he broke to level the set back up at 3-all, giving the crowd one final thing to become ecstatic about. Hewitt was able to silence the crowd quickly though, as he regained the break advantage in the next game and would go on to close out the match in straight sets.

The fact that Hewitt was able to compete in this match is impressive in itself, with Hewitt being ranked exactly 300 spots lower than Ferrer. Yet everyone knew that Hewitt would not be willing to give up on his career so easily, and showed that on court as he put in one final great effort.

After the match ended and Ferrer and Hewitt approached each other at the net, Ferrer actually asked Hewitt if they could swap shirts, similar to what soccer players do after certain matches. Ferrer would go on to claim that the only piece of tennis memorabilia that he has on display in his house is a signed shirt from Hewitt, a true testament to how well respected Hewitt is by his peers.

Hewitt’s fighting spirit and tenacity has been an inspiration to many tennis players who are currently on the tour, including Ferrer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and surely many others. Murray and Nadal were able to have their voices heard post-match as they had tribute videos displayed in Rod Laver Arena praising the two-time grand slam champion.

Hewitt’s career in tennis is far from over, as he will continue to be an inspiration to tennis players all over the world. He will also be taking over the duty of being the Australian Davis Cup captain, and will surely be seen coaching players at some point in the future.

Daria Gavrilova Pleases Home Aussie Crowd With Upset Of Petra Kvitova

by Kevin Craig

@Kcraig_tennis

Daria Gavrilova, the 21-year-old from Australia, gave the home crowd plenty to cheer for on Wednesday at Melbourne Park as she defeated the No. 6 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Night matches in Margaret Court Arena are always a special event to watch, and having a home favorite playing a Grand Slam champion was no exception. Gavrilova is full of confidence currently after having teamed up with Nick Kyrgios to win the Hopman Cup in the first week of the year, and that confidence was on display as she got the biggest win of her career in the second round of the Australian Open.

In the beginning of the match, things appeared bleak to the Aussie crowd as Gavrilova fell down an early break in the first set to the big-hitting Kvitova. Gavrilova was undeterred, though, and fought back to win four of the next five games after being broken to win the set.

The second set started off fairly straightforward, with no breaks of serve coming until the sixth game, when Gavrilova was able to garner a break for a 4-2 lead. She would go on to attempt serving for the match at 5-3, but it was an unsuccessful attempt for the Aussie as Kvitova was able to fight back in that game and get back on serve. Gavrilova was able to keep her composure though and break right back to earn the 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Gavrilova took advantage of Kvitova’s poor serving performance, winning 52 percent of all of Kvitova’s serve points, including 57 percent on second serve. Combine that with 35 unforced errors from Kvitova, including four in the final game, and Gavrilova was well on her way to the upset.

There is a possibility that Kvitova was not 100 percent healthy, as she was forced to withdraw from both the events she was signed up for prior to the Australian Open.

The night before the upset occurred, Lleyton Hewitt somewhat foreshadowed what would happen, praising Gavrilova in his post-match press conference on Tuesday. Hewitt complimented her work ethic and claimed “she’s got a lot of good things ahead of her.”

Gavrilova will look to keep the Aussie dream alive as she takes on the No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic in the third round.

, the 21-year-old from Australia, gave the home crowd plenty to cheer for on Wednesday at Melbourne Park as she defeated the No. 6 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Night matches in Margaret Court Arena are always a special event to watch, and having a home favorite playing a Grand Slam champion was no exception. Gavrilova is full of confidence currently after having teamed up with Nick Kyrgios to win the Hopman Cup in the first week of the year, and that confidence was on display as she got the biggest win of her career in the second round of the Australian Open.

In the beginning of the match, things appeared bleak to the Aussie crowd as Gavrilova fell down an early break in the first set to the big-hitting Kvitova. Gavrilova was undeterred, though, and fought back to win four of the next five games after being broken to win the set.

The second set started off fairly straightforward, with no breaks of serve coming until the sixth game, when Gavrilova was able to garner a break for a 4-2 lead. She would go on to attempt serving for the match at 5-3, but it was an unsuccessful attempt for the Aussie as Kvitova was able to fight back in that game and get back on serve. Gavrilova was able to keep her composure though and break right back to earn the 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Gavrilova took advantage of Kvitova’s poor serving performance, winning 52 percent of all of Kvitova’s serve points, including 57 percent on second serve. Combine that with 35 unforced errors from Kvitova, including four in the final game, and Gavrilova was well on her way to the upset.

There is a possibility that Kvitova was not 100 percent healthy, as she was forced to withdraw from both the events she was signed up for prior to the Australian Open.

The night before the upset occurred, Lleyton Hewitt somewhat foreshadowed what would happen, praising Gavrilova in his post-match press conference on Tuesday. Hewitt complimented her work ethic and claimed “she’s got a lot of good things ahead of her.”

Gavrilova will look to keep the Aussie dream alive as she takes on the No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic in the third round.

Fernando Verdasco Stuns In Australian Open Upset Of Rafael Nadal

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Fernando Verdasco stunned the tennis world on Tuesday in Melbourne when he defeated Rafael Nadal in an epic five setter, 7-6, 4-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2.

After a tight first set in which Verdasco was simply the better player, Nadal seemed to relax and take things under his control, winning the second and third sets with a break advantage. It was the fourth set, though, when Verdasco began to really assert his presence again, forcing the set into a tiebreak and winning it.

Despite winning the fourth set, the momentum did not immediately shift in Verdasco’s favor, as Nadal was able to break and take a 2-0 lead early in the fifth set. Nadal then saw another break point as Verdasco was serving at 0-2, but Verdasco managed to fire four aces in the game and hold, making that the first of six consecutive games he would win to close out the match.

The final game of the match was essentially a microcosm of the entire match. As Nadal was serving at 2-5, he got up 30-0, but Verdasco turned the game around by hitting four consecutive winners, allowing him to break and win the match.

Verdasco used his big-hitting style of play to simply overpower Nadal, managing to hit 90 winners past the nine-time French Open champion. The forehand alone for Verdasco was able to hit 41 winners, while he hit 20 aces and 10 return winners, allowing him to keep the points short.

Many tennis fans were excited for this match before it even began as it was a rematch of the extraordinary semifinal played between the two men at the 2009 Australian Open in which Nadal won in five sets after a grueling five hour battle. The two Spanish warriors did not disappoint this time either, as Verdasco was able to unexpectedly turn the tables in his favor, toughing out Nadal in five more grueling sets that lasted just under five hours.

After dropping his first 13 meetings with Nadal, Verdasco has now been able to win three of the last four, including at the Miami Open last year. Verdasco has a favorable draw in the second round to back up this result, as he plays 87th ranked Dudi Sela.

Rubin Posts Australian Open Upset Over Sour-Grapes Paire

By Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Noah Rubin of the United States registered the upset of the day on the opening day of the 2016 Australian Open as the No. 328 ranked rookie pro knocked out the No. 17 seed Benoit Paire of France, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6.

The match was very tight throughout as neither player gave the other many opportunities to get a lead, each player was only broken three times in the match, forcing each set to go into a tiebreak. Rather surprisingly, Rubin was the one who was able to keep his composure in the big moments and take each of the three tiebreaks using his incredible speed and defense to frustrate Paire. The Frenchman was unable to break through Rubin on the important points, seeing him fall in straight sets to the 2014 Wimbledon juniors champion. Paire’s inconsistent level of play and Rubin’s defense were the major factors in the match, as Paire hit 72 unforced errors, compared to Rubin’s 22, and managed to win only 48 percent of his second serve points.

After the match, Paire refused to give any credit to the 19 year old American, and was very candid in claiming that Rubin is “not a very good player,” but that Paire “was worse than him today.” Also, Paire was heard many times throughout the match saying that he was losing to the worst player in the world. Nevertheless, Rubin moves on to the second round of a major event for the first time in his career, as he will take on another Frenchman in Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Rubin earned a wild card entry into the Australian Open in an reciprocal agreement between the U.S. Tennis Association and the U.S. Open and Tennis Australia. Rubin was granted the wild card by the USTA by virtue of having the best record among American players on the USTA Pro Circuit last fall. He won the singles title at the event in Charlottesville, Va. Rubin, 19, turned professional this summer after his freshman year at Wake Forest University, where he reached the NCAA singles final. He is a student at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York City and hails from nearby Long Island. He won the Wimbledon junior title and the USTA National Boys 18 Championships in 2014, earning him a main draw wild card into the US Open, where he lost in the first round to Federico Delbonis in his only previous major tournament main draw appearance.

Martina Hingis Returns To No. 1 Doubles Ranking – Passing Shots With Kevin Craig

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

  • Bob and Mike Bryan are the No. 3 seeds in the men’s doubles draw at the 2016 Australian Open. The last time the Bryans were seeded lower than No. 2 at a grand slam was at the French Open in 2005, where they would go on to make the final.
  • American Nicole Gibbs was able to qualify for the main draw of the Australian Open without dropping a set. In her three matches, Gibbs was able to win more than half of her return points, 52 percent, allowing her to break her opponents 15 times total.
  • Viktor Troicki was able to defend his title in Sydney, defeating Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(7). Troicki became the first man to win back to back titles in Sydney since James Blake did so in 2006 and 2007. Prior to his loss in the final, Dimitrov had won 11 consecutive deciding set tiebreakers. The last time Dimitrov had lost a deciding set tiebreak before this was in 2012 against Donald Young in Memphis. The man who holds the record for most deciding set tiebreakers won consecutively is Carlos Moya with 17.
  • In the Simona Halep – Svetlana Kuznetsova semifinal match in Sydney, Halep was able to win almost every statistical category, yet she lost the match. Kuznetsova won 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, despite winning five less points than Halep did. Kuznetsova went on to win the title, defeating Monica Puig in straight sets in the final.
  • The doubles team of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza won their 30th match in a row by defeating Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in the final in Sydney. The longest win streak by a women’s doubles team is held by Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova at 44. With the title, Hingis will join Mirza as co-No. 1 doubles players, seeing Hingis return to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time since 2000.
  • Also in Sydney, Teymuraz Gabashvili was able to make his first ATP semifinal after going 0-16 in ATP quarterfinal matches to start his career.
  • Mikhail Youzhny won his second challenger tournament in a row, defeating Adam Pavlasek in Bangkok, 6-4, 6-1. The win will boost Youzhny back into the Top 100 after having been outside of the Top 150 as recently as November of 2015.
  • Three tournaments in the United States have taken place on the futures circuit in 2016 so far, and each event has seen a different American teen reach the final. Stefan Kozlov won in Los Angeles in the first week of the season, while Tommy Paul won in Plantation and Michael Mmoh lost the final in Long Beach in the second week.

Why Novak Djokovic WILL win all four Grand Slam titles in 2016

Without a doubt, Novak Djokovic is the best tennis player on the planet and the Serbian won three of the four Grand Slam titles on offer in 2016. This year, the world number one will be looking to go one better and claim victory in all four major tournaments as he looks to cement his place as one of the greatest male tennis players of all-time. Here is why Djokovic is capable of defying the odds and enjoying an incredible season in 2016.

Okay, so Djokovic is an exceptional tennis player. In fact, it could be argued that he is more or less unbeatable on his day. The Serbian’s consistency at the top level stands him apart from the rest and his hunger and strive to achieve greatness helps to motivate him in almost every single tournament that he enters. As of January 11th, Djokovic is priced at 6/1 with Coral to win all four Grand Slam competitions this year and many will be backing the Serbian to succeed in the sports betting in 2016.

Perhaps the most straightforward tournament of all will be the Australian Open, which gets underway later this week. In Coral’s sports betting markets, Djokovic is priced at 4/6 to win a sixth Australian Open title. It is by far his favourite event and the Serbian will be well favoured, especially if Andy Murray is forced to drop out of the competition due to the impending birth of his child. Djokovic loves the Melbourne event and must rank as the greatest player on the planet on the hard court surface.

The trickiest tournament will be the French Open. Djokovic is yet to win at Roland Garros and while Rafael Nadal has struggled in the last couple of years, it would be foolish to rule the Spaniard out. If the Serbian is going to win this particular title, his time is now – especially before last year’s winner Stanislas Wawrinka becomes one of the top players in the world. It will be tough but if anyone is capable of defying the odds, it’s Novak Djokovic.

From there, Djokovic will only need Wimbledon and the US Open to complete the set. In 2015, the Serbian won both of these tournaments with relative ease although he did have to dig deep in order to defeat Roger Federer in both finals. The Swiss superstar may not be the same athlete that he was five years ago but he still possesses sheer talent and is capable of denying Djokovic the coveted Grand Slam quadruple.

So, will the Serbian achieve this goal? Well, it’s an incredibly difficult ask but Djokovic is an exceptional tennis player. A lot will hinge on the performances of Andy Murray – if the British number one performs at his best, Djokovic will find it tough. However, any slip-up and the Serbian will be too good and should capitalise. Fans are set for a great year of tennis and it could be a record-breaking performance if Djokovic has his way.