For the first time ever, PowerShares Series brings tennis to Orlando’s Amway Center on January 5, 2017, featuring tennis greats including John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick and James Blake. Tickets are on sale now.
On January 2, 2017, Orlando will celebrate another first when the United States Tennis Association (USTA) officially opens its USTA National Campus in the Lake Nona Community of Orlando. The New Home of American Tennis is a state-of-the-art facility with 100 courts, housing the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development divisions as well as the University of Central Florida’s tennis teams. The campus is divided into dedicated areas that focus on the pathway from the youngest players to recreational players, to collegians, to future professional players and professional tour-level players.
“January will be the most exciting month for tennis that Orlando has ever experienced,” said Jim Courier, the U.S. Davis Cup captain, co-founder of the PowerShares Series and a part-time Orlando resident. “The USTA’s home of American tennis will open to the public and begin full operations shortly after the new year and then professional tennis will be played at the Amway Center for the first time when the PowerShares Series hits town. It’s going to be an amazing start to 2017.”
“Orlando is an internationally recognized destination because of our top notch tourism industry, and with our world-class venues, including the USTA Tennis Center and Amway Center, we continue to attract events like the PowerShares Series tennis tour. Orlando is now also the leading destination for major sporting events in America,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
“We are excited to host a first-time, high-caliber tennis event featuring some of the world’s greatest champions,” said Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson. “With the opening of the USTA facility in January, it was a perfect opportunity to schedule the series.”
The PowerShares Series is the first major, professional tennis event in Orlando in almost 20 years. McEnroe, the four-time U.S. Open and three-time Wimbledon champion, headlines the field of four world class players at the Champions Showdown Orlando that also features 2003 U.S. Open champion Roddick, former world number four Blake, and Courier, the two-time French and Australian Open champion. The event begins with McEnroe taking on Courier, followed by Blake against Roddick. Each PowerShares Series event features two, one-set semifinal matches and a one-set championship match and, for the second straight year, players make their own line calls with the assistance of electronic line-calling. Tickets, as well as hit-with-the-pros opportunities and VIP backstage access, are for sale now at PowerSharesSeries.com.
“We are very excited that the PowerShares Series will bring world-class tennis to Orlando,” said Chief Executive, Community Tennis and USTA National Campus Kurt Kamperman. “Along with the opening of the USTA National Campus, Orlando has become an ultimate destination for tennis fans and players of all ages and abilities.”
The USTA National Campus’ mission is to deliver the world’s finest tennis experience for all who visit, use, and work at the facility. It is the essence of collaboration and innovation for the sport of tennis, as well as for training and developing the next generation of tennis players, officials and industry professionals. The USTA National Campus will feature 100 tennis courts, is open to the public, and will be able to accommodate every type of tennis competition and program, from youth tennis events to age-based national championships.
In 2015, Roddick won the PowerShares Series points title in his second year of competing with 1,600 points and a record eight wins. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points. Mark Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points. 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.
Tickets, schedules and this season’s remaining PowerShares Series schedule with player fields can be found at PowerSharesSeries.com.
TICKETS: $30, $55, $80, $115 & $195 – Buy tickets at AmwayCenter.com, Amway Center box office, Ticketmaster retail locations, charge-by-phone at 800.745.3000 or at Ticketmaster.com. All dates, act(s) and ticket prices are subject to change without notice. All tickets are subject to applicable taxes, service, handling and facility fee charges. For Amway Center box office and ticket information, visit AmwayCenter.com (phone purchases are not available through the Amway Center box office). The Amway Center is located at 400 West Church Street and the box office is located on the north side of the Amway Center, near the intersection of Church Street and Hughey Avenue.
ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world number one 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 InsideOutSE.com or 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 10 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 is one of the leading agencies 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.
ABOUT AMWAY CENTER
The Orlando Magic served as the developer of the Amway Center, which hosts major national events, concerts and family shows. Opened in the fall of 2010, the facility is owned and operated by the City of Orlando on behalf of the Central Florida community. The Amway Center was designed to reflect the character of the community, meet the goals of the users and build on the legacy of sports and entertainment in Orlando. The building’s exterior features a modern blend of glass and metal materials, along with ever-changing graphics via a monumental wall along one facade. A 180-foot tall tower serves as a beacon amid the downtown skyline. The 875,000 square foot, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified building features a sustainable, environmentally-friendly design and unmatched technology, including 1,100 digital monitors, the tallest high-definition video board in an NBA venue and multiple premium amenities available to all patrons in the building. Amway Center was recently honored with TheStadiumBusiness Awards’ 2013 Customer Experience Award and named SportsBusiness Journal’s 2012 Sports Facility of the Year. For more information about the Amway Center, visit www.amwaycenter.com.
Tennis betting is gaining popularity, making it one of the top sports on which people choose to bet. Betting on tennis, either for a winner, or predicting the score, is incredibly fun and something that many tennis fans enjoy to do. It allows fans to bet on their favorite athletes and test their predictions in an entertaining and thrilling environment. But what happens when people play dirty?
Two tennis umpires from Uzbekistan have recently been banned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for betting-related offenses. The umpires used their position of power to profit through betting, thus leaving all other tennis fans and punters at a very real disadvantage. Sherzod Hasanov and Arkhip Molotyagin, the two umpires from Uzbekistan in question have received a life ban for their unethical and illegal actions.
Hasanov and Molotyagin were officials at an ITF Futures event that was hosted in Tiberias in Israel. The two umpires used their mobile phones to illegally communicate information regarding the scores of matches to a third party. This third party placed bets on these games, based on the inside information. In addition, the pair of umpires was found to have manipulated the scores of matches in a fraudulent manner; choosing to enter false deuce games in their PDA devices while they were officiating other tennis events. The ITF has stated that its Futures tour has now been recognized as a big problem with regards to corruption, as it is their lowest competition level.
It is very disappointing to see tennis officials abuse their power in such a manner, in order to make some extra money. But thankfully the ITF has been vigilant and astute at weeding out officials who act in unethical ways so that the rest of us can continue to place bets without being unfairly disadvantaged by cheaters. Now that these two umpires have been banned for life, you can rest easy! Sky bet mobile is an incredible online betting service that caters to all of your tennis and general sports betting needs. With only a five Pound minimum deposit, Sky bet gives you a total of twenty Pounds in free bets. If you become a member of their Sky Jet Club, you benefit even further due to the weekly five Pound free bet that club members are gifted.
But the best thing about Sky bet mobile is that it is a mobile service that can be used whenever you want. This marks a departure from previous means of betting, where you either had to visit a bookmaker personally, or access one through a computer. Now, with a mobile app that allows you to place bets easily and efficiently, your life is made significantly better. The Skybet mobile app is compatible not only with your mobile phone, but with your tablet too! It is a streamlined app where you can access and manage your Skybet Sportsbook for betting, as well as your Skycasino or Skybingo mobile accounts.
Will Andy Murray be able to overcome his U.S. Open disappointment and lead Great Britain to the Davis Cup final?
He will get his chance at redemption when Great Britain faces Argentina in the Davis Cup semifinal this weekend against Argentina in Glasgow indoors on a hard court at the Emirates Arena.
After suffering through a frustrating loss to Kei Nishikori of Japan in the U.S. Open quarterfinals – only his second loss since the French Open – Murray will surely be bursting with motivation to make up for his failure in New York to lead Britain back into the Davis Cup final and try to win the title for a second straight year.
Murray has a strong supporting cast in the effort against Argentina. The No. 2 singles spot will be either No. 55-ranked Kyle Edmund or No. 53-ranked Dan Evans, both of whom have hot hands after salient efforts at the U.S. Open. Edmund reached the fourth round at a major for the first time in his career, upsetting U.S. No. 1 John Isner before falling to Novak Djokovic. Dan Evans reached the third round and had a match point on eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.
Argentina will be led by Juan Martin del Potro, who Murray beat in the Olympic final and who is fresh off a strong quarterfinal showing in New York that moved his ranking from No. 141 to 64. A rematch of the Olympic gold medal match will be on the schedule for the opening day’s singles when Murray and del Potro reprise their battle from Rio, won by Murray 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 on an outdoor hard court.
Anything can happen in Davis Cup and surprises are common in this unique 116-year-old competition and Argentina’s other singles competitor – either No. 41 Federico Delbonis or No. 49 Guido Pella – could rise to the occasion on foreign soil. However Murray’s teammate, Davis Cup doubles partner – and brother – Jamie Murray comes to Glasgow on a high after winning the doubles title at the U.S. Open with his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares. His presence makes Britain a favorite in all five rubbers in the fast indoor conditions.
In the other semifinal, the deep French team will face a slightly-sputtering Croatia on an indoor court in Zadar, Croatia. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the French team due to his knee injury that caused him to exit the U.S. Open. He will be replaced with Lucas Pouille, the No. 18-ranked rising French star who upset Rafa Nadal en route to the quarterfinals in New York. After a perplexing effort in the U.S. Open semifinal against Djokovic, Gael Monfils will play singles alongside Pouille against the Croatians, led by 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic and No. 41 Borna Coric. After winning the title in Cincinnati in August, Cilic lost in the third round in New York meekly to American Jack Sock. Coric lost in the first round of the U.S. Open and is only 5-5 since he won the fifth and decisive match against Sock of the USA in the Davis Cup quarterfinals in July.
France’s doubles team of Nicola Mahut and Pierre-Hughes Herbert, the No. 1 team in the world, should provide the different for the French to see them to the Davis Cup final for an 18th time.
by Kevin Craig
Stan Wawrinka won his third major title on Sunday at the US Open as he defeated Novak Djokovic in four entertaining sets, 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.
Wawrinka, who was match point down in his third round match against Dan Evans, has now won the 2014 Australian Open, the 2015 French Open, and the 2016 US Open and has equaled Andy Murray’s number of major titles at three. Wawrinka is now just one title at Wimbledon away from completing the career grand slam.
“I don’t know what’s happening right now,” said Wawrinka, who has now won his last 11 finals in a row, in his post-match on-court interview. “I’ve been practicing hard since many million years. My goal is to give everything I have to be the best player I can…that’s what happened tonight.”
The first set really set the tone for the duration of the match as the two great friends and warriors battled for an hour to see who could take the early lead. As Djokovic battled back from 40-15 to break Wawrinka in his first service game of the match, eventually taking a 3-0 lead, it looked like the Suisse had not come to play.
Djokovic, though, had referred to Wawrinka many times before the match as a big-match player, and that is exactly what the No. 3 seed proved to be as he was able to fight off three break points later in the set, two of which were set points, and broke the Serb when he served for the set, eventually forcing a tiebreak.
In that first set tiebreak, it was all Djokovic as he didn’t let the thought of him getting broken while serving for the set get to him. The No. 1 player in the world was able to breeze to a 7-1 win, putting himself within two sets of his 13th major title.
The second set saw Wawrinka, who hit 46 winners in the match, begin to settle down and start effectively playing his aggressive style of tennis, earning a break in the early stages for a 4-1 lead. Djokovic would be able to break the Suisse later in the set and got it back to 4-4, but when he served at 4-5, Wawrinka was able to assert himself in the match again and break to even up the match at one-set-all.
In a third set that lasted almost 80 minutes, Wawrinka fought off three break points in the opening game before breaking Djokovic for a 2-0 lead. He would save another break point in the next game to go up 3-0, but the pressure from Djokovic on Wawrinka’s serve finally paid off as he broke the Suisse on his sixth chance of the set to get back on serve.
It would remain that way as neither player saw a break point until Wawrinka did so in the 12th game. After Djokovic had missed out on a game point to force a third set tiebreak, he would proceed to lose the next two points, as well as his service game and the set, allowing Wawrinka to go up two sets to one.
Djokovic, who won just three of the 17 break points that he had in the match, began dealing with a toe injury early in the fourth set, allowing the No. 3 player in the world to race out to a 3-0 lead. After fighting off a break point to hold for 1-3, Djokovic took a medical timeout before Wawrinka went to serve, an action that did not please the Suisse.
The short break required for Djokovic’s toe injury almost got into Wawrinka’s head too much as he had to fight off three break points in the next game to hold for 4-1. From there, it was straightforward for Wawrinka as he would go on to hold in a deuce game to close out the match and the championship, earning himself his third major title.
“This is honestly amazing. I came here without expecting, without having the goal to win…There was so much emotion. This is something that I never had before,” said Wawrinka.
Wawrinka’s three major titles go along with his gold medal from the 2008 Olympics in doubles and his 2014 Davis Cup title, adding up to what has been a very decorated career for someone who had to perform in the shadow of one of the greatest players of all time for the majority of his career in Roger Federer.
The US Open title makes Wawrinka the only active player to have won multiple major titles after turning 30-years old.
Despite the disappointment for Djokovic, who is still having a stellar year slightly under the radar, which seems absurd to say, he remained humble in defeat.
“This has been absolutely deserved. You were the more courageous player in the decisive moments,” Djokovic said to Wawrinka. “He was the tougher player, he knew what to do.”
The praise from Djokovic did not go unnoticed by Wawrinka, who made sure to return the gesture.
“We know each other for many, many years. Because of you, I’m where I am today,” said Wawrinka to Djokovic, citing the No. 1 player in the world as his inspiration throughout the past few years.
Angelique Kerber won her second major title on Saturday at the US Open as she defeated Karolina Pliskova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to claim the trophy in New York.
After winning the Australian Open in the beginning of the year, and now the US Open, Kerber became the first player other than Serena Williams to win two majors in one year since Justine Henin did so in 2007. This title for the German proves that she deserves the No. 1 ranking that she will receive on Monday.
“It means a lot to me. When I was a kid I was always dreaming to one day be the No. 1 player in the world. To win Grand Slams. And today is the day. I won my second Grand Slam here…I’m the No. 1 player on Monday, so it’s just amazing,” said Kerber. “All the dreams came true this year.”
Both players came into the final with loads of confidence, which goes without saying as both had won six matches in New York to get to this point. Kerber, though, was playing with the comfort in her mind that, win or lose, she would be the new No. 1 player in the world when the rankings come out on Monday.
Pliskova, on the other hand, made it past the third round of a major for the first time and was on an 11-match win streak that included her title in Cincinnati that saw her defeat Kerber in the final.
Pliskova, who hit 40 winners and 47 unforced errors in the match, got off to a shaky start, as expected in her first major final, and Kerber took advantage. A break in the opening game by Kerber was followed up by an impressive serving performance in the first set in which she saved all three break points that she faced. Already up a break at 5-3, the German was able to break again to take the set and put herself just one set away from her second major title.
The tables turned in the second set, though, as Pliskova massively raised her level. The Czech didn’t face a single break point in the set and was able to continuously pressure the serve of the 2016 Australian Open champion. Three of Kerber’s five service games in the set went to deuce, and one of the games that didn’t was the game in which Pliskova was able to break. That one break was all the No. 10 seed needed to level the match and forced a deciding third set.
“I just found in myself some power in the second set,” said Pliskova, who won 89 percent of her first serve points in the second set.
Pliskova continued to play at her high level in the third set, breaking Kerber early to get a crucial lead. After going down 3-1, though, Kerber was able to fight back and get back on serve, winning three games in a row to make it 4-3.
From that point forward, both players were playing at peak levels. Kerber was playing her steady game and hit virtually no errors in the latter stages of the match, while Pliskova was blasting the ball from all over the court.
Serving at 4-5, though, Pliskova began to falter, as she had in the opening set. Kerber capitalized on this brief lapse from the Czech and broke at love to close out the match and win her second major title.
“I was really trying to stay in the moment, trying to play my game and being aggressive. I was just really trying to enjoy the final,” said Kerber of her comeback in the third set.
After a stellar 2016 season that saw her win two major titles and reach the No. 1 spot in the rankings, Kerber has little left to prove to the tennis world at the age of 28.
“Just amazing. I won my second Grand Slam in one year. That’s the best year in my career. It’s actually just incredible…it means so much to me,” said Kerber. “Congrats to Karolina…the last few months you have played incredible. You are a tough opponent and for sure you have a great future.”
“Congrats to Angie, she really proved she’s the world No. 1. It was a great match and I’m very honored to play with you,” said Pliskova, who is just 24-years old. “Even though I couldn’t get the win I’m really proud of myself. I’m really happy the way I was playing the last three weeks and hopefully many more titles to come.”
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka set up an epic matchup in the final of the US Open that will take place on Sunday as they both won their semifinals on Friday in four sets.
Djokovic and Wawrinka have had many great battles throughout the course of their career, including the 2015 French Open final which Wawrinka won in four sets.
Djokovic, who will play in his seventh US Open final after winning the first semifinal of the day, took out Gael Monfils in what was one of the stranger matches of 2016.
“It was a tough one to be part of…I’m just very glad to overcome that,” said Djokovic. “I think he actually played the best tennis of his life on hard courts this season…so it was a good win for me today.”
Monfils, who had come into the semifinal stage without dropping a set, looked to be completely out of sorts in the opening set against the No. 1 player in the world.
After quickly finding himself down 5-0 after 16 minutes, Monfils appeared to try to change up his strategy to a method that looked like complete indifference. The Frenchman began to give minimal effort in the majority of points at the end of the first set, but the crazy part is that it actually worked. Monfils was able to roll off three games in a row before Djokovic finally closed out the set.
“I tried to get in his head…I’m just embracing the fact the guy is too good for me, and I try to switch strategy…Is not academic, but I try to win. I think I’m gutsy to try that, you know, against the world No. 1,” said Monfils, who hit 11 aces, but also 11 double faults.
The No. 10 seed looked to keep that same strategy going in the second set, but it stopped working. Djokovic figured out how to work around the listless Monfils and breezed to a two-sets lead, but not before boos aimed at the Frenchman rang out around Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The jeers started as Monfils, who faced 20 break points in the match, prepared to serve down set point. He proceeded to ask the crowd to get louder, sarcastically, before hitting double fault to give Djokovic the second set. That was followed by louder jeers, and Monfils looked like he may have received the wake-up call he needed.
After dropping serve to open up the third set, Monfils would roar back and look like he was the one who had been in charge of the entire match, breaking Djokovic twice before fighting back from a 0-40 hole while serving for the set to hold.
“I should not have allowed him to come back into the match after two sets to love up and 2-0 in the third, that was the momentum shift,” said Djokovic. “He started believing in himself and the crowd…was behind him. They wanted to see the long match.”
Monfils appeared to have returned to the form that got him to the semifinals, but more importantly he was able to get the crowd back on his side. The fourth set, though, would once again be controlled by Djokovic.
After an early exchange of breaks, the Serb would break Monfils twice more to close out the win and earn his spot in the final.
“It was a strange match, as it always is when you play Gael, who is very unpredictable player,” said Djokovic. “I was completely caught off guard when he just stood there and chipped the ball back and didn’t do much.”
While Djokovic was able to start scouting his next opponent and prepare for the final, Monfils had to answer to criticism from the press, namely John McEnroe, who was not shy in calling out the Frenchman for his performance in the first two sets.
“I’m very sad to learn that such a legend criticize me, because…I want to be the best. It’s tough. I try my best,” said Monfils, who hit 52 unforced errors. “I’m sorry if you think I’m unprofessional, but I’m working. I’m learning. I think I’m failing, for sure, a lot, but I try to stand up…because when he calls me unprofessional, he calls…all my team, actually, unprofessional.”
In what was a much tighter and more entertaining second semifinal, Wawrinka was able to defeat Kei Nishikori in four sets after being down a set and a break.
“I knew it would be really tough…I’m really happy. It was an amazing atmosphere again. To tell myself that I’m going to be in the final, it’s something crazy,” said Wawrinka.
The Suisse will now play in his third major final and he is looking to keep his record in major finals perfect. He has won the only two that he has played in as he defeated Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Australian Open final, as well as the aforementioned triumph over Djokovic at the 2015 French Open.
“I’m really excited. I’m really happy. I want to enjoy that moment. I’ve watched the final so many times here,” said Wawrinka, who will finally get to play in the US Open final for the first time.
After a straightforward first set in which Nishikori controlled and took advantage of the only break point of the set, Wawrinka was able to battle back from a break down in the second.
The Suisse lost his serve in the opening game of the set before breaking back a couple games later. The pressure continued though as Wawrinka saved six more break points in the set before breaking Nishikori in the 12th game of the set to level the match.
Set No. 3 saw Wawrinka continue to play well as he was able to break Nishikori twice. Just like the second set, the Suisse was able to break in the final game to close it out, this time giving himself a two-sets-to-one lead.
In the fourth set, almost everything went the way of the Suisse as he was able to break three times and ease his way into the US Open final.
There will be no secrets between Djokovic and Wawrinka on Sunday as they have played each other 12 times since 2012, as well as six times in majors. While Djokovic leads the career head-to-head record 21-4, no one will be able to predict what will happen in the final.
by Kevin Craig
Serena Williams lost her semifinal at the US Open on Thursday to Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 7-6(5), but that may not be the most important thing she lost on Thursday. The 22-time major champion also lost her world No. 1 ranking for the first time since February of 2013 to Angelique Kerber of Germany.
“I’m not talking about No. 1,” said Williams in her post-match press conference. “I think Karolina played great today…I wasn’t at 100 percent but I also think she played well and she deserved to win today.”
Williams discussed having a knee injury that occurred after her second round match that had been hampering her movement around the court, but was gracious in defeat as she was able to give Pliskova the credit she deserves for winning the match.
Pliskova, from the Czech Republic, has now won 11 matches in a row. After winning the premier-level event in Cincinnati, the No. 11 player in the world has come into New York and won six matches. Her goal coming into the event was to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time, and she has been able to go three rounds further, all the way into the final.
“I said I don’t believe it…actually I do believe it. I always knew I had a chance to beat anyone if I am playing my game,” said Pliskova.
The first set was dominated by the 10th-seeded Pliskova, as she went two-for-three on break points and didn’t have to face one herself. After Williams fought off a break point to hold for 2-3, she was able to take Pliskova to deuce and almost turned the tables on the first set.
Pliskova, though, withstood the effort from the American to hold before breaking her at love in the next game for a 5-2 lead, and that momentum carried over into the next game as the Czech easily held to close out the first set.
“The serve today was the key why I won,” said Pliskova.
Thanks to her dominance on serve that saw seven aces and 84-percent of first serve points won, Pliskova was able to continuously apply pressure on the Williams serve, earning a break point in the opening game of the second set. The Czech didn’t convert at that time, but would convert a few games later to break Williams for a 3-2 lead.
In the very next game, though, Pliskova faltered for the first and only time in the match, allowing Williams to have a look at a 0-40 opportunity. The American would not miss out on this chance, capitalizing on the first break point to even up the set.
Straightforward holds took the set into a tiebreak after the exchange of breaks early on. After dropping the first set on serve, Williams was able to bounce back and win both of Pliskova’s service points later in the set to grab a 4-3 lead.
The American was unable to take advantage of this lead, though, and lost her next service point before ultimately grabbing a 5-4 lead and putting herself within two matches of forcing a deciding third set. From that point on, though, Pliskova was able to win the next three points, including a double fault on match point from Williams, giving the Czech the win and putting her in the final.
“This is something amazing and I’m really excited to be in the final, and especially to beat a player like this. Serena is a champion so it’s never easy to play her…it was very hard,” said Pliskova. “I had a goal today to beat Serena and that’s what I did…I don’t care who is there in the final.”
by Kevin Craig
Caroline Wozniacki reached her third US Open semifinal on Tuesday as she defeated an injured Anastasija Sevastova, 6-0, 6-2 to start off a lackluster night session that saw the men’s match between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga end with the Frenchman retiring.
The Dane, a former world No. 1, reached the only two major finals of her career at the US Open, coming in 2009 and 2014. The win puts her into her first semifinal at a major since that run to the final of the US Open in 2014.
“It’s amazing to be back here. It’s the best feeling ever,” said Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 74.
The former world No. 1 had no issues starting off the match as she was able to break Sevastova to get out to a quick lead. It was just a couple games into the match, though, that the Latvian took a tumble on the baseline and rolled her ankle, essentially killing off any chances she had of winning the match.
“I felt real sorry for her. I kept pushing her back and making her run,” said Wozniacki, who was aware of the injury but did not want to give her opponent any room to get back into the match.
After taking the first set with no trouble whatsoever, it looked like the second set would take a similar path. Wozniacki was able to race out to a 4-0 lead as Sevastova continued to struggle with the ankle injury.
In the fifth game, however, the Latvian was able to finally get on the board as she fought off three break points to hold for the first time in the match. She would hold again in her next service game and looked to finally be in the match, but it was too little too late.
In the next game, Wozniacki held with ease to close out the win, setting up a semifinal with the 2016 Australian Open champion, Angelique Kerber. The German leads the head-to-head record 7-5, but the Dane holds a 5-4 lead in hard court matches.
“She’s had a great year so she will be tough to beat, but I’m going to do my best. That’s all I can ask for myself,” said Wozniacki. “I always believe in myself, no matter what my ranking.”
by Kevin Craig
Karolina Pliskova ended the opportunity of having an all-Williams semifinal at the US Open as she defeated Venus Williams on Monday, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3).
“I put everything in there, I’m happy that I won it,” said Pliskova.
The 10th-seeded Pliskova reached her first quarterfinal at a major with the win that saw her battle back from a being down a set and a break in the second set, while she also had to fight off a match point in the third.
In the first, the Czech didn’t have much to offer for the crowd-favorite Williams. The American, currently ranked No. 6 in the world at the age of 36, rolled out to a 3-0 lead in the first set with ease. That lead would expand to 5-1 for Williams, but she would have difficulty closing out the set as Pliskova would break her twice and actually got the set back on serve.
With Pliskova serving at 4-5, though, she quickly fell into a 0-40 hole and was unable to battle out of it as Williams broke on her third chance to close out the set and take a lead.
The second set saw some of that momentum for Pliskova from the end of the first set carry over. Despite going down a break early, the Czech didn’t let it crush her hopes, as she immediately broke in the next game before breaking again two games later, eventually having a 5-3 lead. Serving out the set at 5-4, Pliskova had no troubles levelling the match as she held at 15 to take the match into a decider.
Pliskova, who hit 33 winners in the match, continued to be in charge early on in the third set, pressuring Williams in her first two service games. The pressure paid off as Pliskova broke for a 2-1 lead before fighting off three break points in the next game to go up 3-1. One sloppy game at 4-3, though, would cost Pliskova the lead as Williams broke easily to level up the match.
With Pliskova serving at 4-5, it looked like the opportunity had slipped out of the hands of the 24-year old as Williams had a look at a match point. Pliskova was able to hold her nerve, though, and earn a tough hold for 5-5. That gave the Czech a confidence boost that allowed her to break in the next game and attempt to serve for the match at 6-5.
After quickly going up 40-0, with three match points in hand, it looked like Pliskova had finally sealed the deal. It would never be that easy with Williams, one of the most decorated tennis players of all-time, on the other side of the net. The American was able to save all three of those match points, winning five points in a row to break back and force a final set tiebreak.
“To be honest, it was very difficult after I lost my serve for 6-6. She played a very good game but I was still focused,” said Pliskova.
In the tiebreak, the fight-back from Williams had finally reached its limit. Pliskova was able to race out to a 6-2 lead where the American saved a fourth match point. At 6-3, though, the job was finally completed as the Czech capitalized on her fifth match point to ensure her place in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time in her career.
“So far I’m happy that I got my first quarter-final. I’m going to enjoy this moment and prepare for the next match,” said Pliskova, who will take on either the No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwansa or Ana Konjuh in the next round.
by Kevin Craig
Lucas Pouille won the match of the tournament at the US Open on Sunday as he defeated 14-time major champion Rafael Nadal in five sets, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6), in an epic battle lasting longer than four hours.
“My first match on [Arthur Ashe Stadium]…yeah, I could not dream better than this,” said Pouille, who was able to win his third consecutive five-set match at the US Open.
With the win, the 22-year old from France reached the second major quarterfinal of his career and in a row after he reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon earlier this summer.
The first set was dominated by the 24th-seeded Frenchman as he gave Nadal few chances to work his way into the match. Thanks to a break in the Spaniard’s first service game, Pouille was able to relax a bit in the opening set as he felt minimal pressure on serve until the final game of the set.
After grabbing another break for a 5-1 lead, Pouille gave Nadal a look at his first break point of the match, but the 22-year old fought it off before closing out the set.
That late effort from Nadal gave him some momentum in the second set, as the roles were reversed from the first set. Nadal became the aggressor who was able to win the set with a double break advantage to level the match at one set all.
There was a point where Pouille had four break points to get back on serve in the set, but Nadal used his advantage in the experience department to will his way to a hold, eventually grabbing that second break to close out the set.
The third set opened up with a break for Pouille as he proved to Nadal and the tennis world that he wouldn’t back down after dropping the second set. At 2-0, Pouille missed out on a break point in an 18-point game and was unable to go up a double break, but kept his composure as he would only lose four points in his next three service games to close out the set and take a two-sets-to-one lead.
In the fourth, some fatigue began to be apparent in Pouille who had played five-set matches in his previous two rounds. After fighting off a break point at 1-2, the Frenchman would be broken in his next two service games with relative ease, allowing Nadal to even up the match and force a deciding fifth set.
When that deciding set began, Nadal once again was able to break, giving him three consecutive breaks of the Pouille serve. The nine-time French Open champion looked well on his way to the quarterfinals of the US Open as he lost just three points on serve in his first three service games of the set.
In that fourth service game, though, Pouille turned the tables of the match as he earned two break points out of nothing, capitalizing on the second one to get back on serve. In the very next game, the 22-year old saved a break point, and was eventually able to force one of the most dramatic and intense situations in tennis; a fifth set tiebreak.
After giving up a mini-break on the opening point, Pouille would rattle off four points in a row for a 4-1 lead, eventually extending the lead to 6-3. At that point, Pouille looked over to his box and reminded them and himself to stay calm. That’s exactly what he needed to do as Nadal would battle back to level the tiebreak at 6-6, but the Frenchman would not let this opportunity slip.
“At 6-3, I was like ‘Ok, you’re going to win this one. Then at 6-all, it was not the same,” said Pouille, receiving a laugh from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd in his post-match on-court interview.
Up 7-6 in the tiebreak, Pouille battled out an epic baseline rally with Nadal that ended with the Frenchman ripping a forehand winner down the line to close out the match and earn the win.
“It’s just never over until the last point. I was a break down in the fifth. I came back…It’s never done until the last point is over,” said Pouille.
Pouille will now take on fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils, who took out Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets in the round of 16, in the quarterfinals of the US Open on Tuesday.