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Madison Keys Stages Extraordinary Comeback Win To Beat Naomi Osaka

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Madison Keys completed an extraordinary comeback on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday at the US Open, coming back from 1-5 down in the third set to beat Naomi Osaka of Japan, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3).

“For sure. Hands down,” said Keys when asked if this was the best comeback of her career. “The crowd today was amazing, and getting to play at your home slam on Ashe is a feeling like you can’t even describe.”

Keys, the No. 8 seat in this year’s US Open, has been in terrific form this summer, holding a 19-4 record since the French Open. The impressive run she has been on saw her sitting at a career high ranking of No. 9 coming into the event, and with her results in New York, will see her propel to an even higher career high ranking when the new rankings come out.

With a title in Birmingham, a finalist appearance in Montreal, and reaching the medal rounds at the Olympics in Rio, Keys, at 21-years old, was touted as one of the outside favorites at the final major of the year, but received a massive scare from her 18-year old opponent.

Osaka, who has been highly regarded as one of the best prospects on the women’s side of the game in recent times, had an impressive result early in the year as she qualified to get into the Australian Open before reaching the third round. Her ranking as hovered in the 80-120 range in 2016, though, as she has not been able to win more than two matches in a row since her run in Melbourne.

The Japanese looked to make it three wins in a row on Friday as she broke Keys in the opening game of the match and got off to the exact start she needed. Keys, however, was up to the task and broke back just three games later to get back on serve. From the 2-2 game onward, the rest of the first set was very straight forward as neither player had a look at any break points and none of the games went to deuce until the final game of the set.

In the 12th game, Osaka gave Keys, who hit 37 winners in the match, just the smallest window of opportunity at 30-40, and the American took advantage as she broke to close out the first set, 7-5.

The second set was much different as four of the 10 games went to deuce, yet only one break point was converted. That break went to Osaka in the ninth game as she was able to fight off two break points in the early stages before taking the lead late. After converting her first break point of the set for a 5-4 lead, Osaka went on to hold comfortably at 15 to force a decider.

All the momentum looked to be on the side of the 18-year old as she would get within one game of reaching her first fourth round at a major, holding a 5-1 lead. Keys, though, knew how big of an opportunity this was for her and she didn’t let it slip, breaking Osaka as she served for the match, not even allowing the Japanese to have a look at a match point.

“I just knew that if I stayed in the match that I could maybe have a chance to come back and get back in it,” said Keys, and that was exactly the case as she fought herself all the way back to a final set tiebreak.

The unreal comeback from Keys, who won 80 percent of her first serve points in the match, was concluded as all the momentum was on her side at this point. The American was able to jump out to a 5-2 lead in the tiebreak, and there was no looking back from that point as she would close out the match three points later and place herself in the fourth round of the US Open for the second year in a row.

“I think the biggest thing is just…I’m never giving up and I’m fighting to the very end. That’s something to pat myself on the back for. But also definitely going to sit down later and work on some things for the next round because I don’t want to be two points from losing again,” said Keys.

This match-up between Keys and Osaka is surely one that will be seen many times again in the future, and possibly even in the later rounds of major tournaments. For now, though, Keys will focus on her fourth round match with former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki that will take place on Sunday.

The American has bowed out in the fourth round of the first three majors of the year, but will hope to go at least one better here in New York, and possibly match her career best result at a major; reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2015.

Qualifier Jared Donaldson Reaches Third Round In Breakthrough Major

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

American qualifier Jared Donaldson reached the third round of the US Open on Thursday as he defeated Viktor Troicki of Serbia in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3 6-3.

Not only does the win for Donaldson send him into the third round of a major for the first time in just his second appearance, but it will also propel him to a new career high ranking inside the Top 100.

Coming into the US Open, Donaldson was in fine form as he qualified for the tour level events in Washington, D.C. and Toronto, while totaling five tour level main draw wins. Two of those came over Fabio Fognini and Nicolas Almagro, and he was surely expecting to receive a wild card into the US Open.

When the list of wild cards was announced, though, the 19-year old, who is coached by Taylor Dent, was snubbed and was forced to win three matches in the qualifying tournament. With a chip on his shoulder and the feeling that he still had something to prove, he won his three qualifying matches with ease, not dropping a single set and only getting taken beyond 6-3 twice.

After that impressive run in qualifying, the No. 122 player in the world continued to impress as he pulled off arguably the biggest upset of the opening round, beating the No. 12 seed David Goffin in four sets, including a bagel in the fourth set.

With risen expectations on his shoulders, Donaldson, who only has one challenger level title and three futures level titles to his name, showed no signs of extra stress or pressure as he strolled into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and left with a routine win over a perennial Top 40 player in Troicki.

After going down an early break in the first set and staring down a 4-1 deficit, Donaldson started to show off the good form that he had been displaying all summer, winning six of the next eight games, including two breaks, to take the first set.

From the point in the first set when it was 4-1 in Troicki’s favor, Donaldson clearly became the better player as it looked like he was the veteran on the court and Troicki was the teenager. The American quickly found himself up a double break in the second set, breaking the No. 35 player in the world in his first two service games of the set.

Troicki would get one break back, but it did not phase Donaldson as he was able to break back later in the ninth game to close out the set and grab a two sets lead.

In the third set, Troicki kept it much tighter and even had a look at two break points early on. The American was able to fight those off at 1-1, though, and didn’t look back. Donaldson would go on to break for a 4-2 lead before fighting back from a 0-30 whole in each of his next two service games to close out the straight sets win.

Donaldson will either face fellow American Donald Young or Ivo Karlovic in the third round.

Donaldson

At The US Open, Ana Ivanovic Loses Fifth Match In Row, Third Since Marriage To Bastian Schweinsteiger

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic was upset in her first round match at this year’s US Open, losing to Denisa Allertova in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-1.

“It’s an amazing feeling right now,” said Allertova of the Czech Republic.

The No. 89th ranked player in the world didn’t get to the start she envisioned as Ivanovic was able to break in the opening game of the match. After fighting off multiple break points to hold for 3-1, it looked like the Serb had withstood the fight she would receive from Allertova in the match. Ivanovic’s service games became much easier, that is, until she attempted to serve out the first set.

Serving at 5-4, Ivanovic quickly fell behind 15-40 and lost out on her opportunity to gain a set advantage. She would have another crack at it, though, as she broke Allertova right back. Once again, however, Allertova refused to go away and broke in a lengthy 12th game, saving a set point along the way, to force a tiebreak. It was there that Allertova was able to steal the first set, as well as all of the momentum in the match, taking the tiebreak 7-4.

“I put myself in a position to close out the set…and then I don’t. This is what’s been really frustrating so this is something I really have to re-assess and work on,” said Ivanovic in post-match press conference of her recent struggles.

There was no looking back for the Czech as she broke in the opening game of the second set to essentially finish off the match. Allertova dealt with almost no pressure on her serve in the set, losing just five points in three games with no break points to face. The No. 89 player in the world would break in Ivanovic’s last two service games of the match to seal the deal, taking home the straight set victory.

“I’m so happy. It was a tough match. She’s a great player. But I just focused on every point and tried to play my best,” said Allertova, who improved to 7-1 in first round matches at majors.

Ivanovic, who also lost in the first round at Wimbledon this year and has now lost in the first round of the US Open two years in a row, is currently ranked as low as she has been since October of 2010. She is also in danger of finishing the year with a below .500 record for the first time in her career, as her current record in 2016 sits at 14 wins and 15 losses. Her loss Tuesday was her fifth in a row and the third in a row since her July 12 marriage to German soccer star Bastian Schweinsteiger.

“It is very disappointing. Obviously you want to try to do your best at the biggest events and I really felt like I did everything I could,” said Ivanovic. “It’s really disappointing…so I really have to try and stay a little bit positive even if it’s very hard.”

John Isner Comes Back From 0-2 Down To Beat Frances Tiafoe In Fifth-Set Tiebreaker

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

John Isner fought off a valiant effort from fellow American Frances Tiafoe, an 18-year old, to come back from two sets to love down, winning 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(2) in the first men’s match played on the new Grandstand Court at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center.

The No. 1 American got off to a more than lackluster start, getting broken at love by the No. 125 player in the world in his opening service game of the match. Even though Isner was able to get a break back later in the set, that first game set the tone for the first two sets as Tiafoe was clearly the better player and Isner had no answer for the young American, who was able to grab another break late in the first set to take a big step towards his first win at a major.

Tiafoe was able to breeze through the second set as he once again broke in Isner’s opening service game before saving the only break point he faced in the set a few games later. The 18-year old playing in just third match at a major was just one set away from earning what would be by far the biggest win of his career and he had the complete support of the crowd behind him.

“Just gotta stay with it…try to keep the match competitive,” said Isner of his strategy heading into a do or die third set.

Tiafoe was able to carry that momentum from the first two sets into the third, earning a break point in Isner’s opening service game again, but was unable to convert as Isner did exactly what he wanted to, keep the match competitive. Later at 2-2, Tiafoe had a look at two more break points, but again the veteran Isner was able to fend those off, and it looked like he had received his much needed wake-up call. From there, Isner was able to get his first real foothold in the match and force a tiebreak where he had to fight back from a 3-1 deficit to steal the third set and extend the match.

In the fourth set, Isner began to really assert himself on the court and was able to play his “big-man” style of tennis for the first time in the match. Dominating on serve, Isner began to apply more pressure on the Tiafoe serve, earning him two breaks and a comfortable 6-2 fourth set win.

It was clear from the first point of the fifth set that it would be up for grabs as both players looked to be at their peak levels of performance. Tiafoe regained his form from the first two sets while Isner was still riding the wave of momentum that had gotten him back even in the match. A few easy holds each way began the set before Tiafoe earned the first real opportunity to close out the match. With Isner serving at 3-4, Tiafoe was able to break and had the match on his racquet, serving at 5-3. Isner was up to the task, however, and quickly raced out to a 0-40 lead before breaking at 30-40 to get the set back on serve before eventually forcing a deciding set tiebreak.

“Just trying to play solid, try to play the right way. I think I played a pretty good game. I think I made every single return. From that point on…it gave me a lot of energy moving forward,” said Isner of his play to break Tiafoe when he served for the match.

Final set tiebreaks had not been Isner’s specialty in 2016 as he had lost six matches in these scenarios, but he was able to put that to the wayside and looked very comfortable. A mini-break in the first point of the tiebreak for Isner, combined with a few Tiafoe errors, including a double fault, allowed the 6’10” American to cruise to a 7-2 tiebreak win and close out the comeback.

Both Isner and Tiafoe were appreciative of the atmosphere that helped make the match as intense as it was.

“It was an absolute pleasure to play out here in front of you fans and an absolute pleasure to play against Frances. He’s a hell of a player and a class act,” said Isner.

“It was the best atmosphere I’ve ever played on in my life…it’s an unbelievable time I had playing tennis today…you guys made this match unbelievably fun for me,” added Tiafoe, who listened to chants of his name ring out throughout the course of the match.

“It hurts. It hurts a lot…but I can’t wait to come back next year and hopefully do damage,” continued a disappointed but hopeful Tiafoe.

Isner will take on Steve Darcis in the second round at the US Open in a section of the draw that completely opened up when Richard Gasquet was upset by Kyle Edmund in straight sets. A potential fourth round match with Novak Djokovic awaits the No. 1 ranked American.

Serena Williams Will Play With New Wilson “Autograph” Racket Starting In Australia In 2017

Wilson Sporting Goods announced that it will honor 20-year veteran Advisory Staff Member Serena Williams with an Autograph tennis racket.

The Blade Serena Williams (SW) 104 Autograph racket marks only the 16th time in the brand’s 102-year history, and only the second time in the last 38 years, that it has celebrated an athlete with Autograph racket. Serena will debut her new racket at the start of the 2017 season in Australia.

“I’ve played with Wilson rackets since I was a young girl, and to now hold an Autograph racket of my own is a great moment,” said Serena Williams. “I am just thrilled that players of all ages around the world will be able to play with a Wilson racket that bears my signature. This racket feels like me – it reflects my passion, perseverance and drive – and I hope it energizes and encourages those that play with it to always chase their dreams.”

The 2017Blade SW 104 Autograph racket features the new design DNA for Wilson performance tennis rackets. This design includes a simple, bold, and clean aesthetic that features a specially engineered, high performance paint never used in the tennis industry before called Black Velvet. This matte paint provides a smooth, soft, light-absorbing finish Wilson created to significantly improve the “feel,” or tactile experience, a player has when the racket is in his/her hands. This new dimension of “feel” is a unique innovation in the performance tennis rackets space.

The racket also features strong electric green accents, a signature look from the Blade franchise, at the three and nine o’clock positions on the racket’s frame.

To customize her Autograph racket, Serena William chose to add special gold accents to the design, including her signature, initials and the Blade name in gold chrome letters. The racket features a red Wilson-branded butt cap.

The Blade SW 104 Autograph racket is constructed with the latest racket technology from Wilson LABS, the innovation hub at Wilson, including a revolutionary material called Countervail®.  With Countervail in a tennis racket, players feel less fatigue, recover quicker and experience better control – without sacrificing stiffness, feedback, or feel.

Young American Vasil Kirkov Falls In U.S. Open Qualifying

By Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

Vasil Kirkov, the 17-year-old who reached the semifinals as a lucky loser in the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships USTA Futures event earlier this year in Vero Beach, Florida, competed in the qualifying rounds of the 2016 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center.

Kirkov, however, suffered an early exit, falling 6-2, 7-5 in the first scheduled match of the competition to No. 242-ranked Yannik Reuter of Belgium.

Kirkov, ranked No. 1146, played the match on Court No. 5 – the shadow of the new Arthur Ashe Stadium retractable roof – in front of an audience of about 200 people that included U.S. Olympic men’s tennis coach Jay Berger, former US Davis Cup Captain Tom Gullikson and Hallof Famer – and Vero Beach resident – Ivan Lendl, who works with Kirkov as part of his advisory role with the USTA Player Development program.

Kirkov was awarded a wild card entry into the U.S. Open qualifying tournament by the U.S. Tennis Association after, not only his strong result in Vero Beach, that saw his ATP ranking rise almost 1000 spots, but by reaching the final of the USTA National Boy’s 18 Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., where he lost to another Vero Beach Futures alumnus Michael Mmoh.

Kirkov is expected to compete in the U.S. Open junior championships in two weeks.

How To Make Money As A Tennis Fan

Tennis is a popular sport around the world. This is because the game can be played by people of all ages and requires only two players. In fact, anyone who has a large yard can easily construct their own tennis court to enjoy the game as a form of exercise and source of fun. Every year, there are major tennis tournaments held all over the world and fans usually save up to travel to watch their favorite players win while others usually follow the matches on TV at home or their local sports bars. What some people don’t know is that they can also make money while enjoying tennis matches. Royal Vegas Casino makes it possible for sports fans to make some by predicting the outcome of a match. If you love playing or watching tennis, read on to learn how you can make money from your passion.

How to Play Tennis

There are two types of tennis matches; singles and doubles. As the names suggest, singles is played by one player on each side of the tennis court. Doubles, on the other hand, is played by a pair of tennis players on each side of the court, which means that there are four players on the court. A standard tennis match has three sets. To win a set, a player needs to win six games in the set. If the opposing player, or players, also wins six games, a tie breaker will be needed to determine the winner. To win the match, a player only needs to win two sets out of three. In case of a five set game, the winner must win three sets. As a tennis fan, you already know all that, so what you need right now is some tips on converting your knowledge and passion to cash.

What to Bet on

The easiest way to make money as a tennis fan is predicting a winner. You obviously know your players, so you can easily pick a winner. All you need to do is stake some money using the odds provided and wait for the match to end. A $50 stake on an outcome with a 1.70 probability will give you $80, which is a profit of $30. The higher the stake, the higher the rewards. Imagine combining the odds of two different tennis matches. If the second game has odds of 1.30, the total odds will add up to 2.00, which means that you will double your money if the two matches end as you predicted.

Aside from predicting the winner, you can also predict the number of games in each set as well as the total number of games in the entire game. This is easy if you know your players. If a player who is highly rated, and has won many matches in the recent months, is playing against a player who has lost many matches, you can predict that the game will not go past two sets, which means the total number of games will never exceed 26. You can start by using free bets to bet on matches to test your strategy before investing real cash.

Steve Johnson, John Isner Endorsed Gluten-Free ArrowBars Now Available At TennisExpress.com

Arrowbar, the gluten free energy bars endorsed by top American tennis players Steve Johnson and John Isner, are now available for sale at TennisExpress.com

The delicious bars, that are available in Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Honey Oat, are available at www.TennisExpress.com

The ArrowBar is a new gluten-free, all-natural, high performance energy bar, developed by athletes for athletes and active people, that provides a filling, 200-calorie boost of quick and long-lasting energy. Johnson, the new No. 1 American tennis player in the world and a bronze medalist in men’s doubles at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, as well as U.S. No. 2 John Isner are among the endorsers for ArrowBar. Former world No. 4 and U.S. Davis Cup hero James Blake as well as 17-year-ATP Pro Michael Russell are also endorsers of the product.

“The ArrowBar gives me the nutrients I need without comprising taste,” said Johnson. “There’s nothing better on the market than ArrowBar. When I am looking for the competitive edge I need, there is only one thing I reach for.”

The ArrowBar is also offered for purchase online at www.ArrowBar.com Bars are available in boxes of 12 for $24.99 with free shipping.

Can Novak Djokovic Overcome Wimbledon, Olympic Failures At The U.S. Open?

After a first-round exit at the Olympic Games and a surprise third-round loss at Wimbledon, one has to wonder the status of world No. 1 Novak Djokovic heading into the U.S. Open?

The Serbian has been the dominant force in tennis for most of the last two years, winning three of the four major titles in 2015 and completing a “Novak Slam” by winning his four straight major title at Roland Garros in June. However, since then Djokovic has shown vulnerabilities that will affect his online tennis betting odds at the U.S. Open.

After winning his second straight Olympic singles gold medal in Rio – a first in tennis history – Andy Murray is seen as Djokovic’s main rival in New York. Murray is also primed with the confidence of winning a second Wimbledon title in July.

Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Djokovic in the first round of the Olympics and eventually earning the silver medal, seems back in the form that lead him to the 2009 U.S. Open title. However, he is ranked No. 141 in the world and did not gain direct entry into the U.S. Open. He will need a wild card entry from the tournament or be forced to win three qualifying matches the week before the main draw. Exhaustion – physical and mental from his Rio efforts – could also affect him in New York.

Monica Puig was the sensation of the women’s Olympic tennis competition becoming the longest shot winner of the gold medal in women’s singles with a rank of No. 34. She posted stunning upsets of No. 4 Garbine Muguruza and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova en route to the final where she hit an incredible 54 winners to upset world No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the gold medal match. Puig will likely not be emotionally ready to contend for a major title in New York, but Muguruza, Kvitova and Kerber will be favored to go deep in the draw. Serena Williams, the world No. 1 and reigning Olympic gold medal winner, was a shock upset victim in the third round in Rio by the hands of Elina Svitolina from Ukraine. She seemed stricken with a should problem that affected her famous powerful serve – as well as being under the weather – and, if healthy – will be motivated to win another U.S. Open title where she would eclipse Steffi Graf’s Open Era record with 23 major singles titles.

DjokovicRioCrying

Andy Murray A Solid Favorite To Win US Open After Another Olympic Gold In Rio

Two Wimbledon titles. Two Olympic Gold Medals. How about two U.S. Opens for Andy Murray?

The Scotsman won his second Olympic Gold Medal in Rio de Janiero, Brazil beating Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the gold medal match to become the first singles player in Olympic history to win two gold medals – and repeat as champion. The Olympic gold medal for Murray comes on the heels of him winning his second Wimbledon singles title in July.

He now heads to New York as a betting favorite for the U.S. Open, the site of his first major singles title in 2012.

Murray has won his last 18 singles matches – not losing since the French Open final to Novak Djokovic and since he rehired former coach Ivan Lendl, himself a three-time U.S. Open champion. It is his longest winning streak of his professional career.

After being the dominant force in men’s tennis for much of the last three years, Djokovic has shown chinks in his game after a surprising third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon and an opening-round loss to del Potro at the Olympics. However, redemption is a motivator for the Serbian as he looks to win in New York for a third time.

The U.S. Open women’s singles event may also be a battle for the No. 1 ranking with Serena Williams seeking to hold off the challenge of world No. 2 Angelique Kerber of Germany. Williams had trouble with her health and her shoulder in her upset loss to Elina Svitolina in the third round at the Olympics that could hamper her in New York. Despite her upset loss to upstart Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match in Rio, Kerber could counter-punch her win to a second major singles title of the year after her win over Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Garbine Muguruza of Spain, the French Open champion, may also contend in New York, but has struggled since achieving her new status in the tennis world order in Paris.

With the Olympics proving to be a physical and emotional drain for many athletes who competed, a dark horse could also emerge in either the men’s or women’s field and win a first major singles title. New top 10 stars Dominic Thiem of Austria and Milos Raonic of Canada, the Wimbledon finalist, may be fresh enough to make a mark at Flushing Meadows. Romania’s Simona Halep, who also skipped Rio, and Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, a first-round loser at the Olympics, may also be ready to break through in New York. Madison Keys of the United States, who finished a painful fourth in Rio, is moving fast up the rankings and may be fueled by her disappointment in not winning a medal in Rio into Grand Slam success in New York.