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

by Sharada Rajagopalan
@rsharada22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madison Keys, Daniil Medvedev Win Cincinnati Titles

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

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

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

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

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

by Sharada Rajagopalan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can Roger Federer Win A 21st Grand Slam Title?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rafael Nadal, Bianca Andreescu Win Rogers Cup Titles

The continuing dominance of a tennis legend and the further emergence of a hometown star were the Sunday themes in Canada, as Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu took home Rogers Cup singles titles in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.

Nadal defeated 23-year-old Russian Daniil Medvedev, 6-3, 6-0, in Montreal to win his fifth Rogers Cup and record 35th ATP Masters 1000 title, which is two more than Novak Djokovic’s 33. The match was the Spaniard’s 51st ATP Masters 1000 final appearance — also a record, leading Roger Federer’s 50 — while it was the first for Medvedev, who trails only Nadal in wins on tour this season (41 to 38).

Andreescu, playing in her first event since suffering a shoulder injury at the French Open, became the first Canadian woman to win the Rogers Cup singles title in 50 years after Serena Williams, bidding to win her fourth Rogers Cup title and first since 2013, had to retire at 3-1 down in the first set with an upper back injury. That gave Andreescu a second Premier-level title of 2019 to pair with her Indian Wells crown and will elevate the 19-year old to a new career-high ranking, projected at No. 14.

The US Open Series makes its penultimate stop in Cincinnati this coming week with no shortage of storylines. Andy Murray will return to singles play for the first time since the Australian Open, after which he underwent hip surgery and eased back into competition by playing doubles this summer. Murray’s return reunites the “Big Four” of the ATP, as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer lead a men’s field featuring nine of the Top 10. The Cincinnati women’s draw features all of the Top 10, as well as wild-card entries Maria Sharapova — drawn against Wimbledon quarterfinalist Alison Riske in the first round — and 17-year old Citi Open semifinalist Caty McNally, a Cincinnati native.

Tennis Channel and ESPN2 will each televise ATP and WTA matches from Cincinnati. Tennis Channel will feature early-round coverage through Thursday, while ESPN2 picks up its coverage on Thursday and will carry next weekend’s matches from the quarterfinals on. View the full television schedule here.

Thuuz Sports Says Federer-Djokovic Wimbledon Final Among Top Global Sports Events

Palo Alto, CA – Thuuz Sports, the most powerful automated video highlights production platform for worldwide sports, announced their July Top 10 most exciting games, with a very unique 24 hour period in the UK, The Cricket World Cup and Men’s Final at Wimbledon outdistancing some exciting and emotional MLB matchups during the month The full top ten is below.

Using their custom designed algorithms to measure real-time event excitement, Thuuz provides a unique look into what games have gotten fans the most excited and engaged as 2019 rolls along.

The game excitement ratings are measured on a 0 to 100 scale and take into consideration game pace, team parity, play novelty, momentum shifts, social buzz, and historical context. The algorithms behind the excitement ratings are statistically calibrated to insure the appropriate distribution of ratings across the duration of a season or course of a tournament.

Using the Thuuz excitement measurement platform, the top ten most exciting games were:

1. New Zealand 241/8 & 15/1, England 241 & 15/0 (Cricket): 7/14: Some people are dubbing this cricket match the greatest one ever, and rightly so. In front of their home fans, England prevailed over New Zealand in the first ever Super Over in a Cricket World Cup Final. After the match ended with both teams at 241, the Super Over then ended with both teams at 15. The teams were so evenly matched that they even tied in OT. In the end, ENG were declared the winner because they had more boundaries than NZ.

2. Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3) (ATP): 7/14: London had quite the day. At the same time the Cricket World Cup was happening, so was the Wimbledon Final between these two classic rivals. It resulted in the first ever 5th set tiebreaker in Wimbledon history after the tournament introduced a tiebreaker at 12-12 in the 5th set at the beginning of the tournament. Federer won more points and games, but Djokovic won when it mattered most, including all 3 tiebreakers to secure his 5th Wimbledon trophy.

3. Yankees 14, Twins 12 (MLB): 7/23: Similar to the first two games on this list, this battle between two of the American League powerhouses was a runaway candidate for the best game of the year. After being down 8-2, the Yankees scored 3 runs in the 5th inning followed by another 5 runs in the top of the 8th to take a 10-9 lead.. The Twins took the lead back in the bottom of the 8th. The Yanks took the lead again in the top of the 9th. Then, in the bottom of the 9th, the Twins tied the game to send it to extra innings. NYY followed with a run in the 10th, and after an Aaron Hicks’ diving catch with the bases loaded, the Yankees secured the win.. In total, the teams combined for 12 runs in the final 3 innings, including 9 for the Yankees.

4. Astros 11, Angels 10 (MLB): 7/7: The game’s best player Mike Trout (LAA) homered twice for the Angels, but they ultimately came up short after WS MVP George Springer hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning. Each team had 6 hitters log multi-hit performances, including 4 of the Astros recording 3+ hits. The game also had a really dark moment when Angels’ catcher J. Lucroy suffered a devastating concussion on a collision at the plate, dampening the mood of an otherwise fantastic baseball game.

5. Twins 7 Athletics 6 (MLB): 7/21: A back-and forth affair, this game saw at least one team score a run in seven innings. Trailing 5-4 entering the 8th inning, the bottom of the A’s lineup did some damage, hitting an RBI double and sac fly giving the A’s bullpen a 6-5 lead. It was not enough, though, as Twins leadoff hitter Max Kepler hit a walkoff single for his 3rd hit and 4th RBI of the night.

6. Cardinals 12, Reds 11 (MLB): 7/19: A wild offensive output saw the Reds take an early 7-0 lead behind a 3-R HR from catcher R. Lavarway. Down by 7, the Cards exploded for a 10-run 6th inning. However, the real story of the inning was that STL scored 7 of those runs with 2 outs in the inning, culminating with a 3-R HR from slugger Jose Martinez. That wasn’t it for the offense, as the Reds scored 4 runs and had Joey Votto up with 2 outs in the 9th, but he grounded out to end the game and the offensive fireworks.

7. Brewers 7, Pirates 6 (MLB): 7/5: Powered by 3 homers, the Brewers took a comfortable 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th inning. The Pirates, however, would not go down easy, putting together a spirited rally capped off by a game-tying solo homer by Jung Ho Kang with 2 outs in the 9th. In the top of the 10th, The Brewers responded with a go-ahead single by Lorenzo Cain to make the score 7-6. After blowing the save in the 9th, Junior Guerra shut the door in the 10th to give the Brewers a thrilling 7-6 win.

8. Blue Jays 10 Rays 9 (MLB): 7/27: The Blue Jays faced a daunting 9-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the 8th inning. They put up 2 runs in the 8th inning on solo homers, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. crushed a three-run homer in the 9th to cut the Rays’ lead to 1. With the Blue Jays down to their final out, Brandon Drury hit a solo homer to tie the game at 9. In the bottom of the 12th, Teoscar Hernandez broke the tie with a walk-off home run to complete the Blue Jays’ improbable come-from-behind win.

9. Rays 10, Blue Jays 9 (MLB): 7/28: Take the recap from the game above, flip it on its head, and that is pretty much the outcome of the game between the Jays and Rays from the next day. The Jays were down 8-1 after 5 innings, but 3 runs in the 6th, 2 in the 7th, and 3 more in the 8th tied the game up at 9 apiece. An RBI groundout with the bases loaded gave the Rays a 10-9 lead in the 9th that they wouldn’t relinquish to extract some revenge from the previous night’s game.

10. Angels 13, Mariners 0 (MLB): 7/12 On the surface, a 13-0 game is not all that exciting. Dive into it and suddenly the power of sports becomes apparent. In the Angels first home game after suffering the tragic death of pitcher T. Skaggs, two Angels pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter. Some of the crazy stats from that night include… The Angels scored 7 runs in the first and 13 runs overall, and Skaggs’ birthday was on July 13th. In the 1st inning, Mike Trout hit a HR 454 feet. Skaggs number was 45. And yes, every Angels player was wearing his number on their jersey that night. The no-hitter began with Skaggs’ mom throwing a perfect strike in the ceremonial 1st pitch. It was a brilliant and emotional night from start to finish.

ABOUT Thuuz Sports

Leveraging its automation platform, Thuuz Sports enables Personalized Clips, Highlight Reels, and Condensed Games: any duration, any perspective, involving any set of plays, players, fantasy rosters, narratives, and themes. Thuuz Sports also offers a Subjective Sports Metadata Service that enables its customers to deliver sports apps and guides that deliver a true personalized experience to their fans based on leveraging Thuuz Sports excitement ratings, dynamic headlines, and real-time notifications. Thuuz Sports customers reach well over 150 million sports fans worldwide and include some of the biggest names in the industry.

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James Blake Wins San Jose To Move To Invesco Series QQQ No. 1 Ranking

After winning his first-ever Invesco Series QQQ season-long points title last season, James Blake has his eye on repeating the feat in 2019. The U.S. Davis Cup hero and former world No. 4 took the points standings lead through six events by beating Mark Philippoussis 7-6(4) in the one-set final of the Invesco Legends San Jose, played in conjunction with the WTA Tour’s Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

Blake leap-frogged 2000 Olympic silver medalist Tommy Haas with his win in San Jose, earning 400 points to take the rankings lead with 900 total points, 100 more than Haas, now in second place. The tournament win was the 15th career title for Blake on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. Earlier this year, he won the title in Tampa, Fla., beating Jim Courier in the final. Haas also has won two titles in 2019, winning in Newport Beach, Calif., and in Maui, Hawaii. Blake and Haas will go head-to-head in the next Invesco Series event September 7 at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

“My body feels like it’s retired but once you get out here, the competitive juices never go away and you want to win,” said Blake, who played his last ATP Tour match at the 2013 U.S. Open before joining the Invesco Series in 2014.

En route to the final, Blake beat 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang 6-2 in the earlier semifinal while Philippoussis beat 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick 7-6(4), saving two match points in a highly-physical match.

The remaining 2019 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

New Haven, CT – September 7 (Yale University, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Tommy Haas, Mark Philippoussis)

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

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

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

Results from earlier this year are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Springfield Lasers Once Again Win World TeamTennis Title

The King Trophy will remain in Springfield (Mo.) and the Lasers’ reign atop World TeamTennis will continue for at least another year.

The Lasers completed a final-set rally to edge the New York Empire, 20-19, in the 44th World TeamTennis championship match before an audience which included World TeamTennis co-founder and International Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King at Orleans Arena on Saturday.

Trailing 17-15 entering the final set (men’s doubles), Springfield’s Robert Lindstedt and Evan Song overpowered New York’s Neal Skupski and Ulises Blanch, 5-2.

Las Vegas native Song, who joined Springfield for the WTT playoffs (replacing the injured Enrique Lopez Perez), clinched the title on his serve at deuce point. Springfield squandered its first three championship points before Skupski’s backhand down the line fell wide.

“Being from Vegas and winning in an event like this, it’s just a dream for me,” Song said. “It was an incredible atmosphere. I think I turned some of them (the fans) into Springfield fans.”

The Lasers (11-5) won just two of the match’s five sets, with Lindstedt was at the heart of Springfield’s success. The 2014 Australian Open champion and three-time Wimbledon finalist (2010-12) in men’s doubles also teamed with Abigail Spears to win in mixed doubles to even the match, 12-12, after three sets.

Lindstedt, the second-year WTT player from Sweden, was named the 2019 World TeamTennis Finals Most Valuable Player presented by Forevermark and received a one-carat diamond from Forevermark.

“It means I did something right. Proof that I achieved something,” Lindstedt said lightheartedly of the award. “We maybe took our foot off the gas a little bit (in the last game). Evan came up with a big point. It was great.”

After a 22-year WTT championship drought, the Lasers claimed the first King Trophy for the second consecutive season. Nine-year WTT veteran Abigail Spears is the only member of the current Lasers team who played on last year’s title team, and wrapped up her fourth season with Springfield.

In its fourth year of existence, No. 4 seed New York (9-7) clinched its first WTT playoff berth on the final day of the regular season after it finished 2-12 in WTT in 2018. Skupski and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez are the Empire’s only roster holdovers from last year’s team.

“Woulda, coulda, shoulda. I love the way we fought. It came down to one game,” Empire coach Luke Jensen said.

The opening set of men’s singles between WTT rookies Blanch and Song was a high-performance competition that exemplified the energy and intensity both teams brought into the WTT Final. Both players channeled their adrenaline through a multitude of blistering serves and forehand winners with very few unforced errors.

New York’s Blanch, who replaced injured U.S. Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish in the Empire lineup in Friday’s WTT semifinals, earned the first service break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and an opportunity to serve for the set. In a span of five points, he popped first serves of 138 miles per hour, 134 mph, 137 mph, and finally a 138 mph ace on deuce point (no-ad scoring in WTT) to win the set, 5-3.

The second set of women’s doubles came down to the final point of a nine-point tiebreaker, which favored New York’s go-for-broke aggression when Kirsten Flipkens slammed a forehand return of Olga Govortsova’s first serve down the line. The pace was too much for Springfield’s Spears, who lunged for the ball and could only redirect it into the net, giving Flipkens and Martinez Sanchez a 5-4 triumph (5-4 in the tiebreaker).

Facing WTT’s winningest mixed doubles team in 2019 – the Empire’s Skupski and Martinez Sanchez – and a 10-7 deficit put the Lasers in the pressure cooker to deliver in a pivotal third set through Lindstedt and Spears.

Lindstedt-Spears showed Springfield’s championship mettle and sparked a crucial break of Martinez Sanchez’s serve as Lindstedt hit backhand and forehand winners down the line past Skupski from the deuce court to earn the Lasers their last two points of the game and a 3-1 lead. They went on win the set, 5-2, handing Skupski-Martinez Sanchez their worst mixed doubles defeat of the season and evening the match score at 12-12.

The Empire struck back, however, through its singles specialist, Flipkens, who broke Govortsova’s serve three times in the fourth set en route to a 5-3 victory. Flipkens was 8-4 in women’s singles sets for the Empire this season.

44th World TeamTennis Final – Saturday, Aug. 3 at Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
Springfield Lasers def. New York Empire 20-19

Men’s Singles – Ulises Blanch (Empire) def. Evan Song (Lasers) 5-3
Women’s Doubles – Kirsten Flipkens\Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Empire) def. Abigail Spears\Olga Govortsova (Lasers) 5-4
Mixed Doubles – Robert Lindstedt\Abigail Spears (Lasers) def. Neal Skupski\Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Empire) 5-2
Women’s Singles – Kirsten Flipkens (Empire) def. Olga Govortsova (Lasers) 5-3
Men’s Doubles – Robert Lindstedt\Evan Song (Lasers) def. Ulises Blanch\Neal Skupski (Empire) 5-2

CBS Sports will air highlights of WTT’s 2019 regular season and playoffs through its one-hour finals encore and season highlight show, “GEICO Presents World TeamTennis,” on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 1:30 PM ET/10:30 AM PT.

For the first time, the WTT Playoffs were hosted in Las Vegas and featured semifinals among the top four teams from its regular season, which concluded Wednesday, July 31. Each of WTT’s eight teams played 14 regular season matches in 2019 – seven home matches and seven away matches – for a league-wide total of 59 regular season matches.

World TeamTennis’ year-end awards were announced on Friday. New York’s Neal Skupski and Philadelphia’s Raquel Atawo were named WTT’s Male and Female Most Valuable Players presented by Forevermark, and each received a one-carat diamond from Forevermark. San Diego’s James Ward (who was acquired on July 28 from the Orange County Breakers) and the Orlando Storm’s Whitney Osuigwe earned WTT’s Male and Female Rookie of the Year honors. Philadelphia’s Craig Kardon won WTT’s Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season in guiding the Freedoms to a second consecutive regular season title.

WTT introduced professional team tennis to the world in 1974, with Billie Jean King famously serving as its co-founder. WTT is one of five active U.S. pro sports leagues which has been in operation for over 40 years, along with the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. For more information on World TeamTennis, please visit www.wtt.com.

About World TeamTennis (WTT)
World TeamTennis showcases the best in professional tennis with eight teams in major markets competing in the innovative team format for the King Trophy, the League’s championship trophy named after tennis icon and founder Billie Jean King. Since the League’s debut, virtually every major champion of the Open era has played WTT, including Andre Agassi, Venus and Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Stefanie Graf, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Bob and Mike Bryan, Sloane Stephens, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Naomi Osaka. Owned by innovator Fred Luddy and entrepreneur Eric Davidson, WTT’s 44th season played from July 14 to July 31, with the league semifinals on Aug. 2 and the WTT Final on Aug. 3. CBS Sports is the official television broadcast partner of WTT. Learn more about the history and league champions of World TeamTennis on the history page.

Basilashvili Retains Hamburg Crown

Nikoloz Basilashvili won his second successive Hamburg European Open title on Sunday, defeating unseeded Russian Andrey Rublev 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. In front of about 6,000 spectators on Centre Court, the tournament’s No. 4 from Georgia overpowered his opponent towards the end of the match and gained the decisive two breaks in the fourth as well as the sixth game of the final set to secure victory in two hours and seven minutes.

“It’s unbelievable to win back-to-back titles here. It looks like that this is my favourite tournament and it is an ATP 500 event, so I am really happy,” Basilashvili said.

With his 12th straight match win at Hamburg, Basilashvili has become the first seeded Rothenbaum titlist since seventh favourite Martin Klizan of Slovakia won in 2016. Unseeded lucky loser Leonardo Mayer of Argentina clinched the trophy in 2017, while the Georgian was an unseeded qualifier when he claimed the title here last year.

“Maybe the clay is different here or something is different on the Centre Court. I can see the ball much better than at other tournaments. It looks like I’m playing my best tennis here,” Basilashvili said. ”I didn’t know that Roger (Federer) and Medvedev won defending titles but just to see my name next to them means a lot to me for sure.”
After lifting his third ATP 500-level trophy in a 12-month span, Basilashvili took away from Northern Germany $354,845 in prize money as well as 500 ATP-Ranking points.

Rublev, who was trying to become the first Russian to the take the Hamburg since Nikolay Davydenko in 2009, collected a prize cheque of $178,220 and 300 ATP-Ranking points.

“It’s always disappointing to lose in a final but that’s the part of the game. We have to deal with it. Congrats to Nikoloz, who did a very good job to defend his title here,” Rublev said during his on-court speech and could also take away some positives from the last seven days in Hamburg: “This has been my best week here so far. I hope that can keep it up and even improve over the next couple of weeks.”

Rice University To Once Again Host Invesco Series Tennis As Part of Oracle Challenger Series

The Invesco Series QQQ tennis circuit is returning to Rice University in Houston for a second straight year as Andy Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Mark Philippoussis and James Blake will compete on Thursday, November 14 as part of a new Oracle Challenger Series event.

The one-day Oracle Champions Cup will be played during the Oracle Challenger Series men’s and women’s tournament for up-and-coming professionals to be held November 10-17 at Rice University’s George R. Brown Tennis Center. This event will mark the third different tournament where the Invesco Series QQQ tennis circuit have collaborated with the Oracle Challenger Series in 2019. Earlier this year, the Invesco Series was featured as part of the Oracle Challenger Series in Newport Beach, Calif., while Yale University will host an Invesco Series event on Saturday, September 7 as part of the New Haven Oracle Challenger Series event.

“The Invesco Series has a long and storied history in Houston, including our first ever event back in 2005, so we are thrilled to create more history and memories as part of this Oracle Challenger Series event at Rice University,” said Jon Venison, co-founding partner of the Invesco Series. “We are excited and grateful to once again partner with Oracle for an event like this that will provide a lot of excitement for tennis in Houston this coming November.”

Each Invesco Series QQQ event features two one-set semifinal matches and a one-set championship match with players making their own line calls with the assistance of electronic line-calling. Play on Thursday, November 14 will begin at 7pm with James Blake playing Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first semifinal followed by Andy Roddick against Mark Philippoussis in the second semifinal. The one-set championship match will immediately follow the second semifinal. Tickets and VIP experience packages are available for sale at www.InvescoSeries.com starting on Wednesday, August 21.

Roddick, a resident of Austin, Texas and the 2003 U.S. Open champion, headlines the field in his home state and will be joined by Ferrero, the former world No. 1 and 2003 French Open champion, Philippoussis, a runner-up at Wimbledon in 2003 and at the U.S. Open in 1998, and Blake, the former world No. 4. Last October at Rice University’s Tudor Fieldhouse, Blake won the title defeating John McEnroe 7-6(3) in the final after beating Roddick in the semifinal.

Houston will be one of 10 events on the 2019 Invesco Series, the North American tennis circuit for players over the age 30. Earlier this season, Haas kicked off the 15th season of this Champions Series tennis tour by defeating Roddick 7-6 (2) in the title match at the Oracle Champions Cup in Newport Beach, Calif., in another collaborative effort between the Invesco Series and the Oracle Challenger Series. Blake won the second event of the season at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., in April defeating Jim Courier 6-3 in the final. Lleyton Hewitt won the third title of the season in Charleston, S.C., while Haas won his second title of the season in Maui, Hawaii in May.

The remaining 2019 Invesco Series QQQ schedule, with player fields, is as follows

San Jose, CA – August 3 (San Jose State University): James Blake, Andy Roddick, Mark Philippoussis, Michael Chang

New Haven, CT – September 7 (Yale University): Tommy Haas, James Blake, Andy Roddick, Mark Philippoussis

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

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

Houston, TX – November 14 (Rice University): Andy Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Mark Philippoussis, James Blake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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