Live Coverage

Andreas Seppi Comes From Two Sets Down In Marathon Australian Open Upset of Nick Kyrgios

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Andreas Seppi pulled off a massive upset on Wednesday in Melbourne as he battled back from two sets to love down to upset the home favorite Nick Kyrgios, 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8.

“It was a very tough match. I didn’t start well but I started to play better and better. Last time (against Kyrgios) I was two sets to love up and lost and I thought I would try to do the same to him,” Seppi said.

This isn’t the first time the Italian has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open, as he took out Roger Federer in the third round of the 2015 event.

Kyrgios, the 21-year old seeded No. 14 in this year’s Australian Open, has been pegged as one of the brightest upcoming stars for Australian tennis for the past couple years now, but has often raised eyebrows due to his temperament and demeanor on court.

He’s been seen noticeably tanking during matches, showing a lack of effort or care for the game, and another early, disappointing loss for Kyrgios will have his fans questioning his dedication to tennis once again.

“It’s obviously disappointing, but it was ultimately a pretty fun match,” said Kyrgios, who heard a few boos while walking off the court after the loss. “Obviously it’s not the greatest thing to hear. I didn’t have the best preparation coming into the Australian Open. But getting booed off, definitely not the best feeling.”

The match between Kyrgios and Seppi started how many would have expected it to, with Kyrgios rolling through the first set, including a break at love in Seppi’s first service game of the match. No breaks, or even any break points, were seen in the second set, but Kyrgios was still able to win it with ease as he opened up a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak and didn’t look back, taking it 7-1.

Seppi was able to make his presence felt in the second set, but you would have expected his fight to die down after missing out on the opportunity to even up the match. That was far from what happened, though, as the Italian veteran, now ranked No. 89 after being as high as No. 18 in 2013, roared back in the next two sets.

The young Australian just had no answer for Seppi, as he was once again unable to get a look at even a single break point in the third set, allowing the Italian to break at 4-4 to go up 5-4, and then comfortably hold to take the set.

“I was more concentrating on my game, not looking too much at what he is doing. I was focusing on my game and it worked out good for me,” Seppi said, as Kyrgios received two code violations and a point penalty in the third set.

In the fourth, Seppi had zero trouble. He broke in Kyrgios’ first service game of the set before breaking four games later for a double break lead. Once again, Seppi faced zero break points.

Seppi continued his roll in the decider, going up a break at 6-5 and serving for the match. Kyrgios finally woke up and saw his first break chances since the first set, as he broke back with ease to prolong the match. Just a couple games later, with Kyrgios up 8-7, he had a look at one more break point, a match point at this time, but Seppi was able to fight it off with a forehand winner.

That would prove to be the climax of the match as Seppi would go on to win 10 of the next 13 points after saving match point, breaking Kyrgios for a 9-8 lead before holding at 15 for the win, 10-8 in the fifth.

Andreas Seppi will take on Steve Darcis for a spot in the fourth round in the Australian Open.

Blake Beats McEnroe To Win 2016 PowerShares Season Finale In Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — James Blake defeated John McEnroe 6-4 to win the PowerShares QQQ Cup at the Barclays Center, the 12th and final event on the 2016 PowerShares Series, the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30.

The tournament title was Blake’s third on the PowerShares Series for the 2016 season, also winning the opening event in Chicago in April and in Portland, Oregon in November. The PowerShares QQQ Cup was the first tennis event ever at the Barclays Center, the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and NHL’s New York Islanders. The event was also the first pro tennis event in Brooklyn since Bill Tilden won the 1935 U.S. Open Pro Championships at the Terrace Club in the Flatbush area of the borough.

The final had a hard New York feel as McEnroe has lived in New York City his entire life and Blake being a local favorite having been born in nearby Yonkers and grew up in the tri-state area in nearby Fairfield, Connecticut.

“I don’t think I have ever played more of a New Yorker in New York than myself since I was born here,” said Blake of playing against McEnroe, who had the majority of the crowd behind him, including his students from the nearby John McEnroe Tennis Academy on Randall’s Island and his wife Patty and brother Mark among other family members. “It makes sense to cheer for John McEnroe. He has done so much for this city and so much for this sport. If I’m not playing against him, I’m in the stands cheering for him too.”

The turning point in the match came at the third deuce point at 4-4 when the 37-year-old Blake ripped a backhand up the line passing shot off a McEnroe half volley to set up break point. He then hit another down-the-line backhand return-of-serve that forced a McEnroe half-volley error to break serve. Blake then benefited from two missed backhands from the 57-year-old McEnroe while connecting on two forehand winners to close out the win.

“I was just praying that he would miss a few first serves at the end,” said Blake, who was born four months after McEnroe won his first major singles title at the 1979 U.S. Open. “I was trying to get chances early on, but he erased them all with good serves. I pray that I can serve that well at 57 years old, or moving or anything he is doing this well at 57. I am just happy to get through it. I got a little lucky at the end and took advantage of my one chance on his serve.”

To reach the final, Blake defeated former U.S. Davis Cup teammate Andy Roddick 6-4 in the first semifinal, while McEnroe defeated Jim Courier 6-3.

Blake earned 400 PowerShares ranking points with the win to finish the season in third place with 1100 ranking points. Both Roddick and Mark Philippoussis finished the 2016 PowerShares Series season with 1600 ranking point totals, using their best four tournament results. However, Philippoussis is declared the season champion winning the tiebreaker with the better head-to-head record between the two, beating Roddick five times during the season, with Roddick only able to beat Philippoussis in the final of Thousand Oaks, California in October.

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 assistance of electronic line-calling.

The full 2016 PowerShares Series list of events and final-round results are as follows;

 

Chicago – James Blake def. John McEnroe 6-4

Charleston, SC – Andy Roddick def. Andre Agassi 6-1

St. Louis – Andy Roddick def. John McEnroe 6-3

Memphis – Mark Philippoussis def. Jim Courier 6-3

Tulsa – Mark Philippoussis def. Jim Courier 6-3

Newport, RI – Mark Philippoussis def. Marat Safin 6-4

Winston-Salem – Mark Philippoussis def. Andy Roddick 6-3

New Haven, CT – Mark Philippoussis def. James Blake 6-2

Portland, OR – James Blake def. Andy Roddick 7-5

Los Angeles – Andy Roddick def. Mark Philippoussis 6-2

Orlando – Andy Roddick def. Jim Courier 6-4

Brooklyn – James Blake def. John McEnroe 6-4

 

The following are pre-event quotes from all four competitors.

 

Jim Courier

Thoughts on professional tennis coming back to Brooklyn for the first time since 1935:

“I think it’s great to have tennis back here. I’ve never had a chance to play a tournament in Brooklyn. I’ve obviously played quite a bit in Queens – all of us have. We get a chance also to be the first in the building, which is really cool. We had that same opportunity two nights ago in Orlando at the Amway Center and I think it’s special to be part of something when you’re introducing it to a venue like this.”

 

John McEnroe

Thoughts on how the players still try to stay competitive in the PowerShares Series:

“Change the format – you know, make it one set so at least I have a prayer. It pushes me. I like to compete, but we obviously want to entertain – you know these guys (Roddick, Blake) are the next guys trying to take over this tour and keep it going, and I think there’s a place in tennis for a champions seniors’ tour – it could work out real well hopefully for the sport. That’s really what it boils down to.”

 

Andy Roddick

Thoughts on what’s been surprising about the PowerShares Series experience:

“For me it’s a lot of fun. John (McEnroe) and Jim (Courier) have put blood, sweat and tears into this tour for a long time, so for James and I to come along and be able to jump in these past couple of seasons has been great. I think it’s great for fans. James (Blake) and I can play as peers, Jim and John as peers, but there’s also that cross-generational match-ups, which are awesome. For me, it’s fun playing against friends of mine, heroes of mine; for me it’s a mix between reality and the surreal every night we play. It’s a lot of fun to be part of.”

 

James Blake

Thoughts on what’s been surprising about the PowerShares Series experience:

“Andy and I have played so many times and we continue that competitive spirit. We obviously don’t train exactly the same as we used to on tour, but we still get competitive when we get out there and it’s a lot of fun to still have that competitive outlet. I just love the opportunity – like he (Andy Roddick) said, John (McEnroe) and Jim (Courier) have put in so much work to make this tour possible. We’re really just piggy backing off of them and getting to enjoy it, and to still enjoy the sport. I’m pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy it and it makes it a lot of fun to go out and compete every day.”

 

John McEnroe

Thoughts on competing with younger players in the PowerShares Series:

“I love to work out – I feel better doing that, for starters, so just the fact that I can get out there and try to conjure up that I can actually do something is nice but I think that’s one of the great things about tennis – it’s a sport you can really play a lot later than the other sports. So that’s hopefully something people will see and appreciate – I certainly do.”

 

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

 

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world.  For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

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

 

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

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

 

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

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

James Blake Beats Andy Roddick To Win PowerShares Series Title In Portland, Oregon

James Blake won his sixth career PowerShares Series tournament title Friday, defeating Andy Roddick 7-5 in the one-set final to win the Champions Challenge Portland at the Moda Center.

The win was the second title this year for Blake on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. Blake won the opening event on the 12-tournament series in April in Chicago.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” quipped Blake of beating his good friend Roddick, the former world No. 1.

The event marked the first time that both Blake and Roddick were in Portland together since the two played as teammates on the U.S. Davis Cup team that defeated Russia in the 2007 Davis Cup final in the Rose City. In 2014, Blake reached the final of the PowerShares Series event in Portland, losing to Andre Agassi in the final.

En route to the final, Blake, 36, defeated 57-year-old John McEnroe 6-4, while Roddick, 34, posted a 6-3 win over 39-year-old top-ranked Mark Philippoussis, handing the Australian only his second match loss on the PowerShares Series this year.

With the win, Blake moves closer to the top of the PowerShares Series rankings with 1100 points, 300 behind Roddick in second place with 1400 points and 500 behind Philippoussis, who ranks No. 1 with 1600 points.

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 assistance of electronic line-calling.

The remaining 2016 PowerShares Series schedule with player fields are listed below and ticket, schedule and player information can be found at www.PowerSharesSeries.com;

 

January 5 – Orlando (Amway Arena) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

January 7 – New York (Barclays Center) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

 

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

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world.  For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

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

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

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

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

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

PowerShares Series Part Of Exciting January of Tennis In Orlando

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.

Angie Kerber Beats Karolina Pliskova To Win U.S. Open

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.”

Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka Advance Into U.S. Open Men’s Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

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.

 

Caroline Wozniacki Advances Into US Open Semifinals For Third Time

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

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.”

Wozniacki2016USOpen

 

Simona Halep Continues Silent U.S. Open Run

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Simona Halep was able to fight off a valiant effort from the No. 31 seed Timea Babos of Hungary on Saturday at the US Open, solidifying her spot in the fourth round of the US Open with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 win.

“I don’t know how I came back. I felt like I didn’t play my best but I was fighting to the end for every ball,” said Halep.

The 5th seeded had been struggling in 2016, by her standards, but has managed to turn that form around in the past few months. Since May, when her ranking fell to No. 7 after having been ranked No. 2 at the start of the year, Halep has a 29-4 record. During that impressive run of form, the Romanian has racked up three titles, two of which were Premier level events, and had a 13-match win streak.

To no one’s surprise, Halep has continued to play well in New York, not dropping a set in her first two matches. Babos, though, gave Halep her first scare of the tournament, and almost sent her packing.

In the first set on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Halep looked to be in the same form she has been all summer, breaking Babos three times and saving the two break points she faced in the set. She only had difficulty in one of her three service games of the set, as she only dropped one point in the other two games.

Babos looked to have things figured out early on in the second set, as she took Halep to deuce in her first service game of the set before breaking the Romanian the next three times. Those three breaks for Babos were more than enough to level the match at one set each.

In the third, the Hungarian continued to have the momentum on her side as she broke Halep for the fourth time in a row to go up a break in the first game. Serving at 3-2, though, Babos finally cracked and the 2014 French Open runner-up broke back, but almost gave up another break at 4-4 as she had to dig out of a 15-40 hole to hold. In the next game, though, Halep was able to break Babos to close out the nervy three-set victory.

“I was trying to push her back. I was trying to run for every ball. I did everything I could today and I’m really happy I could finish the match in my way,” said Halep.

The 24-year old Halep, who was a point away from letting her opponent serve for the match, is now into the fourth round of a major for the third major in a row and the ninth time in her career. She will take on the No. 11 seed Carla Suarez Navarro for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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