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James Blake Wins PowerShares Series Opener In Chicago Beating John McEnroe In Final

James Blake won the opening event on the 2016 PowerShares Series tennis circuit Friday defeating John McEnroe 6-4 in the one-set championship match at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

The tournament win was the fifth career title for Blake on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. All four previous titles for Blake also came beating McEnroe in the final in Salt Lake City in 2014 (7-6), Sacramento in 2014 (6-3), Boston in 2015 (7-5) and Cincinnati in 2015 (6-2).

Blake, 36, broke McEnroe in his first service game of the match and never looked back in the final, serving at a high percentage on the slick indoor court.

McEnroe, who turned 57 on February 16, returned to the UIC Pavilion 25 years after he won his 77th and final ATP singles titles of his career, where he won a memorable final against younger brother Patrick McEnroe in 1991. He opened the 10th anniversary season of the PowerShares Series by beating Mardy Fish 7-6 (3) in the opening semifinal match, saving a match point serving at 4-5. Fish, 34, was playing in his debut PowerShares Series event and as a replacement for an injured Jim Courier. Blake advanced into the final with a 6-3 win over Andre Agassi.

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;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

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

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

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

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

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

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

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

The 2016 PowerShares Series Tennis Circuit Kicks Off Friday In Chicago

The PowerShares Series, the tennis circuit for champion players over the age of 30, will kick off its 10th anniversary season for 2016 Friday, April 8 at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. The kick-off event for the 12-city tour will be highlighted by 57-year-old John McEnroe, the 2014 PowerShares Series points champion, returning to the venue where he won his 77th and final ATP singles title with a famous final-round win 25-years-ago over younger brother Patrick McEnroe in 1991. McEnroe will be joined in Chicago by rival and former Davis Cup teammate Andre Agassi, the 2012 PowerShares Series points runner-up, as well as James Blake, the 2015 points runner-up, and PowerShares Series rookie Mardy Fish, a late replacement for Jim Courier, who was forced to withdraw from the event with a lower-back injury.

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

Ticket and VIP experiences information – including play-with-the pros opportunities – can be found at www.PowerSharesSeries.com. The full 2016 schedule with player fields are listed below;

 

April 8                       Chicago  (UIC Pavilion) – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, James Blake, Mardy Fish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

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

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

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

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

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

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

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

 

American Teenagers Win Singles Wild Card Tournaments For Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tournament

 

Two American teenagers, Adam Ambrozy of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Pietro Rimondini of Boca Raton, Fla., were awarded main draw wild card entries into the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, the $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Vero Beach, Fla., April 22-May 1, by virtue of winning wild card tournaments last weekend in Orlando and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., respectively. Both players will seek their first ATP World Tour ranking points later this month at The Boulevard Tennis Club.

Ambrozy, 18, defeated former 13-time member of the Venezuelan Davis Cup team Jonathan Medina in an incredible 3 hour, 28-minute final 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2 Monday in the final of the wild card tournament at the Tennis Resort at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney in Orlando. Ambrozy served for a straight-set victory at 6-5 in the second set, but faltered when trying to close out the title. He quickly lost the second-set tie-breaker 7-3 and was immediately broken in the opening game of the final set. After fighting off break points to go down a double-break in the final set, Ambrozy held serve en route to streaking to win the final six games of the match to close out the incredible victory. See the last two points of the match here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP8741iARbo&feature=em-upload_owner Ambrozy, who will attend Columbia University in New York City in the Fall, will be playing in only his second “Futures” level professional tournament.

Rimondini, 17, defeated fellow American Christian Langmo 7-6 (7), 2-0, retire (rib injury) Sunday in the final of the wild card tournament at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Rimondini, who has committed to play college tennis at Cornell starting next season, will be playing in his third career Futures event in Vero Beach.

In the doubles wild card tournament in Orlando, Igor Schattan and Antonio Balau, both 17 from the Montverde Academy in Monteverde, Fla., won a six-team competition that was reduced to one-set matches due to rain, beating Americans Jack Najjar and Joseph Sopko 6-4 in the Sunday final. The Brazilian team won the last four games of the match, winning a sudden-death. three-all game point to end the match.

Ticket and sponsorship opportunities – all that benefit the non-profit Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation – are available for the event. For sponsorship opportunities, contact co-tournament director Tom Fish at [email protected]. Tickets are available for pre-sale at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com

Starting in 2016, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation is the new operator of the $10,000 “Futures” tennis tournament in Vero Beach, one of the longest-running and best attended events on the U.S. Tennis Association Pro Circuit. The tournament, now called The Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, benefits the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, a former top 10 tennis star, U.S. Davis Cup hero and silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games. The event was managed for 20 years by Vero Beach tennis teaching professional Mike Rahaley, who made the annual Vero Beach stop one of the crown jewels on the USTA Pro Circuit. The 2016 tournament will be held April 22 through May 1 at The Boulevard Tennis Club.

Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishFoundation.com and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) currently supports over 2,100 children in 15 elementary schools and six middle schools in Indian River County, Florida by providing after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.” Mardy Fish recently completed his ATP professional tennis career at the 2015 U.S. Open, highlighted by a career-high ranking of No. 7, six ATP singles titles, eight ATP doubles titles and an Olympic silver medal in singles at the 2004 Olympics. He reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and was a mainstay on the U.S. Davis Cup team from 2002 to 2012.

Some of the past competitors in Vero Beach have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007 competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Australian Open semifinalist Milos Raonic among others. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Six former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison.

Tickets for the qualifying rounds of the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships from April 22 – April 25 will cost $10, while tickets for the main draw of singles and doubles from April 26 – May 1 will be $20. Season tickets that include both the qualifying and main draw events cost $100. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com. Admission for children 18 and under is free. Fans can follow news and developments on the tournament on Facebook and on Twitter at @VeroFutures and at www.TennisVeroBeach.com

Milos Raonic Serving Woes Leads To One-Sided Loss To Novak Djokovic – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

  • Ana Ivanovic was given the 2nd quickest loss of her career as Karolina Pliskova beat her 6-2, 6-0 in the third round of Indian Wells in 49 minutes.
  • In the men’s singles final in Indian Wells, Milos Raonic managed to win only three of 30 points on his second serve, leading to a 6-2, 6-0 defeat.
  • Andy Murray was beaten by a left-handed player other than Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2011 as Federico Delbonis beat him in the third round in Indian Wells.
  • At one point in the John Isner-Kei Nishikori fourth round match at Indian Wells, Nishikori’s average first serve speed was 108 miles per hour, while Isner’s average second serve speed was 115 miles per hour.
  • On a negative note for Isner, each of his last three losses have been decided by third set tiebreaks. In each match, Isner held match point and did not face a break point.
  • Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Nenad Zimonjic were able to saved eight match points in the semifinal win over the Bryan brothers in Indian Wells.
  • 16-year old Denis Shapovalov of Canada became the first player born in 1999 to win a match on the challenger level. This comes after Felix Auger Aliassime, also of Canada, became the first player born in 2000 to win a match on the challenger level last year. Shapovalov would also go on to become the first 16-year old to make a challenger semifinal since Stefan Kozlov made the semifinals at the Sacramento Challenger in 2014 as a 16-year old.

After Delray Beach Return, Juan Martin del Potro Faces Next Test In Indian Wells

Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Juan Martin del Potro made his return to tennis last month in Delray Beach, Florida after an 11-month absence due to recurring wrist problems. While he didn’t win the tournament, which nobody, not even himself, should have expected, he came out of the event with a very positive outlook and is eager to continue his progression towards playing full time on the ATP World Tour again.

In his post-match press conference after his loss to Sam Querrey in the semifinals of the ATP 250 event, del Potro was clearly disappointed, yet still exclaimed his satisfaction with the overall result he came up with this week. Beating a Top 30 player, a promising young American, and an inspired qualifier en route to the semifinals in Delray Beach were all impressive results for the Argentinian in his return event. While Denis Kudla and Jeremy Chardy didn’t play their best tennis in their matches against del Potro, it was still an impressive feat for him to knock out two Top 70 players in his first live match action since Miami in 2015.

In the loss to Querrey, the American was able to dominant his service games and crush the ball from anywhere on the court, forcing del Potro to move around and hit more backhands than he would have liked. The American only lost nine points on serve throughout the match and didn’t have to face a single break point, allowing him to relax on del Potro’s service games and apply pressure. The pressure built up at the latter stages of both sets, allowing Querrey to break at 5-5 in both sets, giving him the 7-5, 7-5 win. Querrey’s high level of play in the match can give del Potro some relief as it was arguably the best match that Querrey had played all week.

Despite the loss, Del Potro stated in his post-match press conference that he felt as if he had “won more than a tournament,” a sign that he is more than happy with where his game currently is. The 2009 US Open champion confirmed that he will be accepting a wild card to play in the masters level event in Indian Wells, and is well aware of what he needs to work on to improve his game before then.

The competition in Indian Wells surely will most likely be tougher than what del Potro came across in Delray Beach, and will possibly give a better test as to where he truly is with his game. While the entire tennis world is glad to have one of the best players in the world back on tour, no one is happier that del Potro is back on the court than del Potro himself, stating that he is “so glad to play tennis again.” After both his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, he expressed how tired he was, but his happiness could not be hidden behind his exhaustion.

Del Potro stated that he has “many positive things to take from” his experience in Delray Beach as he looks forward to continuing to take the next steps in his comeback.

Stan Wawrinka Wins Ninth Final In A Row, Djokovic Wins No. 700 – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

  • Novak Djokovic earned his 700th career match win in Dubai, beating Jaziri in straight sets. He is now the third active player with 700 wins, behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
  • The 28-point tiebreak in Dubai that was played between Stan Wawrinka and Marcos Baghdatis was the longest in an ATP final since Andy Roddick beat Mardy Fish in San Jose in 2004, also playing a 28-point tiebreak.
  • Wawrinka’s title in Dubai extends his win streak in finals to nine after starting his career 4-9 in finals.
  • There were four finals played last week that involved a player with a one-handed backhand and a player with a two-handed backhand. All four of the players with one-handed backhands prevailed, including Dominic Thiem over Bernard Tomic, Pablo Cuevas over Pablo Carreno Busta, Wawrinka over Baghdatis, and Carla Suarez Navarro over Jelena Ostapenko.
  • Cuevas played seven left-handers in a row, including all five of his opponents that he beat en route to his title in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first player to win a title playing only left-handers along the way. Cuevas played Facundo Bagnis twice, Thiago Monteiro twice, Federico Delbonis, Nadal, and Guido Pella.
  • Nick Kyrgios held all 47 of his service games during his title run in Marseille before being broken in his first service game in Dubai.
  • Baghdatis served up a bagel to Roberto Bautista Agut in Dubai. The last time he had won a set 6-0 was against Andy Murray at the French Open in 2010. Baghdatis has won four 6-0 sets against players in the Top 20, but only won two of the four matches that included bagels.
  • Franko Skugor of Croatia won his first match on the ATP World Tour in six years in Dubai, beating Teymuraz Gabashvili in straight sets. His most recent win came in July of 2010 in Umag when he beat Filippo Volandri.

Andy Murray Outlasts Milos Raonic To Reach Australian Open Final For Fifth Time

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Andy Murray is into his fifth Australian Open final after defeating Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday in Melbourne. Murray ended Raonic’s undefeated start to the season, as the Canadian had won nine matches in a row to start off 2016. Murray will go on to face Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open for a fourth time, the most recent of which came in 2015 with Djokovic winning in four sets.

The eagerly anticipated semifinal match between the No. 2 seed and the No. 13 seed got off to a start that not many people would have expected. Raonic broke Murray at love to start off the match, before fighting back from a 0-40 whole on his serve to get the hold and go up 2-0. There’s not much else to say about the first set, other than that Raonic had another break chance at 4-2, but Murray snuffed it out. Too little too late for Murray, as Raonic cruised on his serve throughout the set to take the early lead.

The second started very tight as Murray had break points in two of Raonic’s first three service games, but was unable to convert on any of them. Raonic struggled to make an impact on Murray’s serve throughout the duration of the set, winning only six points on Murray’s serve. Being able to relax on his own serve allowed Murray to continue to apply pressure on Raonic’s serve, opening up a break chance in the 12th game of the set. Murray would not miss out on this opportunity, as he took it and the set to level the match.

Five holds at love started off the third set as both players appeared to settle down a bit now that the match was back at even. Only once in the set did a returner get past 30 in a game, and that was when Raonic took Murray to deuce at 5-5 and saw a break point. Raonic failed to convert on that, but when the set went to a tiebreak, he was ready to pounce on the big points, taking it 7-4 and going up two sets to one.

The experienced Murray didn’t let the disappointment of dropping the third set get to him, as he waited for an opportunity in the fourth set to take advantage of. It took a while, as once again the servers dominated and the returner got past 15 only once in the first six games of the set, but when Raonic played one poor service game at 3-3, Murray was all over it and broke at love to take the lead. The last three games of the set all went to deuce as Raonic had three opportunities to get back on serve in the set, but Murray played too well for Raonic and closed out the fourth set to even the match up again.

Raonic’s window to get the win appeared to close as the fourth set ended as Raonic quickly found himself down 4-0 in the fifth set. The Canadian appeared to be hindered by a groin injury throughout the match, but the pain intensified as the match approached the end. Murray took advantage of Raonic’s inability to move as well as he had been, jumping out to the double break lead and not looking back, only losing one point on serve in the deciding set.

Murray’s consistent level of play and tough defense proved to be too much for Raonic throughout the match, as Murray hit only 28 unforced errors, 50 less than what Raonic hit. Murray also applied a lot of pressure on Raonic’s second serve, as Raonic won only 44 percent of the points on his second serve.

Despite the loss, Raonic has proved to the tennis world that he has made the necessary improvements to compete at the highest level of tennis. With wins over Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka already in 2016, combined with this valiant effort against Murray, the rest of the ATP will be on the lookout for the big hitting Canadian.

Murray will now take advantage of the much needed day of rest after having to battle Raonic for over four hours, before taking on Djokovic in the final. Murray has played Djokovic in five of the nine grand slam finals that he has played in, but has not been able to beat him in the three finals they’ve played in Melbourne. Murray did come out victorious at the US Open in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013, and will hope to replicate those results on Sunday night in Rod Laver Arena.

Angelique Kerber “Upsets” Victoria Azarenka To Reach Aussie Open Semifinals

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Angelique Kerber fought her way into the semifinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday when she beat Victoria Azarenka, 6-3, 7-5. Despite being the higher seed, Kerber was the underdog in the eyes of many tennis fans. Azarenka had been in great form to start off 2016 after winning the title in Brisbane and not losing a set in her first four matches at the Australian Open, along with the fact that she held a 6-0 record against Kerber, but the German proved why she is the higher ranked player and now has the opportunity to make her first grand slam final.

Kerber got off to a hot start in the quarterfinal as she broke Azarenka at love in the opening game of the match before grabbing another break and running out to a 4-0 lead. Azarenka, though, had been making Kerber’s service games tough as well, as she had a break point in Kerber’s first service game and then was able to get one of the two breaks back and brought the score to 4-3. When Kerber served at 4-3, Azarenka had two more break chances in a game that lasted 16 points, but could not capitalize and ended up losing the game, before being broken in the next game to drop the set.

The tides appeared to turn in the favor of Azarenka in the second set as she broke in the opening game and got out to a quick 2-0 lead. Neither player had much trouble on their serves until Azarenka saw a break point on Kerber’s serve at 4-2 and took advantage of it to take a double break lead at 5-2. While trying to serve out the set and take the match to a third set, Azarenka got up 40-0 before losing five points in a row to get broken. She had another opportunity to close out the set at 5-4 and was up 40-15, but again ended up being broken thanks to the resilience from Kerber, combined with a hesitant style of play from Azarenka. With the German back on serve at 5-5, she held comfortably before applying pressure on the Azarenka serve again and breaking to close out the match for the straight sets win.

A major problem for Azarenka, clearly, was her inability to defend her serve. Kerber won more than half of the points in Azarenka’s service games, including 62 percent of her second serve points. Kerber’s steady play was also a huge factor, as she limited her unforced errors to 16 while she hit 31 winners.

Kerber became the first German to reach the Australian Open semifinals since 1998 and will go on to face Johanna Konta for a spot in the Australian Open final after Konta beat Zhang Shuai in straight sets in their quarterfinal match.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

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

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

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

ABOUT INVESCO POWERSHARES

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

ABOUT POWERSHARES QQQ

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

 

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

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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