new haven

Sabalenka, Medvedev Win Summer-Ending US Open Series Titles

Twenty-year old Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka wrapped a breakout summer by winning her first WTA title at the Connecticut Open on Saturday.

Sabalenka beat Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-1, 6-4, on Saturday in New Haven, putting a ribbon on a US Open Series campaign that also saw her notch three Top-10 wins, reach the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and break into the Top 20 for the first time.

Sabalenka joins Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat four Top-10 players to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final at Rogers Cup in Toronto — as the 2018 US Open Series’ Breakout Performers.

Daniil Medvedev, a 22-year old from Russia, won his second career ATP title, both of which have come in 2018, at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina, defeating American Steve Johnson, 6-4, 6-4.

Medvedev begins his US Open campaign against fellow Russian Evegeny Donskoy on Monday. Sabalenka plays American Danielle Collins on Tuesday.

James Blake Wins Invesco Series QQQ Title On Home Ground In New Haven

James Blake won his second Invesco Series QQQ title of the week Friday beating John McEnroe 6-4 in the one-set championship match at the Invesco Legends New Haven as part of the Connecticut Open WTA Tour event at Yale University.

Blake, a native of nearby Fairfield, Connecticut, was buoyed by support from the Connecticut crowd that included his mother Betty.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Blake. “When I come home here, things seem to come easier for me. It’s a lot of fun when I have crowd support. I know everyone loves John McEnroe. I love John McEnroe and I want to cheer for him too, but not when he is playing against me. Otherwise, I would cheer for John McEnroe. I still have a lot of fans here. It gives me a little bit of an adreline boast. I’m always competitive but especially here in Connecticut.”

On Sunday, Blake, 38, successfully defended his title at the Invesco Legends Winston Salem in North Carolina beating his good friend and former Davis Cup teammate Andy Roddick 6-1 in the final. Blake’s title in New Haven marked his 12th career title on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. Blake also won the Invesco Series QQQ title in New Haven in 2016, also beating McEnroe by a 6-4 scoreline in the final. Last year, he was defeated in the New Haven final by Mardy Fish. During his career on the ATP World Tour, Blake won two of his career 10 titles in New Haven, winning in 2005 and in 2007.

Earlier in the night, McEnroe, age 59, advanced into the final with a 6-3 win over Todd Martin. Martin, the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., was competing in his first Invesco Series QQQ events since 2014 and played well, despite labeling himself as “desk jockey” devoting most of energies into his day job and no longer having the pleasure of wearing tennis shorts to work any longer. Blake advanced into the final on Thursday night when he defeated Tommy Haas 6-4.

Blake earned 400 Invesco Series QQQ ranking points to close within 100 points of Haas in the top-ranking spot. With his loss to Blake on Thursday, Haas earned 100 points to move to 1100 for the year while Blake’s 400 points move him to 1000 points. With his runner-up showing, McEnroe moves into third place with 600 points and is followed by Mark Philippoussis in fourth place with 500 points and Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt with 400 points in fifth place.

The Invesco Series QQQ continues on October 4 in St. Louis, Missouri featuring McEnroe, Roddick, Jim Courier and Mark Philippoussis. The remaining schedule, with player fields, is as follows

The remaining 2018 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

• October 4: St. Louis, MO (Chaifetz Arena) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, and Mark Philippoussis
• October 5: Houston, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Jim Courier
• October 21: Los Angeles, CA (Sherwood Country Club) – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Tommy Haas, and Mardy Fish
• December 6: Orlando, FL (USTA National Campus) – Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish

2018 Invesco Series QQQ Results

April 7: Charleston, SC (Family Circle Tennis Center) F: Tommy Haas def. Andy Roddick 6-1; SF: Tommy Haas def. Michael Chang 6-2; Andy Roddick def. Mark Philippoussis 6-3

May 5, 6: Kohala Coast, HI (Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows) F: Tommy Haas def. John McEnroe 7-5 SF: Tommy Haas def. Mardy Fish 6-3, John McEnroe def.Jim Courier 6-3

May 17: Toronto, ON (Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre) F: Mark Philippoussis d. John McEnroe 7-5, SF: Mark Philippoussis d. James Blake 7-6 (5); John McEnroe d. Jim Courier 6-2.

July 22: Newport, RI (International Tennis Hall of Fame) F: Lleyton Hewitt d. Tommy Haas 7-6(2) SF: Lleyton Hewitt d. James Blake 6-3; Tommy Haas d. Jim Courier 6-3

August 19: Winston-Salem, NC (Wake Forest University) F: James Blake d. Andy Roddick 6-1 SF: Andy Roddick d. Robby Ginepri 7-6 (4); James Blake d. Michael Chang 6-3

August 23/24: New Haven, CT (Yale University) F: James Blake d. John McEnroe 6-4 SF: John McEnroe d. Todd Martin 6-3, James Blake d. Tommy Haas 6-4

Each Invesco Series QQQ event features special VIP experiences, including hit-with-the-pros opportunities and special back-stage access. All ticket, experience and event information can be found at www.InvescoSeries.com

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

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

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

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $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 InvescoSeries.comor 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 visithorizonmedia.com.

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

Caroline Wozniacki takes on the press at WTA All – Access

The New Haven Open main draw began on Sunday at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale. As is tradition, the WTA held it’s “All-Access” Hour roundtables with some of the top seeds. They included World No. 1 Caroline Woznacki from Denmark, World No. 5 Li Na from China and No.9 France’s Marion Bartoli.

Normally at these All-Access events, questions can run the gamut from talk about a players current form to what type of music is playing in their ipod. Normally when Wozniacki is participating, inevitablly the question about being No. 1 without a major always comes up. That wasn’t the case this time.

Wozniacki allegedly fired her father Pitor as her coach and there is much speculation as to whom the new coach will be.

Wozniacki has had some tough losses this summer including a recent fall in straight sets to US teenager Christina Mchale at the Western & Southern Open.
This line of questioning in regard to a coaching change actually began with me when I asked:

Tennis Panorama News: Caroline could you clarify your coaching situation?

Caroline Wozniacki: I really don’t want to talk about that. I hope that everyone will respect that, right now I am happy about the way everything is. I just want to keep it to myself.

This set off a number of other media questions about who her future coach may be, why she needs a new coach and changing a coach so close to the US Open.
On why she’s changing her coach, “it’s a personal decision, it’s an individual sport so I do want to keep improving.” Wozniacki emphasized that it was a joint decision between herself and her father in terms of seeking a coaching change. She notes that she still has her Dad around to give me support. “Everything is the same way as it’s always been.”

With the US Open a week away, Wozniacki is not concerned about making a switch,”I’m not going to forget how to play tennis in a few days.” I’m still a good player, I’m a great player. It’s a few days from the open but it’s been underway for a long time.” She will still be working with the adidas player development program until her new coach is in place.
The Dane is three-time defending champion of the New Haven Open when it was called the Pilot Pen tournament. She will begin the defense of her title on Wednesday.
The US Open begins on August 29th.

Listen to Wozniacki take on the media at the WTA All-Access event at the New Haven Open (occasionally you can hear the wind in the background)

Listen to Caroline Wozniacki’s News Conference

The people from Tennis Panorama News were so kind to share this with us at TennisGrandstand. So I say be sweet to them and visit their site at http://www.tennispanoramanews.com/ and if you haven’t already follow them on Twitter @gvtennisnews.

Around the corner: Baghdatis is the top seed in New Haven

Only a week to go before the final Grand Slam of 2010 and there is one last stop on the tour before we get to Flushing Meadows. This week offers the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven where Marcos Baghdatis is the number one seed. The ATP World Tour 250 level tourney offers some lower ranked players a chance to get some match play in before the U.S. Open. While it is often a gamble to play so close to the start of the Open, it is a necessary chance that some struggling players must take in order to gain some much needed momentum.

After having a quiet mid-season stretch up until August, Baghdatis has rediscovered the game that brought him to his only Grand Slam final in Australia in 2006. He made the finals in Washington where he lost to David Nalbandian and then the semi-finals this past week in Cincinnati where he was defeated by Roger Federer. I’m a bit surprised that Baghdatis is going to play this week as he has had plenty of matches under his belt recently. Maybe he simply does not want to lose any of the progress he has been making.

Other players in his section of the draw to lookout for are Sergiy Stakhovsky and Taylor Dent. The Ukrainian Stakhovsky has been quiet of late, but did win a grass court tournament in June in the Netherlands. Dent meanwhile, continues to make small improvements in his game and played a tough match against Rafael Nadal in Cincy last week where he fell in the second round. Either one could emerge from this quarter of the draw in New Haven, especially if Baghdatis pulls out.

Mardy Fish is supposed to be the fourth seed but I would be absolutely shocked if he played. Appearing in the finals in Cincy on Sunday and playing six matches in seven days is too much tennis to then push it the week before a Slam. That leaves Germany’s Michael Berrer as the likeliest candidate to emerge from this section of the draw. The big serving Berrer impressed me in Toronto two weeks ago with his powerful game and had promising results on hard courts earlier in the season.

On the other side of the tournament we might get an intriguing second round encounter between rising star Alexandr Dolgopolov and struggling American veteran James Blake. Dolgopolov is the youngest player in the top one hundred in the world and possesses a very diverse game and lethal first serve. Blake has had a summer from hell and most recently was bounced in the first round in Cincinnati by Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-0. I pick Dolgopolov as a good darkhorse selection to be the eventual champion in New Haven

Fernando Gonzalez is also in this quarter, and the third seed is arguably the most talented player in the entire draw. Coming back from a left calf injury, it will be interesting to see how he handles himself.

The final quarter in New Haven has Xavier Malisse and second seeded Tomaz Bellucci as the favorites. I liked Malisse’s chances given his experience and hard-court talent.

Regardless of who advances this week, there will be a new champion in New Haven. Defending champion Fernando Verdasco is not present this year, allowing somebody else to hoist the trophy. While I wouldn’t put any faith in the eventual winner to go deep in New York, it could give them some confidence to at least win a few rounds and trouble some of the big guys.

Ditty Wins Opening Doubles Match at US Open

With a new coach and training base, American Julie Ditty believes her best tennis still to come.

Playing with Liga Dekmeijere of Latvia, the duo reeled off six consecutive games and held the lead for the entire match as they advanced into the second round of the US Open, defeating the team of American Meghann Shaughnessy and Alicia Molik of Australia, 7-6 (4), 6-1.

“I think Liga and I are a good pair on the court,” said Ditty. “Because I’m left-handed, it helps to play with a right-handed player. I like to set up the points up more for my partner, and she can be aggressive with her shots.”

Dekmeijere and Ditty were playing against a team who are both coming back from long-standing injuries and illnesses, but who have both reached the top 5 in the doubles rankings. Molik is also a two-time Grand Slam winner in doubles (at the Australian Open in 2005 and Roland Garros in 2007).

“It helped me to talk to people who saw them play their match last week in New Haven,” said Dekmeijere. “Of course, I’m focused on my game, but I needed to know some pointers, and what their strengths or weaknesses were.”

After breaking Molik’s serve while leading 3-2, Ditty served for the set at 5-3, only to have her seen broken with a Shaughnessy forehand that clipped the line. In the tiebreak, two overhead winners by Dekmeijere sent the American-Latvian pair up an early minibreak. On their first set point while leading 6-4, a forehand volley winner by Ditty gave the pair the opening set.

Molik held serve in a 9 deuce game to start the second set, but it was the last game the American-Australian duo would win in the match. Finding the range on their ground strokes and volleys, Dekmeijere and Ditty never faced another game point for the rest of the match, as a mistimed forehand by Shaughnessy sealed the match.

Although she has struggled on the singles court in 2009, Ditty has been producing the best doubles result of her career and currently sits at a career high ranking of No. 66. She reached the semifinals in doubles at a WTA event in Auckland and won a round in Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the latter with Dekmeijere. The highlight of her year came during Fed Cup in February, where she helped the US win the final match of their first round tie against Argentina, playing an instrumental role in helping the US Fed Cup team reach the finals this year.

“I still feel like things are getting better and still feel like I’m working towards something,” said Ditty.

Part of Ditty’s improved attitude can largely be attributed to her new coaching situation. Having traveled alone for most of the year, Ditty recently started traveling with a new coach, Carlos Drada. After playing more tournaments than almost anyone on tour last year (36) and spending time training in different cities including Seattle and San Francisco, Ditty moved to Lexington, Kentucky, at the beginning of August and intends to make the city her new base.

“I’m so much happier now,” said Ditty. “I have a great coach and Lexington is really close to my family. It’s great to have everything that I need right there.”

Ditty and Dekmeijere await the winner of a first round doubles between Lucie Safarova and Galina Voskoboeva, and the No. 12 seeds, Vania King and Monica Niculescu.