Serena Williams

Kevin Anderson Wins In Abu Dhabi; Serena Williams Loses First Match In Post-Pregnancy Comeback

 Abu Dhabi, UAE – 30 December 2017: The Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) has a new name on the winner’s trophy as world number 14 Kevin Anderson defeated Spain’s world number 20 Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) in 1 hour and 39 minutes at the International Tennis Center at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.

The Championship trophy was handed over to Anderson by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports. Also present were Homaid Al Shimmari, Deputy CEO, Mubadala Investment Company and John Lickrish, Chief Executive Officer, Flash Entertainment organisers of the MWTC.

Before the final, however, fans were treated to a special exhibition match as 23-time Grand Slam Champion, Serena Williams made her first public on court appearance since becoming a mother just under four months ago.

Williams’ opponent in her first competitive match, and the first women’s match ever played at MWTC, was world number seven, Jelena Ostapenko. The 20-year-old Latvian has had a breakthrough season, winning the French Open after defeating current world number one Simona Halep in the final. But Ostapenko was too strong for Williams as she went down 6-2, 3-6, (10-5).

In the Championship match, the big-serving Anderson, who was in red hot form throughout the three days, continued his powering run as he broke Bautista Agut in the very first service game before going on to win the set in just 37 minutes.

The second set proved to be a far tighter affair as the Spaniard found his range. He broke Anderson in the second game, but the 6’8” South African used his serve to good effect as he broke right back. The contest then went on serve and in the tie-break, it was an absolute masterclass from Anderson as he took charge with aggressive play from the baseline to wrap up the set and match 7-6 (7-0).

After receiving his Championship trophy, which is officially sponsored by Lasvit, Anderson said, “It is obviously nice to get a win. It’s been three very good matches for me. In terms of my preparation I could not ask for more out of these matches. They were very close matches and I had to compete. I was able to implement a lot of the things we were working on during the off-season but overall I am very, very pleased with these last few days.”

Looking ahead to the new season, he said, “I’ve set big goals for next year. The year is just getting started, so there is a lot of tennis to be played. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks and the new season.”

In the first-ever Women’s match at the Championship, Jelena Ostapenko, playing against her ‘idol’, as she acknowledged her in the post-match press conference, showed signs of nervousness as she lost the first service game before recovering to take a 3-1 lead. Playing in front of a very excited crowd, Williams initially showed signs of rustiness and her opponent took full advantage to win the first set 6-2.

In the second set, Williams finally came into her own finding her rhythm and racing away to a 3-0 lead. Two further breaks in serves saw the 36-year-old American claim the second set 6-3. In the super set, a series of unforced errors from Williams saw the Latvian take a 6-1 lead before the American staged a brief fight back to bring the score to 4-8. However, Ostapenko had just enough in the tank to claim the match 6-2, 3-6, (10-5).

Williams said, “It felt good to be back out there. I miss playing, I missed the competition, the crowd and the atmosphere. I’m taking it one day at a time. In the beginning, it was a little tough. But as the match moved on I was less afraid. The more I played, the more confident I felt. I think this was a wonderful opportunity for me to kind of test and see where I am not only physically but also mentally. I think it was perfect.”

She added, “For me it was all about how I feel physically, how I am physically recovering. I’m just really proud to be playing again and competing. I’ve just had a few tough months and I’m really excited to be out here.”

After her win Ostapenko said, “It was great as she was my idol growing up. It’s hard for her to come back after the baby but I am honoured to be playing in her first match back. Both of us had some good rallies and were also serving and returning well. This experience has been great for me.”

Earlier in the day, Austrian world number 5 Dominic Thiem and Spain’s world number 10 Pablo Carreño Busta played out an exhibition match as both players prepare for the Australian Open.

Thiem, who was beaten by Anderson in yesterday’s semi-final, went on to win 6-3, 6-4 with the help of 11 aces in just over an hour. The world number five broke Carreño Busta’s serve in each of the two sets to register a comfortable victory. Carreño Busta has now lost 11 of his last 12 matches after losing to Kevin Anderson in the opening round of the MWTC and Russian Andrey Rublev for the fifth and sixth place play off.

After his match, Thiem said, “I’m very pleased with the way I served and it was the perfect preparation for me (ahead of the Australian Open). I’m quite satisfied with the way I played over these two days.”

Thousands of fans witnessed three-action packed days of tennis from some of the best players in the world. Due to its success, the organisers revealed during the trophy ceremony that the tournament will return in 2018, for the 11th consecutive year, and will be played between December 27-29.

The three-day MWTC, which is now well established as an annual season-opener, attracted thousands of fans who witnessed high-quality tennis action as the players battled it out for the winner takes all prize of US $250,000.

For more information on the 2018 tournament, stay tuned to www.mubadalawtc.com or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/mubadalaworldtennischampionship.

About Mubadala World Tennis Championship

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship was launched in 2008 by FLASH Entertainment, the region’s leading events consultancy, in partnership with IMG.  Now celebrating its tenth edition, the 2017 Mubadala World Tennis Championship will take place 28 to 30 December 2017 at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City. Beyond the three-day tournament itself, the Championship is committed to creating a lasting legacy for tennis in the UAE through various community programmes that raise awareness of the benefits of tennis and the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

About FLASH Entertainment

Based in Abu Dhabi, FLASH Entertainment (#ThinkFLASH) is the region’s premier live events company, with a proven track record in delivering world-class events from movie premieres and classical shows to international sports events and megastar music concerts. FLASH offers comprehensive event management solutions from concepts and designs through to coordinating every stage of production. The company is committed to providing the region with diverse entertainment programmes, grassroots creativity and stimulating the local economy and events’ industry. For more information visit www.thinkflash.ae or email [email protected]

About Mubadala Investment Company

Mubadala is a pioneering global investor, deploying capital with integrity and ingenuity to accelerate economic growth for the long-term benefit of Abu Dhabi. As Abu Dhabi’s leading strategic investment company, Mubadala is active in 13 sectors and more than 30 countries around the world, creating lasting value for our shareholder, the Government of Abu Dhabi.

Our work includes the development of global industrial champions in sectors such as aerospace, ICT, semiconductors, metals & mining and renewable energy, utilities, and the management of diverse financial holdings. We build on legacy expertise in oil and gas to invest across the hydrocarbon spectrum and enhance the UAE’s growth potential through investments in healthcare, real estate and defense services. Our investment approach prioritizes partnership with best-in-class organizations and a commitment to the highest standards of governance.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” Makes For Great Holiday Gift

Having trouble thinking of the proper holiday gift for the tennis player in your life? Consider the book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steve Flink

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all-time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

The book is published by New Chapter Press, the premier global publisher of tennis books.

The hard-cover book, that makes for a centerpiece of a coffee table or at your local tennis club, retails for $28.95, and can be purchased here on Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257936/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_Qj-rybVBRK7ZW or at www.NewChapterMedia.com and where ever books are sold.

Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles in her career, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”

Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Sport of a Lifetime” by Judy Aydelott, “Absolute Tennis: The Best and Next Way To Play The Game” by Marty Smith, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins (a new third edition published in late 2016), “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Your Playbook for Beating Depression” by Cliff Richey and Mary Garrison, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Guide Cancun” by Eric Rabinowitz, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

Jelena Ostapenko Creates Fascinating Tennis Trivia, Talking Points In Roland Garros Victory

by Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

There are too many fascinating facts about Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia winning the women’s singles title at Roland Garros not to share.

The 20-year-old No. 47-ranked defeated Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final to become not only the first player from Latvia to win a major championship, but became the first unseeded player to win the women’s title since Margaret Scriven in 1933. Since there are now 32 seeded players in major championships (since 2001), this is an even more outstanding statistic when only 16 players were seeded in most championships – or even only eight in 1933 when Scriven won.

Incredibly, Ostapenko had never won a professional tournament before her dramatic win in Paris. She became the first player to make Roland Garros their maiden pro tournament victory since Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil did the same as the No. 66-ranked player – on the exact day that Ostapenko was born, June 8, 1997.

On Thursday, June 8, 2017 – Ostapenko’s 20th birthday – she advanced into the women’s final with 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 win over Timea Bacsinsky, who was also celebrating her birthday, turning 28.

Halep, who would have won her first major championship and secure the world No. 1 ranking with the win, led the match 6-4, 3-0 but was not able to close out the match against the loose and free-hitting Ostapenko. Halep also led 3-1 in the final set but, again, could not close out the championship. In one of the most famous – or infamous – let-cord shots in the history of tennis, Ostapenko secured her crucial service break when she hit a down-the-line backhand that was heading wide, but clipped the top of the net, bouncing high in the air while also ricocheting back into the court for a winner.

Ostapenko hit an equalizing 54 winners and 54 unforced errors in the final.

Ostapenko becomes the lowest-RANKED player to win a major singles title since Serena Williams won the 2007 Australian Open when she was ranked No. 81. Kim Clijsters won the 2009 US Open when she did not have a ranking, returning to pro tennis after retirement to have a child.

Without Serena, American Hopes Of Title At French Open Are Slim

We are in the midst of the worst decade of men’s American tennis in the Open era. Things would be just as dire on the women’s side if not for the Williams sisters. As we head into the second Grand Slam event of the 2017 season, the French Open on the red clay of Roland Garros, is there any reason to think an American can win a title in Paris?

With Serena Williams sidelined the rest of 2017 due to her pregnancy, the chances are very slim. The shortest BookMaker odds to win of any U.S. player belong to Venus Williams at +3000. That tells you all you need to know about the state of American tennis as Venus is an all-time great but also 36 and well past her prime. Planning to bet on the French Open? Check out SBR’s Bookmaker review and visit its website for more tennis odds.

On the men’s side, an American hasn’t won the French Open since Andre Agassi in 1999. Incidentally, Agassi could have an impact on this year’s tournament as he is the new coach of world No. 2 and second-betting favorite Novak Djokovic, the defending champion. In the Open era, Americans have won the French just four times overall; in addition to Agassi, Jim Courier won it back-to-back in 1991-92 and Michael Chang did in 1989. A U.S. player hasn’t reached the finals since Agassi’s win. All-time great Pete Sampras never reached a final.

Many believe that clay is a gimmick surface, and that Americans don’t fare well on it because they don’t grow up learning the game on that surface. It’s a prevalent surface in Spain, for example, and Spaniards have combined for 15 French Open titles in the Open era, led by Rafael Nadal’s record nine. He’s the -125 favorite at BookMaker, an A+-rated site at Sportsbook Review, to make it No. 10 in a couple of weeks.

The highest-ranked American man in the world is Jack Sock at No. 15, and he’s a +15000 long shot to win his first Grand Slam event. He’s unfortunately in the same part of the draw as Nadal so they could meet in the fourth round. The furthest Sock has gone at Roland Garros is the fourth round in 2015. He has yet to make a quarterfinal in any Grand Slam tournament.

John Isner is the second-best American player and ranked 22nd. The big hitter is +20000 to win the tournament. He’s looking at likely third-round matchup against No. 13 Tomas Berdych. Isner’s best result at the French Open is the fourth round, and he has reached the quarterfinals of just one Slam: the 2011 U.S. Open.

On the women’s side, Serena would have been the BookMaker betting favorite to win. She is a three-time champion in Paris, still her fewest of any Grand Slam tournament. Sister Venus is the highest-ranked U.S. player on the women’s side, but clay is easily her worst surface. Venus was a runner-up at the French in 2002 but hasn’t advanced past the fourth round since 2006.

Madison Keys is ranked 13th in the world and is +5000 to win. It’s her fifth French Open, and Keys’ best result was the fourth round last year. Only one American woman has won the French other than Serena since 1986: Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

France is simply not kind to Americans – the cliché is very true in terms of tennis.

The Greatest Forehands In Tennis History – Ranked!

The forehand is perhaps the most the most destructive weapon in the sport of tennis. Who in the history of the game had – or has – the best forehand of all time? Steve Flink, newly-nominated International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, tennis historian, journalist and author of the book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME (available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346763283&sr=8-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time) ranks the top five forehands of all time as part of his book. The list is found below.

Top Five Forehands of All Time – Men

1.ROGER FEDERER Some hit the ball more mightily off the forehand side, and others were flashier, but Federer’s forehand is the best I have ever seen. His capacity to station himself inside the baseline and shorten the court for his opponent has surpassed all others. Once he is inside the court, he can go either way—inside-in or inside-out—and hit winners at will. In top form, he clips more lines with his majestic forehand than anyone and yet he makes very few mistakes for someone so adventuresome.

2. RAFAEL NADAL The Spaniard’s forehand has always been his trademark shot. Nadal tortures his rivals with his rhythmic precision off the forehand. The hop he gets on the forehand with the heaviest and most penetrating topspin of all time is almost mind boggling. He can go full tilt for hours on end and hardly miss a forehand, but it is not as if he is pushing his shots back into play; he is pulverizing the ball and weakening his opponent’s will simultaneously. He sends his adversaries into submission with a barrage of heavy forehands, weakening their resolve in the process. His ball control off the forehand is amazing. I give Federer the edge over Nadal for the best forehand ever, but it is a very close call.

3. IVAN LENDL The former Czech who became an American citizen transformed the world of tennis with his playing style, most importantly with his signature inside-out forehand. There were an abundance of serve-and-volley competitors along with more conventional baseline practitioners during his era, but Lendl changed it all, serving with impressive power to set up his magnificent semi-western, inside-out forehand—the shot that carried him to eight major titles. Lendl’s power and accuracy with that forehand had never been witnessed before.

4. BILL TILDEN Over the course of the 1920’s, when Tilden ruled tennis and studied the technique of the sport with all-consuming interest, the American influenced the sport immensely. He had an estimable first serve and he improved his backhand markedly, but the forehand was Tilden’s finest shot. He drove through the ball classically and confidently and it was a stroke that would not break down under pressure. The Tilden forehand was a shot made for the ages.

5. BJORN BORG, PETE SAMPRAS and JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Although many observers took more notice of the Swede’s two-handed backhand because he joined Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert to popularize that shot in the 1970’s, his forehand was in many ways superior. Borg ushered in a brand of heavy topspin that was unprecedented and the forehand took him to the top of the sport. He passed particularly well off the backhand and disguised his two-hander adeptly, but the Borg forehand defined his greatness more than anything else. Sampras had the most explosive running forehand of all time and he could do quite a bit of damage from the middle of the court off that side as well. His magnificent forehand was relatively flat and it was awesome when he was on. Del Potro is changing the face of the modern game with his explosive flat forehand, the biggest in the sport today. It is a prodigious weapon, released with blinding speed. More than anything else, his sizzling forehand was the reason he halted Federer in a five-set final at the 2009 U.S. Open.

 

Top Five Forehands of All Time – Women

1 . STEFFI GRAF This was among the easiest selections to make among the best strokes ever produced. Considering how much pace she got on this explosive shot, it was made all the more remarkable by her grip—essentially a continental, on the border of an eastern. She would get into position early and with supreme racket head acceleration she would sweep through the ball and strike countless outright winners with her flat stroke. She had little margin for error, yet the forehand seldom let her down. In my view, it stands in a class by itself as the best ever.

2. MAUREEN CONNOLLY A natural left-hander who played tennis right-handed, Connolly had a beautifully produced one-handed backhand that was a shot which came more easily to her. The fact remains that Connolly’s forehand paved the way for her to win the Grand Slam in 1953. She placed the same value on fast footwork as Graf. Her inexhaustible attention to detail and sound mechanics gave Connolly a magnificent forehand.

3. HELEN WILLS MOODY Brought up on the hard courts of California, taught to play the game from the baseline with steadfast conviction, realizing the importance of controlling the climate of her matches, Wills Moody was not called “Little Miss Poker Face” without good reason. She was relentlessly disciplined in her court craft, making the backcourt her home, refusing to make mistakes yet hitting her ground strokes hard. Her flat forehand—hit unfailingly deep and close to the lines—was far and away the best of her era and one of the finest ever.

4. MONICA SELES Authorities often debated whether Seles was better off the forehand or the backhand. Both were left-handed, two-fisted strokes. Each was taken early. She could explore the most acute crosscourt angles or direct her shots within inches of the baseline off either side. Unlike most of her peers, Seles’s forehand was not one dimensional.

5. SERENA WILLIAMS On her finest afternoons, when her timing is on and her concentration is sharp, Williams can be uncontainable off the forehand. She covers the ball with just enough topspin and takes it early, often from an open stance. It is the shot she uses to open up the court, to either release winners or advance to the net. She can be breathtaking off that side at her best, but her ranking is not higher because her brilliance off that side can be sporadic.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time,” a hard-cover book that retails for $28.95, can be purchased via this link http://m1e.net/c?110071729-mFSTVX3uyJ5zw%407612075-hqIGItXY8SJAw at www.NewChapterMedia.com and where ever books are sold.

Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”

Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his new book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Said CBS, NBC and Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time is a masterful tennis epic. Its pages are brimming with insight, hindsight. And as always with Steve Flink, the 20/20 vision of the subtleties and complexities of a match. From Budge to Nadal and “Little Mo” to Serena Williams, Steve will guide you through the greatest matches you ever saw, or never saw. The game’s finest players and brightest moments will come alive and play again, right before your eyes. This book is a tennis treasure.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sand Harwitt, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com) “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk” by Emily Filloramo, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

Serena Williams Beats Sister Venus For Record 23rd Major at Australian Open

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Serena Williams won her 23rd major title on Saturday at the Australian Open as she defeated her older sister, Venus Williams, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.

The theme after the match was not about Serena celebrating her win, but about celebrating her relationship with her sister.

“She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her,” Serena said. “She’s my inspiration. She’s the only reason I’m standing here today.”

The match-up between the Williams sisters in the final in Melbourne was the oldest major final in history on the women’s side, but the two sisters showed no signs of slowing down this fortnight as each looked very impressive. Serena was just a bit more impressive, as she was able to claim her 7th Australian Open title and regain her throne at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

“I’m enormously proud of you. You’re the world to me,” Venus said.

The match got off to an interesting start as there were four breaks of serve in a row. With each player possibly a bit nervous and unsure of how to handle the situation, it took a few games for everything to settle down. But once it did, Serena was the one who took charge. She would break for a 4-3 lead in the first set before holding at love a few games later to close it out.

Up a set, Serena continued to look confident. She had a look at a break point in Venus’ second service game of the second set, but the older sister was able to fight it off. But with Serena continuing to dominate on serve, the pressure on Venus was ever-present, and it finally got to be too much in the 3-3 game.

With Venus serving, Serena created three break chances and was able to capitalize on the third, giving her a break lead and putting herself just two games away from the title. Nothing would get in Serena’s way, as she dropped just two points in her last two service games, holding comfortably to close out the win and take the Australian Open title.

Serena is now an astonishing 23-6 in major finals, and improves to 7-2 in major finals against her sister Venus. Venus still has many positives to take away from this event, as she will improve to No. 11 in the world, her highest ranking since September, plus she also had her best result at a major since 2009.

“Thank you, Venus, for inspiring me to be the best player that I could be and inspiring me to work hard,” Serena said.

Serena’s 23 major titles is now an Open Era record, passing Steffi Graf’s 22. Margaret Court holds the overall record at 24, something that Serena will certainly have her sights set on throughout the rest of 2017.

Serena2017Aussie

Serena Williams Moves Into Australian Open Quarterfinals And Closer To Making More History

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Serena Williams didn’t play her best tennis on Monday at the Australian Open, but still managed to defeat Barbora Strycova in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4, to reach the quarterfinals.

“It was a really good match for me, and I’m glad I got through it,” Williams said. “It’s good to know I have a Plan B.”

The 22-time major champion continued her pursuit for major title No. 23 in Melbourne as she had to battle through some early struggles. With many of the top seeds already out of the women’s draw, Williams finds herself as the heavy favorite remaining in the draw.

Williams knows this may be one of the best opportunities she gets to claim major title No. 23, and she surely would not let an upset in the fourth round ruin any chances of that.

“I love pressure. I feel like I deal well with pressure,” Williams said of the pressure she feels as being the favorite, something she has experienced many times throughout her career.

Strycova looked like she was up to the task of upsetting arguably the greatest women’s player of all time as she managed to break Williams three separate times in the first set. The only problem here, was that Williams broke four times.

Every time the Czech was able to break, the American would immediately break in the next game to get back on serve. This happened three separate times, the last time making the score 4-4. After that last exchange of breaks, Williams finally appeared to settle in as she held her last two service games, and saw four break points with Strycova serving at 4-5.

Strycova was able to fight off those four set points and even saved three more in the 5-6 game, but Williams wasn’t going to miss out on eight chances to close out the set, finally breaking in the 12th game to take a one-set lead.

In the second set, Williams continued to look like she had found her rhythm, breaking Strycova for an early 4-1 lead. After not facing any break points in her first four service games of the set, Williams faced two when she served for the match at 5-3.

She could only save the first one before Strycova broke to get back on serve at 5-4, however Williams made sure that the comeback was short-lived. In the very next game, Williams broke to close out the match, earning herself the straight sets victory.

“It’s always good to have something to improve on, and I know I can do better on my serve,” Williams said.

Williams will now take on one of the players who has looked the best to start off this year, Johanna Konta. After reaching a final in Shenzhen and winning the title in Sydney to start off the year, Konta has looked very impressive in Melbourne and will provide a very tough task for Williams in the quarterfinals.

Serena Williams Loses US Open Semifinal To Karolina Pliskova…And No. 1 Ranking

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Serena Williams lost her semifinal at the US Open on Thursday to Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 7-6(5), but that may not be the most important thing she lost on Thursday. The 22-time major champion also lost her world No. 1 ranking for the first time since February of 2013 to Angelique Kerber of Germany.

“I’m not talking about No. 1,” said Williams in her post-match press conference. “I think Karolina played great today…I wasn’t at 100 percent but I also think she played well and she deserved to win today.”

Williams discussed having a knee injury that occurred after her second round match that had been hampering her movement around the court, but was gracious in defeat as she was able to give Pliskova the credit she deserves for winning the match.

Pliskova, from the Czech Republic, has now won 11 matches in a row. After winning the premier-level event in Cincinnati, the No. 11 player in the world has come into New York and won six matches. Her goal coming into the event was to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time, and she has been able to go three rounds further, all the way into the final.

“I said I don’t believe it…actually I do believe it. I always knew I had a chance to beat anyone if I am playing my game,” said Pliskova.

The first set was dominated by the 10th-seeded Pliskova, as she went two-for-three on break points and didn’t have to face one herself. After Williams fought off a break point to hold for 2-3, she was able to take Pliskova to deuce and almost turned the tables on the first set.

Pliskova, though, withstood the effort from the American to hold before breaking her at love in the next game for a 5-2 lead, and that momentum carried over into the next game as the Czech easily held to close out the first set.

“The serve today was the key why I won,” said Pliskova.

Thanks to her dominance on serve that saw seven aces and 84-percent of first serve points won, Pliskova was able to continuously apply pressure on the Williams serve, earning a break point in the opening game of the second set. The Czech didn’t convert at that time, but would convert a few games later to break Williams for a 3-2 lead.

In the very next game, though, Pliskova faltered for the first and only time in the match, allowing Williams to have a look at a 0-40 opportunity. The American would not miss out on this chance, capitalizing on the first break point to even up the set.

Straightforward holds took the set into a tiebreak after the exchange of breaks early on. After dropping the first set on serve, Williams was able to bounce back and win both of Pliskova’s service points later in the set to grab a 4-3 lead.

The American was unable to take advantage of this lead, though, and lost her next service point before ultimately grabbing a 5-4 lead and putting herself within two matches of forcing a deciding third set. From that point on, though, Pliskova was able to win the next three points, including a double fault on match point from Williams, giving the Czech the win and putting her in the final.

“This is something amazing and I’m really excited to be in the final, and especially to beat a player like this. Serena is a champion so it’s never easy to play her…it was very hard,” said Pliskova. “I had a goal today to beat Serena and that’s what I did…I don’t care who is there in the final.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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