World TeamTennis Finals to air live on NBC Sports Network

NEW YORK (September 10, 2012) – World TeamTennis, the coed professional tennis league co-founded by Billie Jean King, today announced an agreement to air the WTT Eastern Conference Championship and the WTT Finals on NBC Sports Network, Sept. 15-16.

NBC Sports Network will air six hours of coverage from the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, set for Sept. 14-16 at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, S.C.  The network will be the broadcast home for the Eastern Conference Championship on Sept. 15, and the WTT Finals on Sept. 16.  The Western Conference Championship on Sept. 14 and the Eastern Conference Championship on Sept. 15 will both be live streamed on WTT.com.

Leif Shiras will host the WTT broadcasts and will be joined by former WTT veteran Luke Jensen.

The WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO kicks off on Friday, Sept. 14, when the Orange County Breakers take on the Sacramento Capitals for the Western Conference title.  Action begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT and the match will be live streamed on WTT.com.

Venus Williams leads the undefeated Washington Kastles into the Eastern Conference Championship match against their rival New York Sportimes featuring Martina Hingis and John McEnroe on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 6:30 p.m. EDT.  The Kastles are riding a 30-match win streak, the second longest in U.S. pro sports team history.  Washington won the 2011 title with the first undefeated 16-0 record in WTT history.  The Eastern Conference final will air on NBC Sports Network at 12:30 a.m. EDT / 9:30 p.m. PDT that evening and will be live streamed on WTT.com.

The two Conference Champions will face off on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3:30 p.m. EDT, in the WTT Finals which will air live on NBC Sports Network.  All four teams have won at least one WTT title, with the Sacramento Capitals leading the way with a League-record six titles.

Sacramento, Orange County, Washington and New York advanced to the WTT Finals Weekend after capturing the top two spots in their conferences during the 37th regular season of the WTT Pro League presented by GEICO, which ran July 9-28.  For tickets or other information on the WTT Finals Weekend presented by GEICO, visit www.FamilyCircleCup.com/WTT or www.WTT.com/Finals.

GEICO is the presenting sponsor of the WTT Pro League.  Other official WTT Pro League national and regional sponsors for the 2012 season include Cancer Treatment Centers of America, DecoTurf, Kraft, Mylan, Sims Recycling Solutions, UBS and Wilson Racquet Sports.

WTT FINALS WEEKEND  – TV & LIVE STREAM SCHEDULE

Fri., Sept. 14 – Western Conference Championship- 6:30 p.m. EDT – live stream on WTT.com

Sat., Sept. 15 – Eastern Conference Championship – 12:30 a.m. EDT on NBC Sports Network (tape-delay) and live stream on WTT.com (Eastern Conference Championship live stream presented courtesy of the Washington Kastles)

Sun., Sept. 16 – WTT Finals – 3:30 p.m. EDT – LIVE on NBC Sports Network

MEDIA CONTACT:  Rosie Crews, WTT  817.684.0366  rcrews@wtt.com

About WTT Pro League presented by GEICO: 

The World Team Tennis (WTT) Pro League presented by GEICO showcases the best in professional team tennis with the innovative coed team format co-founded by Billie Jean King in the 1970s.  The WTT Pro League has featured virtually every major champion of the Open era over the League’s past 36 seasons.  The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis.   WTT and the USTA are teaming up on number of initiatives, including development of the youth market through junior team tennis programs.  For more information on the WTT Pro League, visit www.WTT.com.

About NBC Sports Network:

NBC Sports Network is the 24/7 cable platform for NBC Sports’ rich heritage of unmatched storytelling, best-in-class production and utilizing broad promotion to make big events bigger. Now in more than 79 million homes, NBC Sports Network serves sports fans by airing coverage of the Olympic Games and Trials as well as the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), IZOD IndyCar Series, Tour de France, major college football and basketball, and horse racing surrounding the Triple Crown, among other events.  The network’s original programming, such as Costas Tonight, NFL Turning Point and NBC SportsTalk, exemplifies NBC Sports’ ability to tell stories and provide meaningful, relevant content. The network is also home to the best outdoor programming on television. NBC Sports Network, which prides itself on serving sports fans across multiple platforms, is distributed via cable, satellite and telco operators throughout the United States.

Rafa Rides Right To The Finals

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The ball sped off the strings so fast for a moment it appeared the force of the swing could send a vibration dampener spinning around the string bed like a particularly lively super ball bounding around a roulette wheel. Rafael Nadal watched his final serve land safely and exploded into the air like a man propelled from his own personal launching pad. He landed in his first career US Open final after wrapping up a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Mikhail Youzhny in today’s semifinal.

The semifinal had served as a stop sign for Nadal in each of the past two years — he fell to Andy Murray in a rain-interrupted 2008 semifinal and was blown off the court by big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in last September’s semis — but the top-seeded Spaniard played with authoritative ambition in surging to his 20th consecutive Grand Slam victory today.

“For me, it is a dream I am going to play the final here in the biggest center court of the world,” Nadal said. “I try my best so after a lot of work so I am very happy for that.”

Playing progressively stronger with each passing round, Nadal has kicked his game into a higher gear like a sprinter downshifting into speedier strides with the tape in sight as he is now one win removed from becoming the seventh man in history to complete the career Grand Slam.

Continuing his quest to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open in succession, Nadal has not surrendered a set in six tournament victories and now the world watches and waits for a potential electrifying encounter in tomorrow’s final.

If five-time champion Roger Federer defeats Novak Djokovic for the fourth consecutive time at the Open in today’s second semifinal then the archrivals will face off in their first Flushing Meadows final. It would be their 18th meeting in a championship match, second to Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, who met in 20 finals.

Nadal and Federer have split the spoils at the Grand Slam table in combining to claim 21 of the last 24 major championships.

It would be a historic match-up marking the first time in history two men squared off in all four Grand Slam tournament finals. A Federer-Nadal final would be their eighth Grand Slam title match, setting the record for most major meetings (they currently share the record of seven major final face-offs with Bill Tilden and William Johnston, who met in seven straight US Championships from 1919-1925.).

Seeking to become the first Russian man to reach a major final since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open and the second Russian finalist in Flushing Meadow after Safin, who stunned Pete Sampras to capture the title a decade ago, Youzhny need to play big and bold, but instead looked tired and timid for long stretches of the match.

Youzhny punctuated a few of his errant shots by tapping his adidas with the rim of racquet as if trying to shake some sense into his shot selection through flogging his feet.

“Maybe he was a little bit more tired than me; he played a longer match during the week,” Nadal said.

Depleted by his 3-6, 7-6(7-), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over 25th-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka that spanned exactly four hours, a spent Youzhny looked like a man fully aware he had little left in his inner reservoir. The clarity Youzhny showed in his shot selection against Wawrinka was missing at times today. Nadal’s fast feet and ability to track down balls that elude most mortals caused Youzhny to think before he struck at times and he conceded that the mind-body connection was a bit out of sync.

“I cannot say I’m really tired, but yeah, (I) was not fast enough today,” Youzhny said. “My decision was not really fast. I mean, I (was) moving well, but my head was one step back of my hand and my legs. So that’s why I was thinking too long where I have to play. That’s why some mistakes and that’s why made the score like this one.”

Nadal has a habit of infiltrating opponent’s heads with his anticipation, unerring consistency and court coverage that seems to squeeze the court to the size of a parking space.

“He’s consistent. He play really high level all year,” Youzhny said of Nadal. “Not everybody can play like this. Some players play really well maybe three tournaments and four, five tournaments play not so well. Even top players. But Federer and Nadal I think (are) more consistent players. His level is a little bit higher than all other players.”

Read more of Rich Pagliaro at TennisNow.com.

Power vs. Speed Highlight Sharapova and Wozniacki

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – One is a three-time Grand Slam Champion. She is a statuesque model on the court, who uses her power game to her advantage. A daughter of immigrants, who keeps her ancestry close to her hear, someone who is proud to be a foreigner in a foreign county. If she wasn’t a tennis player, she would be modeling in Milan or Paris.

The other was the runner-up in last year’s US Open and the No. 1 seeded player in the tournament. Her smile outshines her beauty on the court and uses her speed to break down her opponents. She is also a daughter of immigrants, but has embraced her new country as her own. If she wasn’t a tennis player, she would be a morning show personality or a weather girl.

The differences between Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki are clear cut. Yes, they may be the two most beautiful women in the tournament and when they face-off in the fourth round on Monday, it may be the true championship of this tournament, as both women may be on their hottest streaks of their careers.

“At the moment I’m feeling happy,” said Wozniacki who is now 18-1 since Wimbledon, after she disposed of Yung-Jan Chan, 6-1 6-0.  “I’m happy to be out there.  I’m happy to play, I’m happy to be fit, and that’s the most important thing.  I’ve really been practicing hard, and it’s giving me the results I want.”

Not to be outdone, Sharapova has won 12 out of 14 matches since the British championship. She is playing her best tennis since her shoulder injury in 2008 and maybe since she won the US Open back in 2006. Today she dispelled the Cinderella story of Beatrice Capra, 6-0 6-0 , almost a year to the day of getting knocked out by last year’s upstart Melanie Oudin.

“This was a new day,” said Sharapova. “And what happened last year, you know, I didn’t really want to go into the match thinking about it. Obviously I had lost the match and made way too many unforced errors.  On a day like today, I just wanted to make sure I was consistent and did the right thing, and, you know, maybe didn’t go for the lines as much and just played smart tennis.”

So now both Sharapova and Wozniacki will have a titan matchup. They have only met twice (both back in 2008) with the 23 year-old Russian holding a 2-0 edge. And this fourth rounder will be a showcase of Russian’s power versus the Dane’s speed with Wozniacki catching up to as many balls on the baseline trying to force the aggressive Sharapova to make errors.

“She can run all day and get a lot of balls back and make you hit tons of balls,” Sharapova said.  “She changes the pace really well, and gets her opponents off-balance.  She does many things well, you know.  That’s why she’s at the top of the game.”

Although Serena Williams is the No. 1 woman in the world, Wozniacki can claim that title with a win on Monday, especially after Jelena Jankovic out of the tournament. The 20 year-old will have her toughest fight of the summer against her Russian opponent, because of her mental toughness and ability to break down opponents.

“I think we’re different players,” Wozniacki said. “I feel like I’m maybe moving a bit better.  I don’t know.  I’m placing the balls better a little bit, but she’s maybe hitting the balls harder.

“I don’t know.  You know, she has won Grand Slams; I haven’t.  Yeah, I don’t know.  It’s tough.  I think it’s up to you guys [the media] to find out what you think.”

Prediction: Wozniacki In Three Sets