David Wagner Wins Silver Medal In London

David Wagner win 2012 Silver Medal in Singles in the Paralympic Games in London

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 8, 2012 – The United States Tennis Association (USTA) today announced that American David Wagner won the silver medal in Quad singles competition at the 2012 Paralympics in London, as he was defeated 6-3, 6-2 by Noam Gershony of Israel in the gold medal match. This marks Wagner’s second silver medal in the Quad Singles Division at the Paralympic Games since making his debut at the 2004 Games in Athens. With the win, Wagner will be taking home his second medal of the London Games. On Thursday, he and Quad Doubles partner Nick Taylor captured their third consecutive gold medal.

As a three-time Paralympian, Wagner now has a total of six medals throughout his Paralympic career. At the 2008 Games in Beijing, he captured gold and bronze in doubles and singles respectively. At the 2004 Games in Athens, he won gold in doubles and silver in singles. He has competed in the Quad division of the Paralympic Games since it was first introduced in the 2004 Games.

Wagner is a ten-time Grand Slam champion. At the US Open, he captured two titles in singles (2010, 2011) and four in doubles with Taylor (2007, 2009-2011). Last year he captured the singles title at the Australian Open. Prior to that, he and Taylor won three Australian Open doubles titles (2008-2010).

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The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 785,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and helps underserved youth and people with disabilities. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page facebook.com/usta or follow @usta on Twitter.

Azarenka, Sharapova and Errani/Vinci first to qualify for TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul

NEW YORK, NY, USA – The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced today that World No.1 Victoria Azarenka, four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova and the top doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are the first players to qualify for this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which will be staged at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. The WTA’s year-end finale, to be held from October 23-28, will feature the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for the coveted title and a share of $4.9 million in prize money.

“I congratulate Victoria, Maria, Sara and Roberta on becoming the first players to secure their places at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul,” said Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Maria and Victoria have had outstanding seasons with each earning Grand Slam titles, the WTA World No.1 ranking and Olympic medals, highlighted by Maria achieving her career Grand Slam. Sara and Roberta have been the stand-out doubles pair this year, winning seven titles including their first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.”

“We are delighted that Victoria, Maria, Sara and Roberta have qualified for the second staging of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul, which launched with such great success last year in Turkey,” said Ayda Uluç, Turkish Tennis Federation President. “We are planning to raise the bar even higher at this year’s event and look forward to showcasing the talents of these extraordinary players to fans in Istanbul and around the world.”

 

Victoria Azarenka

“This year has been amazing for me so far, starting by winning the Australian Open, becoming WTA World No.1 for the first time and winning two medals at the Olympics. Last year, the atmosphere at the WTA Championships in Istanbul was great and I am looking forward to playing there again.”

After winning her first Grand Slam title at this year’s Australian Open, Azarenka became the 22nd player to hold the WTA World No.1 ranking. Her stellar start to the season began with a 26 match winning streak, the best since 1997 when Martina Hingis won 37 straight. The streak yielded the Belarusian four singles titles: the Apia International Sydney, Australian Open, Qatar Total Open (Doha) and BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells).

The 23-year-old’s strong results have also included finishing runner-up at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart) and Mutua Madrid Open, advancing to the semifinals at Wimbledon and US Open, and claiming singles bronze and mixed doubles gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics. This year Azarenka boasts a WTA-leading 14 victories over Top 10 ranked opponents, including a 7-2 record against Top 5 opponents.

Azarenka returns to the Championships for the fourth consecutive year, having finished runner-up to Petra Kvitova in a close three-set final in 2011.

 Maria Sharapova

“I am very happy to be returning to Istanbul for the WTA Championships. This year has been really special for me, winning the Roland Garros title to complete my career Grand Slam, rising back to No.1 for a time and of course taking home a silver medal from the London Olympics. It will be great to finish off the season in Turkey. We received such incredible support from the fans last year, so I’m looking forward to competing against the world’s best players there once again.”

The 25-year-old became only the 6th player in the Open Era to complete a career Grand Slam when she claimed the Roland Garros title in June. The victory propelled her back to WTA World No.1 for the first time since 2008, a position she held for 4 weeks, taking her career total to 21 weeks. The Russian also made her Olympic debut in London, coming away with a silver medal.

Sharapova has won three titles in 2012: the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart), Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome) and Roland Garros, her fourth Grand Slam title. She finished runner-up at the Australian Open, BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells), Sony Open Tennis (Miami) and the Olympics.

Sharapova, who defeated Serena Williams to win the 2004 Championships, will compete in the season-ending tournament for the sixth time in her career. She also finished runner-up in 2007, and her 3 hour, 24 minute final against Justine Henin remains the longest WTA singles final on record.

 

Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci

“We are so happy, so excited, to have qualified for the WTA Championships,” said Vinci. “We’ve played very good tennis this year and this is the reward. I was at the WTA Championships a long time ago, back in 2001, but it is even more special for me to do this with such a good friend as Sara. I think the level of competition in doubles has become even tougher over the last decade, so we are looking forward to some great matches at Istanbul.”

Errani and Vinci will be the first all-Italian team to compete at the prestigious year-end event. Vinci will be returning to the Championships for the second time in her career – 11 years after her first appearance in doubles in 2001 (partnered with Sandrine Testud, QF). Errani will be making her tournament debut, joining a list of a list of five Italians who have competed in doubles at the Championships including Rita Grande (2001), Flavia Pennetta (2010, 2011), Francesca Schiavone (2006) and Vinci (2001).

Errani and Vinci have had an outstanding year, winning seven titles, highlighted by becoming the first all-Italian pair to win a Grand Slam doubles title at Roland Garros. The duo won five consecutive titles – Barcelona Ladies Open, Mutua Madrid Open, Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Rome), Roland Garros and UNICEF Open (‘s-Hertogenbosch) – and their 25-match win streak was the longest by a team since 1994, when Gigi Fernández and Natasha Zvereva won 28 straight.

First teaming up on a regular basis in 2010, Errani and Vinci have collected a total of 12 doubles titles as a team. They have also compiled an undefeated record to date in Fed Cup doubles competition for Italy, being key ingredients in the country’s championship runs in 2009 and 2010.

On Monday, September 10, Errani and Vinci will rise to World No.1 and 2 respectively on the WTA’s doubles rankings. Errani becomes the second Italian to hold the honor, after countrywoman Flavia Pennetta held the top spot for 18 weeks during 2011.


RACE TO THE TEB BNP PARIBAS WTA CHAMPIONSHIPS-ISTANBUL

(players/teams in bold already qualified)

SINGLES

DOUBLES

PLAYER

POINTS

TEAM

POINTS

Maria Sharapova (RUS) 7290 Errani / Vinci 8079
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 7286 Huber / Raymond 6756
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6017 Hlavackova / Hradecka 5700
Serena Williams (USA) 5900 Kirilenko / Petrova 4055
Petra Kvitova (CZE) 5031   Kops-Jones / Spears 2983
Angelique Kerber (GER) 4920 Llaogstera Vives / Martinez Sanchez 2837
Li Na (CHN) 3992 Vesnina / Makarova 2321
Sara Errani (ITA) 3990
Samantha Stosur (AUS) 3072
Marion Bartoli (FRA) 2905

 

Tickets for the 2012 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships–Istanbul, as well as info about the event, are available for purchase through Biletix – either online at www.biletix.com or at Biletix ticket counters in Turkey.

Follow all the latest news about the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships-Istanbul on www.wtachampionships.com, www.facebook.com/WTA, and www.twitter.com/WTA using #WTAChamps.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Eloise Tyson, WTA, +44.207.386.4100, etyson@wtatennis.com

Feray Akşit Güney, TEB, +90.216.635.6487, feray.aksitguney@teb.com.tr

Elodie Verbeke, BNP Paribas global sponsorship, +33632300396, elodie.verbeke@bnpparibas.com

 


 

About BNP Paribas:

BNP Paribas (www.bnpparibas.com) is one of the strongest banks in the world*. The Group has a presence in more than 80 countries and more than 200,000 employees, including more than 160,000 in Europe. It ranks highly in its three core activities: Retail Banking, Investment Solutions and Corporate & Investment Banking. In Europe, the Group has four domestic markets (Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg) and BNP Paribas Personal Finance is the leader in consumer lending. BNP Paribas is rolling out its integrated retail banking model across the Europe-Mediterranean zone and boasts a large network in the western part of the United States. In its Corporate & Investment Banking and Investment Solutions activities, BNP Paribas also enjoys top positions in Europe, a strong presence in the Americas and solid and fast-growing businesses in Asia.

* Rated AA by Standard & Poor’s i.e. 3rd rating level on a scale of 22.

 

About Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB):

Türk Ekonomi Bankası (TEB), a reputable and prestigious institution in the Turkish banking sector, was established in 1927. Since its establishment, TEB, with its expanded network of branches and a diversified range of products and services, pursues operating in various fields of the banking sector as investment, leasing, factoring and portfolio management. In February 2005, BNP Paribas, one of the top 10 most important banks in the world and the largest in the Euro zone, operating in 83 countries, became a partner of TEB which went public in February 2000. In the wake of its strategic partnership with the BNP Paribas, Türk Ekonomi Bankası carries its expertise in foreign trade, corporate, commercial and private banking over into the fields of retail banking and banking for small and medium-sized businesses. Today TEB is one of the major players of the Turkish Financial Services Market with consolidated asset size of 40.5 billion TL and more than 9.000 employees.

 

About BNP Paribas and Tennis:  

Long-standing partner to the sport of tennis since 1973, BNP Paribas is actively involved in the game at both local and international level, and in club, schools and social tennis as well as professional events. BNP Paribas has gradually become the number one sponsor in world tennis: official sponsor of Roland Garros since 1973 and sponsor of five ATP Masters 1000 events – the BNP Paribas Masters since 1986, Monte Carlo Masters since 2005, Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome since 2006, BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells since 2009 and the Shanghai Masters since 2010. The Group is also title sponsor of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas since 2001 and the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas since 2005, as well as being actively involved in many other international competitions including the Bank of the West Classic in California, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca, the Open 13 in Marseille and the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York. BNP Paribas is also an official partner of International Wheelchair Tennis, such as the the “BNP Paribas World Team Cup”. Through its support for more than 20 national tennis associations, 2000 clubs, 550 amateur tournaments, plus schools and social programs around the world, BNP Paribas helps to promote tennis and encourage widespread participation in the game. The Group’s commitment to social values is reflected in the sports sponsorships it has undertaken in numerous projects, including Yannick Noah’s ‘Fête le Mur’ Association and the tennis Téléthon in France, the Oberer Tennis Camp in Switzerland and the BNP Paribas ‘Taste of Tennis’ in the United States. As part of its creative sports sponsorship policy, BNP Paribas has launched a website “www.wearetennis.com” entirely dedicated to tennis news.  The Group’s new sponsorship slogan ‘We are tennis’ underlines the fact that BNP Paribas promotes tennis for all, at all levels.

 


Henin Retires From Tennis

ending elbow injury that has forced the Belgian to hang up her racquet.  One of the WTA’s greatest players and a seven-time Grand Slam champion, Henin retired from the sport for the first time in March 2008 and became the first woman in the history of professional tennis to retire while ranked World No.1.  She made a successful comeback to tennis at the beginning of the 2010 season, reaching the final of the 2010 Australian Open and capturing two titles (the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart and the UNICEF Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch).  During a fourth-round loss to Kim Clijsters at 2010 Wimbledon, Henin suffered a right elbow injury and did not play for the remainder of the 2010 season.

On her official website, Henin said the following: “I turn, and this time, an incredible page of my life … What a wonderful trip, I have experienced during all these years.  Today I am calmer and I can create positive and rewarding look back on this experience in my life…Finally and most importantly, thanks everyone.  Thanks for standing by my side during all these years. I will never forget your support and your loyalty.”

“Justine Henin will go down as one of the greatest female athletes of her era.  She has been an incredible ambassador for women’s tennis on and off the court, and her fighting spirit, tremendous courage and ultimate success has captured the minds and hearts of millions of fans around the world,” said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA.  “We have all been fortunate to once again have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of her game during these many past months, and no doubt we will miss seeing her on court competing like only Justine can.  In her young career Justine has already done so much to inspire and give back to others, and I am sure this will continue to be a big part of the next chapter of her life.”

Henin is a winner of 43 WTA singles titles – including seven Grand Slam championships – and has been ranked World No.1 for a total of 117 weeks (7th all time).  She has amassed more than $20 million in career prize money and is leaving the sport with a win-loss record of 527-116.

But more importantly than any statistic, 5-foot, 5 ¾-inch (1.67 m) Henin was renowned for her spectacular one-handed backhand, incredible athleticism and unrivalled mental fortitude and work ethic.

Among many accomplishments, Henin achieved the following:

  • Finished three seasons as the WTA World No.1 (2003, 2006, 2007)
  • Won seven Grand Slam singles titles (Roland Garros 2003, 2005-07; Australian Open 2004; US Open 2003, 2007)
  • In 2007-08, set personal best 32-match winning streak, longest streak since Venus Williams in 2000 (35); in 2007, posted a 63-4 (0.94) winning record, the best percentage in women’s tennis since 1989 (Graf 86-2, 0.977)
  • In 2006 became the seventh player in the Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same calendar year (Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, and Martina Hingis).
  • Won 43 singles titles, including seven Grand Slams, two season-ending WTA Championships (2006, 2007) and an Olympic gold medal in singles in Athens in 2004
  • Helped lead Belgium to its first Fed Cup title in 2001.

After retiring from tennis in 2008, Henin turned her focus to charitable work, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling to Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in that role throughout 2009.  She created the “Justine For Kids” association, the purpose of which is to help develop and fund projects to aid sick children and their families.  Henin founded the “Sixth Sense Academy” in 2007 with coach Carlos Rodriguez which has five locations – three in Belgium, one in Florida and the most recent one in China.

Working At The Open Was a Dream

Experiencing the US Open from any perspective is special but working in the media room during the Open is one of the few ways to see the tournament from every perspective. For every 2010 US Open night session I worked in the USTA media room and helped assist over 1700 media credentialed guests by distributing stats and interview transcripts. Although this job was categorized as work, I never thought of it as that.

The media personalities I met, the people I worked with and the contacts I made, in addition to being a part of the fanfare, made my first US Open experience one that I will never forget. It’s true that maybe I was easily thrilled because I moved to the big city only a month ago from North Carolina so I’m still amused by everyday life in New York, but this excitement was on another level.

The diversity of the tennis media is one of the things that sets tennis apart from other sports. Tennis is played on every continent in the world, so imagine a room full of people from hundreds of different cultures and nationalities participating in an industry that is more laid back and casual than most other professions. It’s a culture clash to say the least, but the beauty of it is that the love of the game brought everyone together for those two weeks. Household tennis names like Bud Collins were seen in the media room as often as everyday. Two-time Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo was present during the second week, working with the French media. Patrick McEnroe even stopped by on the day that he stepped down as Captain of the United States Davis Cup Team to talk about his resignation.

Walking on the Open grounds is something that every tennis fan should experience at least once in their lifetime. Making my periodic visit to the umpire’s office was always an adventure. On multiple occasions I walked past Brad Gilbert and said “BG!” and every time he gave me a smile and a head nod. Several times I followed a crowd of people rushing to the practice courts to find Nadal, Federer, Djokovic or another top contender preparing for their next match. Fans are eager to find another rising star with the personality to match and the Open grounds give players the chance to build their fan base. Dustin Brown, the 25 year old Jamaican who put on a show in Ashe Stadium during his second round loss to Andy Murray, took full advantage of the opportunity. He walked around the grounds after his loss and happily signed autographs and took pictures with fans while his Jamaican entourage tagged along.

One of the more interesting things to watch over the two weeks was the buzz around Rafael Nadal and his official coming out party as a sports icon. Yes, Nadal had eight Grand Slam titles and a solid fan base coming into this year’s Open, but there’s always been a slight resistance to make him the fan favorite. As he advanced through each round of the Open, you could hear the buzz surrounding Nadal grow louder and louder. By the end of the second week it seemed that every person on the grounds was wearing an article of clothing with Rafa’s Bull logo or some other piece from Nadal’s Nike-endorsed US Open wardrobe. There’s no question who will be the fan favorite when Nadal comes back to defend his title in 2011, and I hope to also come back and do it again next year.

Follow me on twitter: @jonithom

After The Win, Nadal Basks In Glory

In the city that never sleeps, Rafael Nadal wasn’t resting on his laurels after capturing his first career US Open to complete the career Grand Slam on Monday night. The World No. 1 stayed on site at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center until after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, celebrating with his family and friends, making a point to personally thank the members of the USTA staff for running the tournament and conducting interviews with Spanish television.

“I had the control antidoping, and saying hello, all the US Open staff and say thanks, everybody, for the organization, for the facilities that they give me, they give to me,” Nadal said in explaining his activity immediately after he crashed to the court following championship point.  “After that, I was with the authorities, they came, thank you very much. And the president of the Spanish Federation and the family.  Just be out there for the family for a few minutes, and afterward I was in the locker room organization, and having organizing all the clothes.”

So exactly what did Nadal do the morning after his triumph in New York City?

Nadal and girlfriend Xisca, who sat by herself in the player dining area gazing out of the window and watching the rain fall during the one hour, 47-minute rain delay that interrupted the men’s final, sat side-by-side in a van that took the pair back to their Manhattan hotel after 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

The nine-time Grand Slam champion only got about three hours of sleep before heading to Times Square with his family and management team for a photo shoot across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe.

Tourists and fans, seeing the swarm of photographers waiting and blue police barricades set up in Times Square knew something was about to happen and began to crowd the area.

Nadal and his team rolled up, he jumped out of a car and posed for a series of photos while fans screamed support (and a couple of marriage proposals) in his direction. An immensely popular presence in New York, Nadal acknowledged the crowd then it was back in the car for the short ride to Nike Town in mid-town Manhattan where fellow Nike endorser and tennis television analyst John McEnroe, who picked Nadal to win the Open before the tournament began last month, conducted a question and answer session in front of fans wearing Nike Nadal t-shirts staffers passed out at the door.

At the start of the interview McEnroe asked Nadal the question that had long been on his mind.

“How are you so damn humble?” McEnroe asked. “(You must be thinking) Why is this old man asking me these boring questions I want to get the hell out of here  and go home.”

A grinning Nadal replied: “Always a pleasure to talk to you John. That’s the only thing I can do (be nice to people). There are people out there every day waiting for a photo. That’s the normal thing to do. That’s my opinion.”

An unconvinced McEnroe shot back, “I tell them to get a life sometimes” prompting laughter from both the crowd and Nadal.

Nadal said life in Mallorca has shaped the player and man he has become.

“It’s part of the character in Mallorca; we are very relaxed,” Nadal said. “The life there goes a
little slower than here in New York so for that reason I am more relaxed on court.”

Completing the career Grand Slam on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court, Nadal fell to his back in a complete collapse and said his match point moment was purely a physical response.

“You don’t have control of your body at that moment,” Nadal said. “I don’t have any plan to go down when I win the title. When I won the last point I am (there).”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

The Djoker Goes To The Semis

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Novak Djokovic came to court with a dragon on his back, fire in his eyes and after an early mis-step found the swagger in his step in scorching a flat and floundering Gael Monfils, 7-6(2), 6-1, 6-2, to storm into the US Open semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.

The highly anticipated battle of the Djoker vs. Slider Man was about as absorbing as a two-page, color-less comic book.

Wearing the distinctive dragon design on the back of his Sergio Tacchini shirt, Djokovic, aka The Djoker, turned Slider Man Monfils into his own personal punch line after coming back from a break down in the first set to dispense a thorough thrashing of the flamboyant Frenchman who showed no fight after the first set.

The third-seeded Serbian powered into his fourth straight US Open semifinal where he will face either five-time champion Roger Federer or No. 5 seed Robin Soderling for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Federer has served as a personal road block for Djokovic in ending the 2008 Australian Open champion’s Flushing Meadows runs in each of the past three years, including a victory in the 2007 final and his famous between-the-legs passing shot winner that haunted Djokovic in the 2009 semifinals.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is 10-5 lifetime vs. Djokovic, but the Serbian showman will enjoy more rest than any other semifinalist. The question is: can Djokovic show the necessary mental strength and tactical acumen necessary to finally clear the Swiss hurdle in New York? Or is Djokovic destined for another final four failure?

A positive sign for Djokovic is the composed demeanor he’s shown both on court and in his post-match press conferences. This appears to be a more focused and determined Djokovic, but both Federer and Nadal have a habit of causing that familiar haunted expression in the normally smiling Serbian.

If Djokovic is to master another major he must step up and beat Federer in the latter stages of a major. He believes time is on his side.

“I have two days (to rest) so I will try to use them as best as I can to recover physically and get ready mentally for this next challenge,” said Djokovic, who has been all business in this tournament.

Since his five-set win over Serbian Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki in the first round, the Djoker has won 12 consecutive sets

Meanwhile, Monfils reinforced his reputation as an ultra-talented, but extremely flaky Frenchman, who is apparently unable or unwilling or unable to accept that bobbing and weaving just won’t get it down against top four players.

Squandering the break lead in the opening set, Monfils played tentative, frightened tennis for the final two sets. Ducking and running rather than engaging Djokovic in committed baseline exchanges.

How bad did it get for Monfils?

His coach, Roger Rasheed, essentially called out Monfils as a passionless pusher who looked resigned to suffering his fifth consecutive loss to Djokovic.

“I’ve been disappointed to be perfectly honest,” Rasheed told ESPN’s Darren Cahill after an absymal second-set effort from his charge. “You gotta have some authority on the game and the person that gets after it is gonna get the job done in these conditions.”

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

Rafa Adjusts To Life at No. 1

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The US Open is the only Grand Slam title trophy missing from Rafael Nadal’s major trophy collection and the two-time semifinalist is trying to make necessary adjustments to acquire it. The top-seeded Spaniard didn’t completely find his comfort zone in Tuesday night’s 7-6(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 win over Teymuraz Gabashvili, but played the pivotal points with purpose. Nadal is trying to adapt his heavy topspin game to the faster speed and lower bounce of the ball off the blue Deco Turf courts.

“(The US Open) Is the more difficult for me, especially I think because the ball,” Nadal said.  “The ball is the more difficult thing for me because the ball I think is more easy to play that ball for the players when they have the flat shots, no?  That’s much easier for them than for the topspin players.  That’s the only thing. But I won Olympics with this ball.  I won in Beijing in 2005 with this ball.  I can do it.”

Nadal’s history in Flushing Meadows is littered with losses to players who hit flat, including Juan Martin del Potro last year and James Blake, and players with the ability to flatten out the ball, including Andy Murray, who knocked Nadal out of the 2008 semifinals, David Ferrer and Mikhail Youzhny.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion is trying to play a bit flatter when he draws the mid-court ball but said he’s trying to use his topspin to dictate play.

“The thing is play with topspin, but play very aggressive all the time, play with very high rhythm.  That’s the way,” Nadal said.

The Nadal backhand return was an issue in Cincinnati where he seemingly had so little confidence in his two-handed backhand, he resorted to chipping back his return in his matches against Julien Benneteau, where hs saved a match point and his quarterfinal loss to Marcos Baghdatis.

Practicing with his coach, Uncle Toni Nadal, who was not in Cincinnati but made the trip to New York, Nadal has consistently worked on driving through the backhand and finishing that stroke, but concedes it’s still a work in progress.

“The forehand is working well.  The backhand is not that bad that I had last weeks,” Nadal said.  “So improves a little bit.  Just remains a little bit of this confidence to have a little bit more, you know, to improve a little bit that level, to go to the next step.”

The next step could be a slightly tricky one as Denis Istomin awaits. The 39th-ranked Istomin is coming off the New Haven finals and pushed Nadal to three sets on the grass of Queen’s Club, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.

“He’s playing well.  He had a very good tournament in New Haven.  Yeah, sure is difficult opponent, good player,” Nadal said. “I played against him in the second round of Queen’s.  I had a very difficult match…He plays a little bit more calm than Gabashvili.  So, I don’t know, I just have to keep playing like I did today, a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more confidence.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Andre Agassi Leads the 2011 Hall of Fame Class

NEWPORT, R.I., USA, September 1, 2010 - Andre Agassi, former world No. 1, eight-time Grand Slam champion, and one of the most remarkable athletes in history, has been nominated to receive the highest honor available in the sport of tennis, induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Agassi is the sole nominee in the Recent Player Category. Joining Agassi on the ballot in the Master Player Category are Thelma Coyne Long, who dominated Australian tennis in the 1930s -1950s, and Christine Truman Janes, a British star of the 1950s and 1960s. Nominated in the Contributor Category are influential tennis promoter and administrator Mike Davies and Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, who has played a vital role in the growth of women’s tennis.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Enshrinee Nominating Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, it is a pleasure to recognize Andre Agassi, undoubtedly one of the most talented and iconic athletes of all time, with our sport’s highest honor,” said Tony Trabert, International Tennis Hall of Fame President and 1970 Hall of Fame Inductee. “We are also pleased to honor both Thelma Coyne Long and Christine Truman Janes, who achieved remarkable success on the court. Mike Davies and Peachy Kellmeyer are true trailblazers of the sport who worked hard to implement their ideas, and it is thanks to their efforts that we are able to enjoy tennis on such a grand, global scale today. On behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I extend congratulations to the nominees and our gratitude for their many contributions to the game of tennis.”

Voting for the 2011 ballot will take place over the next several months, culminating with an announcement in early 2011 to reveal the Class of 2011 Inductees. The Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 9, 2011 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.

Tickets for the tournament and Induction Ceremony will go on sale in October, with a pre-sale for International Tennis Hall of Fame Members beginning on October 13 at 10:00 a.m. and the General Public ticket sale beginning on October 26 at 10:00 a.m. Individuals interested in becoming a member or purchasing tickets should call 866-914-FAME (3263) and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.

Recent Player: Andre Agassi
Eligibility criteria for the Recent Player Category is as follows: active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA Tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

Andre Agassi, 40, of Las Vegas, Nevada, held the No. 1 singles ranking for 101 weeks, and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, as well as one of the premier athletes of his generation. Agassi achieved a career singles record of 870-274, winning 60 titles, including four at the Australian Open, two at the US Open, and one victory each at the French Open and Wimbledon. Within his 60 tournament wins, he captured 17 Masters 1000 events. In 1990, he won the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships. Agassi earned a Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympics, by taking the Singles title in Atlanta. A member of two winning American Davis Cup teams (1990, 1992), Agassi achieved a career record of 30-6 in Davis Cup play for the United States. Agassi’s passionate performances, non-traditional apparel and style, and extraordinary skill made him one of the most iconic athletes in the history of the game. He is credited for reviving the popularity of the game and inspiring a generation of tennis players.

In 1999, Agassi came back from two sets down against Andrei Medvedev in the final to win the French Open, putting him in the elite company of Rod Laver, Don Budge, Fred Perry and Roy Emerson, as the only five men at that time to have achieved a Career Grand Slam. (Roger Federer later joined them with his victory at the French Open in 2009.) This win also made him the first male player in history to have won all four Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces (clay, grass, and hard courts), a tribute to his adaptability.

Agassi turned professional in 1986 at the age of 16, and made his way into the top-100 in his first professional year, finishing the season ranked No. 91. He won his first Tour-level title in 1987, and closed out his second professional season ranked No. 25 in the world. In 1988 his year-end ranking was No. 3 and he surpassed $2 million (US) in career prize money, after playing in just 43 career tournaments – the fastest anyone in history had reached that mark. Agassi enjoyed a long, successful career through 2006, during which time he earned more than $30 million (US) in prize-money, fourth only to Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal to date.

In June 2003, at the age of 33, Agassi became the oldest player to hold the No. 1 singles ranking, a position that he held onto for twelve weeks. Agassi retired from professional tennis on September 3, 2006, after losing in the third round of the US Open. He delivered a memorable retirement speech and was honored with an eight-minute standing ovation from the crowd.

During his career and into retirement, Agassi has been a dedicated philanthropist. In 1994, he founded the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, which is devoted to helping at-risk youth in Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. Since the inception of the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education $137 million dollars has been raised to benefit the mission of the Foundation, including $85 million from the Grand Slam for Children fundraising event. In 1995 and 2001, Agassi was awarded the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award, which is presented annually to one ATP World Tour player in acknowledgement of outstanding humanitarian contributions.

In 1997, he established the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club in Las Vegas, which supports 2,000 children throughout the year and boasts a world class junior tennis team and basketball program. Additionally, the club utilizes a rigorous system that encourages a mix of academics and athletics.

In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a tuition-free public charter school in Las Vegas’ most at-risk neighborhood. The school utilizes advanced technology, smaller class sizes and extended school hours, among other tactics, to combat lowered academic expectations and to foster a sense of hope among this community’s most challenged children. In 2009, the school graduated its inaugural class a 100% acceptance rate for higher education.

In 2007, Agassi joined forces with Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr. to found Athletes for Hope. The non-profit organization helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire the sports community, especially athletes, to make a difference and to inspire others to pass their passion for philanthropy from generation to generation.

Agassi is married to retired professional tennis player and 2004 Hall of Famer Stefanie Graf, and they reside in Las Vegas with their two children.

Master Player Category: Thelma Coyne Long, Christine Truman Janes
Eligibility criteria for the Master Player Category is as follows: Competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

Thelma Coyne Long, 91, of Sydney, Australia, had a remarkable career of more than 20 years (1935-1958), in which she captured a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In 1952, she achieved a career-best ranking of No. 7. That same year, she completed an Australian triple by sweeping the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships.

In May 1941, during World War II, Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver and worked in Melbourne, Australia. In February 1942, she joined the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) and rose to the rank of captain in April 1944. In recognition of her efforts throughout World War II, she was awarded both the Australian War Medal and Australian Service Medal for 1939-45.

Upon her retirement, Long began coaching junior players in New South Wales. Long was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2002.

Christine Truman Janes, 69, of Essex, England, UK, was ranked among the world’s top ten from 1957-1961 and again in 1965, attaining a career-best ranking of No. 2 in 1959. Janes made it to the semifinals or better at all four Grand Slam events. In 1959, she captured the French Championships Singles title, and in 1960, she won the Australian Championships Doubles title with 1978 Hall of Fame Inductee Maria Bueno.

Janes was the British junior champion in 1956 and 1957. She made her Wimbledon debut in 1957, at age 16, and reached the semifinals, where she lost to Althea Gibson.

Janes was a member of the victorious British Wightman Cup team in 1958, 1960, and 1968, and was a team member from 1957-1963, 1967-1969, and 1971. In 1958, she was heralded for a remarkable victory when she defeated reigning Wimbledon champion Althea Gibson in the Wightman Cup and helped bring the Cup back to Great Britain after 21 consecutive defeats by the United States. Additionally, she was a member of the British Fed Cup team in 1963, 1965 and 1968.

In 2001, Janes was honored as a Member of the British Empire and was awarded an MBE for services to sport. Janes worked as a commentator for BBC Television and Radio for 31 years.

Contributor Category: Mike Davies, Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer
Eligibility criteria for the Contributor Category is as follows: Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.

Mike Davies, 74, originally from Swansea, Wales, UK, is a tennis promoter and administrator whose immense contributions range from introducing the colored tennis ball and colored apparel to the sport to forging some of the first, highly successful television/tennis contracts, paving the way for the future of the sport.

From 1968-1981, Davies served as Executive Director of World Championship Tennis, when he was at the forefront of staging tournaments and selling sponsorships and television rights, thereby creating a platform for professional tennis to expand into large stadiums and major cities. In 1981, Davies moved on to serve as the Marketing Director and then Executive Director for the Association of Tennis Professionals (later known as the ATP).

In the late 1980’s, Davies served as General Manager of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). He is widely credited with revitalizing the Davis Cup, and putting the event back on firm financial footing during his tenure with the ITF, ultimately increasing the future value of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup around the world.

A quiet, but impactful behind-the-scenes personality, Davies is still active in the sport, more than 50 years after launching his tennis career, as he currently serves as CEO of the Pilot Pen tennis tournament in New Haven, Connecticut.

In addition to his significant contributions to the tennis industry, Davies achieved success as a player as well. He was ranked as the No. 1 player in Great Britain three times (1957, 1959 and 1960). He played for the British Davis Cup team for six years and accumulated a winning record of 24-13. Davies was a doubles finalist at Wimbledon in 1960, which was the last time that a male player from Great Britain reached the finals at Wimbledon in either singles or men’s doubles.

Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, 66, of Wheeling, West Virginia, has been a driving force behind the development of women’s tennis for the majority of her life and, in many ways, dedicated her life to laying the foundation for generations of young women to achieve success. Kellmeyer became involved in the game as a talented junior player, went on to be a star collegiate athlete, and then launched an administrative career in tennis. She has been instrumental in the growth of the game and has played a critical role in improving rights for female athletes. Kellmeyer currently serves as Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversee the WTA’s alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged in the Tour that they helped build. She has held an executive position with the WTA Tour since 1973, when Tour founder Gladys Heldman selected her to serve as the Tour’s very first employee and director.

During her career with the WTA Tour, Kellmeyer has led the Tour’s operations, player and tournament relations and has been at the center of all major policy decisions. During her tenure, prize money on the WTA Tour has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $85,000,000 in 2010, and the number of WTA Tour events has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 events in 33 different countries. Attendance at WTA Tour events has increased dramatically with nearly 5 million in-stadium fans annually, and television exposure has increased with hundreds of millions of homes receiving more than 6,000 hours of international TV coverage on an annual basis.

Simultaneously with her efforts to build women’s tennis, Kellmeyer has been a tireless fighter for women’s rights in sports. When she was the Physical Education Director at Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida in 1966, Kellmeyer spear-headed a lawsuit that ultimately led to the dismantling of a National Education Association rule that had prohibited athletic scholarships being awarded to female athletes at colleges across the nation. The landmark case paved the way for Title IX and contributed greatly to the increase of female athletes in intercollegiate athletics. Additionally, Kellmeyer was a driving force behind the WTA Tour’s campaign to achieve equal prize money for women and men. In 2009 she was honored with the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Golden Achievement Award for her important contributions to tennis in the field of administration and long outstanding service to the sport.

On court, Kellmeyer began winning junior titles as early as age 11. By the age of 15 she was competing at what is now the US Open, and she was the youngest player at the time to be invited to such a prestigious event. She went on to be a tennis star at the University of Miami, where she became the first woman to compete on a Division 1 men’s team. As an adult, Kellmeyer was ranked nationally in the both singles and doubles, and was a competitor at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Voting
A panel of International Tennis Media will vote on the Recent Player nominee. A 75% favorable vote is required for induction. The International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, will vote on the Master Player and Contributor nominees. To be inducted as a Master Player or a Contributor, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.

The Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 9, 2011.The Ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.  Tickets for the tournament and Induction Ceremony will go on sale in October, with a pre-sale for International Tennis Hall of Fame Members beginning on October 13 at 10:00 a.m. and the General Public ticket sale beginning on October 26 at 10:00 a.m. Individuals interested in becoming a member or purchasing tickets should call 866-914-FAME (3263) and/or visit www.tennisfame.com.

Since 1955, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 218 people representing 19 countries. Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis. The Hall of Fame offers an extensive museum that chronicles the history of the sport and honors the game’s greatest legends. Surrounding the Museum are 13 historic grass tennis courts that date back to 1880 and are open to the public, which play host to the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour tournament, and the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July. The facility hosts numerous additional public events year-round. To learn more, visit tennisfame.com or call 401-849-3990.
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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners, such as BNP Paribas. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

Djokovic Wins The Battle of Belgrade

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY –  Searing sun has burned Novak Djokovic in the past. So when Djokovic found himself battling scalding temperatures that soared above 100 degrees on court against his childhood friend Viktor Troicki in the US Open first round, he welcomed the inviting cool shade as if it were a welcoming warm embrace of his girlfriend.

In a match of Serbian Davis Cup teammates, Djokovic did not exactly play with the conviction of a Grand Slam champion but showed some stubborn resilience to rally for a 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over the 47th-ranked Troicki.

Djokovic kept his competitive composure in the latter stages of the three hour, 40-minute win then broke up the crowd when he compared the feeling of the shelter of the shade to sharing a loving embrace with his girlfriend.

“The sun came down and I didn’t have any more heat, (I was asked) what kind of feeling was it,” Djokovic said. “It just came up to me.  It’s one of the best feelings, I guess, when you’re sleeping with your close one.  So I compare it to that.”

“It felt unbelievable. Let’s get back to tennis now,” Djokovic said with a sly smile in the post-match press conference.

Leave it to Djokovic to share the love after enduring an experience that has proved to be painful in the past. He has retired from matches in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the past due to heat or breathing issues and anytime the heat and humidity collide on court Djokovic can begin to wear that haunted look of a man who just completed a marathon only to be informed there’s another 10 miles to run.

Today, Djokovic had a measured response to the heat: he waited it out.

“Look, you know, it was very hot.  It was just very hot,” Djokovic said. “It’s same for everybody. That’s all basically I can say. You know, heat issue is something that, you know, it’s just there.  You cannot affect it.  The weather is weather.  You just have to try to be patient and wait for the shadows, like I did.”

Contesting his 24th consecutive Grand slam event Djokovic stared down a familiar face in Troicki. This was their sixth professional meeting — Djokovic holds a 5-1 edge — but their first meeting came when Djokovic was 9-years-old and Troicki was 10 in Djokovic’s first tournament.

Needless to say, things did not go Djokovic’s way that day.

“My first tournament in my life that I’ve played, first match officially, it was under 10,” Djokovic said. “I won my first round and then I played him second round. He destroyed me. We keep on talking about that. But we are very good friends for a long time already.”

Since that match, the pair have joined forces on Serbian Davis Cup squad and have a shot to lead the nation to its first Davis Cup final when Serbia hosts the Czech Republic in the September 17-19th Davis Cup semifinals in Belgrade.

“We won many things together with Davis Cup, a lot of matches. We won European team championship under 18 together,” Djokovic said. “So we share a lot of nice moments.  It’s never easy to play a good friend on the court.  Just bad luck for him today because he’s been playing really well, you know, lately.  Today he was the better player on the court for a while.  Just too bad.”

Djokovic survived today, but the reality is, like compatriot and fellow former US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic, who also escaped with an opening-round match that went the distance, he must pick up his play if he is to go deep into the second week. Like Jankovic, Djokovic is an exceptional athlete who covers the court comprehensively, moves quickly and returns well, but is prone to periods of retrieving tennis.

The 2007 US Open runner-up is in the same quarter as Americans Andy Roddick, who beat Djokovic in Cincinnati, and Mardy Fish, the Cincinnati runner-up to Federer.

Djokovic didn’t need to watch replays of Roger Federer’s between-the-legs highlight reel winner that electrified the fans on Monday night — he experienced a similar shot in real life in the 2009 semifinals.

“No.  I’ve seen it live last year passing next to me,” Djokovic said with a smile. “That’s enough traumatic experiences for me. Today when Viktor tried to do the same thing, I said, No, no, please.  He was running for the ball between the legs.  Please miss it.  Please don’t embarrass me again.”

The master mimic who entertained the crowd with his impressions of Nadal, Roddick and Maria Sharapova during his run to the ’07 final was asked if he would consider trying to emulate Federer’s tweener himself.

“No, definitely not.  I am not as good as he is in that.  I’d like to be very careful with my racquet,” Djokovic said glancing down below his waist. “You know what I mean.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.