Marino and Raonic Set To Make Debuts at the US Open

Montreal, August 30, 2010 – Two of Canada’s rising young stars will experience the biggest moment of their professional careers on Monday when they take to the court for their first Grand Slam main draw match at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York.

Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC) and Milos Raonic (Thornhill, ON), both 19 years of age, won three tough qualifying matches over the weekend to earn a coveted spot in the main draw of the final Grand Slam of the season. Marino beat fellow Canadian Sharon Fichman (Toronto, ON) in the final round on Sunday and will take on Ksenia Pervak of Russia, ranked no. 100 in the world, in her Major debut. For his part, Raonic continued his impressive summer and beat three quality players en route to a main draw berth. He will take on Australia’s Carsten Ball, ranked no. 145 on the ATP rankings. Not to be outdone, Peter Polansky (Thornhill, ON) was the third Canadian to successfully qualify for the U.S. Open main draw and in doing so for the second consecutive year, he earned the right to play Argentine Juan Monaco, seeded 30th in the tournament, in his first round match on Tuesday. This marks the first time this season that a Canadian man will play in the main draw of a Grand Slam and the first time since last year’s Australian Open that there will be two men taking part in the big dance.

Meanwhile, Canada’s top player, Aleksandra Wozniak (Blainville, QC) will also begin her U.S. Open campaign on Monday against Australian qualifier Sally Peers, ranked no. 201 in the world. Recovering from forearm tendinitis, Wozniak hopes to repeat her performance from a year ago when she reached the third round in New York and defeated Amélie Mauresmo in the process.

Daniel Nestor (Toronto, ON), Marie-Ève Pelletier (Repentigny, QC) and Wozniak will be Canada’s three representatives in doubles at the final Major of 2010. Seeded second in the men’s draw, Nestor and his Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic will go up against Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Roger in their first round encounter. For her part, Pelletier will be testing the waters with a new partner this week in Michaella Krajicek of the
Netherlands. The pair will open against the thirteenth-seeded team of Monica Niculescu and Shahar Peer.

Wozniak will team up with Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze and they will battle the Swedish duo of Sofia Arvidsson and Johanna Larsson.
Top juniors head to Repentigny for prestigious event.The best junior players in the world are in Repentigny this week to make their final U.S. Open preparations this week at the National Bank Canadian International Junior Open, a prestigious Grade 1 event on the ITF Junior
Circuit which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010.

Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON), Eugenie Bouchard (Westmount, QC), Élisabeth and Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC) and Filip Peliwo (Vancouver, BC) are just a few of the Canadian names who will go head-tohead with the world’s best at the biggest junior tournament in Canada.

The ladies will take centre stage on Monday at Parc Larochelle with singles and doubles action in the girls draws while the boys will take their turn on Tuesday. For all of the latest results, please visit the tournament’s official website

Clijsters Comeback Continues With The Ouster of Venus

The comeback continued. Kim Clijsters battled through to a quarterfinal date with No.18 Na Li by getting past No.3 ranked American Venus Williams 6-0, 0-6, 6-4 today at a supportive Ashe Stadium.

The 26 year-old Belgian has looked strong in her return to the game after taking a couple of a years off to marry former Villanova hoops star Brian Lynch and start a family. After decent results in two warmups, she’s shown no ill effects ousting two quality players to reach the final eight.

In Round Two, she got the better of Marion Bartoli bouncing back from a set down to advance in three. A round after dropping only two games, it figured to be tougher versus an old rival. But it was the more agile Clijsters who prevailed against a heavily taped Venus, who’s still battling knee tendinitis. Her run in singles is over but she’s also scheduled to play a fourth round doubles match with young sis Serena, who easily dispatched of Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-0 advancing to a quarter against either Vera Zvonareva or Flavia Pennetta in tonight’s night session.

The 2005 Open winner came out razor sharp breezing through the first set against a struggling Williams who couldn’t find the range. Meanwhile, Clijsters’ forehand was working helping build an early set lead. It was the first time her opponent had been bageled at the tournament since 1997 when Martina Hingis did it against an unseeded Williams in the final.

Perhaps it was too easy because the second set was a complete role reversal as it was Venus who elevated her game finally ratcheting up the serve and keeping more balls in play. Suddenly, Clijsters had a rough stretch with her forehand going cold and even tossing in a pair of double faults that helped Williams rebound quickly. Before the stunned Ashe knew it, they’d witnessed two ugly, uncompetitive bagel sets in just 49 minutes.

Surely, the deciding set would be better by default. With the crowd urging on both players, it was as each finally kept rallies going giving fans some more entertaining points that included some great hustle from Clijsters. Her speed seemed to get to Williams who missed on a few routine volleys including an overhead. That probably was the difference as she was able to dig in earning an early break which she never relinquished.
A jubilant Kim Clijsters celebrates her victory over Venus Williams to make the U.S. Open quarters in her return.

A jubilant Kim Clijsters celebrates her victory over Venus Williams to make the U.S. Open quarters in her return.

It still wasn’t easy putting away the seven-time slam winner who held her serve the rest of the more competitive 52-minute set, forcing the crowd favorite to serve it out. Showing some nerves, Clijsters missed a couple of shots to drop the first two points eventually falling behind 15-40. But she valiantly fought off two break chances with some solid hitting including an inside out forehand winner.

After drawing an errant backhand, she finally came to match point. With the crowd in a frenzy, she calmly struck a great wide serve which Williams barely got a racket on to clinch victory.

“It was unbelievable. I don’t know what to say,” an excited Clijsters expressed to CBS reporter Mary Joe Fernandez. “It was such a weird match, especially those first two sets. But after I lost the second at 6-0, I said, let’s start over and start a new match.”

The former champ proved she is still a contender. Now, she’ll draw Li, who got through in straights over Italian Francesca Schiavone (26), 6-2, 6-3. In her career, the 27 year-old from China has never made a semi in a major with this matching her best result that came in 2006 at Wimbledon. Clijsters owns a 3-1 head-to-head record taking two of three on hard courts. However, the last two have gone three sets with Li winning two years ago in Miami.

One thing it guarantees is there won’t be an all Williams semi showdown. But just maybe we’ll get a battle of two Open champs with the winner heavily favored to win the title.

“I’ve been working really hard the last seven, eight months and I’m enjoying it,” Clijsters said. “It’s something that’s really important for myself, as long as I can focus on tennis and have fun on the outside as well.”