Wild Cards Announced for Western & Southern Open

August 12, 2016

CINCINNATI (August 12, 2016) – The full list of singles wild card recipients has been released in advance of the making of the draws Friday evening.
Joining Serena Williams in receiving main draw wild cards for the WTA event are Americans Louisa Chirico and Christina McHale.

In the ATP World Tour main draw, Jared Donaldson, Reilly Opelka and Fernando Verdasco will join Taylor Fritz in receiving wild cards.

Below is a brief bio for each recipient:

WTA MAIN DRAW

Louisa Chirico (USA) – A 20-year-old from New Jersey, she broke through at Madrid in May where she reached the semifinals as a qualifier. She is making her main draw debut here after playing in qualifying in 2015.

Christina McHale (USA) – A 24-year-old from New Jersey, she reached the semifinals in Acapulco earlier this season. As a wild card here in 2011, she upset World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

Serena Williams (USA) – The World No. 1 won her 22nd career Grand Slam tournament title at Wimbledon earlier this summer. She has reached three straight Western & Southern Open finals, and is the two-time defending champion.

ATP MAIN DRAW

Jared Donaldson (USA) – A 19-year-old from Rhode Island who comes into this event having a 4-2 record during the Emirates Airline US Open Series. He earned his first career ATP Masters 1000 win here last year.

Taylor Fritz (USA) – An 18-year-old from California, he is the youngest player in the ATP Top 100. Earlier this season, he reached the Memphis final in just his third ATP event. He was the youngest American to reach an ATP final since 1989 when 17-year-old Michael Chang won at Wembley. A former junior No. 1, Fritz won the 2015 US Open boys title.

Reilly Opelka (USA) – An 18-year-old who stands 6-foot-11 who was born in Michigan, he improved his ranking by over 400 positions this week after reaching the semifinals at Atlanta. Last year he won the Wimbledon boys title.

Fernando Verdasco (Spain) – This veteran will be making his 11th appearance here. He owns seven titles in his career, including winning earlier this year Bucharest.

The singles draws for the Western & Southern Open will be made Friday evening. Play begins with the opening round of qualifying at 10 am on Saturday, August 13.

Serena Williams accepts wild card into Western & Southern Open

August 11, 2016

SERENA WILLIAMS ACCEPTS WILD CARD INTO WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN

Two-time defending champion set to defend titles as top seed

CINCINNATI (August 12, 2016) – Two-time defending champion Serena Williams has accepted a wild card into the 2016 Western & Southern Open. Williams, the WTA’s No. 1 player, will be the top seed for next week’s tournament at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

“We are thrilled Serena is returning to defend her titles,” said tournament director Andre Silva. “She is a fan favorite wherever she goes, especially here in Cincinnati as the reigning champion.”

Williams will enter this year’s tournament on a 10-match winning streak in Cincinnati, having dropped just two sets in winning consecutive titles. In 2015, Williams defeated Simona Halep in the final after downing Ana Ivanovic in the 2014 title match.

This year, Williams will be bidding to reach a fourth straight final at the Western & Southern Open. In 2013, she finished as runner-up to Victoria Azarenka. Overall, she has a 21-6 record in eight appearances in Cincinnati.

The singles draws for the Western & Southern Open will be made Friday evening. Play begins with the opening round of qualifying at 10 am on Saturday, August 13.

Tennis Elbow: What is a tennis olympic medal really worth?

August 8, 2016

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2016 Rio Olympic tennis tournament.

The 2016 Rio Olympics are here.

Every four years, the Olympics are, we’re reminded, a triumph of sports and competition over more earthly (read: human) concerns. This vision, of course, is mostly a myth as it overlooks a myriad of corruption within the International Olympic Committee, doping and fair-play among athletes, and just the general notion of the Games used as propaganda and a tool to foster nationalism by just about every country participating.

But sure, let’s roll with the notion of the Olympics as all that’s good in sports for a minute. I mean, if nothing else the Opening Ceremony is always fun.

In tennis, you’ll recall, pro athletes have only started competing again in 1988 after a 64-year wait. This means that only a few of tennis players have ever won Olympic medals in the Open era. On the women’s side, the list of champions includes the names you may expect, with Steffi Graf, Justine Henin-Hardenne and the Williams sisters all winning a gold medal. On the men’s side, however, well, there’s Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray…as well as, like, Nicolas Massu and a bunch of dudes. Anyway, all this to say that winning the Olympic tournament may be as prestigious as anything for the athletes themselves, but it really hasn’t been something that analysts and fans alike have put as much thought into. We won’t, say, hold it against Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic when they retire despite no Olympic gold medal. But anyway, let’s move on to a draw preview. Keep in mind that the first round matches have already been completed as I write this.

The flag bearers

There were four of tennis athletes who acted as their country’s flag bearer in Rio this year, as you can see from the tweet above, and I believe that the four illustrate what we discussed earlier. Gilles Muller may have had a nice little career on the ATP World Tour but, and we’re trying to be nice here, history will ultimately forget one as “just one the dudes.” Only now, he’ll forever have one day where he was Andy Murray’s equal. Cool.

The favourites Both the men and women’s draws have been decimated ahead of the Rio Games for a variety of reasons, but Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic have made the trip to Brazil. They’re here and they’re the favourites—or were, in the case of the Serb, who lost a ridiculously tough first match. The surprises If Djokovic and Williams are/were the favourites, it’s much more fun to discuss the possible surprise winners. On the women’s side, we’ll keep an eye on Carla Suarez Navarro, Lucie Safarova and Sara Errani, who are all into the second round and who all have a potentially favourable draw—and not just because they aren’t on Williams’s side. On the men’s side, we would love to see someone like Gael Monfils do well in Rio, as he’s certainly got the draw for that. Plus, our editor in chief here at Tennis Connected is on the record as envisioning great things for the Frenchman. (Not in Rio per so, but still.)

But alright, we can do better than picking the sixth-seed as a potential surprise performer. There’s Gilles Muller too, already in the second round, but we’ve already mentioned him.

Instead, let’s go with Juan Martin Del Potro, now ranked No. 141 in the world after so many years and so many injuries. The Argentine, after dominating the world’s best player in the first round, now has a draw with very few potential roadblocks before the quarterfinals. Let’s hope he can take advantage of it.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Serena Williams withdraws from Rogers Cup

July 24, 2016

Montréal, July 24, 2016 – On Sunday, Tennis Canada announced that Serena Williams is withdrawing from Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.

The world no.1 holds three Rogers Cup titles and reached the semifinals at the last two editions of the event.

“Due to inflammation in my shoulder, I unfortunately must withdraw from the Rogers Cup. I was looking forward to competing in Montreal and I look forward to returning soon,” said Serena Williams.

“Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not play in the tournament this year. The fans really enjoyed the time she spent in the city in 2014,” said Eugène Lapierre, tournament director of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank. “Because this is an Olympic year, the players have very full schedules. Sometimes your body needs rest. We hope that Serena will recover quickly and wish her much success for the rest of the season.”

Rogers Cup presented by National Bank will be held from July 22 to 31 at Uniprix Stadium in Montréal. Go to RogersCup.com for more information.

World No. 1 and Six-Time Champion Serena William Leads 2016 US Open Women’s field and vies to win record 23rd Grand Slam

July 20, 2016

White Plains, N.Y., July 20, 2016 – The USTA today announced that world No. 1 and six-time US Open champion Serena Williams leads the women’s singles field for the 2016 US Open Tennis Championships. Williams is joined by 101 of the world’s top 103 women, including 2016 Australian Open champion and world No. 2 Angelique Kerber, 2016 French Open champion and world No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza, two-time US Open champion and world No. 7 Venus Williams, 2015 US Open finalist Roberta Vinci, 2014 US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki, and former US Open champions Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In total, 37 different countries are represented in the women’s field. Fourteen U.S. women received direct entry into the main draw – the most of any country and the most direct entries for American women since 2004 when there were 15 entries.

The 2016 US Open will be played Monday, August 29, through Sunday, September 11, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by J.P. Morgan.

Leading the entry list is world No. 1 Serena Williams, who won her sixth US Open crown in 2014, tying her with Chris Evert for the most US Open women’s singles titles in the Open Era. At this year’s US Open, Williams is looking to break the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open Era. At Wimbledon, Williams tied Steffi Graf for the most major titles when Williams won her 22nd Grand Slam singles title.

Joining Williams in the field’s top four are world No. 2 Kerber, of Germany, who defeated Serena Williams in the Australian Open final this year and also reached the 2016 Wimbledon final; No. 3 Muguruza, of Spain, the 2016 French Open champion and 2015 Wimbledon finalist; and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, the first Polish player to reach a Grand Slam singles final (2012 Wimbledon) and a 2016 Australian Open semifinalist.

Rounding out the top 10 entries are: No. 5 Simona Halep, of Romania, the 2014 French Open finalist and 2015 US Open semifinalist; No. 7 Venus Williams, of the United States, who won the US Open in 2000 and 2001 and is a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion; No. 8 Roberta Vinci, of Italy, who reached her first Grand Slam final at the US Open last year at age 32; No. 9 Carla Suárez Navarro, of Spain, a five-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, who reached the US Open quarterfinals in 2013; No. 10 Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia, the 2004 US Open champion and 2009 French Open champion; and world No. 11 Madison Keys, of the United States, a 2015 Australian Open semifinalist, who debuted in the Top 10 last month after winning her second career WTA title.

World No. 6 and two-time US Open singles finalist Victoria Azarenka will not be competing in this year’s US Open after announcing her pregnancy last week. 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova, ranked No. 97 this week, will also not compete due to an ITF anti-doping provisional suspension, which is currently under appeal.

Nine players who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers are competing in the US Open this year, including two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova (2011, 2014), former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, of Serbia, and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, of Italy.

Belarus’ Aliaksandra Sasnovich, ranked No. 103, is the last player accepted directly into the women’s field of 128. Azarenka and Sharapova are the only withdrawals. Three players are using a special ranking to gain entry into the main draw – No. 27 Peng Shuai, of China, No. 64 Galina Voskoboeva, of Kazakhstan, and No. 91 Vitalia Diatchenko, of Russia. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 23-26, while the remaining eight spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

In addition to Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and Keys, the other American women who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include: No. 23 Sloane Stephens, of Coral Springs, Fla., No. 35 Coco Vandeweghe, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., No. 52 Varvara Lepchenko, of Allentown, Pa., No. 55 Madison Brengle, of Dover, Del., No. 57 Shelby Rogers, of Charleston, S.C., No. 63 Christina McHale, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., No. 69 Louisa Chirico, of Harrison, N.Y., No. 70 Irina Falconi, of West Palm Beach, Fla., No. 71 Nicole Gibbs, of Santa Monica, Calif., No. 78 Alison Riske, of Pittsburgh, and No. 101 Samantha Crawford, of Tamarac, Fla.

Several of the young Americans listed above have had breakout performances on the WTA tour this year. Stephens, 23, won three WTA titles this year (Auckland, Acapulco, and Charleston); Vandeweghe, 24, won her second career WTA singles title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch; and Rogers, 23, advanced to her first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open.

Among the players competing in the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be the winner of the seventh annual US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Championship, held during the Emirates Airline US Open Series’ Connecticut Open in New Haven, Conn., prior to the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 to allow players 14 and older, regardless of playing ability or nationality, to vie for a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament via one of 15 sectional qualifying tournaments.

The July 18 edition of the WTA rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

The 2016 US Open will mark the culmination of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the North American summer season of seven ATP World Tour and WTA events that began this week in Stanford, Calif.

The US Open is the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world. 2016 marks the second year of an 11-year partnership between the USTA and ESPN, which will see the US Open carried on the ESPN family of networks through 2025. During this year’s US Open, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to air nearly 130 hours of live match play with more than 1,200 hours of first-to-last ball coverage to be seen on ESPN3 on WatchESPN, which will also be available via the US Open website – USOpen.org. In the continued expansion of its US Open coverage, ESPN will feature play from up to 12 courts.

USTA Names 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

July 15, 2016

U.S. Women Feature Olympic Gold Medalists Serena and Venus Williams,

along with first-time Olympians Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens,

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe

Olympic Gold Medalist Doubles Team of Bob and Mike Bryan to Lead Men

with Olympic Rookies Steve Johnson, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and Brian Baker

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 15, 2016 – The USTA, the governing body for the sport of tennis in the United States, today announced the 12-player U.S. Olympic Tennis Team roster for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21.

U.S. women’s tennis coach Mary Joe Fernandez nominated six players with four singles entries and two doubles teams. The 22-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams will compete in the singles competition along with Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, both making their Olympic debut, as well as Venus Williams, who will be competing in her fifth Olympics.In doubles, Serena Williams, the reigning singles gold medalist, and sister Venus Williams will look to remain undefeated in Olympic doubles competition as they seek their fourth gold medal (2000, 2008, 2012). They will be joined by first-time Olympians Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe in the doubles draw.

U.S. men’s tennis coach Jay Berger also nominated six players, including four singles entries and two doubles teams. Four American men will make their Olympic debuts, as Steve Johnson, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and Brian Baker each will play singles. Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, the reigning gold medalists in men’s doubles,will return to the Olympics as a U.S. doubles team, with Johnson and Sock making up the other U.S. doubles pairing.

The U.S. will later announce its two teams in mixed doubles – which will be contested at the Olympics for the second time since tennis returned to the Games in 1988 – comprised from among the 12 players already named, once all players are in Rio.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held August 5-21 in Rio with the tennis competition being staged August 6-14 at the Barra Tennis Center. The U.S. has won 21 Olympic medals in men’s and women’s tennis since it returned as a full medal sport in 1988 – more than any other nation.

“The USTA is extremely proud of the 12 athletes who have worked countless hours on and off the court to earn the opportunity to represent the United States at the Rio Games,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman, CEO and President. “It’s going to be an exciting time for the eight first-time Olympians and for the four returning gold medalists.  I’m looking forward to watching them compete as they look to claim gold.”

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Serena Williams, 34, is the reigning singles gold medalist and a three-time gold medalist in doubles (2000, 2008, 2012). She also was a singles quarterfinalist in her only other Olympic singles appearance in 2008. By winning the Olympic gold medal in singles and again in doubles in 2012, Williams became the first player ever to complete the career Golden Slam in singles and doubles (winning all four Grand Slam events and the Olympic gold medal in a career). Williams is a 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, tying  her with Steffi Graf for second on the all-time list, two behind Margaret Court.  Serena also has captured 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. She is one of six women in history to have held the No. 1 rankings in both singles and doubles simultaneously and finished 2015 as the No. 1 player in the world for the fifth time.  Williams holds a 16-1 record in Fed Cup play, including 13-0 in singles, and she helped the U.S. capture the 1999 Fed Cup title. Williams is ranked No. 1 in the world.

Video: Serena Williams

Venus Williams, 36, holds four Olympic gold medals and will become the first American tennis player to compete in five Olympic Games. She captured the gold medal in singles in 2000 and won gold medals in doubles with her sister Serena in 2000, 2008, and 2012. She is a seven-time Grand Slam champion, including five Wimbledon titles, and has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. She also has ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles. Williams posted her first Top 10 season since 2010 last year, winning three WTA titles and reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and US Open. In 2013, she re-entered the Top 20 for the first time since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, following the 2011 US Open. Williams is 23-4 in Fed Cup competition, including 19-2 in singles, and she helped lead the U.S. to the 1999 title. Williams is ranked No. 7 in the world.

Video: Venus Williams

Keys, 21, will make her Olympic debut on the heels of breaking into the Top 10 for the first time this June, becoming the first American to debut in the Top 10 since Serena Williams in April 1999.  Keys won her second WTA singles title in June at the grass-court Aegon Classic, played in Birmingham in Great Britain. With the title, Keys peaked at No. 9 in the world. Keys advanced to her first career Grand Slam semifinal at the 2015 Australian Open, where she upset No. 4 seed Petra Kvitova and No. 18 seed Venus Williams. This year, Keys reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and the French Open. She captured her first WTA title at the grass-court event in Eastbourne, Great Britain in 2014, and in 2011, she became the youngest player to win a main draw match at the US Open since Nicole Vaidisova in 2005. Keys has played in three Fed Cup ties for the U.S. with a 3-3 overall record (2-2 in singles, 1-1 in doubles). She is ranked No. 11 in the world.

Video: Madison Keys

Stephens, 23, is making her Olympic debut and has won three WTA titles this year in Charleston, S.C., Auckland, and Acapulco. She won her first WTA title last year in Washington D.C. Stephens’ breakout came at the 2013 Australian Open, where she defeated Serena Williams en route to the semifinals. At 19 years, 10 months, 3 days old, Stephens was the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam singles semifinal since Williams reached the 2000 Wimbledon semifinals at 18 years, 9 months, 8 days old. Stephens also advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2013 to peak at No. 11 in the world that October. Stephens has played in four Fed Cup ties for the U.S., and is ranked No. 23 in the world.

Video: Sloane Stephens

Vandeweghe, 24, is making her Olympic debut and won her second WTA singles title this year in ‘s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands (she also won that title in 2014). The following week, she advanced to the semifinals of the WTA event in Birmingham, Great Britain, to reach No. 29 in the world. Vandeweghe also has had success in doubles, advancing to the semifinals at the 2015 US Open and the quarterfinals at the 2016 Australian Open. She also won her first WTA doubles title this year in Indian Wells with her Olympic doubles partner Mattek-Sands. Vandeweghe, also a U.S. Fed Cup player, is ranked No. 35 in the world.

Video:  Coco Vandeweghe & Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Mattek-Sands, 31, is a veteran on the WTA Tour, but is making her Olympic debut. She is ranked in the Top 10 in doubles and swept back-to-back doubles titles in Indian Wells (with Vandeweghe) and Miami (with Lucie Safarova) this year for her 18th and 19th WTA doubles titles. In 2015, Mattek-Sands won the Australian Open and French Open women’s doubles titles (with Safarova) and the French Open mixed doubles title (with Olympian Mike Bryan). At the 2012 Australian Open, Mattek-Sands teamed with Horia Tecau to win her first Grand Slam title in mixed doubles. In singles, Mattek-Sands has played in 14 US Opens and reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008 and the French Open in 2013 for her career-best Grand Slam results. In 2011, she was ranked a career-high No. 30 in the world in singles before being sidelined by a rotator cuff injury. Mattek-Sands holds a 5-0 record in Fed Cup doubles and a 2-6 record in singles, playing in seven ties. She is ranked No. 12 in the world in doubles.

Video: Coco Vandeweghe & Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Johnson, 26, is making his Olympic debut. He is ranked a career-high No. 29 in the world after winning his first ATP singles title this June in Birmingham, Great Britain. Last year, Johnsonreached his first career ATP final in Vienna in October, while reaching three additional ATP semifinals.Johnson also made his debut for the U.S. Davis Cup Team in 2015 against Uzbekistan, winning the doubles rubber with Sam Querrey after the duo advanced to the US Open doubles semifinals together. Johnson turned pro in 2012 after completing an outstanding college tennis career at the University of Southern California, winning the 2011 and 2012 NCAA singles championships and leading the Trojans to team titles all four years he played for the school. Following USC, Johnson reached the third round of the 2012 US Open, becoming the first reigning NCAA champion to advance to the third round of the men’s singles since Sargis Sargisian in 1995. He is ranked No. 25 in the world.

Video: Steve Johnson

Sock, 23, is making his Olympic debut. He reached the final of the ATP events in Auckland and Houston earlier this year and reached a career-high No. 22 in the world this January. Sock won his first ATP singles title in 2015 in Houston and his career-best Grand Slam result came when he reached the fourth round of the 2015 French Open. Sock also has thrived in doubles, winning the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title and the 2015 Indian Wells crown with Vasek Pospisil and peaking at a career-high No. 6 in the doubles rankings in May 2015. He also reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open and 2016 Australian Open.  Sock made his Davis Cup debut in September 2015 in the World Group Playoff in Uzbekistan, where he won both of his singles matches to keep the U.S. Davis Cup team in the World Group for 2016. Sock also competed in the Davis Cup first round this March in Australia and was named to the team for this year’s quarterfinal against Croatia. He is ranked No. 26 in the world.

Video: Jack Sock

Kudla, 23, is making his Olympic debut and was one of the last direct entries into the Olympics. Kudlaearned a wild card into Wimbledon in 2015 and reached the fourth round for his career-best Grand Slam singles result. In summer 2015, he reached the semifinals of the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Atlanta (his best ATP result) and qualified for both Cincinnati and Montreal. This year, Kudla won his first-round match at the Australian Open and won matches at the ATP events in Indian Wells, Miami, Houston, and Madrid. Kudla holds six USTA Pro Circuit singles titles and four doubles titles. He was ranked No. 3 in the world junior rankings and reached the boys’ singles final at the 2010 US Open. He is ranked No. 102 in the world.

Video: Denis Kudla

Baker, 31, used a protected ranking to compete in the Olympics this year. He has played on the professional tennis circuit since 2001 and has had numerous successes, but also numerous injuries. At the 2013 Australian Open, Baker retired in his second-round match due to a knee injury and played in just three more tournaments that year (the last being the US Open), having knee surgery in 2014.  In 2012, Baker reached his first-ever ATP final in Nice, France, and advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon. He also won three singles titles on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2012, including the $50,000 Challenger in Savannah, Ga., to climb nearly 400 spots in the ATP rankings and into the Top 60. Baker also was a standout junior, peaking at No. 2 in the ITF World Junior Rankings in 2003 after reaching the boys’ singles final at the French Open. He is ranked No. 546 in the world and used a protected ranking to make the Olympic team.

Video: Brian Baker

Bob and Mike Bryan, 38, will make their fourth consecutive Olympic appearance. The brothers captured a gold medal in men’s doubles at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, as well as a bronze medal in men’s doubles in 2008. Together, they own 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles. Bob has won seven mixed doubles titles, while Mike has won four mixed doubles titles, including the 2015 French Open with Mattek-Sands. The Bryans own a record 112 ATP World Tour doubles titles together and ended 2014 as the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the world for a record 10th time in 12 years. Bob and Mike are 24-4 together in doubles when playing for the U.S. Davis Cup team and are the all-time winningest doubles team in U.S. Davis Cup history. They also helped lead the U.S. to the 2007 Davis Cup title. Bob has one additional doubles win in Davis Cup with Mardy Fish in 2010.  Mike has two additional doubles wins in Davis Cup in 2008 and 2012. Bob is ranked No. 3 in the world in doubles, while Mike is ranked No. 4.

Video:  Bob & Mike Bryan

Venus and Serena Williams are the last American women to win Olympic gold in tennis, with Serena winning the singles gold medal and the sisters capturing the gold in women’s doubles at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Andre Agassi was the last American man to win Olympic gold in men’s singles when he defeated Spain’s Sergi Bruguera in the gold medal match at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The U.S. has not won gold in mixed doubles since 1988.

Tennis was part of the Olympic program from the first modern Olympiad in 1896 until 1924.  After a 64-year hiatus, tennis returned to the official Olympic program in 1988, becoming the first sport to feature professional athletes.

Team nominations were made by the USTA’s Olympic Oversight Committee and are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation.

Tennis Elbow: Andy Murray the legend, and other Wimbledon lessons

July 11, 2016

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon discusses what he’s learned at Wimbledon 2016.

Andy Murray and Serena Williams have emerged unscathed and as newly crowned champions of this 2016 Wimbledon, that much is clear.

That said, there are quite a few lessons to remember from this edition of this major’s major. (Of course, that isn’t Wimbledon’s official title, but only because showing off isn’t a gentlemanly thing to do—because make no mistake: Wimbledon certainly believes in the Wimbledon myth.)

Andy Murray the biggest winner

In defeating Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3) and 7-6(2), Murray has cemented his status as a true legend of the game. “I’m proud to have my hands on the trophy,” Murray said after his win. “I played really good stuff today.”

He now has a third Grand Slam title, which is about the point where history tends to differentiate between the “fluke” major winners and those that had and have lasting power and career. Put it this way: we always knew Murray was not, say, Marat Safin, and now history will make sure to remember the two as distinct.

We probably won’t care much for the fact that Murray’s tally may have been higher if he hadn’t played in the same era as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic—but whatever. “[It's the] most important tournament for me every year,” the Brit said. “The wins feel extra special because of the losses.”

Have a blast, Andy. You’ve certainly earned it!

The Williams renaissance

While it was great to see Serena Williams finally win a major in 2016 and catch up to Steffi Graf with the 22nd Grand Slam title of her career, our greatest joy on the women’s draw was seeing the 36-year-old Venus Williams make her first Grand Slam semifinal since 2010.

The older Williams sister has had a rough few years but it’s been great to watch her play. And don’t look now, but she somehow has made a return to the Top 10, coming in  ranked No. 7 on the WTA Tour.

What’s the excuse for Roger Federer now?

The 2016 Wimbledon should have been Roger Federer’s to lose. He was to play on his best and favourite surface while his biggest rival, Nadal, had pulled out. Then, a few days in, his “bête noire” of the moment, Djokovic, inexplicably lost against Sam Querrey.

The coast was clear for ol’ Rog’ to finally grab another major title. Smooth sailing, as they say…but for the past few years, even a clear sky has given the Swiss problems. Federer first needed five sets against Marin Cilic only to lose his next match, another five-set marathon against the eventual finalist.

Next month at the US Open, the then-35-year-old will have his final chance in 2016 to add yet another Grand Slam title, which he hasn’t managed to do since 2012. We’ve harped on it quite a few times already this year: in 2016, Federer is just old. And the days of him winning Grand Slam events seem gone.

Does Raonic have next?

Tennis has become an old man’s game for quite some time now, which is really just another way of saying that the sport needs new faces.

Consider that 29-year-old Djokovic, 29-year-old Murray and almost-35-year-old Federer are the three foremost players on the ATP World Tour. (Nadal, 30, is a fellow superstar—though his days of domination appear to be over.) Consider, too, that Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem are the lone trio in the world’s top 10 that are younger than 27.

Tennis is an old man’s game that’s looking for a few new faces, and Raonic certainly could be one of those. He’s been on the verge of a major breakthrough for what seems like forever and, though he’s already 25 years old, he’s still improving and so have his results.

The Canadian has shown promise and should continue to for a few years. I’ve been writing on Tennis Connected since the end of 2011 and, already then, he was supposed to be next.

Maybe I’ll tell you about how he’s the reason why I started writing for this site in the first place; I’ll do it when he wins his first Grand Slam tournament, how about that?

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Serena Williams captures 22nd career Major title at Wimbledon over Kerber

July 9, 2016

Wimbledon 2016—London, England

Top seed Serena Williams poured in a memorable effort on Saturday at the All England Club in London, England, defeating No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to take the Championship. Needing one hour and 21 minutes to claim her seventh Wimbledon title, Williams struck 13 aces, won 88 percent of her first serve points and broke her German opponent on two of six occasions. Avenging her loss to Kerber at the Australian Open earlier this year, Williams tied Steffi Graf’s Open era record for 22 Grand Slam victories.

The American great will next set her sights on an Olympic Gold medal in Rio, which will be followed by the US Open in New York to close out the summer.

Kerber, who acquitted herself very well throughout the fortnight, fell to 1-1 in Major finals during her career.

Tennis Elbow: Looking ahead at day 2 of Wimbledon 2016

June 27, 2016

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the first day of action in England.

Well at least now, all British eyes will be on Wimbledon—correct?

Alright, they always, always are. But still. On a day where the Brits shamefully (as they tend to do) bowed out of an international soccer competition, this time losing against the mighty nation of Island in the Euro 2016 knockout stage, Wimbledon 2016 got underway.

And while England’s eyes may have a bigger appetite than what its stomach can muster on a football pitch, it’s an entirely different story at Wimbledon. Because year after year, there is no more important show in tennis than what unfolds during these weeks at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Long-time readers know that I’ve never shied away from criticizing the tournament that I’ve dubbed the Cathedral of tennis, poking fun at how much Wimbledon believes in the myth of Wimbledon—but in that battle I’m fairly alone.

I may say that the Cathedral needs to adapt to continue thriving, but my voice pales in comparison to that of, say, Novak Djokovic (et tu, Novak?). “It is going to be the first match on the untouched grass,” the Serb said ahead of his first-round match. “That’s probably one of the most special tennis matches that you get to experience as a professional tennis player.”

Who cares about a match on untouched grass? Well at Wimbledon, everyone does care about it because this untouched grass was presumably blessed by the tennis Gods, or at the very least Princess Kate I guess, or someone else, or whatever it’s Wimbledon okay?!

So anyway, Wimbledon has started with Djokovic barely breaking a sweat in a straight sets win.

Tennis’s most eminent star Roger Federer also played his first match but we’ll get to him in a minute. For now, let’s mention that the first day of action at Wimbledon had a little bit of everything for everyone. There was, as we’ve covered above, the reigning champion and current best player in the world. There was the ex-Grand Slam winner (though elsewhere) who managed to give one more crowning achievement to her career.

There was the ex-young promising player, who hasn’t really shown much promise of late and who couldn’t quite catch magic in her home country.

There was the old veteran who managed to win a marathon match in which, and this is a joke, the longest point probably lasted all of four strokes.

There was also the qualifier who managed quite a huge win on this opening day.

Looking ahead to day two, here’s what we know. On day two, we know that Serena Williams will make her debut against Amra Sadikovic. Will this Wimbledon finally be her calling card at the 2016 majors? We also know that women will be front and center at the main courts, and that this is a good thing.

If we look just slightly ahead beyond the second day of action, you’ll notice one storyline—both for its sheer unlikelihood as well as because it opposes the monarch of the sport.

That’s right: for his second match at Wimbledon, Federer will battle Marcus Willis, the 772nd-ranked player in the world.

If we may interject here: to some, a match against Federer may be an even bigger and better trophy than the one you get for winning Wimbledon.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Wimbledon 2016: Men’s and Women’s Tournament Preview and Analysis

June 25, 2016

by: Tom Cochrane

The year’s third Grand Slam starts on Monday and, just like last year, top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams enter the tournament as the respective favourites for the men’s and women’s singles. But it’s a different set of circumstances to last year, when Williams was halfway to a potential calendar Grand Slam and Djokovic was coming off a devastating loss to Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final. This year, Djokovic enters the tournament as the holder of all four Grand Slam titles, whilst Williams is looking to win her first major since Wimbledon last year after suffering surprise defeats in the last three Grand Slams.

Tournament predictions – Men’s Singles

Novak Djokovic is the red-hot favourite on the men’s side, and rightfully so. Having completed the career Grand Slam in Paris, where the burden of never having won the French Open was finally lifted off his shoulders, Djokovic will begin his campaign at the All England Club not only full of confidence but probably more relaxed than he was in Paris. If he is successful in London, however, there will no doubt be a flurry of media scrutiny in New York as he attempts to complete the calendar Grand Slam.

There’s plenty of tough matches to be won by Djokovic at the All England Club before he can lift the trophy once more and, if Djokovic is undoubtedly the best player on the planet right now, then Andy Murray is pretty clearly the second-best player. This year, the Scot recorded his best ever French Open result by reaching the final and, having reunited with former coach Ivan Lendl, Murray will be focused on reclaiming the title he so famously claimed in 2013.

Murray is on the easier side of the draw, with potential semi-final opponent Stan Wawrinka never having played his best tennis on grass (although it will be interesting to see how the Swiss star performs with former Wimbledon winner Richard Krajicek recently added to his team as a grass-court consultant). Winning a record fifth title at Queen’s Club will provide Murray with additional confidence, as will the fact he has beaten Djokovic on the two occasions the pair has played on grass.

Djokovic is scheduled to face seven-time champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals and, whilst the Swiss legend has had an injury-interrupted season to date, Federer’s love of the tournament and grass-court nous means he will be very tough to defeat if he can negotiate his way through the early rounds. Before that, Djokovic faces a tough potential quarter-final with Milos Raonic, a former semi-finalist at Wimbledon who has added former champion John McEnroe to his coaching team, whilst Kevin Anderson, who so very nearly beat Djokovic at Wimbledon last year, also lurks in the Serb’s quarter.

Dominic Thiem has had a terrific season to date and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the young Austrian make a deep run at the tournament. Similarly, Bernard Tomic has a particular affinity with grass-courts and could well feature in the second week of the tournament.

I’ll back Murray and Djokovic to once again meet in a Grand Slam final, with the Scot using his grass-court nous and the home crowd support to finally get one back over the world number one.

Winner: Andy Murray

Finalist: Novak Djokovic

Semi-finalists: Federer, Thiem

Outside Chance: Wawrinka, Raonic

*****

Tournament predictions – Women’s Singles

Going into the semi-finals in New York last year, Serena Williams was just two wins away from completing a calendar Grand Slam. Since then, the world number one has lost Grand Slam matches to Roberta Vinci, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza’s terrific performance in Paris perhaps heralds the start of a new era in women’s tennis but I would be very reluctant to write off Williams just yet.

Williams may get a chance for revenge against Vinci if the pair meet in the quarter-finals as scheduled. Petra Kvitova has had a typically inconsistent year to date but the two-time winner is at her very best on grass and I’m backing her to put in an impressive performance during the next fortnight. In the top half of the draw, former finalist Agnieszka Radwanska is another player who is adept on grass-courts and could produce a deep run in the tournament. Similarly, Dominika Cibulkova has been in good form of late and the former Australian Open finalist could do some damage in the second week of the tournament.

In the bottom half of the draw, I think Muguruza may struggle to deal with the pressures and expectations associated with being a Grand Slam champion and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spaniard make a relatively early exit. Madison Keys, a recent addition to the world’s top 10, could take full advantage if the bottom half of the draw opens up, and I predict the rising star will scrape past five-time winner Venus Williams if the pair end up locking horns in the semi-finals.

With no Grand Slams to her name in 2016 to date, you can bank on Serena Williams being absolutely fixated on claiming this trophy and I think the American will shrug off some of rather sluggish recent Grand Slam performances to turn in a dynamic performance during the fortnight at the All England Club.

Winner: Serena Williams

Finalist: Madison Keys

Semi-finalists: Kvitova, Venus Williams

Outside Chance: Radwanska, Muguruza, Cibulkova

That’s it for now. Enjoy the tennis from the All England Club and follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.

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