2021 @CincyTennis Approaching Irrelevance as Major Stars Withdraw
CINCINNATI (Aug. 11, 2021) -Rafael Nadal (foot) and Milos Raonic (heel) have withdrawn from the Western & Southern Open. Nadal was the 2013 Western & Southern Open champion and Raonic was the 2020 runner-up. Daniil Medvedev, who won the 2019 Western & Southern Open when it was last held in Cincinnati, will be the tournament’s top men’s seed as the No. 2 player in the ATP Rankings.
CINCINNATI (August 10, 2021) Three players have withdrawn from the women’s field – Sofia Kenin (foot), Serena Williams (leg) and Venus Williams.
CINCINNATI (Aug. 9, 2021) -Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Western & Southern Open. A two-time tournament champion, Djokovic won last year’s staging of the event that took place in New York. A 20-time Major champion, the World No. 1 Djokovic has won the first three Grand Slam events this season.
CINCINNATI (Aug. 5, 2021) – Seven-time Western & Southern Open champion Roger Federer has withdrawn from the 2021 tournament due to a knee injury. A 20-time Major champion, Federer is the winningest player at the Western & Southern Open with a 47-10 record.
2021 Citi Open Women’s Invitational Starts Tonight
WASHINGTON-AUGUST 5—Starting tonight, Coco Gauff, Victoria Azarenka and Jessica Pegula will compete in the Citi Open Women’s Invitational, a special, round-robin singles event as part of Citi Open week. Pegula and Gauff were crowned singles and doubles champions, respectively, in the WTA Tour’s 2019 Citi Open.
The inaugural champion will receive $25,000 in prize money. The Women’s Sports Foundation will be the beneficiary of the tournament and will receive a $50,000 donation from the Citi Open, Citi and the Mark and Sally Ein Foundation.
WTA No. 25; 2019 Citi Open women’s doubles champion; 5 WTA titles (2 singles, 3 doubles); 2021 French Open quarterfinalist
Current WTA No. 15; Former World No. 1; 30 WTA titles (21 singles, 9 doubles); 2012 and 2013 Australian Open winner; 2012, 2013 and 2020 U.S. Open finalist
2019 Citi Open women’s singles champion; Current WTA No. 28; 2021 Australian Open quarterfinalist
Thursday, August 5 (Following tonight’s. match on Stadium Court)
Coco Gauff vs. Victoria Azarenka
Friday, August 6 (Final day session match on Stadium Court)
Victoria Azarenka vs. Jessica Pegula
Saturday August 7 (Following 7 p.m. match on Stadium Court)
Coco Gauff vs. Jessica Pegula
The format is best of 3 sets, regular scoring, with a 10-point super-tiebreak to decide the third. The player with the best record will be crowned the champion. In the event of a tie, the champion will be decided by most sets, or if necessary, most games won.
Scientists, Medical Professionals, Teachers, and More To Be Highlighted During 2021 Tournament
Washington D.C. (August 2, 2021) – Citi Open Chairman Mark Ein announced today that the theme of this year’s Citi Open is “Honoring Heroes of the Pandemic.” Throughout the tournament, images of pandemic heroes will be featured around the stadium complex alongside images of tennis greats, and stories will be told daily on social media. Each night before the 7:00 pm coin toss on the stadium court, organizations and individuals that have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to help the region, nation and world will be honored in front of players and the sold-out crowd.
“None of us could be at the Citi Open this year if it were not for the many unsung heroes of the pandemic,” said Citi Open Chairman Mark Ein. “We want to use our platform to recognize the incredible dedication and contributions of the scientists, medical professionals, teachers, and non-profits whose inspiring work saved lives and protected our communities. We hope the nation and the world will join us in celebrating these true heroes.”
Heroes of the Pandemic Honorees:
Tonight/Monday: Rockefeller Foundation and Teachers from Friendship Charter School Tuesday: Thanks USA Military Appreciation Wednesday: Scientists and Researchers from Johns Hopkins University Thursday: DC Police, Fire, EMS workers, and DC Educators Friday: World Central Kitchen Saturday: March of Dimes Sunday: Doctors and Nurses from Medstar Health
Citi Open fans may follow the tournament’s latest news and activity on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CitiOpen), Twitter and Instagram (@CitiOpen).
Players Can Now Learn To Slice, Volley and Serve Like the Pros With New Grip MD
The best training tool to improve your game…fast!
Delray Beach, Fla. – July 23, 2021 – Grip MD is a revolutionary new unique training device developed by two former collegiate tennis stars with the goal to aid players of all levels how to perfect the proper volley, serve, and slice grip.
Grip MD is the creation of former ATP World Tour doubles No. 38 and NCAA Champion Mark Merklein and former Notre Dame No. 1 Matt Daly. The device simply slips on to the handle of the racket, allowing the player to feel the perfect Continental grip. The Continental grip is used for the slice, serve and volleys in tennis and is vital to a player’s development.
“Having worked with players of all levels from beginners to pros, I have found that teaching the correct grip is the most important part of any player’s technical development,” said Daly, Co-Founder of GripMD. “It is also extremely hard to teach and commonly misunderstood. This device greatly simplifies the process, allowing players to find the perfect grip in a short period of time.”
Merklein appears in several information YouTube videos demonstrating how to master the slice, volley and second serve using Grip MD.
“Learning the Continental grip is an important piece in player development,” said Merklein, who won the NCAA singles title in 1994 and the doubles crown in 1993 playing for the University of Florida. “With the proper foundation you will have the opportunity to be the best player you can be! Don’t let your grips limit your level!”
Several high-level professionals have come out and endorsed Grip MD.
“Having the correct grips for your strokes is one of the starting blocks for a successful career in tennis,” said James Blake, the former ATP World Tour No. 4 in singles. “Whatever your goal is, starting at the right spot and making sure the basics are taken care of is so important. The Grip MD will start you on a path that makes it easy to learn and improve quickly.”
“Mastering the serve and the volley requires the perfect grip,” said John Isner, the former No. 1 American who reached a career-high No. 8 on the ATP World Tour. “The Grip MD makes that infinitely easier for you.”
Take advantage of a special offer now. Get three Grip MD products for the low price of $99. Or buy one for $39.95. To purchase and for more information or to purchase GripMD, visit at: https://www.thegripmd.com/
Eleven Past Champions Headline 2021 Western & Southern Open Singles Fields
CINCINNATI, Ohio (July 21, 2021) -Ashleigh Barty and Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 ranked players in the world who are fresh off Wimbledon titles, highlight the initial singles entry list for the 2021 Western & Southern Open.
The Top 20 players in both the ATP Tour and WTA Tour rankings have entered the event, which will be held Aug. 14-22. The field also includes 11 former tournament winners, including the defending champions Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, both two-time Western & Southern Open winners.
Cincinnati will welcome five former champions in the WTA field, featuring Karolina Pliskova (2016), Garbiñe Muguruza (2017)and Madison Keys (2019) along with two-time champions Serena Williams and Azarenka. In addition to Djokovic, former ATP champions returning to Cincinnati in 2021 include Daniil Medvedev (2019), Rafael Nadal (2013), Grigor Dimitrov (2017), Marin Cilic (2016) and seven-time champion Roger Federer.
The women’s field is also highlighted by 13 total Major champions, with recent winners including 2020 Western & Southern Open finalist Naomi Osaka (2020 US Open, 2021 Australian Open), Barbora Krejcikova (2021 French Open), Sofia Kenin (2020 Australian Open) and Iga Swiatek (2020 French Open). Eight entrants have held WTA’s No. 1 ranking, with Azarenka, Barty, Osaka, Pliskova, Muguruza and Williams being joined by multi-time Cincinnati finalists Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber.
In addition to the wealth of experience among the women’s field, 10 participants are 23 or younger. Leading the WTA youth movement is 17-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff, who will make her debut in Cincinnati following a quarterfinal finish in the 2021 French Open.
Djokovic’s Western & Southern Open title defense will come as he chases history this season. The winner of the year’s first three Majors, he is bidding to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar Grand Slam. The trio of Major titles this season has drawn him level with Federer and Nadal atop the all-time list, with each having won 20 titles at Grand Slam tournaments. A trio of former US Open champions are also on the Cincinnati entry list: Dominic Thiem (2020), Stan Wawrinka (2016) and Cilic (2014).
The men’s field comprises the top 43 players in the ATP rankings and will have 11 players aged 23-or-younger competing. Leading the ATP youth charge is 19-year-old Jannik Sinner, who held a career-high ranking of 17 earlier in 2021 and reached the 2020 French Open Quarterfinals.
The top eight seeds in both draws will receive first round byes. Eight women and seven men will be added to the fields through a two-round qualifying tournament that will be held Aug. 14-15. Four men and as many as five women will be awarded wild card entries into the main draw singles fields.
Tournament action will take place Aug. 14-22, where first serve will take place at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 for the qualifying tournament. The men’s and women’s singles finals will take place on Sunday, Aug. 22. The full schedule is available here.
Clara Tauson Kicks Off MUSC Health Women’s Open With a Win
Clara Tauson is your first winner at the MUSC Health Women’s Open, a WTA 250 event in Charleston. The 18-year-old Danish player took a tumble in the second set of her first round match against Liudmila Samsonova today, but came back after a medical timeout to take the match, 6-3, 6-3. Over the course of five break points, Samsonova was unable to save a single one. With the win, Tauson’s a solid 22-4 in matches this year, having won her first title in Lyon just last month.
The left knee “wasn’t good in the match but I think the adrenaline took some of the pain,” she told me after the match. “Right now, I can walk fine so I hope it’s going to be fine. I hope maybe I can get a day off tomorrow, just to feel it on court. It looked in the match that it was worse to walk than it was to play in the match.”
Tauson will face either Renata Zarazua of Mexico or Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round of this event.
Kudermetova, Kovinic Look For Big Hardware Today in Unlikely Volvo Car Open Final Matchup
Nobody asked me, but yesterday I tipped the two losers of the semifinals matches. Ons Jabeur looked horrible on court after a strong week and Danka Kovinic took full advantage in route to a 6-3, 6-2 upset. No one should bet against Veronika Kudermetova today after another dominant outing, this time a 5th straight straight sets win for the Russian. In fact, those 10 straight sets sets up another milestone: she could be the first woman since Serena Williams in 2012 to win this WTA 500 event without dropping a set.
Nobody asked me, but this final feels like it should be played next Sunday as the showcase showdown for the MUSC Health Women’s Open, the WTA 250 event already underway. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if next Sunday’s final finds higher-ranked players vying for the trophy than the Volvo Car Open. Ons Jabeur, Magda Linette, Shelby Rogers and Alize Cornet are your top four seeds and it may be time for them to shine. But hey, unseeded Danka Kovinic is in the mix as well as Clara Tauson, so buckle up, Charleston.
Nobody asked me, but the Althea Gibson Stadium Court has never looked better. The fanless event allowed tournament organizers to use more of the real estate for flowers and video boards. With no spectator sightlines to interrupt, the look on television was a gorgeous one. It made up for the all day barrage of 18-wheelers making noise on the I-526 bridge right above the north end of the stadium.
Nobody asked me, but if I lived in Charleston, I might have had to feign car trouble a few times on that bridge last week just to catch a few sets.
Nobody asked me, but if I had to pick the winner today, it’d be hard to bet against Kudermetova. So there’s your opening, Danka. This whole week has been filled with opposite days.
Semifinals Saturday Arrives at Volvo Car Open with A Surprising Field
In 10 years of covering the WTA Charleston event, I haven’t seen so many upsets over the course of a week. Gone are the days when Serena Williams would come through and pencil in a spot in the final. Even World #1 Ashleigh Barty couldn’t take advantage of the gaping holes in the field as she fell to Paula Badosa yesterday, 6-3, 6-3. A resurgent Sloane Stephens sputtered against Victoria Kudermetova, 6-3, 6-4. After beating #3 seed Petra Kvitova the day before, Danka Kovinic found a way to advance against the plucky and lucky Yulia Putintseva, 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-1. Ons Jabeur (#12) was the highest-seeded player left in the tournament before stunning a sluggish Coco Gauff, 6-3, 6-3.
That sets up four players who have never won a WTA tour level title and yet are this close to taking home the most impressive trophies of their collective careers. If you looked at this field before the tournament began, you’d have plenty of educated guesses on who would hoist the hardware, from Kvitova, Barty, Stephens, Kenin, Muguruza, Keys, Bencic, Mertens or Bertens. But no.
Instead, you’ve got a semifinal field that could pose for a couple of Charleston qualifying finals just a few years back. Still, you’ve got to believe that Ons Jabeur’s experience and momentum will propel her to a berth in the final when she steps on court against Danka Kovinic later today. She’s a deserved -239 favorite, and even though the unimaginable has already happened this week, the green clay dust of uncertainty will certainly settle today.
The match between Badosa and Kudermetova is a little more unpredictable.
Although the Russian owns a 2-0 head to head against Badosa, the lower-ranked Spaniard has beaten the better players this week and is the tournament’s leader in aces with 24. It’s also Kudermetova’s first semifinal on clay. I’m going with Badosa, a +110 underdog in this match.
The parlay: Jabeur (-239) & Badosa (+110) for a +197 payout
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (March 19, 2021) – Get into the head of Toni Nadal, the mastermind coach of 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, and dozens of other world-renowned coaches like Boris Becker and legendary Nick Bollettieri at the 2021 World Tennis Conference.
Those icons of the game and 60-plus more world-class tennis coaches will divulge their coveted secrets and winning strategies as the TennisONE App plays host to a four-day online extravaganza featuring the world’s top tennis coaches in the World Tennis Conference taking place March 25-28. The event is designed and organized by the Global Professional Tennis Coach Association (GPTCA) and Segal Institute.
Click on the link below to download the TennisONE App to register for the conference now!
Registered viewers of the virtual conference will be able to learn from six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker presented by TLT. The German star, who formerly coached world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, will hold a 40-minute online session on Thursday, March 25, to offer tips on strategy and creating powerful tennis strokes.
“The lineup of coaches presenting at this conference is impressive, and includes coaches from the world’s top six men’s players,” said Kristin Geer, CEO the TennisONE App. “Over the four days, viewers of the conference will be able to watch top instructors and learn the techniques they use to take players to the top.”
Alberto Castellani, GPTCA President, mentioned that the “WTC is the first-ever conference with such a high level of high-performance tennis coaches involved. It’s great to be able to put on such an amazing list of speakers who have worked with so many tennis champions world-wide.”
All of the conference sessions will be archived for later viewing. Conference attendees will have access to all the video sessions for 30 days after the conference ends through the TennisONE App.
Headliners include Toni Nadal, who is the opening presenter on Thursday, March 25, and will discuss “the principles and values to develop from the beginning” of a player’s journey.
“At the WTC we are ready to create a transformative journey with every participant, developing a bridge between top tennis coaches and their knowledge, experiences, and outstanding results. All of this coming through the TennisONE app,” said Fernando Segal, WTC Organizer and Director.
Former ATP stars Andrei Medvedev, Andres Gomez, Janko Tipsarevic, Jacco Eltingh and Ivan Ljubicic will also take part in the conference.
Bollettieri, the 89-year-old coaching icon, will discuss his history of developing high-performance tennis players. His session is scheduled for Sunday, March 28.
In addition, the conference will include a talk by former top-10 player and current coach to recent Australian Open champion Dominic Thiem, Nicolas Massu. Massu, who won two Olympic gold medals during his playing career, will discuss the nuances of “being a great player on the road.” Former Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Jim Courier coach Gabe Jaramillo will reveal the details of “making champions.”
Registration is available through the TennisONE App, available free for Android and Apple devices. A full four-day pass is available for $110, while individual days are offered for $45 each day. A Headliners pass for $60 is also available.
6 Grand Slam Champs, 3 Former #1 Players Highlight @VolvoCarOpen Player Field
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Volvo Car Open, to be held without fans April 3 – 11 on Daniel Island in Charleston, SC, has announced its preliminary player field for the 2021 tournament. The field for the premier women’s-only professional tennis tournament in North America is led by World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and features some of the top players in the world.
The Volvo Car Open’s 56-player draw is made up of 43 direct entries into the tournament, five wild cards and eight qualifiers. Kim Clijsters has already accepted a wild card for the event. Four additional players will join the main draw via wild card entry, to be announced at a later date.
“The world of live sporting events has had to make many difficult decisions over the past year,” said Bob Moran, Tournament Director for the Volvo Car Open. “We wish we could host a stadium full of fans in 2021 to appreciate the world-class talent represented in our player field, from WTA’s top-ranked Ashleigh Barty and our defending champion Madison Keys, to next generation tennis stars like Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff. We are grateful that our broadcast partner Tennis Channel will air first ball to last ball main draw matches, providing our fans with more than 70 hours of live tennis and an opportunity to watch the powerful and entertaining competition on our courts this year. We look forward to getting back to normal in 2022 with a newly renovated stadium and celebrating 50 years of professional women’s tennis.”
Highlights from the main draw include:
21 countries represented in the international player field, including 10 Americans
Three past Volvo Car Open champions: Madison Keys (2019), Kiki Bertens (2018) and Sloane Stephens (2016)
Six Grand Slam champions: Sofia Kenin (2020 Australian Open), Ashleigh Barty (2019 French Open), Garbiñe Muguruza (2016 French Open and ‘17 Wimbledon), Sloane Stephens (2017 US Open), Jelena Ostapenko (2017 French Open) and Kim Clijsters (2005, ‘09 & ‘10 US Open and ‘11 Australian Open)
Three Former World No. 1 Ranked Players: Ashleigh Barty (current), Garbiñe Muguruza and Kim Clijsters
Debut player field appearance by Coco Gauff and Kim Clijsters
Charleston native Shelby Rogers to compete in hometown tournament again
At the top of the Volvo Car Open player field is current World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. The 2021 Volvo Car Open will mark the Australian’s second time playing in Charleston. She has held the top WTA singles ranking for the past two seasons, stemming from winning her first Premier Mandatory title at the Miami Open, her first Grand Slam title at the French Open and her first WTA Finals title.
American Sofia Kenin celebrated her first Top 10 season in 2020. She earned her first Grand Slam title at the 2020 Australian Open and ended the year as World No. 4. The 2021 Volvo Car Open will be the 22-year-old’s fourth time competing in Charleston.
2018 Volvo Car Open champion Kiki Bertens will play the Volvo Car Open for the fifth time. The Dutch player finished 2020 in the top 10 for the third year in a row and has amassed 10 career WTA titles.
Rounding out the top-four in Charleston’s player field is Garbiñe Muguruza. Since her last appearance at the Volvo Car Open in 2013, the Spanish player has captured seven career titles, including the 2017 Wimbledon and 2016 Roland-Garros titles, and reached the World No. 1 ranking.
Current Volvo Car Open champion Madison Keys will also return two years later to defend her title. Keys defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the 2019 Volvo Car Open final to capture her fourth career WTA title and her first on clay.
The 2021 Volvo Car Open will be held without fans due to the ongoing pandemic. The tournament has partnered with the WTA and the Medical University of South Carolina to develop its health and safety protocols for the event, which will allow the team to create a safe atmosphere for players, essential staff and operational partners. Both Tennis Channel and WTA Media have agreed to broadcast the 2021 Volvo Car Open, providing a full week of coverage and more than 70+ hours of live tennis for fans both in the U.S. and abroad.
The Volvo Car Open was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since 1973, the tournament has been a pioneer in women’s professional sports, paving the path for female tennis players to receive equal recognition, respect and pay in the sport. Originally held on Hilton Head Island, the event moved to Charleston in 2001 and is now played on Daniel Island at the LTP Daniel Island tennis center, home to the Volvo Car Stadium.
Charleston Tennis, LLC, which manages the Volvo Car Stadium under a lease from the City of Charleston, recently announced plans to renovate and modernize the 20-year-old Volvo Car Stadium. The city-owned facility will undergo upgrades to enhance the stadium experience for patrons, performers, tennis players and event management, allowing the venue to attract world-class athletes and talent to Daniel Island.
For more information on the Volvo Car Open, visit volvocaropen.com or call 843.856.7900.