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Delray Beach ITC Now Delray Beach Open

Delray Beach ITC Now Delray Beach Open

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DELRAY BEACH, FL: The Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (ITC) has engaged in a partnership with The Venetian® Las Vegas, changing the tournament’s name to the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian® Las Vegas to reflect the luxury hotel company’s new affiliation as presenting sponsor.

To usher in the new era, future Hall of Famer Andy Roddick will make his ATP Champions Tour debut in the city where he played his first professional tournament as an 18-year-old.

Tournament founder Mark Baron, who also serves as the tournament director of the 22-year-old event, made the announcements Saturday.

“The addition of The Venetian Las Vegas as a partner is a key step in our growth,” said Baron of the event’s re-branding. “Over the years there have been changes and additions that were made to ensure that the event would grow and prosper. The Venetian is an internationally respected brand and their involvement and partnership will give us the flexibility to move our event to yet another level.”

The tennis event’s weekly attendance has doubled from 30,000 to 60,000 during its first 15 years in Delray Beach thanks to improved player fields and the addition of an ATP Champions Tour tournament in 2010 that has created the world’s only combined ATP World Tour and ATP Champions Tour event. In 2014, the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian’s reach will grow to 40+ hours of live domestic HD TV coverage and 52 hours of live international coverage over seven days.

“Tennis fans love travel and The Venetian Las Vegas represents a perfect match between their love of travel and the most popular destination in the world,” said Robert Rippee, senior vice president of marketing for The Venetian Las Vegas. “On behalf of The Venetian Las Vegas, I want to say how excited we are to play a key role in this fantastic tournament.”

The Venetian Las Vegas, one of the world’s most luxurious resort and convention destinations, is the largest property in the country to receive AAA’s Five Diamond and the coveted Forbes Travel Guide Four Star awards. Recreating Venice’s legendary landmarks, the LEED® EB Gold-certified resort located in the heart of the Las Vegas strip features an indoor streetscape complete with gondolas and singing gondoliers, a premier spa club, world-class gaming and a wide variety of entertainment and showroom headliners.

The Delray Beach Open by The Venetian will move one week earlier on the 2014 ATP calendar to February 14 – 23, beginning on Valentine’s Day and the President’s Day weekend. The 10-day event is also positioned desirably for Palm Beach County sports fans between two PGA Tour golf events.

There are two ways fans can immediately celebrate the exciting tournament news. First, the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian has instituted the biggest price rollback in its 22-year history. And, for a limited time during the upcoming US Open tennis spectacle, an additional 20 percent discount can be enjoyed on all individual tickets to the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian. That discount applies to reserved seats, box seats, and for the first time ever, covered Veranda seats and on-court Best Seats in the House. The special offer is available Sunday, August 25 at 9:00 am through Tuesday, September 10 at 11:59 pm.

Roddick will take a break from his current job as weekday host for Fox Sports Live to return to his tennis roots in Delray Beach, this time on the ATP Champions Tour. The 2003 US Open champion and former world No. 1 will make his debut on opening night, Friday, Feb. 14 at 8:30 pm and will play a second match on Saturday, Feb. 15, also at 8:30 pm. The ATP Champions Tour final will be played Sunday, Feb. 16.

“We are ecstatic to be able to welcome Andy back to Delray Beach,” said Baron, who gave the junior star a wild card in 2000 to experience his first ATP World Tour tournament. “I can remember how excited he was to play in his first professional event, and now it has come full circle. This is another chance for all of us to fully appreciate his tennis and the legendary accomplishments of his career.”

Roddick finished in the ATP’s Top 10 for nine consecutive years (2002 – 2010), was ranked No. 1 in 2003 and won 32 career ATP titles. The former Boca Raton resident played in five Delray Beach ATP events, winning a doubles title with Jan-Michael Gambill in 2001, reaching the singles final against Davide Sanguinetti in 2002 and also reaching the singles quarterfinals in 2012.

To take advantage of the price rollback and tickets discounted 20 percent during the US Open, fans can go to www.yellowtennisball.com, call 561-330-6000 or visit the Delray Beach event’s box office at 30 NW 1st Avenue, Delray Beach, FL.

All event information is on the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian website at www.YellowTennisBall.com.

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Murray Finally Snares Elusive Wimbledon Trophy

Murray Finally Snares Elusive Wimbledon Trophy

Image ©CameraSport

Image ©CameraSport

For over seven decades, since 1936 to be precise, Great Britain has been restless for a homegrown male victor at the All-England Club. Today, it got to uncork that seventy-seven year old bottle of bubbly as Andy Murray held off Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to claim his initial Wimbledon title and his second career major.

Last season after the disappointment of losing in the Wimbledon final, Murray bested Djokovic in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the next round to earn Olympic Gold in London a few months later. That feat along with having a major under his belt, the 2012 U.S. Open, were undoubtedly confidence boosters as Murray sauntered on the court to compete.

With Rafael Nadal and Federer knocked out in the first and second round respectively, Murray was expected to walk into the final. However, in the quarterfinals, the Brit had to overcome a 2 sets to none deficit against Fernando Verdasco. Also, in the semifinals, Murray surrendered the first set before ultimately taking control against newcomer Jerzy Janowicz.

Subsequent to beating all comers in straight sets, Djokovic needed five against an injured Juan Martin Del Potro who kept coming back from the brink in the longest semifinal in the tournament’s existence 4 hours and 43 minutes.

When Djokovic and Murray collided in the 2013 Australian Open final, Murray never broke despite a myriad of chances. So, when triple break point for Murray came and went in the opening game, the nail biting began for the spectators.

Later, with a forehand up the line volley winner, Murray had his seventh break point of the initial set. He converted with a backhand down the line winner. However, the public’s joy was ephemeral. Because of a slew of miscues, Murray dropped the next game at love and the set was leveled at 2 all.

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Bartoli Joins the Majors Club by Winning Wimbledon

Bartoli Joins the Majors Club by Winning Wimbledon


Without questions, this denouement to the ladies’ draw was not foreseen as the fortnight commenced. Regardless, Marion Bartoli and Sabine Lisicki found themselves contesting for the big prize at Wimbledon. Bartoli made the most of her second trip to the final at the All-England Club, crushing the German 6-1, 6-4 to lift her inaugural majors’ trophy.

In 2007, Bartoli, the 18th seed, surprised Justine Henin in the semifinals to reach her maiden major final. Bartoli went down to Venus Williams, the 23rd seed and outright favorite.

Lisicki, another 23rd seed, was pegged as the oddsmaker’s choice because of booming serve and powerful forehand despite making her debut in a major final. On this occasion, Bartoli did not intend to stick to the script.

With Maria Sharapova ousted in the second round, Victoria Azarenka forced to forfeit her second round match due to injury and 2011 winner Petra Kvitova bounced in the quarterfinals, Bartoli was the vestige of a bottom half of the draw left in disarray.

Not only did the Frenchwoman win all her matches in two sets, the highest seed she battled was Sloane Stephens at 17. Prior to this tournament, Bartoli’s showings this season were three quarterfinals, all non-majors.

Moreover, Bartoli’s last title was in Osaka in 2011. That same year, Bartoli prevailed on grass in Eastbourne, stunned Serena Williams at Wimbledon in the fourth round only to be bounced in the quarterfinals by the woman she faced today.

The anxiety was palpable as each competitor double faulted on break point her first time serving. However, with her first ace, Bartoli subsequently held for a 2-1 lead.

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Nadal Wins an Unprecedented Eighth French Open Crown

Nadal Wins an Unprecedented Eighth French Open Crown


At the French Open, there is no doubt who reigns supreme. With a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over countryman David Ferrer, Rafael Nadal pocketed his eighth title at Roland Garros becoming the first man in history to capture the same major that many times.

In route to his maiden major final, 31 year old Ferrer dispatched all comers in three sets. The world number five even thumped hometown favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals after the latter dismissed Roger Federer.

To the contrary, Nadal needed 4 hours and 37 minutes to overcome world number one Novak Djokovic in the semifinals in a five set thriller where Djokovic led 4-2 in the last set.

The first final since 2004 to feature two men from the same nation, when Gaston Gaudio tussled with fellow Argentine Guillermo Coria, debuted promisingly with Ferrer opening the proceedings with a love hold.

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Serena Williams Soars Winning her Second French Open Title

Serena Williams Soars Winning her Second French Open Title

In the battle between the top two players in the Open Era, number two has bested number one, seven out of eleven times. Moreover, in the last twenty years, the world number one has conquered Roland Garros only twice. Consequently, Maria Sharapova could have taken solace from those statistics. However, the defending champion had Serena Williams across the net. Williams prevailed 6-4, 6-4 to capture her second title in Paris and her 16th major overall.

A staggering twelve successive losses, a nine year drought was the ghost that Sharapova was attempting to banish against Williams who made no secret of her hunger to hoist the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. Since Serena defeated sister Venus in the 2002 final, no American had advanced to the ultimate match in eleven years.

From the first game, Sharapova demonstrated despite a 2-13 record against her rival, she was not willing to gift wrap her title. The Russian overcame love-40 and saved a fourth break point to hold. Sharapova then took advantage of errors from Williams to bank a break for 2-0.

But, Sharapova’s lead was short-lived. Soon, with an overhead winner, Williams got the set back on serve. Later, in the fifth game, with Sharapova flubbing a forehand, Williams sealed the break for a 3-2 edge. Despite being tested, Williams consolidated for 4-2.

With Sharapova capitalizing on miscues by her opponent in the eighth game, the first set was leveled at 4 all. Once again though, Williams turned up the screws, forcing Sharapova to muff a backhand up the line for double break point. Promptly with a forehand crosscourt winner, Williams moved ahead 5-4. The world number one comfortably guarded serve to pocket the opening set.

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Murray Endures Gritty Ferrer to Bag his Second Sony Open Trophy

Murray Endures Gritty Ferrer to Bag his Second Sony Open Trophy

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Britain’s Andy Murray had more at stake today than the Miami title. Hoisting the Sony Open trophy would signify the number two world ranking. The reigning U.S. Open defeated Spaniard David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 to obtain his second Sony Open prize.

Ferrer, who was making his maiden appearance in the final in Miami, his fifth at the ATP Masters 1000 level, knew from the outset it would be an uphill battle. Ferrer’s first ATP Masters 1000 title came in November after being denied three times prior.

Although Murray had a slight 6-5 lead in their head to head, the Spaniard has just one win on hardcourt. The others have been on clay. In 2011, these two collided at the Masters tournament in Shanghai, Murray triumphed in two sets.

Moreover, history was not on Ferrer’s side. Three compatriots, including Rafael Nadal three times, have gone down in the final at the Miami Masters. Also, Ferrer has an abysmal mark against top five players, 0-12.

Nevertheless, this was far from the Spaniard’s mind as he salvaged two break points in his opening service game, then went on a five game run to lead 5-0 in the first set.

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Serena Williams Silences Sharapova for a record Sixth Sony Open Title

Serena Williams Silences Sharapova for a record Sixth Sony Open Title

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Serena Williams repelled Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to win her sixth trophy at the Sony Open surpassing Steffi Graff with whom she was previously tied.

Williams had already made Sony Open history in the semifinals with the most victories on the women side, 60. Now, she wanted to stand in a league of her own by also capturing the trophy.

But, it was Sharapova in search of her first Sony Open crown, after failing four previous times, who handled the breezy conditions and the bright sun well early on. Subsequent to wasting three break point chances in a marathon eleven minute game, Sharapova fabricated a fourth in the fifth service game.

On that occasion when Williams’ backhand found the net, Sharapova converted the break for 3-2. However, the world number one applied the necessary pressure to bank the next game and square the set at 3 all.

Williams was not at her best on serve, frequently catching her toss and shading her eyes. In the ninth game, Williams double faulted to gift Sharapova a break point. When on the following point Williams dumped a forehand crosscourt into the net, Sharapova was in front 5-4.

With a love game replete with miscues by Williams, Sharapova sealed the first set. At that point, a visibly annoyed Williams slammed her racket against her chair, her wakeup call.

With an ace, Williams capped a love hold to start the second set. Then, by pushing Sharapova around, she got the break for 2-0.

Yet, a bevy of mistakes by Williams led to an ephemeral lead as Sharapova fabricated triple break point. As Williams fumbled another forehand, the players were back on serve.

Later, Sharapova set up triple break point once more with a backhand winner. By winning the fifth game, at 3-2, Sharapova was three holds from grabbing the elusive title and completing the rare feat of hoisting both the Indian Wells and Miami trophies. It has only been accomplished three times, last by Kim Clijsters in 2005.

Again though, Williams found the emergency brake. With two consecutive winners and a stellar return, Williams was at triple break point. As Sharapova’s stroke kissed the net’s bottom, the second set was leveled at 3 all.

Later courtesy of a double fault, Williams had a break point. She took a 5-3 lead when Sharapova committed another forehand error. Williams closed out the second set with an ace.

The decisive set became a nightmare for Sharapova. In the opening game, the world number two could not stave off double break point. Subsequent to Williams consolidating for 2-0, Sharapova threw in two successive double faults to provide her rival with an insurance break.

Williams pushed the cruise control button, capitalizing on a seventh break point to make it 100% conversion for the match and 5-0. Williams went on a ten game in a row tear to close out the championship.

Sharapova has gone down to Williams now in eleven successive encounters. She last triumphed in 2004. Today, in their maiden meeting in the final in Miami, Sharapova felt she wasted too many chances particularly in the second set “ I still had opportunities to get back at 3-4. I was up 40-15 and Love-30 in the next game. . . those are the games that you really need to keep challenging out there and keep being in them. . .those are the chances that you will have to take . . .if you want to win the match”.

Despite her heavy schedule up to this point, Sharapova cited fatigue was not a factor “ I feel fine. I’m very happy, very fortunate that I’ve been able to play. . . I have had a really great month and I think I can only take positives out of it, really”.

Clay is the next stop for the women’s tour. As the defending French Open champion, Sharapova is looking forward to Paris “when you experience such a nice moment in your career, to be able to come back there and to play on that court again where you lifted the trophy, it’s always special and meaningful. Especially for the amount of years that you’ve worked so hard to get to that point. I’ll treat it as any other title that maybe I haven’t won and really want to win because I would love to win it again”.

For the match, Williams’ first serve percentage was 51. She fired 35 winners and 32 unforced errors and was behind 4-6, 2-3. Sharapova connected on 64% of her first serves, struck 13 winners and 23 unforced errors.

The statistics explain Williams’ surprise in pulling off the victory “I honestly can’t say right now [how I turned it around]. I just feel everything was going so fast. . . I was just making so many errors. I just was like, Serena, are you really going to get to the final and not play up to your potential? I don’t think I had enough energy. I think I may have done too much work yesterday, may have hit too long, done too much gym”.

Williams’ strategy to get back into the match “at one point, I was just like, conserve your energy and try and relax and play better”. The serve was not a weapon today. Williams was hitting the first ball at times at 79 mph “I honestly have not served great this whole tournament, if you look at the stats. It hasn’t been my best week serving wise. Usually in the later rounds, I’m able to pick it up and do a little better. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that today, so I had to rely on other parts of my game”.

Williams has eyed that sixth trophy since 2009 when she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the final. This week, she even biked to the tournament to assure she would make her third round match.

Now, Williams will shift her focus to the clay in search of a companion for her lonely 2008 French Open trophy, the only major she possesses just one of. Clay is perhaps Williams’ most challenging surface. But, she does not view it as such “I think it’s only as hard as you say it is. I happen to love Roland Garros and I’m happy to play there. Hopefully I can just take it one match at a time. That’s in the future. I’m just going to do it one step at a time”.

Today’s performance by Williams qualifies as “winning ugly”. If on her worst day, Williams can walk away with the Sony Open, her 16th major, a second French Open may not be far behind.

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Murray Knocks Out Gasquet to Earn a Spot in the Final at the Sony Open

Murray Knocks Out Gasquet to Earn a Spot in the Final at the Sony Open

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On Sunday, in the Sony Open final, Andy Murray will take on David Ferrer. Murray beat Richard Gasquet 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to his third final in Miami.

Gasquet befuddled the 2009 champion early on, getting the break with a beautiful back down the line winner. The Frenchman went on to consolidate and move ahead 3-0.

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Ferrer Fends Off Haas to Get into Maiden Sony Open Final

Ferrer Fends Off Haas to Get into Maiden Sony Open Final

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The first men’s semifinal at the Sony Open showcased a pair of thirtysomething. World number five David Ferrer outlasted a resurgent Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach his fifth Masters 1000 series final.

At 35, Haas, a former world number two, discovered his fountain of youth. Ranked 18th, the German ousted 24 year old Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round then stunned world number one Novak Djokovic in the round of 16. This year’s semifinal showing was the furthest Haas’ had advance in Miami.

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Serena Williams Routs Radwanska to Claim Spot in Sony Open Final

Serena Williams Routs Radwanska to Claim Spot in Sony Open Final

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An unstoppable Serena Williams dismantled defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0, 6-3 to secure her eighth appearance in the final at the Sony Open and with her 60th victory moved past Steffi Graff as the winningest female in Miami.

The world number one came out with her guns blazing. The crowd had barely taken its seat when Williams posted a double break edge on the scoreboard.

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