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Delray Beach Open Announces Player Lineups

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Delray Beach Open Announces Player Lineups

DELRAY BEACH, FL: Four of the current Top 20 singles players, the greatest doubles team of all time, and the 2001 Wimbledon champion are all included in a group of players who have signed on with the Delray Beach Open by The Venetian® Las Vegas to play in the 22nd annual event next February.

The world’s only combined ATP World Tour and ATP Champions Tour event will be played February 14 – 23, 2014 at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center. It will be the 16th year that the tournament will be held in Delray Beach.

The 32-player ATP World Tour field will include Top 20 stars Tommy Haas (No. 12), John Isner (No. 14), Kei Nishikori (No. 18) and Kevin Anderson (No. 20). Janko Tipsarevic, last year’s ATP world No. 8, former world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt and former world No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis are also among the early entries. The remaining Delray Beach field, including three wild cards, will be announced in January.

Hewitt (1999), Haas (2006), Nishikori (2008) and Anderson (2012) are former Delray Beach champions.

The world No. 1 Bryan Brothers doubles team will highlight the 16-team doubles field, as the popular twins return to Delray Beach for the seventh time after winning titles in 2009 and 2010.

Bombastic Croat Goran Ivanisevic, the only Wimbledon champion in history to have won on a wild card, will join 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick and four other former ATP stars in Delray Beach’s 5-year-old ATP Champions event. Ivanesivic is playing in Delray Beach for the first time.

Roddick committed to his inaugural ATP Champions Tour event in August, while Hall of Famer Mats Wilander is returning for a fourth run at the title. The trio of former two-time Delray Beach ATP World Tour champion Jan-Michael Gambill (2001 & 2003), former French Open finalist Mikael Pernfors and Boca Raton’s Aaron Krickstein round out the field. The competition will be divided into an “American” group (Roddick, Krickstein & Gambill) and a “European” group (Ivanesevic, Wilander, Penfors), with the winners playing a “USA vs Europe” championship match.

“These are undoubtedly the best fields we’ve put together collectively in both our ATP events,” said tournament director Mark Baron. “We continue to strengthen our ATP World Tour field and we’re excited about the ATP Champions Tour battle within the American and European groups and think it’s going to be a fun one for our fans to follow.”

The Delray Beach Open by The Venetian has moved one week earlier on the ATP World Tour calendar. The three-day ATP Champions Tour event will kick off on Valentines’ Day, Friday, Feb. 14 with two evening matches featuring Roddick, Ivanisevic, Gambill and Wilander. The ATP Champions Tour final will be played Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3:00 pm.

The ATP World Tour three-day qualifying rounds begin Saturday, Feb. 15 with the main draw beginning Monday, Feb. 17. The doubles final is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1:00 pm followed by the singles final at 3:00 pm.

To purchase tickets, check playing schedules, or to obtain more information, please 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.

Delray Beach ATP World Tour Headliners:

The Bryan Brothers, 2009 and 2010 Delray Beach champs, are 8-time year-end world No. 1 doubles champions. The pair are the first doubles team in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles as well as the Olympic gold medal at the same time. They have 92 career ATP titles, including 15 Grand Slam wins.

Tommy Haas has returned to the Top 20 from major surgery three times in his career. The 2006 Delray Beach champion has twice been the ATP’s “Comeback Player of the Year” and is currently ranked No. 12 in the world. Haas has won more than $12 million in prize money.

Top-ranked American John Isner, who has back-to-back semifinal finishes in Delray Beach, reached a career-high No. 9 in the world in 2012 and enjoyed 18 weeks in the Top 10. He reached the 2011 Australian Open QF and his first Master Series final in Indian Wells that year. He finished No. 1 among ATP players in aces two of the last three years, and has garnered 7 career ATP titles.

Kei Nishikori won his first ATP title in Delray Beach in 2008 as an 18-year-old, and reached his first Grand Slam QF at the 2012 Australian Open. The top all-time Japanese player with rock star status has reached No. 11 in the world this year and is positioned to become the top Asian tennis player of all time.

Kevin Anderson is enjoying the best year of his career, reaching three finals in 2013, and currently No. 20 in the world. In addition to his Delray Beach title in 2012, he has reached two QFs in his new hometown. Anderson established a residence in Delray Beach over the summer.

Janko Tipsarevic, the 2011 Delray Beach runner-up to Juan Martin del Potro, finished 2012 as the year-end No. 8 in the world. With 4 career ATP titles, a 2012 US Open QF finish and the 2010 Davis Cup title, the Serbian has enjoyed two straight Top 10 seasons.

An 18-year-old Lleyton Hewitt won the first ATP tournament held in Delray Beach (1999). The No. 1 player in the world for the 2001 and 2002 seasons won Grand Slam titles at the 2001 US Open and at Wimbledon in 2002 and has five Top 10 year-end finishes, including four in the Top 5.

Marcos Baghdatis was a 2006 Australian Open finalist and became the ATP’s breakout performer that year, reaching a career-high No. 8 and finishing the season at No. 12. Baghdatis was also Top 20 in 2007 and 2010.

Delray Beach ATP Champions Tour Headliners:

2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick will be making his ATP Champions Tour debut in Delray Beach, a venue where he began his pro career with a pair of wild cards in 2000 and 2001. He finished No. 1 in the world for 2003, and had an incredible run in the Top 10 from 2002 – 2010. Roddick led the 2007 US team to the Davis Cup title.

Goran Ivanisevic garnered 22 career ATP wins but his greatest moment was winning the 2001 Wimbledon title 11 years after he won his first title. He achieved a career-high No. 2 ranking and finished in the Top 10 five times in his career.

Hall of Famer (2002) Mats Wilander is one of only five men to win Grand Slams on every surface. The Swede won the first of his seven Slam titles at the French Open as an unseeded 17-year-old. He was the No. 1 ranked player in the world in 1988, won 33 ATP titles and three Davis Cup titles.

Player Schedule Highlights:

Andy Roddick: Friday, Feb. 14 (Session 1 – night), Saturday, Feb. 15 (Session 3 – night)
John Isner: Tuesday, Feb. 18 (Session 8 – night)
Bryan Brothers: Wednesday, Feb. 19 (Session 9 – day)

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A Recap of the 2010 AEGON Masters Tennis

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A Recap of the 2010 AEGON Masters Tennis

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Goran Ivanisevic Sets Up another Wimbledon 2001 Rematch

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Goran Ivanisevic Sets Up another Wimbledon 2001 Rematch

By beating Greg Rusedski in the quarterfinal stage at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall yesterday, Goran Ivanisevic set up yet another mouth-watering Wimbledon rematch at the Aegon Masters event.  Today, the popular Croatian will face Aussie Pat Rafter in the semifinals, a rematch of their epic 2001nWimbledon final.   The latter was  a turning point in Ivanisevic’s career which he now believes ‘saved his life’.

Ivanisevic continued to crush the Brit contingent by beating Rusedski 7-6(6), 7-6(6) in a frenzied exchange of aces and saving set points in both sets.  This was a familiar moment in their rivalry which dates back to 1994.  Rusedski said: “I’ve only beaten him once on tour. Goran for me is always a challenge.”

In the post match press conference, I was eager to know whether Ivanisevic had changed his game at all to suit the new slower courts and technology of the rackets.  He said: “I don’t mind to stay back but still I always like to serve my aces and go for the big shots.”

The Croatian is doing a great job of reminding tennis fans of why he was such a great asset to the tour with his attacking all-or-nothing style of play at the Royal Albert Hall.  A rare glimpse of tennis as it was played in the 90s juxtaposed with the recent Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London’s contrasting O2 Arena where Rafael Nadal and company punished each other with long baselines rallies and formidable topspin.

Ivanisevic said: “You can’t serve and volley in tennis now. The courts are too slow. The top ten guys, I don’t want to mention any names, but a lot of them haven’t got a clue how to volley. They don’t come to the net enough. You have to come in on the right ball. The guys are so quick.”

Another player providing an exhibition of exquisite approach play is none other than Britain’s, Tim Henman.   He defeated ATP Champions Tour Rankings leader, Thomas Enqvist 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 to reach the semifinal stage of his first competitive tournament since his retirement three years ago.  “It’s always a pleasure to play at home,” said Henman. “This is my first event on the Champions Tour and there’s no better way to start than at the Royal Albert Hall with a crowd like this.”

Henman looked remarkably sharp against Enqvist in his quarterfinal yesterday.   But,unusually, Henman had to ask the patriotic British crowd to start cheering for him, as the “silence” was making him nervous.  The chant ‘c’mon Tim’ is so ingrained into the British collective consciousness, that some even say it when Andy Murray is on court, such is his enduring appeal.

It’s all set for Tim and Goran to meet for a second time in the final on Sunday, unless Pat Rafter or Champions Tour veteran, Todd Martin can produce something special today.  Rafter said: “Goran’s serve is ridiculous and so hard to return. I’ll probably come dressed in cricket gear and see what happens!”

Follow Melina Harris’ coverage for MiamiTennisNews on twitter under the username @thetenniswriter

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Henman – Ivanisevic: The Wimbledon Rematch

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Henman – Ivanisevic: The Wimbledon Rematch

Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic faced each other at the Royal Albert Hall in London last night for the first time since their epic semi-final at Wimbledon in 2001. Ivanisevic broke the hearts of the British public by beating Henman in a thrilling five set match spread across three days due to the unpredictable British weather.

I clearly remember listening to the commentary secretly during lessons at my school in North London on my vintage Sony Walkman, nerves on edge.  Arguably, this was Henman’s most promising opportunity to be the first British man since Fred Perry to lift the Wimbledon crown.   With a certain American, Pete Sampras, knocked out in the fourth round by none other than recent ATP Tour Finals champion, Roger Federer, the path seemed clear or so we thought.

However, the stars were shining favourably on the charismatic Croat, who famously ate at the same table at the same restaurant every night during the Wimbledon fortnight.   En route to his well deserved Wimbledon title, the pinnacle of any professional tennis player’s career, Ivanisevic won back the heart of the British crowd in his fairytale win against Aussie, Pat Rafter.  Ranked world number 125 due to a recurring shoulder injury, Ivanisevic reached the final as a wild card entry and previously had three tough Wimbledon final losses to Andre Agassi in 1992 and Pete Sampras in 1994 and 1998.

He famously said to reporters: “If some angel comes tonight in my dreams and says: ‘OK Goran, you’re going to win Wimbledon tomorrow, but you’re not able to touch the racket ever again,’ I will say: ‘OK, I’d rather take that and then never play tennis again in my life.’”

Yet, the changeable Croat with dual personalities is back.  And what a comeback it has been for the 39-year-old.   A regular on the seniors tour, Ivanisevic has won two titles in Barcelona and Knokke this season and recorded his fastest ever serve this year. He was one of the many players who encouraged Henman out of retirement to join legends such as Stefen Edberg, John McEnroe and Britain’s own, Greg Rusedski on the ATP Champions Tour in a more jovial yet competitive atmosphere.

“I saw him at the World Tour Finals in London last year and I told him he should come back and play with us,” Ivanisevic said of Henman. “He’s a great tennis player and we miss players like him.”

The players certainly didn’t disappoint the animated crowd last night. In fact, with the pressure off, they produced an outstanding level of tennis, with Ivanisevic serving as well as I’d ever witnessed, winning the first set 6-4. Indeed, Henman said in the post match press conference that no one had ever served as well against him in his entire career in that first set.  Heady praise for the Croat who revealed he is serving faster than ever before with the “new technology” of rackets these days.

With “good” Goran serving on all cylinders, this could have been a baptism of fire on the fast indoor court for Henman, only in his second match out of retirement. But, the Brit held his nerve well and showed many glimpses of his former glory, with great net play and feel around the court, winning the second set 7-5 and bringing the match to an exciting deciding Championship tiebreak.

Despite the hecklings of the old Tim faithful, Goran served his way to the match with an 11-9 victory in the Champions’ Tie-Break, looking impressively sharp on his backhand returns too.

Both looked exhilarated and liberated by the atmosphere of the ATP Champions Tour, particularly in the historic setting of London’s Royal Albert Hall. In the post match press conference Henman revealed his “body felt good” and was pleased with the “good quality of tennis out there.”  Similarly, Goran was beaming as he said “today I felt great” and emphasized how much he is enjoying his tennis without the mental pressure of the tour.  To my question of whether he still enjoyed playing up to his loveable villain reputation, he laughed and said:  “People have always called me so many things. I don’t mind.”

Well, last night Goran, you were quite simply brilliant.

Follow Melina Harris’ coverage for MiamiTennisNews on twitter under the username @thetenniswriter

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