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Interview With Jerry Solomon CEO of StarGames, LLC About The BNP Paribas Showdown

Tennis will be featured again at Madison Garden Square Garden on Feb 28th with the BNP Paribas Showdown, showcasing the epic rivalries between Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, and Ivan Lendl.   The night, which is part of Tennis Night In America, is the kick off event for a month long celebration of tennis.  Throughout March, the USTA will be holding various Youth Registration Events, which is their largest youth recruitment effort.   I had the opportunity to talk with Jerry Solomon, CEO of StarGames LLC who is the organizer of The Showdown, about Tennis Night in America and the role of exhibition matches to increase the popularity of the sport.

Click to read more ...


Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Other WTA Players Talk About Their "Perfect Date"

Here's a cute little video from the WTA of the top players talking about their "perfect date."  While all the other women gave romantic answers like dinner, roses and chocolate,  Andrea Petkovic said,

I hate Valentine's Day, it's too pinky/girly for me.

She'd rather go to a concert and get a beer.   My kinda girl.


Fernando Verdasco Shocked By Milos Raonic

It came down to who could hold their serve and their nerve in the tie-breaks, and in the end newbie Milos Raonic was more poised than the veteran Fernando Verdasco and defeated him in straight sets 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5) to win his first ATP title. Match point was a bit anti-climactic, due to an overzealous fan yelling "YEAH" (see video here) when Milos was serving, perhaps breaking Fer's concentration and then he subsequently netted the return.  There was apparently a "finger wag" from Fer to the crowd and a whole lot of cursing, but when it came to the trophy presentation, Verdasco held it together and was very complementary of Milos.   When discussing the fan incident in his post-match presser, Fer said "If they don't know the rules in tennis, they can go see soccer."  But finally calmed down by the end and jokingly said this about his strategy for his upcoming match against Milos on Wed, "Pray a lot that Milos will make a lot of double faults."

I'm not going to go on and on and on about the arrival of Milos, (he IS the Real Deal, and if you want to read it you can find it here and here), but I will say that I am excited about Memphis next week, because these two meet again in the first round, and you know what they say about payback........

And that's all she wrote from the SAP Open.


Video Flashback: Tennis Stars When They Were Young

I was just looking around YouTube for new videos and came accross this one.  It's a video of most of the major players of past and present when they were kiddos.  The music along with the pictures put me in a bit of a reminiscent mood, and now I need some wine.  Oh how time flies........


Weekend Wrap Up: Clijsters regains #1, Kvitova, Almagro, Hantuchova, and Soderling Hoist Trophies

What an interesting week in tennis! The Youth Movement in tennis has been on full display this week with several youngsters going deep into tournaments and 1 (possibly 2 by tonight) hoisting trophies.  But first let's start with Kim Clijsters who reached number 1 in the world with her SF win over Jelena Djokic in Paris. Finally we have a number 1 who has won multiple Majors, most recently the Australian Open that everyone can rally behind. 

The problem with all of this?  If Caroline Wozniacki wins in Dubai next week, the WTA will have to do the ceremony all over again, because she will regain the #1.  Here is a message that Kimmie left to her fans after winning.


And now here are your trophy hoisters for the weekend:

Petra Kvitova who is only 20 years old and still rocking braces won her 3rd WTA tournament (her 2nd this year), shocking Kim Clijisters 6-4, 6-3 in the Open GDF Suez Final.  She has wicked power off the forehand and backhand and she is only going to improve.  Watch out ladies...

Daniella Hantuchova won her first tournament since 2007 at the Pattaya Open defeating Sara Errani 6-0, 6-2.

Nicolas Almagro took out Alexandr Dolgopolov to win his 2nd Brasil Open and his 8th ATP title.  I was really hoping Dolgo would get his first ATP trophy here, but I think this year is going to hold  great things for him.  He is top 10 talent for sure.

And last but not least, Robin Soderling defended his Rotterdam title defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Robin Soderling of Sweden holds up the trophy after winning the final tennis match of the World Indoor Tournament against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in Rotterdam February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen (NETHERLANDS - Tags: SPORT TENNIS)


Tonight's final at the SAP Open features Fernando Verdasco vs. Milos Raonic.  There is no doubt that Milos, also only 20 years old, will be a top ten player.  He cracks serves at 147 mph and has touch to boot.  Fernando was looking mighty dominant last night, defeating Juan Martin del Potro in straights, but I have a feeling that it will go 3, with Verdasco pulling it out in the end.   

And there you have it.  Next week's tournaments for the WTA are Dhubai and Bogata, and for the ATP are Memphis, Marseille and Buenos Aires .


Are The American Men in Trouble in Memphis?

What happened to home court advantage??  I know that the draw for a tournament must be fair, but I am going to assume that many American tennis fans, (as well as the tournament director) were left scratching their heads after the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships Men's Singles Draw yesterday.  Let me give you a preview of some first round matches.

Andy Roddick vs. Richard Berankis - If you've been following tennis at all recently, you would know that the rise of 20 year old Richard Berankis has been a frequent topic of water cooler conversation.  He is the youngest player to be ranked in the top 75, and is part of recent Youth Movement that also includes rising star Milos Raonic.  He reached the 3rd round of the Australian Open, and more recently the QF of the SAP Open.  This will be Roddick's first match since his loss in the 4th round in OZ to Stanislas Wawrinka. Roddick should be able to win this match easily, especially in front of the hometown crowd, but as Berankis moves up the ranks, so does his confidence, and it is possible, (though unlikely) he could upset the #1 seed.  If Roddick makes it through he'll likely face Janko Tipsarevic in the 2nd round, and the last time they played Janko upset A-Rod in the 2nd round of the US Open in 2010.  

Sam Querrey vs. Denis Istomin  I would have said 1 week ago, that Querrey would have no problem with this match, but Querrey is now 0-3 for the 2011 season, bowing out in the first round of the SAP Open last week.  Denis Istomin on the other hand reached the QF of the SAP Open before being beaten by Fernando Verdasco.  They've met each other twice in 2009, splitting the head-to-head.  Tennis is 90% mental and Querrey doesn't seem focused.  I smell an upset.

and last but not least, the kicker...........

John Isner vs Juan Martin del Potro  OMG.  This could be a final and it's a first round match-up.  They've met twice both in 2009 and Del Potro dominated.  Delpo who is making a comeback after wrist surgery is still not in 2009 form, but he is playing well, last night taking out Lleyton Hewitt convincingly in straight sets at the SAP Open.  All I can say is......... the Tennis Gods are cruel.

And no, I didn't forget about James Blake and Mardy Fish.   I honesty don't have an opinion about Blake yet since this is only his second tournament since October 2010.  I will say that Fish probably has the easiest draw of all the American men, as long as he has gotten his thyroid under control.

And let me just mention for fun Fernando Verdasco vs. Milos Raonic.  Raonic's star is  He is in the finals of the SAP Open (a walkover due to Monfils wrist injury) vs either Verdasco or Del Potro.  This should be an amazing match.


Video: Andy Murray Interviews Jamie Murray About Penguins, and Football


In this video, Andy Murray interviews his brother Jamie Murray after their doubles QF win in Rotterdam.  Andy critiques Jamie's penguin dance, (which he did after their win) and then they talk a bit about fantasy football.  They are adorbs together.  Who can resist brotherly love.

See the Penguin dance that they are referring to here.