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BNP Paribas Open – The Friday Five – What to Watch This Weekend at the US Open

We’re almost at the halfway point at the 2014 US Open! Let’s look at Five Things to Watch for this weekend.

The Possibilities
A potential 2014 BNP Paribas Open semifinals rematch sits atop the draw, as top-seed and Defending BNP Paribas Open Champion Novak Djokovic looks to advance past American Sam Querrey, while countryman John Isner attempts to better Philipp Kohlschreiber. Isner faces a tough task with the German, with Kohlschreiber topping the American in 2012 and 2013 at the US Open, but the crowd will surely be on his side. Isner and Querrey also partnered in the Indian Wells doubles draw this year, advancing to the semifinals, and could oppose each other with wins this weekend.

The Champs are Here
Friday’s action is loaded with former BNP Paribas Open Champions, which began with 2010 winner Jelena Jankovic defeating Johanna Larsson, 6-1, 6-0. The nightcap features 2011 victor Caroline Wozniacki against Andrea Petkovic on the Grandstand, while fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium will see four-time Champion Roger Federer against Sam Groth, and two-time winner Maria Sharapova battle Sabine Lisicki.

Oh… the Irony
With wins on Friday, Sharapova would match-up against Wozniacki in a blockbuster quarterfinal tilt. They last played in the 2013 BNP Paribas Open finals, with Sharapova hoisting her second trophy in Indian Wells. Additionally, Wozniacki last beat the Russian in the 2011 BNP Paribas Open semifinals en route to the Championship.

Forza, Flavia!
Flavia Pennetta, the defending BNP Paribas Open Champion and 2013 US Open semifinalist, will match-up against American Nicole Gibbs in the third-round on Saturday. The Italian could face the winner of Casey Dellacqua and Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the US Open quarterfinals for the fifth time in her last six appearances.

Taking Lessons
One of the most unique aspects of the BNP Paribas Open is watching ATP and WTA stars up-close on the practice courts, as fans are mere feet away from their favorite players. With a full-slate of practice times available to fans, you can watch Federer practice his one-handed backhand or see Wozniacki work on her serve. With new improvements for this year’s event, fans taking in the US Open are having a similar experience, which is sure to delight those in the Big Apple.

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BNP Paribas Open – The Friday Five – Players to Watch at the US Open

The draws for the US Open were released on Thursday in New York. Here, we look at five players – two top seeds and three on-the-rise Americans – that could have a big showing at the year’s final major, six months before they’re set to descend on Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open.

Men’s Singles
(7) Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria
1R vs. Ryan Harrison

One of the premier showmen in the sport, Dimitrov has always wowed fans with his highlight-reel shot making, but now the young Bulgarian is translating that magical artistry into ATP World Tour crowns. Dimitrov has been on a tear for the past four months, winning titles in Bucharest and Queen’s Club, with semifinal efforts at Wimbledon and Masters 1000 destinations Rome and Toronto. The 23-year-old is sure to be a crowd favorite, and he could ride that momentum into a lengthy stay in New York.

Women’s Singles
(8) Ana Ivanovic, Serbia
1R vs. Alison Riske

The Serb arrives in New York following an impressive run in Cincinnati where she defeated former US Open champion and two-time BNP Paribas Open winner Maria Sharapova en route to a finals appearance. The world No. 9 and 2008 BNP Paribas Open champion has been a model of consistency at the final Major of the year, with at least a fourth-round appearance in the last four years, and a quarterfinals showing in 2012. A similar effort could be expected, but a more substantial run hangs in the balance should Ivanovic be clicking on all cylinders.

Americans to Watch
(27) Madison Keys
1R vs. Jarmila Gajdosova

Young American Madison Keys captured the first title of her WTA career this season, defeating former US Open finalist and 2010 BNP Paribas Open Champion Jelena Jankovic and top 10 resident Angelique Kerber en route to claiming top honors in Eastbourne. The 20-year-old also advanced to the third round at the All England Club for the second straight year and has the ability – and booming firepower – to make a run in NYC.

Steve Johnson
1R vs. Qualifier

The former USC standout Johnson has been playing noteworthy tennis of late, defeating countryman John Isner in Washington, D.C. and the talented Ernests Gulbis in Cincinnati, reaching the third round and quarterfinals, respectively. The former NCAA collegiate champion has shown an ability to rise against elite competition and could score a few upsets at this year’s event. He plays No. 19 Feliciano Lopez or Ivan Dodig in the second round should he advance.

Coco Vandeweghe
1R vs. Donna Vekic

The world No. 39 has played brilliant tennis of late, recording a win at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the maiden WTA victory of her career. Since Wimbledon, the big server from California made the quarterfinals in Montreal, defeating Ivanovic and then another Serbian in Jankovic in the process. Should she start feeling her serve on the fast courts of Flushing Meadows, Vandeweghe could potentially blast her way through No. 15 seed Carla Suarez Navarro or Ajla Tomljanovic should they meet in round two.

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The BNP Paribas Open and the US Open: Tennis Fans Treated to Two Dynamic Coastal Events

A Side-by-Side Comparison
By Nicholas McCarvel

They’re the two biggest tennis tournaments in the U.S., but are they anything alike? The US Open beckons the world’s best tennis players for the year’s final Grand Slam later this month, just under six months after they made their way to the California desert for BNP Paribas Open in March.

So what’s the same? What’s completely different? Make your plans today to attend both and let us know what you like most about each event. Here is our take:

City Slam vs. Desert Oasis
The settings couldn’t be any more different, with the US Open held in the world’s most famous and exciting metropolis – New York City – and the BNP Paribas Open held in the desert oasis of Indian Wells. Fans flock to the US Open in part because of its close proximity to Manhattan (the tournament itself is in Flushing Meadows, Queens, near the Mets’ baseball stadium), while for many of the attendees at Indian Wells, it’s all about spending relaxing days in the Palm Springs area for some peace and quiet. Both tournaments attract a global audience, though, as tennis enthusiasts descend from all different spots around the world. Did you know that more than 80 percent of the BNP Paribas Open’s audience comes from outside of the Coachella Valley?

Electric Slam vs. Intimate Masters
Getting up close to the best tennis in the world? That distinction may belong to the BNP Paribas Open, where fans sit mere feet away from players on most stadium courts and can watch practice sessions (more on that later) as well as warm-ups and cool-downs at the famed player grass area. Stadium 1 has 16,100 seats, which are designed for fans to feel closer to the action. In addition, the new Stadium 2, which seats 8,000 fans and includes three restaurants, has been praised for its unique and world-class atmosphere.

More about US Open Site Expansion

Meanwhile, the US Open is known for its buzz, its energy and the electricity that fills Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis venue in the world, which seats over 23,000 fans. In addition, Louis Armstrong Stadium, and other show courts make fans feel like they are part of a Broadway show line-up with tennis as the biggest star.

Advantage Indian Wells: Watch Where They Work
The BNP Paribas Open is unmatched in the way it allows fans to get close to the sport’s best. Posted practice times and raised wrap-around seating at the practice courts means fans can take in Roger Federer working on his serve or Maria Sharapova running a volley drill. Not only that, but the player grass area is where they exercise off court, stretch before and after play and even get into a game of soccer or two, all within reaching distance of fans. However, the US Open just announced this year its plans to invest over $500 million in improvements by 2018, which will include a new elevated viewing platform area between the five practice courts and three new tournament courts.

World Class Tennis vs. World Class Tennis
The settings and fan experiences might be vastly different, but the tennis isn’t – it’s the best in the world at both tournaments. Men’s, women’s, singles and doubles (and mixed doubles at the Open!), fans can watch the top players compete for big prize money. Indian Wells has also been a destination for the top-seeded men to play doubles, most notably with four-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Roger Federer partnering with countryman and Australian Open victor Stanislas Wawrinka this year. That loud, thudding sound of the ball connecting against players’ strings? It’s no different wherever you go, the excitement pulsating through the city – or desert – air with the same kind of pace you see on the tennis court.

Tickets! Tickets!
There are so many ways to take in the tennis at the BNP Paribas Open – and the US Open. The Mini Package is an optimal way for a tennis fan who wants to make a weekend (or a week? Or two?!) out of their Indian Wells trip with Kick-Off Weekend (six sessions, 3/13-3-15), Evening (nine sessions, 3/12-3/20), Mid-Week (six sessions, 3/17-3/19), Final Weekend (four sessions, 3/20-3/22) and Championship Weekend (two sessions, 3/21-3/22) all options for tennis enthusiasts. Or take advantage of this idyllic desert oasis in March and book a hotel tennis vacation package with opportunities to meet the players and to play on the same courts.

Likewise at the US Open, Ticket Plans are offered for fans to pick and choose what they want, including the ever-famous night sessions on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the Premiere Week (first week) and Holiday Twilight (Labor Day weekend) packages.

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BNP Paribas Open – Tuesday Newsday – July 29

Li Na Headquarters: Nike opened its new headquarters in Shanghai, China, last week and one of its buildings bears the name of World No. 2 Li Na. The entire campus covers an area of over 55,000 square meters, including the 9-story Li Na building, complete with an outdoor soccer pitch, indoor basketball court and several other state-of-the-art facilities. Nike is known for naming building after famous athletes, as John McEnroe and two-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Pete Sampras have the distinction at the Beaverton, Oregon, campus.

Atlanta Open Recap: 2014 BNP Paribas Open semifinalist John Isner won his second consecutive Atlanta Open crown, defeating Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.

What’s on Tap: The US Open Series continues with The Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and Bank of the West Classic at Stanford University. Sitting at 98 career doubles titles, 2014 BNP Paribas Open Champions Bob and Mike Bryan look to inch one step closer to 100 ATP Tour titles.

Aces for Humanity Update: The Aces for Humanity campaign, launched at this year’s BNP Paribas Open by the WTA and USANA, has raised over $13,000 dollars through the campaign’s halfway point. Over 2,300 aces have been hit so far, with American Madison Keys leading all USANA Ambassadors with 73 aces through Monday.

Magical Racquet Ride: Former WTA star Marissa Irvin Gould recently wrote a tennis children’s book and brought some copies to Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, California, along with current WTA star Samantha Stosur. Click HERE to read more about the book!

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Friday Five – Mid-Year Review

Who is looking forward to the final Grand Slam of the year? There have been plenty of great storylines already during the 2014 season, but we are wondering if the same players who already won big tournaments this year will win, or if there will be others that surface, or rise up, and contend for the US Open title. Here, we take a look back at the four biggest tournaments of the year so far and what transpired.

Down Under: The 2014 season got off to a hot start at the Australian Open, literally and figuratively, with some familiar faces and some unfamiliar results. Stanislas Wawrinka fended off BNP Paribas Open Champions Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and finals, respectively, to capture his first Grand Slam title, catapulting the Swiss to a career-high World No. 3 ranking.

On the women’s side, we didn’t know it at the time, but it was merely a sign of things to come. World No. 2 Li Na dropped only one set in Melbourne en route to the title, but the emergence of Eugenie Bouchard could not go understated. Bouchard, ranked No. 31, would use her semifinal performance down under, to vault up the rankings and currently sits at No. 7. Oh, and Italian Flavia Pennetta , who contemplated retirement just under a year earlier, also made the quarterfinals. Her story was just beginning.

Indian Wells: It was actually at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open that Flavia Pennetta hinted at retirement. It’s a good thing she stuck around for a while, as the 32-year-old defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 to capture her most prestigious title to date, making history along the way. Pennetta was the first Italian to win the event and the lowest seed to triumph. She was also just the second player aged 30 and over to reach the women’s final. Martina Navratilova accomplished the feat twice. To read more about Pennetta’s victory, click HERE.

The men’s side pitted two of the most prolific stars in BNP Paribas Open history in the finals, as then two-time Novak Djokovic went toe-to-toe with four-time Champion Roger Federer. The Swiss was fierce out the gate, winning the first set in 31 minutes, but the Serb fought back to even the score in the second set and eventually win a third set tiebreak to claim the title. To read more about Djokovic’s victory, click HERE.

Although the 2014 edition was filled with exciting tennis, a revamped Tennis Garden, featuring a brand new Stadium 2 complete with three restaurants, also made this year’s BNP Paribas Open special. For a complete recap of the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, click HERE.

French Open: When it comes to the French Open, three-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Rafael Nadal is the King, and it’s not a debate. The Spaniard won his fifth title in a row at Roland Garros and ninth overall, both records, dropping only two sets during the tournament. After losing the first set to Novak Djokovic in the final, Nadal rattled off three straight to hoist the trophy.

While Nadal has won five straight, the women have produced five different champions in the past six years, with two-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Maria Sharapova adding to her 2012 French Open triumph with another such victory this year. Her road was not easy, with young stars Garbine Muguruza, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep pushing the Russian to three sets, but Sharapova was able to fend off the competition.

Wimbledon: A BNP Paribas Open men’s finals rematch took place at the All England Club, and it was a classic. Seeking his record eighth Wimbledon title, Roger Federer once again found himself matched up with Novak Djokovic, who was looking to end his drought of three consecutive losses in Major finals. This gentleman’s final did not disappoint, featuring all the pristine shot making and world-class skill of two great champions. However, Djokovic would rein once again over the Swiss, reclaiming the No. 1 World Ranking.

Petra Kvitova put on a dominant display at Wimbledon, dropping only one set in the tournament to capture her second Venus Rosewater Trophy in the last four years. Her big lefty serve was on full display and simply overwhelmed her opponents, capping her title run with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 win over Bouchard.

Rankings: Looking back at this time last year, the men’s and women’s have stayed true to form, with only two men and three women appearing outside the 10 in 2014. However, the rise of players in the women’s game was been remarkable, considering their ranking last year. Simona Halep, ranked No. 22 in July of 2013 now finds herself No. 3 in the World, while Eugenie Bouchard was ranked No. 55 and has climbed up to No. 7.

Off the Court: There were plenty of storylines on and off the court, and we tried to capture them all on our blog through our Tuesday Newsday and Friday Five posts. Click the links to read up on past storylines.

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BNP Paribas Open – Tuesday Newsday – July 22

#Newlyweds: Just four days after clinching his second Wimbledon crown, three-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Novak Djokovic married his childhood sweetheart Jelena Ristic. To say that Novak has had a fantastic couple of weeks is an understatement, and he summed it up perfectly: “To win Wimbledon and now this – I couldn’t ask for more.”

Petra’s Favorites: Two-time Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova recently sat down for a Twitter Q&A, answering several questions from her followers. When asked about her favorite tournament, she tweeted Indian Wells and Wimbledon as the best. We’re glad you enjoy coming here, Petra!

#TBT: 2012 BNP Paribas Open Champion Victoria Azarenka tweeted the photo above on Thursday, and we have to agree – Vika definitely looks the same, minus the height difference. While the World No. 10′s younger self is easy to recognize, the same wasn’t true for all the world’s elite. In case you missed it, We found out at the 2014 BNP Paribas Open.

Seeing Eye to Eye: Speaking of height differences, 6-foot-11 Croatian Ivo Karlovic towers over many of his opponents, and his 7-6(8), 7-6(5) win over 5-foot-9 Dudi Sela at the Colombia Open was no different. However, the post match “handshake” was quite unusual, as Sela stood on a chair at center court and gave Karlovic a hug.

And The ESPY Goes To…: Three-Time BNP Paribas Open Champion Rafael Nadal and two-time victor Maria Sharapova received an ESPY Award for Best Male and Best Female Tennis Player, respectively, However, Sharapova’s interaction with undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather provided plenty of comic relief. In yet another display of height disparity on the week, the 6-foot-2 Sharapova lost track of the 5-foot-8 Mayweather, creating perhaps the funniest moment of the evening.

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BNP Paribas Open – Wimbledon Wrap-Up

BNP Paribas Open Tournament owner and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison with girlfriend Nikita Kahn at this year’s Wimbledon
(c) Matthew Stockman, Getty Images

By Nicholas McCarvel

Three years after Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon title for the first time, the dynamic Serbian did it again at the All England Club Sunday. And once again, Djokovic bent down to taste the grass of Centre Court.

“It didn’t change much,” Djokovic joked to reporters afterward. “It tastes like the best meal that I ever had in my life probably.”

Another fortnight has passed at SW19, Novak’s reclaiming of the No.1 world ranking, the last bite of a tournament that was a feast of intriguing story lines. Below, we recount the best.

Petra Hits Her Mark
For much of Wimbledon Petra Kvitova was overshadowed by bigger story lines, including the rise of her eventual finals opponent, 20-year-old Genie Bouchard. But the 2011 winner – like Djokovic – was able to reclaim her Wimbledon crown with an other-worldly display of power tennis, winning her first Grand Slam since that first triumph, 6-3, 6-0. Kvitova moves to No. 4 in the world while Bouchard debuts in the top 10 at No. 7.

A Wimbledon Feast for Djokovic, Once Again
All eyes were on defending champion and home hope Andy Murray, but the Brit couldn’t produce, losing in the quarterfinals to upstart Grigor Dimitrov. In the final, Djokovic met Roger Federer for the 35th time, a match that turned to a classic when Federer denied his opponent a championship point in the fourth before forcing a decider. Djokovic came out victorious, stopping a three-match slide in majors with a 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4) 5-7, 6-5 win, his seventh major.

The Indian Wells-Wimbledon Double
Is the BNP Paribas Open a harbinger each year for what will go down on the lawns of SW19? It is certainly starting to feel that way. With Djokovic’s win, he becomes just the fifth man to win in both Indian Wells and Wimbledon in the same year, but it was the 10th time such a feat has occurred, and the sixth time in the last decade: Djokovic (2011 and 2014); Federer (2004-2006 and 2012); Lleyton Hewitt (2002); Pete Sampras (1994 and 1995) and Stefan Edberg (1990). Larry Ellison, the BNP Paribas Open owner, was on hand Sunday to take it all in, as well.

Here Come the Young Guns
Dimitrov. Bouchard. Milos Raonic. Simona Halep. Nick Kyrgios. At Wimbledon this year, the next generation of tennis announced it’s not only coming – it may have already arrived. Bouchard was arguably the most impressive, the Canadian making the women’s final just two years after winning the girls’ title in 2012. Kyrgios caused the upset of the tournament with his fourth round takedown of Rafael Nadal and Halep and Raonic continued their upward swing, each making a first-ever Wimbledon semifinal.

A Grand Slam, A First Slam
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci completed a career Grand Slam with their win at Wimbledon, the No.2 seeds having won all three of the other majors in the last two years. The Italian pair also became the first players from their country to win a Wimbledon event (in the senior division) of any sort. Forza! In men’s doubles, Vasek Pospisil, 24, and Jack Sock, 20, were perhaps the shock of the tournament when they took out Bob and Mike Bryan in a five-set final. What’s more impressive about the young guys’ win over the best doubles team ever: they were playing together for the very first time.

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BNP Paribas Open – Tuesday Newsday – July 1

Shouldering the Pain: Three-time BNP Paribas Open Champion and 2014 winner Novak Djokovic suffered an injury scare in the third round at Wimbledon, taking a hard fall on his left shoulder in the third set of his 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over Gilles Simon. “I felt that click or pop, whatever you call it”, said Djokovic. “I feared maybe it might be a dislocated shoulder or something like that, or joint problem. But luckily for me it was only an impact that had a minor effect on the joint and the muscles around, but no damage, significant, that can cause a bigger problem.” Djokovic seems to be doing fine on Monday, taking down Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(5) to advance to the quarterfinals.

Injury Bug: American Madison Keys, winner of her first WTA title earlier this month, withdrew from her uncompleted third-round match at Wimbledon due to a left thigh injury. Keys also advanced to the second round at this year’s BNP Paribas Open, and has shown considerable improvement throughout the season. Get well soon, Madison!

What TIME is it?: Four-time BNP Paribas Open winner Roger Federer suggested last week that the sport could benefit through use of a shot clock. The ATP Player Council is discussing the measure due to lengthy delays between points at Grand Slam, which currently allows for 20 seconds between points but is not always enforced. What do you think?

23 Years and Counting: Britain’s Jamie Delgado set an ATP record by playing at Wimbledon for a 23rd consecutive year, teaming with Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the doubles draw. Delgado played junior tournaments from 1992-95 and has played Wimbledon singles or doubles ever since. Virginia Wade (26 years) and two-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Martina Navratilova (24) own the longest Wimbledon streaks.

#WorldCup: Several ATP and WTA stars have flexed their allegiance at this year’s World Cup, and legends Andre Agassi, a 2001 BNP Paribas Open Champion, and Steffi Graf, victor in 1994 and 1996, are no different. Even though Steffi’s German club defeated the United States 1-0, both teams advanced from the Group Stage into the knockout rounds.

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BNP Paribas Open – The Friday Five – Thoughts From Wimbledon

By Nicholas McCarvel

If there is an equivalent to Wimbledon in the U.S., it might be the World Series, the Kentucky Derby and a major tennis event all thrown into one. For two weeks – or a “fortnight” in British-speak – the whole of the United Kingdom is enraptured with this Championships that isn’t just a sporting event, but a cultural one, too. It’s the can’t-miss event of the summer.

From the manicured lawns of SW19 to action around the grounds of the All England Club, here’s what Wimbledon 2014 brought to all of us around the world.

Andy’s Return to Centre Court
Murray Mania broke out here a year ago when the Dunblane, Scotland, native was able to become the first British man in 77 years to win Wimbledon, and said mania has continued again over the last two weeks after Murray made the semifinals at the French Open. The buzz of his pick of Amelie Mauresmo has been dominating the British tabloids, but so far, so good: Murray has breezed through his first two matches and has said he feels relaxed after a nervy start.

The Breakout of Young Stars
American fans get the chance to see future stars up close at the BNP Paribas Open each spring in Indian Wells, and many of them have begun to realize their potential at Wimbledon. Australian Nick Kyrgios had a dramatic win over Richard Gasquet in the second round (saving nine match points en route), while young guns like Madison Keys of the U.S. and Genie Bouchard of Canada are continuing to win matches in what can often be a crowded playing field. Other stars to watch: BNP Paribas Open success stories Milos Raonic and Lauren Davis are still in the running.

A Country’s Love for the Queue
Think any sporting line in the U.S. is long? Wimbledon’s famous queue has reached new heights in recent years – or new lengths might be more important. Centre and No.1 Courts have often been sold out in the queue (500 tickets for each) by midday before the next, meaning fans camp overnight to watch the best tennis players in the world on two of the most well-known courts. Want a ticket to No.2 or No.3 Courts? Arrive by 5 or 6 am, stand in line for five hours and then you’re on the grounds for a full day of tennis! Good thing this country loves an afternoon tea.

What to Watch for This Weekend
Saturday promises to be what the Brits call a “cracker” (think blockbuster, thriller), as Bouchard is set to meet French Open semifinalist Andrea Petkovic and former World No.1 and 2008 BNP Paribas Open Champion Ana Ivanovic has a battle set with 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and John Isner are all also in action, the American on a collision course with Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round and Nadal-Federer set for a semifinal showdown. Remember, play is quiet on Sunday before things kick off again at the start of the week.

What Makes Wimbledon So Special
In just my second year at the tournament, the All England Club and the majestic event it hosts have not lost any of their glitter. The history and poise of the grounds lose nothing in the modern, towering buildings that have slowly become a part of SW19, etched between Centre and No.1 Courts. Henman Hill (or Murray Mound, if you prefer) is always brimming with grounds-pass fans enjoying food and the action on the big screen (think Indian Wells’ video wall in Stadium Plaza). My favorite part: walking between the side courts, which are perfectly spacious yet nestled close to one another, as play bustles throughout the middle weekend. Truly a tennis fan’s ultimate paradise.

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BNP Paribas Open – “Tuesday Newsday” – June 24

First Take: Madison Keys, who advanced to the second round at this year’s BNP Paribas Open, earned her first career WTA title, defeating World No. 7 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 at the Aegon International. Playing in her first final, the unseeded 19-year-old became the first American since Chanda Rubin in 2002 and 2003 to win the event. Congrats!

Double Take: Meanwhile, Feliciano Lopez took home his second consecutive Aegon International crown, taking down Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-5. Lopez was featured in our Wimbledon Players to Watch, which also included Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska.

Milestone Moment(s): Today, by winning his opening match at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal joined the 700-Wins Club, becoming only the 11th player in Open Era history to reach this staggering number of victories.  Also, defending Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray secured his 450th career win on Monday, dispatching David Goffin 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 on Centre Court. Four-time BNP Paribas Open Champion Roger Federer looks to add to his legacy as well, as the Swiss tries for a record-setting eighth title at the All England Club.

Fun Run: Grigor Dimitrov’s coach, Roger Rasheed, challenged Andy Murray’s fitness trainer, Jez Green, to race at Wimbledon Park Athletic Track, for bragging rights…and charity.  The challenge originated back in January at the Australian Open when apparently there was “banter between the two teams,” said Rasheed, whose Sports Foundation raises money to promote better, healthier lives for children in disadvantaged circumstances.  They chose to duel it out in a 200-meter sprint.  In an effort to resemble the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, Rasheed comically sported track cleats, leggings and a royal blue shirt for the event.  Murray and Dimitrov stood at the finish line, camera-phones ready, to cheer on their respective teams.  By a hair, Rasheed came out victorious with a time of 26.25s, over 5 seconds slower than his Jamaican idol.  Watch it here:

Centre Court Shakeup: The defending Wimbledon Champion traditionally opens Centre Court play at The Championships, but this year was a little different. With 2013 Champ and 2011 BNP Paribas Open finalist Marion Bartoli retiring, runner-up Sabine Lisicki fulfilled the duty on Tuesday. The World No. 19 comes into the 2014 Championships with a 19-5 overall record at the event, just two wins shy of her 21 combined wins at the Australian, French and US Opens.

Two Comes Before One: Three-time BNP Paribas Open Champion and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal takes the backseat to second-ranked and two-time Indian Wells victor Novak Djokovic at this year’s grass-court battle. Even though the Spaniard is the current world’s best, Wimbledon officials seeded Djokovic at the top spot.  However, coming off of a Grand-Slam Victory in Paris, Nadal looks to channel the confidence into a worthy performance in the upcoming weeks at Wimbledon.

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