W&S Open Finals

August 18th is a day that’s one for the books folks!
1) Rafael Nadal won his first Cincy Open title after he defeated John Isner in the men’s final: 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3)
2) Victoria Azarenka won her first Cincy Open title after she defeated Serena Williams in the women’s final: 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6)
3) Last but not least it was the day of birth of a legend…not Rafa or Vika… me!
I celebrated my birthday yesterday at the W&S Open finals. It was quite a treat.
I was only one out of the 180,000 eager fans that showed up for the W&S Open this year. It was a full-house yesterday for the finals. The weather was a high of 83 degrees, so fans were desperately flapping their fans making it look like butterflies were floating around in the stadium.
Despite the heat, the tournament directors, announcers, volunteers, fans, and players were all in high spirits for the tournament’s 114th year and as a result put on a fantastic show!
Gorgeous day for finals
Gorgeous day for finals
180,000 fans were at the Lindner Family Tennis Center
Over 180,000 fans were at the Lindner Family Tennis Center throughout the week for the W&S Open
Kings Island in the background
Kings Island in the background
Men’s final:
Men's final: John Isner vs. Rafael Nadal
Men’s final: John Isner vs. Rafael Nadal
The men’s final started around 12:30 PM, with Rafael Nadal (number 4 in the world) and John Isner. Both players put up a good fight, but Nadal was able to clinch the title in just two sets. Both sets went to tiebreak: 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3).
John Isner
John Isner

Despite his loss, Isner believed he did well as a finalist.

“I knew I had to come to this match today and play well, and I thought I actually played very well,” Isner said. “Unfortunately for me, I ran up against…one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Rafael Nadal. He’s an incredible champion. Many congrats and good luck in New York Rafa.”

Isner had an amazing streak going through the week, beating Djokovic, del Potro, and Raonic.

“I beat three top 10 guys, couldn’t beat four, but I can certainly hold my head up high when I sit back and reflect,” Isner said.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Nadal recognized that fact and applauded his opponent’s previous wins.

“Congratulations to John. He had an amazing week winning against…tough opponents. Sorry for today, but I’m really sure if you continue serving like this and playing forehands like this, you will have a lot of chances to win tournaments like this.”

Along with battling Isner’s tough serves and forehands, Nadal said his patience and focus were important in getting victory.

Rafa fan, one of many
Rafa fan, one of many

“I tried in every moment to [play] with my best…and active concentration, but I have to be patient and wait for my moment in these kind of matches. And I waited, I was very focused.”

“[The win in] Montreal and now Cincinnati means a lot. Right now, I’m [going to] enjoy this moment and in a few days I’m [going to] start to think about the US Open, and hopefully I will be ready for that.”
Rafa accepting his W&S Open trophy. Photo Credit: CBC Sports
Rafa accepting his W&S Open trophy.
Photo Credit: CBC Sports
Women’s final:
Women's final: Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams
Women’s final: Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams
The women’s final started around 4 PM, with Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, number 1 and 2 in the world, respectively. The ladies’ match wasn’t as close as the men’s at first. Williams seemed to be in total control of the court after she won the first set, 6-2. But I guess by now I should know that sports often times have bigger plot twists than television dramas.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams

After the first set, the match wasn’t as one-sided as before. Azarenka seemed to be gaining momentum, whereas Williams did quite the opposite. Williams was really struggling in the second set, but she fought hard. During one of the games, the point kept going back and forth between deuce and advantage…12 times! Finally, Williams won the game, making it 2-4, but Azarenka eventually went on to win the set, 6-2.

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka

Once again Williams seemed to be lagging in the third set. Things weren’t looking too good for her when Azarenka was leading with 4-2, but Serena made an amazing comeback and equalized it to 4-4. Both ladies made it to tiebreak, which Azarenka won, 7-6, (6). Azarenka won the match, with a final score of: 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Williams showed great sportsmanship after the match. “I would like to…congratulate Ms. Vika for doing so well this week,” Williams said. “Congratulations on this title, I’m happy for you.”

Azarenka was most-definitely thrilled with her new title, after dealing with a knee injury that forced her out of Wimbledon. “I’m really excited to be back playing, last couple of weeks…was really tough,” Azarenka said. “But whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so I truly believe in that from now on. But it’s been an incredible week here and thanks to Serena for [an] incredible match.”

Victoria Azarenka posing with W&S Open champion's trophy. Photo Credit: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net
Victoria Azarenka posing with W&S Open champion’s trophy.
Photo Credit: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net

Doubles finals:

Men’s: Mike/Bob Bryan won against Marcel Granollers/ Marc Lopez: 6-4, 4-6 (10-4)

Women’s: Su-Wei Hsieh/ Shuai Peng won against Anna-Lena Groenefeld/ Kveta Peschke: 2-6, 6-3 (12-10)

A few more things…

1) One of my favorite things about watching tennis live (besides actually being able to hear how hard the ball is hit) is observing the behaviors of the players. Most of them have so many interesting rituals and superstitions!

  • Nadal: seems to be the most superstitious of them all. He has a very interesting serving ritual. He fixes his shirt, twitches his nose, fixes his hair, twitches his nose, fixes his hair all before serving…even though it cost him a time warning violation, it seems to be working! He also always jogs to position on the baseline after umpire calls time, and he brings 2 towels for each side.
  • Isner: Not sure if this is his set ritual, but I saw him dribble the tennis ball between his legs like a basketball.
  • Azarenka: I’ve noticed her always bringing her ponytail braid to the front before serving.
  • Williams: She dribbles the ball left and right with her racquet also like a basketball.

2) Next year will be the tournament’s 115th anniversary. Save the dates for August 9th through 17th!

3) The entire tournament is volunteer-run! There are only about 12 paid positions in the entire organization. Read a feature on a ballboy who has been volunteering for 9 years now: http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/features/story.aspx?ID=2016637
According to this year’s finalist John Isner, “This is actually the toughest tennis tournament in the world. This draw’s a lot smaller than the Grand Slams. Everybody in this tournament is top 50 in the world.”
Cincy Tennis also brings in fans from all 50 states and 20 countries.
World class fans, volunteers, and players…this tournament has the best of the best!
4) Tennis is a newfound interest of mine, so I will try to keep posting on the topic. The US Open is coming up, and though I won’t have the luxury of seeing it live, I will be following it. If you like my updates please follow and stay tuned!
And one last thing, here’s a shout out to my family for a lovely birthday and their support in all that I do. :)

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