Different tales in two tournaments

The four Grandslams of lawn tennis are a two-week carnival parading female and male tennis players in separate events. In the final countdown to this year’s show, there are varying tales. The persisting quest for new blood to be injected into the tours is predicated on concern that the parade of the same top players in the past decade diminishes the excitement.

The Association of Tennis Players (ATP) Tour is already actively working at this and has planned a Next Generation showdown for November. The under-21 male players heading for the NextGen Derby are already making their marks. At the dawn of this year’s Open, however, the Women’s Tennis Association will parade the old brigade in the top ten and each one could emerge as number female player at the end of the New York show.

The last of the warm-up tournaments are taking place in University campuses but location is all they have in common. In the backdrop of current events in the USA, it is also pertinent to make a distinction between one in the “north” and the other in the “south.” However, each tells the story of the current state of the sport worldwide.

The ladies are in New Haven’s Yale University Tennis Arena for the Connecticut Cup sponsored by the major manufacturer of airplane engines, United Technologies. The defending champion, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska (the defending champion) is the only top ranked player and top seed.

She will face Australia’s Daria Gavrilova while 21-year old Belgian Elise Mertens will tackle Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. The finals will be played Saturday but the players have a short drive to New York before the opening matches.

Down south, in Winston-Salem, the top seed is Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut ranked 15th in the world. The second seeded player, also from Spain, Pablo Carreno Busta (world number 16) lost a close match to France’s Julien Benneteau (world number 107) 7/6 (5); 6/7 (5); 6/3. Robert always did well in the event. However, having reached the semi-finals in Montreal and the quarters in Washington, the gutsy player could be wearing himself out battling youngsters who dominated the draw in North Carolina. In the quarter-finals, he overcame American player and wild card entry, Taylor Fritz 6/2; 7/ (3).

If he defeats Germany’s Lennard Struff in the semi-finals late Friday, Roberto will face either Britain’s Edmund Kyle or Ukraine’s Damir Dzumhur in the finals on Saturday. He would have little rest before his first round match in New York on Monday or Tuesday.

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