The tournament featured eight players in a single-elimination, fast-paced competition. There are no games or sets, only tiebreaks. The first player to 10 points in a match wins and advances. The champion takes home a cool $250,000.
Svitolina, who has won seven Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) titles in the past 14 months, added the Tie Break Tens trophy to her collection, defeating Zhang Shuai 10-3 in front of a raucous crowd at MSG. The 23-year-old Ukrainian defeated Venus Williams 10-3 in the first round before dispatching Vandeweghe 10-0 in the semifinals.
“I had a lot of fun out there on the court and it was great to see the crowd get behind the speed and intensity of the game,” Svitolina said.
The most anticipated matchup of the night was Serena Williams against Marion Bartoli as both players eye impending comebacks. Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, is returning to the WTA tour at the BNP Paribas Open following more than a year off after welcoming her daughter, Alexis Olympia. Bartoli of France, the 2013 Wimbledon winner, is aiming to end nearly a five-year hiatus at the 2018 Miami Open. Trailing 4-3, Williams rallied off five consecutive points en route to a 10-5 victory. She was ousted by Zhang 13-11 in the semifinals.
“I’ve been having so much fun being a mom, and having time off is good too,” Williams said in an on-court interview. “I’m just excited to be back and playing here, in Madison Square Garden; you can’t beat it. I’m just having fun tonight. It’s just a great opportunity for me to play.”
While Williams and Bartoli were using the tournament as a tour tune up, Vandeweghe joined the field partly to honor her grandfather. Ernie Vandeweghe played for the New York Knicks from 1949-56. CoCo’s uncle, Kiki, also played for the Knicks from ’88-92.
Vandeweghe thoroughly enjoyed her surroundings, pumping up the crowd after every point she scored. She defeated Daniela Hantuchova 10-7 in the first round before being shut out by Svitolina in the semifinal. Despite the loss, Vandeweghe still had fun, posing for pictures with the gold medal-winning United States women’s ice hockey team that was in attendance courtside and even playing a light-hearted friendly game with some of the players during intermission.
“My grandfather was definitely the driving force behind me doing this,’’ Vandeweghe told The New York Post prior to the event. “I know my grandfather didn’t play at this Garden, but he played at the Garden so it has meaning.”
The entire event, which lasted approximately two hours, was the sixth installment and first to be played in the United States. The inaugural Tie Break Tens event was played at the Royal Albert Hall in London in December 2015. Other venues have included Vienna (Oct. 2016), Madrid (men’s and women’s tournaments in May 2017), and Melbourne (Jan. 2018).
“Tonight’s tournament proved to be a thrilling display of elite tennis from some of the world’s greatest female players; a great debut for Tie Break Tens in the United States,” Tie Break Tens CEO Felicity Barnard said in a release. “Hopefully just the start in encouraging a wider audience to get behind the sport.”