Author Archive

the ladies of the wta count their vitamins

December 6, 2011

Hopefully they’re taking their vitamins, too! In a short clip, a few select stars of the WTA — Laura Robson, Caroline Wozniaki, Petra Kvitova and others — guess how many USANA vitamins are in a jar. USANA is one of the official partners of the WTA. Before Agnieszka Radwanska delivers the final tally, can you guess which player was the closest? And how many vitamins do you think are in the jar?! | TSF Vault: Videos

before london, andy tried a new game

November 22, 2011

Small court, big results. Before Andy Murray‘s London hopes got muddled because of injury, the Scot took to a British warehouse to play some Road Tennis. Not sure what that is? Nor were we. adidas explains:

[We invited the] Road Tennis Association of Barbados to London, to teach Murray how to play Road Tennis. A cross between traditional tennis and table tennis, Road Tennis is played on the street, with participants chalking out their own courts. Murray had never played the game before, and was given just one hour to pick up his wooden bat and attempt to master the game’s ins and outs, before we put him up against Barbados’ finest.

In the video above, Murray gets a “warm-up” with storied English boxer David Haye, who is now retired, and British rapper Example.

adidas noted that the Murray vid was the first of many to come for the brand over the next year: “The event marked the start of our new campaign, where we’ll be challenging some of the world’s best tennis players, around the biggest tournaments next year.” Excited? You bet we are!

As for who Murray gets a lesson from on the Road Tennis pavement? That’d be Sylvain “Lama” Barnett, a legend in Barbados and one of the Pro Road Tennis Association’s greatest players of all time.

short balls: basketball on broadway, food as fashion, a high line book and more

November 21, 2011

Broadway magic? A new play is in the works for Broadway, set on the rivalry and friendship between NBA legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The play is in its casting phase right now, which The Wall Street Journal noted was a blessing for the vertically-blessed. | And if you like your hardwood stories with a little bit of dance and song, Lysistrata Jones, a musical now in previews, opens Dec. 14.

Creative hunger. We’re in love with the Museum of Communication in Berlin and their current food and fashion exhibit. Move over, Gaga! This fella is donning some carb-inspired, pasta-and-ravioli threads. Yum.

High society. New York’s famed High Line park in Chelsea now has its own book, High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Coach is hosting a release party for the book along with New York magazine at the Coach store in Midtown Manhattan.

short(er) balls: Both Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova voiced their want for the WTA’s Season Ending Championships to move to London’s O2 Arena to join the men. The feasibility of such a thing happening? At least a few years off with contracts in place and the events still three weeks apart. | On USA Today, Bethanie Mattek-Sands writes of her improved shoulder, taking care of her dog at home and the first-ever tennis camp she’s hosting in Arizona next month. | The only golf and tennis shop in downtown D.C., Drilling Tennis & Golf, is set to close after over 30 years in business. | Beware, Martina Hingis! Tory Burch says she plans to eventually design yoga, tennis and golf lines for women. | IMG stalwart Teddy Forstmann, “one of the most powerful men in sports, fashion and media,” according to The New York Post, died yesterday at the age of 71. He had brain cancer. | Growing in popularity in Australia? That’d be polo. | The world’s largest jacket? Half the size of a tennis court, y’all!

(johnson/bird screengrab via official show website; museum photo via fox news; jacket image via world records academy)

going green: venus williams (‘s diet)

November 21, 2011

By Benjamin Snyder

No more Oreos or Jamba Juice? Venus is aspiring to have a better diet in 2012. (AFP/Getty)

A tall order for the taller sister. Can the meat-and-potatoes Wimbledon-queen summon her past success as a leaner and greener player?

Older sister Venus, who’s claimed five titles at the All England Club, is having a health scare of her own after being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease, which can lead to damage of the body’s vital organs. The illness forced her drop out of the US Open this year and has pushed meat out of her diet.

Despite the seriousness of the condition, Venus has been sporting a positive attitude and even healthier eating habits. She told reporters, “I changed my diet completely, so lots of vegetables. I [altered] my mind frame completely because I was the person who always ate their steak first and their salad second.”

Times are changing for the superstar, who said last year that she “eats to live and not lives to eat.” She continued talking foodie favorites, saying that she considered “beans and rice and blackened chicken” a top meal choice.

Venus discussed her new diet’s impact on the future. “My goal next year is to play a full schedule. It will take some work to get there, but I’m no stranger to hard work.”

TSF Vault: Venus Williams

This recalls the gourmet changes for 2011 ATP success stories Novak Djokovic, who’s claimed three major titles this year, and Andy Murray, who went on a 17-match winning spree after the US Open.

Djokovic’s decision to cut the carbohydrates to curb his Ciliac disease helped him achieve his best season ever, including the No. 1 ranking. Meanwhile, Murray discussed his own gourmet foray into becoming more fit. Before losing to Tomas Berdych in the Paris Masters, he said, “I think there’s a bit of difference in my approach to training and the diet; I feel pretty fresh.”

Not all’s well for the scrawny-looking Scot, who misses being able to pick up a menu and order what he wants. You can almost imagine his mouth watering when he said: “It can be quite frustrating when everyone else is dunking their bread in olive oil or smearing it in butter.”

Murray aside, Venus’ newfound form and fitness will no doubt have fans worldwide salivating for a dominating force in an otherwise floundering WTA. Petra Kvitova, 21, the current world No. 2 and winner of Wimbledon and the Season Ending Championships, might be the answer. She’s still, however, young and half-baked in terms of talent and poise.

It’s time for Venus to turn up the burners and bring back the motivation for which she’s known. Currently ranked No. 103, having only played a handful of tournaments this year, Venus quickly doused rumors of retirement.

“I love the game. The racket feels right in my hand and I’m planning on going right back to where I was at the top of the rankings in the singles and doubles.”

With Venus back in-shape and on form, the alarm bells should be sounding for the rest of the women’s tour. It’ll be tough to get out of the fire and back into the figurative frying pan that is professional tennis at her ripe age of 31. But if anyone can come back from adversity and succeed, it’s a Williams.

High stakes (steaks?), indeed.

funny guy steve berke seriously in the new york times

November 14, 2011

Almost voted (in) as Mr. Popular.

Just after the US Open, a tweet from Jon Wertheim caught our eye on a mayoral candidate in Florida who was using some ATP players as part of his campaign for office. The off-center approach was part of an off-center candidacy, and a few weeks ago Steve Berke, the candidate at hand, even landed in the pages of The New York Times. Berke’s bid fell short last week in Miami Beach. But hey, you can’t blame him — and the “After Party” party — for trying, right?

(screengrab via nyt.com)

identity, borrowed

November 14, 2011

Peter Burwash. Like, the real one.

Not who he seems. This story caught our eye in this weekend. From the Monterey County Herald:

Peter Burwash is famous in the tennis world, but last week he discovered his picture was on a newspaper column by one “Richard Burwash,” published in Salt Lake City.

“I got so many calls about it,” Burwash said. “Friends, newspapers, TV stations called.”

The name and photo were purloined off the Internet by Mayor Mike Winder of West Valley City, Utah, the state’s second largest city and a suburb of Salt Lake City, population about 130,000.

Winder apparently was fed up with negative publicity about West Valley and decided to pen “good news” about his city under a pseudonym. When it became apparent that the real Peter Burwash, 63, is well known as a motivational speaker, author of 10 books and founder of the world’s largest tennis management firm, the game was up.

Image via pbitennis.com

yep, you read that headline right

November 2, 2011

Better safe than sorry? On Wednesday morning, Serena Williams was part of a headline on TMZ, but there were no photos of the tennis star on a red carpet or out to dinner in Hollywood. Want more details? Click here. Or the image above. And should we really be surprised that Serena has a panic room? It’s Serena! | TSF Vault: Serena Williams

(tmz.com screengrab)

wta sec: armchair commentary wrap up

October 31, 2011

By Matt Trollope

While Vika is looking up, Petra is really only looking ahead. (Getty)

Armchair commentary always takes a hit on a weekend because, quite simply, you spend a lot less time in the armchair. So without further ado, here is a wrap of the final weekend in Istanbul which offered up a new tournament champion, some quality tennis, and plenty of juicy plot-lines entering 2012.

Player of the year: Petra Kvitova‘s absorbing three-set win over Victoria Azarenka in the final went a long way to cementing her — unofficially at least — as the player of the year in 2011. With the four Slams being split between four players and a pervading sense of parity (or instability) throughout the tour, Kvitova’s resounding win at the prestigious event elevated her above all other candidates. Although Caro matched her haul of six titles, the Czech’s Wimbledon and WTA Championship titles were much more significant than anything Wozniacki achieved. Add to this her sparkling 19-0 indoor record, titles on all four surfaces and her rise from no. 34 to no. 2 and you see a player with a compelling case for POTY honors.

A new era? The weekend’s results caused a significant shift in the upper echelons of the WTA rankings, with Kvitova and Azarenka leap-frogging Maria Sharapova into second and third place respectively. For all the talk of veterans flourishing on tour — which remains true at Grand Slam level at least — the top trio are the youngest players in the Top 10. With Wozniacki and Kvitova just 21 and Azarenka just a year older, they have many more years ahead of them, and with the players possessing contrasting styles, the stage could be set for a compelling three-pronged rivalry into the future. Trivalry? We sort of dig this trio.

Inflated ranking: How on earth was Vera Zvonareva ranked no. 2 as recently as the US Open? The Russian, who now sits at no. 7, finished the round-robin stage with a mediocre 1-2 record. Somehow she qualifyied for the semifinals thanks to a count-back technicality, but it was there that she was comprehensively outplayed by Vika on Saturday, a player she had won six of her last nine matches against. With the emotional, mentally-fragile Vera of old resurfacing in Istanbul, the chances of her repeating her major final appearances of 2010 and re-ascending the rankings ladder in 2012 seem increasingly slim.

Tight battles: While it may not have been the best quality tennis ever staged, the championships produced some resounding battles that thrilled the fans in Istanbul. In the round robin stage, Zvonareva and Wozniacki fought out a tough three-set match on the second night of the event, and the next day, Zvonareva again found herself in a three-set fight, blowing a 5-3 final set lead and match points to hand Agniezska Radwanksa a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 win that featured several rallies worthy of the highlight reel. The final weekend was no different: Kvitova came through roller-coaster affairs against Sam Stosur in the semis and Vika in the final, defeating both in dramatic three-set contests.

Success story: More than 13,000 spectators reportedly packed into the Sinan Erdem Dome for the final, continuing a run of impressive crowds that attended each session. The support for the championships in Turkey was one of the bigger stories of the week and was pleasantly surprising given the event’s prior flops in Los Angeles, Madrid and Doha. With a state-of the-art venue, knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowds and an atmosphere the players relished, the unofficial “fifth major” has had some of its former glory restored and appears to be in good hands for the next two years in Istanbul.

So what’s next? The stories and results from this year’s championships have left us with many tantalising questions heading into the 2012 season. Will the young brigade of Kvitova, Azarenka, Wozniacki and Radwanska continue to flourish when the established greats — Serena, Kim, Venus and Maria — return to the tour fresh and healthy? More specifically, how will Kvitova’s impressive game stack up against a fully-fit Serena or Clijsters? Will Azarenka continue her steady improvement and eventually capture a major title? Will Li Na rediscover her confidence in time for the Australian circuit, where she’s defending a truckload of points? Will Wozniacki continue to cling to her no. 1 ranking or will she be usurped by bolder, more aggressive shotmakers? Will more decisive action finally be taken on the grunting issue, in the face of increasing complaints and media coverage? And will the WTA unearth a dominant player to bring stability to an erratic, unpredictable tour? Stay tuned …

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

drawsting-pants (not!) optional

October 31, 2011

It’s OK to dress up, GI. Which is more surprising: That Thomas Muster thought his return to pro tennis might be successful? Or that Goran Ivanisevic doesn’t own a pair of dress pants? Muster’s comeback, book ended by the ATP stop in his home country of Austria, finished a year after it started, the former world no. 1 going 2-24 in that span. But really, Goran! We neeeeeeed you to class it up next time. Like, if you’re invited to Kimiko Date-Krumm‘s going away party, how about not wearing tear-aways, OK? Deal.

(getty images photo)

sunday survey: petra pushes for POTY

October 30, 2011

Reigning queen? Kvitova swept her last 10 matches of ’11. (AP photo)

Player of the year? With her triumph over the field in Istanbul this week, Petra Kvitova made a convincing push for winning the title of player of the year for the 2011 season. The Season Ending Championships are often called the “fifth slam” beyond the majors, and Petra is now the only woman to grab two out of those five tournaments. Sure, Miami is often also brought up in the same breath, but Petra beat Miami’s victor, Victoria Azarenka 7-5 4-6 6-3 to nab the SEC title, cementing herself as the cream of the WTA crop to end the season. Sure, there was the blip between Wimbledon and after the USO when the Czech 21 year old went 5-5, but she closed the year winning ten straight matches, including five over five of the best players on the planet. Can anyone edge her out for such an honor? Your picks for player of the year below.

wta yec: armchair commentary, day four

October 29, 2011

By Matt Trollope

UPDATE: Kvitova is already into the semis with a 5-7 6-3 6-3 win over Stosur. Who said the ladies’ season ender had to be a bust? (AP)

Stat of the day: A lot was made of the H2H records involving Sam Stosur entering the tournament — 0-9 against Maria Sharapova, 0-4 against Victoria Azarenka, yet 5-0 against against Li Na. Playing the Chinese player in Istanbul, Stosur improved that to 6-0, with a demoralizing 6-1 6-0 win handing Li her heaviest professional loss in five-and-a-half years. Stosur has only ever dropped one set against Li in her career, and thanks to the victory, now takes her place in the semifinals in Istanbul.

Typical WTA moment: Women’s tennis is never short of drama, with cat-fights, tears, and the grunting issue among its many facets. Controversial figures have also been a mainstay — how many times have we seen crowds in the past turn on Venus and Serena, Sharapova, Henin and Hingis? Today it was Vika’s turn. The Belorussian has never made a habit of trying to please people — her shrieking being a prime example — and today was no different. Already having qualified for the semifinals, she appeared to tank in the final set of her last round-robin match against alternate Marion Bartoli, gave the Frenchwoman a poor handshake, and was booed off the court at the Sinan Erdem Arena.

Startling admission: All Agnieszka Radwanska had to do was win a set in her match against Petra Kvitova to qualify for the semifinals, and leading 5-1 in the opening set, it appeared she was on track. But Kvitova improved her level, took the set in a tiebreak, and ran out a 7-6(4) 6-3 winner. “Even when I was 5-1 up in the first set, to be honest, I didn’t feel I was close to win[ning] the set,” Aga said following the match. That’s (a lack of) confidence right there. The result allowed Vera Zvonareva to progress to the semis, and despite Vera owning a mediocre 1-2 win-loss record this week, her overall game-winning percentage proved better than the Pole’s.

Thought for today/tomorrow: Can anybody stop the Kvitova juggernaut? The Czech is the only player to go undefeated in Istanbul — she hasn’t dropped a set — and enters her semifinal against Stosur with a 2-0 winning record over the Australian. A final against Azarenka seems to be looming.

Flashback: We know some of you have been nostalgic for classic women’s tennis this week, so why not a little taste of it from the Chase Championships in 1996. Steffi Graf beat Martina Hingis in one of the few five-set encounters in women’s tennis history, 6-3 4-6 6-0 4-6 6-0. Cheers, ladies!

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

serena’s smell = burberry body

October 27, 2011

And she looks good, too. While the other top women in the WTA battle it out in Istanbul, Serena Williams was walking a red carpet in Hollywood on Wednesday night. The de facto world no. 1 got her party on at the launch for her new fragrance, Burberry Body. Above, Serena posting with Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s little sis, who Serena partnered with to produce Body. | TSF Vault: Serena

See more pics by click on the image below.

(Getty Images)

wta sec: armchair commentary, day 3

October 27, 2011

By Matt Trollope

Stat of the day: Petra Kvitova now boasts a 16-0 win-loss record indoors this year after brushing aside Caroline Wozniacki. The Wimbledon champ has picked up indoor titles in Paris and Linz as well as claiming four Fed Cup indoor singles wins. Add to this her two round-robin victories in Istanbul and you’re looking at an extremely impressive record. The Czech is looking in dangerously confident form at the year-end event …

Typical WTA moment: People may have complained for ages now about the ignominy of slamless No. 1’s on the women’s tour and how attaining the top ranking seems to be a poisoned chalice. But should they be blamed? Wozniacki’s performances in Istanbul have gotten progressively worse: she scraped by Agnieszka Radwanska, then lost to Vera Zvonareva in three, before falling to Kvitova in straights. Had just a few points gone Aga’s way, we could be looking at a No. 1 with a 0-3 record in the round-robin stage. A disappointing year in the Slams and a poor performance against her fellow top players at the Championships is not great for the confidence. Are we starting to see the first signs of a Jankovic or Safina-esque descent?

Biggest surprise: For all the talk of how unpredictable the WTA Tour is these days — and I include myself among those voices — Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka‘s smooth progression has been one of the few times in recent memory a women’s event has followed the form guide. This year’s Championships were among the most open in history and without a clear favorite, yet experts were generally leaning towards an Azarenka or Kvitova victory, with both claiming titles in the lead-up weeks to the event. With each winning their first two matches in straight sets and already qualifying for the semifinals, it’s the first time in forever we’ve been able to use the words “as predicted” for anything to do with women’s tennis. Feels kinda nice, right?

Beer goggles? Is that you, Aggie? Stumbling?! We imagine this to be the front one viewpoint of Maria’s Sasha after he drank away his sorrows over his soon-to-be wife withdrawing from Istanbul. Oh right, and the fact that he still has no job.

Thought for today/tomorrow: All eyes will be on tomorrow’s match between Sam Stosur and Li Na, with the winner locking up the second semifinal place in the White Group. Both were obliterated by Azarenka this week with an identical 6-2, 6-2 scoreline, yet Stosur should go in with greater confidence thanks to a 5-0 winning record against the Chinese player.

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

(Caro image via Getty; Radwanska image via the AP)

short balls: digging deep on sergio (+ a visual version)

October 27, 2011


How’d they do it?
Bloomberg Businessweek posted a lengthy story last week on how Sergio Tacchini, the Italian brand that is now controlled by Chinese investors, saved itself — from itself. Their biggest move? Nabbing Novak Djokovic, of course. But our favorite part of the feature was this snippet on player-turned-fashionista Martina Hingis, who had a sour relationship with the company:

Hingis dominated the women’s tour during the second half of the ’90s. She seemed to fit well into the Tacchini firmament, appealing to wealthy, casually athletic, European-oriented fans. It didn’t work out. Three years into Hingis’s five-year deal, worth $5.6 million, Tacchini fired her, accusing Hingis of not wearing the clothes as contracted. Two years later, Hingis sued, claiming that the “defective” Tacchini shoes she wore had wrecked her feet and ruined her career. (Hingis had surgery in 2001 and 2002 to repair ligaments in her ankles.) A New York court dismissed the suit, ruling that the case should be heard in Milan, where Hingis had signed the contract and where another suit was pending. In 2006 her manager, Mario Widmer, told a German newspaper that “the Tacchini problem is resolved. We have come to a compromise and at the same time have agreed to keep silence on both sides.”

More from those financial folk: While Businessweek was focused on Sergio, The Economist‘s new “Game Theory” blog is paying plenty of attention to tennis. Who now? Andy Murray.

We’re a little biased, but… designer fashion at super marked-down pricers all in the name of a good cause?! We dig that, Housing Works. The New York-based non-profit is putting on its annual Fashion for Action sale starting Nov. 16 (which is sooner than you think!). NYers: Get your tix here.

That you, Princess B? Yes that’s Princess Beatrice. Yes, she needs to wax her mustache. Whatevs, it’s Halloween! What a fierce lady.

Look. Listen. Watch. Yes, we get the Siri craze. But a Scottish accent and a cute face. We’ll repeat anything he says, too. | TSF Vault: Short Balls

Short(er) balls: Want to have dinner with Roger Federer? Tennis Channel and Lindt, the chocolate company, are all about setting you up. You have til Tuesday, folks. | USA Today contributor Doug Robson goes searching for the best racket on the market and finds it. | Back in Newport next year? That’d be defending champ John Isner, who has committed to the grass court event. | Nike and Tennis Warehouse launch an exclusive partner shoe on Tuesday. 0:37 of anticipation! (We love this ad.)

(screengrabs via businessweek, housing works and time.com respectively. beatrice photo by getty. tennis warehouse video)

wta sec: armchair commentary on day 2

October 27, 2011

By Matt Trollope

Stat of the day: Vera Zvonareva defeated Caroline Wozniacki in three gruelling sets in the last match of day two action in Istanbul. The primary reason? The Russian’s 49 winners to the Dane’s 13. Note to Caro: relying solely on superb defensive skills just won’t cut it at the highest level. Yet while that may be, Wozniacki has secured the year-end No.1 ranking for the second straight year thanks to Maria Sharapova‘s withdrawal from the event due to a persistent ankle injury.

Typical WTA moment: Masha’s withdrawal continues the unfortunate theme of WTA events lacking in star power. The past four winners of the Championships since 2006 — Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Justine Henin — all failed to start, and with 2004 winner Sharapova now gone as well, the event is missing the five most successful players of the past decade. Could you imagine the equivalent scenario occurring at the ATP World Tour Finals? If Federer retired before it began, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray didn’t enter because of injury, and then Del Potro withdrew during the week, the tournament would be decimated.

Intriguing interviews: Caro added some spice to the event by telling reporters that she thinks some players grunt on purpose. “They don’t do it in practice and then they come into the match and they grunt. I think they [officials] could definitely cut it,” she said. Does this mean she thinks the same of her friend Victoria Azarenka, also in the draw and who’s one of the loudest shriekers out there? That potential match-up may have gotten a whole lot more interesting | Speaking of complaints: Agniezska Radwanska aired her grievances about the court at the Sinan Erdem Dome. “It’s pretty slow. It’s weird bounces, and surface very sticky so it’s hard to run, as well,” she said. But it’s not all doom and gloom in Turkey — Caro and Masha shared their enthusiasm about the potential combining of the ATP and WTA year-end events. “It would definitely be nice to see. I think that would be a lot more fun for the fans to see the men and women together,” Sharapova said. The ATP will have to streamline their calendar first — its World Tour Finals are still almost a month away.

Photo of day: We’ve always loved Vika’s intense post-match winning celebrations. Today’s win over Sam Stosur was no different.

My vocal chords are just fine, Caro. Thanks for asking… (AP photo)

Thought for today/tomorrow: Who will come up trumps in the match between Azarenka and Li Na? Given that both women own unblemished records in the tournament so far with one straight-set win apiece, the winner will break the deadlock in the White Group, vault to the top of the group standings and put themselves in prime position for a semifinal berth.

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

wta sec: armchair commentary on day 1

October 26, 2011

By Matt Trollope

Look! There are other fans here, too!

At home in Melbourne, Matt Trollope is keeping tabs on the ladies of Istanbul.

Day one stat of the day: Sam Stosur entered her first round-robin match against Maria Sharapova sporting a dismal 0-9 win-loss record against the Russian. She hadn’t even won a set against Sharapova in more than six years. But in a monumental upset, the Aussie triumphed, 6-1, 7-5. “You never want to lose to someone ten times in a row,” Stosur said after the match. You can say that again Sam. But understatements aside, kudos must go to Stosur for approaching the match differently compared to ones against Sharapova in the past: She mixed up her shots well including judicious use of her slice backhand and exploited the Russian’s rust from not having played a match in almost a month.

Typical WTA moment: Petra Kvitova‘s performance against Vera Zvonareva was emblematic of the inconsistency that rules the modern WTA Tour. Kvitova started out nervously in her first-ever appearance at the Championships, spraying the ball everywhere but on court before she then went on a tear to win seven of eight games to lead 6-2, 4-1. Then came the inevitable nervousness and collapse, with more errors allowing Zvonareva to level at 4-4. But instead of capitalising on her momentum, Zvonereva’s own errors allowed the Czech to take the next two games and the match.

Pleasant surprise: The venue. After three listless years at the perennially-empty Khalifa Tennis Complex in Doha, the move to the glittering Sinam Erdem Stadium in Istanbul has breathed life back into the WTA Championships. While I’m yet to decide if I like the unusual colour-scheme adopted for the court, the fact that the spectators remain in darkness while the court is spotlighted (like the ATP World Tour Finals in London) gives the tournament a “main-event” feel. And with more than 10,000 spectators attending the first session and the final three days of the event reportedly sold out, it’s just what the event desperately needed to retain its status as the unoffical “fifth major”.

Photo of day: Oh, Caro…

Thought for today/tomorrow: Despite a form dip after their maiden Grand Slam victories this year, Kvitova and Stosur both picked up solid straight-set victories in their opening round-robin matches. Will the similarly-slumping French Open champ Li Na be able to right the ship when she takes on Sharapova tomorrow?

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

(fan image via getty/wta; caro via the ap)

trophy watch: sometimes, we like what we see

October 25, 2011

Pieces, people. Working. Sometimes the right trophies land in the right arms with the rights outfits covering the right bodies. That was the case last weekend, as the WTA wrapped up its regular-season play and the ATP moved toward its World Tour Finals in London set for the middle of November. Above, Gael Monfils complemented his globe-and-box trophy with a well-chiseled bicep and a head of looks-just-right locks. He downed Jarko Nieminen in Stockholm 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Don’t harp on Vika. Seriously. We kind of love this one, too. The half tennis racket slash harp look works well with the stone texture. And, luckily Victoria Azarenka is wearing a well-matching dark tone. It was a bright week for the world no. 3 in Luxembourg, where she took care of Monica Niculescu in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. Vika opens her Istanbul campaign tomorrow against Sam Stosur.

Double the fun. Since the US Open, Janko Tipsarevic has nabbed two ATP titles. Before it zero? Ever. Tipsy beat Viktor Troicki in the first-ever all-Serb final in Moscow, 6-2 6-4. Must be his new bod, right?

Saving the first for last. Last but not least: Dominika Cibulkova got her first trophy smooch of her career in Moscow. The pesky Slovakian downed Lucie Safarova, 3-6 7-6 (1) 7-5. | TSF Vault: More trophies to watch

(images by Getty; Azarenka photo by Fern Konnen via the WTA)

statology: runnings the #s on the wta sec field

October 24, 2011
By Christopher Phillips


Maria is rearin’ to go.
(Getty Image)

Who said the numbers don’t matter?
TSF’s resident bracketologist, Chris Phillips, has run the numbers on the upcoming WTA Season Ending Championships to try to shed some light on just what, exactly, may come of the tennis being played in Istanbul. Will Caroline crumble on the pressure? Is Maria meant to be an afterthought for the rest of her carry? Chris carries the 3’s and breaks down the head-to-heads to help us understand.1. Lay off, will ya? Despite all the crap on Caroline Wozniacki not doing well at the Slams, she has the second most points of all the players accumulated at Slams with 3240 point accumulated. That puts her behind Li Na with 3505 — pretty much all from Australia & Roland Garros). Wozniacki maybe hasn’t won one, but she’s definitely the most consistent at them.  The next closest is Petra Kvitova (2785), and then Maria Sharapova(2740).

2. Dark horses in a field of eight? Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka are clearly the players to beat this fall. Aggie is 11-1, winning Tokyo and Beijing and perhaps serendipitously losing in her opener against Lucie Safarova in Moscow. Vika is 9-2, winning last week in Luxembourg.

3. H2Hs m-a-t-t-e-r. Kvitova has the best record against the rest of the field (8-4) followed by Sharapova (7-5). The worst? Azarenka (4-8).

4. Play it, girl. Vera Zvonareva has the most matches against the field with 14 meaning … she’s generally the most consistent out of everyone? It’s hard to say exactly what it means, but Vera’s consistency has helped pay off in the past. Perhaps she can conjure up a big title in Istanbul.

5. A new No. 1? Wozniacki is 1025 points ahead of Sharapova, 1425 ahead of Kvitova and 1805 ahead of Azarenka.  1500 points go to the tournament winner if they don’t lose a round robin match. That means that Sharapova and Kvitova are the only players with a chance of finishing 2011 No. 1.  All Wozniacki has to do is play two round robin matches and Kvitova is out of the running for the top spot. If Sharapova wins the title and Wozniacki fails to make it to the semifinals, Maria is your new No. 1.

6. Li Nahasn’t beat a top 10 player since the French Open. And all five of her wins over the field came from the Australian and Roland Garros.

7. Playing indoors could give Sam Stosur and her booming serve an edge. And she won’t need to worry about Maria Kirilenko.

8. Apart from Auckland and Stanford, Sharapova has only played the Slams and Premier tournaments. She is the only player in the field to win at least one match at every tournament she entered – everyone else had one first-round loss (or second-round loss if receiving a bye).

Chris’ picks: Red Group
1. Kvitova 3-0 2. Wozniacki 1-2 (def. Zvonareva) 3. Radwanska 1-2 (def. Wozniacki) 4. Zvonareva 1-2 (def. Radwanska)
With a three-way tie for second, I’d give the final spot to Wozniacki.
White Group
1. Sharapova 2-1 (lost to Azarenka) 2. Azarenka 2-1 (lost to Stosur) 3. Stosur 2-1 (lost to Sharapova) 4. Li Na 0-3
With a three-way tie for first, I’d give the SF spots to Sharapova and Azarenka.
Semifinals: Kvitova def. Azarenka and Sharapova def. Wozniacki
Finals: Kvitova def. Sharapova
***Wildcard?! Sharapova’s ankle. Chris says: If she doesn’t finish RR then that gives Azarenka and Stosur a good chance to get in there. 

After the jump: Chris breaks down the ladies number by number to give you a clear head on what might/could/should happen. Hey, it’s the WTA!
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sunday survey: who’s your lady?

October 23, 2011

All roads have led to Istanbul. Or flights, that is. The WTA‘s season will (mostly) wrap up this week in Istanbul, Turkey, with the WTA Championships (some women will compete in the Championships 2.0 event next week in Bali). But after Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli pulled out of Moscow last week the eight-woman field was set, ending the run-off between herself and Agnieszka Radwanska. Radwanska joins Caroline Wozniaki, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka (fresh off a title in Luxembourg), Li Na, Vera Zvonareva and Sam Stosur for the round-robin format. Play begins on Tuesday.

But we’re curious: Who is your pick to win the title this year in Istanbul? Vote below.

(getty images photo)

restoberfest

October 3, 2011


Hi all,
It was a great summer for us here at TSF. We had a blast at the Farmers Classic in LA and ended things with a bang at the Open. It’s left us in need of a big nap. Maybe a couple weeks? We’re not quite sure. But in any case, thank you for continuously reading and supporting what we do. We hope to — no, we will — be doing more of it in the not-too-distant future. 

All our Xs and Os,
N&E

(getty images photo)


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