Archive for the ‘justine henin’ Category

stay, don’t go

March 9, 2011

By Jonathan Scott

Another brand of March Madness is upon us: With the unisex goodness that is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells tournament, the 2011 pro tennis campaign kick-starts into high gear. This 1-2 punch of Cali and Miami makes for a full month of top-notch tennis. Indeed, spring’s done sprung.

Now a curious trend seeped into tennis again in 2010: jumpy observers of the sport seeking to retire players -– good, even great stars who reaped some solid results -– before they themselves are ready to hang up their racquets. The guilty parties: too many tennis writers and other observers and “personalities” involved to various degrees. Their victims? Among them, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and even Roger Federer, proving that not a single star is exempt from these hasty calls to exit.

But Roddick won Memphis last month, dousing the ballyhooed, raging fire that is young Milos Raonic and coming up with possibly the best championship-point winner ever. He also ignited his fellow Americans’ effort on the Chilean clay in Davis Cup, punctuating his clinching win with a scissor kick (Video: here) that would make Sally O’Malley salivate. Too many quickly forgot that Venus seized some early 2010 titles and vaulted to no. 2 in the world before injuries in part derailed both her autumnal and 2011 Aussie exploits. (Oddly, she’s now singing 311 karaoke on a MIA-to-Turks cruiseship and showing off some fly dance moves for someone with chronic knee issues.). Fed himself ran the table at the London year-end championships in December, outdoing even Rafael Nadal in the final, and snagged an early 2011 title before a taking-all-comers Novak Djokovic rolled over him in Melbourne.

Still, retirement happens. It’s inevitable. Justine Henin’s departure has itself turned into a piece of music with multiple movements, the strings swelling and falling at different points. Henin has been like that lover who breaks it off and then loiters for attention: Mercy. And merci.

All of the brouhaha catalyzed a thought: Who or what in the sport truly needs to go?

Without further ado, a few items –- persons, peccadillos, and other pesky minutiae –- that best get gone. Now. Conversely, some other talents and trends are welcome to get comfy. So there it is: Stay, or Go.

GO: Foremost, let’s be done with the freak injuries. Some stars are making the maladies on TV hospital dramas seem realistic: Victoria Azarenka scarily passed out on court after bopping her head during a warm-up run, and then Anna Chakvetadze did her best Vika impression. Meanwhile Andy Murray strained his hand by playing video games excessively (okay, that one proved a fib). It seems a few players just need to be grounded.

Granted, Serena’s recent pulmonary embolism/hematoma scare is more than legit. Anyone who relishes compelling tennis, even if no fan of hers, whether onlooker or media, can only hope she makes it back into the mix again. Tennis needs her fight and her bite. Not every player needs to be Mama Kim Clijsters, portrait of civility.

Speaking of, GO: Can we just be done with all the talk about Clijsters’ motherhood? Cute turned to precious in a hurry there, and not in a good way.

GO: That hand-strain hoax aside, Murray might want to consider tempering his video gaming: Girlfriend Kim Sears reportedly already broke up with him once over the habit. Word to the wise, young gun: the lady has you on watch.

Judy Murray, we heart thee.

GO. STAY. Good dog: Not to pick on the Murray familia too much (see below), but what of these tweets from the family’s resident cur, this Maggie? So let it be written, so let it be done: No more Murray mutt tweets, at least not until Andy bags that virgin Major. It’s no less lame to put your pet on Twitter than it is to fashion a Facebook profile for it.

STAY: Judy Murray, British tennis coach and mom to Andy and Jamie. Yes, she advises her son. She also isn’t afraid to shoot a witty retort at a former player who yaps about her spawn’s chances at winning big with her on board.

GO: Boris Becker. Just let it be, Boorish. You were a fine player, a flame-maned, serve-and-volley stud on grass. Then you knocked Murray and his mum for his underperforming at Slams, chiding him for his closeness to Judy and (good grief!) for standing by his girl at age 23. So a former player cheats on his pregnant wife with a Russian model (in a closet), resulting in a lust child, and then doles out unsolicited relational advice? Laughable. Not content to merely stand by his statements from the fall, BB waxed on again after Murray’s mopey, one-sided loss to Nole in the Aussie final. Sigh. Everyone’s a Carillo. Click to read more, kids. You don’t want to miss these musings.

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she said, she said: justine & caro

February 14, 2011

TSF is happy to introduce “she said, she said” (or “he said, he said,” or “he said, she said,” or “she said, he said” … it all depends on the day!) a regular installment in which we’ll take two images (see below) that you wouldn’t find from the playing courts and match them up with a couple of juicy quotes. Enjoy! -NM

Today, rumors swirled around Justine Henin ending her career because of doping allegations. The now-retired former world no. 1 didn’t want anything to do with such reports. Above, at a press conference in Belgium.

“I regard ending my career more like a sentence that’s been handed down than a decision I’ve made,” said Henin, who retired for the second time because of elbow problems. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries throughout my career but this time, at 29, I just can’t go on. You have to be reasonable about things. When I came back from Australia, I had consultations with three different doctors. The will is there, but physically I can’t do it. It got to the point that I needed 10 minutes in the morning just to get my elbow functional. The ligament wasn’t solid enough to handle the intensity of the game. For me, it’s like a sentence. Now I have to mourn the end of my career.”

Has anyone ever been happier not to be world no. 1? Certainly Caroline Wozniacki is relieved.

“At least I won’t get this question over and over again: ‘How does it feel to be number one without winning a grand slam?’,” the Dane told reporters on Monday at this week’s Dubai Tennis in which she is the top seed. “I don’t feel a difference (as number two). The sun is shining, I’m still playing the same way and I’m still here to compete in the tournament and try to win it. There’s absolutely no difference.”

“At the end of the year you always see who was the number one of the year, who played the best in the whole year. At the end of the year you want to make it to the year-end championships. That’s the goal.”

(photos via the ap)

howling good-bye (again)

January 27, 2011

Illustration by Troy Venechanos.

a letter to juju… from the tennis establishment

January 26, 2011

Benjamin Snyder contributes to Fortune.com and writes for his blog, TenaciouslyTennis.com. He serves as an editor for Goucher [Md.] College’s newspaper, The Quindecim, and plays for the college’s varsity tennis team. Benjamin swears that he is distantly related to WTA veteran Patty Schnyder. Today he pens a letter to Justine Henin. From the tennis establishment.

Dear Justine,
What happened? You’re retiring, again? After everything you’ve been through, you’re letting an elbow injury prevent you from playing for good? Fine. It’s not like any other big name players are sidelined right now. Oh, wait. Sorry, Serena and Venus….

But let’s get this straight: Kim wins the US Open as a mom, and you decide it’s time to hit the courts again. You seem jealous that she’s getting all the attention. You’ve never been best friends with Kim, especially with such an intense rivalry since childhood. Plus, there’s that time her father accused you of taking drugs in 2003. Things improved between you both, the Belgian Sisters were back, but Clijsters prevailed in the end.

It’s 2010. You play a tournament for the first time, losing to Kim. But it was the match of the year. You shock the world by clawing through to the Australian Open final. There, you face Serena, make it to the third set, and lose again. You take two titles during the year, lose to Kim some more, and hurt your elbow against her at Wimbledon. Ouch. But – fine – it makes sense that you lay low for the rest of the year.

In 2011, you’re not feeling 100 percent, but decide to play. Why? Apparently, winning again means more than anything. You tell the press that another major would be “a bigger achievement than what I did in the past.” | More from the TSF Vault: Justine Henin

Apparently, that’s not enough anymore. You tweak the elbow against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Melbourne and completely call it quits?

Happier (and healthier) times: Justine once held the tennis world in her hand. (Philippe Buisson)

That doesn’t sound like the Justine I know. The Justine who overcame so, so many challenges. A mother who died when you were young. A divorce. An estrangement from her family. Big babe tennis. Being vertically challenged. An obsession with pudding.

You say that you came back with “a lot of questions and a lot of doubts,” but you’re leaving us with even more by retiring so quickly. You’re in shock, according to your farewell letter – and we are, too. Remember the first time after getting owned by Dinara Safina as the world number one? These retirements come pretty quickly after losses. Don’t you want to take some time to think it through?

Well, I’m sure Kim will be fine that you’re taking the spotlight away from her again. It’s not like she’s about to win the Australian Open, or anything. Oh, and how about teaming up at the 2012 London Olympics? Good luck with keeping that friendship.

We’re left with another burning question before you tune us out: Who is going to make a comeback to inspire you to play again? Elena Dementieva? Not likely. Guess you better call Belgian Idol, they’ve got a microphone ready for you.

Sincerely,

The Tennis Establishment

(justine ao photo via getty images)

aussie preview: the power list

January 15, 2011

Since we’re done with our fashion coverage for the year (we only kid!), we decided to look a little bit closer at the tennis that will be played at the upcoming Australian Open, which begins Sunday night on American television.

Tomorrow: Who’s Up, Who’s Down and the Dark Horses of the AO | Follow us on Twitter @TSFtennis

The Power List – How the top men (and women) stack up

1. No one can come into the AO feeling better than Roger Federer. The Swiss Mister won his season-opening foray in Doha without dropping a set, beating Nicolay Davydenko in the final. Along with his win at the World Tour Finals, Federer has notched 10 straight matches. Federer played three exhibitions during the off season – all against Rafael Nadal – and looks primed to defend his title in Melbourne.

2. Serena Williams. It might be strange to see Serena’s name second on this list, but the current world no. 4 will be the biggest female force in this year’s draw – absent force, that is. The defending champion hasn’t played a match since winning Wimbledon, and the ladies look lost without her. Serena beat Justine Henin in the most memorable Slam final of last year here, and the sticky courts of Australia won’t have the same female ferocity without her.

3. Rafael Nadal is appropriately third on our list – especially seeing that he has won three straight Slams. And there are three factors that play into Rafa winning an illustrious, fourth straight Major: his health (most namely his knees); his focus against lurking dark-horses (there are plenty – check back tomorrow); and his ability to rise against the Roger challenge. He failed in two of those in losing soundly to Federer in London in November, but will look to build his confidence one match at a time at the AO.

4. There is hard to find a more like-able – or more important, match-savvy – player on the WTA right now than Kim Clijsters. Clijsters captured the US Open for the second straight year in 2010, and then went on to dominate the women’s season-ending event. Her loss in Sydney’s final on Saturday to Li Na? We say that’s a good thing: A more-focused Kimmie won’t produce any 6-0, 6-1 third-round catastrophes this year.

5. Robin Soderling and Andy Roddick and Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. OK, it’s a little unfair that we bunched these four gents together, but at this point, it’s hard not to. Soderling had a hot start to 2011, winning Brisbane and once again proving that he is no flash in the pan. As for Roddick – who lost to Sod in the Brisbane final – the American is said to be in some of the best shape of his life had seems as hungry as ever. And it’s hard to believe that Murray and Djokovic have just one Slam between the two of them. How is that possible? (See Nos. 1 & 3 for answer.) Any of these fellas could walk away from Melbourne the champ, and few would be surprised…

6. Is there more of a mystery than Justine Henin on the women’s side? She is the female version of Juan Martin del Potro, hasn’t played since Wimbledon, but might be playing second fiddle to Kim’s current reign. Justine shocked us all by making the finals last year. It was in 2010 when she toughed through a straight-set win over now-retired Elena Dementieva, and again has a Russian seed (that’d be Kuzy) in the Round of 32. | Full women’s draw

7. While Tomas Berdych continues to be a mystery since his French-Wimbledon brilliance (he’s 12-13 since July), Nikolay Davydenko and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have made their own noise to start 2011: Davydenko took out Nadal in Doha and Tsonga fell to Roger at the same tourney. Tsonga is a former finalist here (downing Fed in the semis in ’08), while Davydenko has (shockingly) still not been to the last two of a major. Any of these three could fit in with our group at No. 5, but do they have what it takes to run seven matches straight?

8. Here’s a new trio for you folks: Jelena JankovicAna Ivanovic and … Bojana Jovanovski. While we could have included Janko Tipsarevic in this line-up, but this new ladies three-some is sure to have the eyes of some WTA followers over the next two weeks. Our guess: the three gals will chalk up 7 total wins (AI 4, BJ 1 and JJ 2) over the two weeks. The ultimate question? Who will have the best year of the bunch? Jelena is a dismal 9-13 since a French open semis run and Jovanovski beat Kanepi, Pannetta and Rezai last week alone. And another new coach for Ana… | Ana just wants to have fun?

9. Venus Williams didn’t win a set in two round-robin matches last weekend in Hong Kong. She hasn’t played a WTA match since the US Open. And before that? Wimbledon. It’s anybody’s guess for Family Williams in Melbourne this year.

10. Three ladies who have a solid shot at a week-two run and a decent chance of a first-round crash out include Caroline WozniackiVera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova. Wozniacki won just one game in an exo with Zvonareva last weekend, and both had bizarre early losses in Sydney. Sharapova’s ’11 debut? A second-round crash against Greta Arn. Just another (four) reasons that this might be Kim Clijsters’ Aussie to win.

Tomorrow: Who’s Up, Who’s Down and the Dark Horses of the AO

(federer photo future capetown; soderling photo via getty)

short balls: it’s not over until the (small) lady sings

October 13, 2010

Justine Henin made her return to Belgian television earlier this week by singing and dancing on a variety TV show. Singing the song “Now It’s Time” on the show Cap 48. Was that lip synching we saw there, JuJu? Might have to refer to this video to figure it out. Hopefully Lady Henin didn’t re-injure her elbow in said dance routine, in which she wore a bright white pant suit, black dance shoes and had her hair put up. Now we get why she wants her phone on a desert island: she has the Autotune app.

Justine is scheduled to take on Kim Clijsters in an exhibition in December, though she hasn’t made her 2011 schedule public yet. Guga Kuerten is due to play an exhibition in his home country of Brazil in December as well, flying down former rival Andre Agassi for a little hit and giggle. Fame bound? Meanwhile, Andre headlines the 2011 ballot for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The last time Andre was in Newport? To help honor his wife Steffi during her own induction in 2007.

With the tennis season winding down, the exo season is picking up. The Belgians will do battle in their home country and Guga has Andre going south. Roger has invited Rafa up to Switzerland for a duel of their own, which, if the trailer runs true, will be mostly giggling and not much hitting. Stateside, no less than four exo’s will take place in November and December, with players like Anna Kournikova, Martina Navratilova, Mark Philippoussis, Mardy Fish and the Bryan Brothers participating in one event or another. (Line up: Surprise, Ariz. | Delray Beach | DC | Vero Beach, Fla.) (Exhibition info from tenniswire.org)

The season is prematurely over for a myriad of WTA ladies, including Venus, Serena and Maria Sharapova. The Williams sisters will not only miss the Season Ending Championships but also the Fed Cup finals, which they had expressed interest in playing after controversy swirled in their lack of participation in the team’s ties earlier in the year.

More of short balls – featuring short(er) balls – after the cut. (more…)

the justine diaries (in video mode)

August 30, 2010

The Belgian sports outlet Sporza has us on their videozone clip of Justine at Friday night’s adidas Barricade party. You remember, the one where we chatted it up with Justine about owning her own restaurant and wanting to take her phone on a desert island.

Click the image to watch the video, where we ask her about said phone on island.

(screen grab via sportzone.be)

the justine diaries

August 28, 2010

Justine with her fellow Barricade-wearers (Tsonga, Ivanovic, Murray) pose with the giant shoe cake at the adidas party Friday night in New York.

TSF got a chance to sit down with Justine Henin last night, a surprise guest at the adidas party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Barricade shoe. Henin injured herself at Wimbledon, and pulled out of the US Open earlier this summer before announcing that she wouldn’t be back to playing on the tour until 2011. We knew that Justine would be getting the run around about her injury, if she’s staying in New York to watch some of the Open and the like, so we thought we’d take a light-hearted approach and ask the Belgian a few off-the-wall questions and see if she might want to become NYC besties. -NM

TennisServedFresh: Justine great to see you. If you could own your own business after your tennis career, what would it be?
Justine Henin: I would like to have my own restaurant, I don’t know which kind, but I would have to have a place in Brussels. Maybe a place with nice wine, a place that I can go with my friends and have a nice dinner.
TSF: So maybe you could boss people around?
JH: Yes! Exactly! (Laughing.) I don’t know what kind of boss I would be. I don’t have that kind of experience so I’m not sure. But it interests me a great deal.

TSF: If you were stranded on a desert island, what one possession would you take with you?
JH: My phone. Even if it wouldn’t work. Me and my phone… I hate to be alone.
TSF: That’s surprising to me, since you seem so quiet.
JH: Right, that’s what you think! (Laughing.) I talk all the time. I always have my friends and family around. They are encouraging me to have alone time, but I love to be with them and to be social. I hate to be by myself. I know I look quiet, but that’s not the case. And maybe a book, too, I love to read.
TSF: What if you took an iPad? That way you could use Google phone and read your book.
JH: Perfect. I would love that.

TSF: What music are you listening to right now?
JH: I like French music. I listen to a lot of stuff from YouTube.
I really like a variety of stuff. I like Coldplay a lot, too.
TSF: Do you ever listen to yourself sing? You know, from your variety show days?
JH: Well I love to go sing karaoke and in the shower, yes.
TSF: What about having karaoke at your imaginary restaurant in Brussels?
JH: Oh yes! We’ll have karaoke after people have a few drinks. (Laughing.)

TSF: What’s your absolute favorite city in the world?
JH:
For me, it’s Paris. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. You can look in any direction in Paris and everything looks so beautiful. I love that place in terms of history – my mom was a history teacher – and it is a place of such great culture. I don’t think I could ever live there, but I love it. And I love Montreal, too.

TSF: You’re always so fit and eating so healthy. What’s one thing in New York that you’ll chow down on while you’re here?
JH:
I don’t know. I wouldn’t go for a big burger… maybe a nice big breakfast with waffles and pancakes. A big brunch? Or New York cheesecake sounds good.

(photo by TSF)

players manage balancing act while prepping for nyc’s big show

August 27, 2010

Kim Clijsters threw out the first pitch after meeting the Mets team in Queens on Friday in New York. A day earlier, she was the USTA’s guest of honor at the draw ceremony (AP photo via Yahoo! Sports).

RalphLauren.com pulled out all the stops on Thursday afternoon for an event featuring Venus Williams, in which Venus took questions from online submissions from around the world in a live clinic. At the Sportime Randall’s Island tennis center in New York, Venus was on court for the first time in a public setting since her eyebrow-raising loss to Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. But instead of thwacking errors and a look of confusion, Venus was all smiles and tennis knowledge in the clinic, which was hosted by the British TV personality (and former player) Annabel Croft.

Venus, who is the no. 3 seed at the US Open and one of the favorites though she hasn’t been on tour in two months, talked fitness, forehands and gave plenty of tennis tips from her 26 years of experience on the court. The event was hosted by Ralph Lauren and Mercedes Benz, based on RL’s homepage for viewers to log in and watch live while Venus answered questions relayed by Croft. (Watch a full replay of the clinic here or click on the image after the jump.)

“It’s good for me to remember the basics when I’m about to play a big tournament,” Venus said, referring to the Open. Venus partnered with Ralph Lauren in the design of the dress she wore, a white number emblazoned with the logo of Eleven, Venus’s clothing line.

Guests were greeted with sweet mint tea, pistachio ice cream sandwiches and caramelized popcorn on the upper deck at Randall’s Island, which hosts the New York Sportimes during the World Team Tennis seasons. Male models clad in red Ralph Lauren polos dished out the goods as Venus strode through the crowd on her way to hair and make up (this was a live, online clinic, after all).

The clinic was a part of a myriad of events happening in New York this week, which all lead up to the big show at Flushing Meadows starting on Monday.

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short balls 2.0: like a train, we’re still going

July 1, 2010

Who knew today would be such a busy tennis news day?! And here we were thinking all we’d have to do is count how many times John McEnroe used “she” in his commentary instead of identifying Zvonareva, Pironkova or Kvitova by name. We think it was somewhere in the ball park of 2,000 or so.

My first-person account of trying out to be a US Open ballperson is up on the New York Times Straight Sets tennis blog. No, I haven’t heard back yet, but I can assure my tryout wasn’t quite as entertaining as Jimmy Fallon’s from last year’s Open. Hilarity.

In case you haven’t heard yet, Justine Henin has sustained an elbow injury at Wimbledon and has already stated she’s likely not to play the US Open. So much for that comeback, eh? Oh, and remember the 35,000-seat stadium that was going to host the Justine versus Kimmy exhibition? 34,999 people are breathing a sigh of relief that Serena signed on to take her place.

(OT) The Target Corp. is opening a new store in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem nabe, on 116th and Pleasant Avenue. The company is going all out with advertising, including buying and entire 6 Train (which runs on the east side through Spanish Harlem) – inside and out – for brand advertising. Click the image above to see video.

Pardon our forgetfulness, but we had somehow lost track of the kennethinthe212 blog, a witty and well-written corner of the web that dedicates a good deal of virtual ink to the world of tennis. Or, more importantly, the catfights of tennis. Most recently, Kenneth made sure to post Sandra Bernhard‘s angry Tweets scolding Pam Shriver for existing… er, we mean, for ridiculing Venus Williams. You tell ‘em honey!

And in a not-so-surprising move, the Huffington Post has selected Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the top two male hotties at Wimbledon. #3? John Isner. We’re not so sure about that one…

early discussion: aravane the streaky

May 24, 2010

Canadian sports writer Stephanie Myles has a great anecdote on yesterday’s El Tabakh-Rezai match on Centre Court. (Screen grab via Twitter.)

We don’t do too much in-depth, let’s-talk-about-the-tennis coverage here on TSF, but every once in awhile it’s a healthy practice just us TSFers to dive into and we’re pretty sure you get a kick out of us trying to sound like we know what we’re talking about.

I’ve had high hopes for many a players on the WTA Tour, especially those with such salacious backgrounds. You know who I’m talking about: the Jelena Dokic‘s and Melanie Oudin‘s of the world. To me, there is nothing better than a mid-ranked player making a run for her country at her home Slam with the crowd (and the world) cheering her on. It’s something unique about women’s tennis that you can’t quite find elsewhere, and though it rarely happens, when it does it is purely magical.

Last year, two such runs captured the attention of tennis fans as Dokic and Oudin made respective runs to the quarterfinals at their home Slams. The back stories were mostly inspiring and the chance for us to ride with them on their incredible journey felt refreshing and new in a women’s tennis tour that can often feel like another tattered episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

At the French Open, it has been a while since such a run has been made. A decade ago, Mary Pierce finally capped off a tumultuous Roland Garros record by winning the title over Conchita Martinez, and she surprisingly made a run to the finals in 2005, taking out Lindsay Davenport along the way before being humbled by one Justine Henin in the title match.

So this year, as Aravane Rezai makes her march through the women’s draw, she cannot do so as a dark horse. Her win two weeks ago in Madrid was a dazzling display of Pierce-like Big Babe tennis, where she hit through the likes of Henin, Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams. The thing about Rezai seems to be that she really can hit through her opponents with little regard (unlike Oudin) but also has her head squarely screwed on after five years on tour (unlike Dokic).

Her history is that of a Dokic-Pierce storybook, chalk full of stories of an over-involved father and threats of playing for a different country (Iran) and spats with the French Tennis Federation. Perhaps such histories have plagued girls on the WTA in the past, but if Rezai continues to play with the resolve she showed Sunday in a 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of Canada’s Heidi El Tabakh, then the French could get their first home-grown story line in quite a while.

Amelie Mauresmo could never quite enjoy her experience at Roland Garros because of her distaste for the pressure of the French. But to watch the powerful strokes of Rezai is something special. Few players are not physically intimidated by the Williams sisters, but Rezai can go toe-to-toe with them in a baseline brawl, and if she doesn’t suffer from the Frozen Foot Syndrome that plastered Pierce’s feet to the clay in the 2005 final against Henin, she has a legit shot at being a threat for this tournament.

Like peers Sania Mirza and Shahar Peer, Rezai makes the internationalization of women’s tennis feel more enlightening. And though she can be a streaky player, Rezai seems to be enlightened herself by the journey thus far, something that could prove vital for a shot at Roland Garros glory: “When you play tennis, you make sacrifices to reach that level so this pressure, you like it, it comes with the reward.”

A reward next Saturday for Rezai? First she has to get past Angelique Kerber, a player who drubbed her at this year’s Aussie Open.

timeless faces

May 23, 2010

When I used to blog over at Tennis Chatter, Troy did incredible work for me in the Photoshop department. Well, I’m glad I’ve corralled him to be a part of what we do at TSF, because he’s plain brilliant. This TIME cover features a soccer-playing Rafa, a dapper Roger and the one and only Lady JuJu. She might be able to hold court with Justine Spears, a good friend from our Chatter days.

(more…)

sunday survey: who’s your favorite?

May 2, 2010

Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal were both victorious at separate big-time clay events today, taking out formidable opponents to garner wins in May. Later this month, both will look to re-vamp their careers with campaigns at the French Open.

It got us thinking: who do you think has a better shot at Roland Garros? Henin or Nadal? Or, if you think neither of them have much of a chance at all, tell us who you think looks like a good bet to leave Paris with a Slam title.

(photo by afp via getty images from the 2007 french open draw ceremony)

short balls: the comfy version

April 21, 2010

The Comfortable Changeover: You gotta love the peeps at the Family Circle Cup for keeping those couches on court every year. Whether you think the things are plain hideous or completely awesome, you can’t really deny that they add a little bit of home to the court. Was this year the best couch ever? At least maybe the cleanest couch ever. After Patty Schnyder sweated all over this one, an attendant makes sure things are fresh and clean for the next gal.

Record Breakers: Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are doing their best to undue a 37-year-old tennis record: the most folks to ever watch a match. That record was set back during “The Battle of the Sexes” at the Astordome in ’73, but the two Belgian gals are set to compete for a charitable exhibition in a 40,000-seat stadium in Brussels. If you thought Arthur Ashe had bad sightlines, we’re guessing Baudoin Stadium can rival that, especially if they can pack the place.

20 Wins to a Slam Title: The U.S. Open playoffs kicked off this weekend to much fanfare throughout the country. We’ve gotta hand it to the USTA for this one: they’re giving people the opportunity to be a part of the nation’s biggest tennis event directly, and by doing so allowing grassroots tennis to grow in the meantime. The New York Times told the story of two men of different generations battling with a similar dream, while CNN-SI.com’s Bryan Graham took good survey of the quirky field and noticed that in just 21 wins, one of these Joe Schmoes could be a Major title holder.

This Time, is it Bad News? We’re wondering if winnings going up starts to be bad news at some point? Should pro tennis players really be making that much?! Wimbledon announced their new figures for the year. Ay yi yi!

Diversifying the Ladies? Peter Bodo‘s writing showed up on NBC Sports’s web site this week (anyone have inside details about this??) and he was all a-chatter about the Stosur-Zvonareva final in Charleston. Is it a game-changing moment? Perhaps the WTA is on the cusp of a more diversified, unique tour, Bodo suggests. If anything, it will be interesting to see who of the Stosur-Zvonareva-Azarenka-Jankovic-Wozniacki-Peer-Radwanksa-Cirstea crowd actually steps up their game in the not-too-distant future.

(photo by chris smith via the wta web site)

in case ya missed it: the belgians battle it out

January 12, 2010

Thanks to Nick for sending me this link to last Sunday’s awesome Brisbane International final. The score: Kim Clijsters d. Justine Henin 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6).

In case you’re still shaking off the dust from the “off season”, watch some of the match highlights — they should perk you right up!

tsf presents: an illustrated pov

September 30, 2009

TSF is glad to have Troy Venechanos on board with our team. The former Tennis magazine intern and Northeastern grad is now an AmeriCorps volunteer in New Orleans, Louisiana. That doesn’t stop Troy from following the tour with gusto, where his two favorite players are Venus and (no shocker here) Akgul Amanmuradova. You can find Troy perusing J. Crew catalogs for clothesguys and he likes to spend summers on the lake with Yaya.

wta-comeback-oct09

The Comeback Bandwagon: WTA Looks to Past for Future Success
Co-starring Davenport, Date Krumm, Clijsters and Henin, illustrated by Troy Venechanos

Enlarge: Make sure to click on the pic above for a closer look!

sunday survey: coffee chat

September 27, 2009

Coffee-Belgian

Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin have always had a strange relationship. They made it clear when they both rose to the top of the game that they weren’t the best of friends, and though the two women have great respect for one another, it had to be a little strange for Clijsters to watch Henin announce her own comeback just 10 days after the new mom had claimed the US Open title.

What would Kim and JuJu chat about if they were out to coffee together? No media present, no handlers… just the two Belgian bombers out for some famous chocolate and a cup of coffee. What would they speak about? Would they speak at all? Who would carry the conversation? Would any bad blood come to be discussed? 

Sure, Kimmie’s always been known as the ‘nice girl’ on the tour, but get a little caffeine in the gal and her mouth is sure to run as fast as she does on the court, right? 

We want some honesty brewing on this coffee date…

(photo by openaperture via flickr.)

ana’s firsts: a no. 1 ranking and a grand slam title

June 9, 2008

Ana Ivanovic did one better than last year’s Roland Garros performance — when she won only three games against Justine Henin — by denying Dinara Safina another come-from-match-point-down performance. She shut out the Russian, who was also vying for her first Grand Slam, with the 6-4, 6-3 win.

Henin, who would’ve taken this whole thing had she not retired 24 days prior to the final, was on hand to pass the baton to Ana. The Serb earned the No. 1 spot as of yesterday’s rankings and becomes the first woman to win a title for Serbia (following Nenad Zimonjic as the first Serb ever to win a GS title and Nole Djokovic as the first singles winner).

(photos by Getty Images)

why ana’s coach is not sitting in her player’s box

June 7, 2008

Ok, stop staring at Justine Henin‘s cold sore and look over at Ana Ivanovic‘s player’s box. That’s right — there is no sign of her coach, Sven Groeneveld, hanging out next to her family. He’s been asked by adidas to stay neutral in this match because of his involvement in the company’s Player Development program (which both Dinara Safina and Ivanovic participate in).

The initiative, started in 2006, offers a unique mix of advice and support to both junior and senior players, from coaching tips to hitting partners to nutritional and career management plans. Other pros currently in its stable are Sam Querrey and Sania Mirza. Gil Reyes helps out with off-court training.

Did Justine get a stinker of a holiday home in Thailand?

May 23, 2008

The recently-retired Justine Henin picked up a condo unit with ocean views in Infinity Samui, a new gated lowrise development in Koh Samui, Thailand. The 65-unit development is due for completion in mid-2009.

But did Justine get duped into the PR campaign of a sinking ship? As this forum shows, constructin on the island has run into lots of problems, forcing developers to dump unfinished projects back on the market.

We hope we know what she’s doing!

(Asia Property Report via src)


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