Archive for the ‘victoria azarenka’ Category

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.

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)

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.

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!
(more…)

bracketology: it’s all about serena (plus more predictions)

August 28, 2011

By Christopher Phillips

Venus and Serena: potential final showdown? Or just posing for the red carpets? At the Hamptons magazine cover party last week. (Getty)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the men’s side of things here.

Caroline Wozniacki — Quarterfinals | Maybe the world’s no. 1 will play better now that her relationship with Rory McIlroy (someone who has actually won a US Open) is out and she’s back to her winning ways in New Haven. Her draws not the easiest of the top eight. She opens against no. 127 Nuria Llagostera Vives, then would likely play no. 43 Elena Vesnina in the 2nd round. 29th seed Jarmila Gajdosova could be trouble in the third round, but her summer’s been as underwhelming as the Dane’s. Wozniacki’s first challenge is in the 4th against Daniela Hantuchova, the 21st seed. Can the Slovak knock Wozniacki out of a slam for the second time this year?

Vera Zvonareva –- 4th round | The Russian opens against a qualifier and meets either hard-serving Lucie Hradecka or Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round. 30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues is the first seed Zvonareva will face and shouldn’t pose any difficulties. With all the attention on the slamless Wozniacki, the Williamses, and Maria Sharapova, maybe this is Vera’s year to sneak back into the finals. We can’t completely imagine it, though.

Sharapova –- Finals | The serve seems to be less of a question for Maria coming into this year’s US Open than it has been in recent memory. Maybe because her return game has improved? She beaten four of the top 15 players in the world to win her last tournament in Cincinnati and, given her draw, it’s difficult to see her meeting any real challenges until 5th seed Petra Kvitova or 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka –- 3rd round | Were it not for one woman –- 28th seed (?!???!?) Serena Williams –- Azarenka would be a bonafide lock to the semifinals. Unfortunately, Serena stands in her way. Don’t be surprised if some of Azarenka’s nerves about her upcoming match with Serena start showing during her second round battle against Rebecca Marino or Gisela Dulko.

Petra Kvitova –- Quarterfinals | If anyone can get in Sharapova’s way to the finals, it’ll be Wimbledon champ Kvitova. The Czech got the better of the Russian in England –- can she make it two for two this year? She could have a tricky first round against Alexandra Dulgheru and 27the seed Lucie Safarova could prove problems (if not an upset) in the third round.

Li Na –- 4th round | Li is capable of winning this thing or flaming out to Simona Halep in the first round. How about middle of the road? We see her losing to the ever-improving 10th seed, Andrea Petkovic, who has become the belle of the media’s ball this year and will do so even more with a run here.

Francesca Schiavone –- Quarterfinals | She’s got a relatively easy draw until a potential match-up with Cincinnati finalist Jelena Jankovic, the 11th seed, in the 4th round. Winner of that match loses to Serena in the quarters.

Marion Bartoli –- Quarterfinals | Bartoli’s strong statements in Toronto and Cincinnati? They didn’t happen. Marion made the semifinals in Brisbane and Doha earlier this year, finals at Indian Wells and Strasbourg, semis at the French, wins Eastbourne and takes out Serena at Wimbledon in route to the quarterfinals then follows it up with a trip to the Stanford finals. Hopefully early losses in Canada and Cincy — as well as a lackluster performance in New Haven — leaves Marion even more hungry for a run at Flushing.

Serena Williams –- Winner | Somehow she manages to look almost more relaxed and hungrier at the same time than ever before. Her play this summer only reinforces the fact that the rest of the field is just playing for second place. But can she stay injury-free?

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these gals could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

Petkovic | Sadly she’s made more news this summer for running off the court mid-match, but she’s got two wins over Kvitova since the Czech’s Wimbledon title, plus hard court wins over Wozniacki, Sharapova, Bartoli, Jankovic and Venus from earlier this season.

Can JJ find her 2008 form at Flushing this year? (Getty)

Jankovic | If anyone has enough gumption and attitude to upset Serena, it’s Jelena. A potential quarterfinal match-up between the two looms.

Hantuchova | With wins this year over Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Azarenka, Li, Bartoli and Venus, she’s capable of beating any given player on any day. Oh, Dani!

22nd seed Sabine Lisicki | The Dallas champ and Xperia Hot Shots winner is on her way back to the top after injury –- nowhere to go but up! But Venus looms in the second round…

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First Round Matches to Watch

13th seed Shuai Peng vs. Varvara Lepchenko | The Chinese no. 2 pulled out of this week’s tournament in Dallas and withdrew from Toronto and Cincinnati mid-tournament. If she’s not fully healthy, the American Lepchenko could end up with the biggest win of her career.

15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Sara Errani | The world no. 38 Italian narrowly missed out being seeded and lost a three setter to the 2004 Open champ earlier this season.

26th seed Flavia Pennetta vs. Aravane Rezai | The former top 10 Italian has been slumping the past couple years. Has Rezai shaken off her Aussie Open family drama?

Gajdosova vs. Iveta Benesova The big-serving Aussie has lost in the first round at six of her last seven tournaments.

Jill Craybas vs. Madison Keys | Battle of the Americans –- the old guard versus the new guard.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Polona Hercog | It’s the no. 2 American’s first match back since Wimbledon. If she looks good here, you’ve got to believe she can upset 24th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round and give 10th seed Samantha Stosur a run for her money in the 3rd round.

See the full women’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round
Wozniacki d Hantuchova
Petkovic d Li
Serena d Peer
Schiavone d Jankovic
Kvitova d A. Radwanska
Sharapova d Peng
Bartoli d Stosur
Lisicki d Zvonareva

QFs:
Petkovic d Wozniacki
Serena d Schiavone
Sharapova d Kvitova
Lisicki d Bartoli

SFs:
Serena d Petkovic
Sharapova d Lisicki

Finals:
Serena d Sharapova – 2 (relatively easy) sets

nike preview: vika’s wimbledon kit

June 18, 2011

The normally flirty Set Point Knit Dress from Nike gets a classy transformation for Wimbledon, replacing the contrast collars and ruffled, tiered skirts with an empire waist and subtle ruching. Vika Azarenka will wear this for the fortnight; she’s the tournament’s fourth seed.

Buy: Nike Set Point Knit Dress, $80, Midwest Sports.

More pictures: See detail shots of the Set Point Knit Dress after the cut…

roland garros bracketology: the ladies

May 19, 2011

By Christopher Phillips

[Ed note: Chris Phillips, part of TSF West, files his thoughts on who's hot, who's not and who might just make a run at this year's Roland Garros. -NEM]

Franny was feeling it last year. But can she re-capture her Parisian glory?

Caroline Wozniacki | I know Caro’s spring hasn’t been the best, but she’s 15-3 on the dirt, winning in Charleston in April. Yes, she lost to upstart German Julia Goerges twice and went out to Maria Sharapova in Rome, but with her earliest loss being the round of 16 in Madrid, I still think she has to be the favorite going in — just not as big of one as she was a few weeks ago. Result: Runner-up (to Kvitova in three-set loss)

Maria Sharapova | I’ve always been a bigger fan of Maria on clay than she has been herself.  She won Rome beating four of its top ten seeds (Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur and Shahar Peer) without too much difficulty and went out the week before that to former FO semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid in the round of 16. A semifinalist back in 2007 and three-time quarterfinalist, Maria pushed Justine Henin to three sets last year before bowing out.  She’s got nothing to lose. Result: Semifinal

Francesca Schiavone | I think I was the only one who wasn’t surprised — okay, completely surprised — by her victory last year. Even though her results on clay this year have been sub-par, I think Franny will have more confidence and desire going into Roland Garros than she did last year. But will it all come together? Result: Quarterfinal

Vera Zvonareva | She’s only played two clay court tournaments all season losing to Stosur and Petra Kvitova but Vera is as unpredictable as her emotions — you can’t count her out. Result: Semifinal

Victoria Azarenka | She’s 12-3 on clay this year but was forced to retire against Sharapova in her last match. Azarenka’s best victory on the dirt this season has been over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. And here’s something that might surprise you: Of the five times she’s played the French, she’s lost in the first round three out of five tries — including last year to Gisela Dulko. Result: Quarterfinal

Petra Kvitova | The Madrid champion (and Prague challenger finalist … what?!) has wins over Zvonareva, Li Na and Azarenka on the dirt. But can she make a deep run here? Result: Champion

Kim Clijsters | She’s decided to play Roland Garros, her first clay court tournament of the season after injuring her foot in April. A two-time finalist and semifinalist last year, she’ll be a contender but I don’t know if she’ll be a threat. It all depends which Kimmie shows up, and the two months of not playing could help or hurt — depending on how you look at it. Result: Fourth round

Sam Stosur | Since Roland Garros last year, where Stosur reached the final, she was yet to make it to the finals of another tournament until this past week in Rome. Granted, her loss to Sharapova wasn’t pretty, Stosur has beaten Zvonareva, Schiavone and Li Na in the past few weeks on red clay. She was a semifinalist in 2009 and came into the French last year on a hot streak but can she repeat her success? As we’ve learned with Sam, it’s up to her head more than anything else if that forehand can swing freely — and controlled. Result: Fourth round

Jelena Jankovic | Jankovic has underperformed as well this year but she’s reached the semis in Paris three times before. If she equals that mark again, I don’t think many would consider it a surprise. More trouble: Janky upset in Brusells Result: Fourth round

Li Na | Li started 2011 on a hot streak Down Under, but has fizzled since. The last two weeks she’s shown signs of life again with semifinal appearances in both Madrid and Rome. Granted Li had no real significantly mentionable wins in those two tournaments, maybe that’ll be the kick she needs to get back on track for the year in Paris where she’s never lost before the third round. Result: Fourth round

Who are the dark horses in the women’s field? Find out after the cut.

(more…)

trophy watch: untouchable nole

May 9, 2011

A notch for each win? How cool is the Ion Tiriac trophy at the Mutua Madrid Masters in Spain? Sure, the home crowd wanted their boy Rafael Nadal to pull through in this one, but Novak is hot right now. H-O-T hot. 32 straight matches? No prob. The world no. 2 now takes his unblemished 2011 record to Rome after beating Rafa 7-5, 6-4. Look: Rome draw

Before we step away from the men, this between-the-legs lob winner from Rafa might be one of the best shots you’ve ever seen. We’re serious. Click. Play.

Bracing for a win. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a big winner sporting some metal on her teeth on the WTA. Great to see Petra Kvitova, the Czech who had a phenomenal 2010, rise above the rest in Madrid. Will she be the Aravane Rezai of 2010 and slump for the rest of the season? We hope not. Here, she smiles after a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Victoria Azarenka.

It’s no Rome for the new member of the top ten. Kvitova will forego the top tier WTA event for a smaller ITF event in Prague. No, we’re not kidding. Draws: Ladies in Rome | Prague (… ?)

After the cut? Nole cuddles with the ballkids after his Madrid W. (more…)

fed cup fashion: nailing it!

April 20, 2011

WTAers wore patriotism on their nails at this past weekend’s Fed Cup ties. Sabine Lisicki contributed one point in Germany’s sweep of the US in the World Group Playoffs by beating Christina McHale in straight sets — all while painted in black, red, and yellow. In Melbourne, the green and yellow fingertips on Australian Anastasia Rodionova contributed to three defeats in the hands of of a Ukranian team anchored by Olga Savchuk and Lesia Tsurenko. As for Vika Azarenka, her outfit matched that of the Belarus flag (red up top, green down below) so the blue manicure must’ve just been for show.

(images via Fed Cup)

trophy watch: how sweet-ing it is

April 11, 2011

Sweet success: American Ryan Sweeting won his first-ever ATP title yesterday, capping a great week in Houston by beating Kei Nishikori in the final of the U.S. Men’s Claycourt Championships, 6-4, 7-6 (3). After his victory, Sweet took a little celebratory swim.

Moving up: Sweeting’s win vaults him from no. 93 in the world to no. 67, the biggest leap of any top 100 player this week.

Chasing Charleston: While defending champ Samantha Stosur continued to sputter, world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki had a solid week, including a this-should-be-the-final win over former world no. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the semis. Woz actually took out Russian Elena Vesnina in the title match, winning 6-2, 6-3 for the green clay vcitory.

After the cut: Vika wins in Spain and a Spaniard takes Casablanca. (more…)

trophy watch: two-time charmers in nole & vika

April 4, 2011

Miami rising: Victoria Azarenka and Novak Djokovic are four-of-five on the Miami front, winning their respective title matches over the weekend and capturing their second title, each. Nole took down Rafael Nadal in what many were calling the best match of the year so far, the Serb winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4). Vika had an easier time in the final, winning a shriek-fest against a resurgent Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-4.

TSF Vault: Nole kissing the cup in 2007

Four and one: Novak won this title way back in 2007, beating (remember this guy?!) Guillermo Canas. Djoko would lose in the ’08 final to Andy Murray. Oh, and BTW: Nole is now 24-0 on the year. As for Azarenka, the Belarussian scrapped together a title just in time, so it seems. After starting the year a precocious 9-5 she won six straight matches in Key Biscayne, including victories over Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva in the run up to the title. Azarenka won this tournament in 2009, beating Serena Williams in an odd final. Comebined, Djokovic and she are 4-1 in Miami title matches.

(Images via Getty Images)

tsf presents the 12 days of giftmas

December 12, 2010

We realize that we’ve been a little MIA lately, but don’t blame us, blame all that Thanksgiving tofurkey that has been weighing us down for the last two weeks (and that is sure to weigh us down two weeks from now). But said tofurkey hasn’t – and won’t! – disallow us from helping all you last-minute shoppers find the perfect gifts for the tennis-loving loved ones in your life. With that, we present our 12 Days of Giftmas where we present to you a cache of gift ideas from the year that has passed and the year that is to come. But first, oh – first! Some Christmas thoughts from those ladies dangling above.

We asked the ladies of the WTA Season Ending Championships what thoughts they had on the upcoming holiday and luckily, even among the palm trees of Doha (in October, no less), they let us know what was on their minds.

Holiday wishes: The now-retired Elena Dementieva wants to be with her family for the holidays and get a dog next year. Well, you’re taking the right steps by shucking your career, lady! Victoria Azarenka is hoping to learn some French to communicate with… her coach: “I really want to learn French! It will really help my communication with my French coach, Sam Sumyk.”

Caroline Wozniacki wishes “for a new Sony Ericsson phone,” wait, really?! No… maybe not: “Actually, I really like to give gifts. I like to buy them something special from me that I know they’ll like. Something unique. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s important that it means something.” And what about 2011, Caro? “This year my resolution was to focus on something positive from each day, even if every now and then you might be feeling a bit sad, it’s just important to find something positive. So I think for next year I’ll be continuing to do that and focusing on being happy.” Being no. 1 in the world might help too, right? And what about the down-on-her-luck Jelena Jankovic? “You know the only thing I ask for this Christmas is something you can’t buy, and that’s health for my family and for myself. It’s the most important thing. [For the new year], I promise not to be so lazy at times! People don’t know, but I can be quite lazy sometimes, so I’m going to be working on that for 2011.”

(illustration by Troy Venechanos)

the one thing we learned on twitter

April 14, 2010

… was that Victoria Azarenka isn’t scared to drop the F-bomb. (And she doesn’t tank matches.) Azarenka pulled out with an injury today in her second round match against American Christina McHale at the clay tournament in Charleston.

(screengrab via twitter)

another pretty in pink: victoria azarenka

February 3, 2010

Don’t think we weren’t going to give Victoria Azarenka‘s 2010 Aussie Open performance any ink.

The seventh seed (from Belarus) made it all the way to the quarters — battling Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round — before falling (tragically) to eventual champion Serena Williams.

Azarenka had Serena on the ropes being up 6-4, 4-0, but Serena fought back and won in the third set. At least Victoria looked good for that last hurrah. Along with Alona Bondarenko and Vera Zvonareva (both in K-Swiss), this Nike mascot went with a bright pink outfit that played well with Melbourne Park’s blue courts.

Buy: Nike Break Point Tank, $50; and Skirt, $55; pink flash/cool grey; at nike.com.

More pics: Detail shots after the cut…

this is how you do it: doha edition

October 30, 2009

Tournament organizers in doubt about how to stage a draw ceremony can now use the 2009 SEWTA Tour Championships as a reference.

They dolled up the ladies, threw them in the Museum of Islamic Art, and snapped away. The results? Venus gets our vote for “Best Style”, Elena gets “Most Glam”, and we are all about Azarenka‘s big bow. (Is that you, Blake Lively?)

Who was your fave?

Up close: Pics of each lady after the cut.

(more…)

trophy watch: llodra keeps his clothes on, venus makes her case, roddick hits back, etc.

February 23, 2009

Robredo rolls: Spaniard Tommy Robredo has been slowly compiling a successful 2009 (he’s 15-3 in match wins so far), adding to last week’s Brasil Open title a trophy from the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires. As a part of a nine-match winning streak, Tommy took out 2007 champ Juan Monaco 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

Roddick’s revenge: Early bird got The Worm this week when Andy exacted revenge on Radek Stepanek‘s title win over the American at last week’s SAP Open. This time around, at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, the top seed only needed two sets to take out Stepanek: 7-5, 7-5.

As you may have heard, Roddick is skipping this the ATP Dubai stop in support of Shahar Peer. Good for him.

Teenage triumph: And on the women’s side of this combined tournament, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka upset top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the finals of Memphis 6-1, 6-3. This is Victoria’s second title of the year (and of her career). She was merely playing catch-up to Wozniacki, whose breakout 2008 produced three titles.

Venus and Virginie: Speaking of Dubai, a gracious (and henna-free) Venus Williams addressed Shahar’s situation during her trophy ceremony after beating Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-2.

“I am not here to rock any boat or upset people, I am just here to do things that are right,” Williams said. “And I think right things are already happening next week and right things will happen next year.”

Props to Virginie and Asics for maxing out her airtime. They had her in another colorway of her separates, this one in black with pink trim.

French fracas: We’re a little sad that the French smorgasbord in Marseille has come to an end (Arnaud Clement, Youzhny, Tursunov, Dimitrov, Vliegen, Seppi, Safin, Chardy, Bolelli), and even sadder that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga denied us a post-win striptease from runner-up Michael Llodra. But thumbs-up to Tsonga for bagging his second title of the year.

Maria’s maiden title: In Bogota, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Gisela Dulko 6-2 6-3 for her first SEWTA title at the Copa Colsanitas tournament.

(images via Getty Images)

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>>archives: trophy watch

trophy watch: everyone gets a slice of french pie

June 9, 2008

In men’s doubles, Peruvian Luis Horna and Uruguayan player Pablo Cuevas (look at that smile!) took out Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor 6-2,6-3 in the Saturday men’s doubles final.

Another tennis mama, Virginia Ruano Pascual (second right), teamed with Anabel Medina Garrigues to win the women’s doubles title over Francesca Schiavone and Casey Dellacqua. That cute kid is Virginia’s.

Bob Bryan might not have done so well with twin brother Mike Bryan in the men’s doubles draw, but he got together with Victoria Azarenka to notch another Grand Slam title over Zimonjic and Katarina Srebotnik.

Taipei’s Tsung-Hua Yang beat Polish Jerzy Jankowicz 6-3, 7-6 for the boys’ singles title.

The black-tanked girls’ doubles team of Polona Hercog (left) and Jessica Moore defeated the Dutch team of Leslay Kerkhove and Arantxa Rus.

Not pictured: Girls’ singles winner is Simona Halep over fellow Romanian Elena Bogdan 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2. The boys’ doubles title went to Henri Kontinen of Finland and Christopher Rungkat of Indonesia.

Anders Jarryd (left) and John McEnroe triumphed over Mansour Bahrami and Henri Leconte in the men’s over-45 final.

(photos by Getty Images)

the belarusian polka

April 1, 2008

Victoria Azarenka - Miami 2008

Victoria Azarenka fell to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open, but not before giving the Russian a scare; Azarenka won the first set and held a match point against Sveta before losing 6-1, 5-7, 0-6.

She wore the Set Point polo from Nike. Yep, my friends, those are polka dots you’re seeing.

Buy: Nike Set Point Polo, $50.

(photo by AP Photo/J. Pat Carter via DTL)

trophy watch: the green egg, the yellow car, and big silver cups; aka the winners keep winning

October 10, 2007

A few days late, folks, but here are the trophies doled out for the four tournaments contested last week.

The Open de Moselle in Metz, France awarded another Yoshi egg, this time to Spaniard (and top seed) Tommy Robredo, who beat Andy Murray 0-6, 6-2, 6-3. It’s good to see the Scot (however color-uncoordinated, in Fred Perry) shaking off the rust from his wrist injury. Welcome back.

And U.S. Open semifinalist David Ferrer continues his hardcourt success with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Richard Gasquet to hoist this ginormous trophy. I’ve heard a few people mention that Ferrer was in top-player could-beat-Rafa-on-clay form during this all-blue fest.

On the women’s side, Justine Henin — in her first tournament since winning the $1 million U.S. Open prize last month — takes out Tatiana Golovin 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt. And with that victory, she goes home with a sleek trophy and a bright yellow 911 Turbo.

And in Japan, Virginie Razzano follows last week’s Guangzhou International Women’s Open title with a 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory over Venus Williams, giving the Frenchwoman her second singles title in as many weeks.

More French success (but no photo): Pauline Parmentier upset top seed Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-2 to take the Tashkent Open title. Like a true professional, Azarenka has already rebounded by beating Masha in the first round of this week’s Kremlin Cup.


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