Archive for the ‘exhibition’ Category

msg: the arena, not the flavoring

March 2, 2009

Nick here, parked deep in the confines of Madison Square Garden in the Press Room, awaiting the Big Show to get underway for the Billie Jean King Cup. If there’s little to write about the significance of tonight’s tennis, there’s plenty to write about the place – and the meaning – of where these great female athletes are going to perform. And what it could mean beyond these famous walls, if the tennis did end up mattering tonight.

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The MSG has long been known as “The World’s Most Famous Arena” because of its size, its location, its experience and its tradition. But in the last decade, tennis has lost its vital connection to said holy place: the WTA Season Ending Championships went overseas, and the storied men’s and women’s tournaments of winter persuasion found different venues and sponsors to bear their names.

If you’re at all familiar with tennis in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, you’ll remember the name Virginia Slims. VS was a title sponsor of the tour for awhile, and was head sponsor for the SECs through 1994. It wasn’t the greatest combo – a cigarette brand and a professional sport – but it worked for a long, long time.

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powder park views

March 2, 2009

City digs: The women competing in tonight’s Billie Jean King Cup are staying warm and cozy during New York City’s March blizzard at the Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South. The Essex House, which overlooks Central Park, is an iconic New York landmark, and has rooms from $299 and up per night.

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At the press conference this morning at the Jumeirah, Ana Ivanovic was giddy to see snow, saying the warm weather gets a little old. “Everywhere we travel is always so hot, it’s fun to wake up to snow!” 

Coming from a pratice session, Ivanovic was dressed most casually of the four women, wearing a gray wide-shouldered tee and bright-pink adidas warm-ups. Serena, Venus and Jelena all wore more business-y attire, as did Billie Jean King, who will be honored tonight by President Bill Clinton along with a host of former great athletes, including my personal fav Nancy Kerrigan.

Comedian Dave Hill even got his shoe in the door, shooting a hilarious promotional video with the gals of the cup. 

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serena: queen of the garden?

February 28, 2009

Chasing greatness: Seles was the last to play at the Garden.

Winter gardening: Believe it or not, Serena Williams has never played at Madison Square Garden. In fact, of the four players competing in this Monday’s Billie Jean King Cup in New York, only Venus has played at the mecca of all sports – and just once, in 1999.

The last time pro women swung tennis racquets at the Garden was in 2000, at the WTA’s Season Ending Championships. In that tournament, then-20-year-old Martina Hingis outgunned fan fave and Garden gal Monica Seles in three tight sets, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4. 

If Monica owned the Garden in the early 90s, Serena hopes to own it in 2009. Friday, during a conference call, the Australian Open champ was asked by NYT‘s George Vecsey what she felt about the MSG, and had this to say: 

“Growing up I’ve always watched tennis [being played at] Madison Square Garden. There was the WTA there [and] for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to play there. It’s for a great event. I think women’s tennis right now is the mecca of female sports and to have an event like this put on … just shows how amazing women’s tennis is. These New Yorkers can get to see such high quality tennis for one night.”

The queen of the Garden will be crowned Monday on HBO, which is broadcasting the event live beginning at 730 EST. We’ll be there to cover it live.

(image via ALLSPORT)

graf (and agassi) to play at wimbledon!

February 24, 2009

The AP is reporting that Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf will participate in an exo at Wimbledon, partly to help test out the playing conditions under the new Center Court roof.

They’ll be joined by Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman at the May 17 “Centre Court Celebration” event, which will include a men’s singles, women’s singles, and mixed doubles match.

Graf was quoted by the AP: “There is no tennis venue more special to me than Centre Court at Wimbledon,” the German said. “It just doesn’t get any better. I couldn’t be more honored to play there again with my husband Andre, and tennis greats Kim and Tim. It will mean so much to return to Wimbledon and … relive so many wonderful memories.”

As you may remember, the original roof was dismantled after the ’06 tournament and returned in 2008. Construction of the moving parts began in July. (Geek out: See how the retractable roof works.)

Buy: Tickets are $50, and will go on sale March 12 via Ticketmaster.

shoeless in san jose

February 18, 2009

By Nick McCarvel

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Pete Sampras has been going exo-crazy recently (perhaps the coffers are a little emptier around tax season?), making a brief cameo at last week’s SAP Open in San Jose, battling it out with Tommy Haas; the German won 7-6(4), 4-6, 12-10.

During the Sampras avoided any talk of coming out of retirement by talking about every relevant tennis player but himself.

On Roger Federer: “He’s young enough. He’s fresh enough. He’s not 30,” Sampras said. “Having a few years left, I see him doing it. But there are going to be a few guys that are going to push him. It’s just inevitable that he’s going to do it here in the next probably year.”

On Roddick‘s and Blake‘s not being “Rafa” or “Nole” enough to beat Roger: “Andy’s got the power but maybe doesn’t have the athletic ability, and someone like James, who has the athletic ability, but doesn’t have the power… It’s kind of a tough matchup for them, for both those guys.

“Seems like James can stay with Roger. I just think they play similar games and Roger is a little bit better than James at it. And Roddick can overpower Roger at times, but at the same time doesn’t move well enough from the back court to really get into these exchanges, that someone like Djokovic can.”

Video: See Sampras’ SAP Open here, courtesy of Doug Schwartz.

And Pete gave the San Jose crowd a little wardrobe malfunction during his match, ending with a loose shoe on the court. He gave fans one reminiscent moment when losing his shoe on court. This time the ball boy didn’t have to dig in his shorts to rescue the on-court necessity like at Wimbledon ’01.

Choo choo: Sampras went on to Boston and downed John McEnroe to take that city’s Champions Cup title, but not before participating in a mixed doubles match with Anna Kournikova, among others. And in this week’s Regions Morgan Keegan tourney in Memphis, he lost to Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-4.

venus: walking in serena’s swimsuit footsteps + what to expect from eleVen in 2009

February 11, 2009

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As we wrote about earlier, Venus Williams will be participating in the BNP Paribas Showdon at MSG next month, vying for $1.2 million in prize money to be split among her, sister Serena, and Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

“I’m hoping for an all-Williams final,” she told the press today. She’s also looking forward to playing at the storied tennis venue for the first time since the 1999 WTA year-ending championships.

In light of tennis’ contribution in this year’s SI swimsuit issue, TSF asked Venus about her own experience posing for the magazine, back in 2005.

“I did it because Serena did it,” Venus shared. “I want to be like her.”

Serena posed in 2003 and 2004.

But in the end the fashion isn’t the higest priority. “I like tennis more than anything. I would give up all the clothes and makeup for tennis.”

Even so, gallivanting in the sand sounds like a lot of fun. Would she consider giving it another shot?

“I would do it if Serena did it.” (C’mon, Serena — take your sister up on the offer!)

And Venus will soon fly to Dubai and participate in the Barclays tourney.

The American No. 2 (second only to her sister) gave us a small taste of what to expect from her EleVen outfits for the upcoming tennis season. She’ll wear more prints, perhaps taking another cue from Serena, who did the same for the Australian Open in January.

Browse: See Venus’ SI pics here.

More info: The BNP Paribas Showdown, March 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Tickets ranging from $1,000 to $50 available at ticketmaster.com. The event will be shown live on HBO (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) and will be called by Mary Carillo, Billie Jean King, and John McEnroe. This marks the first time since 1999 that the premium channel has broadcast a tennis event; they carried Wimbledon from 1975-1999.

(image by SI)

attack of the 500-foot women

February 8, 2009

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We’re not quite done with NYC phone photos: Nick McCarvel snapped this pic of a billboard that just went up in Times Square to promote the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup.

Venus, Serena, Ana, and Jelena will compete for $1.2 million in prize money in one-set single-elimination semis before a three-set final.

Oops: Let’s hope ANTA is okay with Jelena still wearing her U.S. Open ’08 Reebok dress for the promo…

More: Get more info about the exo here.

goin’ retro: aaron krickstein’s racquet in naples

March 19, 2008

Aaron Krickstein - Naples 2008

In case ya missed it: Aaron Krickstein brought out his Wilson gear (circa 1984, I’d say) at last week’s Outback tournament in Naples, Fla. Like they say, old dogs can’t learn new sticks.

Aaron Krickstein - Naples 2008

And he’s wearing a kit similar to what Pete Sampras wore at the NetJets Showdown two weeks ago.

dream match 2008

March 17, 2008

Tennis greats Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, and Kimiko Date came together for the “Dream Match 2008” exhibition at Tokyo’s Ariake Stadium on Saturday, March 15.

Kimiko Date - Steffi Graf - Dream Match 2008

Steffi lost to Date 6-2, 6-3. FYI: In 1996, Date beat Steffi for the first time (at a Fed Cup), and pushed her during a 2-day Wimbledon semi (that’s the match where Steffi got a wedding proposal).

Steff Graf - Dream Match 2008

Steffi wore all-white adidas during her match against Martina. Steffi won in a tiebreak. I miss that eastern forehand!

Martina Navratilova - Dream Match 2008

Martina in Under Armour.

One more: A pic of the ladies during their Friday practice session after the cut…

sightings in the stands: sampras and federer’s netjets showdown

March 11, 2008

A few celebrities spent their Monday night at the NetJets Showdown at Madison Square Garden.

Robert, Lynettee, Mirka

Roger Federer‘s parents, Robert and Lynettee, sit next to longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec.

Tiger Woods and Elin

Roger’s besty Tiger Woods watches the match with Elin Nordegren.

Rupert Murdoch, Anna Wintour

Heavyweights: Rupert Murdoch and Anna Wintour.

Not shown: Barry Diller, Donald Trump, Ivan Lendl, Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Chloe Sevigny, etc.

sampras and federer duke it out at the garden

March 11, 2008

Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Billie Jean King

Mano a mono: It’s already in the running for Most Overanalyzed Meaningless Tennis Match in History, but Bonnie D. Ford makes no apologies for chiming in. Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6).

Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, both in Nike

Fashion: We enjoyed the revival of Roger’s tuxedo look (from last year’s U.S. Open), and we were ecstatic that Pete finally came out with a new look. As of Saturday, while playing an exo against Todd Martin in Columbus, he was still wearing a style from 10 months ago.

Tick tock: How appropriate that Roger came out wearing a Rolex (which he has endorsed since 2006). Is he counting down his time at the top?

In case you missed it: Roger’s lackluster play in 2008 (no titles for him so far) was attributed to some food poisoning before Kooyong, and also to mono. He keeps himself relatively injury-free, but you can’t really escape the microscopic things, I guess. (Read a letter from Roger to his fans addressing his illness.)

And perhaps we’re all just suffering from a little too much Roger. (Even fan club prez Anna Wintour was seen with another athlete — gasp! — LeBron James.)

The rest push back: He wasn’t even doing so well with the media, who’ve tried to bait his peers to comment on his observation of Andy Murray‘s game after losing to the Scot in Dubai.

Murray wouldn’t get into it. Nole: “Murray has a great style and talent and knows how to play at any one moment… Roger doesn’t like it when you get a lot of balls back against him.” Nadal:: Murray “is getting very good results with his style and if you are doing well why do you have to change?”

Junior Ore, Dennis Kudla

Warm-up: Jordan and I had a talk the other day about who would be picked to play the warm-up match before the NetJets Showdown. Jordan was hoping Donald Young or someone like that. Instead, the audience got treated to Denis Kudla and Junior Ore. Ore says Marcelo Rios is his idol. That’s pretty awesome; you don’t hear Rios mentioned that much anymore. (Tennis Week via Zoo Tennis)

Pete Sampras - Roger Federer - Press Conference

Another: Here’s a photo from the press conference for the exhibition.

a little note from 4 Times Square…

February 1, 2008

Re: the Roger/Pete NetJets Showdown at Madison Square Garden, we just received a note from someone at Men’s Vogue.

The magazine’s raffling off a VIP package for the March 10 event. It’ll include tickets to the match, entrance for two to an exclusive pre-match MV cocktail party, and two special edition racqets from Wilson. (I’m not sure what the racquets are, but probably [K]Force?)

Link: Sign up for the sweepstakes here.

Non-New Yorkers take note — there’s no mention of airfare or a hotel stay (figures). But you should throw your hat into the ring anyway.

$hort ball$: roger federer edition

February 1, 2008

Roger’s riches: Lots have been said lately about the massive amounts of moolah coming into the coffers of Roger Federer (pat yourselves on the back, Mirka and Tony Godsick!).

SportsBusiness Journal reports that R-Fed and his clothing sponsor, Nike, are extending their relationship for 10 more years. This arrangement could give Roger $13 million a year — one of the most lucrative deals in tennis history. The exact figure for the contract is up in the air because some of the payout could be performance-based.

What exactly is Nike paying for?

“In the U.S., probably less than 2 percent of athletic footwear sales are tennis… K-Swiss is a bigger tennis brand in America than Nike. [Tennis] does get a lot of publicity, a lot of mention in news articles, and a lot more people watch the sport than participate in it. Branding is probably a pretty good part of the deal, particularly in Nike’s European sector, where [tennis] is much more important.”

Huh. I didn’t know that K-Swiss had a bigger share of the market (fyi, I wear K-Swiss shoes for tennis).

Also, the suits are likely acknowledging that the screwed Roger back in 2002, when the agentless Swiss player signed a contract for $1 million a year. “It’s possible some of the money he is acing with the new deal serves in part as an acknowledgment on Nike’s behalf of the semi-free ride they have had with Federer during his rise.”

And Tages-Anzeigers (through Roger expert Rene Stauffer, of course) notes that adidas, Lacoste, and Polo Ralph Lauren all put in bids for Roger. A PRL rep denied the company’s involvement in the situation.

Other bits: According to SBJ, Roger charged $1 million for each of his appearances at the Asian exhibitions last fall. Ka-ching.

MSG is good for you: Another exo between Roger and Pistol Pete has been scheduled, this time for a March date at Madison Square Garden. At least through this seller, it looks like tickets range from $70 (nosebleed) to $16,050 for a pair of front row, dead center, courtside VIP seats. No word on how much Roger is getting paid for this match. Jordan, are you going?

And since we’re on the topic of seats, I don’t know who decided that the sidelines are great — for some reason, those always sell out first, don’t they? I’m all about sitting behind the baseline a few rows up.

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Answered prayers: The powers that be at Nike have finally released a mass-market version of his hat. We first saw Roger with the black version at the 2007 U.S. Open. Buy: The hat is avalable for $20 at Tennis Warehouse. Autographed hats, if that’s your style, might still be available through Roger’s website.

Delusion: The Onion writes up a spoof on Roger’s loss in the Australian Open semis.

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trophy watch, exo edition: jb group classic and hopman cup

January 13, 2008

Forgive us for being a week behind with the trophies from last week’s exhibitions (Hopman Cup and the ladies’ JB Group Classic). But the Hopman trophy is cool, so here we go…

First, the Hopman Cup, won by the American team of Serena and Mardy over injured Serbians Jelena and Nole.

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Team USA also went home (or to Melbourne, I guess) with these diamond-encrusted tennis balls. According to ABC, a new design by Doris Brinkhaus is conjured up each year, always with an Australian map and a diamond marking Perth’s location. It takes 8 months to construct.

The balls cost $35,000 each. The last one Serena won (back in 2003) ended up a gift to her mother, Oracene.

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Venus Williams started off strong in 2008 with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Maria Sharapova in the finals of the JB Group Classic on January 5.

More photos: Hopman Cup trophies plus JB Group players’ party and press conference photos after the cut…

on this cold court, it’s no halter skelter

January 6, 2008

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The cold weather in Hong Kong has wreaked havoc on the ladies who participated at the JB Group Classic. Anna Chakvetadze (in adidas), Venus Williams, and a yoga panted Maria Sharapova all had contingency plans for the exhibition.

They were better prepared this time around, unlike last May’s Polish Open, when Venus ended up putting long sleeves under a halter. A halter.

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Elena Dementieva keeps herself toasty, too.

(photos by Getty Images)

what’s that on ana ivanovic’s ring finger?

January 3, 2008

Sorry for the erratic posting schedule. The new year has brought about some big changes in our daily routine, so it will take at least a few days for the dust to settle. But don’t you worry — what we’re not posting, we’re eagerly saving for a fun end-of-week write-up.

In the meantime, I’ve appreciated the lot of you who’ve written in with tips, kind words, and feedback about coverage…

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You better believe our heart skipped a beat when we saw this picture of Ana Ivanovic at a press conference for the JB Group Classic (exhibition) in Hong Kong. Who is she romantically involved with? When did she get engaged?!

Then we Wikipedia’d the sucker, and it turns out that its an Eastern European tradition to wear the wedding bands on the right hand.

/freakout

More: You can read up on the exo’s playing format here.

(photo by Getty Images; thanks, Rebecca!)

maria ends the year with some bangs

December 31, 2007

Sharapova in Singapore: The flurry of Asian post-season exhibitions continue with Maria Sharapova Live!, a Dec. 30 match in Singapore featuring the Russian and Anna Chakvetadze. Masha won 6-0, 7-6 (10) — so much for exo “gimme” games, eh?

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Everything but the toilet seat: To help sate the Maria-mania sweeping the continent, organizer Entertainment Group Limited has arranged to auction off certain disposable items she uses during her one-night stay at the Fullerton Hotel‘s presidential suite; this includes bathrobes, towel slippers, bedsheets, and even a bathing suit. (While this all sounds twisted already, EGL did draw the line by refusing to auction toilet seat covers.)

The photo above (right) was taken at the hotel’s rooftop deck.

Her two cents: In press interviews, Maria gives the SEWTA Tour a clean bill of health (as far as match-fixing goes), and doesn’t give lip service to the New Paper during their six minutes with her.

Anna not yet 100%: Meanwhile, Anna has not yet recovered from last week’s home-invasion robbery. (WTB)

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We’re loving the bangs: These pictures above are from her various appearances. The one on the right is from the exhibition (she reprises her Nike librarian look). And she makes yet another smart hair move by getting bangs — a far cry from this past July’s feral ‘do. Remember this?

More photos here.

(photos by AP and Getty Images)

serbian ham and canadian bacon

December 9, 2007

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Marija went to Friday’s NAJJ Srbije tennis exhibition in Belgrade — an action-packed event capped by a mixed doubles exhibition between Jelena Jankovic, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, and Janko Tipsarevic. Apparently, no one took the tennis too seriously, instead making sure that the fans were entertained. Something tells me Nole took that task to heart.

Ana wore cyan/white/gold adidas (from s/s ’08) and so did Nole; “post-nose job” Jelena was clad in all-black Reebok; and Janko wore his usual Fila. See a photo of them all here.

Browse: More photos at Mondo, and grainy video on YouTube.

Bonus round: Tennis Warehouse interviewed Janko about his racquet and strings during the 2007 French Open. Slightly technical, but you get to hear him speak.

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Canadian bacon beef: Stephanie posted some photos/video of top Canadian Frank Dancevic (remember him?) as he trained in Montreal last week.

(exo photos via WTB, dancevic photo via Open Court)

which way does it hang?

December 9, 2007

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Just when you think Novak Djokovic will leave some things to the imagination, he’s taken another step by giving a nod to the nads.

But don’t get too excited. Much like this photo of Nole back in August, he’s getting some help from a tennis ball in his pocket.

FYI: This Sally O’Malley look is part of his Maria Sharapova impersonation at last Friday’s NAJJ Srbije tennis exhibition in Belgrade.)

(photo by MN Press)

sampras vs. federer: trophy watch + pete goes down swinging

November 26, 2007

The clash of the titans came and went… did anyone really feel it? Pete Sampras and Roger Federer performed in the much-anticipated Asian exhibitions this past week. First in Seoul, where Roger easily won 6-4, 6-3.

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Then there was Kuala Lumpur, where Roger was probably a$ked to act less smug and make it a closer match. The scoreline: 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5).

Couldn’t Nike have given Sampras something from this season to wear on the court? That black/white shirt is almost a year old!

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And in Macao — where they staged the exhibition at The Venetian, — Sampras finally wins 7-6, 6-4.

A few press conference bits…

Sampras talked to AP/Reuters about his plans to stay retired, and also commented on the state of tennis:

“Serve and volley is extinct,” he said. “In my day, we had some great serve-and-volley players. There was myself, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and others. But with the size of racquets getting bigger, junior players these days are only taught to hit the ball as hard as they can. There are some players who come in, but they are not natural serve-and-volleyers.”

And he knocks all the Federer GOAT talk?

Sampras insists Federer’s opposition falls short of the standard of Rafter, Agassi, Edberg, Becker and Courier, who formed the American’s main challengers when he dominated in the 1990s and early part of this decade. “I had more major winners up against me versus the rising stars behind Roger.” (The Scotsman)

Below (left to right): Macau trophy ceremony, Kuala Lumpur trophy ceremony, Kuala Lumpur Press Conference.

sampras-federer-macau2.jpg sampras-federer-kualalumpur.jpg sampras-federer-kualalumpur3.jpg

(photos by Getty Images)


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