Archive for the ‘rafael nadal’ Category

spotted in the city: rafa’s nike display + maria for cole haan

October 2, 2011

The window’s his. There would be no US Open title for Rafael Nadal, but he did reign as king of Niketown on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan for most of the Open. We love the picture-framed outfits which you can see better after the jump. Below: Maria’s Cole Haan collection advertises on an 8th Street subway stop downtown.

One more Rafa meets Niketown after the cut.

(more…)

shirtless: rafa strips down (some more) for armani

September 30, 2011

Who’s got next? With Janko Tipsarevic joining the ranks of ATP fellas who have stripped down in front of the camera, Rafael Nadal needed to get his gusto back from the Serb’s sweaty six-pack. He did just that last week as Armani began to push out its fall campaign, full of swoon-worthy shots of a barely-clad Rafa. The ATP web site has the full set of Rafa photos here.


On court: This week has been a good one for Tipsarevic, who is into the semifinals in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, a hurting Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the China Open due to a bad back.

For all you fans of good legs, check out the Spanish Davis Cup team from a couple of weeks ago. No Nair needed here.

(more…)

(wednesday’s) sunday survey: striking situation

September 28, 2011

Would these boys really do it? Strike. It’s not something tennis fans really want to think about, and even though Tennis Channel’s James LaRosa does point out some ways that a lack of tennis-playing might make fans’ lives better, we here at TSF would miss the weekly fashions (and trophies!) with great sadness. Andy Murray recently told the BBC that if the tennis bodies don’t step up then the players will, and Rafael Nadal echoed that players could take “strong action.” It doesn’t help that 2011′s king, Novak Djokovic, fell to the ground unable to continue during Davis Cup 10 days ago. Not the best image for the (functional) end of the tennis season, right?

Do you think a players’ strike could really happen? Weigh in below.

(photo by Getty Images)

trophy watch: american hardware

September 13, 2011

Slam season? It’s ova! I’m out of my let’s-research-this mindset from writing for USOpen.org after two glorious weeks with a great staff at the National Tennis Center, so I’ll give someone else a go at this stat: when was the last time a Slam included no “ova” winner? Barring one-half of the girls’ doubles winning team — that’d be Irina Khromacheva — and she’s an “eva,” so does she even count? For all I know it could have been the French this year, but it certainly seems like a shocker, no?!

The men’s tournament, in the end, wasn’t a shocker itself. Sure, it was shocking that Novak Djokovic for the second year in a row denied Roger Federer a shot at the title by saving match points (how ’bout that forehand?!), but in the end, it was a result that many in tennis expected: Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in the final. And what a final it was! Thanks for ending a semi-mediocre tournament with such a glorious match, fellas. ‘Til next time!

Sam-a-Slam: Let’s just talk about the tennis. Sam Stosur played lights-out ball for two sets against Serena Williams on Sunday night at the Open. For us it was reminiscent of the way Maria Sharapova pounded her way past Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Sure, Stosur’s style is completely different that Maria’s, but the result was the same: she lost just five games against her heavily-favored opponent to win her maiden major. One can only wish that the Aussie will show up with similar form at her home slam come January.

TSF Vault: Trophy Watch | 2011 US Open

Cindarella story.  This one really was written in the you-can’t-make-it-up category. Melanie Oudin, two years ago the Open’s golden girl, had paired up with this year’s golden boy in Jack Sock, and the two just stormed through the mixed doubles draw. No, they didn’t smooch! But we sure wish they would have. More? Doubles and juniors after the cut! (more…)

julien farel – the u.s. open’s on-site hairstylist

September 10, 2011

Stylist Julien Farel has been taking care of players’ hair at the U.S. Open for five years running (and, for 2011, blogging about it at Tennis Channel). We asked him a few questions this week.

TSF: How did you get started working with tennis clients?
Julien Farel: I use to do it for Roland Garros and always thought it was a great tournament and sport for JF Group. Now we’re in our fifth year at the Open.

TSF: Whose hair is the most fun to style?
JF: Cutting Rafa Nadal, or styling Lauren Bush or Gwyneth Paltrow is tough to compare, they are all great — and the best in their fields!

TSF: And whose are you dreaming of working on?
JF: Federer and Sharapova. Penelope Cruz and JLo.

TSF: Do you follow the sport?
JF: Yes I am I big fan of tennis and try to play as often as I can. I prefer singles and I like the back hand passing shot.

TSF: How much does a player’s outfit for a particular tournament play into how you cut/style their hair?
JF: A lot. I particularly like Wimbledon because it is all-white: very classic and elegant. I love the classic! I love Nadal’s haircut with a very fitted outfit. It’s very trendy, sexy, and cool.

TSF: What about accessories?
JF: I like men’s hair accessorized with headbands or sweatbands; for the women, a fishtail or classic braid. They can control frizz with a little JF Relaxing Balm and that will do the trick.

TSF: What are players most concerned about with their hair?
JF: Keeping the hair off their face and controlling the frizz. JF styling products work great because they all contain an UVA protection to keep the hair hydrated and healthy.

shirtless: nadal and kortajarena take on armani jeans

September 3, 2011

We never got around to posting images from Rafa‘s Armani Jeans Fall/Winter 2011 campaign shoot — the poster of which he made a cameo for at Macy’s right before the start of the 2011 U.S. Open — so here they are!

Spanish Armada: Nadal was photographed by Steven Klein for the ads; fellow Spaniard Jon Kortajarena, meanwhile, is the face of the collection’s catalogue. See all of JK’s looks here.

(via VGL)

nike: rafa is a force of nature

September 1, 2011

Here’s a grab of Nike‘s men’s tennis landing page, spruced up for the 2011 U.S. Open.

The men’s section has two pics: this one of Rafa and another of Roger Federer.

(image via nike.com)

bracketology: the men of flushing (and how they’ll fare)

August 27, 2011

By Christopher Phillips


Cool and calm: Novak is the US Open’s top seed for the first time ever. (Getty Images photo)

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

Djokovic — Winner | Shoulder injury aside, you’d be hard pressed to not pick Novak. He opens with a qualifier then would play either Pere Riba or Carlos Berlocq, two dirtballers, in the 2nd round. His first challenge could be in the third round against Nikolay Davydenko. 13th seed Richard Gasquet, 22nd seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Kei Nishikori, Ivo Karlovic, and Fernando Gonzalez could all be waiting Novak in the 4th round.

Rafael Nadal –- Semifinals | Nadal’s road is quite a bit trickier than that of Djokovic. He opens against Andrey Golubev. The Kazakh is currently ranked no. 97, but the ATP’s Most Improved Player of the year for 2010 was as high as no. 33 in October of last year. Nadal should get through that match without too much difficulty, but could face former Top 5 players David Nalbandian or Ivan Ljubicic in the 3rd Round, then two-time Open Semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny or 17th seed Jurgen Melzer in the 4th round.

Roger Federer –- Semifinals | Federer opens against Santiago Giraldo, who hasn’t played a match on hard courts since Miami, and then could play the Brazilian lefty Thomaz Bellucci, who just missed being seeded, in the second round. Ryan Harrison or 27th seed Marin Cilic should lie head in the 3rd Round with 23rd seed Radek Stepanek, 15th seed Viktor Troicki or Philipp Kohlschreiber potentially waiting in the 4th round.

Andy Murray –- Finals | This summer’s Cincinnati champion comes into New York in fine form. He’ll open against Somdev Devvarman in round one. Big-serving Robin Haase could challenge Murray in the second round and 25th seed Feliciano Lopez in the 3rd round could pose problems for Murray, but his solid return game should counter any danger there. | TSF Vault: Murray

David Ferrer — Quarterfinals | Ferrer reached the semis in New York back in 2007 and lost a thrilling fifth-set tiebreak to countryman Fernando Verdasco here last year in the 4th round. He also tasted a Major semifinal earlier this year in Australia. The only thing that brings about concern about Ferrer living up to his seeding is his lack of hard court match play this summer: an injury sat him out for every event save Cincy. To his credit, however, he beat Roddick and Fish in Davis Cup in early July — two giant wins on American fast courst. His biggest challenge to the quarterfinals will be 10th seed Nicolas Almagro or 21st seed (how strange is that number?!) Andy Roddick.

Robin Soderling –- Second Round | The Swede hasn’t played a hard court match since early losses to Juan Martin del Potro and Kohlschreiber in Miami and Indian Wells, respectively, but follows Djokovic with the second-most hard court championships this year (three). Soderling’s lack of play this summer could send him out early to rising American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr.. Bogomolov beat Soderling 2 and 2 in Indianapolis in 2004, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again.

Gael Monfils –- Quarterfinals | Of the top eight, Monfils has the toughest draw into the quarterfinals. He’ll open against potential future star and current heartbreaker Grigor Dimitrov, before possibly meeting former USO finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 2nd round. 31st seed Marcel Granollers, Albert Montanes or Xavier Malisse could wait in the 3rd round before a potential match-up with 9th seed Tomas Berdych — who’s never made it past the 4th round here — or Montreal semifinalist 20th Janko Tipsarevic in the 4th round.

Not filleted: Fish is riding a strong summer coming into the USO. (Getty)

Mardy Fish –- Round of 16 | Opening against German Tobias Kamke, Fish should have pretty smooth sailing to the 4th round where he’s likely to meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga could come through in that match-up, but potential matches against big servers Thiemo De Bakker in the second round and Kevin Anderson or 29th seed Michael Llodra in the third round could give Fish the extra batting practice he needs to beat the Frenchman. | TSF Vault: Fish

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

11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga | Tsonga’s play has been one of the most exciting to watch this year. Assuming he’s regrouped and healed since his retirement against Novak in the Montreal semifinals, he’d meet slumping 19th Fernando Verdasco in the third round followed by “your country’s eyes are on you for a change” 8th seed Fish in the R16. Should Tsonga make it through both of those, he’ll face 3rd Federer for the 5th time this year and will be going into that match with some serious momentum beating the Swiss in their last two meetings.

16th seed Mikhail Youzhny | Youzhny has twice been a semifinalist in New York before: last year and in 2006. Despite a relatively easy loss to Nadal here last year, he did get the better of the Spaniard in 2006. He’s set to meet Nadal in the 4th round this year and — given the Spaniard’s unimpressive summer — it’s highly possible that Youzhny could find himself in the semifinals for a third time in six years.

18th seed Juan Martin del Potro | Well… in as much as a former champion can be considered a “dark horse.” JMdP has underperformed this summer, with second round losses to Federer and Cilic in Cincinnati and Montreal, respectively. Perhaps he’s just saving himself for the big show? The Argentine’s first challenge would be against 12th seed Gilles Simon in the 3rd round (Simon has never been past the round of 32). A potential 4th rounder versus 28th seed and Winston-Salem champ John Isner or Soderling would come next.

20th seed Janko Tipsarevic | The Serb loves the big stages and they don’t get bigger than Arthur Ashe Stadium. Janko opens against a qualifier and would face 9th seed Berdych in the 3rd round. Tomas’ track record in New York isn’t very good, so Janko could see himself in the 4th round against Monfils. And depending on the Frenchman’s form that day, perhaps even into the QFs to take on countryman Djokovic.

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First-Round Matches to Watch:

Youzhny vs. Ernests Gulbis | The Latvian was at his career peak at no. 21 in the world earlier this year, but has done little this summer since upsetting del Potro and Fish on his way to the Los Angeles title. He got the better of Youzhny at the Masters tournaments in Paris and Madrid last year.

23rd seed Radek Stepanek vs. Kohlschreiber | The dancing Czech dropped out of the top 70 earlier this year, but his title in Washington bodes well for him. The German has seen better days — but he’s always capable of an upset.

Harri situation? Ryan’s always an eye-brow raiser. (TSF)

Cilic vs. Harrison | Can the young (hot) American continue his hot summer?

Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis | Just about anytime the Cypriot is on court, it’s going to be a fun match.

32nd seed Ivan Dodig vs. Davydenko | The Russian and former world no. 3 missed being seeded by a few spots, but twice a semifinalist here, he knows how to get it done.

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Ivo Karlovic | It’s great to see the Chilean back in action. Combined ages? 63.

See the full men’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round:
Djokovic d Gasquet
Monfils d Tipsarevic
Federer d Stepanek
Tsonga d Fish
Del Potro d Isner
Murray d Wawrinka
Ferrer d Almagro
Nadal d Youzhny

QFs:
Djokovic d Monfils
Federer d Tsonga
Murray d Del Potro
Nadal d Ferrer

SFs:
Djokovic d Federer
Murray d Nadal

Finals:
Djokovic d Murray – 4 sets

fans flock to rafa’s big (shirtless) unveil

August 27, 2011

They came to see Him, with a capital “H”: Do you love a tourist-crowded department store in the middle of New York City on a weekday afternoon? If so, please quit reading this blog — we don’t understand you. TSF joined the likes of fellow blogs Tennis Panorama and Down the Line! on Thursday afternoon at Macy’s in Manhattan’s Herald Square for the unveiling of Rafael Nadal‘s Armani jeans billboard at the store. Oh right, and there were hundreds of Rafafanatics there, too. (See above.)

Crowds poured into the usually-packed-anyways Macy’s for the unveil, which saw the world no. 2 step onto stage, say, “Hel-lo” into a mike and get his photo snapped — with the billboard of himself. How do you think he looks?

Above: A reporter records a spot on the stage where Nadal would later hand out 100 pairs of briefs bearing his signature for the first 100 customers to spend over $150 on Armani collection items that day. Below: TSF’s view from behind a barrage of cameras flashing at Rafa.

Plenty of Rafa posters welcomed fans around the store on Thursday.

(TSF photos; lead image by Getty)

fashion focus: painting rafael nadal with lines

August 22, 2011

Nike puts Rafa Nadal in crews for this year’s US Open, choosing to accent his blue (day) kit with a pixelated pattern inspired by the lines on a tennis court. The second kit will be white with yellow lines.

(image and video courtesy of Nike)

trophy watch: london hardware

July 5, 2011

Different paths, same result: The lead-ups to their respective Wimbledon titles could not have been more different, but it was Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic who were at the Champions’ Ball on Sunday night, each posing with their respective, hard-earned trophies. Kvitova’s 6-4 6-3 victory over Maria Sharapova shocked us a bit — at least in the ease that she saw it through — and the way she took it all in stride (no on-court breakdown, P?!) after winning. For Djokovic, his 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal was the Spaniard’s first loss to someone other than Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final. Below, a look at all the Wimbledon champs from the Bryan brothers’ historic doubles victory to the winning juniors. Above: We are digging Kvitova’s toned-down side bun and simple, but gorgeous manicure. A classy champ!

Forbes blog: Djoko’s season a flash in the pan? | Full Wimbledon gallery

Us, too! It was a monstrous week for Bob and Mike Bryan, who won their third round match 16-14 in the fifth set and semifinal match 9-7 in the fifth set before comfortably rolling in the final, 6-3 6-4 7-6 (2) over Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania. Their win in London was their 11th Major title, which ties them with Aussie duo Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge for most Grand Slams by a doubles pairing.

Not just you, Novak: Djokovic became the world’s no. 1 player in yesterday’s rankings with his win at the All England Club, but so, too, did Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, who took the ladies’ doubles crown. Peschke and Srebotnik subdued Sam Stosur and Sabine Lisicki 6-3 6-1 for the title.

Smile, Jurgen: Our life wouldn’t be complete if we couldn’t include mixed doubles cutie Jurgen Melzer in this week’s Trophy Watch. The Austrian paired up with Czech Iveta Benesova to take the mixed crown over Elena Vesnina and Mahesh Bhupathi, 6-3 6-2. | TSF Vault: Jurgen Melzer

After the cut: Australia wins a double in singles with boys’ and girls’ winners while Novak gets a champion’s welcome home in Belgrade. (more…)

spotted in the city: rafa on the cover of webmd (?!)

June 29, 2011


So… Apparently Rafael Nadal is on the cover of the current WebMD magazine, on newsstands now. TSF contributor and screenwriter/director Tobin Addington (who also alerted us to Slate‘s amazing grunt quiz) sent this picture with the commentary, “…WebMD magazine?!” Our thoughts, exactly, Tob.

The article, Rafael Nadal’s Secrets for Success, dives into how Rafa balances his health and his game and all the goings-on that the WebMD crowd would want to know about. Check out a crisp cover shot here.

TSF Vault: More city spottings here | Have a sighting of something tennis-esque? Send it to us!

(TSF image by Tobin Addington)

in action: rafa’s wimbledon kit

June 20, 2011

Back to basics: We always want Rafa to dress up his Wimbledon appearances with a polo — defending champ and all — but we understand if he wants the pomp and circ to take a back seat to getting through two weeks of grasscourt play. So crewneck tee it is!

As the top seed, Nadal took care of American Michael Russell in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win and next faces Ryan Sweeting, who needed five sets to beat Pablo Andujar 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-1. (Bracket: How TSF thinks the men’ll stack up this year.)

Buy: Nike Ace Lawn Crew, $65, in white/treasure blue, TW.

More photos: See a few more detail shots — plus pics of his warm-up jacket and on-court duffel — all after the cut…

for traveling pros, a tale of two approaches

June 19, 2011

By Jonathan Scott

Is that a sweater vest? Meet Roger Federer, amnesiac. (Getty)

Tennis is a tricky bitch. In no other sport does nostalgia ring so supreme as the calendar moves about — both in mind and spirit but in sport, too. And by sport we mean rankings. A great Wimbledon one year means everyone will be watching you the next. As Billie Jean King said: “Pressure is privilege.” But for some touring pros, pressure is just that — pressure. So as the raindrops (and strawberries and cream) start to fall across the pond, we look at two very different approaches to that pressure: those who seem to enjoy it and others who would rather the past was dumped just like a carton of sour, meant-for-strawberries cream.

The difference between an Amnesiac (the ones who’d like to forget Wimbledon 2010, and perhaps the 12 months since) and an Android (those who will be looking to methodically defend and go just as far again, if not a step further) will indubitably be a matter of psychological and physical fortitude. But, let’s be real, mostly mental. A lot of mental.

AMNESIACS

Tsvetana Pironkova: How to explain the free-fall? This quick-striking Piron-ha 2010 made the Wimby semis before evaporating. She gave Serena a fair fight in round one at Eastbourne this month, but the gal who vanquished Venus last year has all but vanished since, nearly as much as the House of Williams itself. A likely and foreboding second-rounder against Vania King or Petra Martic looms. Danger, dear Piron-ha!

Caroline Wozniacki: No way around it, the future no. 1 had her Stella McCartney-branded clock cleaned by Petra Kvitova at this time last year, submitting 2-and-0 to the Czech’s lashing strokes. A hard-court tuneup at home in Copenhagen – dubbed the Wozniacki Open by, well, everyone – wasn’t the best prep, but Caro simply has to forget last year’s lawn debacle if she’s going to vie for that virgin Slam. A potential second-round fracas against Sania Mirza lurks; lest we forget, Mirza took Justine Henin to three sets in Melbourne six months ago.

Full TSF Wimbledon coverage: Men’s preview | Women’s | Your winners?

Mirjana Lucic: The doe-eyed teen once tapped by Steffi Graf as an heir apparent in women’s tennis would probably rather forget the past decade more than just the last year. Lucic competed gamely against Jelena Jankovic at the 2010 U.S. Open but, no thanks to her father, her career and her life have been a piping hot mess since her dreamy ascension to the 1999 Wimbledon semis. First up for the comeback girl: Dominika Cibulkova, the no. 24 seed. Expect a shootout.

Nicholas Mahut: Think the lawn gods are at all kind? Rethink that right quick. Mahut drew John “Tall Tree” Isner in the first round AGAIN. If there’s any justice in the world, Mahut may even notch a W at the Big W this time out, provided that he serves well (you’d think 103 aces last year would have done the trick) and has, you know, developed his return and groundstroke game.

Roger Federer: Fed claimed his back ailed him in going down to Tomas Berdych last year, a gripe that Big Berd received sorely. If his French Open form holds, Roger, who may as well refer to Centre Court as his “backyard,” is a threat to seize his 17th Slam here and now. It may be his best chance for the rest of his career, and subtly so. A possible third-round bout with David Nalbandian intrigues.

Novak Djokovic: The Djoker has done anything but laugh at the All England Club in his young career to date. In short, when this fortnight has come around, his ass is grass. A semifinal appearance in 2010 had him waving his Wimbledon whites to Berdych’s missiles. This year’s streaking artist has much to prove on the surface, and no doubt he feels that heat. To make the semis again would honestly be to break even. Robin Soderling, Phillip Petzschner, Xavier Malisse, Jurgen Melzer, Victor Troicki, Michael Llodra, James Blake, Florian Mayer, fresh-faced Brit James Ward, and even Alejandro Falla (who nearly pulled the early rug out from under Fed last year) are all in his section. In a word, wow. He’d have better luck to play them all at once…

ANDROIDS

Ever the android, Kvitova levitates at the 2010 Championships. (Getty)

Vera Zvonareva: Life itself is like Ms. Zvonareva: You never know what you’re gonna get. Last week’s Eastbourne triumph over Serena (7-5 in the 3rd!) had to help, but VZ has scads and oodles of points to defend here or her ranking may dive. Elena Vesnina, her doubles partner in a run to the final last year, awaits in round two, but Vera should and will be wise to not look past Alison Riske first. The American girl has a grass-tastic forehand and likes the turf.

Serena Williams: Nary a new word can be crafted as far as what Serena’s presence does for the media and entertainment prospects at these Championships. The defending champ rained down a record 89 aces in taking the title in 2010 without losing a set – and then POOF! we didn’t see her again until this present time. Her makeshift match play at Eastbourne belies the fact that, when all’s on the line, you doubt a Williams and you likely get burned. A funked-up Aravane Rezai is her first foe, and it’s hard to see anyone in her quadrant giving Serena an alley fight until Marion Bartoli or Na Li in the later rounds.

Petra Kvitova: Mmm, too Kvit to quit – Petra means “rock” in Greek, but this Czech sensation can be a bit malleable in high-risk situations. Sure, she blasted Wozniacki en route to a combative 2010 semi against Serena, but she’s not dazzled when it mattered most in Slams since then. A Paris victory indoors over Kim Clijsters is her best showing in the past year. She needs a defining statement at this Slam to regain her form and inflict terror in opponents about her ground game, if not her endearing pterodactyl-esque squawk after lasering winners. Hard-serving Canuck Rebecca Marino may give her game like whoa in round three.

Tomas Berdych: Forget the fact that T-Berd fell in the French’s first round 9-7 in the fifth, less surrendering his 2010 semifinal points there. He has finalist credentials in London, and simply must go about his work robotically and avoid considering that his last year has been a wipeout. He didn’t handle the new media attention well in the wake of his surprise showing last year, but the sole seeming trouble he may have in his eighth of the draw arrives in the person of Philipp Kohlschreiber, a grass-court maven and heartbreaker who often plays the top guns tight. After that? Nadal. Then again, this is Berdych, and he might as well make his own life harder with Julien Benneteau early.

Rafael Nadal: The changing conditions of the court and heavier balls at Wimbledon have benefitted Rafa to no end. If the grass was as it was in the 1980s and ‘90s, he’d have no chance and Federer would be approaching 20 Slams now. Even so, the reigning champ (who should be sporting an “I’m still no. 1, no?” tee these days) has done everything right to capitalize on his strengths and impose his will here. A third-round boxing match with Milos Raonic and/or a fourth-round duel against Juan Martin del Potro both entice.

Andy Murray: Besides James Ward, who just alighted upon the grass courts and the front pages in the UK with recent success, there’s a strapping lad by the name of Andy Murray who, like Federer, is poised in a prime spot to turn the tables on Nadal and Djokovic, the two who have garnered all the 2011 press to date. Mr. Fuzzy Muzz should shed his thin skin (in addition to his overgrown Chia head and whiskers) and put his (tennis) balls to the (purple and green) wall. He may get Ivan Ljubicic, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Andy Roddick in succession, but Raggedy Andy proved himself on clay this spring and now could catalyze a tennis revolution in Great Britain by channeling all his nervous energy into a real run to the final. No time like now for the cunning no. 4 star.

Jonathan Scott is the keeper of the Daily Spin column at TENNIS.com and a freelance music scribe when he’s not caught up by tennis, which is hardly ever. Follow him on Twitter: @jonscott9

sunday survey: andy’s slam?

June 19, 2011

Question this: We figure that with the ladies trying to get their druthers about them, we’ll wait until next Sunday to let you weigh in on who’s going to run home with the title. But for the fellas, let’s check out who the TSF nation thinks is going to hoist high the Wimbledon trophy come July 3. Is it finally Andy Murray’s year?

TSF on Wimbledon: Men’s preview | Women’s preview

(adidas Murray image via Tennis Buzz/Flickr)

bracketology: chris breaks down sw19 (men)

June 19, 2011

By Christopher Phililps

For Wimbledon, our resident bracketologist, Chris Phillips, takes a look at both the men’s and women’s draws and breaks down who he thinks are going to be the winners — and losers — in the London this year. -NM

Rafael Nadal, above, practicing yesterday at Wimbledon: Ripped and ready. (Getty Images)
Prediction: Winner

Last year’s champion had a surprising QF loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga two weeks ago, but I think after a long clay court season and successful French Open, the extra days off will have served him better than the match play — even on grass. | More: The men’s draw

Novak Djokovic
Predition: SF

Nole is on his first losing streak of the year — one match. A two-time semifinalist here, including last year, his form this year should carry him through any problems he may have had in the past adjusting to the lawn. But a title? Not yet in London for Novak.

Roger Federer
Prediction: Finalist

Roger’s six titles here speak for themselves.  Even though he lost at Roland Garros to Nadal in the final, his quality of play there should keep him playing to the best of his ability. And everyone knows: Wimbledon is Roger’s favorite tournament of the year. | TSF Vault: Roger at Wimbledon

Andy Murray
Prediction: SF

This year’s AEGON champion made quick work of the field in London with wins over Tsonga, Andy Roddick, Marin Cilic and Janko Tipsarevic. I’m sure the British press doesn’t know how much extra weight they can put on their own man again.  The quieter they keep, the better the Brit will do. But are we kidding ourselves? Andy-mania has already hit the entire country! Here’s to two weeks of painful and pressure-building headlines in the morning papers. All the same, Murray will do what he usually does in London — make it to the semifinals.

Robin Soderling
Prediction: QF

Soderling’s best result here was the QFs last year.  You’d think the big man would do better on the lawns with that serve of his.  By skipping all the warmup tournaments, his first couple matches could be difficult. The Sod has Halle finalist Philipp Petzschner in the first round, then either Kei Neishikori (Eastbourne semifinalist) or Lleyton Hewitt (2002 Wimby champion) in the second.

Tomas Berdych
Prediction: R16

Last year’s surprise finalist has a relatively easy draw until he runs into unseeded German and this year’s Halle champion Philipp Kohlschreiber or no. 10 seed Mardy Fish in the fourth round. Has anyone else suffered more of a muted last 12 months than Berdych? His first-round loss at the French only punctuated what has been a disappointing spell for the Czech.

David Ferrer
Prediction: R16

The seventh-seeded Spaniard has never had his best results on the grass, only reaching the fourth here twice (including last year).  He’ll most likely run into this year’s AEGON finalist Tsonga in that same stage this year.

Andy Roddick
Prediction: QF

The American’s best days are behind him and Murray’s rather swift dismantling of Roddick in the AEGON QFs still has to be hurting. Having skipped most of the clay court season, I think Roddick would’ve been better off to get some extra match play and confidence-building wins in this past week rather than take more time off.

Gael Monfils
Prediction: R16

The Frenchman has underperformed here in the past, only going as far as the third round in four appearances. Monfils’ first formidable opponent would be no. 23 seed Janko Tipsarevic, with the winner most likely facing Roddick in the fourth round. Tipsarevic is questionable after an injury over the weekend in Eastbourne, and if Monfils can get through his first few rounds unscathed, the athletic speedster could pick up steam and surprise a few in the second week.

Mardy Fish
Prediction: R2

Of the leading Americans, Fish has the toughest draw. He could face Kohlschreiber in second round, then Fernando Verdasco, Radek Stepanek or Robin Haase in the third round, the furthest he’s previously gone at Wimbledon. The streaky German will get the best of the American, we think, in the round of 64.

Read Chris’ “Best of the Rest” as well as the most anticipated first-round match-ups after the cut. (more…)

trophy watch: and the na’s have it

June 6, 2011


The King and Queen of Clay: Between Rafael Nadal and Li Na, the Na’s had it over the weekend in Paris. It was a tremendous finish to a grand clay-court major, Na coming out on top of what some called a depleted field but one that saw four semifinalist who could have all easily claimed their last two matches in straight sets and everyone would have said, Yeah, we guess that makes sense. It did make sense for Na, who fought off a poor-serving Maria Sharapova in the semifinals and then just barely rose above the defending champ, Francesca Schiavone, to win in China’s first singles Major.

As for Rafa, he fought off all the usuals: Andy Murray and Roger Federer at the end. He also fought off a testy first week, a doubting press (and a doubting self) and the streak of Novak Djokovic (thanks to Rog). Nadal now has ten Slams to his name, creeping into the double digits along with Federer. Whichever the two of them end up with more is yet to be seen (for years), but Nadal equaled Bjorn Borg‘s record of six Roland Garros trophies. Kudos, kid.


(Nadal image from Getty; Na from PacificCoastNews.com)

ground attack: nike.com’s french open landing page

June 2, 2011

For the curious, Nike.com’s French Open landing page looks like this. They also used Maria‘s image, seen without text below.

(Nike website screengrab via nike.com; maria image courtesy of Nike)

sunday survey: week one’s 1-2 punch

May 29, 2011

Fabulous Franny: There’s been no stopping the Italian at this year’s French — so far. (Getty)

Era’s first. For the first time in the Open era the women’s no. 1 and no. 2 seeds are out of the tournament before the second week has even begun. For Kim Clijsters it was a dismal performance against unheralded Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus (who was promptly dispatched in the next round by Maria Kirilenko 1 and 1, thank you very much), in which she blew second-set match points. And for top seed Caroline Wozniacki it was an almost-as-bad showing against the always-lurking Daniela Hantuchova, bowing out 1-6 3-6.

But what was the biggest story line of the first week of the year’s second Slam? Novak Djokovic continued his impenetrable run through the men of the tour — a run not even 2009 US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro could stop. Roger and Rafa looked to be in all-right form thus far, though last year’s semifinalist Tomas Berdych continued his downward slide in a first-round loss to a French qualifier. And what about Francesca Schiavone? The defending champ that no one gave a chance was work-lady-like in her week one at Roland Garros, finding a spot in the QFs with a convincing 6-4-in-the-third win over Jelena Jankovic. And has everyone already forgotten about Sam Stosur??

What was the biggest story of week one? Your pick, below.

 

roland garros bracketology: the fellas

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]

With the men’s and women’s most significant clay court tournaments just completed and a handful of players getting their last bit of match time in this week, let’s take a look at some of the contenders for the 2011 French Open.  I’ve listed my top 10 favorites below in my own rank order as well as some other players to watch who’ve had notable achievements this year or in the past.

Rafael Nadal | While the tennis talk of the town has definitely been focused on Djokovic the past five months, I still believe this title is Nadal’s to lose. Djokovic has beaten Nadal four times this year with his last two on clay, but beating Rafa three out of five sets is much tougher of a challenge than beating him two out of three.  If anyone can do it though, Nole’s your man. Result: Champ (d. Djokovic in five-set final)

Novak Djokovic | I think at some point “streak pressure” has got to get to him.  Once people start asking how long can you keep it going is usually about when it stops, especially when it becomes the only question (in 20 different forms) in the media room. I detected a bit of panic on his face when he was two points away from losing to Andy Murray in the Rome SFs.  If you’re looking for more reasons he won’t beat Rafa, Nole lost to Jurgen Melzer last year in the QFs after holding a two-set lead.  Additionally — and one of the reasons why I think Murray was as successful against Novak as he was in Rome — is that nobody on the tour expects to beat this guy right now, giving them an increased ability to feel like they can swing away at their shots.  That being said, anything less than a trip to the final for Djoko would have to qualify as the biggest upset (for whoever snacks on him) of the year so far. Result: Runner-up

Roger Federer | As the oldest of the top three, the great one is past his prime … but this doesn’t mean another major (or two or three) are beyond him. But I just don’t see it happening here, nor do I see him as the victim of an upset.  He’s played eight tournaments this year winning one (Doha) and losing five to either Nadal or Djokovic.  What should be most troubling for Roger however is his straight-set loss to Melzer in the Monte Carlo QFs and losing two tiebreaks to Richard “Baby Federer” Gasquet in the third round at Rome. Result: Quarterfinals

Andy Murray | Murray’s year has been up and down, but the most encouraging thing for him going into the next two weeks should be the fact — not that he’s 13-7 on the year — but that he’s 7-3 on clay with two of those three-set losses to Nadal and Djokovic, respectively.  Hopefully these semifinal runs in Monte Carlo and Rome will give him the encouragement he needs to turn his game around for the year. More: Will Andy be OK despite his ‘injury?’ Result: Semifinals

David Ferrer | Ferrer is 15-3 (Update: DF upset by Alexandr Dolgopolov in Nice) on clay this year with his losses coming solely to … Nadal and Djokovic.  He’s had wins on the dirt over Melzer (twice), Nicolas Almagro (twice), Serb Victor Troicki, Jaun Monaco and Feliciano Lopez.  It’s going to take one of the big four to take him down. Result: Semifinals

Robin Soderling | Soderling’s made the past two finals at Roland Garros, but given his play this year, it’s difficult to see him going for a three-peat. He’s won three hard court titles (Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille) but has gone 5-4 on clay with his deepest run to quarterfinals in Rome, Madrid and Estoril.  Three of those losses were to Djokovic (losing most recently 3 & 0), Federer and Del Potro … but the other was to Ivan Dodig.  He also struggled against Almagro, Fernando Verdasco and Jeremy Chardy.  If any of the top eight are ripe for an early upset, it’s the Swede. Result: Quarterfinals

Scalp man: Soderling has had big wins the last two years. Don’t expect him to make it three in a row.

Tomas Berdych | Berdych made it to the SFs here last year, but hasn’t won a title in over two years. His record on the dirt this year is 5-3 with his most significant wins over Monaco (twice), falling at or before the QFs in all three events. His record going into Roland Garros last year wasn’t entirely dissimilar, but it’s hard to see him reaching the SFs again. Result: Quarterfinals

Nicolas Almagro | Many have considered Almagro to be the Spanish clay court successor to Nadal, but he’s yet to live up to any of that hype.  He’s 20-4 on clay this year with two South American titles (Buenos Aires and Costa Do Sauipe) with wins over Sam Querrey, Juan-Ignacio Chela (twice), Tommy Robredo, Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrero and Jose Acasuso. His clay success has helped him crack the top ten for the first time in his career. In seven trips to Paris, he’s lost to top 10 players on five of those occasions and twice been a quarterfinalist. The real question seems to be: Can Almagro finally break through to his predicted potential? Result: Quarterfinals

Richard Gasquet | While he’s 4-7 lifetime at Roland Garros (yep! You read that right.), four of those losses have been to top ten players (Murray last year after leading two-sets-to-none, Nadal and David Nalbandian (twice) and a fifth to eventual champ Albert Costa in 2002 (Right, we forgot about Albie, too).  So far this year on the dirt, Richard is 8-4 with three losses to top 10 players (Nadal twice and countryman Gael Monfils).  His play in Rome (with victories over Federer and Berdych) was inspiring and should serve him well in Paris. But will the home crowd be too much once again? Result: Third round

Stanislas Wawrinka | He’s 10-6 at Roland Garros, but — similar to Gasquet — three of those losses were to top ten players (Federer, Ivan Ljubicic and Nalbandian) and the other three losses were to future top ten players (Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez) and eventual 2002 finalist (the now-forgotten Mariano Puerta).  Even though his 7-5 clay court record this year leaves plenty to be desired, needless to say it takes a considerable player to take out the second-highest Swiss player in Paris. Result: Third round

For a list of other players to watch, click to keep reading. (more…)


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