Archive for the ‘australian open’ Category

short balls: aussie hangover

February 1, 2011

There is plenty to be said about this year’s Australian Open. We’ll leave most of the match breakdowns and this’s and that’s to the experts: On Tennis.com, Tom Perrotta is saying that this is a Major that the ladies should be proud of – and I quite agree. Isn’t it crazy what a quality tournament this was, even though the likes of Ivanovic, Venus, Justine and Maria couldn’t even crack deep into the second week? Kudos, gals. Now, let’s get to the good, juicy TSF stuff.

Speaking of Venus, how strange was the word-vomit Tweet barrage from her mother, Oracene Price on Friday? Oracene Tweeted around 60 times in a matter of hours, complimenting Novak DjokovicPetra Kvitova (which Oracene could never spell right) and Li Na along the way. But in the same breath, Oracene poked fun at Clijsters and said she hoped Li would “kick some butt.” That was as talkative as Oracene has been – both online or in person – ever. Here, she seems to make a strange (and confusing) claim that Clijsters is “dubious:”

Twitter-pated: More of Oracene on TSF | Follow Oracene on Twitter | Follow TSF

Hoping to catch Kimmie at the 2012 Olympics before she signs off for good? You probably will get to swig back a Heineken or two, as the London Games are supposedly close to signing a deal with the Dutch beer-producer, according to Marketing magazine: “Heineken will have pouring rights to the hospitality outlets at the 2012 Games and also have the marketing rights to the Olympics and Paralympics, reports Marketing magazine.” (via Sports City)

Close to Melbourne, but across the ocean… Ryan Harrison was victorious in an all-American final at the Honolulu challenger. He took down Alex Kuznetsov to capture the crown, $7,200 and 80 ranking points. Three American women (Julia Cohen, Irina Falconi and Madison Brengle) are doing the dirty work on the USTA Pro Circuit this week. They are the top three seeds in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

And if you haven’t seen this video of a streaker running into a bit of streaking bad luck, you must:

(ao photo by jheritage via flickr; oracene screen grab via twitter; video screen grab via youtube)

trophy watch: who wore it better?

January 31, 2011

You didn’t need us to tell you who won over the weekend in Melbourne. But we’re wondering who wore their Aussie Open trophy better: Novak Djokovic or Kim Clijsters?

(ap photos)

sunday survey: aussie farewell

January 30, 2011

There are probably too many to choose from, so we’ll let you guys decide: Which was the moment you’ll remember from this year’s Australian Open the most? There was plenty to talk about over the two weeks of the tourney, including a wacky week one. Did Rafa’s exit surprise you? Or how about the way Roger and Murray went down to eventual-champ Djokovic in straights? Li Na made it a step closer to a slam title, but Clijsters was there with her agility and power. Can anyone stop her?

More afterthoughts to come this week… but for now, we’ll leave it up to you.

(mark dadswell/ getty images)

the battle of the husbands

January 29, 2011

By Benjamin Snyder of TenaciouslyTennis.com.

The final of this year’s Australian Open women’s event signifies more than a battle pitting Belgium’s three-time US Open champ Kim Clijsters against Chinese tennis’ greatest hope, Li Na. It’s also the story of two husbands: retired basketball player Brian Lynch and Jiang Shan, a former tennis player-turned-coach.

For Kim, husband Brian left a lucrative basketball career on the European circuit to give his wife a second chance at tennis success. She’s done pretty well for herself, too. With two majors in 18 months – and the potential for a third – she’s the most successful mom in tennis history since Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s win at Wimbledon in the 1980s. | TSF Vault: Kim Clijsters

She’s even survived the limelight-shifting comeback of Belgian rival-turned-friend-turned-rival Justine Henin. Yeah, JuJu came back and then retired for the second time just as Kim claimed a spot in the Melbourne final. Oops.

Through it all, however, Brian’s been there to back her up. He goes to every match, bites his nails hoping for Kim’s success, and helps out with their daughter, Jada. And all so that his wife can do her thing: win.

As for Li, husband Jiang not only serves as her coach, but also is the guy who apparently deserves the credit for improving her mental game. He also inspired her to play again after she quit a few years ago. Even more importantly, he’s the brunt of some jokes she’s cracked on her way to the AO final.

Apparently, he snores pretty loud. After keeping her up the night before the semifinal match versus world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Li didn’t think twice about calling him out on it. No bed for Jiang, she told the world. Instead, he’d be sleeping in the bathroom, she said. We’ll have to keep an eye on him in the player box as Li takes to the court against Kim. Maybe Mirka could lend him some sunglasses?

To make matters worse, Li had trouble remembering the date of their anniversary. In the same interview, the Chinese no. 1 got flustered when told her win came on their fifth anniversary. Is it the 27th or the 29th? In the moment, such a fact escaped the tennis-hot Li.

So, sorry, Jarmila Groth, these husbands simply ooze positive support, unlike Sam. They also seem keen on keeping the controversy and yelling to a minimum. Well, at least publicly and during match play.

In the end, the question isn’t just: Who will win? Which husband’s support reigns supreme also stands to be determined in this historic match between mother Kim Clijsters and Chinese trendsetter Li Na.

(photos via getty)

aussie open podcast w/ david thorpe

January 27, 2011

As the Australian Open launches into its final weekend, David Thorpe joins us for a TSF podcast, our first of the 2011 season. We catch up with David on his thoughts of Justine Henin‘s re-retirment, the future of Li Na (and the domination of Chinese tennis?!), AO scheduling for the men and our favorite moment from the last 10 days. | More podcasts from TSF

Listen now: TSF-Podcast-Aussie-11

(photo by getty images)

a letter to juju… from the tennis establishment

January 26, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

The Tennis Establishment

(justine ao photo via getty images)

ao sf predictions with christopher phillips (gents)

January 26, 2011

Party crasher: everyone knew there would be a Spaniard in the semis. Just not this guy. (Getty/ Torsten Blackwood.)

Christopher Phillips, a regular TSF contributor, weighs in on the semifinal match-ups over the next two days in Melbourne. | More: Lady picks

As Rafael Nadal bows out of the men’s mix, all eyes are focused on the rematch of the US Open semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.  Both men are coming off of strong quarterfinal showings as Federer beat countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets and Djokovic handed the same result to former giant-killer Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic has been the more consistent of the two in only dropping one set in his run to the semis (a tiebreak at that) compared to three lost sets for Fed. Though most would say Federer has had the tougher draw in defeating three former top ten players (Gilles Simon, Tommy Robredo and Wawrinka), he looked especially vulnerable in a five-set clash with Simon in the second round. Djokovic has really only had to contend with the up-and-down Berdych and Nicolas Almagro, who’d always rather be playing on clay.

While Djokovic had Federer’s number in New York, I see the relationship between Federer and new coach Paul Annacone continuing to flourish for the Swiss.  Roger takes it in five.

At the top half we have one of my favorite (and I think most underappreciated) players in David Ferrer. After Ferrer’s quarterfinal upset over an injured Nadal, he takes on Scot Andy Murray.  After seeing Murray’s countless meltdowns in Majors, I very recently claimed that I thought Murray would never win a slam in his career. But with his solid under-the-radar play here, I may be forced to eat my own crow though with perhaps a bit of Aussie vegemite on top.

Murray may have already mentally booked his place in the final, which could spell trouble for him against a player with the consistency, determination and drive that Ferrer has.  Ferrer has had to fight more in his run to the semis, so he may be more battle-tested than Murray, but I pick the no. 5 seed in four sets.

ao sf predictions with christopher phillips (ladies)

January 26, 2011

Caroline Wozniacki is still no. 1 – and more importantly – still alive, at the AO. (Getty/ Clive Brunskill)

Christopher Phillips, a regular TSF contributor, weighs in on the semifinal match-ups over the next two days in Melbourne. Phillips lives, works and plays in Los Angeles, answering to a number of different bosses. Tragically, last year, he was speechless for weeks after learning of the retirement of Elena Dementieva and is currently on a search to find her replacement in his heart. | More: And for the gentlemen

Well… the semifinals have arrived (almost) as I predicted.  An on-fire Li Na takes on faux-kangaroo lover Caroline Wozniacki while Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva meet at a Slam for the third time in a row (they’re 1-1 so far).  But where does it go from here?

Li has won all of her matches in straight sets, with the most difficult coming in first round versus Sofia Arvidsson.  Li has broken her opponents no less than four times each match while maintaining her own first serve percentage at an average of 72.4%.

Wozniacki, on the other hand, hasn’t won her matches as decisively as her opponent, and I do have to admit I thought Francesca Schiavone still had a chance deep into the third set to win the match.  While Caro gutted through to the win, the way she let an injured, fatigued Schiavone dictate the match from the first point I think will be her downfall when she faces a stronger, healthier and confident Li.

Li leads the head-to-head 2-1 with both of her wins coming last year on Australian soil in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, so I pick her to make her home country proud by being the first Chinese woman to reach a major final.

On the other half of the draw it’s Clijsters pitted against a resurgent Zvonareva.  This one could go either way really.  Zvonareva’s only dropped one set in five matches – to Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round.  Clijsters, meanwhile, hasn’t dropped one yet, but was pushed to one tiebreak in each of her last three matches and looked shaky at times.

Apart from Vera falling apart during the USO final, the Russian beat Kim three times last year – including at Wimbledon.  Since Clijsters holds an advantage of second-serve points won (60% to Zvonareva’s 46%), I’m going with Clijsters in three sets in the battle of two baseliners.

dancing queen

January 24, 2011

Before Andrea Petkovic, the best tie the tennis world had to dancing was Monica Selesfrightening stint on Dancing With the Stars. We all remember how that turned out, right?? Petkovic’s moves are refreshing – just like her personality. We took awhile to warm up to the German, but watching her fight her way past Maria Sharapova was enduring, and now the dancing seems a little more appropriate, eh?

More: Courtney Nguyen‘s USAToday piece on the dancing Petko | Petkorazzi on YouTube

And: Aussie ladies: Ekaterina Makarova outfit no-no gets Mariana Alves outta her chair | TSF Vault: Alves

sunday survey: week 1′s wackiest?

January 23, 2011

Week one of the Australian Open is over and done with: seven days of play down, seven to go. But there were seven instances out of the tennis norm that caught our eye, and we’re wondering for today’s Sunday Survey: which moment was the wackiest? Choose in the survey below. And if you’re not sure what we’re referencing, check out videos on each occurrence after the jump.

Click here for a video vault on all seven moments. (more…)

short balls: guest appearance

January 22, 2011

Short balls is making a weekend appearance, so don’t get too worked up… But you might be excited to hear – maybe you should be sitting down for this – that Marv Albert is joining CBS‘ team for its March Madness coverage. You tennis fans remember Marv, don’t you? He’s the basketball commentator that was tapped by TNT in 2000 to help the network at Wimbedon. His famous making-a-tough-jumpshot phrase (“Yesssssssssssss!”) didn’t really translate well to the game of ball and racket. At all. That reminds us: TNT was once the home of Wimbledon?! Oh how things change in 10 years.

Earlier this week it was announced that Andre Agassi will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer in Newport. The announcement didn’t come as a total shock to anyone, though the Hall did put together a great video to capture the events that took place in Las Vegas for the announcement itself:

Short(er) balls: We stumbled across this site of gents being sampled from all walks of life. Even Novak Djokovic gets a piece of the action. | And if you ever consider leaving a nasty comment, we will track you down…

Picture this: You guys missed Heineken Day. But these fellas didn’t.

(photo via ao.com)

milos’ melbourne mastery

January 21, 2011

Which one doesn’t belong? That would be the fella on the far left – Vasek Pospisil – who is the only man among these four pictured who isn’t still alive and well in the Australian Open draw. That other unfamiliar face – second from left – is one Milos Raonic, a 20-year-old Canadian who has advanced to the fourth round of the AO with a four-set win today over 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny. In six matches (including three qualifying wins), Raonic has dropped just two sets. He’ll face no. 7 seed David Ferrer in the Round of 16.

More: Montreal Gazette‘s Stephanie Myles on tennis’ changing guard | Canadians on TSF

(photo via popout.com)

caro to press: ask me something different!

January 21, 2011

“You work the the Daily Mail? Here. Take my towel.”

Caroline Wozniacki decided to take a little bit of a different route in her press conference yesterday after her win over Dominika Cibulkova in the third round of the Aussie. Saying that she had heard in the media that she was boring, she came to the mic ready with notes compiled from questions that she “always gets asked.” After she answered – or stated, rather -the usuals (How did you feel like you played? What were your strengths out there? Who do you have next? How does your new racquet feel? Do you really think you should be no. 1?), Caro let the media ask some new, original Qs. Their creativity was mixed. Listen to the presser audio here | Transcript here

Like Caro’s look? More Stella McCartney from adidas

(photo by ben solomon for ao.com)

before the exit, ana and the kids

January 20, 2011

Before she tumbled out of the Aussie Open, Ana Ivanovic hung out with some youngsters at a clinic put on by adidas. It was too bad to see Ana go down so early, especially after her resurgent fall swing. | More Ana on TSF

(video via the wta)

todd woodbridge: “[kim] looks grumpy; boobs are bigger”

January 19, 2011

UPDATE: Watch the video on New Zealand’s 3 News

In a light-hearted, but hilarious moment from the post-match interview between Kim Clijsters and Todd Woodbridge, Clijsters turned the tables on the former Aussie star and revealed a text message he had sent to Renae Stubbs:

Woodbridge text, recalled by Kim: “[Kim] looks very grumpy and her boobs are bigger.”

Clijsters recalled the text during the post-match interview, and Woodbridge thanked Kim for the “end of my television” career before signing off. More of the exchange:

Kim: “Rennae Stubbs showed me a text you sent in which you said you thought I looked pregnant.”
(Laughter).
Todd: “Well, are you?”
Kim: “No.”

(photo via getty images)

short balls: from melbourne and beyond

January 19, 2011

Melbourne movie makers: While the Australian Open has always been known as the “fun” Major, it can also be tapped for the way it approaches things differently than the other three in the Western Hemisphere. This year, one aspect setting the AO apart is its tennis film festival, called Changing Ends Take Two. The festival describes itself as “an independent short film event for budding filmmakers to submit a film with the theme ‘Take Two’ as part of the Tennis Film Festival to be shown during Australian Open 2011.”

There are certainly plenty of entries to sift through. If you want to take a glance, start off in the 2010 tab to take a look at what was popular in 2010, including the most-viewed vid, “When You Have Tennis:”

And we kind of agree: who needs girls? | TSF Vault: More of the off-court tennis world in video

Admirable action: Remember Hudson Taylor? We do. He’s the former Division I all-star wrestler that is straight and is taking it upon himself to be one of the loudest non-gay voices for gay rights. Someone fighting for the well being of others?! Go figure. Recently Taylor launched AthleteAlly.com, in which visitors are asked to sign a pledge to support an accepting community in their own athletic worlds. So far, Hudson has 1,000+ signatures. All hail (and visit) a good cause.

Me, too: While hubby Andy Roddick gets plenty of ink about his form at the Aussie, Brooklyn Decker is sure to get some press on her own. The model/ actress (yes, actress) reportedly told Self that Papa Decker had to have an intervention with the youngster when she began her career so as not to “wreck her body.” Guess the talk worked.

Picture this: While everyone is clad in bursts of pastels and bright colors, we’re digging Sophie Ferguson in red, white and blue Fila. | More Fila on TSF

(“changing ends” screen shot via ao.com; ferguson via getty)

is this rock bottom?

January 18, 2011

(POST EDITED -NM)

Or can Dinara Safina sink lower than a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Kim Clijsters in the first round of the Aussie? Her loss marks a first for a former world no. 1 at a Major. In 2000, former world no. 1 Monica Seles lost to Martina Hingis by the same score at Miami. But as other former female greats have showed us, there’s farther to fall. We just wonder what bottom is for Dinara. | Bagels: Those that have been served on TSF

(photo via getty images)

venus’ heart is in argentina

January 17, 2011

Is Venus Williams playing for the country of Argentina for this Australian Open? Sure looks to be the case.

After the cut: Our favorite Day One look from the male side of things. (more…)

aussie preview: dark horses

January 16, 2011

Can Lleyton cruise through the draw? If son Cruz had anything to say about it, he would. (photo by getty)

No, “dark horses” is not the name of Martina Hingis‘ favorite Lifetime TV movie, it’s a look at the ladies and gents who might make a kangaroo hop in your draw into a round you just didn’t expect him or her to do. But before we get to those who have been springing spryly lately, let’s take a look at who’s been have a tough time chalking up any “Ws” lately.

Feeling down Down Under

Men: Things have been rough for Fernando Verdasco as of late. The current world no. 9 made quite the impression two years ago in Melbourne when he lost an epic semi to Rafael Nadal that many called the match of the year. But after a solid 2010 US Open, in which he made highlight reels with a spectacular around-the-net post shot to  beat David Ferrer in the round of 16 (he lost in the quarters to – you guessed it – Nadal) Verdasco is a jaw-dropping 2-6, unable to win a match against a player inside the top 50. He’s 0-1 in 2011 and has a tough draw with Rainer Schuettler in round one and a potential second-match against giant-slayer Janko Tipsarevic. | On TSF: Shirtless Fernando

Honorable mention: Juan Martin del Potro. The 2009 US Open champ is ranked no. 236 and is 1-3 since his return in September.

Women: What’s the deal with Sam? For much of 2010 it seemed like Samantha Stosur – the no. 5 seed here – had the whole mid-career transition thing figured out. She made her first appearance in a Slam final (the French), battled past big guns, and held her own in the best women’s match of the US Open in the quarters against Elena Dementieva. But now, the hometown gal seems to have fallen apart. She finished 2010 3-5 and has started this year 2-2. She has the game’s biggest serve and a wicked forehand, but if she can’t corral the power, her backers might not see her get out of week two.

Honorable mention: The Russian duo of Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova are the latest ladies to leave us scratching our heads. Sure, there are plenty of WTA head cases out there, but these two veterans should be a bit more steady.

On the up and up (Down Under, of course)

Let’s start with the ladies: There’s Jarmila Groth, the home-country lady who has a sudden following after winning Hobart on Saturday. Her round one opponent? The “other” Belgian: Yanina Wickmayer. Wickmayer was a finalist in Auckland on week one of the year, so the 2009 US Open semifinalist is a tough cookie to take. Big hitters: Expect Petra Kvitova and Alisa Kleybanova to threaten for spots in week two. And Andrea Petkovic is starting to walk the talk of a big-time player. Petko could face a shaky Venus in the third round. Oh right, Li Na! Li Na!

Where do we even go with the men? Most namely (and recently) there’s David Ferrer, who took out David Nalbandian to win over the weekend in Auckland. Another winner over the weekend was Gilles Simon (Sydney), who is making something of a comeback after missing much of the fall to be a new dad. Stanislas Wawrinka, Kevin Anderson, Xavier Malisse and Janko Tipsarevic all had good starts to the year, as did Lleyton Hewitt who won the exhibition tourney in Kooyong. And another Serb, Victor Troiki, was who Simon conquered in Sydney for the title. The big-serving tall fella could be a test for countryman Novak Djokovic in the third round.

sunday survey: your melbourne master(s)

January 16, 2011

Feel free to comment on if you’ve ever seen Rafa’s hair more frizzy. And we want proof. | On SI: Media day

There are so many questions that could be asked. But what about the ultimate one: Who is going to win the Australian Open? We’re sure you’ve filled out your AO brackets on the Tennis Channel web site already, and have them printed out next to your remote for tonight’s opening-day action. So who’s is gunna be? Men and women, go. | Full TV sched

(photo via getty)


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