sharapova FINALLY wears her new clothes

Oops. So we were a little premature in reporting Maria Sharapova‘s newest outfits back in March. We’d hoped that the blue Nike dress would make a Miami debut. Instead Masha opted to wear Gator colors that week and waited until the French Open to parade this new outfit.

The dress — reminiscent of what Stella McCartney designed for Maria Kirilenko at last year’s Wimbledon — can be worn with the black leggings. And Masha did that for her first round match. But she chose to go bare for the second round (photo, left). Yowza!

Also, that embroidered visor is a nice touch.

What do YOU think about the outfit? Tell us.

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without murray, fred perry soldiers on

I’m sure Fred Perry is disappointed that it couldn’t show off Andy Murray‘s sponsored clothing at this week’s French Open (he’s out with a wrist injury). They’re not missing a beat, though: yesterday they sent out an e-mail reminding us about the tennis collection, which consists mostly of what Murray’s been wearing on the tour. Truth in advertising; I like it. (Mind you — they have some other collections that are also worth checking out.)

Here are my highlights (from left to right): pillow bag, grand slam jacket, and a medallion shirt.

Tipsarevic d. Safin, aka why I love tennis

Two of the sport’s more mercurial players squared off in the second round at the French Open. Serbian (and Patrick Rafter look-alike) Janko Tipsarevicsans glasses — emerged the winner, beating Marat Safin 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Judging from these photos, it looked like a tight match. Did anyone see it?

Clothing: Marat’s in adidas and Janko wore Fila.

Tattoo watch: For another view of Janko’s “Beauty will save the world” tattoo, make sure to click on the second picture from the left, below.

fashion: russian dressin’

French clothing sponsor Airness still has top Russian Nikolay “Kolya” Davydenko to help boost its international profile at Roland Garros this week.

They’re really taking care of him. They had him in four different shirts in Hamburg earlier this month, and now this black/orange number. I’m not in love with it, but it’s not atrocious.

What do you think about this color combination?

(Their other player, Nadia Petrova, crashed out in the first round yesterday. Her injured back contributed to her loss against qualifier Kveta Peschke, and will likely keep her out of Wimbledon, too.)

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further reading: what separates Federer from the rest?

Roger Federer entered this week’s French Open with a 2300-point lead over world #2 Rafael Nadal. By now we all know the reasons behind this lead. We’ve seen him play. Winners from all over the court, on the defensive, from in between the legs, or around the net post. Backhand overheads. Clutch shots coming out of nowhere.

Science and our curiousity have tried to chip away at how great athletes like Roger come to be. Back in March, Daniel Coyle, via a NYT article attempted to explain the phenomena — not just that of amazing players, but of amazing players from the same geographical area: South Korean women golfers, Dominican baseball players, and seemingly endless supply of Russian tennis players (the latter an enigma that vexes U.S. Fed Cup team captain Zina Garrison everyday, I’m sure). Is it coincidence, or is there a scientific explanation?

Coyle travelled with Elena Dementieva back to her childhood training academy, Spartak (in Moscow), to get some more insight. The academy was the perfect research specimen: it spawned Dementieva, along with Anna Kournikova, Marat Safin, and Anastasia Myskina, all from the same group of kids. On one hand he attributes their talent to biology — “super-athletes” have more myelin in their nervous system — and on the other he cites intense parenting, training, and time investment. Nothing conclusive, but a well-written article.

And this week’s Wired brings up the idea of field sense, a skill “which mixes anticipation, timing, and an acute sense of spatial relations”, and a skill which the writer deems untrainable. But not if Australian Instute of Sport scientist Damian Farrow has anything to say about it. In tennis, he’s developing ways for players to anticipate a serve as early as possible (perhaps even before the ball toss), thus giving the receiver extra milliseconds to react.

The article also mentions unstructured play as a way of developing good field sense (a skill perfected by Martina Hingis during her childhood — her coach/mother Melanie Molitor would feed her balls to hit from all over the court, leaving Hingis to scramble and anticipate where each ball would land).

Roger and Rafa: in blue on the terre battue

For the French Open, Nike has dressed both Rafael Nadal and Roger Feder in the same Nike palette.

I prefer this color on Roger. The red version of the shirt wasn’t doing him good. And the blue/white version of Rafa’s shirt is better than the blue/black, which they’ve given back to Carlos the Cursed and poor James Blake (WHAT is going on with that blouse?!).

Which color do you prefer on Roger — red or blue? Tell us.

From left to right: Nadal, Federer, Blake, Moya

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an excerpt from Federer's new biography: peek into his life with girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec

Tennis Served Fresh got an advanced look into the biography of Roger Federer hitting the shelves in about a month.

Quest for Perfection: The Roger Federer Story covers his childhood, his days as a temperamental junior, and his early days at the top of the ATP tennis heap.

Here’s an excerpt on Roger’s life with girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec:

Roger and Mirka lead a quiet, harmonious life together and seem compatible with each other. “Mirka likes to cook and I like to eat. That’s a perfect arrangement,” he said. “I help from time to time, make the beds, vacuum or dry the dishes. We make sure that we divide the work evenly.” He knows that his girlfriend sacrifices a great deal for him and he tries to do something in return whenever the opportunity presents itself. He goes with her to the movies, to the theater, to concerts. He said that “on vacation, I’m willing to change roles. Then she’s the center of attention.”

Quest for Perfection: The Roger Federer Story, New Chapter Press, $24.95, by Rene Stauffer. Release date: June 25. Available for pre-sale through www.rogerfedererbook.com.

(Click here to read a few more paragraphs on Roger and Mirka…)