serena wins her fifth australian open title

Congrats to Serena Williams for winning her fifth Australian Open women’s singles title (and 12th career major singles title) by defeating Justine Henin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Man, that third set was ug. ly.

Sunbeams or headlights? Serena’s Nike dress definitely did its part to enhance her curves in all the right places. See the details of her outfit (including jewelry, red shoelaces, and leopard-print fingernails) — all after the cut…

oudin’s chance to bounce back

Melanie Oudin has been on our mind lately. First, she was one of the big stories at the 2009 U.S. Open, where her pink “Believe” adidas shoes look dangerously close to our own version of the custom-designed Barricades. And after a dismal post-Open slump that saw her go 1-6 (including an early loss at the 2010 Australian Open last week), Oudin’ll have a chance to regain her momentum at the upcoming Fed Cup tie against France. Finally, a silver lining to the Williams sisters buying a stake in the Miami Dophins.

Further reading: Our blurb on Ms. Oudin for The Moment. Enjoy!

(image via nytimes.com)

cilic: letting the game do the talking

One loss so far this year (to Andy Murray) should be encouraging to Marin Cilic; after winning Chennai, the Croat made his way to his first major semifinal at this year’s 2010 Australian Open and stared down some big guns along the way, including the slicey (and un-retired) Fabrice Santoro, hometown fave Bernard Tomic, fellow beast Juan Martin Del Potro, and the hard-serving Andy Roddick (whom TSF picked as the men’s titleist this year). Here’s hoping for an exciting 2010 for Marin. Maybe a crack into the top 10?

Buy: Fila Spring Heritage piped polo in white, $46.99, fila.com.

sightings in the stands… and on the sidelines

I’ve been with Marin” would’ve been a more interesting sign, no?

These fans showed up to cheer for the Croat Marin Cilic‘s first appearance at a major semi. Too bad he ran right into fifth seed Andy Murray‘s freight train, which caused a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 scoreline. The Scot’s in the final against Roger Federer, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets. Does anyone else think that this is Roger’s year to pick up all four major titles?

Meanwhile, an uber-excited Croatian fan (wearing his best Bob’s Big Boy) walk onto the court as the match ended, getting a chance to shake hands with Marin near the chair umpire. Can we make an example of one of these guys? Make them be a ballboy for an entire two hour match in the hot Australian sun? Have them be in charge of Rafael Nadal‘s sweat? Get their head dunked in cold water every time we “see” Venus Williams “flashing us”? Respect the access we get, people. We got off easy after Monica. Let’s keep it that way.

might we have sung a different bird call?

Maria Sharapova got into all sorts of dung for debuting her Nikepeacock” dress at the 2010 Australian Open. Fanfare about clothing is usually great for media — we can only write about backhand winners so many times — but if the athlete strays too far from the matter at hand (that’s playing tennis, in case you’re wondering), she’ll end up with a disparaging reception.

But there’s nothing we can do about a shaky game — a first-round exit, upset by fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko. An alternative could have been wearing the supporting cast to her Maria Sharapova Collection, aka the “separates” version of each of the seven Nike outfits she’ll be wearing this year.

The Golden Set tank has some mini-ruffles around the collar (taking from her Wimbledon swan dress of 2007) and there is a tactful slit on the Golden Set skirt that should set an example for how Venus will design clothes for future tournaments.

Buy: Nike Golden Set Tank and Skirt; $65; both in bluegrass/vibrant yellow and white/cool mint colorways; nike.com.

(screengrabs from nike.com)

mirka does the amanda

You know we couldn’t make it through the entire Australian Open without at least one post on Mirka, right?? Well, today our favorite plus one gets her mug shot compared to Amanda Knox, the famous Seattleite know for, well, if you don’t know, then read the story.

Maybe if Mirka and Amanda were look-alike besties Mirka could help her out with her court troubles? Roger speaks Italian, right?!

See the look-alikes after the cut. [Read more...]

short balls: a uso trip for you? (or bode.)

Grassroots game: The USTA has taken a page out of the American Idol playbook, and Bode Miller is doing his best to be the Kelly Clarkson of the gang. The USTA announced today that a playoff-type tournament will take place across the country from April through June, then continue through the U.S. Open Series schedule, culminating with the winner of the final earning a birth in the U.S. Open qualifying draw. Sound crazy? Miller doesn’t think so. We’re going to go with Jennifer Love Hewitt on this one. All three parts of her name are already tennis-familiar…

Big screen, small screen: If you missed our plug for skater Johnny Weir (and his new documentary) on last week’s short balls, here’s another shot. And who knew the Olympian had his own TV show?! I wonder what he would say about Wimbledon’s all-white rules… ?

William (not Williams) does the AO: Prince William made quite the visit to the Australian Open last week, taking in a Roger Federer match and chatting with the likes of Oracene and Serena; Serena spilled all the beans on SerenaTV. Meanwhile, Mirka might have to worry about Rog and Willy metrosexing it all over the globe together. Who would Harry match up well with?!

Picture this: If you’re ever in search of great sports photos, look no further than the daily collection that the New York Times puts together. And we’re not just saying that because we work there sometimes. But hey, we work there sometimes.

Freeze-frame fanny: Tobin’s right. What is with Venus’s skin-tone undershorts?! So confused.

Spin me, darling: Tennis.com has debuted a new feature to its web site in 2010 called “Daily Spin”. We’re digging the behind-the-scenes sort of coverage, but especially love the commentary from Photo Editor David Rosenberg. If TSF hosted an online panel with Chelsea-Lately-like tennis wit, David would be our first invite.

(photo by M De Vries via flickr.com)

a storm from the east

Li Na is the second Chinese player through to the semis of the ladies draw at the 2010 Australian Open. She took out Venus Williams in a tight, three-set match that went 7-5 in the third. Li will play the winner of the Serena Williams/Azarenka quarterfinal.

We kinda see… a lot: We love the boob-enhancing design of the Nike Peek-A-Boo top (Serena’s wearing the dress version). Buy: Peek-A-Boo Tennis Tank in White, Sapphire (blue), Sunbeam (orange), and VIolet Pop (lavender), $60; the Love Game Skirt, $60; nike.com.

(images via Getty Images)

fresh perspective: an aussie welcome

TSF is excited to welcome Tobin Addington to the 2010 blogging team. Tobin holds a masters degree in Film from Columbia University, works as a director and screenwriter, and is a professor at Ramapo College in New Jersey. His tennis love has blossomed over the last few months, and the Australian Open is the first Slam he’s followed end-to-end. Tobin will contribute with a column called fresh perspective, giving his take of the game we all know with a new lens. -NM

I’m new to tennis.  Like, really new.  Six months ago, I didn’t know the difference between a break point and a backhand.  (Okay, so I probably could’ve figured out what a backhand was, but I didn’t care.)

All that changed last September at my local gym when I caught the end of Melanie Oudin beating one of those Russians at the U.S. Open.  I ran about five extra miles on the treadmill to see the end of the match.  (Yes, I know, the Oudin phenomenon was largely a media creation, a story designed to rope suckers like me into paying attention to tennis.  But it worked!)

Now I subscribe to the Tennis Channel, I’ve read all the Jon Wertheim tennis books and Agassi’s autobiography, I check TSF and Tennis.com daily, and I’ve started programming my social life around big matches.  (I even watched the Federer-Del Potro U.S. Open final from my computer at work.  Shhh.  Don’t tell…)

The guys here at TSF have kindly invited me to contribute a post every couple weeks from my perspective as a new (and increasingly avid) fan.  I’m flattered and excited, but I feel more full of questions than anything else.  So I’m hoping you, dear readers, will take me under your collective wing and guide my introduction to tennis.

I’m still figuring out who’s who and what all the rules are.  (Double break points?  Lets?  Slams?)    Heck, I’m still getting the scoring straight.

But I love the personalities, the psychological intensity, the combination of finesse and brutality.  And, yes, the outfits.  (Among the things I’ve already learned from watching tennis that I really should’ve known before: wristbands are used to wipe sweat off faces.  Maybe I’m a little slow, but this never occurred to me before.)

From outside the world of tennis fans, the sport maintains a pristine, genteel image.  Anyone whose read the introduction to Agassi’s biography understands there is so much more to this sport.

It truly is, to paraphrase Wertheim, our most gladiatorial sport.  And I can’t wait for more!

And I have a lot of questions.  First: what’s up with the skin-colored undies Venus Williams wore against Francesca Schiavone? Hello, freeze-frame-fanny shots?!

[Read more...]