they really do make a difference

Study in stripes: In case ya don’t think it matters, here’s a case where stripes would’ve helped slenderize the Yonex‘ed Brit Elena Baltacha. If this dress looks familiar to you, it’s because that other Elena — Elena Dementieva, is wearing a different piece from the same collection.

But notice how the wide swaths of white on Baltacha’s top make her torso look wider, while on Dementieva, the stripes serve to give her upper body some more definition (she’s not as bossomy as, say, Serena or Svetlana). In Baltacha’s case, she might have benefited more from the thin lines of Dementieva’s tank.

Bracket: Onto more serious things. Top seed Maria Sharapova beat Baltacha in the second round of this week’s Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn. Masha’s still on track to a title, facing Petra Kvitova in the semis and either Sofia Arvidsson or Page Six tweeter Anne Keothavong. We’re hoping that this is a good confidence boost as the Russian moves further into the hardcourt season with Indian Wells and Key Biscayne just around the corner. (Draw: Women’s singles [pdf])

More: Two more pics of Baltacha after the cut…

in vancouver, plushenko’s outfit did him in?

The Seattle Times has a great piece up about who was Best Dressed during last night’s men’s free skate in Vancouver. The dramatic event catapulted American Evan Lysacek to gold over favorite Evgeni Plushenko in what many are calling a flawless performance.

From The Times’s point of view, our boy Johnny Weir took the fashion crown (not surprisingly) was best dressed. But Plushenko, in a rhinestone suitcoat, got the nod as worst dressed. From our point of view, it was definitely the hair that did him in. That mane needs an Andy Murray-chopping pronto.

In the fan’s poll, Weir just nudged out Lysacek 37% to 35%. The people have spoken.

More shots of Plushenko and Weir after the cut.

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venus covers up, and then some

This is Dubai, after all: We are pretty sure that the “skin baring” dress that Venus Williams would’ve kept her out of defending her singles title at the Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships (hey, what’s this event if not without controversy?), so it was probably a smart move that she went back to the EleVen dress that she wore at the 2009 U.S. Open.

And speaking of, she again got some henna tattooing done (like how she did at this tourney last year), this time adding some ink on her left thigh.

Draw: Venus looks good for a repeat; she’ll be up against the story of the tourney, Shahar Peer, in the semis. Teenagers Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska will vie for the other spot in the final. ([pdf]).

More: A few images (including the tattoos) -after the cut…

short balls: anne tweets from memphis

Tweet Me A Tune, Oh Annie: Anne Keothavong is returning to the WTA after a long layoff due to injury, and she’s creating quite the storm in Memphis, Tenn. of all places. The current British No. 3 had been as high as number 48 in the world last year before being knocked off track, but she opened her Midwest campaign with a straight-set win over German Kristina Barrois and now takes on the always-noisy Michelle Larcher de Brito. For a small tournament, the draw is seeping with intrigue, if not top-quality talent.

Keothavong added to that intrigue yesterday when she Tweeted on her account: “A certain tennis player is so rude, it’s embarrassing. There’s only so much you can do to be nice before you don’t bother. Strange stuff”. She followed that up by saying: “Not naming names but it’s not your obvious choice”.

Who could Keothavong be making a racket about? Maria Sharapova is in Memphis, a player who has often been at odds with her peers. Check out the Memphis draw and see who you think it might be. We only can guess along with you!

The Southern Belle: American darling Melanie Oudin is also in action at the Cellular South Cup after her eyebrow-raising performance in Fed Cup and a scintillating week in Paris last week. Oudin will have the chance to continue her surge in April, when the U.S. team hosts Russia for Round 2 of the Fed Cup in Birmingham, Alabama. The site, which was picked earlier this week, is just a two-hour drive from Oudin’s hometown of Marietta, Georgia.

While captain Mary Joe Fernandez called Birmingham’s love for tennis “rampant”, the choice seemed a bit odd of the USTA, seeing as Birmingham was the same city to host the Davis Cup tie between the U.S. and Switzerland last April.

Andy’s Atlantic: Speaking of Americans, Andy Roddickwon’t be anywhere near Alabama in April. Instead, the No. 1 American man will take part in an exhibition that features Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl and Marat Safin. It seems as though Safin is playing more post-retirement than he ever did on the tour. Good money, those exhibitions… and he still can lose his first match.

SweetStruggling Caroline: It hasn’t been a friendly 2010 for U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki, who bowed out in her first match in Dubai to a spirited Shahar Peer. Peer’s denial to play in Dubai rocked tennis’s political realms last year, but the Israeli is determined to make her trip this time all about her tennis. Barry Flatman has a great piece in the The Times‘ website.

Give the Gift of (Stereotyped) Gays: Gawker.com has an entertaining – if not limiting – “Guide to All Gay Men” written by Brian Moylan. In Moylan’s interpretation, all gay men are bottoms and Serena Williams didn’t make any type’s “Diva” list. Shame shame.

Them’s Fightin’ Words: In Vancouver, where tennis courts of ice would be of season, Evgeni Plushenko is going all Johnny Weir on Evan Lysacek after the short program of the men’s figure skating competition. Talk about diva! Our fave Johnny is in a respectable sixth heading into Thursday’s long program, within striking distance of a medal.

spring in the 2010 step of christophe lemaire’s lacoste

Lacoste was one of the first to show its Fall 2010 RTW goods in New York. The collection seemed to have a little more creative director Christophe Lemaire‘s personal touch, with the men and women opening the show down the bright yellow runway in the loose garments we’ve come to see from his eponymous non-Lacoste work.

Still, as the pieces switched palettes from oatmeal to the brand’s signature bright colors, we were reminded that Lemaire can remain true to the company’s aesthetic.

Lemons: Since their chief croc, Andy Roddick, is off playing for a title in Memphis (at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships), Lacoste thought long and hard about which athlete to invite to the show. The answer: Canuck Aleksandra Wozniak. Hunh? Why are all the Wozes getting all the love?

Browse: Images from the entire show at style.com.

(image grab via style.com)

it must be lonely at the top 400

Caroline Wozniacki leads the field at this week’s Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships as the event’s top seed. She’s off to a decent start so far, beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 7-6 (2) in the opening round. And in what could be a duplication of what happened last month in Melbourne, Caro next faces Dubai newbie Shahar Peer, whom the Dane beat at the Australian, and then faces Li Na in the round after, who Caro lost to. (Draw: Women’s Singles.)

And two snaps to the Woz for reaching a career-high No. 3 in the SEWTA rankings; she’s currently the only Dane in the top 400.

In the flesh: This live version of the tennis performance dress from adidas by Stella McCartney‘s spring/summer 2010 collection is more fun than we anticipated. The preview pics we saw didn’t show off the mesh on the upper back of the performance dress (it adds an extra layer of sexiness, no?). FYI, Caroline wore the bloomers-esque shorts for Fed Cup play last week.

Buy: Shop for the adidas by Stella McCartney goods here.

More: A few detail shots from Wozniacki’s outfit — including her Delibuta gym bag and pom-pom socks in those Lucrari shoes (with a Barricade V skeleton) — all after the cut…

with peacock tail ‘tween her legs, masha wins in memphis

Top seed Maria Sharapova played her second match in 2010 at this week’s combined tour stop in Memphis, Tenn. (FYI, the WTA event is the Cellular South Cup.) Maria beat Shenay Perry 6-0, 6-2 and will play Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the second round. (Draw: Women’s Singles [pdf])

This is also Masha’s first win of 2010. As you may remember, eventual quarterfinalist Maria Kirilenko upset her in the first round of the Australian Open.

The dress: I bet that no one’s squawking about the Nike outfit she’s wearing this week — the tamer version of the Australian Open peacock dress that drew a lot of bad press. And especially with all the talk about Venus‘ skin-colored undies, it’s nice to see some neon lime hot pants to go with that teal blue skort.

(image via Getty Images)

some like it hot, some like it cold…

Som likes it from the archives forty years old.

Designer Peter Som, a favorite of Maria Sharapova, is back showing at New York Fashion week after a year and a half of smaller, less costly presentations. His latest collection takes inspiration from the hippies aesthetic of Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock.

Browse: See all the clothes from Som’s Spring 2010 RTW here, via style.com.

trophy watch: acronym edition

SAP: At the SAP Open in San Jose, Fernando Verdasco beat a top-ten player for the first time in 15 tries with his 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 upset of Andy Roddick. Andy was none too happy about a few line calls that didn’t go his way.

GDF: Top seed Elena Dementieva needed three sets to overcome a nagging Lucie Safarova 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4. This is Dementieva’s second title of 2010; she also won the Sydney tournament before the Australian Open.

PTT: Vera Zvonareva successfully defended her title at the PTT Pattaya Open title in Thailand by taking down hometown fave Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-4.

ABN AMRO: Swede Robin Soderling was the last man standing in Rotterdam after Mikhail Youzhny retired while trailing 0-2 in the second set. Youzhny sustained the injury after he stunned top seed Novak Djokovic 7-6 (5), 7-6, (6). Soderling also upset a seed, Nikolay Davydenko, in the semis.

JCF: In Costa do Sauipe, the Joma-wearing Juan Carlos Ferrero steamrolled Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-0 at the Brasil Open for his 13th career title.

(images via Getty Images)

sunday survey: [insert “love”/”match” pun here]

Note: We’re trying out a new polling widget on TSF starting with this week’s Sunday Survey. Feel free to still leave comments if you prefer that over clicking a button. And if you have feedback about the polling widget, we’d love to hear about it. Love it? Hate it? Tell us!

With tennis power couples (either as one or both parties) all over the news as of late — Common sharing his excitement for girlfriend Serena‘s recent Aussie Open title, Andy tweeting about wifey Brooklyn‘s SI Swimsuit Issue cover, and the Swiss powerhouse of Roger and Mirka poppin’ out those twins (and the list goes on!), we thought we’d ask our readers: who is your tennis favorite pairing?

(image via WTB)