fans’ POV: the weird women’s wimby semis

Even for avid tennis fans, the Wimbledon women’s semifinal line-up evokes a certain amount of confusion. “Puh-ronk-oh-va?” “Pet-rah Kee-vote-who?”

In Tuesday’s quarterfinals at the All England Club, winners were expected to be named Williams or Clijsters, but only was that the case in a single of three matches, as Venus Williams went down in straight sets and Kim Clijsters lost in three.

Serena Williams held up her end of the bargain, beating Li Na of China in her match, the same player that took out her sister Venus in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open this year. Unknown Petra Kvitova came through in her match against Kaia Kanepi, 8-6 in the third set.

Women’s tennis has a history with unknown semifinalists, though few compare to what will take place on Thursday at the All England Club in London. Earlier this month, Francesca Schiavone and Samantha Stosur surprised all by making the semifinals (and then the finals) at Roland Garros, and earlier this year it was Na who beat Venus Williams while countrywoman Jie Zheng earned a final-four birth in Melbourne, as well.

Tsvetana Pironkova and Petra Kvitova are the least known of the bunch, much like Belgian Yanina Wickmayer was unknown in her march to the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Open.

Here’s a few thoughts from TSF followers on what exactly the Wimbledon semifinals mean for women’s tennis as a whole, TV ratings, business, the future and all that jazz:

I think all this means now is that Serena’s got an easy path to the title.  She clearly looks the most dominant, and she’s the only one of the four that’s even been to a Grand Slam final before.  I think if it were a situation of four unknowns, we’d get a Roland Garros re-do, but to me this just seems to clear the road for Serena to win. She also has that intimidation factor that could put a stop to any streaking player that otherwise has the momentum. Chances are, if Serena can get past her semifinal match (which she should), it’ll be a pretty boring final.  My pick: Serena takes the title easily in straight sets. –Hilary Scurlock, Co-Editor, Strawberries & Scream

As great as it is these lesser known/ranked players are having the tournament of their lives (and of most player’s lives) NBC has to be fuming because of potential ratings drops.  We could be seeing a lot of Isner/Mahut re-aired that day. Maybe if Zvonareva makes it to the finals they’ll do some soap opera story line about her crying and decombusting all the time.  It was just last year that Zvonareva won Indian Wells and made it to #5 in the world … can she get back up there?

As for the other girls, I know Pironkova had upset Venus at a grand slam some years ago [the 2006 Australian Open].  She beat Dementieva in Warsaw R16 earlier this year. At least with the French we had a storyline with the veteran Schiavone and the hot up and comer (even though she’s not a rookie) Stosur.  I think with Schivone and Stosur, while not the “biggest” names in the sport, they are established names with signifant wins under their belt. –Christopher Phillips, Contributing Writer, TSF
[Read more…]

tsf picks from the rest of the wimbledon store

The rest: Towels aside, there are some fun finds at the 2010 Wimbledon e-store, including some intriguing items like throw pillows and bedding. If you’re willing to drop a few pounds (sorry, it never gets old!) here are some recommendations:

TSF picks: (top row, left to right) Strawberry socks, £6.00; Faux Silk Cushion, £20.00; Turquoise travel bag, £15.00; (middle row:) Classic Distressed Racquets T-Shirt, £23.00; Polo Ralph Lauren Wimbledon 10 Jersey T-Shirt, £45.00; Boy’s Print T-Shirt, £16.00; (bottom row:) Polo Ralpy Lauren Diagonal Stripe Polo, £100.00; Tennis Shorts, £33.00; Polo Ralph Lauren Big Pony Mesh Polo (in Empire Purple), £85.00.

(screengrabs via shop. wimbledon.org)

bury the hatchet or fuel the flame?

It has just been announced that this coming February’s BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden — in 2010 an event contested by Venus, Ana Ivanovic, Kim Clijsters, and Sveta Kuznetsova — will this time feature Agassi, Sampras, Lendl, and McEnroe in a renewal of their classic rivalries.

John and Ivan will play a one-set pro match (first to eight) and the Agassi/Sampras matchup will be a best-of-three. TSF’s curious to see how the latter will pan out, especially in light of Andre’s malfunction at Indian Wells this year. (Hey, if Kournikova and Hingis can kiss and make up, why can’t these two?)

But not to take away from the event’s a noble cause: to bring awareness to our sport through the “Tennis Night in America” initiative, a collaboration between BNP Paribas and the USTA.

Info: For more info about the event, to be held on February 28, 2011, visit tennisshowdown.com.

boldly going where no woman has gone before

The 2010 Wimbledon women’s semifinals now set: it’s Serena against Kvitova and Zvonareva (d. Clijsters!) against Pironkova (d. Venus!!!!!!!!!!!).

I once thought about bedazzling a band-aid to put on my eyebrow (after I took out a piercing). I never went through with it, but Serena’s nails are making me think about the lack of Swarovski in my home medical kit.

(image via Getty Images)

rafa gets called out for on-court coaching

Rafael Nadal‘s been having a tough time at this year’s Wimbledon: his knees have been acting up (credit to Philipp Petzchner, but that match might not have gone to five had Nadal been injury-free) and he was given a warning during that match for communicating with his coach (and uncle) Tony. Fortunately, he righted that ship in his fourth-rounder against Paul-Henri Mathieu, which he won 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Unfortunately, he next faces Robin Soderling, his opponent in the finals of Roland Garros last month — and a man known to get under his skin. (Nadal/Soderling head-to-head). Draw: See the men’s draw here.

Varsity bluesoranges: Nike chose to accent Rafa’s gear with a shade of orange they call “Light Wild Mango”. We had higher hopes than the sporty v-neck tee they put on him, but they made up for it by topping off his white duds with that ginormous all-white Race Day duffel. LOVES.

Buy: Nike Rush and Crush Rafa Graphic Tee, $30; Vamos Lawn Crew Men’s Tee, $65; Knit Tennis Jacket, $90; Shorts, $60; Courtballistec 2.3 Men’s Shoe, $120; nike.com.

(images via Getty Images)

caro lost in the frill

Save for being a British buzz word now that she’s the mascot to Stella McCartney‘s adidas line (and becoming collateral damage in Serena‘s complaints about a royal snubbing), Wimbledon third seed Caroline Wozniacki has gone unnoticed in this past week of play at Wimbledon.

And she bowed out quietly in the fourth round, with Petra Kvitova needing only 46 minutes (and surrending only two games) in a match that sets up the Czech with Kaia Kanepi in the quarters (Draw: Women’s Singles). It also didn’t help that Caro’s dress looked flat next to the ones worn by her top-tier counterparts.

We hope she figures it all out in time for the North American hardcourt swing, when she can rack up points until her New Haven title win and her U.S. Open finals appearance come knocking on her door.

Buy: adidas by Stella McCartney Tennis Performance dress, alloy, $105, adidas.com. (FYI: The dress is now only available in the grey color she wore in Melbourne.)

(image via Getty Images)

roddick, out!

Asian men, represent!: In one of the biggest upsets so far in the 2010 tournament, the 82nd-ranked Yen-Hsun Lu beat Andy Roddick — last year’s finalist — 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 9-7. Each man’s serve was broken only once during the match. Lu next faces Novak Djokovic. (Draw: Men’s Singles)

Same shirt, different day: The dejected Andy, who attributed his loss to three sets of “horrendous” play, is in the same Lacoste polo he wore in Melbourne earlier this year.

(images via Getty Images)

shirtless: no animals were hurt in the making of this tennis match

Too bad we can’t say the same about Nole‘s Tacchini clothes.

The Serb, seeded third at this year’s Wimbledon, dropped a set against Lleyton Hewitt before booking his place in the quarters, where he’ll play the winner of the Lu/Roddick match. (Speaking of, Roddick lost the second and third set in tiebreaks… yikes.)

Draw: See how the final eight are shaping up here.

(image via Getty Images)