vika, ‘encouraged’ by serena, celebrates cincy with champers

Moet & Chandon Celebrates The 2013 Western & Southern Open

World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka added another chapter to her rivalry with Serena Williams when they faced off at the 2013 Western & Southern Open this past Sunday. Azarenka edged Serena 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) to increase her head-to-head against the 16-time Grand Slam champion to… 3-12. Azarenka can take comfort in that stat, though, with 2 of those 3 wins against Serena coming in matches played this year.

In their trophy ceremony, Azarenka was awarded a Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon Imperial, which she asked Serena if she should open. “I was encouraging her,” said Serena in the post-match conference, being careful to point out that it was Azarenka’s idea to spray the champagne on the court.

“She did [encourage],” Vika said. “She said, ‘yeah, you should pop it.’ I was like, I know, I want to, but I need to get more practice because I felt like I’m not directing it too well.” Seems like you did just fine, Vika!

Further Reading: More on the friendly rivalry between the top two ladies.

(Photo courtesy of Moet)

trophy watch: hello to rafa, goodbye to san jose, and the ladies switch it up

Juan Martin del Potro defeats Julien Benneteau in 2013 Rotterdam tennis event

ABN AMRO: Juan Martin del Potro was last man standing at the ABN AMRO WTT, the stacked ATP 500-series event in Rotterdam led by tournament director Richard Krajicek which saw Roger Federer ousted by finalist Julien Benneteau and had semifinal runs by Gilles Simon and Grigor Dimitrov. Delpo earned his 14th career title by downing Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3.

Qatar Total Open 2013 trophies: Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka

Vika wins two: The plot thickens in the battle at the top of the women’s game between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. At this past week’s Qatar Total Open, contested in Doha, Serena regained the No. 1 ranking but Azarenka notched her second career win over Williams (in 13 tries) and defended her Doha title. The scoreline: 7-6(6) 2-6, 6-3. Azarenka is taking the week off to heal a foot injury, while Serena is playing in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Serena praised Victoria for her work in the final:

“I always respect Victoria. I think she’s a really good player. Obviously she’s so consistent and she plays well. She’s such a solid player. It’s nice to always play someone and go home and you’re like, ‘Okay, I didn’t do great, but let me work harder.’ I think that she inspires a lot of people to work harder, and definitely me.”

2013 SAP Open - San Jose - Trophy - Milos Raonic defeats Tommy Haas

Bon voyage: The final edition of the 125-year-old SAP Open, held in San Jose, Calif., featured a three-peat for top seed, and two-time defending champ Milos Raonic. He defeated fourth seed Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3. Raonic won all three titles without dropping a set.

Raonic, from Canada, wore a New Balance tee with a black-and-green print. “Today, I’m more of a complete player,” he said after winning the title. “I was able to put pressure on [Haas] in most of his service games. I was able to hold quite handily, which I’ve shown I can do in the past. I was able to create pressure every game. It wasn’t just one game. I was getting to a lot of deuce games.”

Rafael Nadal wins the 2013 Brasil Open

Chippin’ off the old block: The story of Rafael Nadal has finally come full circle. After disappearing from the circuit for about eight months after losing to Lukas Rosol in the early rounds of Wimbledon 2012, the Spaniard took home the Brasil Open (Sao Paolo) title last week. The 6-2, 6-3 victory over David Nalbandian was Nadal’s first since beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2012 French Open.

It’s all about the titles: “It’s very nice and important because at the end of your career what’s left are the titles,” Rafa reflected after his win, “and depending on certain moments there are some titles that you appreciate very much. This one I appreciate it the most because of all the struggles I went through during the week, with some problems with my knee some days.”

(Photo Credit: Rotterdam photo via ABN AMRO WTT Facebook; Nadal photo via Brasil Open; San Jose photo via SAP Open website; Vika/Serena photo via Qatar Tennis Federation)

trophy watch: a bonus trophy for the ladies in doha

Nadia Petrova holds Diamond Ball trophy - Qatar Total Open 2013 -

A Girl’s Best Friend: The organizers of the Qatar Total Open 2013 in Doha are a bit more excited about this year’s draw, with the possibility of the Diamond Ball trophy being awarded at the end of the week. The secondary trophy can go to a player who wins the Qatar Total Open three times. Both Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova have each hoisted two Total Open trophies; Sharapova won Doha both in 2005 and 2008, while Petrova won Total Open titles in 2006 — in Doha and Berlin.

Trophy Watch: This isn’t the first time a special trophy’s been awarded to three-time winners. The Proximus Diamond Games, held for most of the 00′s in Antwerp, handed out a bedazzled racquet to Amelie Mauresmo.

(RELATED: TSF’s Trophy Watch archives)

Doha: Save for a few early dropouts in Kirilenko and Sloane Stephens — and breakthroughs in Barthel (over Kerber) and  McHale (over Safarova), it’s biz as usual. Results, draws, and orders of play available at the Qatar Total Open website.

(Photo Credit: Qatar Total Open)

trophy watch: open sud de france, pbz zagreb indoors, vtr open

This past week week, the women and the men swapped spots for world team play; with the ladies competing in their first Fed Cup ties of the season and the men duking it out for titles at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, and at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

Marin Cilic - PBZ Zagreb Indoors 2013

Top seed and local Marin Cilic won his third PBZ Zagreb Indoors title after defeating Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Cilic also won this title in 2009 and 2010. Melzer is looking for an uptick on his win-loss record for 2013 so far, which has seen upsets to lower-ranked players and upsets against Tomas Berdych in Melbourne and Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane.

Melzer, on his loss to Cilic:

“He was the better player today. I needed it to be close at 4-all, 5-all in the first set to give me confidence. That didn’t happen and he ran away with it. I felt like I was hitting the ball really well at the beginning, but he hit the ball even better. What made the difference in the first few games is that he had free points on serve, whereas I had to work for them: hit a winner or play well so he missed. He deserved the victory.”

More: Trophies from France (our pick of the week!) and Chile, plus the Fed Cup ties — after the cut…

trophy watch: paris & pattaya + dc rubbers

Mona Barthel wins the 2013 Open GDF Suez in Paris over Sara Errani

Paris: German Mona Barthel took out top seed Sara Errani 7-5, 7-6(4) to win her second career title — and first at a Premier-level event. She is now 2-1 in finals, with her other title coming at Hobart in 2012. Russian Elena Vesnina stopped Barthel from taking the title this year, knocking out the defending champion in the final.

“When I came here [to Paris] I wasn’t expecting to win the title at all,” said Barthel, who is the second German to win the title in the past two years (Kerber chose not to defend). “I was just taking it round by round, hoping to win the first round, then hoping to win the second round, and so on. When I got to the final I knew it would be tough, because Sara had such an amazing year last year and is playing so well – she just doesn’t give anything away.”

Errani did not leave empty-handed, teaming with Roberta Vinci to take the doubles trophy over the team of Hlavackova and Huber. The 6-1, 6-1 victory gave the Italian duo their 15th career title as a team.

More: Kirilenko wins Pattaya and Davis Cup rubbers — after the cut…

trophy watch: sometimes, we like what we see

Pieces, people. Working. Sometimes the right trophies land in the right arms with the rights outfits covering the right bodies. That was the case last weekend, as the WTA wrapped up its regular-season play and the ATP moved toward its World Tour Finals in London set for the middle of November. Above, Gael Monfils complemented his globe-and-box trophy with a well-chiseled bicep and a head of looks-just-right locks. He downed Jarko Nieminen in Stockholm 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Don’t harp on Vika. Seriously. We kind of love this one, too. The half tennis racket slash harp look works well with the stone texture. And, luckily Victoria Azarenka is wearing a well-matching dark tone. It was a bright week for the world no. 3 in Luxembourg, where she took care of Monica Niculescu in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2. Vika opens her Istanbul campaign tomorrow against Sam Stosur.

Double the fun. Since the US Open, Janko Tipsarevic has nabbed two ATP titles. Before it zero? Ever. Tipsy beat Viktor Troicki in the first-ever all-Serb final in Moscow, 6-2 6-4. Must be his new bod, right?

Saving the first for last. Last but not least: Dominika Cibulkova got her first trophy smooch of her career in Moscow. The pesky Slovakian downed Lucie Safarova, 3-6 7-6 (1) 7-5. | TSF Vault: More trophies to watch

(images by Getty; Azarenka photo by Fern Konnen via the WTA)

trophy watch: go big, go bulky or go home

Go big, go bulky. The designers of tennis trophies must have not heard the news of bleachers breaking during a show at Paris Fashion Week. As fall approaches, trophies are keeping themselves warm with big, bulky and rounded frames. At least they don’t have fur, right? Above, a deserving Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hoists an egg-shaped award at the Moselle Open in Metz, France. The French crowd was happy to cheer on its countryman, who beat Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-3 6-7 (4) 6-3 in the final. | TSF Vault: Trophy Watch

Florian Mayer got what he could fashion into a fruit bowl as a prize for his first ATP title as he beat Pablo Andujar in the Bucharest final. It was Mayer’s first ATP win in five final appearances. He beat the Spaniard 6-3, 6-1.

Another first timer, Chanelle Scheepers, was victorious in Guangzhou, beating Magdalena Rybarikova in the final, 6-2 6-2.

We’re really loving this classy number from the tourney in Seoul, even if the trophy does feel one size too big. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez got past Galina Voskoboeva in the final, running away with two tie-breakers, 7-6 (0) 7-6 (2).

(tsonga and mayer by Getty Images; scheepers via guangzhou and sanchez martina via korea tennis association)

trophy watch: american hardware

Slam season? It’s ova! I’m out of my let’s-research-this mindset from writing for USOpen.org after two glorious weeks with a great staff at the National Tennis Center, so I’ll give someone else a go at this stat: when was the last time a Slam included no “ova” winner? Barring one-half of the girls’ doubles winning team — that’d be Irina Khromacheva — and she’s an “eva,” so does she even count? For all I know it could have been the French this year, but it certainly seems like a shocker, no?!

The men’s tournament, in the end, wasn’t a shocker itself. Sure, it was shocking that Novak Djokovic for the second year in a row denied Roger Federer a shot at the title by saving match points (how ’bout that forehand?!), but in the end, it was a result that many in tennis expected: Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in the final. And what a final it was! Thanks for ending a semi-mediocre tournament with such a glorious match, fellas. ‘Til next time!

Sam-a-Slam: Let’s just talk about the tennis. Sam Stosur played lights-out ball for two sets against Serena Williams on Sunday night at the Open. For us it was reminiscent of the way Maria Sharapova pounded her way past Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Sure, Stosur’s style is completely different that Maria’s, but the result was the same: she lost just five games against her heavily-favored opponent to win her maiden major. One can only wish that the Aussie will show up with similar form at her home slam come January.

TSF Vault: Trophy Watch | 2011 US Open

Cindarella story.  This one really was written in the you-can’t-make-it-up category. Melanie Oudin, two years ago the Open’s golden girl, had paired up with this year’s golden boy in Jack Sock, and the two just stormed through the mixed doubles draw. No, they didn’t smooch! But we sure wish they would have. More? Doubles and juniors after the cut! [Read more...]

trophy watch: another rf tee from nike

Check out this Roger Federer tee being sold by Nike at their on-site U.S. Open booth. It wasn’t included in the preview they released, so I’m glad we ran across it!

Pop quiz: The images show Roger’s medal from the Olympics (albeit in doubles) along with 14 of his majors. He has 16 Slams in total; which ones did they leave out?

In a rush: Fed took care of things quickly against Juan Monaco in the fourth round of this year’s men’s singles event; between the late start (that Wozniacki/Kuznetsova took forever) and the threat of a rain delay, he wanted to finish ASAP. Roger only dropped three games against the Argentine and has booked a quarterfinal appointment with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man who beat him in the final 8 of this year’s Wimbledon. (Draw: Men’s Singles)

(screengrab via ESPN)