ao sf predictions with christopher phillips (ladies)

Caroline Wozniacki is still no. 1 – and more importantly – still alive, at the AO. (Getty/ Clive Brunskill)

Christopher Phillips, a regular TSF contributor, weighs in on the semifinal match-ups over the next two days in Melbourne. Phillips lives, works and plays in Los Angeles, answering to a number of different bosses. Tragically, last year, he was speechless for weeks after learning of the retirement of Elena Dementieva and is currently on a search to find her replacement in his heart. | More: And for the gentlemen

Well… the semifinals have arrived (almost) as I predicted.  An on-fire Li Na takes on faux-kangaroo lover Caroline Wozniacki while Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva meet at a Slam for the third time in a row (they’re 1-1 so far).  But where does it go from here?

Li has won all of her matches in straight sets, with the most difficult coming in first round versus Sofia Arvidsson.  Li has broken her opponents no less than four times each match while maintaining her own first serve percentage at an average of 72.4%.

Wozniacki, on the other hand, hasn’t won her matches as decisively as her opponent, and I do have to admit I thought Francesca Schiavone still had a chance deep into the third set to win the match.  While Caro gutted through to the win, the way she let an injured, fatigued Schiavone dictate the match from the first point I think will be her downfall when she faces a stronger, healthier and confident Li.

Li leads the head-to-head 2-1 with both of her wins coming last year on Australian soil in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, so I pick her to make her home country proud by being the first Chinese woman to reach a major final.

On the other half of the draw it’s Clijsters pitted against a resurgent Zvonareva.  This one could go either way really.  Zvonareva’s only dropped one set in five matches – to Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round.  Clijsters, meanwhile, hasn’t dropped one yet, but was pushed to one tiebreak in each of her last three matches and looked shaky at times.

Apart from Vera falling apart during the USO final, the Russian beat Kim three times last year – including at Wimbledon.  Since Clijsters holds an advantage of second-serve points won (60% to Zvonareva’s 46%), I’m going with Clijsters in three sets in the battle of two baseliners.

dancing queen

Before Andrea Petkovic, the best tie the tennis world had to dancing was Monica Selesfrightening stint on Dancing With the Stars. We all remember how that turned out, right?? Petkovic’s moves are refreshing – just like her personality. We took awhile to warm up to the German, but watching her fight her way past Maria Sharapova was enduring, and now the dancing seems a little more appropriate, eh?

More: Courtney Nguyen‘s USAToday piece on the dancing Petko | Petkorazzi on YouTube

And: Aussie ladies: Ekaterina Makarova outfit no-no gets Mariana Alves outta her chair | TSF Vault: Alves

sunday survey: week 1′s wackiest?

Week one of the Australian Open is over and done with: seven days of play down, seven to go. But there were seven instances out of the tennis norm that caught our eye, and we’re wondering for today’s Sunday Survey: which moment was the wackiest? Choose in the survey below. And if you’re not sure what we’re referencing, check out videos on each occurrence after the jump.

Click here for a video vault on all seven moments. [Read more...]

short balls: guest appearance

Short balls is making a weekend appearance, so don’t get too worked up… But you might be excited to hear – maybe you should be sitting down for this – that Marv Albert is joining CBS‘ team for its March Madness coverage. You tennis fans remember Marv, don’t you? He’s the basketball commentator that was tapped by TNT in 2000 to help the network at Wimbledon. His famous making-a-tough-jumpshot phrase (“Yesssssssssssss!”) didn’t really translate well to the game of ball and racket. At all. That reminds us: TNT was once the home of Wimbledon?! Oh how things change in 10 years.

Earlier this week it was announced that Andre Agassi will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer in Newport. The announcement didn’t come as a total shock to anyone, though the Hall did put together a great video to capture the events that took place in Las Vegas for the announcement itself:

Short(er) balls: We stumbled across this site of gents being sampled from all walks of life. Even Novak Djokovic gets a piece of the action. | And if you ever consider leaving a nasty comment, we will track you down…

Picture this: You guys missed Heineken Day. But these fellas didn’t.

(photo via ao.com)

milos' melbourne mastery

Which one doesn’t belong? That would be the fella on the far left – Vasek Pospisil – who is the only man among these four pictured who isn’t still alive and well in the Australian Open draw. That other unfamiliar face – second from left – is one Milos Raonic, a 20-year-old Canadian who has advanced to the fourth round of the AO with a four-set win today over 10th seed Mikhail Youzhny. In six matches (including three qualifying wins), Raonic has dropped just two sets. He’ll face no. 7 seed David Ferrer in the Round of 16.

More: Montreal Gazette‘s Stephanie Myles on tennis’ changing guard | Canadians on TSF

(photo via popout.com)

caro to press: ask me something different!

“You work the the Daily Mail? Here. Take my towel.”

Caroline Wozniacki decided to take a little bit of a different route in her press conference yesterday after her win over Dominika Cibulkova in the third round of the Aussie. Saying that she had heard in the media that she was boring, she came to the mic ready with notes compiled from questions that she “always gets asked.” After she answered – or stated, rather -the usuals (How did you feel like you played? What were your strengths out there? Who do you have next? How does your new racquet feel? Do you really think you should be no. 1?), Caro let the media ask some new, original Qs. Their creativity was mixed. Listen to the presser audio here | Transcript here

Like Caro’s look? More Stella McCartney from adidas

(photo by ben solomon for ao.com)

todd woodbridge: "[kim] looks grumpy; boobs are bigger"

UPDATE: Watch the video on New Zealand’s 3 News

In a light-hearted, but hilarious moment from the post-match interview between Kim Clijsters and Todd Woodbridge, Clijsters turned the tables on the former Aussie star and revealed a text message he had sent to Renae Stubbs:

Woodbridge text, recalled by Kim: “[Kim] looks very grumpy and her boobs are bigger.”

Clijsters recalled the text during the post-match interview, and Woodbridge thanked Kim for the “end of my television” career before signing off. More of the exchange:

Kim: “Rennae Stubbs showed me a text you sent in which you said you thought I looked pregnant.”
(Laughter).
Todd: “Well, are you?”
Kim: “No.”

(photo via getty images)

short balls: from melbourne and beyond

Melbourne movie makers: While the Australian Open has always been known as the “fun” Major, it can also be tapped for the way it approaches things differently than the other three in the Western Hemisphere. This year, one aspect setting the AO apart is its tennis film festival, called Changing Ends Take Two. The festival describes itself as “an independent short film event for budding filmmakers to submit a film with the theme ‘Take Two’ as part of the Tennis Film Festival to be shown during Australian Open 2011.”

There are certainly plenty of entries to sift through. If you want to take a glance, start off in the 2010 tab to take a look at what was popular in 2010, including the most-viewed vid, “When You Have Tennis:”

And we kind of agree: who needs girls? | TSF Vault: More of the off-court tennis world in video

Admirable action: Remember Hudson Taylor? We do. He’s the former Division I all-star wrestler that is straight and is taking it upon himself to be one of the loudest non-gay voices for gay rights. Someone fighting for the well being of others?! Go figure. Recently Taylor launched AthleteAlly.com, in which visitors are asked to sign a pledge to support an accepting community in their own athletic worlds. So far, Hudson has 1,000+ signatures. All hail (and visit) a good cause.

Me, too: While hubby Andy Roddick gets plenty of ink about his form at the Aussie, Brooklyn Decker is sure to get some press on her own. The model/ actress (yes, actress) reportedly told Self that Papa Decker had to have an intervention with the youngster when she began her career so as not to “wreck her body.” Guess the talk worked.

Picture this: While everyone is clad in bursts of pastels and bright colors, we’re digging Sophie Ferguson in red, white and blue Fila. | More Fila on TSF

(“changing ends” screen shot via ao.com; ferguson via getty)

is this rock bottom?

(POST EDITED -NM)

Or can Dinara Safina sink lower than a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Kim Clijsters in the first round of the Aussie? Her loss marks a first for a former world no. 1 at a Major. In 2000, former world no. 1 Monica Seles lost to Martina Hingis by the same score at Miami. But as other former female greats have showed us, there’s farther to fall. We just wonder what bottom is for Dinara. | Bagels: Those that have been served on TSF

(photo via getty images)