wta sec: armchair commentary on day 2

By Matt Trollope

Stat of the day: Vera Zvonareva defeated Caroline Wozniacki in three gruelling sets in the last match of day two action in Istanbul. The primary reason? The Russian’s 49 winners to the Dane’s 13. Note to Caro: relying solely on superb defensive skills just won’t cut it at the highest level. Yet while that may be, Wozniacki has secured the year-end No.1 ranking for the second straight year thanks to Maria Sharapova‘s withdrawal from the event due to a persistent ankle injury.

Typical WTA moment: Masha’s withdrawal continues the unfortunate theme of WTA events lacking in star power. The past four winners of the Championships since 2006 — Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Justine Henin — all failed to start, and with 2004 winner Sharapova now gone as well, the event is missing the five most successful players of the past decade. Could you imagine the equivalent scenario occurring at the ATP World Tour Finals? If Federer retired before it began, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray didn’t enter because of injury, and then Del Potro withdrew during the week, the tournament would be decimated.

Intriguing interviews: Caro added some spice to the event by telling reporters that she thinks some players grunt on purpose. “They don’t do it in practice and then they come into the match and they grunt. I think they [officials] could definitely cut it,” she said. Does this mean she thinks the same of her friend Victoria Azarenka, also in the draw and who’s one of the loudest shriekers out there? That potential match-up may have gotten a whole lot more interesting | Speaking of complaints: Agniezska Radwanska aired her grievances about the court at the Sinan Erdem Dome. “It’s pretty slow. It’s weird bounces, and surface very sticky so it’s hard to run, as well,” she said. But it’s not all doom and gloom in Turkey — Caro and Masha shared their enthusiasm about the potential combining of the ATP and WTA year-end events. “It would definitely be nice to see. I think that would be a lot more fun for the fans to see the men and women together,” Sharapova said. The ATP will have to streamline their calendar first — its World Tour Finals are still almost a month away.

Photo of day: We’ve always loved Vika’s intense post-match winning celebrations. Today’s win over Sam Stosur was no different.

My vocal chords are just fine, Caro. Thanks for asking… (AP photo)

Thought for today/tomorrow: Who will come up trumps in the match between Azarenka and Li Na? Given that both women own unblemished records in the tournament so far with one straight-set win apiece, the winner will break the deadlock in the White Group, vault to the top of the group standings and put themselves in prime position for a semifinal berth.

Matt Trollope began covering tennis in 2008, a natural extension of his childhood obsession for the game that included hitting for countless hours against his bedroom wall and self-producing and editing a fictitious tennis magazine. Based in Melbourne, he has covered four Australian Opens and one Wimbledon championship, and his tennis writing has featured in Australian Tennis Magazine, the Australian Open Official Program, and Alpha Magazine.

imitations by andy

Not just Nole. On Sunday night in Oklahoma City, Andy Roddick showed attendees at the exhibition featuring himself and Mardy Fish that it wasn’t Novak Djokovic who can pull out impressions of fellow tennis players. Skip ahead to the 1:51 mark if you want to see Roddick’s Serena impression, including (just for a flash!) her 2009 US Open tirade.

what do the ladies do in new york?

When in New York… The WTA asked some of its top ladies about their “musts” while in New York City. And it basically came down to shopping (Fifth Avenue!), eating, or in Vika‘s case, being weird.

The rundown: Caro loves the Meatpacking District; Maria recommends the Halumi sandwich at Aroma (in Soho); Bartoli ends up in Shoe Heaven at Sak’s; and Schiavone enjoys a burger, fries, and a jukebox — from a location that will remain nameless.

(video courtesy of WTA)

from stanford to cincy: sabine's silly vid makes its debut/xperia winner unveil

It happens tomorrow: The Xperia Hot Shots video series will unveil the hottest shot of them all. The six ladies — Alize Cornet, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Sorana Cirstea, Dominika Cibulkova, Sabine Lisicki and Heather Watson – battle out for a $100,000 payday. Fans could submit their votes up until Aug. 22. But this is all about popularity, right? We’re going with Lisicki on this one… and not because we want her to win, only because we think she is going to win.

Above: Sabine takes a few fans’ questions and then one suggestion — serving blind-folded in her final vid.

After the jump: Dani joins in on the fun, too. [Read more...]

tsf interview: madison is all keyed up

Open-bound: This past weekend was a big one for 16-year-old Madison Keys. The up-and-coming US teen went through three rounds of tennis to earn a win at the Wildcard Playoffs event in DC, scoring herself a spot in the main draw of the Open. Keys took out last year’s media darling of the US Open — Beatrice Capra — in the final, 3-6 6-4 6-0. Keys has played in just one other main draw event in 2011, losing to Patty Schnyder in the opening round in Miami in a third-set tiebreaker. The current world no. 456 lost in the opening round of qualies at last year’s Open.

Above, Wilson pits Keys in a great video with professional opera singer Lily Oh. In the vid, the two ladies try to teach one another a few tricks about their vastly different trades. The result? Mostly hilarity.

Below, TSF gets in a few Qs with the NYC-bound teen before her first-ever Open main draw.

TSF: You can use your Wilson racket to do anything other than play tennis. What would it be?
Madison Keys: I would eat every meal off of it.

TSF: Flossing is something ___________.
MK: Flossing is something everyone lies about.

TSF: Say you have the option to play in just one of the four Majors — ever. Which do you choose?
MK: 
US Open

TSF: Katy Perry’s “TGIF” video is _________.
MK:
Katy Perry’s TGIF video is one of my favorites.

TSF: Speaking of “TGIF,” Rebecca Black’s “Friday” got removed from YouTube. This makes you feel what? Because?
MK: It makes me feel sad because of the hateful comments, but also grateful that my sisters stopped playing it.

TSF: How did you celebrate your sweet 16?
MK:
Went out with friends for a movie and ice cream.

TSF: What’s your favorite kind of ice cream?
MK: 
White chocolate raspberry from Whitey’s. [Keys is an Illinois native.]

TSF: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf offer you to play doubles — with one of them. Who do you choose?
MK:
Steffi Graf

(Video courtesy of Wilson)

maria (and novak) on instinct

Imitation time: Somehow, Novak Djokovic‘s imitations just haven’t gotten old. The new world no. 1 obviously has a creative side and loves to be goofy, and we appreciate the new medium used for his latest acting gig: playing Maria Sharapova. Nole is well versed in his Maria-dom, but here he takes on Sharapova’s ad for HEAD‘s YouTek Instinct racquet and sort of nails it. More to come for the Open? We wouldn’t be surprised.

In Cincy: Novak’s into round 3 | Maria faces Kuznetsova

behind the scenes: jelena and nole's photoshoot

Move over, cameraman. The ATP Uncovered video series has this great behind-the-scenes look at Novak Djokovic and Jelena Ristic doing a photo shoot for Hello! magazine in July. Our fave part? GF Jelena speaks her mind on being pampered, Nole’s dream and living it up — together. Watch above. 

TSF Vault: Novak Djokovic | Jelena Ristic

In Montreal: Novak’s the no. 1 seed, but has Nikolay Davydenko in the second round, a potential third round clash with Juan Martin del Potro and Gael Monfils, Victor Troicki and Roger Federer all looming should he make a run to the weekend. | Draw