agassi/sampras: the awkwardness continues

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras continued their awkward war of words at the Hit for Haiti charity event at Indian Wells on Friday. Tennis.com has a transcript version of what went down between the two in an exchange that clearly upset Sampras and saw him (playfully?) bomb a serve at Agassi.

It makes us wonder, though: what is Agassi’s deal? Sampras was playing the exhibition fun role just fine, taking a page out of Novak Djokovic‘s book by imitating Agassi’s pigeon-toed walk. It was Andre, whose book has seen wild success but was outwardly critical of several players, none as much as Sampras, who began the verbal jabs with “I don’t have any money,” referring to Sampras’s supposed poor tipping mentioned in his book.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer stood by helplessly and rather uncomfortably, Rafa saying nothing and just smiling through the whole thing while Federer tried to joke about it – which only seemed to make matters worse.

short balls: evgeni makes friends with richard’s fantasy world

It’s Platinum, Baby: The tennis world has long enjoyed the wacky one-liners of Richard Williams, and it seems as though Olympic figure skating silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko is trying to join Williams in the creative-story realm. Plushenko’s web site had its entry image (seen above) stating “Platinum of Vancouver”, taking a jab at his second-place finish last week. Though the site now looks differently upon entry, Yahoo! Sports and other outlets nabbed the image before it was taken down. Now the site reads “What’s Next?” while scrolling over the medals, which links to the 2014 Sochi Olympics web site. Does that mean Evgeni will stick with skating until then? Guess you can never be sure with him.

Sticking to the ice, American speedskater Ryan Bedford was supposedly convinced by older teammates to shave and dye his hair to resemble the American flag. See his ‘do after the jump.

Rights Fighting: University of Maryland wrestler, Hudson Taylor, is a top-ranked grappler in the NCAA. The straight 23-year-old and his wife-to-be are also avid supporters of LGBT issues and support gay marriage. In an interview with OutSports.com, Taylor calls himself a “feminist”. You go, boy.

Candied Britney: Britney Spears, in case you didn’t know from her music video for “Radar”, is a spokeswoman for Candies products.  She offered fans a behind-the-scenes peek at her latest photo shoot for the brand. What do you think? We’re not sure this one is gunna be a winner, y’all…

Martina’s Gallery: The WTA has a great gallery up chronicling the career of Martina Navratilova. Not only do you get a good chunk of information out of the captions, but you get a wonderful view of Martina’s fashions throughout the year. Our favorite is after the cut.

Differences Aside: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi will put their differences aside in a couple weeks to participate in a “Hit for Haiti” fundraiser at Indian Wells alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Sampras said he would like to “sit down” with Agassi after he was portrayed in poor light in Agassi’s recently-released autobiography.

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a friday feud and, oh, that’s better! (and worse)

We’ve got a feud on our hands here folks, and for once it doesn’t involve Jelena Dokic or any of the people in her camp. Sounds as though Pete Sampras is pretty upset with Andre Agassi over the way Sampras was portrayed in Agassi’s book, “Open“.

Read this Yahoo! Sports blog entry for more juicy details.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer cleaned up his look on the practice court today, sporting shorter shorts and a bright-colored tee (we’re loving the tees, Rog!). We also love how Arnaud Clement (who is in the Auckland final against American John Isner) is starting off 2010 with a bangdana. Oops, we mean a bang. Never do you disappoint, Arnie.

More: Check out John McEnroe’s frightening top (hopefully the flashes whited it out) and see a chainless (but taped up) Serena shot from her ugly loss in Sydney.

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2009 holiday gift guide

While the tennis season is fully wrapped (and the exhibition season in full swing), TSF is ready to take a break for the holiday season. But before we do, it’s more than necessary to point out a few items (and looks) that you must take a peek at for the holidays. It’s our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide, and we hope you enjoy it…

First off is the Barricade L3 tennis racquet (and bag!) from adidas. That’s right, adidas. If you love to be matching in all things, then pick up this combo (in stores or online for $185) so that you can sport the adidas stripes throughout your entire game. As for adidas tennis balls, those still don’t exist. DIY, here you come.

While we love the chic look of the adidas racquet and bag, nothing beats the tennis fashion of Polo Ralph Lauren this holiday season. While the brand may not have a tennis pro to flaunt their pretty product around the globe, tennis fashion expert Dana Mason calls the fall/winter line her best seller in the store.

“I love navy and there’s a lot of that in this line. The dresses are very fitted and short with a deep v-neck,” Mason explains. “It’s all perfect for winter vacationing.”

Two of our winter faves are the Tonal Diagonal Stripe Polo (pictured below), which is on sale online right now for just $49 and the Ralph Lauren Matchpoint Dress, with much inspiration from the US Open line in which Polo took ball boy/girl (and lines person) fashion to new heights. (Dress can be seen after the cut).

Read more on our holiday recommendations after the cut.

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look-alike watch: andre goes to the dark side?

We knew that Andre Agassi was the driving force behind his new autobiography, Open, but who knew that the former Grand Slam champ had made the full transition to tennis journalist?! Guess he was jealous of Justin Gimelstob, no?

Above, at far left, Andre – or his evil twin - interviews JMdP at this week’s Championships. 

And if you don’t buy our assertion, at least give us an idea of who the guy on the right might be. Donald Trump?!

(photo via yahoo! sports)

short balls wednesday

Wickmayer waaaaaah?!: One of the best finishes of the year went to Yanina Wickmayer, the US Open semifinalist who closed her season 23-6, including eight victories over Top 50 players. But news popped out last week that Wickmayer – along with fellow Belgian Xavier Malisse – were banned by the ITF for one year for failing to report their whereabouts to anti-doping officials this season. Both players are appealing the ban, but the news comes at an awfully awful time for Wickmayer, who had been ranked as low as number 79 this year and finished the season at 16th in the world.

KDK’s Comeback: Wickmayer beat comeback queen Kimiko Date Krumm last week in Bali in round robin play before pulling out of the tourney. But the big story of the week was Date Krumm herself, who qualified for the semifinals. Date Krumm, who made a comeback after 12 years away from the tour, finished the year at number 82 in the world and is the subject of a fascinating feature by Kamakshi Tandon.

Agassi Exhaustion: Andre Agassi is making the media rounds this week to promote his new book “Open”, though such promotion seems far from necessary. This morning he appeared on the Today Show, and will be interviewed by New York Times columnist George Vecsey. If you missed his “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday you can find the full episode here. And if you watched the interview but thought it was ridiculous you might enjoy this. Golly gee, all this Andre talk is making us tired – just like Andre!!

New Haven News: One of TSF’s favorite tour stops, the Pilot Pen, will be in search of a new sponsor following the 2010 event. Pilot Pen is pulling the sponsorship, which had lasted 15 years (a long-ass time, in tennis speak), from the New Haven event. This news comes after Mercedes Benz threw its weight behind the US Open instead of the ATP. Steve Tignor weighs in on what that might mean for the tours.

Recruit me, Coach!: If you’ve ever wondered what a recruitment video looks like, here’s your peek. Will Drougas, a 16-year-old high school player from Salem, Virginia, demonstrates his groundstrokes, volleys and serves for the tape in hopes of landing a college scholarship. This is a basic video, capturing Drougas’s skill and – most prominently – heavy forehand. The next Andy Roddick? Probably not. But the kid can play. We’ll keep an eye on him.

Recruit me, too!: The Arizona Republic has a fun column today chronicling the recruitment process of high school tennis star Kelsey Lawson. She’s due to sign a letter of intent to play at DePaul next season.

No Double Takes: One thing we’ll also be keeping an eye out for is a Maria Sharapova look alike somewhere in this world. She (or he… ?) certainly wasn’t found this past week at a competition to find “Maria’s Look Alike” at a T-Mobile Halloween event. Really, these gals “look like” Maria?! It sort of looks like the PR people just nabbed some shoppers from the mall for a quick photo op. If anything, this fella is sporting some Maria sunglasses on top his head. 

Serena Snub: Liza Horan of TennisWire.org reported this week that Serena Williamswrote a screenplay about Althea Gibson‘s life. Directors are said to have turned down the opportunity to produce it on the basis that Williams insists on playing the role of Gibson.” Wait. We’re confused. They turned it down BECAUSE Serena wants to PLAY THE ROLE of Gibson? Who else are they going to pick?! What other black actress (yes, we just called Serena an “actress”) can play tennis, look good on the big screen, act and has a well-developed knowledge of Gibson and her historic achievements?! We’re not residents of Camp Serena, but we’ll back her on this one…

Gal Study: If you want a quick study of American females ranked outside the Top 100 (read: not Venus, Serena or Melanie) then take a look at the draw for the USTA pro circuit tourney happening this week in Phoenix. Alexandra Stevenson won her first match, and a host of other players (Brengle, Perry, Granville, Haynes) are trying to join the big leagues of the WTA Tour.

short balls: andre admits, mary acts and dinara ditches

mary-wears-pearls

Doha Dust: The biggest news out of Doha today was that Dinara Safina withdrew from the event with a back injury. She was tied 1-1 in the first set with Jelena Jankovic when she pulled out, and now she is in doubt for the Australian Open in January. Let the debate begin… who had the more devastating end to the year: Safina or Ana Ivanovic? Too close to call.

Doha Dust (pt 2): The (good) news out of Doha today was the the Williams sisters put on another masterful show, Serena beating Venus 7-6 in the third set in what was a tense, tight battle, that included a saved match point. That ups Serena to 2-0 in round robin play, while Venus falls to 0-2 (she lost in three to Elena on day one).

Andre’s Book Deal is Crackin': There is plenty of buzz around the November 9th release of Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open: An Autobiography“. It was revealed yesterday that Agassi admits to using crystal meth in 1997 in the book, during the low point of his tennis career. It was also leaked today that the now-father talks of the abuse of his own dad. Gotta buy us a copy of that one, eh?

’10 Bucks: Things are looking good for the US Open come 2010. The year’s final Slam signed a partnership with the car company Mercedes-Benz to be the tournament’s presenting sponsor on the men’s side and the offish vehicle of the tourney. A lucrative deal like this one the Open struck with Mercedes is hard to come by these days, so a big thumbs up to the Flushing Meadows event and tennis in gengen. We’re so popular.

Mother Mary of the Silver Screen: The behind-the-camera maven was pleasantly hilarious in this mockumentary, which features comedian Paul Mecurio as a part of his web series for HBO Sports. “Our breasts would compromise our backswings.” Hil-ar, Mare. We loves it.

Good Angle: We also loved this writing, from TennisWeek.com this past week. Chris Oddo penned a lengthy piece on Juan Martin Del Potro being the tallest Grand Slam winner ever and how his rise to new heights might be a sign of bigger (and taller) things to come.

(screen grab via you tube.)

trophy watch: monfils hatches a green egg, date set a date with history, etc.

Proud achievement or slap in the face? Japanese phoenix Kimiko Date-Krumm became the oldest SEWTA winner since BJK in 1983 by beating Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3 at the Korea Open. Set this win beside Kimmie‘s U.S. Open triumph (and alongside Dinara‘s first round disaster in Tokyo) and what you get is fodder for naysayers of the deflated WTA Tour. Either way, congrats to Kimiko!

You can’t Photoshop that even if you tried: Israeli Shahar Pe’er beat local (Uzbekistani) Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-4 at the Tashkent Open. Shahar also won the singles title at last week’s Guangzhou Open.

More: The men, and toasts to Agassi and Kramer after the cut…