ticked off slavs are hot

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Rowdy nationalistic tennis fans became the talk of the Australian Open after today’s second-round matches. Paul-Henri Mathieu facedoff against Amer Delic (an American of Bosnian descent), Croat Marin Cilic defeated Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, and Delic is slated to face off against Serbian Nole Djokovic in the succeeding round. The tension today was enough to spur Delic to post a message on his website urging his fans to keep politics out of the the tournament.

In the Cilic/Tipsarevic match, spectators “were a little bit incorrect,” said Janko, “singing songs that had nothing to do with tennis because of the history [both countries] have with each other. I think two or three times I even said to the Serbian crowd, don’t call [Marin] names. It’s OK to cheer for me but don’t say bad things about him.”

“What I liked and was surprised about was there was no clapping between the first and second serve or no mobile phones ringing at an important part.” Good point, Janko. I’d take aggro-but-considerate douchebags over inconsiderate WASPs any day of the week.

By the way, I’m going to throw my hat in the ring for Melbourne ground security next year. I’m prepared to rough some of these guys up if things get out of hand.

(photos by Getty Images)

trophy watch: doubles and wheelchair action at the australian open

As with any Grand Slam, plenty of silver (both as cups and platters) were doled out to runner-ups and winners of the various events at the Australian Open.

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The team of Jonathan Ehrlich and Andy Ram capped a historic weekend for Israeli sports by becoming the first Israeli team to win a Grand Slam title. Their opponents in the 7-5, 7-6 (4) win were the defending Wimbledon champs, Michael Llodra and Nono Clement. Suffice to say Ram and Ehrlich’s celebration is exactly how the Frenchmen would’ve done it.

More: The women’s doubles. mixed doubles, and quad wheelchair winners after the cut…

pat and his ponytail praised; philippoussis ponders life post-tennis

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Patrick Rafter got some more icing on his already sweet career cake with an induction to the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which included an unveiling of a Rafter bust, happened before the 2008 Australian Open women’s final between Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Those are some mad crow’s feet. Remember to wear your eye cream, people!

Though we were bigger fans of Pat with his buzz-short hair (circa 2001), it’s only appropriate that they immortalize him in the ponytail he sported while tearing through the North American hardcourts in the late 90s.

Rafter won back-to-back U.S. Open titles (’97, ’98), reached the finals of Wimbledon twice (’00, ’01), and the semis of Roland Garros (’97) and the Australian (’01). See a list of his 11 career titles here.

Meanwhile, his compatriot Mark Philippoussis suffered what could possibly be his last tennis-related injury in December while attempting to qualify for this home Grand Slam. “I won’t lie – but at the moment I’m just enjoying spending time with my family and friends,” he told The Age last week — which means he hasn’t given ATP Tour play any thought. Flip doesn’t even have a tentative schedule planned out. Le sigh, it all went downhill after being up a set and 2-1 (but on serve) against Sampras in the 1999 Wimbledon semis.

(Photos by Getty Images)

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australian open: the russian charge

The Russian guys have a special place in our heart even though they rarely hit high marks for their fashion choices (except for Marat‘s necklaces, Igor Andreev‘s new Under Armour kit, and the occasional gem from Kolya Davydenko). So their attire at this year’s first Slam — the Australian Open — was no different. Take a look.

Safin, the 26th seed, went down to sixth seed Andy Roddick 6-7 (2), 6-2, 4-6, 6-7 (2) in the third round wearing red adidas three-stripes.

We had high hopes for Mikhail Youzhny on the Rebound Ace courts after his semifinal appearance at the 2006 U.S. Open. Alas, Roger Federer denied him a seven-salute run by winning 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in the third round. Mikhail wore simple white as he did the splits and gave us a little show.

The speedy Davydenko was the fashion debutante in his new Airness threads, thus snapping what probably was the longest no-clothing-sponsor streak held by any Top Fiver. This sleeveless number was only worn in training.

As the third seed, he lost to German Tommy Haas 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 5-7 in the quarters.

(photos of sleeveless Kolya by atpchica)

Meanwhile, Calif.-based blogger Dmitry Tursunov donned Fila solids as he lost to 13th-seed Tomas Berdych 2-6, 1-6, 1-6 in the third round. (photos by atpchica)

Dmitry being cute with a camera; being cute with a koala.

(Except for Tursunov in play and sleeveless Kolya, all photos are from the MTF Russian fan forums)