in dubai, marat continues to sputter



Writing the epilogue: The unpredictable career of Marat Safin has reached some consistency now that he’s steered himself toward retirement sunset.

At this week’s Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships, the eighth seed — bumped up by the absence of the injured Federer (back), Nadal (knee), Davydenko (ankle), Verdasco(ankle), and Roddick (Dubai slapped him in the face).

Too bad he fell in three sets — 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 — to Richard Gasquet.

“I struggled in the beginning with the serve, especially, and returns from the baseline, but I started to get used to it and I started to get better and better,” Safin said. “But unfortunately, it’s a lack of confidence and I didn’t play for a long time after Australia. I played in Marseille, and it’s my second match.”

Meanwhile, after giving his neck a little breather, Marat’s back in business with his charms. Is that the imperial crown?!

Scoreline: Djokovic and Murray are doing just fine in Dubai. We’re expecting these top two seeds to face each other at Sunday’s final.

(photo via Getty Images)

trophy watch: llodra keeps his clothes on, venus makes her case, roddick hits back, etc.



Robredo rolls: Spaniard Tommy Robredo has been slowly compiling a successful 2009 (he’s 15-3 in match wins so far), adding to last week’s Brasil Open title a trophy from the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires. As a part of a nine-match winning streak, Tommy took out 2007 champ Juan Monaco 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

Roddick’s revenge: Early bird got The Worm this week when Andy exacted revenge on Radek Stepanek‘s title win over the American at last week’s SAP Open. This time around, at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, the top seed only needed two sets to take out Stepanek: 7-5, 7-5.

As you may have heard, Roddick is skipping this the ATP Dubai stop in support of Shahar Peer. Good for him.

Teenage triumph: And on the women’s side of this combined tournament, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka upset top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the finals of Memphis 6-1, 6-3. This is Victoria’s second title of the year (and of her career). She was merely playing catch-up to Wozniacki, whose breakout 2008 produced three titles.

Venus and Virginie: Speaking of Dubai, a gracious (and henna-free) Venus Williams addressed Shahar’s situation during her trophy ceremony after beating Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-2.

“I am not here to rock any boat or upset people, I am just here to do things that are right,” Williams said. “And I think right things are already happening next week and right things will happen next year.”

Props to Virginie and Asics for maxing out her airtime. They had her in another colorway of her separates, this one in black with pink trim.

French fracas: We’re a little sad that the French smorgasbord in Marseille has come to an end (Arnaud Clement, Youzhny, Tursunov, Dimitrov, Vliegen, Seppi, Safin, Chardy, Bolelli), and even sadder that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga denied us a post-win striptease from runner-up Michael Llodra. But thumbs-up to Tsonga for bagging his second title of the year.

Maria’s maiden title: In Bogota, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Gisela Dulko 6-2 6-3 for her first SEWTA title at the Copa Colsanitas tournament.

(images via Getty Images)

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tattoo watch: venus stays noncommittal in dubai



venus-williams-dubaiparty09a

Venus Williams applied an elaborate henna tatto for this week’s Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships party. It’s not the first time Venus has flirted with tattoos — remember the disappearing act of 2007?

Scoreline: As she had wished before the beginning of this tournament, Venus will get to play against sister Serena in the Dubai semis. Venus took out Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-3 while top-seeded Serena had no problem overcoming the go-for-broke strategy employed by Ana Ivanovic (Serena won 4 and 4).

Browse: See the rest of our tattoo watch blotter here.

(image via Getty Images)

razzano upsets zvonareva



virginie-razzano-dubai09a

Virginie Razzano reaches her second semi of 2009 by upsetting fifth seed Vera Zvonareva 7-6 (7), 7-5 at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships.

Props to the normally utilitarian Asics for spicing up Virginie’s skort with some pleating.

Scoreline: Up next for the frenchwoman is JJ-killer Kaia Kanepi, who beat qualifier Elena Vesnina in another quarter in their half of the draw. The winner will face a Williams sister in the final.

(image via Getty Images)

kanepi peels jankovic



Kaia Kanepi, wearing Australian by L’Alpina, claimed her first top-five scalp by taking out Jelena Jankovic 6-2, 7-5 in the third round of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships; she’ll next face Elena Vesnina, who beat Dominika Cibulkova 4-6, 6-1, 4-0 after the Slovakian retired because of the heat.

Jankovic attributed her loss to a bad performance. “This was the worst match of my career. It was a horrible day. I kept framing the ball, kept making unforced errors and could not put two balls together on the court. I didn’t move properly, and I didn’t see the ball properly,” she said.

“[Kanepi] didn’t have to do too much. Basically, I beat myself. I don’t know what happened out there. I am ashamed of this performance.”

Aww. What about some praise for your Estonian opponent?

For this tourney, Jelena and ANTA switched back to their first dress silhouette, switching up the color from green to orange. And finally we got a look at her warmup jacket, with a pleated front and ruched cuffs. Does anyone have details on that red and white tote? Doesn’t look like her Bally bag to me…

Bonus round: Kanepi’s official website.

(images via Getty Images)