flashback: the wonder boy, circa 1985


Flashback:
As Bernard Tomic became the fourth youngest Wimbledon (male) quarterfinalist of all time today by beating Xavier Malisse in the fourth round, we thought it appropriate to look back at the Wonder Boy himself, Mr. Boris Becker. The 1985 champ was just 17 when he won at the All England Club and Tomic joins the German, Bjorn Borg and Johnny Mac in the category of teenage quarterfinalists. A good omen?

Next up? Tomic has Novak Djokovic in the quarters

(Getty Images photo)

stay, don’t go

By Jonathan Scott

Another brand of March Madness is upon us: With the unisex goodness that is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells tournament, the 2011 pro tennis campaign kick-starts into high gear. This 1-2 punch of Cali and Miami makes for a full month of top-notch tennis. Indeed, spring’s done sprung.

Now a curious trend seeped into tennis again in 2010: jumpy observers of the sport seeking to retire players -– good, even great stars who reaped some solid results -– before they themselves are ready to hang up their racquets. The guilty parties: too many tennis writers and other observers and “personalities” involved to various degrees. Their victims? Among them, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and even Roger Federer, proving that not a single star is exempt from these hasty calls to exit.

But Roddick won Memphis last month, dousing the ballyhooed, raging fire that is young Milos Raonic and coming up with possibly the best championship-point winner ever. He also ignited his fellow Americans’ effort on the Chilean clay in Davis Cup, punctuating his clinching win with a scissor kick (Video: here) that would make Sally O’Malley salivate. Too many quickly forgot that Venus seized some early 2010 titles and vaulted to no. 2 in the world before injuries in part derailed both her autumnal and 2011 Aussie exploits. (Oddly, she’s now singing 311 karaoke on a MIA-to-Turks cruiseship and showing off some fly dance moves for someone with chronic knee issues.). Fed himself ran the table at the London year-end championships in December, outdoing even Rafael Nadal in the final, and snagged an early 2011 title before a taking-all-comers Novak Djokovic rolled over him in Melbourne.

Still, retirement happens. It’s inevitable. Justine Henin’s departure has itself turned into a piece of music with multiple movements, the strings swelling and falling at different points. Henin has been like that lover who breaks it off and then loiters for attention: Mercy. And merci.

All of the brouhaha catalyzed a thought: Who or what in the sport truly needs to go?

Without further ado, a few items –- persons, peccadillos, and other pesky minutiae –- that best get gone. Now. Conversely, some other talents and trends are welcome to get comfy. So there it is: Stay, or Go.

GO: Foremost, let’s be done with the freak injuries. Some stars are making the maladies on TV hospital dramas seem realistic: Victoria Azarenka scarily passed out on court after bopping her head during a warm-up run, and then Anna Chakvetadze did her best Vika impression. Meanwhile Andy Murray strained his hand by playing video games excessively (okay, that one proved a fib). It seems a few players just need to be grounded.

Granted, Serena’s recent pulmonary embolism/hematoma scare is more than legit. Anyone who relishes compelling tennis, even if no fan of hers, whether onlooker or media, can only hope she makes it back into the mix again. Tennis needs her fight and her bite. Not every player needs to be Mama Kim Clijsters, portrait of civility.

Speaking of, GO: Can we just be done with all the talk about Clijsters’ motherhood? Cute turned to precious in a hurry there, and not in a good way.

GO: That hand-strain hoax aside, Murray might want to consider tempering his video gaming: Girlfriend Kim Sears reportedly already broke up with him once over the habit. Word to the wise, young gun: the lady has you on watch.

Judy Murray, we heart thee.

GO. STAY. Good dog: Not to pick on the Murray familia too much (see below), but what of these tweets from the family’s resident cur, this Maggie? So let it be written, so let it be done: No more Murray mutt tweets, at least not until Andy bags that virgin Major. It’s no less lame to put your pet on Twitter than it is to fashion a Facebook profile for it.

STAY: Judy Murray, British tennis coach and mom to Andy and Jamie. Yes, she advises her son. She also isn’t afraid to shoot a witty retort at a former player who yaps about her spawn’s chances at winning big with her on board.

GO: Boris Becker. Just let it be, Boorish. You were a fine player, a flame-maned, serve-and-volley stud on grass. Then you knocked Murray and his mum for his underperforming at Slams, chiding him for his closeness to Judy and (good grief!) for standing by his girl at age 23. So a former player cheats on his pregnant wife with a Russian model (in a closet), resulting in a lust child, and then doles out unsolicited relational advice? Laughable. Not content to merely stand by his statements from the fall, BB waxed on again after Murray’s mopey, one-sided loss to Nole in the Aussie final. Sigh. Everyone’s a Carillo. Click to read more, kids. You don’t want to miss these musings.

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short balls: the epic edition

Brooklyn gets wind-swept on the Bravo TV show Double Exposure. See more of Brooklyn, and what hubby Andy thinks of LiLo’s jailing in this week’s short balls. (screen grab via BravoTV.com)

Who said the week after Wimbledon was a dead one on the tennis news front? There is plenty of stuff going on, from the on-court happenings at Newport and beyond to plenty (and we mean plenty) of off court news. Here’s TSF‘s edition of short balls for the week.

If you are a Pam Shriver fan and still a little miffed by all the negative press the ESPN analyst got for her run-in with James Blake in the first round of Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago, we thought we would cheer you up by digging out this video clip of one of Pam’s big-time wins on the WTA singles circuit. The victim? Steffi Graf at the 1988 Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden. It was one of only three wins Shriver notched against Graf in 12 career meetings, and it’s a pretty good look at old-school, serve-and-volley tennis from PS herself.

Perhaps you miss Wimbledon mightily and have watched the many replays available on the official web site and on YouTube. Hopefully you’ve also had the chance to check out the “Off Court” section of the Wimby web site, which was sponsored by the bottled water company Evian. A trendy British gal roams the grounds in search of the good, bad and quirky in respects to fan fashion at this year’s tournament. I enjoyed every clip.

Andy Roddick’s wife, Brooklyn Decker (top) was on the Bravo TV show Double Exposure this last week and dang, girl looked good! We were digging the wind-blown hair. See a clip of the video by clicking the image above or here. Just to be clear, Brooklyn is the second girl, not the first who is, well, a little frightening. Recently, celeb Lindsay Lohan was on Double Exposure as well, though her shoot didn’t go as well as Brooklyn’s did. If you didn’t think Brooklyn’s hubby, Andy Roddick, had any opinion on Lohan’s recent court saga (she’s been sentenced for 90 days in jail for violating probation), think again:

Not to be outdone, Andy Murray also made the TV cut this week, appearing on the James Corden show in Britain. Murray chatted tennis and soccer, if a “Hawkeye” system should be used in soccer, and hit some tennis balls at fancy, over-sized cones. Not to be outdone by Brooklyn (or Lindsay!), Andy also slow danced with an adoring fan. Awkward picture after the cut.

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peta can suck on a dead bird

After they’re done wiping the breastmilk coming out their noses, I’m sure the folks at PETA are going to have a field day with Alessandra Meyer-Wolden‘s Oktoberfest hat.

The fiancee of legend Boris Becker donned a traditional costume to festivities in Munich — complete with an alpine hat made of bird parts. Meanwhile, Becker stuck to a cardigan-and-lederhosen ensemble.

More: Oktoberfest goes from September 20 through October 5 in Munich. The first one was held in 1810 to honor the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

(via Daily Mail)

[tsf interview] how i spent my christmas vacay, by benni becker

German player Benjamin Becker starts his 2008 campaign Down Under with a loss to eventual champion Michael Llodra in the quarters of last week’s Next Generation Adelaide International.

Becker also starts off the year wearing a new line of clothes from sponsor Boris Becker — the company, not the legend. (Btw, he and Boris are not related.) For 2008, gone are the argyle patterns, but the orange and white colorway stays the same. Later today I’ll post photos of the the clothes, along with what “Benni” thinks about them and fashion in general.

We spoke to Benni via e-mail about the offseason, his goals for the coming year, and about his tennis shop in Merzig, Germany (it opened in the Spring of 2007).

How did you spend your off-season? I spent my off season mostly in Florida and was in Dallas over Christmas with my girlfriend. Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend Christmas at home in Germany but it was easier [for] my preseason schedule and my flight to Australia. But I stilled enjoyed the holidays in Dallas.

What are your goals for 2008? One of the goals are certainly to participate in the Olympics. Other than that i will try to get back to the Top 50 again and maybe even higher.

How is your relationship with Boris Becker? Does he give you advice? [Boris and I] haven’t really talked much about my game, but we’ll do that more in the fututre when we have some time. Usually we [have met] at places where it was tough to get a good conversation in because we were at a press conference or at an exibition.

becker-store-merzig.jpg

You have a store in your hometown of Merzig. How involved are you with its operation? I’m involved but not as much that it would distract me from focusing on tennis. Whenever i have a chance I go visit and try to help a smuch as I can during that time. [They have one store and don't plan to open any more.]

Doping is all over the news these days. Has this changed the climate in the locker rooms? I don’t think that the climate has changed but obviously we are all trying to be careful what supplements we take and what medicine if we are sick. That was part of it before and hasn’t changed.

short balls: mcenroe and bryan brothers get davis cup spotlight, etc.

Coming into his own: It’s been a few years now that Patrick McEnroe has etched his way into tennis history (and not as John McEnroe‘s younger brother). As the U.S. gets ready to face Russia in the 2007 Davis Cup finals (this weekend, in Portland), bone up with this quick profile in USA Today.

bryans-blake-blazers.jpg

Bryan Brothers blogging: Speaking of Davis Cup, the ATP passes the blogging baton to Mike and Bob Bryan for new insight into this weekend’s Davis Cup tie. Bob wrote the inaugural post. What you need to know: the twins went to a Blazers game with James Blake, Mike spent too much money at Whole Foods, Bob is impressed with what he’s seen as of late from the likes of Donald Young and Robbie Ginepri, and can’t wait to pull some pranks on giant (and rookie) John Isner. (ATP)

Pete backs Pete: Year-long touring pro he ain’t, but Pete Sampras‘ serve-and-volley game — played on fast indoor carpet — can still match up with today’s best. (ESPN.com)

boris-becker-poker.jpg

Poker? I hardly knew her!: Newly-single Boris Becker will join Pokerstars as one of their sponsored pros. He’ll participate in the European leg of the Poker Tour at the end of January. (Poker News)

Exhibition ecstasy: The folks at Tennis Channel will air a bunch of exhibitions in their entirety (and for free) through the end of 2007. The schedule is as follows: Monday, Dec. 3, Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet (first U.S. showing); Tue., Dec. 4, Sampras vs. Federer No. 1; Wed., Dec. 5, Sampras vs. Federer No. 2; Thurs., Dec. 6, Sampras vs. Federer No. 3. In the meantime, you can watch clips (with German commentary) here.

(OT) Opening Ceremony: Quick write-ups in Refinery29 and NYT about Opening Ceremony co-owner Humberto Leon, who, aside from running one of the best boutiques in Los Angeles, is busy ressurecting 90s surf label Maui & Sons.

(Davis Cup photo via ATP; Becker photo via Poker News)

short balls: reality bites sania, rafa swallows bitter pill, vaidisova returns, etc.

Reality bites: In response to Mahesh Bhupathi advising Sania Mirza to “concentrate on her physical abilities and training methods to prevent injury rather than to cure them,” she says:

Injuries happen to everyone. I mean Sharapova has struggled with so many injuries this year. Also Indians are not genetically as tough as the Europeans are. We are not cut out to be in a totally physical sport. That’s a fact. A lot of people may disagree with me but I still believe that. And because of that we have to push our bodies a lot more. And hence if you are going to punish your bodies everyday I don’t think then it’s humanly possible to remain injury free. I lost three months this year because of my knee but that is something which happened when I was the fittest. (CNN-IBN)

Fan fave: The fans of Maria Sharapova weigh in on their favorite outfit of 2007. I agree with their pick. (WTB)

More Maria: While in town for promo work with Tag Heuer, Masha takes in some Hong Kong sites with gal pal Camilla Belle. (Celebrities Stars)

Nadal owns up to bum foot: After months of brushing off questions about the source of his (relatively) poor performance in 2007, Rafa finally speaks out about his chronic injury. Now that the Aussie Open has traded Rebound Ace for DecoTurf, will he have the same problems he faced during this past U.S. Open? DTL: Nadal reflects on a tough 2007.

A fellow grinder rests up: Lleyton Hewitt is hoping his ankle soreness will disappear in time to play in his home country’s Grand Slam. Meanwhile, Tennis Australia hopes that the two-time Grand Slam champ will benefit from the surface change; Lleyton’s first win was on ‘Turf at the 2001 U.S. Open. (Herald Sun)

Becker splits with GF: Boris announced the end of his relationship with Sharlely Kerssenberg. (DTL)

King’s gold: Billie Jean King thinks that the WTA is free of match-fixing and sides with Martina Hingis on that cocaine scandal. (WP, WTB)

First Borg, now Sampras: C’mon, wrist — heal yourself! Clearly your owner, Andy Murray, has been pegged with lots of potential by tennis greats Borg (here) and now Sampras. (The Scotman)

Vaidisova’s back?: Mono washed away most of her 2007, but Nicole Vaidisova should be back on track in 2008. (ESPN)

What can’t he do?: First it was Novak the actor, then Novak the disco diva, now Novak the baritone?

Geek love: If you haven’t yet fallen for the number-crunching ways of Robert Waltz, then take in this latest article analyzing the performance of top WTA players. (tennis.com)

short balls: tenors + fashion week + hotels = glam, glam, glam

A stroll down memory lane: A quick video piece on women’s tennis fashion throughout history.

(OT) Sleeping in transit: My buddy Matthew designed a jacket called Excubo which helps create private ‘nap time’ space when you’re out in public. Check out the segment CNN produced on “cutting edge designs” which featured this piece. (photo via gizomodo)

Fashion week sighting: Boris Becker at L.A.M.B. — that’s Gwen Stefani‘s line. NYT‘s Cathy Horyn skewers the collection. Too bad.

Advantage, Tennis: Portfolio.com laments the loss of Anna Wintour and Stefano Tonchi to the U.S. Open finals (when they should have been front row at a few fashion shows). Boo hoo?

Virginia Slims at Michael Kors: The latest presentation from Michael Kors harked back to the days of Virginia Slims (think Chrissie Evert and Billie Jean King). The show got great reviews, including one from Suzy Menkes. The models strut out to the Xanadu soundtrack:

“The Kors show was as fast and as direct as a hard hitter on the tennis court. Out came shorts, dresses and then every angle on American sportswear, from a lean safari jacket and pantsuit to trapeze minidresses shaded in a cocktail of mint, lime, orange and peach. They had a tropical vitality, while white served as a symbol of freshness, as it does on the tennis court.”

Pavarotti, R.I.P.: Tennis lost another fan in Luciano Pavarotti, who died this past Thursday at the age of 71. Bud Collins writes a great piece on how the great tenor loved the sport.

Macao != Times Square?: While the folks behind The Venetian Macao — the world’s largest casino — hope that their brand can withstand the shadiness of that Chinese territory, we’re just glad that the stage is set for one of the R-Fed vs. Pistol Pete exos this fall. (UD and IHT)

(OT) Palazzo Versace breaks ground: The Dubai outpost of Palazzo Versace in Dubai has started construction. (spa business)

sightings from the stands: r-fed d. roddick

Two things: first, I want World News Now‘s Ryan Owens to whisper frivolous news stories in my ear (perhaps it’s just my insomnia talking?) Second, I miss Matt Savoie. Now onto the fun stuff…

I was following the tight three sets Roger Federer played against Roddick at last night’s U.S. Open quartefinals. Up until the third set, Roger, who won the first two sets in tiebreaks, was the only one who faced a break point. Unfortunately for the Texan, Federer ran away with the third set, breaking Andy twice to win 6-2.

The black-shirt affair brought out the big-hitters:

wintour and de la Renta - roger federer

What R-Fed tennis U.S. Open tennis match would be complete without the president of his fan club, Anna Wintour? To her left is the fabulously tortoise-shelled Oscar de la Renta.

Apparently, this fashion week’s most sought-after photo opp is Roger and Anna in the tents of Bryant Park (or wherever designers are showing). The papparazi are ready!

becker and kerssenberg

Boris Becker and Sharlely Lilly Kerssenberg .

agassi and becker - us open 07

Andre Agassi, in town for the Legends Ball, stopping by the USA Network booth to hang with John McEnroe.

(photos via Getty Images)

RELATED POSTS
>> TSF’s u.s. open coverage continues…

graf/agassi LV ad, becker sells estate, canadian tourney pampers

Magazine invasion: I stopped by the newsstand tonight and saw the Catherine Deneuve ad for Louis Vuitton in this month’s Vanity Fair. Which led me to dig up the Agassi and Graf ad, above.

I also saw the Masha Shape magazine cover story. (DTL)

The women are pampered: The Rogers Cup in Toronto has plenty in store this week, including an Aveda Spa in the players’ lounge and a three-day fashion show “featuring the history of women’s tennis fashions from the early 1900s until today, including a spoof on John McEnroe. (Toronto Sun)

Becker’s house for sale: Son Coll, the Mallorcan estate of Boris Becker, is on the market for £10m as he tries to straighten out his finances after a paternity settlement and a divorce. The estate has a Rebound Ace court. (Times)

(photo via all women’s talk)