short balls: ladies in wanting

Aussie Open contributor Benjamin Snyder is back for more. Taking on the longest of tasks: short balls.

Back in the habit: Vera – circa USO 2009 – got the meltdown bug again last week in Thailand. (Getty Images)

Well, it looks like we’re back to some shaky form for the top women — and, man, you girls were all looking so sharp in Australia, according to Tennis.com’s Tom Perrotta. Check out how world no. 3 Vera Zvonareva allowed a line call and a swearing violation get the best of her big game. She lost it versus Daniela Hantuchova in the Pattaya Open semis, prompting this charged statement: “There is a big difference between being mentally tough and being emotional. It’s a huge difference. I will always be emotional. As long as I use those emotions to my advantage, that’s only a plus to me. If I need to break the racquet to pump myself up, then I will break the racquet. I don’t care.” | Watch the drama

At least Vera stayed on her feet. This week in Dubai, Anna Chakvetadze collapsed due to a stomach bug against Caroline Wozniacki. Déja vu? Good thing she chopped her pony or she really could have hurt herself.

Before you call Petra Kvitova the next big thing, waiting for her to win everything, Federer-style, get this: she choked in her first-round match in Dubai.

Speaking out. Former world no. 1 Amelie Mauresmo isn’t scared to voice her opinion, especially when it relates to her home Slam at Roland Garros. She recently lowered the boom on French officials who bid to keep the clay-court major in Paris. “We are the smallest of the four grand slams and I think it is important to have the chance to grow, and for the public to have more room,” she said.

Ana Ivanovic split with coach Antonio van Grichen (just what we were thinking… who?!) last week, saying she plans to keep the solo mojo going for longer. Maybe that’s not working too well, Ana. The ’08 FO champ lost to veteran Patty Schnyder in the first round of Dubai, just three short months after snacking on her in the final of Linz.

trophy watch: there’s a hole in my trophy, dear liza!

Petra Kvitova slayed the biggest giant of all this weekend in Paris: new world no. 1 and Aussie Open winner Kim Clijsters, 6-4 6-3 in the final. Isn’t there something missing from her trophy though? Like… a big chunk of it??

Meanwhile, over in San Jose, Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man to win an ATP title in 16 years. His prize(s)? A Sharks jersey and bottle of maple syrup. I mean, jeez, don’t paint him as Canadian or anything…

Check out Daniela in Thailand, Soderling in Rotterdam and more of the isn’t-there-something-missing trophy of Kvitova’s.

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short balls: it’s not over until the (small) lady sings

Justine Henin made her return to Belgian television earlier this week by singing and dancing on a variety TV show. Singing the song “Now It’s Time” on the show Cap 48. Was that lip synching we saw there, JuJu? Might have to refer to this video to figure it out. Hopefully Lady Henin didn’t re-injure her elbow in said dance routine, in which she wore a bright white pant suit, black dance shoes and had her hair put up. Now we get why she wants her phone on a desert island: she has the Autotune app.

Justine is scheduled to take on Kim Clijsters in an exhibition in December, though she hasn’t made her 2011 schedule public yet. Guga Kuerten is due to play an exhibition in his home country of Brazil in December as well, flying down former rival Andre Agassi for a little hit and giggle. Fame bound? Meanwhile, Andre headlines the 2011 ballot for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The last time Andre was in Newport? To help honor his wife Steffi during her own induction in 2007.

With the tennis season winding down, the exo season is picking up. The Belgians will do battle in their home country and Guga has Andre going south. Roger has invited Rafa up to Switzerland for a duel of their own, which, if the trailer runs true, will be mostly giggling and not much hitting. Stateside, no less than four exo’s will take place in November and December, with players like Anna Kournikova, Martina Navratilova, Mark Philippoussis, Mardy Fish and the Bryan Brothers participating in one event or another. (Line up: Surprise, Ariz. | Delray Beach | DC | Vero Beach, Fla.) (Exhibition info from tenniswire.org)

The season is prematurely over for a myriad of WTA ladies, including Venus, Serena and Maria Sharapova. The Williams sisters will not only miss the Season Ending Championships but also the Fed Cup finals, which they had expressed interest in playing after controversy swirled in their lack of participation in the team’s ties earlier in the year.

More of short balls – featuring short(er) balls – after the cut. [Read more…]

gallery perusing

There is always plenty of interesting (and sometimes questionable) photos to peruse on the WTA’s photo gallery from each tournament each week. This last week, the folks at the tour put together a couple of gems from Hobart and Sydney. We picked out a few of our faves.

Alicia Molik and Sania Mirza try on some cricket gear with a couple of beefies.

We really do believe that Daniela Hantuchova belongs in the ’70s. According to her tee, so does she.

Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic on the red carpet at Sydney. Which outfit do you like better?

(photos via WTA.com/getty images)

wimbledon, on the d list

TSF note: Tennis Chatter’s Nick McCarvel is in London this week, doing his time as a Wimbledon fan by queueing up for tickets. He’s graciously offered report back through TSF even though he’s also writing for the New York Times’ Straight Sets blog (Mazel tov!). Read on…

The tennis was in full force yesterday at the All England Club for day one of the 2009 Championships. As play was called to start over the loud speakers just before noon, there were bright blue skies above head – an unusual sight. Maybe that roof wasn’t necessary, after all?

If you’ve never been to a professional tennis event, one of the funnest things about them is how close you can get to the players. “Oh! There’s James Blake practicing on Court 5″ and “Whoops! Sorry Maria, didn’t mean to bump into you on the way to the bathroom.” It’s like a little town and you’re all just chum-chum with each other.

But, my favorite part of being at big tourneys like this is the D-List sightings. You know what I mean. Not the Andy, Roger, Rafa and Serena sightings… more like the “Isn’t that Sesil’s mom?!” and “OMG I think that’s Jill Craybas’ hitting partner!” Here’s a few of my Monday bump-ins:

Tracy Austin in a hideous, leprechaun green get-up courtside during Michelle Larcher de Brito’s first round encounter on Court 17. Austin appeared to be doing some sideline commentating off-and-on during the match (fact check, anyone?!). But Austin was most definitely not happy when Ms. Grunty herself walked past her after the match without so much as a head nod. Inter-generational bitch fight? I sure hope so. Divas got ‘tude!

Paradorn Schrichapan and Miss Universe wife (Natalie Glebova) hanging out outside of Centre Court while wifey tried to argue her way in without a pass. Paradorn looked sexy in street clothes (a black tee and jeans), while Natalie must’ve been saying: “Look, my name totally sounds like one of these tennis phenom names. I’m an OVA! Just let me in and I’ll let you see my Miss Universe crown.”

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sports illustrated’s 2009 swimsuit issue

SEWTA bombshells Daniela Hantuchova, Maria Kirilenko, and Tatiana Golovin appear in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Joining them in the magazine is Brookly Decker, Andy Roddick‘s fiancee.

The three tennis ladies were photographed by Walter Iooss in Cap Cana, Juanillo, Dominican Republic.

Here are the pics — a million times better than the non-HD preview we posted two days ago:

daniela-hantuchova-siswimsuit09

Among many costume changes for Dani was this pink number from V del Sol.

“Being a part of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue was a unique experience that gave me a rare and fun opportunity to let the people see me in a different light, away from the tennis court,” Hantuchova commented to the SEWTA website.

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Meanwhile, Maria was shot wearing this print bikini from adidas by Stella McCartney.

From Kirilenko’s site: “I have very good memories of the photo shooting for Sports Illustrated. I went to Dominican Republic with my mother. I was there for three days and I had a great time ! All days on the beach posing I can tell I was busy all the days but it was so nice ! A great team worked with me. The great photographer Walter Iooss, I think it is a greatest photographer I ever work with.”

tatiana-golovin-siswimsuit09

Tati looked comfortable (has she recovered from her injury?) in this Rachel Pappo suit.

“It is such an honor to be a part of the Swimsuit issue and while I have done lots of photo shoots in my career, none of them can compare to the fantastic atmosphere of this shoot and the positive energy of the crew,” Golovin said on the tour site. “It was a fantastic experience that will stay with me for a long time.”

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…aaaaaaaand Brooklyn Decker blows them all away. Just keep this picture in your wallet, Andy!

(Decker photographed by Raphael Mazzucco in Canouan Island, The Grenadines. Swimsuit by Elizabeth Kosich; all images via si.com)

breaking out: tati, dani, and makiri in si’s 2009 swimsuit issue

tennis-si-2009

While they might not have any major titles among them (one or two Tier I’s, at most), the blonde tennis trifecta of Maria Kirilenko, Dani Hantuchova, and Tatiana Golovin has the distinction of being included in Sports Illustrated‘s 2009 Swimsuit Issue. They’ll join Andy Roddick‘s fiancee Brooklyn Decker, along with a long list of scantily clad babes.

A sneak peek of the issue aired on CBS Sunday Morning (who was the target demo?), spun as a profile on legendary photographer Walter Iooss, who shot the trio for the magazine.

And on tonight’s episode of the Late Show with David Letterman, the magazine will announce the cover girl.

(screencap by busted coverage)

the aussie open in greyscale

At this year’s Australian Open, players are celebrating the Australian summer with bright kits in shades of blue, green, orange, yellow. But there are some who have chosen a cleaner black-and-white slate, leaving their tennis games to do the talkin’.

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Don’t adjust your screen: Spaniard Tommy Robredo defeated Bobby Reynolds 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 in the first round. Robredo wore a simple Sergio Tacchini polo to complete his look. Compatriot Feli Lopez disappointed us with his anemic Joma kit. The 27th seed lost to Gilles Muller 6-3, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 4-6, 16-14.

Meanwhile, Andy Roddick couldn’t care less if he played in a potato sack (as long as he wins another Grand Slam!), so it’s no surprise to see another ho-hum shirt from Lacoste. His first round scalp was Bjorn Rehnquist, whom he beat by dropping only four games.

And top marks go to the sponsorless Australian Casey Dellacqua, whose wardrobe — with its moving Target bullseye — has shown us that black and white can be used to spice up many a tennis outfit; she’s had a few good ones since the beginning of this year. Who makes her clothes, anyway? Eh, it won’t really matter anymore this week. Dani Hantuchova took her out 7-6 (11), 6-4.

(photos by Getty Images)

trophy watch: the post-Open asian swing

Trophy watch: The men and the women stopped by Asia this week to contest titles in Beijing, Bangkok, Korea. We saw rematches and familiar faces from last week and last year. A roundup of the winners, their trophies, and what they wore — all after the cut…

olympics: nike in red, white, and blue

TSF’s sad that we won’t get to see Maria Sharapova in her kit for the Beijing Olympics. So we’ll have to do with what we’re given:

Serena Williams wears a patriotic version of the Doubles Dress that she debuted earlier this year. In her first Olympics singles match ever (she won gold in doubles with Venus in 2000), she took out Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-3, 6-1.

Zheng Jie took advantage of playing on her home court in her win over Hungarian Agnes Szavay.

Notice the ghosted pattern on the back panel of the top. (Thanks for a reader’s help with this one.)

Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova brushed aside veteran Ai Sugiyama 6-2 7-5.

(images via Getty Images)