short balls: is that a jimmy in your phone or are you just… ?

By Benjamin Snyder

Basically Jimmy: Prepare for Jimmy 2.0, or rather “Jimmy Connors 109,” as the retired tennis champ’s newly released app is called, reports Tennis.com. USA Today initially broke the story, writing, “Part tutorial and part anecdotes, the video app showcases Connors to a whole new generation, while at the same time appealing to fans who watched him become one of the best and most popular players in the 1970s and ’80s.” In Connors’ own words, “I go back to basics, which is how I learned to play. I really believe simpler is better, and as I’m describing a shot or a grip, I’m showing you exactly how I did it.”

Roger Federer 007: Need a paparazzi decoy? Don’t ask Mirka, that just means she’ll wear sweat pants to dinner. Instead, Fed is your man, as he was the other night when out with BFF (Best Fashion Friend) Anna Wintour (oh yeah, and Mirka came too, yaaaaawn). According to the New York Post article, Federer helped Wintour escape from the paparazzi after the meal concluded. The article cites a spy (Mirka?!): “He and the group exited the side door carrying presents. The photographers ran to the side, but the queen of Vogue was nowhere to be found. One yelled, ‘Where’s Anna?’ Federer took his time loading the car, smiled and went on his way. Anna walked out the front door unnoticed.” As the article states, “chivalry still rules for Federer,” and it seems to be nowhere near dead. At the same time, how did Mirka feel about Federer’s kind acts for Wintour on her b-day? Can’t wait for that story line to develop!

Lisa’s lines: The wheels are turning for Lisa Raymond‘s WTA blog, “Lisa’s Spin.” In a recent post, the dubs specialist talks about country music (!??!???!), cupcakes, her doubles “break-up” and more. Let us repeat again: she talks about her doubles drama. Read it. Plus, what is a day without some life coaching from one, LaRa? Raymond says, “And like any relationship, the forming of a doubles partnership is a bit like dating – you seem interested in someone, you confirm they are single and/or on the market, ask them out, and hope you live happily ever after or something like that! ;-)” Did she really just ;-)??? We can’t with the emoticons.

Loud-mouth Johnny: As loud as John McEnroe is on court, he’s able to spit out the decibels in public places, too. Apparently, he’s just as “obnoxious” off the court, a blurb in the New York Post recounted. It says he “annoyed fellow diners at Recipe, on the Upper West Side recently by loudly recounting tales of his tennis glory days. The court legend entertained his wife and two friends with stories of “beating Bjorn Borg and other victories.”

Chris Chase of Yahoo! Sports is having none of it: “It’d be bigger news if McEnroe went to a restaurant and didn’t talk loudly about Bjorn Borg. What’s most surprising is that the old tennis champ wasn’t boasting about that time he partied with The Rolling Stones.”

The next loud-mouth superstar? Speaking (yelling?) of Johnny Mac, his protege, Ingrid Neel continues to make waves in the tennis world — the boys’ tennis world. The 12-year-old from Minnesota is playing tennis with the boys – and only the boys. Her hometown coach Mike Cartwright to the Minnesota Star Tribune has this to say about the pint-sized puncher playing with the fellas: “It will be interesting. It’s going to be hard for some guys, wondering how the heck they are losing to a seventh-grade girl. But she’s just really talented.”

Time to go? David Ferrer‘s recent ad campaign for Bovet watches in Spanish Revolution magazine. He’s rocking the sepia tones and the specs. Looking good (???), David! And… sort of like an Avatar.

(Connors image by ICN via USA Today; Ferrer image via Spanish Revolution)

ferrer's manic miami moment

Don’t cry for me: The pronunciation of David Ferrer‘s name is being butchered by newscasters across America as news stations run footage of him belting a ball up into the crowd on Wednesday out of frustration that a baby was crying. Well, that wasn’t the only reason, but Ferrer’s dismal, straight-set loss to Mardy Fish was just that: frustrating.

trophy watch: where 'yee-haw' meets 'ole!'

There was a story on msnbc.com last week about U.S. cities and their slogans. You know, like New York is the “City that Never Sleeps” and “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.” Our fave? That would be Eagle Pass, Texas: “Where ‘Yee haw!’ Meets ‘Ole!’” We’re feeling as though David Ferrer is channeling such a slogan, donning a sombrero after his win in Acapulco over Nicolas Almagro, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-2.

Is this a sign of the future? Oh, we were talking about the trophies. You meant the scoreline? It was 3 and 3 to Novak Djokovic over Roger Federer.

And is this growing into a rivalry? It certainly could. Vera Zvonareva won a competitive bout with Caroline Wozniacki in Doha, taking out the world no. 1, 6-4, 6-4.

[Read more...]

ao sf predictions with christopher phillips (gents)

Party crasher: everyone knew there would be a Spaniard in the semis. Just not this guy. (Getty/ Torsten Blackwood.)

Christopher Phillips, a regular TSF contributor, weighs in on the semifinal match-ups over the next two days in Melbourne. | More: Lady picks

As Rafael Nadal bows out of the men’s mix, all eyes are focused on the rematch of the US Open semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.  Both men are coming off of strong quarterfinal showings as Federer beat countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets and Djokovic handed the same result to former giant-killer Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic has been the more consistent of the two in only dropping one set in his run to the semis (a tiebreak at that) compared to three lost sets for Fed. Though most would say Federer has had the tougher draw in defeating three former top ten players (Gilles Simon, Tommy Robredo and Wawrinka), he looked especially vulnerable in a five-set clash with Simon in the second round. Djokovic has really only had to contend with the up-and-down Berdych and Nicolas Almagro, who’d always rather be playing on clay.

While Djokovic had Federer’s number in New York, I see the relationship between Federer and new coach Paul Annacone continuing to flourish for the Swiss.  Roger takes it in five.

At the top half we have one of my favorite (and I think most underappreciated) players in David Ferrer. After Ferrer’s quarterfinal upset over an injured Nadal, he takes on Scot Andy Murray.  After seeing Murray’s countless meltdowns in Majors, I very recently claimed that I thought Murray would never win a slam in his career. But with his solid under-the-radar play here, I may be forced to eat my own crow though with perhaps a bit of Aussie vegemite on top.

Murray may have already mentally booked his place in the final, which could spell trouble for him against a player with the consistency, determination and drive that Ferrer has.  Ferrer has had to fight more in his run to the semis, so he may be more battle-tested than Murray, but I pick the no. 5 seed in four sets.

aussie preview: dark horses

Can Lleyton cruise through the draw? If son Cruz had anything to say about it, he would. (photo by getty)

No, “dark horses” is not the name of Martina Hingis‘ favorite Lifetime TV movie, it’s a look at the ladies and gents who might make a kangaroo hop in your draw into a round you just didn’t expect him or her to do. But before we get to those who have been springing spryly lately, let’s take a look at who’s been have a tough time chalking up any “Ws” lately.

Feeling down Down Under

Men: Things have been rough for Fernando Verdasco as of late. The current world no. 9 made quite the impression two years ago in Melbourne when he lost an epic semi to Rafael Nadal that many called the match of the year. But after a solid 2010 US Open, in which he made highlight reels with a spectacular around-the-net post shot to  beat David Ferrer in the round of 16 (he lost in the quarters to – you guessed it – Nadal) Verdasco is a jaw-dropping 2-6, unable to win a match against a player inside the top 50. He’s 0-1 in 2011 and has a tough draw with Rainer Schuettler in round one and a potential second-match against giant-slayer Janko Tipsarevic. | On TSF: Shirtless Fernando

Honorable mention: Juan Martin del Potro. The 2009 US Open champ is ranked no. 236 and is 1-3 since his return in September.

Women: What’s the deal with Sam? For much of 2010 it seemed like Samantha Stosur – the no. 5 seed here – had the whole mid-career transition thing figured out. She made her first appearance in a Slam final (the French), battled past big guns, and held her own in the best women’s match of the US Open in the quarters against Elena Dementieva. But now, the hometown gal seems to have fallen apart. She finished 2010 3-5 and has started this year 2-2. She has the game’s biggest serve and a wicked forehand, but if she can’t corral the power, her backers might not see her get out of week two.

Honorable mention: The Russian duo of Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova are the latest ladies to leave us scratching our heads. Sure, there are plenty of WTA head cases out there, but these two veterans should be a bit more steady.

On the up and up (Down Under, of course)

Let’s start with the ladies: There’s Jarmila Groth, the home-country lady who has a sudden following after winning Hobart on Saturday. Her round one opponent? The “other” Belgian: Yanina Wickmayer. Wickmayer was a finalist in Auckland on week one of the year, so the 2009 US Open semifinalist is a tough cookie to take. Big hitters: Expect Petra Kvitova and Alisa Kleybanova to threaten for spots in week two. And Andrea Petkovic is starting to walk the talk of a big-time player. Petko could face a shaky Venus in the third round. Oh right, Li Na! Li Na!

Where do we even go with the men? Most namely (and recently) there’s David Ferrer, who took out David Nalbandian to win over the weekend in Auckland. Another winner over the weekend was Gilles Simon (Sydney), who is making something of a comeback after missing much of the fall to be a new dad. Stanislas Wawrinka, Kevin Anderson, Xavier Malisse and Janko Tipsarevic all had good starts to the year, as did Lleyton Hewitt who won the exhibition tourney in Kooyong. And another Serb, Victor Troiki, was who Simon conquered in Sydney for the title. The big-serving tall fella could be a test for countryman Novak Djokovic in the third round.

trophy watch: beijing goes big, orbs in japan, and a little slice of belgium

Frenchie Adrian Mannarino (Troy!) took out Steve Darcis in straight sets to take this little slice of the Ethias Tennis Trophy in Mons, Belgium.

At the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo, Rafael Nadal beat Gael Monfils 6-1, 7-5 to grab his first post-US Open title this year. (He lost to Gigi Lopez in the Bangkok semis last week.)

On the doubles side, Eric Butorac and former Bruin Jean-Julien Rojer won the final match against Fila boys Dmitry Tursunov and Andreas Seppi. Two snaps to Prince and Nike for coordinating the colors on the kits of the winning team.

And in Beijing, rain-delayed finals didn’t produce any upsets, with defending champ Djokovic and Wozniacki fending off Ferrer and Zvonareva. Caro takes her second trophy this week (the first for reaching the world No. 1 ranking by overcoming break advantages from Vera in the first set. (The Russian even won the second set.) Both ladies can take this performance as a confidence boost going into the women’s year-end championships, held in Doha.

(images via Getty Images)

david ferrer is a dirty, dirty pirate

David Ferrer defeated Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Shanghai Masters. He’ll next face compatriot Feliciano Lopez, and have a so-so Juan Martin del Potro as a potential third-round match-up. If he makes it through, Tsonga will likely be his quarterfinal opponent. Draw here.

Gold: Ferrer is wearing pieces from Lotto‘s Shock collection, this time in black and gold. He also wore this at the 2009 U.S. Open.

More: A few more pics of David after the cut…

david ferrer: biohazardous to roddick’s game

Andy Roddick got his first taste of trouble in the hands of fiery Spaniard David Ferrer, who took the top-ranked American to three sets — 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-3 — in the fourth round of this week’s BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Lotto’s new look: We’re not quite sure what to think of this biohazard-esque graphic splayed on David Ferrer‘s spring Lotto kit, but its definitely a welcome change from the teal/white colorway he sported in the last few months.

He wore a red/white version during last week’s Davis Cup tie between Spain and Serbia; the white/mustard colorway during his matches earlier this week, and the mustard-only made its debut last night.

Looking ahead: Still, Andy got through and will next face Novak Djokovic in the quarters. They’re even in their head-to-head with two apiece. They’re most recent match was at this year’s Australian Open (Nole retired in the fourth).

(images via Getty Images)

fashion focus: a lotta lotto blue

Lotto decided to keep last spring‘s aqua blue for this year’s spring kit, choosing instead to tweak the clothing design. David Ferrer wore both the blue/white and white/blue version of the spring tee this week’s Australian Open. He beat fellow Lotto player Dominik Hrbaty in the second round before falling to 11th seed Marin Cilic 6-7 (5), 3-6, 4-6.

Here’s Hrbaty in his second-round match.

In a grand slam that’s seen almost every outfitter overwhelm spectators with bright, bright (did we say bright?) offerings, it’s refreshing to see Lotto take a more subtle-but-still-colorful route.

From the back: And we picked Gilles Muller to show off the detail on the back of the shorts (plus the bumblebee shoes). The unseeded Luxembourger lost to eight seed Juan Martin del Potro 7-6 (5), 5-7, 3-6, 5-7.

Buy: As of press time, the new goods weren’t yet for sale.

(images by Getty Images)