short balls: a ‘dead’ week in tennis

Summer sorrow? The three weeks between Wimbledon ending and the US Open Series beginning (Note: we understand that the USOS already began in Atlanta, but surely you can understand that it really feels like summer when Stanford and Los Angeles start, no?) can always be a bit awkward. Sure, there is the beautiful thing that is World TeamTennis, and yes, there are those random events in Europe and the historic after-Wimbledon beacon known as Newport. But this is the time of year that tennis usually takes a breather. Or, at least, tennis news. In 2011, however, not so much. Don’t believe us? Read your way through this week’s short balls – there’s plenty to be had!

Up in arms: Folks in Canada (and beyond) were up in arms over a Rogers Cup poster being used to advertise the women’s tournament as a lead in for a senior’s event that featured Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. The tag line? “[C]ome for the ladies, stay for the legends.” Wait, really? Yes, really. Busted Racquet has a good shot of the poster, which Chris Chase says isn’t really that big of a deal — arguing that the tag line just sort of sucks. And while we partly agree, it was a double slap in the face from the TSF POV: sexually charged (“come for the ladies”) and wait … you want folks to stick around for two retired legends? To us, it should be the other way around. But the Rogers folks changed it up after the outcry, instead using: “[M]aking history, re-living history.” Done and done.

Wozy’s new boo? Always a flirt on Twitter, Caroline Wozniacki might actually have a boy following through on all those winky faces and nudge, nudge LOLs. Who’s the new fella? That’d be Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the 22-year old who stormed through the golf world earlier this summer to win the US Open — you know, just around the time that Caro was crashing out of Wimbledon. But Rory has a complicated (and catty?!) ex GF (Holly Sweeney — they were childhood boos!) and when trying to make an international relationship work in the 21st century, there are only so many #missubabe hash tags that will suffice. Stay tuned.

Dulko, Lena tie the knot (but (k)not to one another): Both Gisela Dulko and Elena Dementieva were married recently, Lena’s nuptials being quite the gathering of Russian tennis royalty. WomensTennisNow.com has a bevy of pictures, and Jon Scott wrote in the Daily Spin on Tennis.com that Safina, Kirilenko, Kuzentsova, Dushevina, Vesnina Zvonareva, Kudryavtseva and Igor Andreez (Kirilenko’s beau) were all in attendance. Dementieva married Maxim Afinoginov, a Russian hockey palyer, at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow.

Johnny be good. Seems as though John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg can still bring in the big bucks — and crowd. Their well-documented encounter on the World TeamTennis court last week in NYC helped raise more than $300,000 thanks to a sell out crowd. Where does the money go? To the youth, of course! “The funds raised will benefit the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, which provides scholarships, coaching, tournament travel and introductory programs for area youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend the Academy or to participate in recreational tennis programs,” a Sportimes release said. Dunlop and Nike are corporate sponsors of the academy, which starts its second school year this coming September.

Do you think she did it herself? Pakastani doubles expert Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi announced his engagement to Faha Akmal Makhdoom. The two, above, celebrated over the weekend. Quite the tattoo, right?! But seriously, Erwin, that should make our tattoo watch list, right?!

Time-lapse goodness. Before short(er) balls, a bit of other thread (ot) delight: the video below shows the NYTimes.com homepage in time-lapse from September of last year until this month. Be amazed.

Short(er) balls: Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish have signed up to play an exhibition match in Oklahoma City — near where Andy’s bro John Roddick is the University of Oklahoma coach — on Steptember 25. John will join the gents for a doubles exo, as well. Ticket info here. | Things are shaping up well in Cincy. The Mason, Ohio-based stops gets the men and women at the same time this year (Aug. 13-21) and has six new courts, including a 4,000-seat show court. | Remember Robby Ginepri? The oft-injured American is on somewhat of a mini-comeback. The 2005 USO semifinalist beat former world no. 2 Tommy Haas in Atlanta this week and remains in the draw. Oh, and he’s engaged, too. | Ice cream sandwiches are all the rage in NYC right now. And for good reason. | The Museum at FIT in New York is currently showing a fashion exhibit that focuses on sports wear and its (huge) influence on the rest of the fashion and clothing industry. | A 17-year-old Lexington, Ky., tennis stand out is the new face of Hollister. The teen — Chad Buchanan — has no relation to American upstart Chase. Though, his mom was runner-up in the Miss America pageant in 1984.

(Serena-Hingis image via the AP; Elena image via Sports.ru; and Qureshi image via Getty)

tsf presents the 12 days of giftmas

We realize that we’ve been a little MIA lately, but don’t blame us, blame all that Thanksgiving tofurkey that has been weighing us down for the last two weeks (and that is sure to weigh us down two weeks from now). But said tofurkey hasn’t – and won’t! – disallow us from helping all you last-minute shoppers find the perfect gifts for the tennis-loving loved ones in your life. With that, we present our 12 Days of Giftmas where we present to you a cache of gift ideas from the year that has passed and the year that is to come. But first, oh – first! Some Christmas thoughts from those ladies dangling above.

We asked the ladies of the WTA Season Ending Championships what thoughts they had on the upcoming holiday and luckily, even among the palm trees of Doha (in October, no less), they let us know what was on their minds.

Holiday wishes: The now-retired Elena Dementieva wants to be with her family for the holidays and get a dog next year. Well, you’re taking the right steps by shucking your career, lady! Victoria Azarenka is hoping to learn some French to communicate with… her coach: “I really want to learn French! It will really help my communication with my French coach, Sam Sumyk.”

Caroline Wozniacki wishes “for a new Sony Ericsson phone,” wait, really?! No… maybe not: “Actually, I really like to give gifts. I like to buy them something special from me that I know they’ll like. Something unique. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s important that it means something.” And what about 2011, Caro? “This year my resolution was to focus on something positive from each day, even if every now and then you might be feeling a bit sad, it’s just important to find something positive. So I think for next year I’ll be continuing to do that and focusing on being happy.” Being no. 1 in the world might help too, right? And what about the down-on-her-luck Jelena Jankovic? “You know the only thing I ask for this Christmas is something you can’t buy, and that’s health for my family and for myself. It’s the most important thing. [For the new year], I promise not to be so lazy at times! People don’t know, but I can be quite lazy sometimes, so I’m going to be working on that for 2011.”

(illustration by Troy Venechanos)

short balls: elena waves good-bye

Elena Dementieva is waving good-bye to the WTA Tour after a dozen years on the tour, which saw her greatest moment in 2008, at the Beijing Olympics. But while Dementieva might be most well-known to tennis enthusiasts as the greatest chica never to nab a Slam, you can bet she will be a missed force on the tour. No one else played with such maturity and poise, and even the shaky serve was made up for by that blazing forehand. Can you remember an Elena diva moment? Neither can I. I got the chance to watch Elena in person this summer – and if you never had the chance to watch this girl up close, I’ll give you one descriptive word: athlete - and she was a joy to watch. The tennis may have been flawed at times, but the heart was always there. Can’t wait to see what comes next for the Muscovite. Survey study: Of the 158 folks that responded to our Sunday Survey, 38% said they thought Elena would announce she’s pregnant come Thanksgiving. OK, riiight.

Courier calls: A variety of responses sprung up from the naming of Jim Courier as the new US Davis Cup coach last week. Greg Garber was questioning the call already over at ESPN.com, while L. Jon Wertheim was giving the nod to the Courier appointment in his Monday post this week. Our call? Well, we’re not so sure it matters who captains. Wertheim pointed out that four Americans sit inside the top 22 (Roddick, Isner, Fish and Querrey), and while the time may have passed for Roddick and his Davis Cup days, the Bryan Brothers look committed. The bigger question is: what will the Isner, Fish and Querrey era bring? Those are the boys that seem invested as Courier takes the reigns.

Retirement footnotes: While Elena’s announcement shocked a few and left others unsurprised, Serena Tweeted and blogged her well wishes to Dementieva, who had a 5-7 record against ReRe. Of course, retirement of one WTA veteran meant that the media was curious about her counterparts, namely Kim Clijsters. And here’s a curious fact for you: Lindsay Davenport, who shaved off Elena in her first big-bang match in the 2000 US Open semis still is not listed as retired on the WTA web site. Comeback likely? You never know with the mom next door.

Back on the winning (and publicity) track: Winning his first match in five tries, Fernando Verdasco found his winning form (most recently displayed in heroics at this year’s USO) in Valencia Monday. The Slice had some good shots of Fernando charming the masses at a Calvin Klein event last week in Madrid (with his pants on), before heading east to Valencia. He also appeared on the Spanish cooking show, El Hormiguero. Jealous of that cooking-show host? Yes, so are we.

Frame this: Ipek Senoglu is probably the most famous tennis player you (and I) have never heard of. Senoglu is Turkish and reached a career-high ranking of no. 293 back in 2004. While her career has mostly run its course, Senoglu has been instrumental in building tennis’s popularity in Turkey, which will host the WTA’s year-end event in both 2011 and 2012 in Istanbul. Oh, and she’s a looker, that Ipek, too. Above: Ipek in what we think is the Turkish/ Eastern European version of Bazaar. Can anyone help us out on translating?

After the cut: a barely-clad retired pro male struts his stuff in undies and injures a production assistant in the process? Plus, your weekly dose of short(er) balls. [Read more…]

sunday survey: the dementieva decision

Elena Dementieva announced her retirement from tennis on Friday in Doha. You think she will…

(photo via reuters)

good bye, elena


Elena Dementieva retired from tennis on Friday in Doha. She won 16 career titles.

Dementieva at Wimbledon, 2007. For much of her career Dementieva’s service yips – double faults and powder puffs included – were criticized. She was part of the New York Times’ beautifully-shot “Power Game” feature during this year’s US Open. Grass mastery: Many called Elena’s semifinal loss at the 2009 Wimbledon one of the best matches of the decade.

Elena also played two doozies at the USO in 2004. In two bizarre back-to-back matches, she would beat Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati 7-6 in the third set to reach her second Grand Slam final in three Slams.

A picture really is worth 1,00 words. Elena getting ready to battle the long-forgotten Anastasia Myskina in the ’04 French final.

A few more shots of Dementieva after the cut. [Read more…]

trophy watch: in asia, the week of three-setters

Malaysian Open: Fourth seed Mikhail Youzhny bagged his second title of the year by taking out Andrey Golubev 6-7 (7), 6-2, 7-6 (3) in Kuala Lumpur. “I cannot say I showed by best tennis here,” shared Youzhny, “but, although it’s good when you show your best tennis and win the tournament, it’s probably better sometimes when you don’t show your really best game but you have a really good result.” The Russian also won the BMW Open, on clay, back in May.

PTT Thailand Open: All the big players bit the dust — including Rafael Nadal and the rusty Juan Martin Del Potro, Verdasco, Melzer — leaving Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to square off against Jarkko Nieminen in the finals. The scoreline, in Gigi’s favor: 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. This was the Spaniard’s second final of 2010 and the first title. “It has been an unbelievable week for me, from the first round to the final. Every match is different. I think I played relaxed, enjoyed my game and everything was perfect. It’s hard to express what it means, I’m really happy inside.”

Toray Pan-Pacific Open: Over in Tokyo, top seed Caroline Wozniacki fended off an upset by Elena Dementieva with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Exo: And Nole won an exo over Andy Roddick in Seoul. The blooper reel’s here.

(images via Getty Images)

elena dementieva reaches the semis in tokyo

Elena Dementieva is through to the semifinals at the Toray Pan Pacific Open after taking out second seed Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-2. Up next for Elena is Francesca Schiavone. On the other side, Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the semis after Agnieszka Radwanska retired with a left foot injury; the Dane’s slated to face Azarenka. (Draw: Singles)

Meanwhile, Dementieva’s shed that muumuu everyone groaned about (from the US Open), replacing it with separates in the same shade but with a shiny layer of fabric to help accentuate her shape.

Update: This set won’t be available for sale stateside. Our next Yonex option will be what Lena’s wearing for the 2011 Australian Open.

More: A few other pics of Dementieva after the cut…

flashback: yonex at the 2010 us open

Elena Dementieva was the 12th seed at the 2010 US Open and made it to the fourth round before falling to Sam Stosur in a third-set tiebreak. Elena’s still rusty after that calf injury that kept her out of commission for two months.

She and fellow Yonex-er (and fellow Elena) Elena Baltacha wore the company’s New York Dress, with gold piping across the upper chest, a wrap skirt, and an embossed plaid design on the fabric (loves!).

And Baltacha lost in the second round to 27th seed Petra Kvitova 6-7 (5), 3-6.

Buy: Yonex Women’s 2010 New York Dress, Red/White/Gold and Black/White/Gold, $69, TW.

On the men’s side, Lleyton Hewitt nabbed the last seeded spot but fell in the first round to Paul-Henri Mathieu 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 1-6. And David Nalbandian, as the 31st seed, made it to the third round before falling to Verdasco 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6. Both Hewitt and Nalbandian wore the same kit.

(Dementieva and Baltacha photos by TSF; Hewitt image via Getty Images)

elena dementieva upset by sharapova in stanford

Entertaining matches going on at the Bank of the West Classic this week in Stanford. Caught the middle of the Sharapova/Dementieva match on ESPN2 last night (just before Elena took the second set).

QF results are as follows:
[5] Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. [2] Elena Dementieva (RUS) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
[1] Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. [7] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
[8] Victoria Azarenka (BR) d. [4] Marion Bartoli (FRA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-3
[3] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 7-5 6-0

Stosur plays Azarenka and Sharapova plays Radwanska in the semis.

Buy: Elena’s Yonex Paris Dress in blue and black, $69, available at Tennis Warehouse.

(image via Getty Images)

sunday survey: halfway grades

Halfway through 2010 we have two players who have each won two Slams: Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer started the year in strong fashion, winning the Australian Open and re-asserting himself into the top seat of men’s tennis. Since then it’s been a slippery slope for Fed, while no woman has had the consistent results to keep up with Queen Serena.

Andy Murray and Justine Henin both almost had big-time breakthroughs in Melbourne, but neither have proved themselves since, sending more question marks about what their futures hold. Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone made big names for themselves in Paris, while Venus Williams has lost to three B-list players in her three Slam outings this year (while going 22-3 otherwise).

The men have welcomed Tomas Berdych and Robin Soderling into the circle of current greats after their respective Slam runs, while Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic have underperformed in many peoples’ eyes. The same can go for Elena Dementieva, Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic, all who have had opportunities to make big runs and stumbled in one fashion or another.

So we ask: Who gets the best first-half grade for the season from you? Choose from the big guns, or let us know a player or two (perhaps Dustin Brown?!) who you think might be knocking on the door as the next big thing in tennis?

(photo by ratsj via flickr)