trophy watch: a proper send-off

French Open tourney organizers gave one of their own, Fabrice Santoro, a proper sendoff after his first-round loss in this year’s event to Christophe Rochus. Santoro, who was appearing in his record-tying 20th French Open, lost to the Belgian 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

“Twenty years. That counts for something in a lifetime,” Santoro said after receiving this cross section of Roland Garros’ clay courts, presented after the Federer/Haas fourth-round match. “It has been a long road, a fantastic career. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.” Gustavo Kuerten received a similar trophy last year.

Fabrice, known for playing two-handed groundstrokes off both wings and his crazy slices (enough to garner some attention at the 2007 U.S. Open), is playing 10 more events before hanging up his racquet.

At his presser, he left us another nugget about what’ll be different in his life next May: “So when you’ve played this tournament 20 years in a row, in May you start wearing your clay shoes, you start preparing to be able to play for three, four, five hours, even 6 hours 33 minutes for my longest match, so you feel next year in May I will no longer be a tennis player.”

(image via Getty Images)

serbia’s greatest export

Who knew that Victor Troicki could be as animated as his fellow Serbian, Novak Djokovic?

It’s hard to contain his excitement, perhaps, of finally making some noise in these past few weeks; he’s reached back-to-back quarterfinals, first losing to Andy Roddick at the Japan Open 6-3, 6-4 and then to German Mischa Zverev 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Now that he’s shown us a full range of facial expressions, we can’t wait to see him battle Nole in the striptease competition.

Rest o’ the draw: The semis — Santoro‘s through after Mathieu retired, and will face either Kunitysn or the gorgeous Chardy. Meanwhile, Kolya and Marat (de facto final?) are duking it out to see who’ll take on Zverev.

More: See more of Troicki’s fun faces after the cut…

short balls: santoro wants to shine, the fall of cruella de villiers, and centre court’s ready to go!

Ask and hope you receive? Since the clock’s a-tickin’ for Fabrice Santoro, he has asked Wimbledon organizers to schedule him a match on Centre Court — an honor that’s never been bestowed on this veteran in the 13 times he’s played this grass Grand Slam (espn.com)

Cruella de Villiers: It’s awesome to see the ATP’s top three — Roger, Rafa, and Nole — take charge and hope for spots in the Players’ Council. If they succeed in getting their hands in these dealings, it looks like CEO Etienne de Villiers will get the boot. (NYT)

Centre Court is ready to go: The fixed roof is back, along with the two main trusses for the retractable roof (which’ll debut in 2009). And a continued thumbs up for their increase in equal prize money for the men and the women.

Maria’s meek side: The Telegraph recently published an interview with the world No. 2. A few bits:

— She turned down a cameo role on Desperate Housewives.

— On her celebrity: “I still find my celebrity weird – it’s always weird, you know, when I see my image on the cover of a magazine. That’s very, very strange. I remember for a while I had been getting a lot of praise from people, but I never felt as though I deserved it until I had won grand slams and held the world No 1 ranking. And then I thought, ‘OK, all that talk, I understand it now’. But before then it was just random.” I hope she’s ready to possibly accept a Teen Choice Award for Female Athlete of the Year in early August.

— On the rigorous WTA travel schedule: “The worst thing about my life is not being able to see my friends and family for a long period. Living from hotel to hotel, it’s sometimes a nightmare. There have been numerous times when I’ve woken up in a hotel room and I’ve forgotten which city I’m in. So I’ll be phoning people at 2am to ask which city I’m in.”

Nole’s blogs: The Times‘s interview with Nole touches on his blog. “Well I like to have fun with it,” he says. “Most of my fans are younger people and I don’t think they want to read stuff like ‘I played a good match today. My forehand was going well. My backhand was not so good’. These things are not interesting. What is interesting is what the players are doing in the locker rooms. Are they good guys? Bad guys? How are they off court? Of course, I never go too far with these things but always to the limit, just to make them laugh. I get a lot of positive feedback.” Awesome.

Why America is fat: Read about EaterLA’s post on the birth of the Starbucks Frappucino.

Beautiful acne: The oft-bowtied Alber Elbaz has jumped into bed with Acne, the Swedish denim brand who is also behind the reissue of Bjorn Borg‘s iconic Tretorn shoes. This collaboration will drop at Barney’s and Bergdorf in November with jeans, dresses, tuxedo jackets, belted trenches, and a few accessories.

lacoste standard issue: the women pull ahead

We’re always eagerly anticipating the standard issues that Lacoste doles out for each Grand Slam, and the ones for Roland Garros turned out just fine — at least for the ladies.

Gisela Dulko wore the halter from the Fine Stripe line in her loss to Alize Cornet in the second round. Cornet, the 19th seed, also wore the tank but spaghetti-strap style; she lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the round after.

Buy: Fine Striped Tennis Halter, $68.

Mathilde Johansson faced Serena Williams in the second round. She wore the Racerback Tennis Dress with detachable flower, $145. Meanwhile, Petra Cetkovska (middle and right) put on a layer when it got a little chilly.

And Mike Frey over at Tennishead continues to help out TSF with this photo of this player (can anyone help me out with a name?) wearing the polo.

Unlike the 2007 French Open, which saw Lacoste give their male sponsors the cutest orange and white polos, 2008 was way bland. Michael Llodra and Jeremy Chardy — as delicious as they are — couldn’t quite bring this Heritage Check Print Polo to life. (If you want to grab the jacket, it’s still available at lacoste.com.)

As usual, Arnaud Clement and Fabrice Santoro are off doing their own things.

(photo by Getty Images and Tennishead)

short balls: jelena’s new website, santoro to break a record, what happened in singapore, etc.

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Jelena’s website: Jelena Jankovic finally rejoins the 21st century with the launch of her official website. (via WTB)

So, what happened in Singapore? The Maria Sharapova Live! event has come and gone (see Regentville’s review of the event here), and now Singapore is dealing with its effects. To capitalize on tennis-mania, some folks are planning to bring a tourney to the country by 2009. (via WTB)

Lindsay’s GS sched: Lindsay Davenport, this week competing at the ASB Classic, has committed to play only through the U.S. Open, and has announced that she won’t participate in this year’s French Open. (TNZH)

Santoro to break a record: Frenchman Fabrice Santoro, this week playing at the Qatar Open, will break a record he currently holds with Andre Agassi — that of appearing in 61 Grand Slam tournaments. Santoro will participate in his 62nd at the 2008 Australian Open. FYI, his first Grand Slam appearance was at the 1989 French Open. (CNN.com)

Ladies, take notice: Serena Williams came back from the off-season looking fit and trim. This could spell trouble for anyone else trying to win the Australian Open women’s titles (in both singles AND doubles) this year.

Maria’s Mama: We see father Yuri all the time, but never Momma Yelena. She made a rare appearance next to Maria‘s Christmas tree (at her Manhattan Beach pad?). DTL dug up this photo from Masha’s official website.

Plexicushion gets a thumbs down: Players are speaking out against the newly-installed Plexicushion surface at Melbourne Park. But really, Tennis Australia had no choice but to dump Rebound Ace after 20 years of not-so-good results for that country’s tennis future.

In case you’re keeping track: Spaniard Carlos Moya endorses Rolex. (newindpress.com)

…and Andy Murray makes some more additions to his training camp by signing Miles MacIagan (The Guardian)

…and Xavier Malisse does some charity work in between competing at this week’s Chennai Open. (The Hindu)

Enrique’s gift to Anna? Enrique Iglesias, longtime boyfriend of Anna Kournikova spent Christmas Day in a red thong. (Now)

An Australian Open Court: Open Court will leave her Canadian outpost later this month to cover the Australian Open. We can’t wait!

(photo via www.jj-jelenajankovic.com)

'stretch' and mirnyi play doubles + more coaching news: monfils, mathieu, peer, murray

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French No. 2 (and world No. 25) Paul-Henri Mathieu is suddenly coachless one month before the Australian Open — and he’s not happy about it. Mathieu told l’Equipe that he feels like the “turkey being joked upon” (“dindon de la farce“) by being forced to share his coach, Thierry Champion, with the lower-ranked Gael Monfils, who recently returned to Team Lagardère after a 14-month absence. According to l’Equipe Monfils got hooked up with Champion to recreate the partnership that saw Monfils reach No. 23 back in June 2006.

Since Mathieu didn’t want to share (and rightfully so), Lagardère head Rémi Barbarin is actively searching a solution for “Paulo”, who in the meantime’s training with Patrice Hagelauer.

Speaking of: The striped Fabrice Santoro is also joining Lagardère with coach Lionel Zimbler in tow. Santoro turns 35 on Dec 9. His goal for next year is to set a new record for most Grand Slam tourneys played (he’s currently tied with Agassi at 61), and to compete at the Olympics for the fourth time.

Coach Conchita: Now free from military obligation, Shahar Peer can look forward to instruction from Gabriel Urpi and Conchita Martinez in 2008.

Murray’s next move: The currently-coachless Andy Murray will be doing off-season training with Miles Maclagan for the next three weeks, reports the Times. Murray is currently without a full-time coach since partly ways with Brad Gilbert earlier this month.

Stretch and… more strech: There’s gonna be a whole lot of lankiness in the 2008 doubles pairing of Jamie Murray and Max Mirnyi.

(Thanks to Chris and Patricia for their help on this post.)

fashion: more on santoro’s striped shirt, adidas dragon shoes, felt watches, etc.

I want candy: A quick e-mail to the folks at Lacoste turned up some (hopefully helpful) info about Fabrice Santoro‘s famous candy-striped shirt of 2007: it’s called Yohann and came out for the spring/summer collection. There could still be some stores/outlets that carry it…

tennis ball watch

More recycled fun: In case you were jonesing for that racquet cover wallet (sold out), channel your energy towards this one made of tennis ball felt ($65). If wallets aren’t your thing, you can try out the watch ($55). (via Greater Green Goods)

Move over, Nike: Iron-ons aren’t usually my thing, but I have to give props to this DIY’er who made his own “Federer is Betterer” and “Rafalution” shirts.

adidas IV barricade red shanghai shoes

Dragon design: Shoemaker adidas plans to cash in on the Tennis Masters Cup (TMC) Shanghai buzz by releasing a limited edition Barricade IV Men’s shoe. A gold dragon runs from the heel across the lateral side of the shoes (which come in both red/gold and black/gold colorways); the eyelets, tongue, and anke collar are all gold-trimmed. Buy: Tennis-Warehouse carries ‘em for $104.95.

Endorsed by a people, not a person: Speaking of special (limited) edition shoes, see this article in Corpwatch about the current trend away from endorsement deals with big names (Nike can no longer rely on Michael Vick and Marion Jones) and towards collaborating with “under the radar” influencers (such as tattooer Mr. Cartoon and duo Os Gêmeos).

Li Ning won’t be left behind: And even Li Ning, sponsor to Ivan Ljubicic jumps in with an exhibit by James Jarvis (Hypebeast)

(OT) Go wild at H&M: Designer Roberto Cavalli, known for his wild prints, created a collection for H&M that goes on sale today. (NYT)

(OT) Camera phone, 1; Banksy, 0: A sight once rarer than that of Janko Tipsarevic’s back tattoo have apparently surfaced. Graffiti art darling Banksy was allegedly photographed in East London while working on a project. Of course, his rep has no comment. (Times)

(OT) The skinny: Today’s fun building stands in Madre de Deus, Brazil — a three-story house that’s supposedly one meter wide. (Ah Boon via Planetizen)

fashion flashback: at the '07 aussie open, lacoste stays mellow

Much like the Russian men, the young guns of Lacoste stayed relatively tame with their fashion choices at this year’s Australian Open.

Frenchman Richard Gasquet lost to seventh seed Tommy Robredo 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6 in the fourth round while wearing that shade of royal blue that’s become his signature.

And Fabrice Santoro stayed plain in his third round loss to third seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-7 (1), 2-6, 2-6. He didn’t pull out his candy-colored stripes until the French.

Poor Andy Roddick. He had such high hopes at the year’s first Grand Slam after he beat Roger Federer at the Kooyong exhibition a few weeks prior. In true Federer fashion, the Swiss creamed the Texan 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in the semis, thus reminding the whole world why he’s been the world’s No. 1 men’s tennis player for 192 consecutive weeks (as of October 1, 2007).

The normally bandana’d Arnaud Clement left his buffs at home as he also opted for a virginal look. He crashed out of the Australian in a second-round, all-French (and all-white) match against Santoro 2-6, 4-6, 4-6.

Buy (sale!): You can check out the latest Lacoste goods on their website. Here’s a coupon for $25 off on purchases of $150 and up. Expires on October 14.

(photos via the MTF forums for Gasquet, Roddick, and Santoro; photos of Clement by atp chica)

Edit: Reader Shain points out that Roddick is a Cornhusker, and not a Texan (as I’d pointed out above). Sorry to all the Nebraskans who felt slighted by this.

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>> TSF’s australian open flashback

santoro slices and lobs his way to five sets

The match of the 2007 U.S. Open‘s first week will likely be tonight’s five-set — that’s 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 — win by hometown hero James Blake over Frenchman Fabrice Santoro.

The Frenchman is nicknamed “The Magician” for his shotmaking abilities; his arsenal of slices, lobs, and angles created by two-handed grips on both wings regularly frustrate his opponents (and have propelled him to Doubles Grand Slam titles on more than a few occasions).

Santoro is also known for his wacky Lacoste outfits — we’re talking almost Vince Spadea-level here. But for some reason it works on Fabrice (perhaps because it goes with his unconventional playing style).

FYI: His candy shirt from tonight’s match has been in his closet for most of this year (I remember seeing it on him as far back as Miami). It’s just a piece from the company’s casual collection (i.e., it’s not a Lacoste Sport polo).

Buy: Lots of folks are asking where they can get this shirt. Most retailers have already removed this from their inventory since it’s an item from a past season. Sadly, I have no other leads right now but I am still waiting to hear back from two people. If you can help us out, write me: tennisCBH AT gmail DOT com. Also, there are other companies who’ve produced similar styles. Artful Dodger, etc. You might be better off shopping that way.

trophy watch: the swiss and swedes got it right + hall of fame

While the women of France were busy representing their country in a Fed Cup tie against Italy (alas, they lost), the men were busy in finals; three of the six ATP-ers vying for titles were French: Fabrice Santoro, Nicolas Mahut, and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Félicitacions!

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At the Swiss Open orangefest, Mathieu (in adidas) lugs home a piece of rock for beating Andreas Seppi (wearing Fila)…

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… and Santoro won the Hall of Fame Championships over mutton-chopped Mahut. (Mahut had a very good grass season… remember he lost to Andy Roddick in the Queen’s Club final? Here’s his very gracious post-match interview.)

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David Ferrer (in Lotto) wins what looks like a deer enveloped in crystal at the Swedish Open. He dropped only three games in his final match against Nicolas Almagro.

See more trophy photos (plus the Hall of Fame induction) after the cut…