crazy u.s. open: spirlea bumps venus

Maybe it’s the lights, maybe it’s the matches that last until 2 a.m., or maybe it’s the fact that it’s New York — for whatever reason, the U.S. Open seems to bring out some crazy. As part of our coverage over the next two weeks, TSF will be posting clips of madness and memories from tournaments past. We’re talkin’ about the nitty gritty stuff. Stuff you can’t make up.

The breakthrough of Venus Williams at the 1997 U.S. Open saw her, unseeded, make it all the way through the final after defeating Anke Huber (eighth seed), Irina Spirlea (11th seed). In the final, Martina Hingis beat Venus 6-0, 6-4.

Bump: One of that tourney’s biggest moments came in the semi between Venus and Spirlea, which Venus won 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (9-7). During a second-set changeover, Spirlea looked like she deliberately changed her path to bump into Venus as they walked to their chairs (see video). Once Spirlea sat down, cameras caught her looking towards her players’ box with a smile. Was she laughing off a goofy and embarassing incident, or was she giggling like a bully proud of her work?

After the match. Spirlea admitted she wanted Venus to acknowledge her existence (and bumping into her was the only way to do that, I guess) and stop being so aloof. She thought the Williams sisters were smug and used an expletive — which she was fined for — to describe Venus.

Of course ringleader Richard Williams retorted by calling Spirlea a tall, white turkey. LOVE IT.

What’s Venus’ take of all this?

“I was locked in an epic battle, and I had no idea what I was doing, and she was playing unbelievable,” Venus said recently. “It just happened. She got blamed because of the way she acted later, and then she laughed after, but I didn’t have time for laughs and games because I wanted to reach the final. I went over and started to read my notes. People blamed her for the bump, but I guess I didn’t move. Everybody got a kick out of it I guess. Wow. That’s my life.” (source)

Bonus round: The Romanian Spirlea — whose strong forehand, stinging slice, and effective drop shots reminded us all of Steffi Graf — didn’t really recover from that incident. She won Paris in 1999. Now married with a child. (source)

(Do you remember a moment or match at the U.S. Open that we should mention? Tell us!.)

crazy u.s. open memory: agassi mocks and moons

Maybe it’s the lights, maybe it’s the matches that last until 2 a.m., or maybe it’s the fact that it’s New York — for whatever reason, the U.S. Open seems to bring out some crazy. As part of our coverage over the next two weeks, TSF will be posting clips of madness and memories from tournaments past. We’re talkin’ about the nitty gritty stuff. Stuff you can’t make up. The ones of Spirlea-bump proportions.

(Do you remember a moment or match at the U.S. Open that we should mention? Tell us!.)

I’ll start with this 1998 fourth-round match between Karol Kucera and Andre Agassi. Tempers flared, ball tosses were mocked, and the rain-suspended dogfight concluded the day after with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-7, 1-6, 6-3 win by the Slovakian. In all honesty, I was pretty turned-off by Agassi for a while after this match. It really wasn’t until his swan song in 2006 that I was won over.

Enjoy the read.

short balls: another sharapova edition

(Note: Maria has withdrawn due to a shin injury from her semifinal match against Nadia Petrova at the East West Bank Classic. As expected by tourney organizers, Masha has also withdrawn from next week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto.)

Maria on top: The Russian edition of Forbes puts Maria Sharapova atop its list of Top 50 Russian celebrities. This video discusses how the celebrities get ranked. (via Real Russia Project)

Tennis feuds: Ralph Lauren (the company) gives us a list of famous feuds in tennis history and two top women monopolize: one entry encompasses Masha and her spats with all other Russian players, while Chucky is listed twice: first for butting heads with Venus, Serena, and Richard Williams (wait — does that count as three feuds?), and second for her heated arguments with Anna Kournikova.

All tall leggy blondes look the same: Oops. “Embedded NBA Correspondent” Elie Seckbach confuses Masha for Dani Hantuchova and inadvertently includes b-roll of the Slovakian in this interview from the East West Bank Classic. (vid source)

Attack of the clones: The folks at Canon plan to promote a new line of PowerShot cameras with TV, print, and NYC-area ads (on buses and billboards) during the 2007 U.S. Open. Mary Joe Fernandez and Patrick McEnroe will chip in by hosting the launch event on Aug. 27. And yes, the clones are back. (via Adweek)