what do the ladies do in new york?

When in New York… The WTA asked some of its top ladies about their “musts” while in New York City. And it basically came down to shopping (Fifth Avenue!), eating, or in Vika‘s case, being weird.

The rundown: Caro loves the Meatpacking District; Maria recommends the Halumi sandwich at Aroma (in Soho); Bartoli ends up in Shoe Heaven at Sak’s; and Schiavone enjoys a burger, fries, and a jukebox — from a location that will remain nameless.

(video courtesy of WTA)

bracketology: it’s all about serena (plus more predictions)

By Christopher Phillips

Venus and Serena: potential final showdown? Or just posing for the red carpets? At the Hamptons magazine cover party last week. (Getty)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the men’s side of things here.

Caroline Wozniacki — Quarterfinals | Maybe the world’s no. 1 will play better now that her relationship with Rory McIlroy (someone who has actually won a US Open) is out and she’s back to her winning ways in New Haven. Her draws not the easiest of the top eight. She opens against no. 127 Nuria Llagostera Vives, then would likely play no. 43 Elena Vesnina in the 2nd round. 29th seed Jarmila Gajdosova could be trouble in the third round, but her summer’s been as underwhelming as the Dane’s. Wozniacki’s first challenge is in the 4th against Daniela Hantuchova, the 21st seed. Can the Slovak knock Wozniacki out of a slam for the second time this year?

Vera Zvonareva –- 4th round | The Russian opens against a qualifier and meets either hard-serving Lucie Hradecka or Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round. 30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues is the first seed Zvonareva will face and shouldn’t pose any difficulties. With all the attention on the slamless Wozniacki, the Williamses, and Maria Sharapova, maybe this is Vera’s year to sneak back into the finals. We can’t completely imagine it, though.

Sharapova –- Finals | The serve seems to be less of a question for Maria coming into this year’s US Open than it has been in recent memory. Maybe because her return game has improved? She beaten four of the top 15 players in the world to win her last tournament in Cincinnati and, given her draw, it’s difficult to see her meeting any real challenges until 5th seed Petra Kvitova or 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka –- 3rd round | Were it not for one woman –- 28th seed (?!???!?) Serena Williams –- Azarenka would be a bonafide lock to the semifinals. Unfortunately, Serena stands in her way. Don’t be surprised if some of Azarenka’s nerves about her upcoming match with Serena start showing during her second round battle against Rebecca Marino or Gisela Dulko.

Petra Kvitova –- Quarterfinals | If anyone can get in Sharapova’s way to the finals, it’ll be Wimbledon champ Kvitova. The Czech got the better of the Russian in England –- can she make it two for two this year? She could have a tricky first round against Alexandra Dulgheru and 27the seed Lucie Safarova could prove problems (if not an upset) in the third round.

Li Na –- 4th round | Li is capable of winning this thing or flaming out to Simona Halep in the first round. How about middle of the road? We see her losing to the ever-improving 10th seed, Andrea Petkovic, who has become the belle of the media’s ball this year and will do so even more with a run here.

Francesca Schiavone –- Quarterfinals | She’s got a relatively easy draw until a potential match-up with Cincinnati finalist Jelena Jankovic, the 11th seed, in the 4th round. Winner of that match loses to Serena in the quarters.

Marion Bartoli –- Quarterfinals | Bartoli’s strong statements in Toronto and Cincinnati? They didn’t happen. Marion made the semifinals in Brisbane and Doha earlier this year, finals at Indian Wells and Strasbourg, semis at the French, wins Eastbourne and takes out Serena at Wimbledon in route to the quarterfinals then follows it up with a trip to the Stanford finals. Hopefully early losses in Canada and Cincy — as well as a lackluster performance in New Haven — leaves Marion even more hungry for a run at Flushing.

Serena Williams –- Winner | Somehow she manages to look almost more relaxed and hungrier at the same time than ever before. Her play this summer only reinforces the fact that the rest of the field is just playing for second place. But can she stay injury-free?

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these gals could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

Petkovic | Sadly she’s made more news this summer for running off the court mid-match, but she’s got two wins over Kvitova since the Czech’s Wimbledon title, plus hard court wins over Wozniacki, Sharapova, Bartoli, Jankovic and Venus from earlier this season.

Can JJ find her 2008 form at Flushing this year? (Getty)

Jankovic | If anyone has enough gumption and attitude to upset Serena, it’s Jelena. A potential quarterfinal match-up between the two looms.

Hantuchova | With wins this year over Wozniacki, Zvonareva, Azarenka, Li, Bartoli and Venus, she’s capable of beating any given player on any day. Oh, Dani!

22nd seed Sabine Lisicki | The Dallas champ and Xperia Hot Shots winner is on her way back to the top after injury –- nowhere to go but up! But Venus looms in the second round…

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First Round Matches to Watch

13th seed Shuai Peng vs. Varvara Lepchenko | The Chinese no. 2 pulled out of this week’s tournament in Dallas and withdrew from Toronto and Cincinnati mid-tournament. If she’s not fully healthy, the American Lepchenko could end up with the biggest win of her career.

15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Sara Errani | The world no. 38 Italian narrowly missed out being seeded and lost a three setter to the 2004 Open champ earlier this season.

26th seed Flavia Pennetta vs. Aravane Rezai | The former top 10 Italian has been slumping the past couple years. Has Rezai shaken off her Aussie Open family drama?

Gajdosova vs. Iveta Benesova The big-serving Aussie has lost in the first round at six of her last seven tournaments.

Jill Craybas vs. Madison Keys | Battle of the Americans –- the old guard versus the new guard.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Polona Hercog | It’s the no. 2 American’s first match back since Wimbledon. If she looks good here, you’ve got to believe she can upset 24th seed Nadia Petrova in the second round and give 10th seed Samantha Stosur a run for her money in the 3rd round.

See the full women’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round
Wozniacki d Hantuchova
Petkovic d Li
Serena d Peer
Schiavone d Jankovic
Kvitova d A. Radwanska
Sharapova d Peng
Bartoli d Stosur
Lisicki d Zvonareva

QFs:
Petkovic d Wozniacki
Serena d Schiavone
Sharapova d Kvitova
Lisicki d Bartoli

SFs:
Serena d Petkovic
Sharapova d Lisicki

Finals:
Serena d Sharapova – 2 (relatively easy) sets

wta pre-wimbledon party: no grey areas

Black and white: The ladies of the WTA know how to play with a good margin of error, and it’s hard to go wrong with donning some black and white to a party. Laura Robson took a simple, cap-sleeve dress to the next level with a scooping neckline; Sorana Cirstea played sexy peekaboo with lace; Tsvetana Pironkova bared a shoulder and threw on a leather belt; Francesca Schiavone channeled Diane Keaton, Caroline Wozniacki wore Stella McCartney, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova matched her updo with a cocktail (napkins) dress, aaaand Monica Niculescu.

More: See the rest of the black and white ladies from the WTA pre-Wimbledon party after the cut…

short balls: french’s franny folly


Can you give that back please? It wasn’t enough that Francesca Schiavone lost the women’s final at Roland Garros on Saturday — the tourney had one last snub for her: they gave her the wrong trophy. Schiavone was handed the small replica (which the winner is given to take home) of the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen while her actual runner’s up plate (see it just behind her right hip), sat on the table behind her. Later in the ceremony officials fixed this little gaffe.

An anniversary, nonetheless. Did you miss this on Sunday? It was the 30th anniversary of the Center for Disease Control first publishing a report on a mysterious epidemic of what we would come to know as the AIDS virus. To see a good round up of what took place to ring in this grim date marker, head to Towleroad.

Tennis tube. How’s this for encouraging? The Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer final at the French Open received its highest US TV ratings in 12 years. While the women’s final tied its number from last year, Nadal-Federer were way up over Nadal-Robin Soderling last year. Who played in that 1999 final that got such high ratings? Oh right, that’d be Andre Agassi.

Bjorn a champ?
Below, American Bjorn Fratangelo (yes, he was named after Borg) sits in disbelief after winning the boys’ singles title on Sunday in Paris. The last American teen to win this junior title? John McEnroe in 1977. Seems like you’ve got some good ties, BF! Oh, and for good measure: Bjorn beat Dominic Thiem of Austria, 3-6 6-3 8-6.

(Images via Getty)

trophy watch: and the na's have it


The King and Queen of Clay: Between Rafael Nadal and Li Na, the Na’s had it over the weekend in Paris. It was a tremendous finish to a grand clay-court major, Na coming out on top of what some called a depleted field but one that saw four semifinalist who could have all easily claimed their last two matches in straight sets and everyone would have said, Yeah, we guess that makes sense. It did make sense for Na, who fought off a poor-serving Maria Sharapova in the semifinals and then just barely rose above the defending champ, Francesca Schiavone, to win in China’s first singles Major.

As for Rafa, he fought off all the usuals: Andy Murray and Roger Federer at the end. He also fought off a testy first week, a doubting press (and a doubting self) and the streak of Novak Djokovic (thanks to Rog). Nadal now has ten Slams to his name, creeping into the double digits along with Federer. Whichever the two of them end up with more is yet to be seen (for years), but Nadal equaled Bjorn Borg‘s record of six Roland Garros trophies. Kudos, kid.


(Nadal image from Getty; Na from PacificCoastNews.com)

flashback: some things never change


Forever young. Above, a 20-year-old Francesca Schiavone playing in the 2001 French Open quarterfinals against Martina Hingis. Did you know Franny lost in the opening round in 2009 to … Samantha Stosur? She went on to beat the same lady last year here in the final. She’s 35-10 in her career at Roland Garros. Below, Li Na smacks a ball at the 2005 US Open as a 23-year-old against Lindsay Davenport. Na had never played the French prior to 2006. She’s also never lost to a player outside of the top 20 here. Last year she was scooted out of the tourney by one Francesca Schiavone in the third round. Career-wise she’s 15-4 in Paris.

More: Previewing the ladies’ final


(Images via Getty)

fashion focus: in lotto, schiavone keeps the frills to a minimum

While we wouldn’t have picked Francesca Schiavone as the woman who could best showcase the uber-feminine clothes from this season’s Lotto drop, the Italian is keeping up her end of the sponsorship bargain during this claycourt season: she’s backed up her decision to lay low during the last Fed Cup tie with a quarterfinal appearance in Rome (losing to Stosur) and a semifinal defeat in Brussels (to Caro). Now she has a chance to defend her French Open title in the finals against Li Na, played tomorrow. (Draw: RG Women’s Singles)

TSF loves the skort in particular, with its super-bunched hem and bow off to the side. (We first noticed this on Pironkova back at Indian Wells.) Schiavone’s done a good job mixing up the skort’s three colors — pearl (grey), dark navy, and white — with the irid cocktail (light salmon) and dark navy pieces. We’re also glad she’s opted for the more subtle ruching of the cap-sleeve top, leaving the messy criss-cross design of the tank back in Rome. All that extra fabric is doing nothing for her flat-chestedness.

Buy: Lotto Missy Skort, €30.17; Polo, €34.03; Tank, €30.17; Dress, €45.29; Cap-Sleeve Top, €30.17.

More: Images from her 2011 Roland Garros looks — plus two from Rome — all after the cut…

sunday survey: week one's 1-2 punch

Fabulous Franny: There’s been no stopping the Italian at this year’s French — so far. (Getty)

Era’s first. For the first time in the Open era the women’s no. 1 and no. 2 seeds are out of the tournament before the second week has even begun. For Kim Clijsters it was a dismal performance against unheralded Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus (who was promptly dispatched in the next round by Maria Kirilenko 1 and 1, thank you very much), in which she blew second-set match points. And for top seed Caroline Wozniacki it was an almost-as-bad showing against the always-lurking Daniela Hantuchova, bowing out 1-6 3-6.

But what was the biggest story line of the first week of the year’s second Slam? Novak Djokovic continued his impenetrable run through the men of the tour — a run not even 2009 US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro could stop. Roger and Rafa looked to be in all-right form thus far, though last year’s semifinalist Tomas Berdych continued his downward slide in a first-round loss to a French qualifier. And what about Francesca Schiavone? The defending champ that no one gave a chance was work-lady-like in her week one at Roland Garros, finding a spot in the QFs with a convincing 6-4-in-the-third win over Jelena Jankovic. And has everyone already forgotten about Sam Stosur??

What was the biggest story of week one? Your pick, below.

 

roland garros bracketology: the ladies

By Christopher Phillips

[Ed note: Chris Phillips, part of TSF West, files his thoughts on who’s hot, who’s not and who might just make a run at this year’s Roland Garros. -NEM]

Franny was feeling it last year. But can she re-capture her Parisian glory?

Caroline Wozniacki | I know Caro’s spring hasn’t been the best, but she’s 15-3 on the dirt, winning in Charleston in April. Yes, she lost to upstart German Julia Goerges twice and went out to Maria Sharapova in Rome, but with her earliest loss being the round of 16 in Madrid, I still think she has to be the favorite going in — just not as big of one as she was a few weeks ago. Result: Runner-up (to Kvitova in three-set loss)

Maria Sharapova | I’ve always been a bigger fan of Maria on clay than she has been herself.  She won Rome beating four of its top ten seeds (Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur and Shahar Peer) without too much difficulty and went out the week before that to former FO semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova in Madrid in the round of 16. A semifinalist back in 2007 and three-time quarterfinalist, Maria pushed Justine Henin to three sets last year before bowing out.  She’s got nothing to lose. Result: Semifinal

Francesca Schiavone | I think I was the only one who wasn’t surprised — okay, completely surprised — by her victory last year. Even though her results on clay this year have been sub-par, I think Franny will have more confidence and desire going into Roland Garros than she did last year. But will it all come together? Result: Quarterfinal

Vera Zvonareva | She’s only played two clay court tournaments all season losing to Stosur and Petra Kvitova but Vera is as unpredictable as her emotions — you can’t count her out. Result: Semifinal

Victoria Azarenka | She’s 12-3 on clay this year but was forced to retire against Sharapova in her last match. Azarenka’s best victory on the dirt this season has been over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. And here’s something that might surprise you: Of the five times she’s played the French, she’s lost in the first round three out of five tries — including last year to Gisela Dulko. Result: Quarterfinal

Petra Kvitova | The Madrid champion (and Prague challenger finalist … what?!) has wins over Zvonareva, Li Na and Azarenka on the dirt. But can she make a deep run here? Result: Champion

Kim Clijsters | She’s decided to play Roland Garros, her first clay court tournament of the season after injuring her foot in April. A two-time finalist and semifinalist last year, she’ll be a contender but I don’t know if she’ll be a threat. It all depends which Kimmie shows up, and the two months of not playing could help or hurt — depending on how you look at it. Result: Fourth round

Sam Stosur | Since Roland Garros last year, where Stosur reached the final, she was yet to make it to the finals of another tournament until this past week in Rome. Granted, her loss to Sharapova wasn’t pretty, Stosur has beaten Zvonareva, Schiavone and Li Na in the past few weeks on red clay. She was a semifinalist in 2009 and came into the French last year on a hot streak but can she repeat her success? As we’ve learned with Sam, it’s up to her head more than anything else if that forehand can swing freely — and controlled. Result: Fourth round

Jelena Jankovic | Jankovic has underperformed as well this year but she’s reached the semis in Paris three times before. If she equals that mark again, I don’t think many would consider it a surprise. More trouble: Janky upset in Brusells Result: Fourth round

Li Na | Li started 2011 on a hot streak Down Under, but has fizzled since. The last two weeks she’s shown signs of life again with semifinal appearances in both Madrid and Rome. Granted Li had no real significantly mentionable wins in those two tournaments, maybe that’ll be the kick she needs to get back on track for the year in Paris where she’s never lost before the third round. Result: Fourth round

Who are the dark horses in the women’s field? Find out after the cut.

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(… we actually like what bethanie is wearing!)

We won’t even bring up pre-match sex: Third seed Francesca Schiavone‘s prep for a defense of her French Open title continued to sputter as she was ousted by Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in the third round of this week’s Mutua Madrid Open. (Schiavone lost her first clay event — Stuttgart — to Radwanska.) Up next for Mattek, who also upset Ivanovic in the opening round, is eighth seed Li Na. With Zvonareva and Caro both out, we’re picking Cibulkova to come out of that half. What do you think? (Browse: Mutua Madrid Open Women’s Singles Draw)

Video: Bethanie took some time in Madrid to soak up some local color. Here’s a video of her and hubby Justin getting their caricatures drawn. She really wanted that dimple in there, eh? (What, no eyeblack?) Click on the image above to watch.

Clothes: Under Armour prints can get pretty busy, but we’re loving this one that’ll stay around through the summer. Buy: UA Summer Print Tank; white; $49.99; TW.

More: Two other photos from the Mattek/Schiavone match after the cut…