trophy watch: non-stop nole

Have we sickened you with our Nole coverage yet? Well, when the boy is hot, he’s hot. Here, Novak exerts one final breath of energy to lift his hard-earned trophy.

Did she even break a sweat? Wozy fought off nerves and a semi-resurgent Marion Bartoli in the third set to win 6-1, 2-6, 6-3. More trophies from the mountains of Cali after the cut.

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tsf podcast: nole flies, doubles (is in) trouble and oh where can the williamses go?

TSF Podcast Mar. 2011 | Nick McCarvel with David Thorpe | To download MP3 in iTunes, just click link

Do you usually fly first class, Nole? TSF Podcast March 2011

Oh let the awkward moments ring! David and I might be good friends, but don’t let that fool you into thinking we’ve got this podcast thing down pat. All the better for the listener though, no? This week, David and I were all chatty about what Nole’s recent run (flight?!) to the top means. Our opinion? Not much. Though it could, if he carries it over to the clay season. We also took turns weighing into this week’s Sunday Survey question on just what will happen to those two ladies named Williams. And doubles? Good exposure week for the game, but David smells a conspiracy brewing. (And I’m just tan.) Click above! | TSF Vault: Podcasts

(screengrab provided by HEAD tennis)

folks ruffled by caro’s latest dress

We here at TSF West are giddy about the dress adidas by stella mccartney dress Caroline Wozniacki debuted during her match today against Sloane Stephens at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. We’d seen this ruffled number in pics and saw it (on the IW grounds) two nights ago.

Seeing it on Caro led a lot of folks to spew the snark but I beg to differ: that color’s a nice, cool shade that’ll work well through the French (similar to the blue dress Maria Sharapova wore in 2009) and all the sheer cutouts and the ruffles will come to life especially during Wimbledon’s moratorium on color. Besides, no one was complaining when Maria Kirilenko was wearing this stuff (granted, MaKiri’s match record didn’t give the outfits much airtime) and the label’s sensibility hasn’t changed. So what’s different? I think it’s the way Caro wears clothes. She doesn’t have the knack for carrying an outfit. Exhibit A.

Really, leave the ruffles alone!

Scoreline: By the way, Caro, as the top seed, moved on with a win over wildcard Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2. We don’t see her facing any stiff challenges until a potential meeting with eighth seed Vika Azarenka in the quarters. (Draw: Women’s Singles)

Buy: Tennis Ruffle Dress in white or blueprint, $120, adidas.com.

(photos by TSF)

stay, don’t go

By Jonathan Scott

Another brand of March Madness is upon us: With the unisex goodness that is the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells tournament, the 2011 pro tennis campaign kick-starts into high gear. This 1-2 punch of Cali and Miami makes for a full month of top-notch tennis. Indeed, spring’s done sprung.

Now a curious trend seeped into tennis again in 2010: jumpy observers of the sport seeking to retire players -– good, even great stars who reaped some solid results -– before they themselves are ready to hang up their racquets. The guilty parties: too many tennis writers and other observers and “personalities” involved to various degrees. Their victims? Among them, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and even Roger Federer, proving that not a single star is exempt from these hasty calls to exit.

But Roddick won Memphis last month, dousing the ballyhooed, raging fire that is young Milos Raonic and coming up with possibly the best championship-point winner ever. He also ignited his fellow Americans’ effort on the Chilean clay in Davis Cup, punctuating his clinching win with a scissor kick (Video: here) that would make Sally O’Malley salivate. Too many quickly forgot that Venus seized some early 2010 titles and vaulted to no. 2 in the world before injuries in part derailed both her autumnal and 2011 Aussie exploits. (Oddly, she’s now singing 311 karaoke on a MIA-to-Turks cruiseship and showing off some fly dance moves for someone with chronic knee issues.). Fed himself ran the table at the London year-end championships in December, outdoing even Rafael Nadal in the final, and snagged an early 2011 title before a taking-all-comers Novak Djokovic rolled over him in Melbourne.

Still, retirement happens. It’s inevitable. Justine Henin’s departure has itself turned into a piece of music with multiple movements, the strings swelling and falling at different points. Henin has been like that lover who breaks it off and then loiters for attention: Mercy. And merci.

All of the brouhaha catalyzed a thought: Who or what in the sport truly needs to go?

Without further ado, a few items –- persons, peccadillos, and other pesky minutiae –- that best get gone. Now. Conversely, some other talents and trends are welcome to get comfy. So there it is: Stay, or Go.

GO: Foremost, let’s be done with the freak injuries. Some stars are making the maladies on TV hospital dramas seem realistic: Victoria Azarenka scarily passed out on court after bopping her head during a warm-up run, and then Anna Chakvetadze did her best Vika impression. Meanwhile Andy Murray strained his hand by playing video games excessively (okay, that one proved a fib). It seems a few players just need to be grounded.

Granted, Serena’s recent pulmonary embolism/hematoma scare is more than legit. Anyone who relishes compelling tennis, even if no fan of hers, whether onlooker or media, can only hope she makes it back into the mix again. Tennis needs her fight and her bite. Not every player needs to be Mama Kim Clijsters, portrait of civility.

Speaking of, GO: Can we just be done with all the talk about Clijsters’ motherhood? Cute turned to precious in a hurry there, and not in a good way.

GO: That hand-strain hoax aside, Murray might want to consider tempering his video gaming: Girlfriend Kim Sears reportedly already broke up with him once over the habit. Word to the wise, young gun: the lady has you on watch.

Judy Murray, we heart thee.

GO. STAY. Good dog: Not to pick on the Murray familia too much (see below), but what of these tweets from the family’s resident cur, this Maggie? So let it be written, so let it be done: No more Murray mutt tweets, at least not until Andy bags that virgin Major. It’s no less lame to put your pet on Twitter than it is to fashion a Facebook profile for it.

STAY: Judy Murray, British tennis coach and mom to Andy and Jamie. Yes, she advises her son. She also isn’t afraid to shoot a witty retort at a former player who yaps about her spawn’s chances at winning big with her on board.

GO: Boris Becker. Just let it be, Boorish. You were a fine player, a flame-maned, serve-and-volley stud on grass. Then you knocked Murray and his mum for his underperforming at Slams, chiding him for his closeness to Judy and (good grief!) for standing by his girl at age 23. So a former player cheats on his pregnant wife with a Russian model (in a closet), resulting in a lust child, and then doles out unsolicited relational advice? Laughable. Not content to merely stand by his statements from the fall, BB waxed on again after Murray’s mopey, one-sided loss to Nole in the Aussie final. Sigh. Everyone’s a Carillo. Click to read more, kids. You don’t want to miss these musings.

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short balls: dent says farewell to tennis

Taylor-made: Taylor Dent announced his retirement from pro tennis this week, following a 12-year career that saw him reach as high as no. 21 in the world. Dent, now 29, won four career titles but saw his progress cut short due to a high volume of injuries. He returned to the tour over the last 18 months after being out for much of 2006 and 2007, amassing a 12-19 record in 2010 and a ranking of no. 85. We’ll miss ya, Mr. Serve-and-Volleyer. TSF Vault: The Dent Diaries.

The way of the ladies: Ana Ivanovic ended 2010 unlike any recent ending she’s had to a season, winning the title in Bali with three impressive victories and vaulting herself back into the top 20. Ivanovic won 13 of her final 15 matches of the year with her title in Linz. Ravi Ubha gave Ana the thumbs up to become a major Slam contender in 2011 or 2012, while giving the exact opposite forecast for countrywoman Jelena Jankovic (who finished 2010 6-11). Ubha had his crystal ball out for the WTA contingent on ESPN.com. The WSJ Weighs in: The Wall Street Journal had a piece last week on how – just how? – Caroline Wozniaki took the top spot in tennis.

A geographical version of ‘Whatever happened to…?’ Now that Dent and Elena Dementieva have said farewell (as has Martin Damm to coach Ryan Harrison), we got to thinking about some former (and current) pros and wanted to check in on see where folks have landed. Dustin Brown, our favorite wearer of the neon-color palette, is taking his allegiance to Germany from Jamaica. The top 100 player cited a lack of funding for the move. His mother is German. The Uberoi sisters, Shikha and Neha, both former top 200 doubles players, have made the return to the academic world and are at Princeton finishing their undergraduate degrees. Both sisters contribute on their dual web site, and recently Neha had an entry up on her own blog about an interview with Venus Williams in her journalism class, taught by the one-and-only L. Jon Wertheim. Picture this: Ana & Enrique taking it easy in Hawaii.
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Before the jump: We wanted to wish the hard-working and always-on-top-of-a-story Aaress Lawless the best of luck as she departs from her operating gig at OnTheBaseline.com. OTB will be managed now by Justin Pohn, and will continue to be the source of all things women’s tennis.

who says you can’t buy maria sharapova’s love?

Zheng Jie put on a show in front of the Southern California crowd in attendance at last weekend’s session at the BNP Paribas Open when she took out Maria Sharapova in the third round. The loooong match, which Zheng won 6-3 2-6 6-3, lasted for about three hours; it didn’t help that Masha has a Mary Pierce-like pre-serve ritual; neither did the multiple games with multiple deuces.

But what does it matter when you’ve got a hot baller boyfriend? Or when you’ve out-accesorized your opponent? There were the green drop earrings; the warm-up jacket in a Victorian silhouette; the Prince racquet bag, prettier (in person) than we’d expected it to be; and the gym duffle (“Valentine”) from her line with Cole Haan. The duffle reminds us of Masha’s black and silver dress from the 2009 U.S. Open.

Buy: Cole Haan Valentine Large Duffle, $228, also available with patent leather detail; Small Tote, $198, also available in black patent leather (our choice!); colehaan.com.

Bracket: Zheng made it to the quarters before losing to Caro, who’s now in the semis. (Singles Draw). And her doubles team with Chan upset top seeds Huber/Black in the opening round but they couldn’t get past Peschke/Srebotnik in the semis. (Doubles Draw)

More: Detail shots of Maria’s Indian Wells outfit — all after the cut…

in the hot desert sun, a cool and refreshing nadia petrova

Nadia Petrova must have heard about our dislike for desert heat (yeeeahah, we don’t “dry” heat a consolation) because she came out dressed as an orange creamsicle for her second-round match against Patty Schnyder at the BNP Paribas Open, happening at Indian Wells this week.

Nadia’s Ellesse outfit is the same she’s worn so far this year (including the 2010 Australian Open); there’s also a black version of this dress as well as a sleeker (i.e., non-ruffled; non-rouched) counterpart.

Bracket: Petrova, the 16th-seed at Indian Wells, lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round. The Dane’s set to face Agnieszka Radwanska in the bottom-half semi; Jankovic and Sam Stosur will duke it out in the top half. (Draw: Women’s Singles)

Up close: See a few more shots of Nadia’s dress after the cut…

tattoo watch: philipp kohlschreiber

German Philipp Kohlschreiber fell to second seed Nole Djokovic at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open — but not without a fight. He took the second set and pushed Djokovic to a tiebreak in the third, exposing the Serb’s weakened game; Djokovic lost to veteran Ivan Ljubicic 7-5, 6-3 in the round after. Up next for Ivan in the quarters is Juan Monaco (!), who beat Gigi Lopez in three sets. (Draw: Men’s Singles.)

Buy: adidas Men’s Spring Competition Crew, in black/core teal/white, $38.99; the Barricade-esque Tirand III, $59.95.

Tattoo Watch: TSF ran into Kohlschreiber during one of his practice sessions. Did you know he has a tattoo on his right shoulder? Up close: See it after the cut…

yanina wickmayer: you should go read “open”

Belgian Yanina Wickmayer — 13th seed at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells — was the last of her countrywomen to stand ground in the singles draw: wildcard Justine Henin was “upset” in the first round by Gisela Dulko; Kim Clijsters‘ plan to play no matches (save for the BJK Cup) between the Aussie ’til now failed against Alisa Kleybanova; and Kirsten Flipkens couldn’t hold her own against Elena Dementieva, who we’re hoping will take this whole thing.

Yanina fell to the Twitter-unfriendly Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-4, 6-4 in the fourth round. MJMS next faces eighth seed Sam Stosur, who booted (coachless!) defending champion Vera Zvonareva from the tourney. (Draw: Women’s singles)

Wickmayer’s drug-related off-court battles are still in the air; she has an appeal pending with Belgian courts as well as with the Court for Arbitration of Sport. It could be months before rulings are handed down by those institutions. (Speaking of, the president of the ITF has been asked if anything’s going to happen to Andre Agassi after he revealed in his autobiography that he’s used meth during his career and lied to officials about it. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations is eight years and has already expired [just the right timing for publication?]. Thus, he’s off the hook.)

And now for the serious stuff: As usual, Yanina looked good in her Erke get-up, this time using a palette of blue and grey with pops of pink (and some graphics). See some detail shots (including her Nike shoes and her pink gym bag) — all after the cut…

sightings in the stands: gwen and gavin

Moral support: Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale were on hand to watch their besty Roger Federer — top seed at this week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. — lose to 27th-seed Marcos Baghdatis 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Roger had a match point in that twelfth game of the third set but couldn’t convert. TSF was on hand to watch Marcos smoke Arnaud Clement 7-6 (7), 6-1 in the second round and he’s playing pretty well this week.

Looking forward: Marcos next faces Tommy Robredo (in the fourth round) and possibly Andy Roddick in the quarters. (Men’s Draw [pdf])

(image via Getty Images)