men in stripes: roddick, haase, and blake

The few: Only a handful of ATPers dared to venture into stripes for this year’s U.S. Open: Andy Roddick wore a piece from his Lacoste collection (Buy: Striped Polo, $88); Robin Haase, as the lone mascot for Robey, dared to go diagonal (Info: Top spin Polo); and James Blake tickled us with his Fila design (Buy: TR engineered polo, $55).

Draw: Roddick’s still in it after schooling American upstart Jack Sock in straight sets on Ashe. Up next for Andy is Benneteau, then likely a tough fourth-round match vs. Ferrer. If he survives that, it’s a QF date with Rafa!

Haase ground out Andy Murray before losing 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4 (yikes!). Muzz should be okay to beat Feli Lopez in the third round, but could run into trouble against Donald Young in the round of 16 or Isner (or Delpo, or Simon) in the quarters.

Blake lost to Ferrer in straight sets.

Scan: See the entire 2011 U.S. Open Men’s Singles draw here.

More: See pics of Roddick’s, Haase’s, and Blake’s polos — all after the cut…

18 crumbs from taste of tennis

And by “crumbs,” we mean people, of course. Thursday night, TSF made its way to Taste of Tennis, the yearly event that combines food, the chefs that make it and a line-up of US Open tennis players for an evening that’s quite delectable. It was our first time there, and we were lucky enough to be joined by the talented photographer Billie Weiss, who snapped all 13 of these images in this post. But while Billie took in the visuals, we worked the green carpet and nabbed a few folks for a word or two before they headed in to snarf and socialize.

Our leading man, Gilles Simon, above, worked the green carpet longer than anyone else, happily obliging to speak with every single reporter and blogger (and there were plenty of us!) along his way.

TSF: What’s been the most surprising thing about year one of fatherhood? Hardest?
Gilles Simon: Well, it’s not surprising because I wanted it. [Smiling.] The mother, she is fabulous. When I have a match and the baby is crying in the night, I don’t wake up, she will always do that. For me, I just have the good things during a tournament: I get to enjoy him and when I don’t win a match he makes me smile because he is always happy to see [me]. I tend to forget about tennis around him.

TSF: Are you guys always traveling as a unit?
GS: We are not always together. But when we are, the mother helps me a lot — she is very patient. I try to have them with me as much as possible, of course.

TSF: What’s one thing you love about coming to New York?
GS: I am from Paris so shopping is not a big deal here. [Smiling.] It’s just being here. You cannot see this city anywhere else in the world. Nothing is the same. At night, sometimes it is too much for me, but it’s only two weeks. I can do that. I really enjoy traveling in different parts of the world. New York? You can’t find it anywhere else.

TSF: Tell us what you’re doing here tonight.
Gigi Fernandez: I’m here as an ambassador for the event. I’m delighted that I get to combine my two passions: tennis and drinking. [Laughs.] No, no. Tennis and food. Rums of Puerto Rico [one of the sponsors] asked me to come tonight and I’ve done stuff with them before. I did an event with them in Washington DC that was an Iron Chef-style competition where the chefs had to prepare food using different rums. And I was one of the judges… we got to drink and eat. It was great! It’s always fun for me to represent anything Puerto Rican.

TSF: OK, you’ve made two drink reference so far. What’s your favorite drink?
GF: Mojitos. They’re my favorite.

TSF: What else are you up to these days?
GF: Being a full-time mom is a full-time job. I do a lot of corporate clinics and several events during the Open. I play in the Senior event at the Open and I did so at Wimbledon and the French Open, too.

TSF: Do you care to weigh in on the women’s side this year?
GF: I think if Serena can stay fit then she’s clearly heads above the rest. When she’s 100% she’s the best player in the world.

TSF: Have any of the younger American girls caught your eye at all?
GF: Yeah, actually. Monica Puig is a Puerto Rican player. She’s the highest-ranked American junior coming up and she’ll have a similar dilemma to the one that I had in trying to figure out who she will represent. She’s definitely the one with the most potential.

TSF: What is on the iPod these days?
Vera Zvonareva: Well, I like Rihanna a lot. I like Nickelback right now and Linkin Park. There are a couple new songs from Bruno Mars out there, too.

TSF: Do you ever try to see anyone live when you’re traveling?
VZ: That’s something that I would love to do one day. Unfortunately, it never really works out with the tournaments. When you listen to music live it’s a great feeling. It’s something that I really want to do eventually.

TSF: What about when you have an afternoon or evening to yourself? What is me-time for Vera?
VZ: I lock myself in the hotel room and put a movie on and I can watch three or four movies at a time.

TSF: And your fave?
VZ: Bodyguard.

TSF: Touché V!

TSF: Pilates or yoga? What would you go for?
Janko Tipsarevic:
I would go for yoga. I tried it once on P90X and I only made it to two days because of my schedule. I was imagining that it was going to be really easy but it really is not. It’s all about focus.

TSF: What about starting a line of your own roller-bags at some point?
JT: I would, but the company — Technifibre — they were not really a big fan of that bag. But I always say, “Why wear it over your shoulder when you can roll it on the ground?” I know I look like I’m going to the airport but it’s so much easier.

TSF: Do you think that Djokovic’s run has motivated the rest of you Serbians to play better as well?
VZ: With winning the Davis Cup, it really inspired all of us to play better. With Novak, I’m really happy to have him as a friend. I have a front row seat to see what he is doing. I’m not afraid to talk to him and see what he is doing and what he is thinking. It’s only helped me improve.

TSF: What if you could make one meal? Where would it be? What would it include?
Tamira Paszek: One meal? That I cook? I love risotto, especially before the beginning of a tournament. Like a mushroom risotto with truffle oil. I cook sometimes … it’s relaxing. At Wimbledon we rented a house and we cooked then.

Tommy Haas chatted with a few folks on the line, then made a dash for the food. Leftovers? Loved the just-showered wet-hair look.

Rafael Nadal MUST have had a change-of-shirts after sporting the same outfit at Macy’s earlier in the day. He looked surprisingly fresh-faced after the mob on 34th. Leftovers? Benito responded to a question in Spanish with Italian.

Fernando Verdasco is really looking his best we’ve seen in a long while. Love the hair, love the (lack-of) facial hair. Leftovers? Has he lost weight?!

Click for more crumbs from TOT — and Billie Weiss’ photos. [Read more...]

the all-england hair club for men

By Troy Venechanos

A few months ago, Andy Roddick hit what he called one of the best shots of his career. It was a diving save, one in which Roddick smacked a forehand down the line on match point to win a third set tie-breaker against up-and-comer Milos Raonic and capture the Memphis title. And while the web went abuzz with the video of the shot, many viewers weren’t actually watching Roddick’s shot. Instead, they were paying attention to a cap-less Andy, his hat having fallen off in his exertion of effort. And what was there to see? Not much, actually. An almost-bald Andy.Hair loss and tennis go hand and hand. Male pros often play into their mid or late 30s, meaning as they start to lose their hair, it’s left for all the public to see. Andre Agassi freaked out about it so much that he donned a fake hairpiece that had the world fooled. Pete Sampras has been so nonchalant about his after-career hair thinning that he doesn’t even seem to notice.

But we notice – we always notice. TSF has collected the hairdos (and don’ts) from around the tour in what we’re calling “The All-England Club for Men’s Hair Loss,” where styles differ from member to member, but everyone has one thing in common: they’re going – or already are – bald.

TSF GALLERY: The All-England Hair Club for Men

Troy Venechanos has conquered the worlds of junior varsity tennis, tennis internships and tennis photo-blogging. The New York native and TSF contributor hopes to next master “that cool way players can pick up tennis balls using the sides of their feet.” He is a graduate of Northeastern University. TSF vault: Troy Venechanos

strokin’: when tennis met music

By Jonathan Scott

It may not be tabloid fodder like every Taylor Swift dalliance, and it’s not nearly as insufferable as Brangelina, but the marriage between music and tennis is itself a storied love affair. It stretches across decades and genres, and it knows no bounds – well, none other than those pesky white lines.

Try to set aside the disappointment that the artist Sergey with the song “Tennis” on iTunes is actually not Vera Zvonareva‘s ridiculously good-looking model/coach. And, however possible, repress the memory of Justine Henin‘s song-and-dance scareoke on TV. Yes, Novak Djokovic and Ivo Karlovic have tried their tongues at rapping, as has Vince Spadea with amusingly deplorable results, but that doesn’t mean you should try it at home after perfecting your Djokovic-ian down-the-line backhand, does it?

As the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival just wrapped its annual song-a-thon in Austin, Texas – soon to be the site for a volatile USA vs. Spain Davis Cup tie in July – here’s the skinny on the latest hot shots in tennis-tinged music and an homage to some of the greats.

Best Newcomer: James Blake is a dub-step soulman and a veritable crooner. The British JB, that is. His American counterpart is a best-selling author and owner of a laser forehand whose best days are past, but Blake the Brit is taking the music world by slow-burning storm, releasing his rave-reviewed eponymous debut in February and – well before that – igniting the blogosphere with his faithful but quirky cover of Feist‘s “Limit to Your Love.” Let’s just pray that, when we hit up a James Blake concert sometime, his fans aren’t half as annoying (adorable?) as the American Blake’s J-Block can be in the tennis stands.

Dainty she is not. Our fave album cover from Blonde Readhead’s 23. (Image via band website)

Best Dressed: Sometimes it’s okay to judge a band by its cover. Oxymoronic indie rockers Blonde Redhead out of New York City put out the best, most elegant tennis-themed album art when they dropped 23 in 2007. But, no, the song “Top Ranking” has nothing to do with disputed no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Worst Dressed, but Best Sound: Yea, there is a band simply called Tennis, a married duo specializing in ’60s surf-pop for 2011. This act released its debut Cape Dory in January, and though the song “Marathon” doesn’t harbor the words “Isner,” “Mahut” or “Wimbledon” anywhere in the lyrics, it’s solid stuff. Consider it your soulful throwback soundtrack for this summer – but steer clear of wearing skintight aqua as with the album cover. It looks like leftover fabric from a hideous Nadia Petrova creation.

Best Tournament Run: This has to go to the ginger-haired heroine in the video for Vampire Weekend‘s “Giving Up the Gun.” She rips through a draw that includes Joe Jonas, a Daft Punk-helmeted doubles team, and even a flask-swilling Jake Gyllenhaal in tear-away pants. It’s a great song, and the immaculately-white indoor court is sharp – even if the choked-up strokes from the damsel look laughably bad in reality. Girl, who taught you to grip a racquet like that? Topping it off: RZA from Wu-Tang Clan serves as the chair umpire, and Lil Jon offers astute on-court coaching. Brill.

TSF Vault | The many lives of tennis-themed music vids

Best Clay-Court Match: French DJs Martin Solveig — oddly in tasteful Wimbledon whites — and Bob Sinclar, sporting some hot-magenta vintage-Agassi styles, squared off on Roland Garros‘ red dirt for the video for Solveig’s dance track “Hello” sung by Dragonette. The match and music video are both visceral, a veritable heartbreaker. Check out the cameo by that flashiest of the current French tennis stars as he comes on the scene and devastates the darling DJ.

Hello? Could Martin Solveig look any cooler? We think not. (YouTube screengrab)

Best Charity Hit: Andy Murray and Thom Yorke of Radiohead teamed up for charity single “Two Minute Silence” to benefit serving and former British troops and their families. Strangely enough, its title is no lie. “Hear” — but really just see — it here. British Prime Minister David Cameron and more also got in on this quiet riot. Truly the oddest not-quite-a-band lineup ever, but hey, can’t wait for their episode of “Behind the Music.” Finalist: Wozniacki put out a charity single called “Oxigent” (or “Oxygen”) to benefit Danish and Polish Paralympic athletes. Because, you know, she has oodles of free time.

Top Passing Shot: Meg Baird‘s lovely, lilting “Waltze of the Tennis Players.” It’s just pretty, and we do pretty.

More of Jonathan’s music musings (including “Best Grunt” and “Best Musical Ode to a Tennis Player”) after the cut. [Read more...]

new footwear, same social calendar

The boot that was strapped on Serena Williams‘s foot recently (see above) might have the world’s top-ranked player out of the US Open Series and in doubt for the US Open, but it certainly hasn’t slowed down the social part of her life. Serena was spotted yesterday in LA, hanging out at the Farmers Classic while taking in James Blake‘s first round match.

The social engagements don’t end at tennis for ReRe. Last weekend she lunched with Olympic gold medal figure skater Evan Lysacek and the two have remained in touch via Twitter, Evan asking her about her injured foot and suggesting that they train together sometime (when Serena is better, of course).

She even added a girls’ night into her socializing repertoire, hanging out with pop star (can we say that if she hasn’t had a hit since 2004?!) Christina Milian. According to the UK Daily Mail, the two were out at “the swanky Madeo restaurant in Beverly Hills” over the weekend.

Spotted by the paps: We’re wondering about that stain on Christina’s dress… And why, oh why, is Serena sporting a single heel with her boot at the Farmers Classic?! The girl’s a trooper. (Or an idiot.)

And if socializing with those who she actually likes seems to get old, we’re told that Shino Tsurubuchi, the line judge that made the call heard around the world at last year’s US Open, was calling Blake’s match that Serena was in attendance for. A source said the lines people were “teasing Shino” in the tunnel as she exited. Maybe they went to Peet’s together afterward to catch up?

(la photo by TSF; millian photo via the daily mail)

in los angeles, james blake takes you to the limit

James Blake, who’s slated to play at next week’s Farmers Classic in Los Angeles, will be stopping by a local Sport Chalet to meet up with fans. He’ll be available for pics and autographs; everyone who comes can win a J-Block shirt (by his sponsor, Fila) and other merch.

If you decide to pick up one of the fan tees, proceeds from the sale will benefit Blake’s foundation, The Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund.

The rest of the pack: Other ATP stags in the Farmers Classic barn include Novak Djokovic, Sam Querrey, and the Bryan Brothers. And the tourney’s Monday night extravaganza will feature Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. More info here.

(image courtesy of Fila)

short balls: the epic edition

Brooklyn gets wind-swept on the Bravo TV show Double Exposure. See more of Brooklyn, and what hubby Andy thinks of LiLo’s jailing in this week’s short balls. (screen grab via BravoTV.com)

Who said the week after Wimbledon was a dead one on the tennis news front? There is plenty of stuff going on, from the on-court happenings at Newport and beyond to plenty (and we mean plenty) of off court news. Here’s TSF‘s edition of short balls for the week.

If you are a Pam Shriver fan and still a little miffed by all the negative press the ESPN analyst got for her run-in with James Blake in the first round of Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago, we thought we would cheer you up by digging out this video clip of one of Pam’s big-time wins on the WTA singles circuit. The victim? Steffi Graf at the 1988 Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden. It was one of only three wins Shriver notched against Graf in 12 career meetings, and it’s a pretty good look at old-school, serve-and-volley tennis from PS herself.

Perhaps you miss Wimbledon mightily and have watched the many replays available on the official web site and on YouTube. Hopefully you’ve also had the chance to check out the “Off Court” section of the Wimby web site, which was sponsored by the bottled water company Evian. A trendy British gal roams the grounds in search of the good, bad and quirky in respects to fan fashion at this year’s tournament. I enjoyed every clip.

Andy Roddick’s wife, Brooklyn Decker (top) was on the Bravo TV show Double Exposure this last week and dang, girl looked good! We were digging the wind-blown hair. See a clip of the video by clicking the image above or here. Just to be clear, Brooklyn is the second girl, not the first who is, well, a little frightening. Recently, celeb Lindsay Lohan was on Double Exposure as well, though her shoot didn’t go as well as Brooklyn’s did. If you didn’t think Brooklyn’s hubby, Andy Roddick, had any opinion on Lohan’s recent court saga (she’s been sentenced for 90 days in jail for violating probation), think again:

Not to be outdone, Andy Murray also made the TV cut this week, appearing on the James Corden show in Britain. Murray chatted tennis and soccer, if a “Hawkeye” system should be used in soccer, and hit some tennis balls at fancy, over-sized cones. Not to be outdone by Brooklyn (or Lindsay!), Andy also slow danced with an adoring fan. Awkward picture after the cut.

[Read more...]

james speaks for hundreds of players, still can’t quiet pam

James Blake spoke out for hundreds of players who, over the last ten years, have heard Pam Shriver‘s voice carry on to the court, by shushing the ESPN correspondent today, but Shriver’s decibels didn’t drop after his initial rant.

While Blake was clearly irritated on his way to a three-set flop-out, he called out Shriver on being too loud while doing sideline commentary above Court 5. Shriver relays the details, but as she does so, she speaks at the same volume she had been the entire time, choosing to continue to get under the skin of the American. He let her know again how frustrated he was, and P-Shrive still couldn’t get a clue. (Click image to watch video.)

Later, we suspect, James received hundreds – if not thousands – of appreciative text messages from fellow players for his actions. He also, we (still) suspect, is crafting a Commentate-o-Meter to measure the decibels of on-court reporters. Shriver is expected to give Michelle Larcher de Brito a run for her high-pitched money.

(screen grab via youtube)

thomas reynolds for spring 2010

The second drop of the Thomas Reynolds collection — that’s James Blake‘s turn as a creative consultant for Fila — made its appearance in the hardcourts of Australia before heading to Europe for this week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis tournament in the Netherlands. He lost early (to Marcos Baghdatis) in the first round.

Brackets: The quarters for the tourney are now set: Davydenko plays Melzer, Soderling‘s up against Benneteau, Youzhny faces Monfils, and Djokovic will try to keep his top seeding with Leonardo Mayer taking a stab. (Men’s Draw)

Fila: The goods will drop later this month. Stay tuned!

(image via Getty Images)