short balls: open coverage explodes, around the parties and irene

Here we go! The all-out media blitz for the 2011 US Open has begun, the New York Times seemingly sounding the starting gun this morning when Novak Djokovic lived on its homepage for much of the morning with a piece written by Greg Bishop about the all-out transformation of Djoko over the last year: the diet, the game, the ranking and the media appeal. It doesn’t stop there with the Times, which has stories about Irene, finding tennis courts in NYC and qualies of course. But those are just the meat-and-potatoes posts. More? Andy Samburg dresses up (and celebrates like) the best champs from tennis’ past, though he didn’t pull a Djoko and sport a Maria-inspired wig. Check out the hilarious video here.

TSF Vault: Short balls | US Open

Time out: But don’t think the Times is the only one who has it going on. New York magazine has an entire US Open guide section while Time took the time to follow Djokovic around, too. Tennis.com is unsurprisingly all blinged-out, currently with a Richard Pagliaro Q&A with Andrea Petkovic. Their USO-specific page is a looking a little bit like it’s stuck in 1999, though we’re positive that Tignor, Bodo and the rest of the crew will be on the grounds and covering as they always do. TennisNow.com is looking more and more like Tennis.com these days, which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing. But we do enjoy their easy-to-read breeze through the fashion of the men and women at Flushin this year, which is heavily linked to outside sources. CNN/SI gives little/no cover play to the Open on this Friday, but we expect them to beef up coverage as the tourney actually gets underway. No doubt they have frontman L. Jon Wertheim‘s piece on the seeds (he’s all Serena on the women’s side) featured on the tennis page. Tennis Channel wants folks to play in its Racquet Bracket challenge – and we would — if only that meant a date with James LaRosa of Sweet Spot fame. His latest Spot? A drinking game, of course! Oh James! You keep us sober (in life)! ESPN.com doesn’t have any USO coverage on its homepage, either, and hasn’t even pulled the “Tennis” section from out underneath the “More Sports” bar. But the .com side always adds to what TV has going on — which is bigger than ever. ESPN3 went as far as sending out a release to tout their individual coverage that supplements TV. What can we say? We sort of love it.

And the little guys? On the blogosphere, it’s business as usual around the horn. The blogging has been slow for C Note, but the tweeting? Outta control. So much so that Merriam-Webster finally appeased and made “tweeting” an actual, real world. Way to go, C! 52,346 tweets and counting. Down the Line has this hilarious cartoon via Women’s Tennis Blog. Tennis Panorama braved the epic crowds at Macy’s yesterday for the Rafa unveiling of a (shirtless) billboard. Did we expect anything else? Number of Rafa billboards? One. Number of words he spoke on stage? One. (“Hel-lo.”) The-Slice has tasty crumbs from Taste of Tennis last night. And Adjusting the Net is all about Winston-Salem. Someone had to be, right?

short(er) balls: The Post calls Serena’s path (she has Vika in the third round) “easy” for title. | TSF contributor Lindsay Sakraida has NYMag.com’s official preview of the men and women. | We didn’t see this coming: the USTA cancelled Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day because of Irene. Won’t reschedule. | Richard Evans writes on FoxSports.com that this is Mardy Fish‘s big opp. | More 3D tennis from Panasonic and CBS. Should we care? | Pete Sampras and other fellas part of an “Old School” tennis event last night in Murray Hill, Manhattan. | New Haven got all shaken up (and evacuated) after Tuesday’s earthquake. | Lleyton Hewitt? Out of the Open. | Tennis Channel is still battling with Cablevision. #overit | But really, NYT? Who is eating around the grounds. People are just eating in the grounds. | The next great gay film? We sort of think this is it. | Shameless plug: Housing Works has plenty of good sales this fall. In the city for the Open? Live there? Have the ability to shop online? Do. It.

(nytimes.com screengrab; hw photo provided)

 

short balls: rog’s b-day, serena’s love life, worst fashion and more

Oh, Canada! It’s been a wacky and weird week in Canada — both at the women’s event in Toronto and for the men in Montreal. Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all saw early exits, as did top women Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki. Are we in for such a tumultuous two weeks at Flushing Meadows, too?! Hopefully the top tier will have their games a little more finely tuned for the USO. Oh right, and did we mention the power outages? Yes, there were several. Draws: Men | Women

Better with age: Federer wasn’t the only one celebrating a birthday this last week. The Swiss Mister turned the big 3-0 in Canada and while there have been plenty of questions surrounding the aging of the GOAT, the Tour took a few days to celebrate the former world no. 1′s turning of age. While Federer is under increased pressure as he grows older, 90-year-old Donald Van Blake doesn’t have such weight on his shoulders. The teaching pro who helped motivate a generation of tennis players was celebrated this last week in Central Jersey, over 100 people attending the festivities at a local tennis complex.

The Serena Times: While it’s great to have Serena Williams back on the court for tennis’ sake, the first female of the sport never disappoints headline-wise off the court, either. This week, there was plenty of ink action for SW: a pilot for a reality TV show that centers around a nail salon that Serena has supposedly been rejected (reported by New York Daily News) by Lifetime (and OWN). But Serena got to do Oprah‘s toes, so that’s enough, right?! Additionally, Serena was spotted hanging and hitting a few balls with rapper Drake at a South Florida resort recently. Dating?! Is Common officially outta the picture? | TSF Vault: Serena

Fashion, now: The crew at TennisNow.com has put together a slideshow of the worst tennis fashion of all time, but with a little twist. It’s their “non-Williams” edition, meaning both Venus and Serena didn’t get considered for wacky outfits for the summer. Cue the Bethanie Mattek-Sands shots!

short(er) balls: Before she bowed out from play in Canada, Clijsters had a great Q&A with SI’s Jon Wertheim. One take away: girl’s got no time for Snooki. | Eating curry can help cure tennis elbow? One study says so. | Just over a week away, New Haven makes final preparations and checks in with two-time defending champion Wozniacki. Plus, the tourney has offered a wildcard to Venus Williams, who pulled out of Cincy. | A tennis dad beats up a player in the stands — for cheering against his daughter. Take that, Jim Pierce! The beaten player, Elise Tamaele, is listed on the WTA site. | Crowds in DC for the Legg Mason Classic were down this year, from 75,039 last year to 67,161 this year. | Martha’s Vineyard tennis fashion? WASPs have never been so WASP-y. | Elena Dementieva — and that Yonex dress — play in an exhibition in Russia.

trophy watch: robin's robin? & filo's furry fury

Is that a Robin in there? No but really: there’s a bird in his trophy. Swedish fella Robin Soderling played hometown hero yesterday when he fought his was past a tough David Ferrer 6-2 6-2 at the Swedish Open in Bastad. It was Soderling’s second title in three years in front of a home crowd, winning his fourth tour tournament of 2011. Soderling improved to an impressive 10-4 against Ferrer.

Furry fury. We guess Feliciano Lopez wanted to just head to the Colombian mountains, grow a little beard and unzip his JOma jacket — ahhh, the life! But FiLo played some tennis, winning in Bogota over Colombian Carlos Salamanca 6-4 6-3 at the Seguros Bolivar Open.

TSF Vault: Feliciano | Joma

That’s really her trophy. Remember that Andy Roddick commercial where he buys two tickets for the return flight? (Note: He doesn’t have to do that much these days.) This picture reminds us of said commercial. Here the folks in Bad Gastein, Austria, must have been upset that Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez took out their home girl Patricia Mayr in the final (6-0 7-5) so they gave her this giant, ridiculous trophy to PUNISH her. We think it may have worked.

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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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this year, no merry carillo-mas (on espn)

In his yearly Baggies post, where Sports Illustrated writer L. Jon Wertheim hands out the best (and worst)-of the year, he also compiles a list of latest happenings in the tennis world. Among them this year: a good-bye to “Mary Carillo on ESPN”. So what gives? Your guess is as good as ours. Oh, it’s just not going to be a Merry Carillo-mas!

(image via opencourt)

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.

delpo’s comeback? a twitter timeline of the question lingering over tennis

In the last 30 hours, the web has been abuzz with news that defending US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who hasn’t played a match since the Australian Open because of an injured right wrist, will make an appearance in New York a month from now to defend his title.

TSF breaks down the news and timelines of just how things panned out on Twitter and beyond.

Thursday, July 22nd, 9:17 AM – In what we see as the first evidence of JMdP’s comeback, SI writer L. Jon Wertheim Tweets:

Thursday, 9:30 AM Montreal Gazette writer Stephanie Myles responds to Wertheim’s Tweet and provides her own analysis from the news:

Thursday, 11:25 AM – The USTA releases its “provisional entry list” for the 2010 tournament on its web site.

Thursday, 11:29 AM Doug Robson, a tennis writer who regularly contributes to USA Today, Tweets that a USTA contact has confirmed that JMdP is already hitting:

Thursday, 11:50 AM – Less than a half hour later, an Associated Press story written by tennis writer Howard Fendrich appears on the web with Del Potro as the headline catch.

Thursday, 10:85 AM to early afternoon — Freelance writer Kamakshi Tandon follows the story on her account, but between her first Tweet about it (at bottom) and her last, doubt has popped in about the current status of JMdP:

Thursday, 12:04 PM – Tandon’s doubt was started by the Argentinean tennis blog, Fue Buena:

Thursday, mid afternoon Tennis Magazine writer and former Tandon colleague Tom Perrotta weighs in:

Friday, July 23rd, 11:41 AM – Esteemed tennis writer Peter Bodo posts on ESPN.com about Del Potro’s return.

Friday, mid afternoon — On Twitter, marcos_z, an Argentiean writer says that USO won’t happen for JMdP and that Bangkok is earliest return:

Friday, 2:14 PM – Fuebuena blog posts that “The Idea is Bangkok” for Del Potro’s return.

Thursday, July 15th – The last time Del Potro himself had Tweeted, saying that the doctor was happy with his progress and he would pick up a racquet soon.

The Del Potro Twitter feed is quite active throughout this timeline.

(screen grabs via twitter)

serena the GOAT? SI thinks so

In case you missed it, Serena Williams was on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated where acclaimed writer L. Jon Wertheim called her the best of all time. Regardless of your opinion, and people have an opinion on this issue (!), the sport of tennis gets a big thumbs-up from SI, which hadn’t had a tennis cover since last June, when Roger Federer won the French Open. The discussion then? Is Fed the best ever? We’re sensing a theme…

More: Serena was shot for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar for their August issue, due out July 20th.

(screengrab via si.com)

short balls: mac does the times, djoko the big screen and serena is no justine (!)

John McEnroe might not act like one any more, but he still knows how to dress like a teenager. The tennis legend got front-page billing on NYTimes.com with a story about his new New York-based academy. (Screengrab via NYTimes.com)

Action! No Djoking Around. Serbian star Novak Djokovic has struggled in the last couple of years with his on-court stamina (will this be the issue that haunts his career?). He hasn’t struggled, meanwhile, with the ability to garner big-time acting roles in his home country. Djoko is starring in a documentary about the 1923 Serbian World Cup team, and fellow tennis buff Nenad Zimonjic is putting his footwork on display, too.

I’m no Justine. There were plenty of moments in Rome last weeks (Rome-ments?!). But one of our faves was Serena making sure that Jelena Jankovic know that she wasn’t pulling a Justine on the Serb. After the match, Serena assured Jankovic that she didn’t intentionally try to distract her opponent by putting her hand up while Janky was serving in the third-set tie-break, an exchange Serena knows plenty about.

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