adding a hall of fame layer to world tennis day

Tennis Hall of Fame logo

Packing It In: Since all eyes (in theory) will be on tennis on March 4 — that’s World Tennis Day — it couldn’t hurt to highlight just one more facet of our sport. At the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York City, the 2013 inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame will be honored in a Center Celebration on the night of the exhibition. This year’s nominees: Martina Hingis, Michael Stich, Helena Sukova, Thelma Coyne Long, Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac.

WTD at MSG? BNP. And apart from the parade of vets will be a two-match line-up that will pit Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka (they’ve now played two three-setters in a row!) and Juan Martin del Potro against Rafael Nadal. This will be Nadal’s first American appearance since returning from his 8-month absence dating back from last year’s Wimbledon. Info: Tickets and other info on the BNP Paribas Showdown available at their website.

HOF: The Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be inducted on July 13, 2013.

in marseilles, the fans go fishing

Fans fish for autographs at the Open 13 in Marseille

Sightings in the Stands: The fans attending the Open 13 ATP stop in Marseilles have gotten smart about their autograph procurement.

Draw: The quarterfinals are now set for the men in France, with Jerzy Janowicz taking on top seed Tomas Berdych. Janowicz has made noise in France before (see: Bercy 2012), and with Berdych needing three sets to take down Ernests Gulbis in the second round, this could be another test for the Czech. Other quarterfinal match-ups are qualifier Dmitry Tursunov (who took out fellow Fila mascot Janko Tipsarevic) vs. Gilles Muller; Bernard Tomic against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Gilles Simon taking on second seed Juan Martin del Potro. (Draw: Open 13 Men’s Singles)

(Photo Credit: Yohan Brandt for Open 13)

trophy watch: hello to rafa, goodbye to san jose, and the ladies switch it up

Juan Martin del Potro defeats Julien Benneteau in 2013 Rotterdam tennis event

ABN AMRO: Juan Martin del Potro was last man standing at the ABN AMRO WTT, the stacked ATP 500-series event in Rotterdam led by tournament director Richard Krajicek which saw Roger Federer ousted by finalist Julien Benneteau and had semifinal runs by Gilles Simon and Grigor Dimitrov. Delpo earned his 14th career title by downing Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3.

Qatar Total Open 2013 trophies: Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka

Vika wins two: The plot thickens in the battle at the top of the women’s game between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. At this past week’s Qatar Total Open, contested in Doha, Serena regained the No. 1 ranking but Azarenka notched her second career win over Williams (in 13 tries) and defended her Doha title. The scoreline: 7-6(6) 2-6, 6-3. Azarenka is taking the week off to heal a foot injury, while Serena is playing in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Serena praised Victoria for her work in the final:

“I always respect Victoria. I think she’s a really good player. Obviously she’s so consistent and she plays well. She’s such a solid player. It’s nice to always play someone and go home and you’re like, ‘Okay, I didn’t do great, but let me work harder.’ I think that she inspires a lot of people to work harder, and definitely me.”

2013 SAP Open - San Jose - Trophy - Milos Raonic defeats Tommy Haas

Bon voyage: The final edition of the 125-year-old SAP Open, held in San Jose, Calif., featured a three-peat for top seed, and two-time defending champ Milos Raonic. He defeated fourth seed Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3. Raonic won all three titles without dropping a set.

Raonic, from Canada, wore a New Balance tee with a black-and-green print. “Today, I’m more of a complete player,” he said after winning the title. “I was able to put pressure on [Haas] in most of his service games. I was able to hold quite handily, which I’ve shown I can do in the past. I was able to create pressure every game. It wasn’t just one game. I was getting to a lot of deuce games.”

Rafael Nadal wins the 2013 Brasil Open

Chippin’ off the old block: The story of Rafael Nadal has finally come full circle. After disappearing from the circuit for about eight months after losing to Lukas Rosol in the early rounds of Wimbledon 2012, the Spaniard took home the Brasil Open (Sao Paolo) title last week. The 6-2, 6-3 victory over David Nalbandian was Nadal’s first since beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2012 French Open.

It’s all about the titles: “It’s very nice and important because at the end of your career what’s left are the titles,” Rafa reflected after his win, “and depending on certain moments there are some titles that you appreciate very much. This one I appreciate it the most because of all the struggles I went through during the week, with some problems with my knee some days.”

(Photo Credit: Rotterdam photo via ABN AMRO WTT Facebook; Nadal photo via Brasil Open; San Jose photo via SAP Open website; Vika/Serena photo via Qatar Tennis Federation)

rafael nadal’s first u.s. appearance will be in nyc

All eyes on NYC: The 2013 edition of the annual tennis exhibition at Madison Square Garden — the BNP Paribas Showdown — will feature Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka squaring off against Serena Williams and Juan Martin del Potro playing Rafael Nadal. This event on March 4 will headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of Tennis Night in America as well as the inaugural World Tennis Day.

Nadal will be making his first appearance in the U.S. after a long injury layoff when he takes on del Potro in the upcoming BNP Paribas Showdown. Rafa is scheduled to participate in three events in the month of February including his return to the tour next week at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile followed by the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo, and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco.

In 2012 the former World No. 1 won a record seventh French Open title, but a knee injury prevented him from playing after Wimbledon. The start of the Spaniard’s 2013 season was delayed by a stomach virus. The 11-time Grand Slam champion joins Andre Agassi as the only players to have completed a career Golden Slam. In 2009, Argentina’s del Potro broke through to win the US Open title. After wrist surgery in 2010, he returned to his top form in 2012, winning four titles and reaching the quarterfinals in three of the four Grand Slams.

World Tennis Day: World Tennis Day will be held with the support of the International Tennis Federation to promote Tennis10s, which tailors the game to its youngest players with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring. The cornerstones of World Tennis Day are grassroots opportunities for young players to participate in the sport at the local level. The day is highlighted by BNP Paribas Showdown events in Hong Kong as well as the annual event at Madison Square Garden in New York. The World Tennis Day effort complements the ongoing Tennis Night in America initiative to promote 10-and-under tennis by the United States Tennis Association that has been held in conjunction with the BNP Paribas Showdown for five years.

BNP Paribas Showdown: The BNP Paribas Showdown exclusively features players who have either won Grand Slams or ranked No. 1 in the World, if not both. Entering the 2013 season, the 17 all-time participants of the event at Madison Square Garden boast a combined 101 Grand Slam singles titles, 696 titles overall and a total of 1,565 weeks ranked No. 1.

Info: The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets start at $50.00 and are on sale now at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets. More information about World Tennis Day events and the BNP Paribas Showdown matches in New York and Hong Kong can be found online at www.WorldTennisDay.com. The Hong Kong event will feature John McEnroe against Ivan Lendl and Caroline Wozniacki against Li Na.

gilles simon: look a little closer

In case you missed it, Parisian shopping snob Gilles Simon‘s adidas Adipure tennis polo has an tonal checkered print — easier to see on the blue and red colorways. (Buy: adidas Adipure Polo, $50.)

Draw: Sort of a mini-upset for the 12th-seeded Simon as he beat 18th seed Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3). This was Delpo’s chance to defend his 2009 title after being sidelined by a wrist injury last year. Simon plays the winner of the Isner/Bogomolov third round match, still being played. (Bracket: Men’s Singles)

(photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

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Rolex? Check. Visa emblem? Check.

Looks like two-time 2011 titlelist Juan Martin del Potro is making the most of his sideline time, having signed up to be one of the mascots for Visa‘s sports sponsorship program. (But JFTR, that muscle tear in his left thigh leaves participation at this year’s French up in the air. TSF wishes him a speedy recovery.)

Here’s the Visa landing page.

…and the image on the campaign’s Facebook. (Rough translation: “He’s not controversial, he doesn’t complain, he’s not into gamesmanship, yet he doesn’t go unnoticed.”)

Next time: They can do better than an embroidered dress shirt. How about snapping some papp pics of him shopping with a Black Card?

Visa Deportes: On the Twitter and the Facebook.

(image by Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

trophy watch: furry nice to see you

For your vest interest: We were all set and ready to make a trophy-bearing Nole, now 27-0 this season, our lead picture on this week’s Trophy Watch. That was until we saw this gem of a photograph with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario with Barcelona doubles winners Iveta Benesova and Barbara Zahlova Strycova. We want, Arantxa! She’s holding her 2-year-old daughter … Arantxa. Now that we know you wear fur and have named your child after yourself, we must come to Barcelona and sip champagne with you, ASV. Loves it! Oh right, and Roberta Vinci won the singles crown. See her boring troph(ies) here.

Kissing the fellas: How about that artwork on Juan Martin del Potro‘s Estoril trophy? We sure dig it. The painted (porcelain?) cup is what we’d sip our champagne out of while hanging out with a fur-wearing Arantxa in Barcelona. JMdP overwhelmed Fernando Verdaso 6-2, 6-2 in the men’s final.

No one but Nole: While Novak won his home event for the second time in three years, he was aided by Janko Tipsarevic, a valid challenger who had to skip out of their SF match up because of injury. In the final, Djoko took down Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (4), 6-2.

One more shot of Arantxa in our favorite new outfit and Anabel Medina Garrigues’ crystal bowl in Estoril. [Read more...]

delpo endorses rolex

Looks like Juan Martin del Potro is endorsing Rolex; he’ll join other tennis stars in the watchmaker’s stable (Ana Ivanovic, Justine Henin, Zheng Jie, Li Na, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Roger Federer) by wearing the Datejust watch during press conference and off-court.

Estoril: The Argentinian beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 7-6 (6) to reach the final and will face Fernando Verdasco, who made it through after Milos Raonic retired from the semi due to an injured back. (Draws: Estoril Open)

View: Delpo’s Rolex landing page. More: Read up on the Datejust.

(src; screengrab via rolex.com)

one giant through, the other falls

Varying versions of that honeycomb pattern were on the Nike dudes as they showed up for clay events this week. JMdP wore the Green Apple version of the Showdown Movement tee during his first-round win at the Estoril Open, where he needed to beat Portuguese qualifier Pedro Sousa 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to advance. Delpo has a potential quarterfinal match against top seed Robin Soderling. Draw: Estoril Open.

Buy: Nike Showdown Movement Tennis Top, Green Apple and Tour Yellow, $55, tennisexpress.com.

And in Belgrade, John Isner‘s run at the Serbia Open ended abrubtly with his 6-4, 7-6 (4) loss to Ricardo Mello, who’ll next face Blaz Kavcic. He shares the same quarter as top seed Djokovic. Live scores: Get caught up on the happenings here.

(Isner image via serbiaopen.rs; Delpo image via Getty Images)

del potro pumps up the volume

What an apropos shirt on Juan Martin del Potro, who — even though he fell to Mardy Fish 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the fourth round of this week’s Sony Ericsson Open — has continued to work his way back to the top of the game after last year’s debilitating wrist injury: he followed up two early round losses in Sydney and Melbourne with three semi appearances (San Jose, Memphis, Indian Wells) and a title at Delray Beach. Next week’s rankings should put him just inside the top 50.

Draw: Up next for Fish is a possibility of taking over the top American spot on the ATP (ousting Roddick). He’ll need to defeat David Ferrer to get this done. (Scan: SEO Draws)

We couldn’t find this yellow Nike crew on any retailer’s site, but we’re all about the subtle circles up top and the honeycomb columns on the bottom. Looks like an equalizer display, no? (Update: This is the Showdown Movement Top, $55. The polo version is available at Tennis Express.)

Two shots: More Delpo after the cut…