trophy watch: where 'yee-haw' meets 'ole!'

There was a story on msnbc.com last week about U.S. cities and their slogans. You know, like New York is the “City that Never Sleeps” and “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas.” Our fave? That would be Eagle Pass, Texas: “Where ‘Yee haw!’ Meets ‘Ole!'” We’re feeling as though David Ferrer is channeling such a slogan, donning a sombrero after his win in Acapulco over Nicolas Almagro, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-2.

Is this a sign of the future? Oh, we were talking about the trophies. You meant the scoreline? It was 3 and 3 to Novak Djokovic over Roger Federer.

And is this growing into a rivalry? It certainly could. Vera Zvonareva won a competitive bout with Caroline Wozniacki in Doha, taking out the world no. 1, 6-4, 6-4.

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aussie preview: dark horses

Can Lleyton cruise through the draw? If son Cruz had anything to say about it, he would. (photo by getty)

No, “dark horses” is not the name of Martina Hingis‘ favorite Lifetime TV movie, it’s a look at the ladies and gents who might make a kangaroo hop in your draw into a round you just didn’t expect him or her to do. But before we get to those who have been springing spryly lately, let’s take a look at who’s been have a tough time chalking up any “Ws” lately.

Feeling down Down Under

Men: Things have been rough for Fernando Verdasco as of late. The current world no. 9 made quite the impression two years ago in Melbourne when he lost an epic semi to Rafael Nadal that many called the match of the year. But after a solid 2010 US Open, in which he made highlight reels with a spectacular around-the-net post shot to  beat David Ferrer in the round of 16 (he lost in the quarters to – you guessed it – Nadal) Verdasco is a jaw-dropping 2-6, unable to win a match against a player inside the top 50. He’s 0-1 in 2011 and has a tough draw with Rainer Schuettler in round one and a potential second-match against giant-slayer Janko Tipsarevic. | On TSF: Shirtless Fernando

Honorable mention: Juan Martin del Potro. The 2009 US Open champ is ranked no. 236 and is 1-3 since his return in September.

Women: What’s the deal with Sam? For much of 2010 it seemed like Samantha Stosur – the no. 5 seed here – had the whole mid-career transition thing figured out. She made her first appearance in a Slam final (the French), battled past big guns, and held her own in the best women’s match of the US Open in the quarters against Elena Dementieva. But now, the hometown gal seems to have fallen apart. She finished 2010 3-5 and has started this year 2-2. She has the game’s biggest serve and a wicked forehand, but if she can’t corral the power, her backers might not see her get out of week two.

Honorable mention: The Russian duo of Nadia Petrova and Svetlana Kuznetsova are the latest ladies to leave us scratching our heads. Sure, there are plenty of WTA head cases out there, but these two veterans should be a bit more steady.

On the up and up (Down Under, of course)

Let’s start with the ladies: There’s Jarmila Groth, the home-country lady who has a sudden following after winning Hobart on Saturday. Her round one opponent? The “other” Belgian: Yanina Wickmayer. Wickmayer was a finalist in Auckland on week one of the year, so the 2009 US Open semifinalist is a tough cookie to take. Big hitters: Expect Petra Kvitova and Alisa Kleybanova to threaten for spots in week two. And Andrea Petkovic is starting to walk the talk of a big-time player. Petko could face a shaky Venus in the third round. Oh right, Li Na! Li Na!

Where do we even go with the men? Most namely (and recently) there’s David Ferrer, who took out David Nalbandian to win over the weekend in Auckland. Another winner over the weekend was Gilles Simon (Sydney), who is making something of a comeback after missing much of the fall to be a new dad. Stanislas Wawrinka, Kevin Anderson, Xavier Malisse and Janko Tipsarevic all had good starts to the year, as did Lleyton Hewitt who won the exhibition tourney in Kooyong. And another Serb, Victor Troiki, was who Simon conquered in Sydney for the title. The big-serving tall fella could be a test for countryman Novak Djokovic in the third round.

sunday survey: your summer story

There was lots of things happening on the pro tennis tours this summer. There were some strange storylines with confusion surrounding the injuries of Serena Williams and Juan Martin del Potro and a wild US Open culminated with two familiar champions winning in vastly different ways.

We asked earlier this summer what you thought would take shape for the US Open Series, now we’re curious – with the Series past and the year’s final Slam in the books: what was your summer story?

Was it the absence (and off-court activity) of Serena? Was it the mom-can-defend Slam run by one Kim Clijsters? Was it Rafa claiming his ninth major, completing the career Slam? Or did something altogether different capture your tennis eye (like, say, Nadia’s outfit)? Perhaps you were inspired by the runs of Vera or Novak, or loved the story that Sweet Caroline just may prove her #1 ranking after a title in New Haven and an impressive run to the semis. Dare we even mention the Andy Roddick debacle? Maybe that was your fave for other reasons…

Tell us in the comment section below.

(photo by kyliemm via flickr.)

malisse swings for sports center’s top 10 plays

Xavier Malisse pulled a trick out of the tennis bag last night in a first-set rally against Andy Roddick at the Atlanta Tennis Championships with an in-between the legs shot. Roddick was there to pounce at the net (click image above to watch the video), and the American won the match in three sets. The shot was #9 on Sports Center‘s Top 10 Plays reel from last night.

Delpo UPDATE: In Spanish on his Twitter account, Juan Martin del Potro told his fans: “I haven’t picked up a racquet yet so I can’t tell an exact date. When I know I’ll tell you the news here. I’m improving, that’s a good thing.” (Translation via Tennis-X blog.) Delpo musta read our timeline and decided it was time to clear things up.

(screen grab via espn.com)


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)

having our cake… but not eating it

Not always about US: Turns out that this Nike Slam Shock tank, being worn by the likes of Gael Monfils (above) and Juan Martin Del Potro (in lime) at the 2010 Australian Open, isn’t available for sale in the U.S. Too bad, since we prefer it to the Slam Shock Crew. Perhaps grass is always greener…?

Still, if you feel the need to channel your inner gargantuan Argentine, pick up Delpo’s Zoom Breath 2K10 shoes, $100; and his Slam Shock Woven Shorts, $50; both at nike.com.

del potro’s sophomore slump

That epic second-round match that Juan Martin Del Potro played against James Blake — which he won 10-8 in the fifth — finally bit him in the ass two rounds later. The Argentine fell to fellow lank Marin Cilic 7-5, 4-6, 5-7, 7-5, 3-6.

Unfortch, we see Marin falling in the quarters to Andy Roddick. (Draw: Men’s Singles.)

Del Potro wears a “Cyber Green” sleeveless top from Nike; a chunky diagonal stripe breaks up the thin horizontal lines on the front of the tank. This is probably the most subtle of all the shirts produced for the company’s Trend line this spring. Gael Monfils is one of the guys wearing the black version of the tank.

Buy: The crew version of Del Potro’s top, $50; Slam Shock Shorts, $50; at Midwest Sports.

(image via Getty Images)