that's a wrap: re-hashing davis cup

By Benjamin Snyder

Good job, team America. Andy “The Closer” Roddick pulled through against Chile under the guidance of new Davis Cup captain Jim “The Rock” Courier. And a new American frat squad has been born.

The real story, however, lies in the following five moments that mattered most. Sorry, Judy Murray, this weekend’s high intensity was a far cry from your beef with a future tie being in “Eazzzztbourne.”


Step aside Gilles, you aren’t French Davis Cup’s winner this week — actually far from it. Instead, Jeremy Chardy came out on top (and without drama), winning the deciding fifth match against Austria’s Martin Fischer 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3. Chardy can now say he not only helped France advance (although Tsonga, Monfils and Gasquet had to be hurt to give him the chance) but he also won in an airplane hangar: number three to be exact.

How about some Serbian success? Ilija Bozoljac, who tested Federer at Wimbledon last year, backed up his funky game — he plays two-handed on both wings — with a big win in a four-set doubles thriller against India with partner Nenad Zimonjic. Plus, he looked really good doing it.

Seriously, we can’t make this stuff up. (via ilija-bozoljac.net)

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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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short balls: australian open edition

Aussie Open in trouble?: A report published by Tennis Australia recommends much-needed upgrades to Melbourne Park. TA is asking for $300 million in funding for capital improvements so they can stay competitive with other tournaments that could soon vie for major status. As you may know, there have been grumbligs about a Grand Slam in Asia, the Middle East or Central/Eastern Europe. (Herald Sun)

Flipping out: It’s a story all-too familiar in the life of Mark Philippoussis: he is making his way through the Aussie Open qualies but could have his journey ended by his nagging knee injury. And it’s probably not helping his psyche that some juniors are writing him off. (ABC, The Age)

Prodigal Aussie: And the once-estranged Jelena Dokic, who earlier this year decided to accept help from Tennis Australia, is on track to nab the women’s wild card for the Australian Open (The Age)

With a little help from my friends: Hotlantan Robby Ginepri is none closer to the Aussie Open wild card, even after his Davis Cup buddies (Andy Roddick, James Blake, et al.) sent a letter to the USTA asking for them to grant Ginepri the spot. Unfortunately, the governing body’s age-limit rule — wild cards can’t go to guys over 22 years of age — took him out of the running. He’ll make his way down to Melbourne for qualifying, with coach Jose Higueras in tow. (Florida Sun-Sentinel)

R.I.P. Fellow Socal blogger Kat, aka Lady Hooligan, will take down her 18-month-old webzine at the end of the year (you can browse it ’til then.) Thankfully, she hasn’t given up on publishing completely. She’ll continue to blog here.

Andy and Serena: A write-up on Andy Roddick‘s homecoming exhibition in Omaha. (via Craig)

andy-brooklyn-nyc.jpg

More tattered jeans: Andy really loves his beat-up denim. He wore it out taking Brooklyn Decker to Manhattan. (JustJared via DTL)

Judy Murray at the LTA: The Evening Standard checks in with super tennis parent Judy Murray and how she’s slowly revamping the LTA’s junior program.

LTA nat’l tennis centre: bat- and badger-friendly

The LTA National Tennis Centre opened today in Roehampton. Greg Rusedski and Judy Murray, among others, were on hand to greet the Queen Mum, who paid visit to the Centre. She looked absolutely cute in her purple skirt suit (photos here).

This hopefully will be a boon to UK tennis. They seem to be in the process of righting some wrongs, at least with their juniors program — problems that have resulted in having only a handful of men (two, and no women) briefly occupy the top 10 in the last 30 years. And by visiting the Centre on Thursday, perhaps the Queen is reaching out. She still has a way to go, though: she has met neither the former (Tim Henman) nor current (Andy Murray) hopes of UK tennis. And both have been playing tennis for a very long time. WTF? Get your handlers on it. Now.

But back to this wonderful complex designed by Hopkins Architects. Give them thumbs up for taking steps to ensure the safety of animal habitat (bats, badgers) and to minimize the effects of rainwater drainage on nearby Beverley Brook.

And kudos, too, to the Centre’s Deuce Cafe, which prepares food using fair trade, organic, and local ingredients. They also recycle, and choose biodegradable products when possible.

(photos from the LTA website)

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short balls: serena 2.0, mother murray, henin

Serena’s leveraging her Aussie Open win: Having only earned $10 million in endorsement money last year (vs. Maria Sharapova‘s $19 million), Serena Williams is eager to add to her coffers. Her team will be announcing a deal for skin-care products in the coming weeks. While we’re talking about her endorsements, here’s my two cents: drop McDonald’s. A woman of her influence should not be promoting the Supersize Me lifestyle. (via Oxford Press)

The Murray series continues: Now that we know about both Andy and Jamie Murray, we should bone up on the mother hen, Judy Murray. She has harnessed her passion for tennis and her children into a service website, britishtennisparents.com (sage advice: “Tennis does not define who your child is, or your relationship with them.”); lobbying for funding of national tennis, and endorsing Head’s AirFlow rackets (alongside Steffi Graf). (via The Sunday Herald)

Not that we didn’t know about it already…: We get more insight on the total emasculation of Justin Henin‘s ex-husband, Pierre-Yves Hardenne, in this article from The Independent. Poor guy.

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