trophy watch: open sud de france, pbz zagreb indoors, vtr open

This past week week, the women and the men swapped spots for world team play; with the ladies competing in their first Fed Cup ties of the season and the men duking it out for titles at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, and at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

Marin Cilic - PBZ Zagreb Indoors 2013

Top seed and local Marin Cilic won his third PBZ Zagreb Indoors title after defeating Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-1 in the final. Cilic also won this title in 2009 and 2010. Melzer is looking for an uptick on his win-loss record for 2013 so far, which has seen upsets to lower-ranked players and upsets against Tomas Berdych in Melbourne and Grigor Dimitrov in Brisbane.

Melzer, on his loss to Cilic:

“He was the better player today. I needed it to be close at 4-all, 5-all in the first set to give me confidence. That didn’t happen and he ran away with it. I felt like I was hitting the ball really well at the beginning, but he hit the ball even better. What made the difference in the first few games is that he had free points on serve, whereas I had to work for them: hit a winner or play well so he missed. He deserved the victory.”

More: Trophies from France (our pick of the week!) and Chile, plus the Fed Cup ties — after the cut…

trophy watch: american hardware

Slam season? It’s ova! I’m out of my let’s-research-this mindset from writing for USOpen.org after two glorious weeks with a great staff at the National Tennis Center, so I’ll give someone else a go at this stat: when was the last time a Slam included no “ova” winner? Barring one-half of the girls’ doubles winning team — that’d be Irina Khromacheva — and she’s an “eva,” so does she even count? For all I know it could have been the French this year, but it certainly seems like a shocker, no?!

The men’s tournament, in the end, wasn’t a shocker itself. Sure, it was shocking that Novak Djokovic for the second year in a row denied Roger Federer a shot at the title by saving match points (how ’bout that forehand?!), but in the end, it was a result that many in tennis expected: Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in the final. And what a final it was! Thanks for ending a semi-mediocre tournament with such a glorious match, fellas. ‘Til next time!

Sam-a-Slam: Let’s just talk about the tennis. Sam Stosur played lights-out ball for two sets against Serena Williams on Sunday night at the Open. For us it was reminiscent of the way Maria Sharapova pounded her way past Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon final. Sure, Stosur’s style is completely different that Maria’s, but the result was the same: she lost just five games against her heavily-favored opponent to win her maiden major. One can only wish that the Aussie will show up with similar form at her home slam come January.

TSF Vault: Trophy Watch | 2011 US Open

Cindarella story.  This one really was written in the you-can’t-make-it-up category. Melanie Oudin, two years ago the Open’s golden girl, had paired up with this year’s golden boy in Jack Sock, and the two just stormed through the mixed doubles draw. No, they didn’t smooch! But we sure wish they would have. More? Doubles and juniors after the cut! [Read more...]

trophy watch: london hardware

Different paths, same result: The lead-ups to their respective Wimbledon titles could not have been more different, but it was Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic who were at the Champions’ Ball on Sunday night, each posing with their respective, hard-earned trophies. Kvitova’s 6-4 6-3 victory over Maria Sharapova shocked us a bit — at least in the ease that she saw it through — and the way she took it all in stride (no on-court breakdown, P?!) after winning. For Djokovic, his 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal was the Spaniard’s first loss to someone other than Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final. Below, a look at all the Wimbledon champs from the Bryan brothers’ historic doubles victory to the winning juniors. Above: We are digging Kvitova’s toned-down side bun and simple, but gorgeous manicure. A classy champ!

Forbes blog: Djoko’s season a flash in the pan? | Full Wimbledon gallery

Us, too! It was a monstrous week for Bob and Mike Bryan, who won their third round match 16-14 in the fifth set and semifinal match 9-7 in the fifth set before comfortably rolling in the final, 6-3 6-4 7-6 (2) over Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania. Their win in London was their 11th Major title, which ties them with Aussie duo Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge for most Grand Slams by a doubles pairing.

Not just you, Novak: Djokovic became the world’s no. 1 player in yesterday’s rankings with his win at the All England Club, but so, too, did Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, who took the ladies’ doubles crown. Peschke and Srebotnik subdued Sam Stosur and Sabine Lisicki 6-3 6-1 for the title.

Smile, Jurgen: Our life wouldn’t be complete if we couldn’t include mixed doubles cutie Jurgen Melzer in this week’s Trophy Watch. The Austrian paired up with Czech Iveta Benesova to take the mixed crown over Elena Vesnina and Mahesh Bhupathi, 6-3 6-2. | TSF Vault: Jurgen Melzer

After the cut: Australia wins a double in singles with boys’ and girls’ winners while Novak gets a champion’s welcome home in Belgrade. [Read more...]

short balls: the sunday pull-out edition

Third is charming, at least for Rog: While he may be the world’s no. 3 tennis player now, Roger Federer is still living the high life. Credit Suisse, one of his sponsors, has a whole page dedicated to the Rog. A Mario Testino photo shoot? Doesn’t mind if he does. But more importantly: is that David Ferrer holding the reflector? Geez, Rog really does live it good.

Oh, how the weekend gets away from us: We certainly wish that we could spend our time wasting away in a coffee shop all weekend, but that never actually seems to be the case. A lovely lament from a real-life barista on Thought Catalog on why hipster barista give you an eye roll when you chirp out your order.

Simon, singing: If you are still in love with the trashy brilliance that is Bravo‘s “Real Housewife” series, then you’re probably soaking up the first few glorious (hideous?!) episodes of the New York installment over the last few weeks. But here’s something for everyone … er, NO ONE. Simon, hubby to one Alex McCord, has a single. Yep, it’s called “I Am Real” and as far as we can tell, none of it is real. Or really him. Or really good, whatsoever.

Click the image below to listen. More: Tennis-inspired music on TSF

Donald’s middle finger gets tweet-happy: Good Friday has never been better for Donald Young. The American journeyman, once a hot commodity for the “future of American tennis” has always had a rocky relationship with the USTA because of reportedly over-zealous parents and a poor work ethic. Now we’re guessing his aforementioned relationship is plainly non-existant after this tweet on Friday, which was followed by an apology and then — deletion of his account. “Fuck USTA!! Their full of shit! They have screwed me for the last time! #enoughsaid” – Donald Young at 5:01:14 pm ET Apr 22nd

Patrick McEnroe‘s supposed response? Not. Happy.

Tina Fey? Is, well, brilliant.

Draw(n) conclusions: A few musings from the draw of the USTA Pro Circuit event in Dothan, Alabama. (1) Stephanie Foretz Gacon, once ranked as high as no. 63 in the world (now no. 145) reaches the final. (2) Michelle Larcher de Brito, once of grunting infamy, wins five games in a first-round loss. She’s still Portugal’s no. 1 gal at no. 174. No reports on how loud she is now that she’s outta the top 100. (3) Alexandra Stevenson, 12 years after her run to the Wimby SFs, wins two matches before bowing out in straights to eventual winner, Melinda Czink. Stevenson is now ranked no. 250 and has won one WTA-sanctioned match this year (compared to zero last year). (4) Americans were 8-9 overall, mostly thanks to Stevenson and a run to the semis by Allison Riske.

Big props for DFW: The Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide in 2008, is getting rave reviews for his piece of work released posthumously, an unfinished manuscript called The Pale King.

Read: DFW’s NYT piece on Federer — a ‘religious experience’

Melzer’s tour BBF? That’d be Philly Petzscher: Following his jaw-dropping win over Roger Federer in Monte Carlo, the ATP had Jurgen Melzer take FB Qs from fans. Our fave exchange is here: Question: Since you stopped wearing your White Adidas hat, you’ve gone on some great runs. Any coincidence? -Nick Leone, United States Melzer: Well… maybe! I thought I was practising really well without the hat so I was a little superstitious in Monte-Carlo, so I stopped wearing it and it went well. Until I start to have a losing streak, I will take the hat away.

The many freaked-out faces of Klaus Goerges: We’re loving this video that Stephanie Myles of the Montreal Gazette put together of Julia Goerges father, using screen grabs from the TennisTV.com livestream. Click Klaus’ frowning face below to watch the whole hilarious thing.

Swinging out: On OutSports.com Cyd Ziegler writes about Bowdoin College’s openly gay tennis coach Colin Joyner and his push for the acceptance of LGBTQ athletes at the collegiate level. Prompting this was the story of openly gay Bowdoin lacrosse player Ben Chadwick. A tough tale: “When Joyner heard about Chadwick, he harkened back to his time as the only openly gay male athlete on campus. It was a lonely time for Joyner in many respects, and he didn’t want Chadwick to be the only one anymore.” Therefore, Joyner started Anything But Straight in Athletics (ABSA) “to help closeted athletes come out by dismantling homophobia in Bowdoin athletics.”

Contributing from Benjamin Snyder

(Federer screengrab via Credit Suisse website; Simon screengrab via NYMag.com; Goerges screengrab via the Open Court blog on MontrealGazette.com)

jurgen melzer upsets roger federer in the monte carlo quarters

Not a fluke: Roger‘s likely as tired as we are to see this spun as Fed’s downward spiral. How about applauding Austrian Jurgen Melzer — a defending Roland Garros semifinalist — for the 6-4, 6-4 upset in the first major clay event of the year? (Flashback: This isn’t the first time Melzer’s served up a doozy.)

Draw: The other men through to the semis: Nadal (d. Ljubicic) faces Murray (d. Gil) and Melzer takes on Ferrer (who took out Troicki). More: Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters website.

Buy: Nike Men’s Roger Federer Trophy Tennis Top, in Concord (blue) or Tech Grey, $70.

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.

[Read more...]

trophy watch: there’s a hole in my trophy, dear liza!

Petra Kvitova slayed the biggest giant of all this weekend in Paris: new world no. 1 and Aussie Open winner Kim Clijsters, 6-4 6-3 in the final. Isn’t there something missing from her trophy though? Like… a big chunk of it??

Meanwhile, over in San Jose, Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man to win an ATP title in 16 years. His prize(s)? A Sharks jersey and bottle of maple syrup. I mean, jeez, don’t paint him as Canadian or anything…

Check out Daniela in Thailand, Soderling in Rotterdam and more of the isn’t-there-something-missing trophy of Kvitova’s.

[Read more...]

short balls: tie goes to the winner

In this case, that winner was The West Side Tennis Club stadium at Forest Hills, which survived a club members’ vote to destroy the stadium and use the site to build luxury condos. A two-thirds majority was needed for the condo deal to go through, but members instead voted in a 123-123 tie. The future of the club, which hosted the US Open until its move to Flushing Meadows in 1978, is now unknown.

Potty Problem: In case you missed it, Ana Ivanovic had a little bathroom trouble in Linz while working her way to her first career title in two years. FortyDeuce has the video (second from the top). Ivanovic was docked a game for taking too long a break in her second round match against Barbora Strycova.

You betchya: Depending on which way you see it, Roger Federer‘s name was (or is?!) swirling in a betting controversy that claimed Fed provided insider info to IMG agent Ted Forstmann during the 2007 French Open. Federer claims to have no part in the scandal, but a few days after the story broke, Forstmann admitted to betting, but said he received no insider info.

Austrian alliance: Thomas Muster continues his comeback attempt in Vienna this week, where he lucked out by not only receiving a wildcard into the main draw, but then getting a lucky loser in the opening round after Ernests Gulbis pulled out for “personal reasons”. Our fave Austrian, Jurgen Melzer, is the tourney’s top seed.

More short balls including a survey of surveys, short(er) balls and another look at The West Side Tennis Club after the cut. [Read more...]

jurgen melzer’s all-white adidas shoes

Quads are made for lunging: TSF saw Austrian Jurgen Melzer (we really need to stop thinking he’s German) work for his first round victory at the 2010 US Open. His pesky opponent? Dmitry Tursunov. Melzer needed five sets to advance and fell three rounds later to Roger Federer. (This week, in Japan, he lost in the second round to Troicki.)

Restraining order be damned, we’re not quite done with our Jurgenmania: he’s made us drinks, we’ve shared moments in the loo, and now we’re looking at his shoes. As we watched that US Open match against Dima, we noticed these all-white sneakers. What’s brewin’ over at adidas R&D? (By the way, Melzer’s since gone back to the CC Genius II Synthetic.)

More: All our US Open pics (including more of this white shoe) after the cut…