shahar shines in doha — marcos baghdatis, are you listening?



Shahar Peer is letting her tennis do the talking at this week’s Qatar Open, and her racquet is quite the diplomat.

Groundbreaking: Peer, from Israel, has the spotlight on her for participating in a tournament hosted by an Arab state. The SEWTA gave Doha an event with the provision that players be allowed to participate based on merit (the Israelis are normally non grata), and the organizers complied, allowing Shahar to play. Many are wondering about the motivation behind this move; Doha is interested in bidding for the 2016 Olympics, and this is there way to make nice with the world.

So what’s Shahar’s take on all this attention? “I’m here to play tennis,” she said. “But if this opens up a window for the younger generation, with Arabs and Israelis working together for peace, I’d be happy.” (AFP)

But of course everyone’s on alert, and extra precautions are being taken to ensure Shahar’s safety.

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Fashion focus: Here’s Shahar wearing lots of silver during her first round match against Andreja Klepac, whom she beat 6-3, 6-4.

Today’s lesson: Hey Marcos Baghdatis, I hope you’re paying attention. Instead of being a turkey about Turkey, you should take your celebrity and make this world a better place. It’s not that hard to do.

le sad: butter’s bubble pops



The demands of the real world has led one of our favorite Marat Safin blogs, Butter’s Bubble, to hang up its keyboard after a good run in 2007.

Who’s going to keep watch over the Russian’s necklaces now?!

You did a great job, Butter. If ever you feel an itch to post something, you’re always welcome to do so on TSF…

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By the way, this is how Marat’s neck looked at this week’s Australian Open. He lost 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-6 in the second round to fellow adidas-wearer Marcos Baghdatis.

(photo via Getty Images)

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>> TSF’s aussie open coverage

trophies: heineken, hobart, kooyong, sydney



The girls and boys warmed up for the start of the Australian Open with another week at various tournaments Down Under. The usual fare of crystal and silver were doled out, save for minikegs in Auckland…

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Philipp Kohlschreiber ends up with a silver trophy and a keg (yes!!!!) for winning the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand. He beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-6 (4), 7-5 in the finals.

More photos: Kooyong, Sydney, and Hobard (plus Auckland doubles) after the cut…

short balls: aussie open edition



ATP’s AO blogger: For the two weeks in Melbourne, Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis will blog for the ATP website.

A tennis roundtable: IHT‘s Christopher Clarey leads a discussion with journalists Lisa Dillman (Los Angeles Times, Philippe Bouin (L’Equipe), Linda Pearce (The Age), and Tom Tebutt (The Globe and Mail). And ESPN’s Bonnie D. Ford, in a separate piece, offers her Aussie Open talking points.

Star watching has begun: Kylie Minogue, Masha, and Roger were all seen dining at Nobu at Crown. (Herald Sun)

On courts and heat: Let’s hope the new courts don’t screw up too many ankles. This new court apparently gets sticky in heat (but Ana Ivanovic thinks it’s fine), so players should take extra care in this hot summer. Fortunately, Andy Murray is ready to face the heat since he’s been doing Bikram yoga in the offseason. (The Age, Guardian, IHT)

Navratilova + TC: Navratilova did such great work for Tennis Channel at last year’s French — “I’m really proud of what we accomplished,” she says — TC has signed her as a primary commentator for all the 2008 Grand Slam tournaments,.

Along with Martina, the network’s on-air team for the Australian will include Bill Macatee (with support from Leif Shiras, the recently retired Justin Gimelstob, and Renee Stubbs).

Mining the archives: Get your juices flowing with this photo blog of last year’s tourney. And TSF’s flashback is here.

trophy watch: youzhny salutes a fatigued rafa



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A fatigued Rafael Nadal fell to the always dangerous Mikhail Youzhny 6-0, 6-1 in the singles final of the Chennai Open on Sunday.

Mikhail conceded that he won the match only because Rafa couldn’t move well (uhm, negative mental state for the Russian?) and Rafa agreed; the Spaniard brushed off any talks of his chronic injuries affecting play. Instead, Rafa chalked up the poor performance to the marathon semifinal he played against compatriot Carlos Moya; that 6-7 (3), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (1) match lasted almost four hours. Okay, so we’re not worrying about Nadal’s foot and knees. Now we’re just worried about his conditioning.

More: A rare sight (i.e., Rafa in a polo shirt!) plus the doubles winners after the cut…