aussie open podcast w/ david thorpe

As the Australian Open launches into its final weekend, David Thorpe joins us for a TSF podcast, our first of the 2011 season. We catch up with David on his thoughts of Justine Henin‘s re-retirment, the future of Li Na (and the domination of Chinese tennis?!), AO scheduling for the men and our favorite moment from the last 10 days. | More podcasts from TSF

Listen now: TSF-Podcast-Aussie-11

(photo by getty images)

aussie preview: the power list

Since we’re done with our fashion coverage for the year (we only kid!), we decided to look a little bit closer at the tennis that will be played at the upcoming Australian Open, which begins Sunday night on American television.

Tomorrow: Who’s Up, Who’s Down and the Dark Horses of the AO | Follow us on Twitter @TSFtennis

The Power List – How the top men (and women) stack up

 

1. No one can come into the AO feeling better than Roger Federer. The Swiss Mister won his season-opening foray in Doha without dropping a set, beating Nicolay Davydenko in the final. Along with his win at the World Tour Finals, Federer has notched 10 straight matches. Federer played three exhibitions during the off season – all against Rafael Nadal – and looks primed to defend his title in Melbourne.

2. Serena Williams. It might be strange to see Serena’s name second on this list, but the current world no. 4 will be the biggest female force in this year’s draw - absent force, that is. The defending champion hasn’t played a match since winning Wimbledon, and the ladies look lost without her. Serena beat Justine Henin in the most memorable Slam final of last year here, and the sticky courts of Australia won’t have the same female ferocity without her.

3. Rafael Nadal is appropriately third on our list – especially seeing that he has won three straight Slams. And there are three factors that play into Rafa winning an illustrious, fourth straight Major: his health (most namely his knees); his focus against lurking dark-horses (there are plenty – check back tomorrow); and his ability to rise against the Roger challenge. He failed in two of those in losing soundly to Federer in London in November, but will look to build his confidence one match at a time at the AO.

4. There is hard to find a more like-able – or more important, match-savvy – player on the WTA right now than Kim Clijsters. Clijsters captured the US Open for the second straight year in 2010, and then went on to dominate the women’s season-ending event. Her loss in Sydney’s final on Saturday to Li Na? We say that’s a good thing: A more-focused Kimmie won’t produce any 6-0, 6-1 third-round catastrophes this year.

5. Robin Soderling and Andy Roddick and Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. OK, it’s a little unfair that we bunched these four gents together, but at this point, it’s hard not to. Soderling had a hot start to 2011, winning Brisbane and once again proving that he is no flash in the pan. As for Roddick – who lost to Sod in the Brisbane final – the American is said to be in some of the best shape of his life had seems as hungry as ever. And it’s hard to believe that Murray and Djokovic have just one Slam between the two of them. How is that possible? (See Nos. 1 & 3 for answer.) Any of these fellas could walk away from Melbourne the champ, and few would be surprised…

6. Is there more of a mystery than Justine Henin on the women’s side? She is the female version of Juan Martin del Potro, hasn’t played since Wimbledon, but might be playing second fiddle to Kim’s current reign. Justine shocked us all by making the finals last year. It was in 2010 when she toughed through a straight-set win over now-retired Elena Dementieva, and again has a Russian seed (that’d be Kuzy) in the Round of 32. | Full women’s draw

7. While Tomas Berdych continues to be a mystery since his French-Wimbledon brilliance (he’s 12-13 since July), Nikolay Davydenko and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga have made their own noise to start 2011: Davydenko took out Nadal in Doha and Tsonga fell to Roger at the same tourney. Tsonga is a former finalist here (downing Fed in the semis in ’08), while Davydenko has (shockingly) still not been to the last two of a major. Any of these three could fit in with our group at No. 5, but do they have what it takes to run seven matches straight?

8. Here’s a new trio for you folks: Jelena JankovicAna Ivanovic and … Bojana Jovanovski. While we could have included Janko Tipsarevic in this line-up, but this new ladies three-some is sure to have the eyes of some WTA followers over the next two weeks. Our guess: the three gals will chalk up 7 total wins (AI 4, BJ 1 and JJ 2) over the two weeks. The ultimate question? Who will have the best year of the bunch? Jelena is a dismal 9-13 since a French open semis run and Jovanovski beat Kanepi, Pannetta and Rezai last week alone. And another new coach for Ana… | Ana just wants to have fun?

9. Venus Williams didn’t win a set in two round-robin matches last weekend in Hong Kong. She hasn’t played a WTA match since the US Open. And before that? Wimbledon. It’s anybody’s guess for Family Williams in Melbourne this year.

10. Three ladies who have a solid shot at a week-two run and a decent chance of a first-round crash out include Caroline WozniackiVera Zvonareva and Maria Sharapova. Wozniacki won just one game in an exo with Zvonareva last weekend, and both had bizarre early losses in Sydney. Sharapova’s ’11 debut? A second-round crash against Greta Arn. Just another (four) reasons that this might be Kim Clijsters’ Aussie to win.

Tomorrow: Who’s Up, Who’s Down and the Dark Horses of the AO

(federer photo future capetown; soderling photo via getty)

the fierce 40s

Kimiko Date Krumm wowed us with a return in her late 30s, but her 40s are already looking that much better. A day after stunning top seed Maria Sharapova in the first round at Tokyo, KDK took down Daniela Hantuchova, 13 years her junior, 2-6 6-0 4-0, retired, to move into the third round. Oh, and did we mention it was her 40th birthday?!

History lesson: KDK has taken down the likes of Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Lindsay Davenport, Iva Majoli and Conchita Martinez at her home tourney. The latter three wins came in 1995, when she was crowned Princess with a win, and the last time she advanced this far. She meets the resurgent Francesca Schiavone in the third round.

More: American Coco Vandeweghe won her fourth match in a row Tokyo with a second-round win over Aravane Rezai. She takes on Julie Goerges, who took down a sputtering Sam Stosur in a second-round clash. Prior to Tokyo, Vandeweghe had lost four straight matches after a quarterfinal run in San Diego.

(ap photo)

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.)

spotted in the city: vintage does 2010

TSF is introducing a new series of posts that we’re calling “spotted in the city”. These posts will be full of the random stuff that your TSF editors come across in the daily world of New York and Los Angeles. From shoe sightings on the street to storefronts to a tennis celeb on the pavement, we’re ready with our low-quality cell phone cameras to capture tennis fashion off the courts. See something you think might work for the series? Snap a pic and send us a note! The best part is you don’t have to be in NYC or LA… or any city for that matter! Tennis fashion is happening all over the place, and  we always love to hear from our readers. -NM

We spotted this vintage HEAD tennis racquet and cover at a Housing Works Thrift Shop in SoHo a few weeks ago. The thing was going for $6. The strings were intact and the grip felt good. We’re a little disappointed we didn’t swipe it for leisure play with friends this fall! Remember: another HEAD sighting in SoHo, earlier this year. (Full disclosure: I work for Housing Works, Inc.)

The back wall at the Boast party this past week in NoHo was covered in stylish, old-school photos aplenty. The re-launch party – cleverly tagged “Back in play” – was at the art space 40 Great Jones.

A model holds court (or street) outside the Boast party in NoHo. She was sipping on a Southside cocktail – oh so delicious!

(tsf photos)