imitations by andy

Not just Nole. On Sunday night in Oklahoma City, Andy Roddick showed attendees at the exhibition featuring himself and Mardy Fish that it wasn’t Novak Djokovic who can pull out impressions of fellow tennis players. Skip ahead to the 1:51 mark if you want to see Roddick’s Serena impression, including (just for a flash!) her 2009 US Open tirade.

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…]

fashion focus: tacchini designs with nole's shoulder in mind

Free-swingin': Top seed Novak Djokovic is still in the running for the 2011 U.S. Open — he faces Roger Federer in the semis — and he’s going through the draw in surprisingly plain gear from Sergio Tacchini. (Did they peak too early?)

Recycling: The orange piping from his spring hardcourt run — one of our fave looks for the year — returns along with some white stripes to decorate his navy blue evening kit; the day polo gets navy piping. Of note is the single-panel, all-mesh construction under the sleeves that continues seamlessly down the side of the shirt — a result of careful ergonomic studies into how Novak moves his shoulder. Everyone’s worried about that part of his body, eh?

Buy: ST Men’s Nax Tennis Polo, $85, tennisexpress.com.

More: Pics of his day/night kits — along with a close-up of his adidas shoes and “Nole” logo — all after the cut…

sightings in the stands: jelena ristic

Ladies, watch your back: The world’s current No. 1 TWAG, Jelena Ristic, is doing her part to make bf Novak Djokovic — or at least his player’s box — look great during his matches. Loving the multi-charmed necklace!

And on the court… Djokovic easily dispatched Argentine Carlos Berlocq 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 in his second-round match tonight. His next opponent, sigh, is Kolya. See how the men’s draw is stacking up.

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

bracketology: the men of flushing (and how they’ll fare)

By Christopher Phillips


Cool and calm: Novak is the US Open’s top seed for the first time ever. (Getty Images photo)

More: See Christopher’s breakdown of the women’s side of things here.

Djokovic — Winner | Shoulder injury aside, you’d be hard pressed to not pick Novak. He opens with a qualifier then would play either Pere Riba or Carlos Berlocq, two dirtballers, in the 2nd round. His first challenge could be in the third round against Nikolay Davydenko. 13th seed Richard Gasquet, 22nd seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Kei Nishikori, Ivo Karlovic, and Fernando Gonzalez could all be waiting Novak in the 4th round.

Rafael Nadal –- Semifinals | Nadal’s road is quite a bit trickier than that of Djokovic. He opens against Andrey Golubev. The Kazakh is currently ranked no. 97, but the ATP’s Most Improved Player of the year for 2010 was as high as no. 33 in October of last year. Nadal should get through that match without too much difficulty, but could face former Top 5 players David Nalbandian or Ivan Ljubicic in the 3rd Round, then two-time Open Semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny or 17th seed Jurgen Melzer in the 4th round.

Roger Federer –- Semifinals | Federer opens against Santiago Giraldo, who hasn’t played a match on hard courts since Miami, and then could play the Brazilian lefty Thomaz Bellucci, who just missed being seeded, in the second round. Ryan Harrison or 27th seed Marin Cilic should lie head in the 3rd Round with 23rd seed Radek Stepanek, 15th seed Viktor Troicki or Philipp Kohlschreiber potentially waiting in the 4th round.

Andy Murray –- Finals | This summer’s Cincinnati champion comes into New York in fine form. He’ll open against Somdev Devvarman in round one. Big-serving Robin Haase could challenge Murray in the second round and 25th seed Feliciano Lopez in the 3rd round could pose problems for Murray, but his solid return game should counter any danger there. | TSF Vault: Murray

David Ferrer — Quarterfinals | Ferrer reached the semis in New York back in 2007 and lost a thrilling fifth-set tiebreak to countryman Fernando Verdasco here last year in the 4th round. He also tasted a Major semifinal earlier this year in Australia. The only thing that brings about concern about Ferrer living up to his seeding is his lack of hard court match play this summer: an injury sat him out for every event save Cincy. To his credit, however, he beat Roddick and Fish in Davis Cup in early July — two giant wins on American fast courst. His biggest challenge to the quarterfinals will be 10th seed Nicolas Almagro or 21st seed (how strange is that number?!) Andy Roddick.

Robin Soderling –- Second Round | The Swede hasn’t played a hard court match since early losses to Juan Martin del Potro and Kohlschreiber in Miami and Indian Wells, respectively, but follows Djokovic with the second-most hard court championships this year (three). Soderling’s lack of play this summer could send him out early to rising American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr.. Bogomolov beat Soderling 2 and 2 in Indianapolis in 2004, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again.

Gael Monfils –- Quarterfinals | Of the top eight, Monfils has the toughest draw into the quarterfinals. He’ll open against potential future star and current heartbreaker Grigor Dimitrov, before possibly meeting former USO finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 2nd round. 31st seed Marcel Granollers, Albert Montanes or Xavier Malisse could wait in the 3rd round before a potential match-up with 9th seed Tomas Berdych — who’s never made it past the 4th round here — or Montreal semifinalist 20th Janko Tipsarevic in the 4th round.

Not filleted: Fish is riding a strong summer coming into the USO. (Getty)

Mardy Fish –- Round of 16 | Opening against German Tobias Kamke, Fish should have pretty smooth sailing to the 4th round where he’s likely to meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga could come through in that match-up, but potential matches against big servers Thiemo De Bakker in the second round and Kevin Anderson or 29th seed Michael Llodra in the third round could give Fish the extra batting practice he needs to beat the Frenchman. | TSF Vault: Fish

Dark Horses | Potential winners? Probably not. But these boys could pull a few upsets and find themselves in week two at Flushing.

11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga | Tsonga’s play has been one of the most exciting to watch this year. Assuming he’s regrouped and healed since his retirement against Novak in the Montreal semifinals, he’d meet slumping 19th Fernando Verdasco in the third round followed by “your country’s eyes are on you for a change” 8th seed Fish in the R16. Should Tsonga make it through both of those, he’ll face 3rd Federer for the 5th time this year and will be going into that match with some serious momentum beating the Swiss in their last two meetings.

16th seed Mikhail Youzhny | Youzhny has twice been a semifinalist in New York before: last year and in 2006. Despite a relatively easy loss to Nadal here last year, he did get the better of the Spaniard in 2006. He’s set to meet Nadal in the 4th round this year and — given the Spaniard’s unimpressive summer — it’s highly possible that Youzhny could find himself in the semifinals for a third time in six years.

18th seed Juan Martin del Potro | Well… in as much as a former champion can be considered a “dark horse.” JMdP has underperformed this summer, with second round losses to Federer and Cilic in Cincinnati and Montreal, respectively. Perhaps he’s just saving himself for the big show? The Argentine’s first challenge would be against 12th seed Gilles Simon in the 3rd round (Simon has never been past the round of 32). A potential 4th rounder versus 28th seed and Winston-Salem champ John Isner or Soderling would come next.

20th seed Janko Tipsarevic | The Serb loves the big stages and they don’t get bigger than Arthur Ashe Stadium. Janko opens against a qualifier and would face 9th seed Berdych in the 3rd round. Tomas’ track record in New York isn’t very good, so Janko could see himself in the 4th round against Monfils. And depending on the Frenchman’s form that day, perhaps even into the QFs to take on countryman Djokovic.

TSF Vault: US Open | Bracketology

First-Round Matches to Watch:

Youzhny vs. Ernests Gulbis | The Latvian was at his career peak at no. 21 in the world earlier this year, but has done little this summer since upsetting del Potro and Fish on his way to the Los Angeles title. He got the better of Youzhny at the Masters tournaments in Paris and Madrid last year.

23rd seed Radek Stepanek vs. Kohlschreiber | The dancing Czech dropped out of the top 70 earlier this year, but his title in Washington bodes well for him. The German has seen better days — but he’s always capable of an upset.

Harri situation? Ryan’s always an eye-brow raiser. (TSF)

Cilic vs. Harrison | Can the young (hot) American continue his hot summer?

Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis | Just about anytime the Cypriot is on court, it’s going to be a fun match.

32nd seed Ivan Dodig vs. Davydenko | The Russian and former world no. 3 missed being seeded by a few spots, but twice a semifinalist here, he knows how to get it done.

Fernando Gonzalez vs. Ivo Karlovic | It’s great to see the Chilean back in action. Combined ages? 63.

See the full men’s draw here | Qualies

Predictions | 4th round:
Djokovic d Gasquet
Monfils d Tipsarevic
Federer d Stepanek
Tsonga d Fish
Del Potro d Isner
Murray d Wawrinka
Ferrer d Almagro
Nadal d Youzhny

QFs:
Djokovic d Monfils
Federer d Tsonga
Murray d Del Potro
Nadal d Ferrer

SFs:
Djokovic d Federer
Murray d Nadal

Finals:
Djokovic d Murray – 4 sets

short balls: open coverage explodes, around the parties and irene

Here we go! The all-out media blitz for the 2011 US Open has begun, the New York Times seemingly sounding the starting gun this morning when Novak Djokovic lived on its homepage for much of the morning with a piece written by Greg Bishop about the all-out transformation of Djoko over the last year: the diet, the game, the ranking and the media appeal. It doesn’t stop there with the Times, which has stories about Irene, finding tennis courts in NYC and qualies of course. But those are just the meat-and-potatoes posts. More? Andy Samburg dresses up (and celebrates like) the best champs from tennis’ past, though he didn’t pull a Djoko and sport a Maria-inspired wig. Check out the hilarious video here.

TSF Vault: Short balls | US Open

Time out: But don’t think the Times is the only one who has it going on. New York magazine has an entire US Open guide section while Time took the time to follow Djokovic around, too. Tennis.com is unsurprisingly all blinged-out, currently with a Richard Pagliaro Q&A with Andrea Petkovic. Their USO-specific page is a looking a little bit like it’s stuck in 1999, though we’re positive that Tignor, Bodo and the rest of the crew will be on the grounds and covering as they always do. TennisNow.com is looking more and more like Tennis.com these days, which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing. But we do enjoy their easy-to-read breeze through the fashion of the men and women at Flushin this year, which is heavily linked to outside sources. CNN/SI gives little/no cover play to the Open on this Friday, but we expect them to beef up coverage as the tourney actually gets underway. No doubt they have frontman L. Jon Wertheim‘s piece on the seeds (he’s all Serena on the women’s side) featured on the tennis page. Tennis Channel wants folks to play in its Racquet Bracket challenge — and we would — if only that meant a date with James LaRosa of Sweet Spot fame. His latest Spot? A drinking game, of course! Oh James! You keep us sober (in life)! ESPN.com doesn’t have any USO coverage on its homepage, either, and hasn’t even pulled the “Tennis” section from out underneath the “More Sports” bar. But the .com side always adds to what TV has going on — which is bigger than ever. ESPN3 went as far as sending out a release to tout their individual coverage that supplements TV. What can we say? We sort of love it.

And the little guys? On the blogosphere, it’s business as usual around the horn. The blogging has been slow for C Note, but the tweeting? Outta control. So much so that Merriam-Webster finally appeased and made “tweeting” an actual, real world. Way to go, C! 52,346 tweets and counting. Down the Line has this hilarious cartoon via Women’s Tennis Blog. Tennis Panorama braved the epic crowds at Macy’s yesterday for the Rafa unveiling of a (shirtless) billboard. Did we expect anything else? Number of Rafa billboards? One. Number of words he spoke on stage? One. (“Hel-lo.”) The-Slice has tasty crumbs from Taste of Tennis last night. And Adjusting the Net is all about Winston-Salem. Someone had to be, right?

short(er) balls: The Post calls Serena’s path (she has Vika in the third round) “easy” for title. | TSF contributor Lindsay Sakraida has NYMag.com’s official preview of the men and women. | We didn’t see this coming: the USTA cancelled Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day because of Irene. Won’t reschedule. | Richard Evans writes on FoxSports.com that this is Mardy Fish‘s big opp. | More 3D tennis from Panasonic and CBS. Should we care? | Pete Sampras and other fellas part of an “Old School” tennis event last night in Murray Hill, Manhattan. | New Haven got all shaken up (and evacuated) after Tuesday’s earthquake. | Lleyton Hewitt? Out of the Open. | Tennis Channel is still battling with Cablevision. #overit | But really, NYT? Who is eating around the grounds. People are just eating in the grounds. | The next great gay film? We sort of think this is it. | Shameless plug: Housing Works has plenty of good sales this fall. In the city for the Open? Live there? Have the ability to shop online? Do. It.

(nytimes.com screengrab; hw photo provided)

 

trophy watch: two wrongs don't make a trophy

Clay is meant for playing on. Well, we could be wrong… that might not be clay. But does that much matter? Whatever the trophies that Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray hoisted yesterday are made of whatever material has been sacrificed to the gods of Midwest art (read: too much Sears’ sale collection, not enough Ikea faux trendiness). But, we understand: trophies don’t have to be trendy. But could they at least illicit some sort of excitement from the winners? We’re guessing Sharapova was told: “Don’t worry, Maria! This one doesn’t have a lid! But it’s full of some guy from Toledo’s ashes! CONGRATS!”

Now Maria and Andy can add their names (more confidently) to the list of US Open hopefuls as the year’s final major is set to start in just one week’s time. Maria’s conquering of Jelena Jankovic in Cincinnati is rather significant in the sense that Sharapova double faulted to finish out the first set. Game, set and match? Not quite. Nice to see Maria fight back to win 4-6 7-6 (3) 6-3. And — nice to see Jelena fight back herself. Just a week ago, 37% of TSF readers voted that JJ would “settle into the top 20 to 40″ with the way she’s performed in the recent past. Is she herself a valid candidate for the title in Flushing? 2008 calls.

And the boys, too. For Murray it was a great end to a rather underwhelming summer. The Scot showed us flashes of his post-Australian Open slump, including a 6-3 6-1 loss to Kevin Anderson in Montreal last week. But this week he was the man who didn’t succumb to the heat, an injury, himself or just plain, bad tennis. A recipe for success in New York City? Certainly could be. A 6-4 3-0 win over an injured Novak Djokovic (shoulder) puts Murray with Roger Federer as one of two gents to beat Djoko this year. More importantly? The top four all have legit shots to win a seventh match inside Arthur Ashe.

TSF Vault: Trophy Watch | US Open

(Photos by Getty Images)

maria (and novak) on instinct

Imitation time: Somehow, Novak Djokovic‘s imitations just haven’t gotten old. The new world no. 1 obviously has a creative side and loves to be goofy, and we appreciate the new medium used for his latest acting gig: playing Maria Sharapova. Nole is well versed in his Maria-dom, but here he takes on Sharapova’s ad for HEAD‘s YouTek Instinct racquet and sort of nails it. More to come for the Open? We wouldn’t be surprised.

In Cincy: Novak’s into round 3 | Maria faces Kuznetsova

trophy watch: serena's (and nole's) sizzling summer

Streak this: While Novak Djokovic may be 53-1 this year and 29-0 on hardcourts, he doesn’t have as many wins this summer as Serena Williams. Serena hasn’t lost since Wimbledon, winning her second straight US Open Series tournament in Toronto over the weekend, running through the field with a only hiccup here or there — much like she had in Standford at the Bank of the West Classic. Serena’s final triumph was over Sam Stosur, who beat Williams in the French Open quarterfinals last year in a tight affair. Not this time: Serena won the Rogers Cup for the second time, 6-4 6-2.

King Nole: While it is clear that Serena is having a banner summer, so, too, is Nole. You just can’t take it away from him — he’s having a banner year. Prior to his final yesterday against Mardy Fish, Djoko had dropped just 20 games in four straight-set matches. Remember: this dude hadn’t played since Wimbledon! Seriously: undisputed world no. 1 on l-o-c-k. The final was a good one, thanks to a gamely Fish, who we hope will show up in similar form in two week’s time at Flushing Meadows. Nole, as he has 52 other times this year, emerged the winner with a 6-2 3-6 6-4 effort.

Clear as day: As for the trophies, we can’t say we’re the biggest fan of the clear glass look, but if we had to choose, we’ll take Serena’s lighter, thinner option over Nole’s marginally phallic offering. But the real question? Who had the better celebration?!

TSF Vault: Serena Williams | Novak Djokovic | Trophy Watch

(Serena images by the AP; Djoko images by Getty)

behind the scenes: jelena and nole's photoshoot

Move over, cameraman. The ATP Uncovered video series has this great behind-the-scenes look at Novak Djokovic and Jelena Ristic doing a photo shoot for Hello! magazine in July. Our fave part? GF Jelena speaks her mind on being pampered, Nole’s dream and living it up — together. Watch above. 

TSF Vault: Novak Djokovic | Jelena Ristic

In Montreal: Novak’s the no. 1 seed, but has Nikolay Davydenko in the second round, a potential third round clash with Juan Martin del Potro and Gael Monfils, Victor Troicki and Roger Federer all looming should he make a run to the weekend. | Draw