short balls: elena waves good-bye



Elena Dementieva is waving good-bye to the WTA Tour after a dozen years on the tour, which saw her greatest moment in 2008, at the Beijing Olympics. But while Dementieva might be most well-known to tennis enthusiasts as the greatest chica never to nab a Slam, you can bet she will be a missed force on the tour. No one else played with such maturity and poise, and even the shaky serve was made up for by that blazing forehand. Can you remember an Elena diva moment? Neither can I. I got the chance to watch Elena in person this summer – and if you never had the chance to watch this girl up close, I’ll give you one descriptive word: athlete - and she was a joy to watch. The tennis may have been flawed at times, but the heart was always there. Can’t wait to see what comes next for the Muscovite. Survey study: Of the 158 folks that responded to our Sunday Survey, 38% said they thought Elena would announce she’s pregnant come Thanksgiving. OK, riiight.

Courier calls: A variety of responses sprung up from the naming of Jim Courier as the new US Davis Cup coach last week. Greg Garber was questioning the call already over at ESPN.com, while L. Jon Wertheim was giving the nod to the Courier appointment in his Monday post this week. Our call? Well, we’re not so sure it matters who captains. Wertheim pointed out that four Americans sit inside the top 22 (Roddick, Isner, Fish and Querrey), and while the time may have passed for Roddick and his Davis Cup days, the Bryan Brothers look committed. The bigger question is: what will the Isner, Fish and Querrey era bring? Those are the boys that seem invested as Courier takes the reigns.

Retirement footnotes: While Elena’s announcement shocked a few and left others unsurprised, Serena Tweeted and blogged her well wishes to Dementieva, who had a 5-7 record against ReRe. Of course, retirement of one WTA veteran meant that the media was curious about her counterparts, namely Kim Clijsters. And here’s a curious fact for you: Lindsay Davenport, who shaved off Elena in her first big-bang match in the 2000 US Open semis still is not listed as retired on the WTA web site. Comeback likely? You never know with the mom next door.

Back on the winning (and publicity) track: Winning his first match in five tries, Fernando Verdasco found his winning form (most recently displayed in heroics at this year’s USO) in Valencia Monday. The Slice had some good shots of Fernando charming the masses at a Calvin Klein event last week in Madrid (with his pants on), before heading east to Valencia. He also appeared on the Spanish cooking show, El Hormiguero. Jealous of that cooking-show host? Yes, so are we.

Frame this: Ipek Senoglu is probably the most famous tennis player you (and I) have never heard of. Senoglu is Turkish and reached a career-high ranking of no. 293 back in 2004. While her career has mostly run its course, Senoglu has been instrumental in building tennis’s popularity in Turkey, which will host the WTA’s year-end event in both 2011 and 2012 in Istanbul. Oh, and she’s a looker, that Ipek, too. Above: Ipek in what we think is the Turkish/ Eastern European version of Bazaar. Can anyone help us out on translating?

After the cut: a barely-clad retired pro male struts his stuff in undies and injures a production assistant in the process? Plus, your weekly dose of short(er) balls. [Read more...]

off court, rafter rocks the long sleeve




How good is Patrick Rafter looking?! Rafter, in London for a ATP Champions Tour event, was rocking a relaxed and well-worn Hawaii long sleeve with Goran Ivanisevic. We always thought Rafter looked good, but who knew age was in his favor?! As for Goran… well, we like his watch.

The relived their epic Wimbledon match in their chat prior to the start of the tournament.

(photo via yahoo! sports)

pat and his ponytail praised; philippoussis ponders life post-tennis



patrick-rafter-halloffame.jpg

Patrick Rafter got some more icing on his already sweet career cake with an induction to the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which included an unveiling of a Rafter bust, happened before the 2008 Australian Open women’s final between Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic. Those are some mad crow’s feet. Remember to wear your eye cream, people!

Though we were bigger fans of Pat with his buzz-short hair (circa 2001), it’s only appropriate that they immortalize him in the ponytail he sported while tearing through the North American hardcourts in the late 90s.

Rafter won back-to-back U.S. Open titles (’97, ’98), reached the finals of Wimbledon twice (’00, ’01), and the semis of Roland Garros (’97) and the Australian (’01). See a list of his 11 career titles here.

Meanwhile, his compatriot Mark Philippoussis suffered what could possibly be his last tennis-related injury in December while attempting to qualify for this home Grand Slam. “I won’t lie – but at the moment I’m just enjoying spending time with my family and friends,” he told The Age last week — which means he hasn’t given ATP Tour play any thought. Flip doesn’t even have a tentative schedule planned out. Le sigh, it all went downhill after being up a set and 2-1 (but on serve) against Sampras in the 1999 Wimbledon semis.

(Photos by Getty Images)

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>> rafter puts his family first, so he gets naked
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patrick rafter puts family first — so he gets naked



Retired Aussie Pat Rafter might have been opposed to showing skin (off-court) during his tennis heyday, but now that his coffers aren’t so flush with cash, he’s not above doing it for his family’s sake: “I don’t play tennis any more and I need to make an income.”

So he pulls a Tommy Robredo and poses in socks — and not much else — for this Bonds ad campaign.

Video: You can view the ad and another one here (scroll to the right — they’re the last two).

Not the first: Rafter’s done work for them prior to the sock campaign. Here’s a print ad selling hoodies (above). And he wears a tank top in this photo that appears on the Bonds Man homepage.

More pics: See more Rafter photos here.

[Daily Telegraph via Kenneth in the (212)]

rafter: hewitt will be a force, but won't be no. 1



Australian Patrick Rafter, looking good at the Sydney premiere of The Bourne Ultimatum with wife Lara Feltham, has told the wires that Lleyton Hewitt‘s goal to reach the no. 1 ranking is far-fetched, but that the new partnership with coach Tony Roche could see him nesting in the Top Five.

Rafter reasons that Hewitt’s flat strokes don’t match well with the current trend of high, heavy balls (spurned by new racquet technology). Rafter’s solution is incorporating more net play.

[photos via Kenneth in the (212)]