trophy watch: while the men are away, the russian women take names

The Russian men might be bamboozling their opponents down in Argentina, but the women mean serious business. Dinara Safina has beaten Svetlana Kuznetsova in all their 2008 meetings, including the 2008 final of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. The score: 6-1, 6-3.

In doubles, Nadia Petrova teamed with Vania King to win over Lisa Raymond and Sam Stosur 6-1, 6-4.

Across the Sea of Japan, Vera Zvonareva took down local Peng Shuai 6-7 (4), 6-0, 6-2 at the Guangzhou Open. This is Vera’s second title, after taking Prague earlier this year.

(photos by Getty Images)

trophy watch, exo edition: jb group classic and hopman cup

Forgive us for being a week behind with the trophies from last week’s exhibitions (Hopman Cup and the ladies’ JB Group Classic). But the Hopman trophy is cool, so here we go…

First, the Hopman Cup, won by the American team of Serena and Mardy over injured Serbians Jelena and Nole.

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Team USA also went home (or to Melbourne, I guess) with these diamond-encrusted tennis balls. According to ABC, a new design by Doris Brinkhaus is conjured up each year, always with an Australian map and a diamond marking Perth’s location. It takes 8 months to construct.

The balls cost $35,000 each. The last one Serena won (back in 2003) ended up a gift to her mother, Oracene.

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Venus Williams started off strong in 2008 with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Maria Sharapova in the finals of the JB Group Classic on January 5.

More photos: Hopman Cup trophies plus JB Group players’ party and press conference photos after the cut…

fashion flashback: maria kirilenko in adidas — 2006 China Open

I ran across these photos of Maria Kirilenko while browsing through the China Open archives. The Russian competed in last year’s tourney, and bowed out in the second round against Peng Shuai.

She wore tennis pieces from adidas by Stella McCartney: a white sleeveless tank under a teal deep scoop neck, a grey pleated skirt, teal socks, and grey shoes.

Totally cute!

I still think she is consistently one of the best-dressed women on the SEWTA tour. What do you think? Tell us.

Buy: Check out the Fall 20007 adidas by Stella McCartney collection at shopadidas.com.

P.S. Stella’s London Fashion week event is scheduled for Sept. 20. I can’t wait!!

(photos via Getty Images)

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quickie before i head out to east west bank classic night 2

Venue: The Home Depot Center is definitely a great facility. There is one way for everyone to get to their seats (how egalitarian) and the space was very compact. My only beefs: the VIP suites look like guard towers and the Tennis Center is only accessible by freeways. Uhm, has anyone heard of rush hour traffic? No wonder the stands were empty at 7. Tournament organizers should really consider how spectators get to the event. I suggest setting up park-and-rides. The East West Bank Classic had gluttonous amounts of parking but no access by public transportation. That’s another for the green file.

Wrap-up: Chris and I got more than we bargained for at yesterday’s visit to the East West Bank Classic. The two outer courts (plus all the practice courts) were pretty much just open to the public by 3:00 p.m. We saw Flavia Pennetta and Maria Kirilenko hitting on one court as Sharapova (with Yuri) drilled at another. Jelena Jankovic finished up her session as we got there, and I sat courtside while Chucky worked on her serve (for a doubles match later that day with Dani Hantuchova). They beat the Chinese team of Peng Shuai and Yan Zhi).

FYI: I’ve been running into a bunch of people confused about these Chinese names. In their case, Peng and Yan are the surnames. but in Chinese you always say last name first.

Other sightings: Shaughnessy lost to Azarenka, Sugiyama lost to Safarova, and the team of Mirza and (a surprisingly untacky) Mattek beat the team of Krajicek and Husarova. I don’t know what was going on with Michaella. She was totally dead weight yesterday.

Night match was Sharapova winning when Eleni Daniilidou retired with breathing problems. (I hope she’s okay.) After that, Ana Ivanovic, wearing her pink adidas summer hardcourt outfit, beat a scrappy Ashley Harkleroad. There were a couple of good points in that match, but the rallies during the Sharapova/Daniilidou match were significantly more entertaining.

(photo via Irwin Seating)