a little note from 4 Times Square…

Re: the Roger/Pete NetJets Showdown at Madison Square Garden, we just received a note from someone at Men’s Vogue.

The magazine’s raffling off a VIP package for the March 10 event. It’ll include tickets to the match, entrance for two to an exclusive pre-match MV cocktail party, and two special edition racqets from Wilson. (I’m not sure what the racquets are, but probably [K]Force?)

Link: Sign up for the sweepstakes here.

Non-New Yorkers take note — there’s no mention of airfare or a hotel stay (figures). But you should throw your hat into the ring anyway.

$hort ball$: roger federer edition

Roger’s riches: Lots have been said lately about the massive amounts of moolah coming into the coffers of Roger Federer (pat yourselves on the back, Mirka and Tony Godsick!).

SportsBusiness Journal reports that R-Fed and his clothing sponsor, Nike, are extending their relationship for 10 more years. This arrangement could give Roger $13 million a year — one of the most lucrative deals in tennis history. The exact figure for the contract is up in the air because some of the payout could be performance-based.

What exactly is Nike paying for?

“In the U.S., probably less than 2 percent of athletic footwear sales are tennis… K-Swiss is a bigger tennis brand in America than Nike. [Tennis] does get a lot of publicity, a lot of mention in news articles, and a lot more people watch the sport than participate in it. Branding is probably a pretty good part of the deal, particularly in Nike’s European sector, where [tennis] is much more important.”

Huh. I didn’t know that K-Swiss had a bigger share of the market (fyi, I wear K-Swiss shoes for tennis).

Also, the suits are likely acknowledging that the screwed Roger back in 2002, when the agentless Swiss player signed a contract for $1 million a year. “It’s possible some of the money he is acing with the new deal serves in part as an acknowledgment on Nike’s behalf of the semi-free ride they have had with Federer during his rise.”

And Tages-Anzeigers (through Roger expert Rene Stauffer, of course) notes that adidas, Lacoste, and Polo Ralph Lauren all put in bids for Roger. A PRL rep denied the company’s involvement in the situation.

Other bits: According to SBJ, Roger charged $1 million for each of his appearances at the Asian exhibitions last fall. Ka-ching.

MSG is good for you: Another exo between Roger and Pistol Pete has been scheduled, this time for a March date at Madison Square Garden. At least through this seller, it looks like tickets range from $70 (nosebleed) to $16,050 for a pair of front row, dead center, courtside VIP seats. No word on how much Roger is getting paid for this match. Jordan, are you going?

And since we’re on the topic of seats, I don’t know who decided that the sidelines are great — for some reason, those always sell out first, don’t they? I’m all about sitting behind the baseline a few rows up.

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Answered prayers: The powers that be at Nike have finally released a mass-market version of his hat. We first saw Roger with the black version at the 2007 U.S. Open. Buy: The hat is avalable for $20 at Tennis Warehouse. Autographed hats, if that’s your style, might still be available through Roger’s website.

Delusion: The Onion writes up a spoof on Roger’s loss in the Australian Open semis.

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>> TSF’s short balls archive

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short balls: mcenroe and bryan brothers get davis cup spotlight, etc.

Coming into his own: It’s been a few years now that Patrick McEnroe has etched his way into tennis history (and not as John McEnroe‘s younger brother). As the U.S. gets ready to face Russia in the 2007 Davis Cup finals (this weekend, in Portland), bone up with this quick profile in USA Today.

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Bryan Brothers blogging: Speaking of Davis Cup, the ATP passes the blogging baton to Mike and Bob Bryan for new insight into this weekend’s Davis Cup tie. Bob wrote the inaugural post. What you need to know: the twins went to a Blazers game with James Blake, Mike spent too much money at Whole Foods, Bob is impressed with what he’s seen as of late from the likes of Donald Young and Robbie Ginepri, and can’t wait to pull some pranks on giant (and rookie) John Isner. (ATP)

Pete backs Pete: Year-long touring pro he ain’t, but Pete Sampras‘ serve-and-volley game — played on fast indoor carpet — can still match up with today’s best. (ESPN.com)

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Poker? I hardly knew her!: Newly-single Boris Becker will join Pokerstars as one of their sponsored pros. He’ll participate in the European leg of the Poker Tour at the end of January. (Poker News)

Exhibition ecstasy: The folks at Tennis Channel will air a bunch of exhibitions in their entirety (and for free) through the end of 2007. The schedule is as follows: Monday, Dec. 3, Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet (first U.S. showing); Tue., Dec. 4, Sampras vs. Federer No. 1; Wed., Dec. 5, Sampras vs. Federer No. 2; Thurs., Dec. 6, Sampras vs. Federer No. 3. In the meantime, you can watch clips (with German commentary) here.

(OT) Opening Ceremony: Quick write-ups in Refinery29 and NYT about Opening Ceremony co-owner Humberto Leon, who, aside from running one of the best boutiques in Los Angeles, is busy ressurecting 90s surf label Maui & Sons.

(Davis Cup photo via ATP; Becker photo via Poker News)

sampras vs. federer: trophy watch + pete goes down swinging

The clash of the titans came and went… did anyone really feel it? Pete Sampras and Roger Federer performed in the much-anticipated Asian exhibitions this past week. First in Seoul, where Roger easily won 6-4, 6-3.

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Then there was Kuala Lumpur, where Roger was probably a$ked to act less smug and make it a closer match. The scoreline: 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5).

Couldn’t Nike have given Sampras something from this season to wear on the court? That black/white shirt is almost a year old!

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And in Macao — where they staged the exhibition at The Venetian, — Sampras finally wins 7-6, 6-4.

A few press conference bits…

Sampras talked to AP/Reuters about his plans to stay retired, and also commented on the state of tennis:

“Serve and volley is extinct,” he said. “In my day, we had some great serve-and-volley players. There was myself, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and others. But with the size of racquets getting bigger, junior players these days are only taught to hit the ball as hard as they can. There are some players who come in, but they are not natural serve-and-volleyers.”

And he knocks all the Federer GOAT talk?

Sampras insists Federer’s opposition falls short of the standard of Rafter, Agassi, Edberg, Becker and Courier, who formed the American’s main challengers when he dominated in the 1990s and early part of this decade. “I had more major winners up against me versus the rising stars behind Roger.” (The Scotsman)

Below (left to right): Macau trophy ceremony, Kuala Lumpur trophy ceremony, Kuala Lumpur Press Conference.

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(photos by Getty Images)

mishit: sampras and federer doll up for their exos

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Here’s Pistol Pete and Darth Federer before squaring off at the Super Match VI in Seoul. I love it when a man isn’t afraid to wear fuschia!

Roger, having survived a scare at the TMC Shanghai, is now relaxed and looking forward to breaking more records (and perhaps nabbing gold at the Beijing Olympics) in 2008.

Scoreline: Federer was understandably nervous going up against his idol — and Pete put up a fight — but Roger got over it and won 6-4, 6-3. (A write-up of the match appears here.)

On the boob tube: Tennis Channel (I miss you, “The“!!) will air the Seoul exo on time delay at 7pm ET tonight. The broadcast will also appear on Tennis Channel’s website on Dec. 5.

The parade continues: The two will also play in Kuala Lumpur and at The Venetian in Macao.
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For as much as these two were getting paid, couldn’t they have worn more appropriate shoes? Perhaps, like Venus Williams and Maria Kirilenko, all they needed to help the ensemble are elaborate headdresses.

(photo by Getty Images)

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>> sup pete, how r u?: another excerpt from r-fed’s new biography

…does it make a sound?

If Jim Courier and Pete Sampras play an exhibition but no one sees…

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…does it actually happen? Kenneth in the (212) points out the surprisingly bare stands at the recent Match of the Modern Masters sponsored by Talon Air.

Yikes. Why was no one watching? Perhaps fans just couldn’t take a Thursday off, and instead chose to watch this exhibition online? For Sampras’ sake, let’s hope it’s the latter; he’s got a few more matches slated through the end of the year. It’s too early in his retirement to already be overexposed.

trophy watch: the swiss and swedes got it right + hall of fame

While the women of France were busy representing their country in a Fed Cup tie against Italy (alas, they lost), the men were busy in finals; three of the six ATP-ers vying for titles were French: Fabrice Santoro, Nicolas Mahut, and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Félicitacions!

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At the Swiss Open orangefest, Mathieu (in adidas) lugs home a piece of rock for beating Andreas Seppi (wearing Fila)…

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… and Santoro won the Hall of Fame Championships over mutton-chopped Mahut. (Mahut had a very good grass season… remember he lost to Andy Roddick in the Queen’s Club final? Here’s his very gracious post-match interview.)

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David Ferrer (in Lotto) wins what looks like a deer enveloped in crystal at the Swedish Open. He dropped only three games in his final match against Nicolas Almagro.

See more trophy photos (plus the Hall of Fame induction) after the cut…

if you can't say anything nice…

I’m sure the ATP Tour players are all in love with Pete Sampras right now. In a New York Times article published yesterday, he scoffed at how Wimbledon has unfolded so far this year:

In summary, Sampras doesn’t think much of the grass-court tennis currently being played. He doesn’t sound terribly convinced that he — soon to turn 36, five years after he walked away from tennis after winning his 14th Grand Slam title at the United States Open — couldn’t still get to the net against these guys, put away vintage Pistol Pete volleys.

The “sad” problem, as Sampras sees it, is that players have surrendered to the slower conditions, the stronger rackets, the fear of risk. He has been watching Federer hang on the baseline, toy with lesser players who won’t dare push him the way Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg and Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter used to chip, charge and challenge Sampras across the 1990s.

Smart move, Pete. Put your mouth where the money is. Now I can’t wait to see you play Federer in those Asian exhibitions this fall.

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