spotted in the city: rafa's nike display + maria for cole haan

The window’s his. There would be no US Open title for Rafael Nadal, but he did reign as king of Niketown on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan for most of the Open. We love the picture-framed outfits which you can see better after the jump. Below: Maria’s Cole Haan collection advertises on an 8th Street subway stop downtown.

One more Rafa meets Niketown after the cut.

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shirtless: rafa strips down (some more) for armani

Who’s got next? With Janko Tipsarevic joining the ranks of ATP fellas who have stripped down in front of the camera, Rafael Nadal needed to get his gusto back from the Serb’s sweaty six-pack. He did just that last week as Armani began to push out its fall campaign, full of swoon-worthy shots of a barely-clad Rafa. The ATP web site has the full set of Rafa photos here.


On court: This week has been a good one for Tipsarevic, who is into the semifinals in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, a hurting Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the China Open due to a bad back.

For all you fans of good legs, check out the Spanish Davis Cup team from a couple of weeks ago. No Nair needed here.

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(wednesday's) sunday survey: striking situation

Would these boys really do it? Strike. It’s not something tennis fans really want to think about, and even though Tennis Channel’s James LaRosa does point out some ways that a lack of tennis-playing might make fans’ lives better, we here at TSF would miss the weekly fashions (and trophies!) with great sadness. Andy Murray recently told the BBC that if the tennis bodies don’t step up then the players will, and Rafael Nadal echoed that players could take “strong action.” It doesn’t help that 2011’s king, Novak Djokovic, fell to the ground unable to continue during Davis Cup 10 days ago. Not the best image for the (functional) end of the tennis season, right?

Do you think a players’ strike could really happen? Weigh in below.

(photo by Getty Images)

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…]

julien farel – the u.s. open's on-site hairstylist

Stylist Julien Farel has been taking care of players’ hair at the U.S. Open for five years running (and, for 2011, blogging about it at Tennis Channel). We asked him a few questions this week.

TSF: How did you get started working with tennis clients?
Julien Farel: I use to do it for Roland Garros and always thought it was a great tournament and sport for JF Group. Now we’re in our fifth year at the Open.

TSF: Whose hair is the most fun to style?
JF: Cutting Rafa Nadal, or styling Lauren Bush or Gwyneth Paltrow is tough to compare, they are all great — and the best in their fields!

TSF: And whose are you dreaming of working on?
JF: Federer and Sharapova. Penelope Cruz and JLo.

TSF: Do you follow the sport?
JF: Yes I am I big fan of tennis and try to play as often as I can. I prefer singles and I like the back hand passing shot.

TSF: How much does a player’s outfit for a particular tournament play into how you cut/style their hair?
JF: A lot. I particularly like Wimbledon because it is all-white: very classic and elegant. I love the classic! I love Nadal’s haircut with a very fitted outfit. It’s very trendy, sexy, and cool.

TSF: What about accessories?
JF: I like men’s hair accessorized with headbands or sweatbands; for the women, a fishtail or classic braid. They can control frizz with a little JF Relaxing Balm and that will do the trick.

TSF: What are players most concerned about with their hair?
JF: Keeping the hair off their face and controlling the frizz. JF styling products work great because they all contain an UVA protection to keep the hair hydrated and healthy.

shirtless: nadal and kortajarena take on armani jeans

We never got around to posting images from Rafa‘s Armani Jeans Fall/Winter 2011 campaign shoot — the poster of which he made a cameo for at Macy’s right before the start of the 2011 U.S. Open — so here they are!

Spanish Armada: Nadal was photographed by Steven Klein for the ads; fellow Spaniard Jon Kortajarena, meanwhile, is the face of the collection’s catalogue. See all of JK’s looks here.

(via VGL)

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

fans flock to rafa’s big (shirtless) unveil

They came to see Him, with a capital “H”: Do you love a tourist-crowded department store in the middle of New York City on a weekday afternoon? If so, please quit reading this blog — we don’t understand you. TSF joined the likes of fellow blogs Tennis Panorama and Down the Line! on Thursday afternoon at Macy’s in Manhattan’s Herald Square for the unveiling of Rafael Nadal‘s Armani jeans billboard at the store. Oh right, and there were hundreds of Rafafanatics there, too. (See above.)

Crowds poured into the usually-packed-anyways Macy’s for the unveil, which saw the world no. 2 step onto stage, say, “Hel-lo” into a mike and get his photo snapped — with the billboard of himself. How do you think he looks?

Above: A reporter records a spot on the stage where Nadal would later hand out 100 pairs of briefs bearing his signature for the first 100 customers to spend over $150 on Armani collection items that day. Below: TSF’s view from behind a barrage of cameras flashing at Rafa.

Plenty of Rafa posters welcomed fans around the store on Thursday.

(TSF photos; lead image by Getty)