going home: rotterdam, sao paolo, doha, san jose

Brasil Open 2013 (Sao Paolo) website

Sao Paolo: My, what a big banner you have! That stuff poking out at the bottom of our screengrab — that’s the slider for their content, pretty much below the fold. Again, we get the point of showcasing your star attractions (including Rafael Nadal in his second tourney back!), but the rest of the event is also giving you newsworthy bits, including Ricardo Mello‘s retirement from professional tennis and, you know, actual matches. (Along with Rafa, the top four seeds are AlmagroMonaco, and Chardy.) Props: Their photo gallery is pretty varied, navigable, and has good pictures. Bonus: The tournament has a smartphone app (for Google, Windows, and iPhones).

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament 2013 - Rotterdam

Rotterdam: This is how you tell your fans who’s showing up to a tournament. It might even be downplaying the event’s ATP Tour 500 level cache; along with Roger FedererJuan Martin del Potro, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, you have players like MonfilsDimitrovTomicKlizanJanowicz, and Davydenko — all of whom can produce some great matches this week. Feedback: could you keep the seeding/wildcard/qualifier notations in the draw sheets?

ABN AMRO homepage

The other thing to note about Rotterdam is how hard they push the business/hospitality end of their tournament. The event’s main page, www.abnamrowtt.com, gives much real estate to wooing sponsors and getting businesses to scoop up packages and suites for the tournament. We know these deals are what grease the wheels, but we’d prefer the solicitations for event sponsorship to get toned down the week of the tournament, if only to give their current clients a chance to enjoy their investment and letting the fans experience the tennis.

Qatar Total Open 2013 (WTA Tournament)

Doha (WTA): The Qatar Total Open 2013‘s pages live within the Qatar Tennis Federation website. Everything’s housed in the same place, but it probably couldn’t hurt to get a separate URL for the tournament. Fingers crossed: No action yet, but we’re hoping to see lots of images come through via Instagram.

SAP Open 2013 - San Jose tennis tournament

 

San Jose: Nothing much to note re: the final installment of this Bay Area ATP stop. The SAP Open website is pretty straightforward, and includes video content and a daily blog featuring different players entered in the tournament. (Monday’s blog entry was by Tim Smyczek.)

 

 

 

agnes szavay retires from tennis

Agnes Szavay wears Marta Makany at the 2007 US Open

Hungarian player Agnes Szavay announced her retirement from tennis via her website. She does not expect a 100% recovery from surgery to fix a nagging back injury. As such, she’s ready to focus on the next chapter of her life and career, where she plans to develop a tennis academy and work with children:

I am confident that I have acquired the knowledge and experience I’ll be able to give to the next generation.Therefore, my big dream to do a tennis school and deal with children. I believe this now is the time, though they did not planned to retire so early. I know this will be a big change in my life, but I have plans and I will take it done, so I will soon be able to hear much about the Szavay Tennis Academy.

Flashback: One of our first TSF fashion moments came from Agi, who burst onto the scene ala Mona Barthel and Camila Giorgi (and as of late, a little bit, Vania King) wearing logo-less dresses during matches. Szavay’s clothes were designed by Marta Makany. She wore a few different dresses during that run into the 2007 U.S. Open quarterfinals, where she lost to Kuznetsova.

We wish Agi the best in her future plans.

drawstring pants (not!) optional

It’s OK to dress up, GI. Which is more surprising: That Thomas Muster thought his return to pro tennis might be successful? Or that Goran Ivanisevic doesn’t own a pair of dress pants? Muster’s comeback, book ended by the ATP stop in his home country of Austria, finished a year after it started, the former world no. 1 going 2-24 in that span. But really, Goran! We neeeeeeed you to class it up next time. Like, if you’re invited to Kimiko Date-Krumm‘s going away party, how about not wearing tear-aways, OK? Deal.

(getty images photo)

stefan koubek retires

One less for Tattoo Watch to keep tabs on now that pseudo-tramp-stamped Austrian Stefan Koubek has announced his retirement.

The 34-year-old ATPer, ranked 261st, plans to finish his pro career off with an exhibition match on July 30. “I wanted to play Roland Garros and Wimbledon one more time but I won’t make it,” he told the press. “Once you’ve decided to quit, you lose your motivation.”

More: Here are pics we took of Koubek back in March. Yes, you saw that correctly: it’s a chinese character superimposed over a tribal pattern. He has his cake and eats it, too!

(photos by TSF)

short balls: good bye, counselor

by Benjamin Snyder

Serena is outta the Nike exo, but staying on as a ref. Think Shino will be there to join her? (Reuters)

Forget becoming an esthetician, Serena Williams is taking on a new career as a lineswoman. The sidelined former no. 1 won’t be playing in a much-anticipated return at the Nike exhibition on March 8. Instead, she’ll be a referee. That’s tough luck for the 12,000 fans expecting to see the 13-time major champion’s form alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. Citing the foot injury that’s been kept her out since after Wimbledon, Serena released the following statement: “I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to play … as I had anticipated. I’m thrilled, however, to still be able to participate … in the exhibition as a referee during the mixed doubles.”

Is something sketchy going on here? Columnist Greg Crouch thinks so. Taking her place on court is Victoria Azarenka. With Masha and Vika both on court, make sure to bring the ear plugs, Eugene.

Pakistani dubs expert Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi is flashing his pearly whites (and wavy locks) in a recent ad with CloseUp toothpaste. Seriously, Rafa and Fernando, this dude is nipping at your modeling heels. He’s just going for a – er – cleaner approach.

He’s not just a hot head, he’s also an art aficionado. Getting a custom-made sculpture in the process, tennis legend and New York City art collector John McEnroe took to the streets of Delray Beach against Mats Wilander in a game of street tennis as part of the “On the Ave” exo. Although Mayor Woodie McDuffie served as the chair umpire, it didn’t make Johnny Mac bite his tongue or keep the snide remarks at bay. He called Mayor McDuffie’s math “fuzzy” on his way to winning the TB 13-11. “I was down 2-1, and now I’m up 3-1; I like that. Is that how they count in Florida?” McEnroe quipped.

After being honored with work from artists of the Milagro Youth Center, McEnroe said, “This is definitely unique. Anybody that knows about me knows that I’m a big fan of the arts. I’ve been a collector for 30 years since I first made money playing the sport I love… The greatest compliment I’ve received as a player was that I was an artist on the court.” But seriously, what is hanging over his headboard? Oh the things we wonder.

Caroline Wozniacki has reclaimed the world’s no. 1 ranking after winning in Dubai over Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kim Clijsters nabbed the distinction from Caro for just one week ago. Kamakshi Tandon and Steve Stignor volleyed back and forth on their thoughts of the flip flop. Whether the system’s flawed or not, expect much more of the Caro-Kim ranking fight in the coming months, especially with Serena playing referee.

Splitsville: “Super Mario” Ancic has called it quits on his ten-year career due to a severe back injury. According to the 2004 Wimbledon semifinalist and former world no. 7, “It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make. I’m only 26 but my body said I would not be able to continue on a high level.” Although he’ll be missed on the tennis courts, expect him to put his energy into a different type of court. The University of Split law grad now plans on pursuing a career as a lawyer. So long, counselor. | TSF Vault: Mario Ancic

(serena and ancic photos by reuters)

she said, she said: justine & caro

TSF is happy to introduce “she said, she said” (or “he said, he said,” or “he said, she said,” or “she said, he said” … it all depends on the day!) a regular installment in which we’ll take two images (see below) that you wouldn’t find from the playing courts and match them up with a couple of juicy quotes. Enjoy! -NM

Today, rumors swirled around Justine Henin ending her career because of doping allegations. The now-retired former world no. 1 didn’t want anything to do with such reports. Above, at a press conference in Belgium.

“I regard ending my career more like a sentence that’s been handed down than a decision I’ve made,” said Henin, who retired for the second time because of elbow problems. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries throughout my career but this time, at 29, I just can’t go on. You have to be reasonable about things. When I came back from Australia, I had consultations with three different doctors. The will is there, but physically I can’t do it. It got to the point that I needed 10 minutes in the morning just to get my elbow functional. The ligament wasn’t solid enough to handle the intensity of the game. For me, it’s like a sentence. Now I have to mourn the end of my career.”

Has anyone ever been happier not to be world no. 1? Certainly Caroline Wozniacki is relieved.

“At least I won’t get this question over and over again: ‘How does it feel to be number one without winning a grand slam?’,” the Dane told reporters on Monday at this week’s Dubai Tennis in which she is the top seed. “I don’t feel a difference (as number two). The sun is shining, I’m still playing the same way and I’m still here to compete in the tournament and try to win it. There’s absolutely no difference.”

“At the end of the year you always see who was the number one of the year, who played the best in the whole year. At the end of the year you want to make it to the year-end championships. That’s the goal.”

(photos via the ap)

a letter to juju… from the tennis establishment

Benjamin Snyder contributes to Fortune.com and writes for his blog, TenaciouslyTennis.com. He serves as an editor for Goucher [Md.] College’s newspaper, The Quindecim, and plays for the college’s varsity tennis team. Benjamin swears that he is distantly related to WTA veteran Patty Schnyder. Today he pens a letter to Justine Henin. From the tennis establishment.

Dear Justine,
What happened? You’re retiring, again? After everything you’ve been through, you’re letting an elbow injury prevent you from playing for good? Fine. It’s not like any other big name players are sidelined right now. Oh, wait. Sorry, Serena and Venus….

But let’s get this straight: Kim wins the US Open as a mom, and you decide it’s time to hit the courts again. You seem jealous that she’s getting all the attention. You’ve never been best friends with Kim, especially with such an intense rivalry since childhood. Plus, there’s that time her father accused you of taking drugs in 2003. Things improved between you both, the Belgian Sisters were back, but Clijsters prevailed in the end.

It’s 2010. You play a tournament for the first time, losing to Kim. But it was the match of the year. You shock the world by clawing through to the Australian Open final. There, you face Serena, make it to the third set, and lose again. You take two titles during the year, lose to Kim some more, and hurt your elbow against her at Wimbledon. Ouch. But – fine – it makes sense that you lay low for the rest of the year.

In 2011, you’re not feeling 100 percent, but decide to play. Why? Apparently, winning again means more than anything. You tell the press that another major would be “a bigger achievement than what I did in the past.” | More from the TSF Vault: Justine Henin

Apparently, that’s not enough anymore. You tweak the elbow against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Melbourne and completely call it quits?

Happier (and healthier) times: Justine once held the tennis world in her hand. (Philippe Buisson)

That doesn’t sound like the Justine I know. The Justine who overcame so, so many challenges. A mother who died when you were young. A divorce. An estrangement from her family. Big babe tennis. Being vertically challenged. An obsession with pudding.

You say that you came back with “a lot of questions and a lot of doubts,” but you’re leaving us with even more by retiring so quickly. You’re in shock, according to your farewell letter – and we are, too. Remember the first time after getting owned by Dinara Safina as the world number one? These retirements come pretty quickly after losses. Don’t you want to take some time to think it through?

Well, I’m sure Kim will be fine that you’re taking the spotlight away from her again. It’s not like she’s about to win the Australian Open, or anything. Oh, and how about teaming up at the 2012 London Olympics? Good luck with keeping that friendship.

We’re left with another burning question before you tune us out: Who is going to make a comeback to inspire you to play again? Elena Dementieva? Not likely. Guess you better call Belgian Idol, they’ve got a microphone ready for you.

Sincerely,

The Tennis Establishment

(justine ao photo via getty images)