a matador in the stands

matador-aussie09

No matter what you think about chair-throwing, face-painting, flag-waving, appendage-swinging Australian Open tennis fans, you gotta hand it to ‘em. Where else would you see a matador in the stands? A MATADOR.

It’s going to be a long time before this sighting in the stands can be toppled as the best ever.

Scoreline: Rafael Nadal continues to bulldoze through the draw, taking out Tommy Haas-been 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 in the third round. The top seed will next face the hard-hitting Fernando Gonzalez. Unfortunately for Gonzo, he had to play 22 games in that fifth set before defeating Richard Gasquet. Alas, he won’t be facing Rafa with a full tank o’ gas.

(image by Getty Images)

gasquet’s lacoste training tee

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The yellow-orange Lacoste polo we normally see on Arnaud Clement (here, here) appeared on Richard Gasquet at the Medibank Sydney International earier this week. He also wore a cute crocodile graphic tee during a training session.

Scoreline: The Frenchman lost to scruffy Dmitry Tursunov in the second round 6-3, 3-6, 4-6. Tursunov will be playing in the finals against Chris Guccione. Perhaps the Australian got fired up by John Newcombe, who said that Gooch wasn’t playing to his potential?

(photos by Getty Images and the tourney gallery)

roger, rafa, richard

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Rafa and (still-not-gay) Richard: I’m always a sap for fan stories like this from the Malaysian exhibition match between Rafa Nadal and the straight Frenchman, Richard Gasquet; and the one with Sampras and Federer:

And now: an unnamed deputy prime minister and his family are so fricking lucky. This unnamed minister had lunch with Nadal and Gasquet. His daughter was sitting NEXT TO GASQUET and discovered he was a shy guy. And Nadal said to her that they had never received such a warm welcome and reception anywhere before! The aforementioned daughter also says that Mirka, the ubiquitous fiance of one Mr. Federer is such a nice lady and they EXCHANGED E-MAILS. Oh, and here’s the biggie: the son of this minister PLAYED WITH FEDERER. He helped Federer warm up for his match and stroked with him. Oh! I only know this because my coach is the coach of said son and daughter.

(Outsports.com, RR)

Is Roger SI worthy?: Journalist (and biographer) Rene Stauffer makes a case for Sports Illustrated to award Roger their “Sportsman of the Year” award. If SI had a worldwide circulation, all of Roger’s feats and records add up. But with the magazine’s readership mainly American, the award’ll probably go to someone like Tom Brady, no?

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Roger films UNICEF ad: The World No. 1 continues his philanthropic ways by appearing in a PSA (in Real Audio here) to raise awareness about mother-to-child HIV transmission for UNICEF. (DTL) Other celebs attached to the campaign are Susan Sarandon, Shakira, and David Beckham. UNICEF filmed Roger’s PSA during the 2007 U.S. Open.

Roger and Rafa differ on year-end tennis: Roger would prefer the year-end tourney to be indoors (since all the other surfaces get special treatment via Grand Slams) while Rafa wants the surfaces to change every year. Something tells me he’ll gun for slow, slow clay. (AS.com)

we're feeling torn about the atp's newest campaign

(A tad late, but there’s too much other stuff to cover. So if you’ve seen your share of the ATP’s new blitz, my apologies…)

The ATP’s latest marketing campaign, the multi-million dollar — “Feel It” — was launched at the BNP Paribas Masters Series (Paris) a few weeks ago. With it, the tour will “showcase the sport’s core values as a one-on-one gladiatorial battle, full of intensity and passion” by bringing in themes of wild animals and natural phenomena such as fire and water.

The beauty of ‘Feel It’, created by Canadian ad shop Taxi 2, lies in its flexibility: the wide array of TV spots, billboards, online banners, virals, merchandise, fan giveaways, and PR stunts can be adapted for any ATP tournament and can feature any ATP player. (If you remember, they issued one for Tomas Berdych to help raise the Czech’s profile at the U.S. Open.) The Rogers Cup aka Masters Series Toronto has already expressed interest in using this to promote their event. This template can make it easier for tournaments to focus on other ways to beef up their event (perhaps better TROPHIES?) while keeping true to their participation in the tour.

Let’s hope that they can use this to deflect some attention away from all the scandals (Match-fixing! Gambling! Poisoning! Doping!) plaguing the game.

Now, onto the images, moving and not…

This is one of two video spots making the rounds. I get the idea behind the ad, but putting that girl in the line of danger is a little scary. Looked like a terrorist attack before I knew what was going on.

And there’s another video (here) of a guy walking away from a park bench right before it gets crushed by a gigantic tennis racquet. The stick, of course, came from a nearby billboard of David Nalbandian in racquet-thrashing pose. I’m not feeling intensity and passion (caused by competition); I’m feeling collateral damage. Sorry guys. (What do you think of this new campaign? Tell us!)

Why not ressurect “New Balls, Please”? (Was that not a hit?) That was more gladiator-like in feel.

The photos are pretty good, though…

atp feel it - rafael nadal

Paying homage to Nadal‘s Spanish roots.

See more of the cards after the cut…

the terracotta warriors unveiled in shanghai

Those amazing terracotta warriors of the eight men playing at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai were unveiled on Sunday, November 11, at 1:30 p.m. (local) at Qi Zhong Stadium.

terracotta warriors - tmc shanghai - 2007

Photographer Quentin Shih took this photo above of the players — that’s David Ferrer, Nole Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nands Gonzalez, Nikolay Davydenko, Rafa Nadal, Richard Gasquet, and Andy Roddick — standing next to their likenesses.

laury dizengremel commission - terra cotta warriors

Artist Laury Dizengremel, commissioned to work on these pieces, wrote to TSF two weeks ago from China.

“This [project] is a very exciting commission,” she said. “I’ve been to China 16 times over the last 6 years (am here right now creating the last few ‘heads’ as they qualify, working with two Chinese sculptor friends). I have made several monumental sculptures as a guest of the government, toured the country extensively for research, and love China!”

See close-ups of the players next to their warriors after the cut…

shanghai: the men clean up good

david ferrer - tennis masters cup 2007

Have you seen those photos from Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai’s opening ceremonies?

Simple lapel-less dark grey suits with light blue cheongsam-cut dress shirts on David Ferrer (above), Fernando Gonzalez, Richard Gasquet, and Nikolay Davydenko; while Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic decided to pair their shirts with tuxedo jackets… what?!? Of course, prom queens Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal stood out in their black suits.

Gone are the silk fabrics and the flowers — a marked improvement from what they wore in 2006 and 2005.

See pics of the other seven guys (and a list of seedings and predictions) after the cut.

trophy watch: the green egg, the yellow car, and big silver cups; aka the winners keep winning

A few days late, folks, but here are the trophies doled out for the four tournaments contested last week.

The Open de Moselle in Metz, France awarded another Yoshi egg, this time to Spaniard (and top seed) Tommy Robredo, who beat Andy Murray 0-6, 6-2, 6-3. It’s good to see the Scot (however color-uncoordinated, in Fred Perry) shaking off the rust from his wrist injury. Welcome back.

And U.S. Open semifinalist David Ferrer continues his hardcourt success with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Richard Gasquet to hoist this ginormous trophy. I’ve heard a few people mention that Ferrer was in top-player could-beat-Rafa-on-clay form during this all-blue fest.

On the women’s side, Justine Henin — in her first tournament since winning the $1 million U.S. Open prize last month — takes out Tatiana Golovin 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt. And with that victory, she goes home with a sleek trophy and a bright yellow 911 Turbo.

And in Japan, Virginie Razzano follows last week’s Guangzhou International Women’s Open title with a 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory over Venus Williams, giving the Frenchwoman her second singles title in as many weeks.

More French success (but no photo): Pauline Parmentier upset top seed Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-2 to take the Tashkent Open title. Like a true professional, Azarenka has already rebounded by beating Masha in the first round of this week’s Kremlin Cup.

fashion flashback: at the '07 aussie open, lacoste stays mellow

Much like the Russian men, the young guns of Lacoste stayed relatively tame with their fashion choices at this year’s Australian Open.

Frenchman Richard Gasquet lost to seventh seed Tommy Robredo 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6 in the fourth round while wearing that shade of royal blue that’s become his signature.

And Fabrice Santoro stayed plain in his third round loss to third seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-7 (1), 2-6, 2-6. He didn’t pull out his candy-colored stripes until the French.

Poor Andy Roddick. He had such high hopes at the year’s first Grand Slam after he beat Roger Federer at the Kooyong exhibition a few weeks prior. In true Federer fashion, the Swiss creamed the Texan 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in the semis, thus reminding the whole world why he’s been the world’s No. 1 men’s tennis player for 192 consecutive weeks (as of October 1, 2007).

The normally bandana’d Arnaud Clement left his buffs at home as he also opted for a virginal look. He crashed out of the Australian in a second-round, all-French (and all-white) match against Santoro 2-6, 4-6, 4-6.

Buy (sale!): You can check out the latest Lacoste goods on their website. Here’s a coupon for $25 off on purchases of $150 and up. Expires on October 14.

(photos via the MTF forums for Gasquet, Roddick, and Santoro; photos of Clement by atp chica)

Edit: Reader Shain points out that Roddick is a Cornhusker, and not a Texan (as I’d pointed out above). Sorry to all the Nebraskans who felt slighted by this.

RELATED POSTS
>> TSF’s australian open flashback

trophy watch: more asian fun

The Hansol Korea Open had two tennis fashionistas duking it out in the final: on one side was the EleVen-clad Venus Williams. On the other, Maria Kirilenko and her adidas by Stella McCartney outfits.

After it was over, both 2007 winner Venus and runner-up Kirilenko changed into hanboks (the country’s traditional dress) for the awards ceremony. Venus’ hanbok is worth approximately $3,200. The ladies received bouquets and these great vases — yet another welcome change to ho-hum silver cups and glass prisms we’re so used to seeing.

Other photos of Venus and Maria. The American beat the Russian 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, ending her eight-match winning streak. Good to see both of these women doing well. (FYI, this is Venus’ third title of the year out of 11 tournaments entered.)

The final in Luxembourg also went to three sets, with Ana Ivanovic taking her third title after her 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Daniela Hantuchova. The Slovak has lost no earlier than the semis of her last three tourneys; she’s found her form after a disappointing hardcourt summer.

Photoless: Virginie Razzano beat Tzipora Obziler 6-0, 6-3 to become the 2007 Guangzhou International Women’s Open Champion.

In Mumbai, Richard Gasquet redeems his disappointing summer (the highlight: getting flack for withdrawing from the U.S. Open because of a sore throat) with his 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Belgian Olivier Rochus. This is his first title of the year.

In doubles, Robert Lindstedt and Jarkko Nieminen are the champions.

Dmitry Tursunov took out Benjamin Becker in an easy, breezy, 6-2, 6-1 match at the Thailand Open. He makes a cute face for Josh! (Giving him the trophy is Thailand Tennis Association prez Suwat Liptapallop.)

As usual, Tursunov was wearing Fila and Becker was wearing clothes from his sponsor, Boris Becker.

(photos by AP and Getty Images)

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>> TSF’s trophy watch archive