sunday survey: roger's run done?

The final question? Yes, we’ve all been wondering this for almost three years now. Since Roger Federer lost in the Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal in 2009 and broke down in tears on the podium, there has been talk that the so-called GOAT was past him prime. And then came having kids. And turning 30. Queue the weekly retirement questions.

But  after yesterday’s meltdown — yes, it was a match that was Federer’s to win — the question can really be popped: Will Roger Federer ever win another major? Federer added to two abysmal and ultimately un-Federer-like stats yesterday with his loss to Djoko: he lost his second match ever when leading two sets to love (had done so for the first time ever at Wimbledon earlier this summer against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga), moving his record to 189-2 in his career and for the second straight year squandered match points in an Open semifinal. Your votes below.

(AP photo)

fashion focus: nike gives roger one sleek and one casual look

With Roger Federer these days, Nike has kept frivolous design to a minimum: gone are the flashy, gimmicky clothing; the blazers, the big bags, the warm-up dress pants — and the minimalist remains are enough to please the eye but not overpower it. Nike’s kept with this new aesthetic in Roger’s kits for the 2011 U.S. Open.

The casual day outfit has a bright red v-neck (with grey detail) while his night attire has a darker grey polo with red lines trimming the collar and appearing as a racing stripe down the back. Of course, there are the same construction elements that we’ve come to see in most of Roger’s shirts — no-sew application, laser-cut button holes, bonded plackets.

Icing on the cake: While all-dark outfits are nothing new, the prevalence of neon at this year’s event endeared us to the third seed’s stealthy ensemble. This outfit reflects Roger’s current state: toned down, flying under the radar, but still elegant where it counts. And with the youthful bursts of white emanating from his socks and shoes, we see a glimpse of Fed in the tail end of his career — letting loose just a little.

Brackets: Fed’s currently playing his quarterfinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The winner will play Djokovic, who won his QF match after Janko Tipsarevic retired with a hamstring injury while trailing in the fourth set. (Draw: Men’s Singles)

More: Plenty of detail shots of his day/night looks and his Lunar Vapor 8 Tour shoes — all after the cut…

the next tennis event at msg is set for 3/5/12

Mark your calendars: The next BNP Paribas Showdown, the annual tennis event at New York’s Madison Square Garden, will feature two best-of-three exhibition matches for its fifth iteration: up first will be three-time major winner Maria Sharapova against World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki; the men’s match will be an exo between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. This will be the first time that Maria and Roddick are playing in the Garden.

This event also celebrates “Tennis Night in America” (can they play this on the jumbotron, please?), a nationwide campaign to raise awareness for the sport in the U.S.

Info: Tickets start at $50 and go on sale Monday, October 3 via Ticketmaster. Sign up for pre-sale alerts at tennisshowdown.com.

trophy watch: another rf tee from nike

Check out this Roger Federer tee being sold by Nike at their on-site U.S. Open booth. It wasn’t included in the preview they released, so I’m glad we ran across it!

Pop quiz: The images show Roger’s medal from the Olympics (albeit in doubles) along with 14 of his majors. He has 16 Slams in total; which ones did they leave out?

In a rush: Fed took care of things quickly against Juan Monaco in the fourth round of this year’s men’s singles event; between the late start (that Wozniacki/Kuznetsova took forever) and the threat of a rain delay, he wanted to finish ASAP. Roger only dropped three games against the Argentine and has booked a quarterfinal appointment with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man who beat him in the final 8 of this year’s Wimbledon. (Draw: Men’s Singles)

(screengrab via ESPN)

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

short balls: rog’s b-day, serena’s love life, worst fashion and more

Oh, Canada! It’s been a wacky and weird week in Canada — both at the women’s event in Toronto and for the men in Montreal. Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all saw early exits, as did top women Kim Clijsters and Caroline Wozniacki. Are we in for such a tumultuous two weeks at Flushing Meadows, too?! Hopefully the top tier will have their games a little more finely tuned for the USO. Oh right, and did we mention the power outages? Yes, there were several. Draws: Men | Women

Better with age: Federer wasn’t the only one celebrating a birthday this last week. The Swiss Mister turned the big 3-0 in Canada and while there have been plenty of questions surrounding the aging of the GOAT, the Tour took a few days to celebrate the former world no. 1’s turning of age. While Federer is under increased pressure as he grows older, 90-year-old Donald Van Blake doesn’t have such weight on his shoulders. The teaching pro who helped motivate a generation of tennis players was celebrated this last week in Central Jersey, over 100 people attending the festivities at a local tennis complex.

The Serena Times: While it’s great to have Serena Williams back on the court for tennis’ sake, the first female of the sport never disappoints headline-wise off the court, either. This week, there was plenty of ink action for SW: a pilot for a reality TV show that centers around a nail salon that Serena has supposedly been rejected (reported by New York Daily News) by Lifetime (and OWN). But Serena got to do Oprah‘s toes, so that’s enough, right?! Additionally, Serena was spotted hanging and hitting a few balls with rapper Drake at a South Florida resort recently. Dating?! Is Common officially outta the picture? | TSF Vault: Serena

Fashion, now: The crew at TennisNow.com has put together a slideshow of the worst tennis fashion of all time, but with a little twist. It’s their “non-Williams” edition, meaning both Venus and Serena didn’t get considered for wacky outfits for the summer. Cue the Bethanie Mattek-Sands shots!

short(er) balls: Before she bowed out from play in Canada, Clijsters had a great Q&A with SI’s Jon Wertheim. One take away: girl’s got no time for Snooki. | Eating curry can help cure tennis elbow? One study says so. | Just over a week away, New Haven makes final preparations and checks in with two-time defending champion Wozniacki. Plus, the tourney has offered a wildcard to Venus Williams, who pulled out of Cincy. | A tennis dad beats up a player in the stands — for cheering against his daughter. Take that, Jim Pierce! The beaten player, Elise Tamaele, is listed on the WTA site. | Crowds in DC for the Legg Mason Classic were down this year, from 75,039 last year to 67,161 this year. | Martha’s Vineyard tennis fashion? WASPs have never been so WASP-y. | Elena Dementieva — and that Yonex dress — play in an exhibition in Russia.

trophy watch: london hardware

Different paths, same result: The lead-ups to their respective Wimbledon titles could not have been more different, but it was Petra Kvitova and Novak Djokovic who were at the Champions’ Ball on Sunday night, each posing with their respective, hard-earned trophies. Kvitova’s 6-4 6-3 victory over Maria Sharapova shocked us a bit — at least in the ease that she saw it through — and the way she took it all in stride (no on-court breakdown, P?!) after winning. For Djokovic, his 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal was the Spaniard’s first loss to someone other than Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final. Below, a look at all the Wimbledon champs from the Bryan brothers’ historic doubles victory to the winning juniors. Above: We are digging Kvitova’s toned-down side bun and simple, but gorgeous manicure. A classy champ!

Forbes blog: Djoko’s season a flash in the pan? | Full Wimbledon gallery

Us, too! It was a monstrous week for Bob and Mike Bryan, who won their third round match 16-14 in the fifth set and semifinal match 9-7 in the fifth set before comfortably rolling in the final, 6-3 6-4 7-6 (2) over Robert Lindstedt of Sweden and Horia Tecau of Romania. Their win in London was their 11th Major title, which ties them with Aussie duo Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge for most Grand Slams by a doubles pairing.

Not just you, Novak: Djokovic became the world’s no. 1 player in yesterday’s rankings with his win at the All England Club, but so, too, did Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, who took the ladies’ doubles crown. Peschke and Srebotnik subdued Sam Stosur and Sabine Lisicki 6-3 6-1 for the title.

Smile, Jurgen: Our life wouldn’t be complete if we couldn’t include mixed doubles cutie Jurgen Melzer in this week’s Trophy Watch. The Austrian paired up with Czech Iveta Benesova to take the mixed crown over Elena Vesnina and Mahesh Bhupathi, 6-3 6-2. | TSF Vault: Jurgen Melzer

After the cut: Australia wins a double in singles with boys’ and girls’ winners while Novak gets a champion’s welcome home in Belgrade. [Read more…]

for traveling pros, a tale of two approaches

By Jonathan Scott



Is that a sweater vest? Meet Roger Federer, amnesiac. (Getty)

Tennis is a tricky bitch. In no other sport does nostalgia ring so supreme as the calendar moves about — both in mind and spirit but in sport, too. And by sport we mean rankings. A great Wimbledon one year means everyone will be watching you the next. As Billie Jean King said: “Pressure is privilege.” But for some touring pros, pressure is just that — pressure. So as the raindrops (and strawberries and cream) start to fall across the pond, we look at two very different approaches to that pressure: those who seem to enjoy it and others who would rather the past was dumped just like a carton of sour, meant-for-strawberries cream.

The difference between an Amnesiac (the ones who’d like to forget Wimbledon 2010, and perhaps the 12 months since) and an Android (those who will be looking to methodically defend and go just as far again, if not a step further) will indubitably be a matter of psychological and physical fortitude. But, let’s be real, mostly mental. A lot of mental.

AMNESIACS

Tsvetana Pironkova: How to explain the free-fall? This quick-striking Piron-ha 2010 made the Wimby semis before evaporating. She gave Serena a fair fight in round one at Eastbourne this month, but the gal who vanquished Venus last year has all but vanished since, nearly as much as the House of Williams itself. A likely and foreboding second-rounder against Vania King or Petra Martic looms. Danger, dear Piron-ha!

Caroline Wozniacki: No way around it, the future no. 1 had her Stella McCartney-branded clock cleaned by Petra Kvitova at this time last year, submitting 2-and-0 to the Czech’s lashing strokes. A hard-court tuneup at home in Copenhagen – dubbed the Wozniacki Open by, well, everyone – wasn’t the best prep, but Caro simply has to forget last year’s lawn debacle if she’s going to vie for that virgin Slam. A potential second-round fracas against Sania Mirza lurks; lest we forget, Mirza took Justine Henin to three sets in Melbourne six months ago.

Full TSF Wimbledon coverage: Men’s preview | Women’s | Your winners?

Mirjana Lucic: The doe-eyed teen once tapped by Steffi Graf as an heir apparent in women’s tennis would probably rather forget the past decade more than just the last year. Lucic competed gamely against Jelena Jankovic at the 2010 U.S. Open but, no thanks to her father, her career and her life have been a piping hot mess since her dreamy ascension to the 1999 Wimbledon semis. First up for the comeback girl: Dominika Cibulkova, the no. 24 seed. Expect a shootout.

Nicholas Mahut: Think the lawn gods are at all kind? Rethink that right quick. Mahut drew John “Tall Tree” Isner in the first round AGAIN. If there’s any justice in the world, Mahut may even notch a W at the Big W this time out, provided that he serves well (you’d think 103 aces last year would have done the trick) and has, you know, developed his return and groundstroke game.

Roger Federer: Fed claimed his back ailed him in going down to Tomas Berdych last year, a gripe that Big Berd received sorely. If his French Open form holds, Roger, who may as well refer to Centre Court as his “backyard,” is a threat to seize his 17th Slam here and now. It may be his best chance for the rest of his career, and subtly so. A possible third-round bout with David Nalbandian intrigues.

Novak Djokovic: The Djoker has done anything but laugh at the All England Club in his young career to date. In short, when this fortnight has come around, his ass is grass. A semifinal appearance in 2010 had him waving his Wimbledon whites to Berdych’s missiles. This year’s streaking artist has much to prove on the surface, and no doubt he feels that heat. To make the semis again would honestly be to break even. Robin Soderling, Phillip Petzschner, Xavier Malisse, Jurgen Melzer, Victor Troicki, Michael Llodra, James Blake, Florian Mayer, fresh-faced Brit James Ward, and even Alejandro Falla (who nearly pulled the early rug out from under Fed last year) are all in his section. In a word, wow. He’d have better luck to play them all at once…

ANDROIDS

Ever the android, Kvitova levitates at the 2010 Championships. (Getty)

Vera Zvonareva: Life itself is like Ms. Zvonareva: You never know what you’re gonna get. Last week’s Eastbourne triumph over Serena (7-5 in the 3rd!) had to help, but VZ has scads and oodles of points to defend here or her ranking may dive. Elena Vesnina, her doubles partner in a run to the final last year, awaits in round two, but Vera should and will be wise to not look past Alison Riske first. The American girl has a grass-tastic forehand and likes the turf.

Serena Williams: Nary a new word can be crafted as far as what Serena’s presence does for the media and entertainment prospects at these Championships. The defending champ rained down a record 89 aces in taking the title in 2010 without losing a set – and then POOF! we didn’t see her again until this present time. Her makeshift match play at Eastbourne belies the fact that, when all’s on the line, you doubt a Williams and you likely get burned. A funked-up Aravane Rezai is her first foe, and it’s hard to see anyone in her quadrant giving Serena an alley fight until Marion Bartoli or Na Li in the later rounds.

Petra Kvitova: Mmm, too Kvit to quit – Petra means “rock” in Greek, but this Czech sensation can be a bit malleable in high-risk situations. Sure, she blasted Wozniacki en route to a combative 2010 semi against Serena, but she’s not dazzled when it mattered most in Slams since then. A Paris victory indoors over Kim Clijsters is her best showing in the past year. She needs a defining statement at this Slam to regain her form and inflict terror in opponents about her ground game, if not her endearing pterodactyl-esque squawk after lasering winners. Hard-serving Canuck Rebecca Marino may give her game like whoa in round three.

Tomas Berdych: Forget the fact that T-Berd fell in the French’s first round 9-7 in the fifth, less surrendering his 2010 semifinal points there. He has finalist credentials in London, and simply must go about his work robotically and avoid considering that his last year has been a wipeout. He didn’t handle the new media attention well in the wake of his surprise showing last year, but the sole seeming trouble he may have in his eighth of the draw arrives in the person of Philipp Kohlschreiber, a grass-court maven and heartbreaker who often plays the top guns tight. After that? Nadal. Then again, this is Berdych, and he might as well make his own life harder with Julien Benneteau early.

Rafael Nadal: The changing conditions of the court and heavier balls at Wimbledon have benefitted Rafa to no end. If the grass was as it was in the 1980s and ‘90s, he’d have no chance and Federer would be approaching 20 Slams now. Even so, the reigning champ (who should be sporting an “I’m still no. 1, no?” tee these days) has done everything right to capitalize on his strengths and impose his will here. A third-round boxing match with Milos Raonic and/or a fourth-round duel against Juan Martin del Potro both entice.

Andy Murray: Besides James Ward, who just alighted upon the grass courts and the front pages in the UK with recent success, there’s a strapping lad by the name of Andy Murray who, like Federer, is poised in a prime spot to turn the tables on Nadal and Djokovic, the two who have garnered all the 2011 press to date. Mr. Fuzzy Muzz should shed his thin skin (in addition to his overgrown Chia head and whiskers) and put his (tennis) balls to the (purple and green) wall. He may get Ivan Ljubicic, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Andy Roddick in succession, but Raggedy Andy proved himself on clay this spring and now could catalyze a tennis revolution in Great Britain by channeling all his nervous energy into a real run to the final. No time like now for the cunning no. 4 star.

Jonathan Scott is the keeper of the Daily Spin column at TENNIS.com and a freelance music scribe when he’s not caught up by tennis, which is hardly ever. Follow him on Twitter: @jonscott9