short balls: aussie hangover

There is plenty to be said about this year’s Australian Open. We’ll leave most of the match breakdowns and this’s and that’s to the experts: On Tennis.com, Tom Perrotta is saying that this is a Major that the ladies should be proud of – and I quite agree. Isn’t it crazy what a quality tournament this was, even though the likes of Ivanovic, Venus, Justine and Maria couldn’t even crack deep into the second week? Kudos, gals. Now, let’s get to the good, juicy TSF stuff.

Speaking of Venus, how strange was the word-vomit Tweet barrage from her mother, Oracene Price on Friday? Oracene Tweeted around 60 times in a matter of hours, complimenting Novak DjokovicPetra Kvitova (which Oracene could never spell right) and Li Na along the way. But in the same breath, Oracene poked fun at Clijsters and said she hoped Li would “kick some butt.” That was as talkative as Oracene has been – both online or in person – ever. Here, she seems to make a strange (and confusing) claim that Clijsters is “dubious:”

Twitter-pated: More of Oracene on TSF | Follow Oracene on Twitter | Follow TSF

Hoping to catch Kimmie at the 2012 Olympics before she signs off for good? You probably will get to swig back a Heineken or two, as the London Games are supposedly close to signing a deal with the Dutch beer-producer, according to Marketing magazine: “Heineken will have pouring rights to the hospitality outlets at the 2012 Games and also have the marketing rights to the Olympics and Paralympics, reports Marketing magazine.” (via Sports City)

Close to Melbourne, but across the ocean… Ryan Harrison was victorious in an all-American final at the Honolulu challenger. He took down Alex Kuznetsov to capture the crown, $7,200 and 80 ranking points. Three American women (Julia Cohen, Irina Falconi and Madison Brengle) are doing the dirty work on the USTA Pro Circuit this week. They are the top three seeds in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

And if you haven’t seen this video of a streaker running into a bit of streaking bad luck, you must:

(ao photo by jheritage via flickr; oracene screen grab via twitter; video screen grab via youtube)

nic’s six: author nic brown provides observations from this year’s uso

As the US Open winds down, we wanted to corral author Nic Brown into throwing over a few of his thoughts the TSF way. We asked the Doubles novelist to send us a list of five things from the last 10 days and he came back with one extra in “Nic’s six”. The guy has a way with words, no? If you didn’t notice, Nic’s good friend and former ATP doubles expert Tripp Phillips was featured as a recruiter on the Straight Sets tennis blog. -NM

1. The Serbian (Fashion) Equation
Exhibit A: In the past, the cast in the Novak Djokovic box have simultaneously removed their shirts in celebration.
Exhibit B: During Djokovic’s fourth round match against Mardy Fish, his father wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with a huge airbrush-type image of his son.
Exhibit C: Djokovic’s new wardrobe is decorated with dragons seemingly inspired by Ed Hardy.

Closing argument: I do not know much about Serbia, let alone Serbian fashion. But I do know quite a bit about the sun-burnt population of the Carolina coastal region. Hence, I think during this Slam, I have, for the first time ever, uncovered a direct cultural parallel between monster truck fans in Myrtle Beach and Djokovic supporters in Belgrade.

2. Wheel Me It Isn’t So
The Dostoevsky tattoos, the on-court glasses, the beard: Janko Tipsarvic is clearly rad. I have always loved this guy. But when he trotted out on court to play Andy Roddick wheeling behind him a giant tennis bag on wheels, he shot into the stratosphere for me. I guess he’s already been sporting this thing for a few weeks this summer, but this was the first I saw of it. He clearly doesn’t give a damn about toeing the traditional tennis line, and I love him for it. On a more complicated note, he has confounded my previous theories about Serbian fashion. There is definitely no one in Myrtle Beach who looks like Janko.

3. Spraying Balls as Performance Art
In the first seven points of Feliciano Lopez’s round of sixteen match against Rafael Nadal Tuesday night, Lopez sprayed three balls into the stands off miss-hits. I don’t takes cuts like Lopez does, and I’m not playing Nadal in post-Earl wind gusts, but still – if I lose one ball a set I’m embarrassed. Also, I’m not in the top twenty-five. I’ve never seen anything like it. It immediately erased any consideration I had that it was going to be a good match. And it wasn’t. More interesting, though, is the fact that I just learned Lopez plays himself on a Spanish sitcom. Very performance art of him. Perhaps that’s what was going on with the stray balls, too?

4. Back, And Looking Fabulous
Everyone seemed to think Roger Federer’s Wimbledon back injury was caused by some infection of sour grapes, but I had some inside sources who told me it was quite serious. I still thought it was sour grapes. But I now have to say I think he really was injured in England, because he’s moving so well again and looks better than he even did in Australia. If Nadal can’t pick up his return game by Sunday, and if Federer gets past Djokovic in the semis, Federer might actually win a grand slam final against him for the first time in three years.

Sign language and shoe-tastrophes to finish off Nic’s list. [Read more...]

short balls: the weekender

We’re doing a weekend edition of short balls because the US Open calls for us to be a little more on top of our games, something that Jelena Jankovic couldn’t quite do in the third round on Saturday. Do you guys ever think this girl is going to win a Slam? Will she be the formidable #1 she was a few years ago or was it just a flash in the pan? I’m curious to see what sort of trajectory her career now takes on. She’s sort of hit an official slump, no?

No such slump is happening for Francesca Schiavone, at least not anymore. The French Open champ struggled since winning in Paris, going 3-6 over the summer and coming into the US Open with a giant question mark looming over her head. But earlier this week, Schiavone hits a jaw-dropping shot that matched that of Roger Federer from night one of the Open. Running down a baseline lob from Alona Bondarenko, Schiavone tagged a ball between her legs that went zooming back over the next and help her win the point. As Sports Illustrated writer Brian Armen Graham noted, Schiavone was humble as usual: “”Is nothing programmed. Is just instinct. Is art.” Artful, indeed.

More art is happening in the form of photo galleries, three of which caught my eye over the past week. Tennis.com has a gallery up of past US Open magazine covers from their 30-plus years on the newsstand, which also chronicles the price rise of magazines over the years (if your eye can catch them in small print). Meanwhile, the NYT has a (OT) slideshow up of the Oval Office through the years, just in time for the Office to get a face-lift. Pretty cool. And Prince has a great photo album up on facebook featuring week-one shots of their players at Flushing Meadows.

More short balls after the cut. [Read more...]