trophy watch: hello to rafa, goodbye to san jose, and the ladies switch it up

Juan Martin del Potro defeats Julien Benneteau in 2013 Rotterdam tennis event

ABN AMRO: Juan Martin del Potro was last man standing at the ABN AMRO WTT, the stacked ATP 500-series event in Rotterdam led by tournament director Richard Krajicek which saw Roger Federer ousted by finalist Julien Benneteau and had semifinal runs by Gilles Simon and Grigor Dimitrov. Delpo earned his 14th career title by downing Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3.

Qatar Total Open 2013 trophies: Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka

Vika wins two: The plot thickens in the battle at the top of the women’s game between Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams. At this past week’s Qatar Total Open, contested in Doha, Serena regained the No. 1 ranking but Azarenka notched her second career win over Williams (in 13 tries) and defended her Doha title. The scoreline: 7-6(6) 2-6, 6-3. Azarenka is taking the week off to heal a foot injury, while Serena is playing in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Serena praised Victoria for her work in the final:

“I always respect Victoria. I think she’s a really good player. Obviously she’s so consistent and she plays well. She’s such a solid player. It’s nice to always play someone and go home and you’re like, ‘Okay, I didn’t do great, but let me work harder.’ I think that she inspires a lot of people to work harder, and definitely me.”

2013 SAP Open - San Jose - Trophy - Milos Raonic defeats Tommy Haas

Bon voyage: The final edition of the 125-year-old SAP Open, held in San Jose, Calif., featured a three-peat for top seed, and two-time defending champ Milos Raonic. He defeated fourth seed Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3. Raonic won all three titles without dropping a set.

Raonic, from Canada, wore a New Balance tee with a black-and-green print. “Today, I’m more of a complete player,” he said after winning the title. “I was able to put pressure on [Haas] in most of his service games. I was able to hold quite handily, which I’ve shown I can do in the past. I was able to create pressure every game. It wasn’t just one game. I was getting to a lot of deuce games.”

Rafael Nadal wins the 2013 Brasil Open

Chippin’ off the old block: The story of Rafael Nadal has finally come full circle. After disappearing from the circuit for about eight months after losing to Lukas Rosol in the early rounds of Wimbledon 2012, the Spaniard took home the Brasil Open (Sao Paolo) title last week. The 6-2, 6-3 victory over David Nalbandian was Nadal’s first since beating Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2012 French Open.

It’s all about the titles: “It’s very nice and important because at the end of your career what’s left are the titles,” Rafa reflected after his win, “and depending on certain moments there are some titles that you appreciate very much. This one I appreciate it the most because of all the struggles I went through during the week, with some problems with my knee some days.”

(Photo Credit: Rotterdam photo via ABN AMRO WTT Facebook; Nadal photo via Brasil Open; San Jose photo via SAP Open website; Vika/Serena photo via Qatar Tennis Federation)

retail therapy: the sap open’s final merch tent

SAP Open - San Jose 2013 - Commemorative T-Shirt

Retail Therapy: There is only one way we know how to mourn the loss of a 124-year-old tennis event here in California, currently named the SAP Open and hosted at the HP Pavilion in San Jose: hitting up that merch tent. This navy varsity tee is the week’s best seller so far, but there are a few more offerings in the gallery below. Adult tees are $30-$35, children’s sizes at $25. None available for sale online, unfortunately, so snap it up on-site if you can!

(RELATED: TSF Picks from the 2013 Australian Open e-store)

Draw: No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion Milos Raonic plays veteran Michael Russell for a spot in the quarters. The rest of the top four – John IsnerSam Querrey, and Tommy Haas — are all still in the running. (Browse: Men’s Singles Draw) Also note that Saturday’s schedule includes a mixed doubles exhibition with Andy RoddickLindsay Davenport, and (ahem) Stefanie Graf before the evening’s singles semifinal match.

(Photo Credit: Nicholas McCarvel/TSF)

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.)

 

 

 

spotted: floating orbs at the sap open

arena decor at the HP Pavilion - SAP Open 2013

What a fitting way to bid adieu to tennis in the Bay Area! The folks at the SAP Open in San Jose have decked out the HP Pavilion in floating tennis balls to fill the space within the arena’s vaulted foyer — looks like tennis is just floating away into the ether. The event’ll be missed, for sure.

Action-packed: Tonight, the Bryans face off against fellow Americans Steve Johnson and Jack Sock in the first match of the evening. They’ll be followed by Fernando Verdasco vs. Tim Smyczek. More info available on the SAP Open website.

(Photo via @nickmccarvel/instagram)

trophy watch: acronym edition

SAP: At the SAP Open in San Jose, Fernando Verdasco beat a top-ten player for the first time in 15 tries with his 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 upset of Andy Roddick. Andy was none too happy about a few line calls that didn’t go his way.

GDF: Top seed Elena Dementieva needed three sets to overcome a nagging Lucie Safarova 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4. This is Dementieva’s second title of 2010; she also won the Sydney tournament before the Australian Open.

PTT: Vera Zvonareva successfully defended her title at the PTT Pattaya Open title in Thailand by taking down hometown fave Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-4, 6-4.

ABN AMRO: Swede Robin Soderling was the last man standing in Rotterdam after Mikhail Youzhny retired while trailing 0-2 in the second set. Youzhny sustained the injury after he stunned top seed Novak Djokovic 7-6 (5), 7-6, (6). Soderling also upset a seed, Nikolay Davydenko, in the semis.

JCF: In Costa do Sauipe, the Joma-wearing Juan Carlos Ferrero steamrolled Lukasz Kubot 6-1, 6-0 at the Brasil Open for his 13th career title.

(images via Getty Images)

trophy watch: llodra keeps his clothes on, venus makes her case, roddick hits back, etc.

Robredo rolls: Spaniard Tommy Robredo has been slowly compiling a successful 2009 (he’s 15-3 in match wins so far), adding to last week’s Brasil Open title a trophy from the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires. As a part of a nine-match winning streak, Tommy took out 2007 champ Juan Monaco 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

Roddick’s revenge: Early bird got The Worm this week when Andy exacted revenge on Radek Stepanek‘s title win over the American at last week’s SAP Open. This time around, at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, the top seed only needed two sets to take out Stepanek: 7-5, 7-5.

As you may have heard, Roddick is skipping this the ATP Dubai stop in support of Shahar Peer. Good for him.

Teenage triumph: And on the women’s side of this combined tournament, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka upset top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the finals of Memphis 6-1, 6-3. This is Victoria’s second title of the year (and of her career). She was merely playing catch-up to Wozniacki, whose breakout 2008 produced three titles.

Venus and Virginie: Speaking of Dubai, a gracious (and henna-free) Venus Williams addressed Shahar’s situation during her trophy ceremony after beating Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-2.

“I am not here to rock any boat or upset people, I am just here to do things that are right,” Williams said. “And I think right things are already happening next week and right things will happen next year.”

Props to Virginie and Asics for maxing out her airtime. They had her in another colorway of her separates, this one in black with pink trim.

French fracas: We’re a little sad that the French smorgasbord in Marseille has come to an end (Arnaud Clement, Youzhny, Tursunov, Dimitrov, Vliegen, Seppi, Safin, Chardy, Bolelli), and even sadder that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga denied us a post-win striptease from runner-up Michael Llodra. But thumbs-up to Tsonga for bagging his second title of the year.

Maria’s maiden title: In Bogota, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Gisela Dulko 6-2 6-3 for her first SEWTA title at the Copa Colsanitas tournament.

(images via Getty Images)

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shoeless in san jose

By Nick McCarvel

pete-sampras-sanjose09

Pete Sampras has been going exo-crazy recently (perhaps the coffers are a little emptier around tax season?), making a brief cameo at last week’s SAP Open in San Jose, battling it out with Tommy Haas; the German won 7-6(4), 4-6, 12-10.

During the Sampras avoided any talk of coming out of retirement by talking about every relevant tennis player but himself.

On Roger Federer: “He’s young enough. He’s fresh enough. He’s not 30,” Sampras said. “Having a few years left, I see him doing it. But there are going to be a few guys that are going to push him. It’s just inevitable that he’s going to do it here in the next probably year.”

On Roddick‘s and Blake‘s not being “Rafa” or “Nole” enough to beat Roger: “Andy’s got the power but maybe doesn’t have the athletic ability, and someone like James, who has the athletic ability, but doesn’t have the power… It’s kind of a tough matchup for them, for both those guys.

“Seems like James can stay with Roger. I just think they play similar games and Roger is a little bit better than James at it. And Roddick can overpower Roger at times, but at the same time doesn’t move well enough from the back court to really get into these exchanges, that someone like Djokovic can.”

Video: See Sampras’ SAP Open here, courtesy of Doug Schwartz.

And Pete gave the San Jose crowd a little wardrobe malfunction during his match, ending with a loose shoe on the court. He gave fans one reminiscent moment when losing his shoe on court. This time the ball boy didn’t have to dig in his shorts to rescue the on-court necessity like at Wimbledon ’01.

Choo choo: Sampras went on to Boston and downed John McEnroe to take that city’s Champions Cup title, but not before participating in a mixed doubles match with Anna Kournikova, among others. And in this week’s Regions Morgan Keegan tourney in Memphis, he lost to Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 6-4.

what did your mother tell you?

andy-roddick-aussie09faceb

Be careful, Andy — your face might freeze like that!

I’d be reacting the same way if my Australian Open run was crushed by Roger Federer in the semifinals. We were hoping Andy would put up a better fight against the former world no. 1, especially in light of his “free pass” — Nole‘s heat-related retirement in the quarters. Instead, it was just another day at the clinic; Roger beat Andy in straight sets: 2-6, 5-7, 5-7.

But hey, at least he wasn’t crying!

Speaking of, Andy spoke to the media yesterday in preparation for San Jose and Memphis. He commented on Roger’s tearjerking loss to Rafa Nadal in the Australian Open final:

Well, I mean, I think in sports you can certainly, you know, everyone can relate to being disappointed. I think the thing about, you know, kind of having to stay on for an awards ceremony and from what I read, I think Roger touched on it. Kind of going after a match, taking a shower, stretching, that’s kind of all part of your routine to kind of cool down and to kind of almost try to grab a sense of perspective and get away from everybody watching for a second.

You know, when you have to go straight into the awards ceremony, you know, it’s not easy especially after losing a Grand Slam final. I’ve been on the other end of that with Roger a couple of times. So I don’t think it’s surprising or out of the ordinary.

More: Andy made a few more faces in that semifinal match. See ‘em below.

(photos via Getty Images)