fed cup 2010 – first round

That’s Bojana Jovanovski, Ana Jovanovic, captain Dejan Vranes, Jelena Jankovic, and Ana Ivanovic at the official Fed Cup dinner on the eve of the tie between Serbia and Russia. As you can see from the schedule below, the headcase Ivanovic will go up against Svetlana Kuznetsova first, and then Jelena, whose back injury could hamper her performance, will then face the hard-hitting Alisa Kleybanova.

Russian team: Captain Shamil Tarpischev, Vera Dushevina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Alisa Kleybanova.

If the tie was based solely on footwear, the Serbians win. What is up with Anastasia’s red bra??

Who’s playing whom + TV: Here’s the line-up for all four World Group ties (plus TC’s coverage of the US/France tie) — after the cut…

gallery perusing

There is always plenty of interesting (and sometimes questionable) photos to peruse on the WTA’s photo gallery from each tournament each week. This last week, the folks at the tour put together a couple of gems from Hobart and Sydney. We picked out a few of our faves.

Alicia Molik and Sania Mirza try on some cricket gear with a couple of beefies.

We really do believe that Daniela Hantuchova belongs in the ’70s. According to her tee, so does she.

Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic on the red carpet at Sydney. Which outfit do you like better?

(photos via WTA.com/getty images)

this is how you do it: doha edition

Tournament organizers in doubt about how to stage a draw ceremony can now use the 2009 SEWTA Tour Championships as a reference.

They dolled up the ladies, threw them in the Museum of Islamic Art, and snapped away. The results? Venus gets our vote for “Best Style”, Elena gets “Most Glam”, and we are all about Azarenka‘s big bow. (Is that you, Blake Lively?)

Who was your fave?

Up close: Pics of each lady after the cut.

[Read more…]

trophy watch: kerchiefs, gang signs, pearl studs, and gold crosses

Moscow, represent: Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova bagged her first title since tearing it up on the clay courts in early 2009 (with titles in Stuttgart and Roland Garros) by defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in the final of the China Open. Not sure if it’s this new positive aura of hers, but she was lookin’ damn good in the cap-sleeve top from Fila‘s fall Heritage collection. (Buy: $38.99 at TW)

Nole, unveiled: Were we really surprised that there was a Serbian striptease after Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles title at the China Open? He took out Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6 (4) in a rain-addled final. Nole now has three titles (Dubai and Serbia Open); he heads Shanghai to take part in the Shanghai Masters tourney (this week).

If you know what’s going on with the bandana wrapped around their wrists, hit me up.

Stud, studded: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and his pearl studs were no match for Mikhail Youzhny in the Japan Open. The Frenchman won 6-3, 6-3. Props to Youzhny, though, who beat Gilles Simon, Tomas Berdych, and Lleyton Hewitt on his way to the final. That one-handed backhand was smokin’!

Seal of approval: That chinese name stamp the China Open tourney organizers gave to Marat Safin after his swan song in Beijing was a cool concept.

phoenix returns to the nest, leaves with the queen

We’ve just finished Day 3 of play and already Caro‘s out (grumpily), Venus is gone, and Jelena‘s title defense fizzled. Maybe a lesson should be gleaned from women who get their on-court kits custom-made?

Not convinced? Then we present Exhibit D in the form of Zheng Jie, who had her “Z” monogram adapted by ANTA to reflect her participation in this week’s China Open in Beijing.

The design’s named “Phoenix Returns to Nest” — symbolic of Zheng’s return to her home SEWTA tourney after months of playing all over the world. “I especially like this apparel as the design is simple yet it contains a lot of Chinese elements,” said Zheng of the apparel.

Sadly, Zheng lost in the first round to sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova; the Russian’s slated to face Venus-killer Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarters.

Bracketology: Serena is lurking in the same half as Kuzie, and will probably go up against Peng, who’s through to the quarters after beating Sharapova. Meanwhile, in the other half, Chinese No. 1 Li Na is out, losing to Dementieva in the third round. In the other quarter, Shuai Zhang will go up against Marion Bartoli for a spot in the final eight. Draw here (pdf).

Pleats, at least: See Zheng’s kit up close after cut…

trophy watch: kuznetsova clears her head (and her mantle) for a second slam title

Pretty in pink: Svetlana Kuznetsova remained subdued on Court Philippe Chatrier after Dinara Safina double-faulted and handed her the 2009 French Open singles title. It wasn’t worth it for Sveta to rub the lopsided 6-4, 6-2 match in the face of her friend, who currently holds the world No. 1 ranking.

Apart from playing a worthy opponent — Kuznetsova gave her her only loss in 21 matches from Stuttgart through the French — Safina was also battling the pressure of the top spot and her nerves. “I was a little bit desperate on the court,” said Safina, who appeared to be fighting tears late in the 74-minute match and during the on-court trophy presentation.

During Sveta’s speech, she made sure to thank her former posse in Barcelona, who’ve since been replaced by a Moscow-based team headed by coach Larisa Savchenko. And in her post-match interview with Mary Carillo, she talked (like a seasoned veteran) about how a newfound outlook on her life has made her a better player. It has pretty much taken her five years to turn this around, and it has carried her to this, her second slam title. The biggest test of this new Kuznetsova is whether she can take this momentum into New York and win a second U.S. Open title.

Bonus round: Six-time French Open singles title winner Steffi Graf was on hand to present Sveta and Safina with their wares.

(images via Getty Images)

trophy watch: estoril, serbia, and roma

One less salute: Fourth seed Tomas Berdych topped Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in the final of the BMW Open in Munich. Tomas took home a Z4 Roadster along with two business class tickets from South African Airways and €71,700.

Blake falls down the Montanes: Spaniard Albert Montanes won the Portuguese bullfight against American James Blake 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-0. Didn’t help that James was wearing red Fila during the week-long event in Estoril. On the women’s side, Yanina Wickmayer took the title by beating Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-2.

Safina makes it real: In Rome, Dinara Safina proved to the world that her No. 1 ranking is legit by defeating former No. 1 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

He kinda had to: Over in Belgrade, Novak Djokovic‘s inaugural Serbian Open (formerly the ABN AMRO) turned out to be quite a success. Over 70,000 spectators saw him beat lucky loser Lukasz Kubot; the Polish player took out seeds Igor Andreev and Ivo Karlovic en route to the final.

honorable mention: zheng jie in australia

zheng-jie-aussie09a

She’s legit: China’s Zheng Jie set the tone for her 2009 with a fourth round showing at this year’s Australian Open. Unfortunately, she had to retire during that match (against Svetlana Kuznetsova) because of a wrist injury she sustained during a fall. Kuzie was up 4-1 in the first set.

As you may remember, Zheng reached the semis at last year’s Wimbledon (where she fell to Serena Williams), causing Nike to up her prominence in Olympics-related advertising in China.

zheng-jie-aussie09c

Is this Nike? She spent her first (and maybe second) round playing in a light pastel pink dress with a fabric belt and gathered detail on the shoulders.

She then switched up to simple bow-adorned whites, the top trimmed two light yellow floral graphic strips at the bust and a pink gothic “Z” on the chest. This reminds me of a pre-Fila Agi Szavay.

(images via Getty Images)