graf (and agassi) to play at wimbledon!

The AP is reporting that Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf will participate in an exo at Wimbledon, partly to help test out the playing conditions under the new Center Court roof.

They’ll be joined by Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman at the May 17 “Centre Court Celebration” event, which will include a men’s singles, women’s singles, and mixed doubles match.

Graf was quoted by the AP: “There is no tennis venue more special to me than Centre Court at Wimbledon,” the German said. “It just doesn’t get any better. I couldn’t be more honored to play there again with my husband Andre, and tennis greats Kim and Tim. It will mean so much to return to Wimbledon and … relive so many wonderful memories.”

As you may remember, the original roof was dismantled after the ’06 tournament and returned in 2008. Construction of the moving parts began in July. (Geek out: See how the retractable roof works.)

Buy: Tickets are $50, and will go on sale March 12 via Ticketmaster.

flashback: tennis masters cup, 2004 (houston)

I was looking for old tennis photos online, and I ran into these pictures taken of the nine guys (including the alternate) who descended upon Houston for the Tennis Masters Cup in 2004.

The Argentines: Guillermo Canas and Gaston Gaudio

The boys: Andy Roddick and Guillermo Coria

The daddies (DILFs?): Lleyton Hewitt and Tim Henman

The ILFs: Marat Safin and Carlos Moya

and Roger Federer

Roger beat Lleyton in straight sets — 6-3, 6-2 — to take his 11th title of 2004 and his second consecutive year-end title.

(photos by Getty Images)

dc: great britain vs. croatia

Tim Henman put icing on his retirement cake this weekend by helping lead Great Britain to a 4-1 win over Croatia in Davis Cup. This victory puts them in the World Group for 2008. (Results.)

Hey, at least Henman got a chance to have a glorious moment on the surface (and the venue — the All-England Club) that haunted his career the most; Tim was burdened with the pressure of being a hometown Wimbledon winner. Unfortunately, even his great serve-and-volley game crumbled under this expectation.

The threads: Henman’s never wacky with his clothes anyway, so the adidas kit (with the country name on the shirt’s back) was as expected. And Andy Murray continued the color theme with his muted black and white Fred Perry kit. (Mourning the loss of his 2007, I imagine?) The Scot won both his singles rubbers, and his brother Jamie teamed with Tim to win the doubles rubber — and clinch the tie.

The perfect accessory: Little Rosie Henman was also on hand to help celebrate her dad’s win.

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>> TSF’s davis cup coverage

short balls: u.s. open edition

The kids are alright: We’re happy to know that the junior tennis players are cultivating their clothing style as much as their playing style. Australian Stephen Donald leads the pack. (via DTL)

What about Tim: Was there ever really a good time to announce Tim Henman‘s retirement? The Times points out that NYT barely mentions the news.

Players’ lounge sightings: Nole loves him some foosball (TNYO)

Ana’s new lover?: Deadspin comments on Darren Rovell‘s obsession with Ana Ivanovic.

JNP was right: There’s a reason why Richard Williams has kept mum about his predictions so far — he’s not happy with Venus‘ play this week.

Sound bites: Richard Dietsch compiled some good press conference quotes from Week One, and Marat‘s was the best.

“At age 17 I had nothing planned, no cash, my sponsor dropped me and nobody wanted to help me in the [Russian] Federation because it was difficult times. The last source was my mother. She gave me $500 and said, ‘You have luck or you don’t have luck. This is your last hope. Take the $500 and go to the French Open and try to look for some money.’ This is tough situation. So sitting here and asking about speculation about how many Grand Slam I should have won, it’s a little bit funny.”

(photo via Yahoo! Sports)

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>> TSF’s u.s. open coverage continues…

short balls: rafa seeks DC change, wade on british tennis, USTA job opening, etc.

When he speaks, Davis Cup should listen: Spaniard Rafael Nadal, a dedicated Davis Cup participant, calls for a change in the event’s schedule. Other players may have hemmed and hawed, but if a high-profile player like Rafa offers this advice, the ITF should seriously consider a schedule switch. (Reuters)

The USTA tries a new approach to ‘saving’ tennis: See this post from Zoo Tennis on breeding tennis phenoms. We’re too soft on our kids, they say. I agree.

Djokovic under the influence: Enlisting the help of Australian Mark Woodforde hasn’t quite paid off yet for Nole Djokovic; he crashed in the early rounds of the Artois last week. I hope they cash in during Wimbledon. (The Age)

Tim Henman’s advice: If you choose not to smell the s*&%t, it’s less likely to stink. (Telegraph)

Virginia Wades in: The last British winner of a Wimbledon singles title (1977) says, among other things, that she would not have chosen tennis as a career had there been more opportunities for women in the ’70s. (Guardian)

USTA has an opening: Director of Online Content. (via psfk.com)

davis cup: Great Britain vs. the Netherlands

This tie produced some high-quality tennis and some great storylines (including Greg Rusedski‘s retirement and the continued success of the Murray brothers in doubles), but the uniforms left something to be desired.

I wonder why the Brits decided to go with a muted black and white for their outfits, especially since their warm-ups had so much potential. At least they coordinated?

rusedski and jamie murraytim henman - davis cup 2007jamie murray - davis cup 2007
(from left to right: Jamie Murray, Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman, Andy Murray)

The Dutch didn’t dress any better, though I see potential with the blue and orange/gold. (See Robin Haase‘s shirt, middle photo.) Their homework for next year: take inspiration from the Netherlands’ coat of arms.

sisjling - davis cup 2007haase - davis cup 2007Raemon Sluiter - davis cup 2007
(from left to right: Igor Sisjling, Robin Haase, Raemon Sluiter)

Dutch MVP: Robin Haase
British MVP: no MVP
Winner: The Brits wore the same colors — a de facto uniform — but the Dutch showed some color. It’s a draw.

LTA nat’l tennis centre: bat- and badger-friendly

The LTA National Tennis Centre opened today in Roehampton. Greg Rusedski and Judy Murray, among others, were on hand to greet the Queen Mum, who paid visit to the Centre. She looked absolutely cute in her purple skirt suit (photos here).

This hopefully will be a boon to UK tennis. They seem to be in the process of righting some wrongs, at least with their juniors program — problems that have resulted in having only a handful of men (two, and no women) briefly occupy the top 10 in the last 30 years. And by visiting the Centre on Thursday, perhaps the Queen is reaching out. She still has a way to go, though: she has met neither the former (Tim Henman) nor current (Andy Murray) hopes of UK tennis. And both have been playing tennis for a very long time. WTF? Get your handlers on it. Now.

But back to this wonderful complex designed by Hopkins Architects. Give them thumbs up for taking steps to ensure the safety of animal habitat (bats, badgers) and to minimize the effects of rainwater drainage on nearby Beverley Brook.

And kudos, too, to the Centre’s Deuce Cafe, which prepares food using fair trade, organic, and local ingredients. They also recycle, and choose biodegradable products when possible.

(photos from the LTA website)

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on your day off from the tennis court…

If you’re like me, and your tennis game isn’t quite up to snuff, you try to find ways to intimidate your opponent into losing. But what if the stare-downs aren’t giving you free points, and the elaborate pre-match stretches aren’t making the other guy cower? Don’t bother with all that. Next time, just get straight to the point by showing up looking exactly like a pro.

— Take a look at these masks from the BBC website. (I suggest having them printed onto fabric so you can actually wear them on the court.)

nadal-mask-bbc myskina-mask-bbc murray - mask - bbc

— And if you want to dress like a pro, the folks at Teamsugar have bookmarked a slew of tennis goodies that should make it easier for you to put together a fashionable outfit.

— And when you’ve gotten your look together, but you feel like your game isn’t quite up to pro par, just remember: you can dink that ball into the service box and still find a way to win.