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)

2013 check-in: who are your tennis HOATs?

Hottest Tennis Players of All Time

Time Capsule: When we first shared our Hottest-of-All-Time Tennis Players list back in 2007, our list had Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy HaasMarat SafinPatrick Rafter, and Arnaud Clement (with runners-up Nikolay DavydenkoAndy Murray, and Mikhail Youzhny.)

Our tastes have evolved over the years (and there are players whose looks and tennis talent have catapulted them into the TSF orbit). And so our HOAT list, updated for 2013: Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Haas, Janko Tipsarevic, and Juan Monaco.

Who’s on your list? Tell us!

how we'll cope with tommy haas' retirement

Ups and downs: We’re trying to take in as much of Tommy Haas as we can, especially after the injury that’s left him iffy and cautious about how much longer he’ll play on the tour (this year).

But when Tommy packs up, we’ll turn to boxes, too — of Thomas Haas chocolate. (We prefer bold and dark, please). The sugar high isn’t quite the same as the thrill of Tommy sightings, but it’ll get pretty close.

Brackets: At this week’s U.S. Open, the veteran German beat Jonathan Dasnieres De Veigy in the first round and will face Alejandro Falla in the second. (Draw: Men’s Singles)

(And since we couldn’t back up our Farmers Classic Tommy report with a photograph, here’s exhibit A, above, snapped by Anthony Chartoff during a hitting session at this year’s U.S. Open. Check out all of Chartoff’s great pics here.)

(via)

18 crumbs from taste of tennis

And by “crumbs,” we mean people, of course. Thursday night, TSF made its way to Taste of Tennis, the yearly event that combines food, the chefs that make it and a line-up of US Open tennis players for an evening that’s quite delectable. It was our first time there, and we were lucky enough to be joined by the talented photographer Billie Weiss, who snapped all 13 of these images in this post. But while Billie took in the visuals, we worked the green carpet and nabbed a few folks for a word or two before they headed in to snarf and socialize.

Our leading man, Gilles Simon, above, worked the green carpet longer than anyone else, happily obliging to speak with every single reporter and blogger (and there were plenty of us!) along his way.

TSF: What’s been the most surprising thing about year one of fatherhood? Hardest?
Gilles Simon: Well, it’s not surprising because I wanted it. [Smiling.] The mother, she is fabulous. When I have a match and the baby is crying in the night, I don’t wake up, she will always do that. For me, I just have the good things during a tournament: I get to enjoy him and when I don’t win a match he makes me smile because he is always happy to see [me]. I tend to forget about tennis around him.

TSF: Are you guys always traveling as a unit?
GS: We are not always together. But when we are, the mother helps me a lot — she is very patient. I try to have them with me as much as possible, of course.

TSF: What’s one thing you love about coming to New York?
GS: I am from Paris so shopping is not a big deal here. [Smiling.] It’s just being here. You cannot see this city anywhere else in the world. Nothing is the same. At night, sometimes it is too much for me, but it’s only two weeks. I can do that. I really enjoy traveling in different parts of the world. New York? You can’t find it anywhere else.

TSF: Tell us what you’re doing here tonight.
Gigi Fernandez: I’m here as an ambassador for the event. I’m delighted that I get to combine my two passions: tennis and drinking. [Laughs.] No, no. Tennis and food. Rums of Puerto Rico [one of the sponsors] asked me to come tonight and I’ve done stuff with them before. I did an event with them in Washington DC that was an Iron Chef-style competition where the chefs had to prepare food using different rums. And I was one of the judges… we got to drink and eat. It was great! It’s always fun for me to represent anything Puerto Rican.

TSF: OK, you’ve made two drink reference so far. What’s your favorite drink?
GF: Mojitos. They’re my favorite.

TSF: What else are you up to these days?
GF: Being a full-time mom is a full-time job. I do a lot of corporate clinics and several events during the Open. I play in the Senior event at the Open and I did so at Wimbledon and the French Open, too.

TSF: Do you care to weigh in on the women’s side this year?
GF: I think if Serena can stay fit then she’s clearly heads above the rest. When she’s 100% she’s the best player in the world.

TSF: Have any of the younger American girls caught your eye at all?
GF: Yeah, actually. Monica Puig is a Puerto Rican player. She’s the highest-ranked American junior coming up and she’ll have a similar dilemma to the one that I had in trying to figure out who she will represent. She’s definitely the one with the most potential.

TSF: What is on the iPod these days?
Vera Zvonareva: Well, I like Rihanna a lot. I like Nickelback right now and Linkin Park. There are a couple new songs from Bruno Mars out there, too.

TSF: Do you ever try to see anyone live when you’re traveling?
VZ: That’s something that I would love to do one day. Unfortunately, it never really works out with the tournaments. When you listen to music live it’s a great feeling. It’s something that I really want to do eventually.

TSF: What about when you have an afternoon or evening to yourself? What is me-time for Vera?
VZ: I lock myself in the hotel room and put a movie on and I can watch three or four movies at a time.

TSF: And your fave?
VZ: Bodyguard.

TSF: Touché V!

TSF: Pilates or yoga? What would you go for?
Janko Tipsarevic:
I would go for yoga. I tried it once on P90X and I only made it to two days because of my schedule. I was imagining that it was going to be really easy but it really is not. It’s all about focus.

TSF: What about starting a line of your own roller-bags at some point?
JT: I would, but the company — Technifibre — they were not really a big fan of that bag. But I always say, “Why wear it over your shoulder when you can roll it on the ground?” I know I look like I’m going to the airport but it’s so much easier.

TSF: Do you think that Djokovic’s run has motivated the rest of you Serbians to play better as well?
VZ: With winning the Davis Cup, it really inspired all of us to play better. With Novak, I’m really happy to have him as a friend. I have a front row seat to see what he is doing. I’m not afraid to talk to him and see what he is doing and what he is thinking. It’s only helped me improve.

TSF: What if you could make one meal? Where would it be? What would it include?
Tamira Paszek: One meal? That I cook? I love risotto, especially before the beginning of a tournament. Like a mushroom risotto with truffle oil. I cook sometimes … it’s relaxing. At Wimbledon we rented a house and we cooked then.

Tommy Haas chatted with a few folks on the line, then made a dash for the food. Leftovers? Loved the just-showered wet-hair look.

Rafael Nadal MUST have had a change-of-shirts after sporting the same outfit at Macy’s earlier in the day. He looked surprisingly fresh-faced after the mob on 34th. Leftovers? Benito responded to a question in Spanish with Italian.

Fernando Verdasco is really looking his best we’ve seen in a long while. Love the hair, love the (lack-of) facial hair. Leftovers? Has he lost weight?!

Click for more crumbs from TOT — and Billie Weiss’ photos. [Read more...]

stepanek plays munich doubles with haas

How refreshingly non-abrasive is this Alea polo currently on Radek Stepanek? Perfect complement to the clay courts in Munich at the BMW Open, definitely. The Czech’s is still in the running for singles, taking out Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-0 in the quarters and will next play Kolya (!!). The other semi will be all-German, pitting Petzschner against Mayer. Draw: BMW Open Singles.

It was also good to see Tommy Haas back in action after a long recovery from shoulder and hip surgery. (Haas went under the knife back in February 2010). He teamed up with Stepanek (Tommy’s neighbor in Florida) for doubles; they lost in the first round to Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley. Looking forward: Haas is eyeing Halle, the French, and Wimbledon as tournaments to play this year.

(images by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

tommy haas, en fuego

Speaking of our HOATs (it’s that kind of a day), Tommy Haas was locked in a five-set battle against Janko Tipsarevic, which rendered us useless (and awake) for a few hours last night. Haas won and will now face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round. Draw: View his section of the draw here.

Tommy’s smokin’: The German’s no longer peddling K-Swiss goods, instead wearing pieces with the flame logo of Solfire, a Miami-based clothing company founded by artist Brendan Murphy. Note the use of graphics on the side and back of Tommy’s shirts. Check out some of the line (though not these specific performance pieces) on their site. We haven’t asked K-Swiss about who’s taking over Tommy’s place, but we’ll let you know when we find out anything more.

Uhm, can someone get him an underwear sponsor already? All that running around from side to side — it must hurt.

Bonus round: Yep, we couldn’t stop staring at his tummy, either.

(images via Getty Images)

short balls wednesday

Tennis players are human, too: Some need hookers, some need meth. Others need a better immune system. It was revealed earlier this week that touring pro Tommy Haas is recovering from swine flu and is out of Basel and Paris to finish the season. See ya next year, TomTom.

B-listed in Bali: It’s strange that the women’s tour, which had its season-ending tournament last week, has another tour stop in Bali this week, don’t you think? We think so. The girls looked a little overworked in this photo gallery put together by the WTA. Ready for holiday and rest time, ladies? You deserve it. And shouldn’t it be called the “Tournament of Almost Champions“? Just seems a little more appropriate… 

Inside peek, hold the cheese: The ATP has put together a solid video package for it’s “Uncovered” series, and this week features Novak Djokovic. The videos come with sit-down interviews and a look at the players’ off-court lives. While lots of stuff the tours put together can sometimes seem forced and overdone, we’re liking the professionalism and simplicity of these vids. James Blake was last week’s star. Now let’s talk about re-working that intro…

Talking heads: Two gals – Jennifer Williams and Brittany Umar – have been talking up tennis the past couple of weeks on the web. Williams is a regular reporter for ESPN.com’s Digital Serve, while Umar was a fill-in for TennisWeek.com‘s regular host, Carrie Milbank. While we respect these ladies for chatting up the tour online, we’re wondering if this is the future of tennis media online? Williams has her wits about her, but Umar seems to mostly be entrenched as a business reporter.

Painful good-bye: Stephanie Myles writes in the the Vancouver Sun that the WTA season has limped to a close this year. Good thing the girls are done battling. But the men? They still have three weeks left.

Au revoir, Roland?: A delayed stadium project in Paris could end up moving the French Open completely. Officials are trying to work with city council members to avoid having to move the beloved clay major, but it might be inevitable, one official said. So where to, we wonder?

too much tommy

Tommy Haas reached the third round of the 2009 French Open by defeating Leonardo Mayer in five sets: 6-3, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 4-6, 6-3. Up next is Jeremy Chardy, who also needed to go all the way with a 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Simone Bolelli.

Buy: Tommy played in the K-Swiss Summer Sublimated Crew, available in white/black and white/online lime for $44.99 at TW. (A polo version is available for $10 more.)

Meanwhile, I’d tell you where to buy Tommy’s underwear, but we’re not entirely sure he was wearing any.

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.