gettin’ glassy-eyed: marat bows out of beijing

Marat Safin lost to Rafa Nadal 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals of this week’s Beijing Open.

Rafa on Marat: “I am happy for him to have the end the China Open for him like this. So, for the rest, it is important for tennis. Marat is a very important player for tennis, for the fans, so we are going to miss him a lot”

Up next for Safin is a wildcard entry into the Shanghai Masters.

Trophy watch: As a “thank you” for his years of service, the tourney organizers gave Marat a chinese seal carving with his name on it.

(images via Getty Images)

trophy watch: winning matches by hitting the ball? so 2008

Not many repeats this week as the lower-profile players — at least when it comes to wins — chomped off pieces of the trophy pie.

Golden statement: In Kuala Lumpur, Russian Nikolay Davydenko wore his gilded Airness track jacket as he received the trophy for beating Fernando Verdasco to take the Proton Malaysian Open on Sunday.

Kolya now has three titles (Hamburg and Umag are the other two) and has yet to catch a FeVer; he’s now 6-1 in his head-to-head against Verdasco.

Simon’s say: In Bangkok, new TSF fave Gilles Simon kept his clothes on long enough to bag the PTT Thailand Open title with his 7-5, 6-3 victory over Viktor Troicki. This is Simon’s first title of the year and sixth of this career.

Wrist accesories: Like a good pro, Russian Maria Sharapova slapped on her Tag Heuer watch just after winning the Toray Pan Pacific Open. Unfortunately, the victory came from Jelena Jankovic injuring her wrist in the seventh game of the first set. Masha also won this in 2005, defeating Lindsay Davenport in the final. This was Sharapova’s first title since Amelia Island in April 2008.

On the right is a pic of the many bracelets (cute charms!) that Jelena wore with her red ANTA dress.

(images via Getty)

trophy watch: monfils hatches a green egg, date set a date with history, etc.

Proud achievement or slap in the face? Japanese phoenix Kimiko Date-Krumm became the oldest SEWTA winner since BJK in 1983 by beating Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3 at the Korea Open. Set this win beside Kimmie‘s U.S. Open triumph (and alongside Dinara‘s first round disaster in Tokyo) and what you get is fodder for naysayers of the deflated WTA Tour. Either way, congrats to Kimiko!

You can’t Photoshop that even if you tried: Israeli Shahar Pe’er beat local (Uzbekistani) Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3, 6-4 at the Tashkent Open. Shahar also won the singles title at last week’s Guangzhou Open.

More: The men, and toasts to Agassi and Kramer after the cut…

rg2009: no trophies were bitten in the making of this record-tying feat

Congrats to Roger Federer for getting that clay monkey off his back; up until this morning, he lacked a mini Coupe des Mousquetaires* in his overflowing trophy case, which put his place among the tennis greats into question. But now that he’s filled that French Open void in his record — with a 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 performance over an overwhelmed (and likely exhausted) Robin Soderling — Federer can play out the rest of his years with a clear mind. He’s achieved pretty much everything: a prolonged stay at the top of the rankings, an Olympic gold (albeit in doubles), and singles trophy from all four majors. (Has he won all of the Masters Series events?). Nothing is stopping him from surpassing Pete Sampras‘s record in bagged Slam titles and becoming the GOAT of his generation. Unfortunately, Roger could also get a boost from his greatest rival, Rafa Nadal, if the Spaniard starts to sputter because of bad equipment; Nadal’s deteriorating knees have forced him out of this year’s Queen’s Club draw and makes a Wimbledon title defense uncertain.

Props to Soderling for his week, btw. Too bad he couldn’t push Federer to four or five sets. But after bulldozing Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko, and Fernando Gonzalez on the way to the final, something had to give. Also, the Swede gave one of the most sincere and gracious speeches I have heard in recent years. For as much as we hear that he’s disliked by other players for gamesmanship and such, he had a very cheery attitude as he received his runner-up platter.

*funny observation by Pierre, who commented on Bodo‘s blog that mentions of the CdM had overtaken terre battue as le mot de l’année

(image via Getty Images)

trophy watch: a proper send-off

French Open tourney organizers gave one of their own, Fabrice Santoro, a proper sendoff after his first-round loss in this year’s event to Christophe Rochus. Santoro, who was appearing in his record-tying 20th French Open, lost to the Belgian 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

“Twenty years. That counts for something in a lifetime,” Santoro said after receiving this cross section of Roland Garros’ clay courts, presented after the Federer/Haas fourth-round match. “It has been a long road, a fantastic career. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.” Gustavo Kuerten received a similar trophy last year.

Fabrice, known for playing two-handed groundstrokes off both wings and his crazy slices (enough to garner some attention at the 2007 U.S. Open), is playing 10 more events before hanging up his racquet.

At his presser, he left us another nugget about what’ll be different in his life next May: “So when you’ve played this tournament 20 years in a row, in May you start wearing your clay shoes, you start preparing to be able to play for three, four, five hours, even 6 hours 33 minutes for my longest match, so you feel next year in May I will no longer be a tennis player.”

(image via Getty Images)

trophy watch: surf, sand, and sun

In Acapulco, both Nicolas Almagro and Flavia Pennetta made it to the finals — like they did last year, but only one of them defended their title.

Almagro upset Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 — revenge from their heated third-round Australian Open match, perhaps? And Pennetta bowed out to Venus Williams in just over an hour. The 6-1, 6-2 win gives Venus her second title in as many weeks.

Fish schools Korolev: The tennis pedigree (he’s Anna Kournikova‘s cousin) didn’t quite help Evgeny Korolev maintain trend at the Delray Beach ITC: up until Mardy Fish‘s 7-5, 6-3 win on Sunday, the tournament’s top seeds had never taken the title.

Last man standing? If Nole didn’t end up bringing home this boat from Dubai, it would’ve been pretty sad. The other top guys — Roger, Rafa, Andys Murray and Roddick — all dropped out for various reasons. Thankfully, he lived up to the challenge and beat David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3.

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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trophy watch: tsonga rams chardy and cilic goes back for seconds

The inaugural South African Open in Johannesburg saw an all-French final between hitting partners Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jeremy Chardy. Tsonga, who did not drop a set all week, earned $79,000 for his 6-4, 7-6 (5) performance. This is his third career title and first of 2009.

Props to the tourney organizers for coming up with a one-of-a-kind memento of Tsonga’s achievement, however Lord of the Flies it may be. I’m just going to think that those aren’t real horns; I’ll sleep better at night.

And in Croatia, two lanky locals — Marin Cilic and Mario Ancic — played in the finals of the PBZ Zagreb Indoors. Cilic’s 6-3, 6-4 win gives him his second title in five weeks and his third overall. He also now has a 13-1 match record for 2009, an ATP-best.

In Vina Del Mar, Chile, Fernando Gonzalez took home his fourth Movistar Open title by beating Jose Acasuso 6-1, 6-3.

(photos via Getty Images)

trophy watch: giant balls, david’s peak, jelena’s hat trick, and changing the russian guard

Another Philipp to watch: Sorry, Herr Kohlschreiber — you’ll have to save some space at the table for qualifier Philipp Petzschner, who nabbed his second career ATP title at the Bank Austria-TennisTrophy when he beat beat Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 after taking out Wawrinka, Moya, and Lopez in earlier rounds.

In Stockholm, David Nalbandian performed as expected, winning his second title of the year with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Robin Soderling. He’ll head into this week’s Mutua Madrilena Masters as the defending champion.

Marat Safin failed to convert his finals appearance in the 2008 Kremlin Cup into a title (this would have been his first since the ’05 Australian). Meanwhile, props to Igor Kunitsyn and his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 6-3 victory over his veteran countryman for his maiden title. He even prepared a speech that congratulated Marat!

Hot potato: The top players of the SEWTA continue to keep us fans on our toes, making sure that whoever holds the No. 1 ranking isn’t the last woman standing at a tournament. In this week’s episode of “The Consistency Caper”, second-ranked Jelena Jankovic downs Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-4 for her fourth title of 2008. Meanwhile, top-ranked Serena is MIA. BTW, this is the third meeting in as many weeks between Jelena and Vera.

(Note: Apparently — see first comment below — this is no longer the case. TSF apologizes for the error. Congrats to victor Jelena, who now has all the spoils.)

It’s in the bag: The flip-flops of Roger Federer (first, he’s out “indefinintely”, next, he’s back on the schedule a week later…) played second fiddle to Rafa Nadal, who received a trophy from the ATP this week in recognition of his No.1 ranking. He’ll pretty much end the year in the top spot barring any missteps.