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Floodgates Busted Wide Open For Janko Tipsarevic

23 Oct

Janko Tipsrevic Lifts Kremlin Cup as Victor Troicki watchesAfter 10 seasons on tour including 4 finals appearances, Janko Tipsarevic had not won an ATP title until a few weeks ago when he posted a solid 64 75 victory over Marcos Baghdatis in Kuala Lumpur. The wait for his 2nd ATP title would be far shorter with his win today over countryman and defending champion Viktor Troicki. In fact, Janko made it look easy with a routine 64 62 win to wrest the Kremlin Cup away from Viktor.

This was the first All-Serbian final ever and who would have thought that this piece of history would not involve Novak Djokovic. While Novak has been front and center for all tennis news involving Serbia (and the world), Janko and Viktor have both firmly entrenched themselves in the Top 20. They are also knocking on the door of the Top 10 as Tipsarevic will move up to #13 in the rankings tomorrow. He does crack the Top 10 in the Champions Race with a chance Janko Winsof making the Barclays World Tour Finals in London although he still trails the Top 8 by more than 500 points.

Considering he has never finished the season higher than #38, a Top 10 finish or anywhere near it will be a major accomplishment for Janko. His past 12 months have included many firsts starting last year with his nation’s first Davis Cup, his first Master Series semi at the Rogers Cup to crack the Top 20 for the first time, his first Slam quarter at the US Open, and that elusive first title in Kuala Lumpur. With so many firsts in 2011, one could say winning his second title in Moscow was his first great ‘second’ of 2011. It was also his first underwear endorsement deal with Extreme Intimo, and perhaps that was just the good luck charm he needed as the photos were released only days before he lifted that first trophy in Kuala Lumpur.

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Tipsarevic and Troicki may have made history with the first All-Serbian final played today, King Novak still found a way to steal the show as his epic mini-tennis battle against Dusan Vemic on YouTube proved to be the more entertaining All-Serb battle today.

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While this was uploaded today, those shenanigans actually took place the day before Nole’s first US Open title. I guess that turned out to be a good way to stay loose before a Grand Slam final.

dominika cibulkova first titleIn other Kremlin Cup news today, Dominika Cibulkova scored her first title with a 36 76(1) 75 victory over Kaia Kanepi. While the 22 year-old Slovak has been ranked as high as #12 in the world with a Grand Slam semi under her belt, that first title had eluded her until today. Last week she reached her third career final in a loss to Petra Kvitova in Linz, but the fourth time proved to be lucky today for Dominika especially considering the gift Kaia gave her late in the second set. With Cibulkova serving break point down at 5-All, Kanepi missed an open-court overhead that sailed about a centimeter long. While the two both looked tight at the end of the third with 5 consecutive breaks of serve, Cibulkova finally held her serve (and her nerve) to close it out.

dominika cibulkova in moscow red squareLet’s see if this victory busts open the floodgates for the little 5-foot-3 dynamo from Bratislava like it has for Janko. Only a handful of players can end their season with a victory, and Dominika sure finished hers off in style just like she did when she visited the Red Square earlier this week.

Enjoy the off-season, Dominika!

The YouTube Stars of the WTA

20 Oct

So here are the latest YouTube videos from the musical Vania King and the comical Andrea Petkovic:

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It’s nice to have hobbies.

David Ferrer and that Crying Baby

16 Oct

Does anybody remember the much ado about nothing involving David Ferrer hitting the ball toward the crying baby earlier this year in Miami? Well, I wonder if the producers of this Shanghai Masters promo do.

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I am not sure why this made me laugh so hard, but I thought I should share in case you have the same warped sense of tennis humor. I also wanted an excuse to shout a “Vamos Ferru” before the big final tomorrow. Bring home your first Master Series shield – do it for all of the hard-working grinders out there.

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VAMOS FERRU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is Novak Djokovic Getting Training Tips from Lady Gaga?

28 Aug

Novak Djokovic recently revealed that he has been entering a futuristic egg-like chamber reminiscent of the one from Lady Gaga’s famous hatching from The Grammy Awards. Unlike Gaga’s, Nole’s egg is not just a prop and is supposed to simulate high altitude conditions to saturate the blood with oxygen and promote healing. It’s called a CVAC pod and while not banned currently by the ATP, you have to imagine there will be discussions of such now that Novak has revealed his use publicly. Other athletes have used devices like this before, but the drastic improvement in Novak’s results this year may make others cvac podquestion whether or not this training method is in the spirit of fair competition.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “(CVAC) claims that spending up to 20 minutes in the pod three times a week can boost athletic performance by improving circulation, boosting oxygen-rich red-blood cells, removing lactic acid and possibly even stimulating mitochondrial biogenesis and stem-cell production.”

Djokovic also changed his diet to become gluten-free, and many have attributed his improvement in performance to this diet change. While many others have since gone gluten-free, you may want to invest in CVAC in case this starts a new trend – and a much more expensive trend than a loaf of gluten-free bread. Novak explained, “I think it really helps, not with muscle but more with recovery after an exhausting set. It’s like a spaceship. It’s very interesting technology.”

While the use of this CVAC pod cannot be the only reason for Novak’s unprecedented 57-2 record this year and new-found dominance over Rafael Nadal in particular, but it certainly makes me curious how much of a factor this contraption has really been. We certainly have not seen Nole gasping for air during matches like he had been in previous seasons.

In other Nole news, let’s take a look at what else he revealed about himself when he dressed up as one of today’s biggest female icons…and no, we are not talking about Lady Gaga again.

Gilles Simon 200th Win: A Good Excuse To Post Hot Gillou Pics

13 Apr

Gilles SimonGilles Simon appears to be on track to get back to the Top 10, and the clay court season is his chance to make a big jump up the rankings. Since he was injured this time last year, the 24th-ranked Frenchman has absolutely no points to defend over the next twon months. Gillou started his clay season in Monte Carlo today with his 200th career while crusing to a 63 62 dismissal of Thomaz Bellucci, the young Brazilian ranked 31st and dangerous on clay. Simon is seeded 16th since many of the top players skipped Monte Carlo due to injury, fatigue, and/or being American. Gilles Simon next faces Spanish clay court specialist Albert Montanes who although unseeded is actually ranked higher than Gilles. The 23rd-ranked Montanes passed Simon in the rankings after his SF appearance in Casablanca last week, but the shift in the rankings happened after the Monte Carlo seeds were set. 

Confused? No worries, let’s get to the point of this post which was simply to share pics and video of our favorite Frenchie. Let’s start with an interview of Simon after his win over Bellucci today:

Even if you don’t parlez vous francais, you may enjoy the Canal Sport coverage of Gilles Simon training with Rafael Nadal. I guess Rafa would be the right player to have a hit with if you want to get ready for the clay season. And now the “I like clay” vignette from Tennis Channel is running through my head, but I digress…

Here are a few fun pics of Gilles too! It’s so good to have both him and Del Potro back where they belong, and I think we will be seeing both of them in the Top 10 again by the end of the summer.

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Congratulations Papa Gilles on your 200th career win. We hope that you have many more wins ahead of you, and that your son Timothy will have the chance to watch you play on the big stage…and win!

Ryan Sweeting and Pablo Andujar Win Their First Titles

10 Apr

The first week of the clay court season witnessed four unexpected players in the finals of Casablanca and Houston today. Pablo Andujar. Potito Starace. Ryan Sweeting. Kei Nishikori. These were not the guys expected to be left standing on Sunday. Only one of those four players had ever won a tour-level title before, and that came from the youngest of the lot with 21 year-old Kei Nishikori winning once before in Delray two years ago.

Casablanca pitted the 29 year-old Italian veteran Potito Starace against the overlooked 25 year-old Spaniard Pablo Andujar. Potito looked to be the favorite as the world #47 once ranked as high as #27 won both of his previous matches against Pablo. Today was a different day however as Pablo won 61 62 and never let Potito in to the match, and the Italian saw his chances of winning his first title slip away rather quickly. Andujar came in to the match with a respectable ranking of #69, yet he is not even a Top 10 player in his own country. Until now.

Pablo explained after the match, “It’s really unbelievable for me. It’s very, very important for me to be one of those big Spanish players. I really don’t have words to describe what I feel right now to be one of those, and it’s unbelievable. For me, I didn’t think I could. Of course before here I felt I could win, but now that I’ve finished pablo  andujar y potito starace en casablancathe match and I won the tournament, it’s really amazing for me.”  In response to a question about his biggest strength he added, “I think I’m solid. I have a solid game. I can come to the net. I try to be physically and mentally very, very focused and very good at it and try to imitate a little bit David Ferrer.”  It’s hard to believe, but it sounds like the Spanish Armada is getting stronger and deeper.

potito staracePotito Starace unfortunately still has yet to win that first title after his fifth attempt in a tour final, but hopefully he finds some time to hit the beach before playing Monte Carlo. But Potito may not be happy to hear he drew another overlooked Spaniard in the first round against Pere Riba who already won two matches to qualify for the first Master Series on clay of the year. Odds are it might not be next week in Monte Carlo, but we sure hope Potito gets that elusive title before his career comes to a close.

ryan sweeting shirtlessNow let’s talk about Houston. We have a special place in our hearts at TCW for Ryan Sweeting since we have been talking about him for some time now. Even more selfishly, internet searches of Ryan is the most popular way people find our site….literarlly surpassing “Roddick bald spot” and “Ashley Harkleroad Playboy pics” this week. What can I say, people must like his torso-length “Mayhem” tattoo.

Sweeting showed he deserved the wild card entry this week as he put in a solid performance to beat Kei Nishikori 64 76(3). Ryan had never beaten Kei before in their 4 previous meetings, but he started the match playing with confidence and aggression. Ryan found himself up a set and a break, but he began to play a bit safely when he realized he had a great chance of winning his first title. 

Ryan showed lots of nerves throughout that second set, but he held himself together enough to squeak out a particularly tight 10th game to hold serve and eventually the match. Kei looked like he was getting nervous too once it looked like Ryan had let him back in the match. You certainly can’t blame him as not only has he been distracted by the tragedy back home, but he was also one win away from achieving Kei NishikoriProject 45. If you are unfamiliar, Project 45 represents his career goal of surpassing Shuzo Matsuoka to become the highest ranked Japanese player ever. Kei will be ever so close and will undoubtedly achieve this goal soon. More importantly, please go to his charity auction to help him achieve his fundraising goals for the Red Cross while buying some really cool stuff donated by all of the ATP and WTA players.

Congrats to all four of these players for their great weeks which will help bolster their rankings and chances throughout the clay court season and beyond. I love the clay court season since the players really need to construct each point, and you often see lots of drama since it’s simply not as easy to close points (and matches) out on a slower surface. Before we go, let’s watch Ryan do the traditional jump in the pool after his win today in Houston.

Ryan Sweeting showed some decent shot-put form hurling that kid in the pool. I wonder if there will be yet another outcry (pun intended) like there was against David Ferrer with that baby.

Updates from Miami Beach

22 Mar

The tournament organizers had a change of heart and awarded a last-minute wild card to Ivo Karlovic for his success at Indian Wells and perhaps thanks to the #wildcardforivo Twitter campaign. From what I can gather, they decided to grant Ivo the wild card instead of replacing recently injured Tommy Robredo with a Lucky Loser. Karlovic also got himself placed in a nice little section of the draw with Albert Montanes, Nicolas Almagro, and Tomas Berdych as the seeds in his way of setting up a quarterfinal rematch with Rafael Nadal. Just like Ivo said this morning on Twitter, this was even more than he could have asked for since he originally requested a free pass to the quallies.

TCW still has no confirmation that Djokovic and Murray will be playing doubles together in Miami, but they are projected to face off in the quarterfinals according to the singles draw released today. Andy Murray has been training for more than a week in Miami due to his early exit in Indian Wells, but Nole still undefeated this season jetted off with Rafa after their final on Sunday in order to play an exhibition in Colombia. These two seem to have formed a mutual admiration society as Novak called Rafael the Greatest of All Time during Sunday’s trophy presentation. Rafa returned the compliment by saying Nole had the best chance of finishing the year at number one. In honor of the premiere of Dancing with the Stars tonight, here is video of  Rafa and Nole doing some salsa dancing after their exo.

You may remember from Melbourne that Nole has been known to dance up a storm on the tennis courts. And it sure seems like the Djokester plays better when he is having fun, and he sure seems to be having fun in 2011. Hard to argue with a 20 game winning streak, but I wonder if Nole will need to slow down to avoid petering out halfway through the season. Dance on Nole, dance on!

For those of you watching DWTS, I have to give the early nod to Ralph Macchio, who really does still look like The Karate Kid. A 49 year-old kid. By the way, did you notice which of his co-stars was wildly cheering on Rafa at Indian Wells?