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Aug 23, 2008

Novak Djokovic & Leryn Franco: A Perfect Match or Dangerous Distraction?

Suddenly Leryn Franco has become the hottest girl on the internet.

Paraguayan javelin thrower Leryn Franco might have placed 51st overall in a field of 52 competitors in her event at the Beijing Olympics, but she has definitely won the heart of Serbian tennis star and world no. 3 Novak Djokovic.

Leryn, 26, and Djokovic, 21, were seen walking around hand in hand in the Olympic village, leaving no doubt the duo are in love.
“Djokovic looks to his new partner as if she were a trophy,” an Argentine athlete told La Nacion newspaper. “Is it official? Yes, of course. They go hand in hand everywhere,” he added.
Leryn and Djokovic was also seen in a restaurant near the Olympic village where athletes reside during the Games.

Leryn is a part-time model and bikini contestant and has appeared in a sexy nude photos 2007 calendar.
"Modeling is a way for me to continue with my sport," Franco said. "The hours are flexible, and you can earn good money through photographic modeling and the catwalk."
Hmm... that reminds us of Maria Sharapova, isn't it?

Despite her performance at the Olympics, it won't low down her career at all. In fact, the much-talked about romance helps boost her career.

The question now is, with all the press constantly bringing up his dating situation, will Leryn distract Djokovic at U.S. Open? We will see.

(Images via Zimbio)


U.S. Open 2008: Can you feel the heat already?

It's the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year 2008.

Men's Singles
Have you check out the draw yet? Personally, I think Roger Federer has a better draw compare to
Rafael Nadal. I would love to see the two along with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in the semifinals.

If Andy Murray is able to achieve that far (he never made it through the quarterfinal in any Grand
Slam before), he could improve his ranking from the current world no. 6 to world no. 4, provided how well David Ferrer (current world no. 4) and Nikolay Davydenko (no. 5) perform.

There has been much said about Juan Martin Del Potro for his recent winning streak, I'm still not convinced about his performance. I mean this guy has never really been tested on heavyweight matches like the U.S. Open. Same goes to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who last made impact at the
Australian Open earlier this year. So, I don't really see these guys as a threat to the top seeds.

For the complete men's singles draw, click here.

Women's Singles
While the women's draw looks pretty imbalanced, Dinara Safina could miss a chance here to win
the U.S. Open being in the tough top half of the draw. Perhaps another rematch here between Safina and Elena Dementieva in the final? While I'm pretty confident with Safina's consistency, could one half of the Williams sisters perform well here on their homegrown?

Ana Ivanovic is back as the world no.1 and top seed. She has recovered from her thumb injury too.
However, she has not been playing for weeks now. So, I believe she's not physically ready to take on the other girls yet especially she belongs to the top half of the draw. It's going to be another short stay for her as the world no. 1 again. As for Maria Sharapova, she's out due to shoulder injury.

For the complete women's singles draw, click here.

It's Always about the Shirtless Guys
Any great tennis tournament is never complete without seeing players practicing, especially when they are shirtless, isn't it? And I don't mean the women players of course. Here are some pictures for your eyes only.

Tommy Haas, one of the sexiest guy in men's tennis.

Tommy Robredo; Why are all the sexy tennis players named Tommy?

David Ferrer has to perform or see Andy Murray surpass him in the world ranking.

Will Marat Safin be able to repeat his outstanding performance in the recent Wimbledon?

(Images via U.S. Open website and andymurray.com)

James Blake at the Heineken Premium Light Tennis Event

James Blake is a busy now. Here he attended the Heineken Premium Light Tennis Event at the outdoor of World Financial Center New York.

For 17 years, Heineken USA has helped support the U.S. Open tennis tournaments and has formed a new relationship with James Blake.


Blake hosted this charity event and will appear on U.S. Open ads and Heineken Premium Light in-store signs.

James Blake, Christian McMahan(CMO Heineken) and Brian Citron (Sr.Brand Director Heineken)

Heineken presented Blake with a $10,000 donation to the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Heineken is also sponsoring Heineken Premium Light Hat Night for fans on Aug. 30.

(Via Black Tennis Pro's)

What's Cooking?: Andy Roddick & James Blake at the 9th Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis

Andy Roddick and James Blake attended the 9th annual "BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis" event before the start of the U.S. Open.

Roddick was cooking with Food Network host Ingrid Hoffmann while Blake with Gotham Bar & Grill chef Alfred Portale.


(Via U.S. Open site)

Roger Federer, Serena Williams & Maria Sharapova at the Nike's 21 Mercer St. Block Party

Yesterday Nike Sportswear commemorated the opening of 21 Mercer Street by hosting an invite only block party. Mercer street was transformed into a stadium-like environment.

At precisely 9:21 PM Roger Federer and Spike Lee opened the doors for the first time to the public. Nike also invited their other old friends, including Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

Mr. Lee introduced Mr. Federer to the crowd as "the world's greatest tennis player." To which the tennis player awkwardly responded, "I'm Roger Federer, that's me."
At the opening, Williams said,

"There has been no relaxing for me, I've been playing every day, literally," she said about getting ready for the U.S. Open. But at least she has something to look forward to after the next couple of weeks."

"Fashion Week is right after the tournament so I look forward to going there, I love it," said Ms. Williams. "I'll have two weeks off so it is definitely like a vacation for me."
In the meanwhile Sharapova, who will be sitting out the U.S. Open due to an ongoing shoulder injury, was asked if she's in New York to cheer on her tennis peers from the stands.
She said, "No, no, definitely not," she said. "I'm just here to work with my brands and to do things that I already had planned to do for a couple of days, and then I'm going back."
So Sharapova won't be watching the U.S. Open at all?

No, I won't. Unless I'm working out and it happens to be on TV, I might catch it, but I don't plan to watch it. I have so many things going on in my life, and this is a good time for me to work on all of the projects I'm working on."

"I didn't even know (the draw) came out!" she said, laughing. "To be honest, the day I got injured was the day that I was like, I'm not even sure who's playing."
Sharapova night not be interested with the U.S. Open but she'll definitely check out the Fashion Week instead.


(Via New York Observer, Nike.com)

Novak Djokovic and the USTA President ring the NASDAQ opening Bell

The good thing about the U.S. Open is that there are usually a lot of events and campaigns going on.

While Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are busy with their Nike campaigns, world no. 3 Novak Djokovic has the privilege to join Jane Brown Grimes, Chairman of the Board and President of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to ring the NASDAQ Opening Bell to celebrate the 2008 US Open and the 40th anniversary of the Open Era.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of tennis’ Open Era, there will be the Opening Night Ceremony being held this coming Monday with a parade of more than twenty-five former US Open singles champions!

The on-court ceremony will be hosted by the Oscar-winning actor/director Forest Whitaker and will feature special musical performances by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Earth, Wind & Fire and the Tony® Award winning Jersey Boys. USA Network will carry the ceremony live. Throughout the tournament, the US Open will feature additional celebrations and special tributes to past champions.


Among the tennis greats expected to be on-hand for Opening Night are Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Stan Smith, Boris Becker, Gabriela Sabatini, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Vilas and Mats Wilander.

The celebration will include a look back to the very first US Open in 1968 and will include Virginia Wade, the first women’s singles US Open champion, and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and her daughter Camera Ashe, who will represent their late husband and father Arthur Ashe, who won the 1968 men’s singles title.

Additionally, present day players expected to appear in the celebration include Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick.


Pheww... this year's U.S. Open is surely a HUGE and PRESTIGIOUS one!

(Via NASDAQ)

Aug 22, 2008

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal attended "Grapple in the Apple"

Nike kicks off a boxing-match-style "Grapple in the Apple" campaign featuring Don King, which has been described as one of the most significant campaign it has done in quite some time!

In this campaign, the sneaker giant is banking on the rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and touting a potential finals showdown between the two at the U.S. Open.

The players have even been given boxer-type nicknames: Roger "The Magician of Precision" Federer and Rafa "Matador of Spin" Nadal.

Ken Dice, Nike's VP-U.S. brand management said, "Nike has always been about collaboration with its athletes. So we brought in a promotional expert to help promote the U.S. Open and this rivalry in a way that maybe we haven't done in a very long time."

The effort will include print executions in local newspapers, a digital component and outdoor advertising. The effort will also incorporate wild postings and street teams.
"We'll also use the viral-video space to make sure that for the next two weeks we continue to push messages celebrating Roger, Rafa, the U.S. Open and New York City," Mr. Dice said.
So what if they don't meet in the U.S. Open final?
"We're keeping our fingers crossed that they do meet -- that's the whole point, and we honestly think that they will, especially the way they have been playing lately," Mr. Dice said. "[But] even if they don't, it will be a great moment for Nike, tennis and these two players and the city of New York."
(Via AdvertisingAge; Images by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images North America)

De Villiers Out As ATP Executive Chairman

The top players must be cheering in New York now.

Back in March, Etienne De Villiers, Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, had come under criticism including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. At the Sony Ericsson Open, every top 20 player signed a letter to the ATP Board of Directors demanding the De Villiers' contract not be renewed until other candidates were interviewed for his position.

And their wishes come true. De Villiers announced that he will not be renewing his contract at the end of the 2008 season.
"I was tasked by the ATP Board, three years ago, to create a vision that would involve bold changes for our sport. I believe that has now been achieved."

"I believe we have delivered the biggest modernisation of the ATP Tour since its inception, have attracted unprecedented levels of investment into men's tennis and have begun to feed the growing appetite for men's tennis globally, both in established and emerging markets," De Villiers said in a statement."

"I am incredibly proud of what the Board and my dedicated team have achieved for men's tennis and I am honoured to have played a part in taking our great sport to the next level. Now that this much needed change has been realised I believe this is the right time for someone new to build on this strong platform."

"I leave knowing, without doubt, that finally our players, tournaments and above all our fans have the foundations of a world class sport they truly deserve."
Now, De Villiers who is the architect of the ATP's "Brave New World" plan (that will reorganize the men’s tour), will never be around to see it put into place.

(Image by AFP/Getty Images/File/Ezra Shaw)

Aug 19, 2008

Former tennis world no. 1s pay tribute to Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has a new title to add to his King of Clay title. He should be called the King of ATP now.

He becomes the 24th player in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since 1973) to hold the No. 1 position. The 22-year-old replaced his great rival Roger Federer of Switzerland, who had held the top spot for a record 237 consecutive weeks (since February 2, 2004).

Below, seven former World No. 1s pay tribute to the Mallorcan 'Matador'.

ROGER FEDERER: "Rafa played great to get it. That's what I expected and hoped for, many years ago when I got to No. 1, that if ever somebody were to take it away for me, he would have to play an incredible tennis schedule, win the biggest tournaments, dominate the game basically, and then like this he can take No. 1. So I think Rafa totally deserves it."
There's certainly no other player at this moment who is more suitable to succeed Federer than Nadal.


STEFAN EDBERG: "Nadal is a great player with incredible charisma and fighting spirit, who deserves the No. 1 ranking. Especially after winning one of the greatest Wimbledon final ever following the French Open win. Federer is one of the best players ever to play the game and his record of 237 weeks at No. 1 is incredible. A tribute to his sportsmanship as well!"


GUSTAVO KUERTEN: "I believe becoming No. 1 in the world is the biggest glory of an athlete. Nadal deserved to be in the No. 1 position since a few years. Federer definitely helped him to become a better player. Nadal's achievement is well deserved and I believe he has the capability to hold the No. 1 position for a long period, a feat that I'm sure he is very determined to accomplish."

It was the matches with Federer that Nadal learn to become a better player. Federer is Nadal's Guru!

ROD LAVER: "Nadal's had a terrific Wimbledon, winning a tough five setter against Roger. He is a worthy new No. 1. Federer’s consistency for three years dominating all opponents is one of the great efforts in open tennis. Hopefully Nadal can continue his winning ways through 2008. The US Open will be a huge test for both of them."


JOHN McENROE: "It makes you realize that Federer is a human being, after compiling four of the greatest years in the history of Open tennis. Nadal’s made some great improvement in the last year or so and he’s followed it up with some wins at other events [beyond clay]. He deserves it."
Are you nuts? Federer is a human being. So does Nadal. By the way Nadal has been improving every year, not just last year 'or so'.

CARLOS MOYA: "When Rafa becomes No. 1 he will totally deserve it. He's been close for three years. But until now, Federer has been playing out of this world. He's more human now, and Rafa has improved a lot. I can't say that I really helped Rafa so much - maybe a bit when I was 24 and practising with him. That motivated me; you don't want to lose to a kid. He's helped me to be a better player by his intensity in training and his desire. He knew he could ask me questions and I could answer him. I don't know what it means, but of the three guys who have been No. 1 from Spain, two are from Mallorca."


PETE SAMPRAS: "He's a great fighter and I'm impressed with him. He's had the best year and he's clearly number one. He's 22 and think about that. It's incredible what Nadal's been able to do and I think he's going to get better and better if he can."


(Via ATP.com)

Rafael 'Beefcake' Nadal is sizzling hot in New York magazine

It's all about being in the right place and at the right timing, isn't it? But it's no pure luck for Rafael Nadal.

After winning the Olympic gold medal and top the ATP ranking as the new world no. 1, Nadal, the 'hottest' man at the moment, is featured in the new Fall Fashion 2008 issue of the New York magazine, in an article called "The Beefcake in the Backcourt" this week. Let me tell you the photos are sizzling hot! For the slideshow, click here or the picture.

Here are the excerpts from the article:
Take your time. It’s okay. That photo of Rafael Nadal on the back cover of this magazine is undeniably … what’s a polite way to put it? Arresting. The mussed locks curled just so above the shoulders. The biceps curved like a particularly ripe aubergine. The shadows playing across the deeply grooved abs. All demand extended scrutiny.
When you’re done, ask yourself this: Would Roger Federer ever pose for a photo like that?
Nah, don't think Federer will ever do this kind of photoshoot. Unless he buffed up a bit and shave, no?

Back to Nadal, I wouldn't mind if his sexy photo is on the front cover replacing Christie Brinkley.
And now here’s Nadal. His has been called a “pirate” look, but the interesting thing about Nadal’s style is that it’s so feminine—a thinner, less physical player could not pull off those clothes. Maybe that’s why he’s been greeted with the kind of moral outrage—“Abominable!” “Infernal!”—usually reserved for the latest female player to show too much skin. Debate over the pants in particular, and Nadal’s habit of reaching back to loosen them between points, has trespassed on the familiar terrain of comfort versus sex appeal. Are they too tight? Is it one of his many elaborate on-court rituals (Nadal’s own explanation)? Or are his butt muscles just too big?
What??? Nadal's style is feminine??? Haha, alright I get what you mean. Perhaps we can take Carlos Moya for example. He usually wear the same gear as Nadal but doesn't look as good as his fellow Spaniard.

Are you trying to say Nadal pick his butt? You know what, I was looking forward to see Nadal pick his butt when he was in an exho match here in Malaysian end of last year. By the way, it's one of his 'ritual' or 'trademark' when playing important match, a habit that let him channel his anxiety or pressure, which works. Whether his pants is tight or not, go ask Nike.
Men’s tennis has always been a modest, gentlemanly affair, its sex appeal limited to handsome faces and wolf-whistles during between-game shirt changes. Not so with Nadal. Not only is he more muscular than any player before him, he’s also more willing to be ogled. Which brings us back to those photos.
Come on, tennis is no longer limited as a gentlemen's sport. Tennis is also about getting down and dirty (imagine the sweat and the clay), make tonnes of money and not afraid to show off great body (minus the hair).

In the next post, we'll see what the other former world no.1 have to say about Nadal.

(Via New York Magazine)

Aug 18, 2008

Vamos Rafa! Rafael Nadal the world no. 1 and Olympic gold medallist

Silver medallist Fernando Gonzalez (L) of Chile, gold medallist Rafael Nadal (C) of Spain and bronze medallist Noval Djokovic (R) of Serbia pose together on the podium during the awards ceremony following Nadal's victory over Gonzalez in their men's singles gold medal final tennis match during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on Sunday.

Today, Rafael Nadal is the official ATP world no.1 tennis player in the world! Vamos Rafa!!!!!!!!!!!! (By the way this is my 100 posts for Nadal, the first one way back in 2005!)

Back to the Olympic final, Rafael Nadal who owns the night stood in front of the medal podium, his nation’s flag draped across his back like a cape, he looked like a Spanish Superman. At least in tennis, he is the superhero to many fans.

Already assured of the No. 1 ranking, Nadal was No. 1 at the Olympics. He won a gold medal Sunday, overcoming two set points in the second set and holding every service game to beat Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

The gold medal was the first ever for Spain in Olympic tennis, and another milestone in an astounding summer surge by Nadal, who will officially end Roger Federer’s 41/2-year reign atop the rankings Monday.

Nadal has won 38 of his past 39 matches, including victories over Federer in the finals at the French Open and Wimbledon.

“Nowhere in my best dreams I can imagine something like what I did this year,” Nadal said. “I know how difficult it is to win these things, and especially here, because you only have one chance every four years.”
(Images by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Venus and Serene Williams take the gold in Olympic tennis women's doubles

Silver medallists Anabel Garrigues (2nd L) and Virginia Ruando Pascual (L) of Spain, gold medallists Venus Williams (3rd L) and Serena Williams (3rd R) of the US and bronze medallists Yan Zi (2nd R) and Jie Zheng (R) of China pose on the podium at the awards ceremony following the women's doubles tennis final during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games yesterday.

Venus and Serena Williams play together in the Olympic women's doubles and walk away with the gold medal.
The famous American sisters overpowered Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2, 6-0 in an 1 hour 6 minutes match.
“I’m so excited, I can’t even speak,” said the 28-year-old Venus, who has already won seven doubles Grand Slam titles and a gold medal in Sydney alongside younger sister Serena.
The pair didn’t enter the doubles competition in Athens four years ago because Serena was injured at the time.
“To share this kind of moment with your sister,” Venus said, “it never grows old.”
It doesn’t hurt when your sister is one of the best in the world.
“I don’t know anyone out there who would get tired of playing with Venus Williams,” said the 26-year-old Serena, who as a singles player is ranked eighth in the world, three spots behind No. 5 Venus.
“We were really focused from the first point. We really wanted to win,” said Serena, whose trophy cabinet includes 30 singles titles, eight of them Grand Slams. “We feel like we’ve contributed to our country in a huge way. That’s really what it’s all about.”
When the red carpet was rolled out on center court, the sisters climbed the medal podium together holding hands. A beaming Venus bobbed her head to the beat as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played. Both Venus and Serena were beaten in the quarterfinals of the women's singles.

The bronze medal went to China's Yan Zi and Zheng Jie who delivered the host country’s only tennis medal by beating Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2, 6-2.

(Images by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
(Text viaYahoo! Sports)

Aug 17, 2008

Elena Dementieva wins all-Russian affair at the Olympic tennis

Gold medal winner Elena Dementieva (C) of Russia, Dinara Safina (L) and Bronze medalist Vera Zvonareva also from Russia display their medals after competing in the women's singles tennis competition at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre in Beijing today.

I didn't expect Elena Dementieva to win against Dinara Safina in a head-to-head all-Russian final at the Olympic women's singles today. And even the bronze medal won by Vera Zvonareva belongs to Russian!

Dementieva wins 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, making up for her disappointment in losing the 2000 Sydney Olympic final to Venus Williams.

She clenched her fists in celebration and then wiped away tears of joy after denying the in-form Safina for the first time in four attempts this year.


I would say that Safina has temper that is very much like her brother. After double-faults she flung her racket, banged it against the concrete and smacked a ball into the stands, but the tantrums failed to help.


When Dementieva closed out her victory with a forehand winner, she collapsed to her knees, then walked to net and received a congratulatory hug from Safina. Dementieva snapped Safina’s 15-match winning streak.
“I never expected a medal—gold, silver or bronze,” said Dementieva, 26. “It’s unbelievable. For me this is the best moment in my career. I’ll never forget it.”

(Images by BEHROUZ MEHRI/PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Anna Kournikova sizzles in Maxim September 2008 issue

Anna Kournikova doesn't achieve much in tennis but she is undoubtedly still the hottest queen on and off tennis court.

She'll be the cover girl for the September issue of the Maxim magazine. Here are some photos from the magazine and while doing the photo shoots. Have fun viewing!


(Images via Maxim; Great Tennis Photos)

Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka win men's doubles

Gold medalists Roger Federer (3rd L) and Stanislas Wawrinka (3rd R) of Switzerland, Silver medalists Simon Aspelin (L) and Thomas Johansson (2nd L) from Sweden, and Bronze medalists Bob and Mike Bryan of US pose for pictures after competing in the men's double's tennis competition at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre in Beijing on August 16, 2008.

It doesn't matter whether it's men's singles or doubles, Roger Federer still won his first Olympic gold medal! And that matters!

An Olympic gold is priceless for Roger Federer who has an extensive trophy collection. By teaming up with Stanislas Wawrinka the Swiss duo won the Olympic doubles yesterday beating Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson of Sweden 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3.

Federer extended his arms in triumph and began to hop (which you don't quite often see as a singles player. Then, he embraced Wawrinka and they hopped together (hehe!).

With so many disappointment this year, Federer had waited long enough for a big victory to celebrate. And the Olympics is such a huge boost for his confidence.

After three Olympics, Federer is finally a medalist for the first time!
"Sort of a dream-come-true moment," Federer said. "Maybe it comes around once in a lifetime. It's almost disbelief, to some degree."
(Images by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

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