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Jan 10, 2009

Serena Williams the Queen of Bling

Serena Williams took some time out from practice at the Medibank International Sydney. She visited award winning celebrated jeweller Nic Cerrone at his beautiful store and workshop.

Check out Serena's facial expression when she was presented a special made necklace by the King of Bling himself, Nic!


(Via Medibank Sydney website)

Somdev Devvarman to meet Marin Cilic in Chennai Open final

Somdev Devvarman got a walkover into the final of the Chennai Open after his semi-final opponent Rainer Schuettler withdrew from the tournament due to a wrist injury.

Somdev will face Marin Cilic who has beaten Marcel Granollers in another semifinal match 6-4, 6-3.
After withdrawing from the tournament, a dejected Rainer Schuettler said, "During yesterday's doubles match I started feeling pain in my left wrist. As I warmed up for the semifinal I wasn't able to hit a double handed backhanded, I felt a strong pain. I would only be able to slice and I'm also afraid that the injury would get worse. I had the same a few years ago but it wasn't as bad as now."
"I also have to pull out of Sydney. I will now fly to Melbourne and see if I can be ready in time for the Australian Open."

"I feel sorry for the crowd and the tournament. It is a very disappointing moment for me", added Schuettler.
Somdev now becomes the first Indian to make it to the Chennai Open final and also the second Indian after Leander Paes to reach the semifinals of the 14-year old prestigious event.

He had a great run in front of his home crowd after beating former world no.1 and two-time champion Carlos Moya on Thursday and continued his giant killing act and upped his game by several notches to beat fourth seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6(4), 6-4 and storm into the semifinals.

I'm crossing my fingers and hope Somdev will get his first ATP title here tomorrow.

(Via NDTV.com)


Elena Dementieva takes the ASB Classic title

Olympic champion Elena Dementieva eased to a 6-4 6-1 victory over fellow Russian Elena Vesnina to capture the Auckland Classic title today.

Dementieva, 27, wrapped up the victory in just 88 minutes and completed the tournament without dropping a set. What a great start for the long tennis season.
“I played some good tennis, especially in the semi-final and final. It’s been a great beginning of the year,” she told a news conference.
The win was world number four Dementieva’s 12th title of her career and fourth in the last 12 months, highlighted by winning the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in August.

The unseeded Vesnina, 22, was playing in her first WTA final after teaming up with Dementieva in the doubles.
“Maybe I was bit tired,” she said.

“It was long week for me, a lot of long matches. Maybe I was a bit nervous today.”

(Via Reuter; Images via sports.sina.com)

Rafael Nadal makes amends with doubles title in Doha

Seems like Rafael's Nadal obsession with Roger Federer continues.

Despite the emergence of players like Andy Murray and Gilles Simon, Nadal is still focusing on Roger. In the latest development, Nadal started his new year by capturing a surprising doubles title in Doha. Roger had a great year last year partnering with Stanislas Wawrinka in the men's doubles. I guess Nadal wants to emulate his idol's success in the men's doubles.

In the final match last night, Nadal and fellow Spaniard Marc Lopez shared the same gear with the same matching knee straps. Lopez even bites his trophy, a Nadal's signature gesture. I thought they made a cute and fun combination!

They teamed up to win the doubles crown, upsetting the no. 1 team in the world of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 in one hour and 27 minutes.
"It was disappointing to lose in the singles yesterday so I feel a bit better having won the doubles," Nadal said.

"Daniel and Nenad are the best team in the world and they were tough to beat today."


Lopez who was holding a piece of crumpled paper said, "I would like to thank Rafa for giving me the opportunity to play with him and win my first ATP title."
Oh yeah, something bizarre happened during the match; a cat suddenly ran out to the court :D

I'm not a doubles fan but I swear this is one of the most entertaining doubles match I've ever seen!

(Via tennistalk.com; Images by Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Gasquet upsets Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Brisbane

Richard Gasquet made a stunning comeback against French countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to book his place in the Brisbane International semifinals.

Gasquet who was dominated in the first set by Tsonga, responded brilliantly to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.


Despite his lost, Tsonga had a decent run here and will definitely set the wheel in motion for the Australian Open when he heads to Sydney Open next week.


Back to Gasquet, he will face Radek Stepanek in the semifinals after he triumph over Robin Soderling 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Another semifinal match will be between third-seeded Fernando Verdasco and Paul-Henri Mathieu.

By the way don't you think Nando's latest photo in Brisbane rather empty here?

It's because Ana Ivanovic will not be in Brisbane to cheer for him as she has already touched down Melbourne to practice for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.


(Images via zimbio, tennisforum.com)


Slovakia beats Russia to win Hopman Cup; Jurgen Melzer should be very jealous

Slovak Republic pair of Dominik Hrbaty and Dominika Cibulkova pulled off a major upset to win the $1-million ITF Hyundai Hopman Cup tennis championship in Perth’s Burswood Dome.

It was the Slovak nation’s 3rd Cup win in eight appearances at the international mixed teams championship.

The victory was clinched by Hrbaty in a thrilling singles battle, beating Russia’s Marat Safin, a former world No. 1, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 7-6 (7/3). Earlier, Cibulkova had beaten world no. 3 Dinara Safina 6-7 (3/7), 6-1, 6-4.

In a power-packed six hours of tennis, the Slovaks survived against higher-ranked opponents after both teams had gone into the final undefeated from their three round robin matches.

The 19-year-old Cibulkova, ranked 19 in the world, converted five of her 10 break point opportunities in her singles win and completed the week unbeaten in four matches, plus two mixed doubles.

Her partner, who celebrated his 31st birthday earlier in Cup week, survived numerous crisis moments as the powerful Safin blasted 22 aces past him.

The victory belied Hrbaty’s singles ranking of 252 after a career high of 14. Safin, ranked at 29 after a year of injury, has announced that this could well be his last year on Tour.

The Slovaks shared a winner’s prize of A$250,000, plus two diamond-encrusted tennis balls.

P.S. If you do not know the relationship between Cibulkova and Jurgen Melzer, click here.

(Via Hopman Cup official website; Images by Tony Ashby/AFP/Getty Images))

Jan 9, 2009

Mardy Fish met his match at the Sydney Aquarium

Mardy Fish and his wife Stacy Gardner were VIP guests at the Sydney Aquarium where they had a chance to get up close and personal with the city’s most popular animal... sharks!

Check out the video after these photos.



(Via Medibank Sydney official website)

Peng Shuai hires world-renowned coach Tarik Benhabiles

Peng Shuai, one of China's top players in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles, is planning to take her game to the next level.

Recently she announced on New Year's Day a new partnership with world-renowned tennis coach Tarik Benhabiles.


The pair began training last month in Florida, and they will continue to work together full-time throughout 2009.


In 2008, Peng reached two singles finals and won two doubles titles on the Tour, eventually finishing the season ranked No.40.

The 22-year-old splitted with former coach Zhang Depei last year. Peng has been looking for committed cooperation with a new coach - and now she seems to have found it.


Benhabiles is a former professional tennis player, reached a career-high of no.22 on the ATP World Tour Rankings and represented France in Davis Cup. He captured the Roland Garros junior singles title in 1981 and the French National Championships in 1986.

He ended his playing career in 1992 and started to coach a young Andy Roddick, taking the American superstar into the Top 10 in 2003. Besides a strong relationship with Roddick, Benhabiles has worked with other top players, including Benjamin Becker, Ivo Karlovic and Gael Monfils.

Benhabiles is also the founder of the Tarik Benhabiles Tennis Academy, an elite tennis school in Florida that helps create and train future tennis stars.

"Peng Shuai is a disciplined player with many weapons and superior internal strengths," Benhabiles said.

"She is a girl of destiny and I expect her to be in the top group of the rankings by year's end."

(Via sonyericssonwtatour.com)

Paul-Henri Mathieu outs Kei Nishikori

Paul-Henri Mathieu has claimed a spot in the semifinals of the Brisbane International with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Japanese Kei Nishikori.

Kei didn't look fine after a medical time out before the 4th game in the second set.

Now Frenchman Mathieu who is the world no. 31 will play against Fernando Verdasco next in the semifinals after the Spaniard beat another Frenchman, Florent Serra.

Earlier this week in, after playing mini tennis with kids in downtown Brisbane, Kei was interviewed by ATP. He discussed about his breakout 2008 season, his 2009 hopes and how he lost five straight sets to Radek Stepanek in practice during the off season.



(Images via Yahoo! Sport)

Jan 8, 2009

India's rising star Somdev Devvarman stunned Carlos Moya at Chennai Open

Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman stunned two-time former champion Carlos Moya 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in the second round of the Chennai Open today.

The 23-year-old Devvarman, who is based in the U.S., produced an inspired display to triumph in 2 hours and 14 minutes in hot conditions in the southern Indian city to move into his second ATP tour quarterfinals.

Sixth seed Moya won the first set comfortably but Devvarman, who spent his formative years in Chennai, delighted the home crowd when he grabbed the second set.

The highest-ranked Indian at 202, Devvarman broke the Spaniard in the third game of the final set as he wore down the former world no. 1 for the biggest victory of his career.

Moya said he was at a disadvantage with organizers scheduling matches in the heat of the Chennai afternoon to make up for matches that had been delayed by rain.
"The heat affected me more than it bothered him,'' Moya said.

"(Devvarman) plays much better than his rankings reflect,'' Moya added.

"I was not surprised, because I saw him play two days ago and knew he was very fast and was solid from the back of court.''
Devvarman became the first Indian player to reach the quarterfinals in Chennai since Leander Paes reached the semifinals in 1998
"I sent a message to him that I just wasn't going to go away," said Devvarman.

"When you see a player on the other side trying to do too much, you know he's under pressure."

"Hopefully, I'm not just quarters. I'm not one of those guys who gets content easily,'' he added.

(Via supersport.co.za, sportsillustrated.cnn.com)


Maria Sharapova is not into Charlie Ebersol

Maria Sharapova was spotted at the Staples Centre recently watching the LA Lakers take on the New Orleans Hornets.

She was joined by her father Yuri and rumoured boyfriend Charlie Ebersol.

Looks like Sharapova and Ebersol are not having much fun together. Especially Sharapova.

Anyway, it doesn't matter whether they are together or not. I believe we are more concern whether Sharapova will be hopping on a plane to Australia soon.

(Images via sports.sina.com)


Feliciano Lopez in Spanish magazine Shangay



(Images via sports.sina.com)

Hyundai Hopman Cup: Oh, c'mon Chinese Taipei!

How could Chinese Taipei possibly miss the golden chance to beat the Russian team?

Russia's bro & sis team of Marat Safin and Dinara Safina has survived a tough challenge from Chinese Taipei to win 2-1 and remain unbeaten at the Hyundai Hopman Cup.

I'm devastated and I just can't accept the fact that Hsieh Su-wei and Rendy Lu Yen-hsun wasted such opportunities to win the singles matches.


Here are the final results:

Russia 2 defeated Chinese Taipei 1
  • Dinara Safina d Hsieh Su-Wei 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
  • Marat Safin d Yen-Hsun Lu 7-6 (8/6), 7-5
  • Safina/Safin lost to Hsieh/Lu 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (8/10)
Safin, who has announced that 2009 is his final year on Tour, didn’t find things easy against Rendy, but is delighted to begin his Australian summer with two wins.
"He's a very complete player, is very smart, fast and good from all the sides. He seems to read the game well, his anticipation is incredible and it's quite tough to break him," Safin said.
The Russian team will face the highly-rated French team of Alize Cornet and Gilles Simon on Thursday night to guarantee qualification.

A French victory will mean that France, Russia and Italy could all be on two victories by the end of the Round-Robin series and the finalist from Group A will be decided by the calculator.

(Via Hopman Cup official website)

Jelena Jankovic could be dreaming of a perfect wedding



A traditional Chinese wedding would be unique for JJ and boyfriend Mladjan Janovic.


Venus Williams could be the perfect bridesmaid, or is she not? :D

(Image by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)

Jan 7, 2009

How do you cope with the new tennis season?

The season has just begun but it seems that many of us (tennis fans, tennis bloggers, etc) are lacking the stamina to catch up with so many tournaments this week.

Van is exhausted. Same goes to Esther, my kaki tennis friend. I am no exception too as Qatar Open tournament is shown on TV till the wee hours of the morning.

Guess who's tired too?

Venus Williams was caught yawning during the opening ceremony of the World Team Challenge 2009 tournament or also known as the JB Group Classic held at Victoria Park in Hong Kong.

(Image by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)

Israeli Shahar Peer rejected calls to pull out over Israel’s invasion of Gaza

Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer has rejected calls for her withdrawal from the ASB Classic tennis tournament over Israel’s invasion of Gaza, saying she can take no responsibility for her nation’s military action.

A New Zealand protest group, Peace and Justice Auckland, said they had written to Peer asking her to withdraw from the WTA tournament as part of a comprehensive international boycott of Israel.

The group said they had not received any reply from Peer and would protest outside the tournament venue tomorrow when the 5th seeded player was scheduled to play a quarterfinals match.
“On the eve of the tournament last Sunday evening we wrote to Shahar requesting she respect international calls for a comprehensive boycott of Israel and withdraw from the tournament,” protest leader John Minto said in a statement.
Peer was provided with extra security as she played a second round match Wednesday, beating Barbora Zahlavova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

She later told journalists she could do nothing about the politics of the Middle East.

“I have nothing to do with this,” she said.

“I’m Shahar Peer. I came here to play tennis. I know I’m from Israel and I’m proud of my country and that playing tennis is what I’m going to do tomorrow.”
Peer, 21, said she had tried to ignore the events in Gaza but her own brother, a military reservist, had been called up.
“Two days ago, I was crying a bit, actually more than a bit, so it was a hard time for me,” she said.

“I hope as soon as possible it will end and we will all be happy, because no one wants to be in a war.”
Peer said she had never previously been the focus of protests and had even been the first Israeli to play in the Muslim country of Doha, Qatar, where she was warmly received.

She said the protesters had the right to express their view.

“It’s their choice and they are choosing what they want to do,” she said.
Peace and Justice Auckland said its letter to Peer highlighted the attacks and invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army and the heavy death toll of Palestinians.
“The sports boycott of Israel is a key part of any boycott campaign because it is much more visible than a trade or investment boycott and can have an important psychological impact,” Minto said.

“We saw this with the successful sports boycotts against apartheid South Africa which had a big impact in South Africa and around the world.”

(Via AP; Image via Yahoo! Sport)


IMG signs Jelena Jankovic; could be heading to Malaysia for year-end exho with Maria Sharapova

Global sports and entertainment company IMG today announced that no. 1 ranked player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Jelena Jankovic, has signed with the company for exclusive, worldwide marketing and management representation effective January 1, 2009.

Jankovic, 23, will also join IMG Models, the world's No. 1 international model management firm.


Fernando Soler, Head of IMG's Tennis Division said, "We are extremely pleased to add a player of Jelena's caliber to the list of great champions we represent. Her reputation, both on and off the court is unparalleled." Ivan Bart, Senior Vice President of IMG Models added, "We are equally pleased to have Jelena join our roster of celebrity clients."

In making the announcement, Gavin Forbes, Senior Vice President, said, "Jelena is an athlete of enormous talent and unlimited potential. Jelena has distinguished herself as the No.1 player in the world and with her warm personality and fantastic smile she is an extremely popular competitor. IMG looks forward to working with Jelena at this exciting time in her career."

Jankovic's tennis management team at IMG will be led by Caroline Lacy, IMG London.

Jankovic, who has recently been crowned ITF World Champion added, "IMG is a global company and a leader not only in tennis, but entertainment, fashion and modeling as well. I'm very excited to partner IMG and look forward to working with them on a variety of exciting tennis, marketing and endorsement opportunities."

Now that she's with IMG, JJ could be heading to Malaysia along with Maria Sharapova for an exhibition match.

The last time I read on LTAM website, the local organiser LD Sports is interested to bring in either JJ or Ana Ivanovic. So, there's a high possibility that JJ will make her way here.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.


(Via msnbc.com; Image via Yahoo! Sport)

REMINDER: Rafael Nadal is the world no. 1 and he bites


Finally Rafael Nadal accepted his 2008 year-end no. 1 trophy.

He received the award right after the match against Fabrice 'The Magician, No More' Santoro at the Exxon Mobil Qatar Open Tennis in Doha.

Nadal sent Santoro packing after handed him a bagel and a stick in just 48 minutes.

Andy Murray's presence is alarming, but you know what, RAFA BITES, okay? :P


(Images by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Rising star Kei Nishikori gets Heineken wildcard, advances to second round

Japanese rising star Kei Nishikori who has been granted a wildcard entry for the Heineken Open in Auckland did not disappoint in the first round.

Nishikori defeated Bobby Reynolds 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round where he will meet Tomas Berdych.


According to tournament director Richard Palmer earlier last month,
"It's very exciting to have a player like him (Kei) in the field, especially since he is rated so highly by players and tennis officials around the world as someone who could be in the top-20 by the end of 2009."

(Images by William WestAFP/Getty Images)


Jan 6, 2009

Chennai Open: From the catwalk to the court

Prakash Amritraj, Horia Tecau, Nikolay Davydenko and Mahesh Bhupathi

In keeping with tradition, Kingfisher Chennai Open Good Times Opening Party kicked off with a fashion show featuring the spring/summer collection of Manoviraj Khosla and Vivek Karunakaran’s uber-chic collection.


Players who did the catwalk were Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Prakash Amritraj, Nikolay Davydenko, Yves Allegaro and Horia Tecau.

Leander Paes

Mahesh Bhupathi

Here are more off court photos.

Leander Paes and dubs partner Lukas Dlouhy pose on elephant sculptures.

Alberto Martin and Pablo Andujar show us Spain's other favourite sport.

Top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko advanced to the second round of the Chennai Open after beating Daniel Koellerer 6-2, 6-3.


A favourite to win at this tournament, Davydenko will next face Lukas Dlouhy, who needed three sets to beat Go Soeda of Japan.

Third-seed, Marin Cilic had little difficulty in making the second round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Alberto Martin in 91 minutes, while Bjorn Phau did not exert much in getting past Santiago Ventura of Spain 6-2, 7-5.

Indian player Prakash Amirtraj suffered a disappointing defeat to Rainer Schuettler 2-6, 6-4, 1-6 in 85 minutes, becoming the topic of criticism on continuing to falter despite getting the wild cards in succession in the event.

Rohan Bopanna who qualified for the event after beating Michael Berrer 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 however lost in the first round to Denis Isomin 6-4, 7-6(3).

For more info and results, click here.

(Via chennaiopen.org, ptinews.com, timesofindia.indiatimes.com; Images viaatpworldtour.com)

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