Thursday, May 31, 2012

John Isner is doing it again...this time at Roland Garros

John Isner is a man of looonnngggg matches. After playing the world's longest tennis match ever in Wimbledon 2010, against Nicolas Mahut, the North-american is now taking part of a never-ending 5th set at Roland Garros. 

At the british Grand-Slam, there was 11 hours, 5 minutes of play for over three days, with a final score of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7(7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 for a total of 183 games, and 113 aces from Isner.

Right now, Paul Henri-Mathieu and John Isner are playing for more than 5h30 at the French Open. And the 5th set is favorable to the French by 17-16.

On Twitter, amazingly Mahut is trending and not Isner. Users are joking about the fact that Nicolas Mahut might be jeaulous, as you can see from the funny image tweeted by @adamlweber.

UPDATE 20h13 GMT: Mathieu just won the 5h40 match (6/7(2) 6/4 6/4 3/6 18/16). The Frenchman was in better shape than Isner - who could barely move at the later stage of the final set - and was able to prevent the match from being postponed. They were playing the all afternoon, and the natural light was about to fade in Paris. Just in time for Mathieu!

This was the 2nd longest match in French Open history and 4th longest in Grand Slam history. Mathieu cried at the end of the game and said: "I play tennis to live moments like those. Thank you all for staying until the very end".

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sam Stosur delighted with Spanish tapas

In another episode of "Full of Surprises Travel Show", presented by Dubai Duty Free, Sam Stosur gives us a tour of the Spanish capital, Madrid. The Australian takes us on a journey to Plaza Mayor and to the world of Tapas, a famous Spanish dish.

Visit WTA gallery on You Tube to watch other "Full of Surprises Travel Show" episodes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Serena Williams out of Roland Garros

Serena Williams was upset for the first time in the opening round of a Grand Slam. She's out of Roland Garros.
Photo: FFT/Roland Garros Facebook Page
The French Virginie Razzano, seed 115, 29 years-old, upset Serena Williams in a dramatic game (4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3). The 13-time Grand Slam champion was in control of the game, until losing the second set tie-break. Sitting on the bench, before the final set, Serena got carried away by the emotion and lost her concentration.

Razzano, who had the french crowd on her side, got an advantage of 5-0 in the third set. And then almost everything happened. The referee made some dubious decisions, Razzano started to break physically and was troubled by the pressure of defeating Williams, and Serena was making too many unforced errors (she had 8 break-points in the 3rd set, just one converted; and a match total of 47 unforced errors/39 winners) but found enough energy to get to 3-5. An epic final game with 8 match-points and a lot of drama had a happy ending to the Frenchwoman.

Serena's loss is good news to Maria Sharapova. The Russian is on the same side of the board as the North-american and her path to the final just got a little bit easier.

Roland Garros official website has some great photos of the game. Check it out here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Roland Garros: What to do in Paris besides practice?

Top players, like Sharapova, the Williams sisters, Nadal or Federer, have been arriving in Paris since last Wednesday and Thursday but for most of them real action only began yesterday. Besides the intense practice sessions, what else was there to do in the great City of Light? Most players attended events organized by their sponsors or the French Open. For some, there was time for tourism. Let's take a look, case by case. :)

Victoria Azarenka

Vicka had time, between practices, to visit the Eiffel Tower. She didn't make it to the top because the queues were huge, as always. Nonetheless, walking around the tower and in the gardens nearby is just as good. On her Facebook page, she said: "This is how close I got to the Eiffel Tower! Too many people in line to go to the top :))".

Rafael Nadal

The Spanish star had a lot of extra-practice work to do, besides relaxing with his friend at the balcony of his hotel room (the place doesn't look too fancy but the view to the Eiffel Tower is "magnifique").

Credits from left to right: Nadal FB; Ella LingFFT/Roland Garros
Nadal had to attend media day (interviews, photos, and more interviews), kid's day (kids, kids and more kids), and draw day, where he and Li Na helped pick cards out of a bowl. Then, Rafa had the event with racquet sponsor Babolat, which we guess must have been fun, judging by the laughs he shared with Li Na and Kim Clijsters. Take a look at the video to learn more about the racquet of the future and Babolat's event.

Maria Sharapova

On her first day in Paris, Masha had a get together with fans at Nike Paris. She also had a "nice little shopping spree at the store", she wrote on Facebook, and took the opportunity to notice the different pieces sold by Nike stores around the world.

Bob Bryan - Bryan Brothers

We leave the cutest moment to last! Bob Bryan took his little daughter Micaela to walk in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and eat an ice-cream at Haagen-Dazs. Isn't Micaela the sweetest kid? We love her pink skirt, it's goes well with Paris, City of Fashion :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Twitter goes wild over Ana Ivanovic

©FFT/Roland Garros
Ana Ivanovic was a topic trend this afternoon on Twitter. The hashtag #Ana Ivanovic placed 7th in the world top trends on Twitter, during and after the first-round match she played against Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino (6-1 6-1), at the French Open.

Male fans started trending, mostly, about the Serbian's beauty. A French fan wrote "Always good to see Ana Ivanovic getting a win! #FrenchOpen", while another one admitted he would "seriously marry Ana Ivanovic on the spot".

Users pointed out how the seed No.13 is "too yummy for words", "ultra hot", "damn cute" and "guapa" (beautiful in spanish). For some, she is definitely the "most beautiful player in tennis" and "has the best legs on tour right now" (although the same user assures that the best legs of all time belong to Steffi Graf :).

Twitters were also praising the Serbian for signing autographs "to almost everyone", just after her match.

In an interview to CNN, Ivanovic said she is determined to win the title once again at Roland Garros. Check out the interview and profile made by reporter Pedro Pinto.

Robin Soderling finds "cure" in rock music

There is nothing like music to make you feel better from just about anything. The Swedish player Robin Soderling, who is recovering from glandular fever (mononucleosis) for almost a year now, twitted Saturday a photo of himself at a rock concert in Sweden. Soderling attended Kent's concert in Stockholm and guaranteed that he was listening to "the best rock band in Sweden".
At Kent's Concert, on Saturday (Credit: Soderling's Twitter)
The former world number four (currently at nº 56) announced this week he will miss Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Olympics. According to the BBC, the Swede has suffered damage to his thyroid and adrenal glands as a result of the illness, which Roger Federer also battled at the start of 2008.

Soderling admits he hasn't given up on 2012 season but for now he doesn't feel strong enough. "Now I am where I feel pretty good during the days and I can do everything, but training - and especially a little bit more intense training - my body cannot take, I get too tired", he said, quoted by the BBC. 

Also this week, Soderling revealed, via Twitter, that he and his wife Jenni are expecting their first child together in late September. "We are both very happy and excited", he posted.

Friday, May 25, 2012

French Open: Federer in Djokovic's way; Nadal gets easy draw

Credit: FFT/Roland Garros
Roger Federer will come in the way of Novak Djokovic's chance to become the first man in 43 years to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time. Both are in the same section of the men's main draw at Roland Garros and could meet again in the semi-final, just like in 2011.

Rafael Nadal, bidding for an historic seventh title, has an easier draw, and could play against Andy Murray in the quarters.

In the first round, Djokovic is set to face Italy's Potito Starace, while Federer will go against Germany's Tobias Kamke and Nadal starts off against Simone Bolelli.

In the women's draw, Victoria Azarenka has Samantha Stosur as a possible quarter-final match-up. But the biggest clash is set for a possible quarter-final Maria Sharapova vs.Serena Williams.

Potential men's quarter-final match-ups:

Novak Djokovic – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Roger Federer – Thomas Berdych
David Ferrer – Andy Murray
Rafael Nadal – Janko Tipsarevic

Potential women's quarter-final match-ups:

Victoria Azarenka – Sam Stosur
Marion Bartoli – Agnieszka Radwanska
Li Na – Petra Kvitova
Serena Williams – Maria Sharapova

Roland Garros: Excitement grows as players practice in Paris

Roland Garros 2012 is just around the corner, and the word in Paris is practice, practice, practice. The motivation and excitement around the second Grand Slam of the year is so high, making us believe that players DO know the meaning of the Nike ad, which says: "Think training's hard? Try losing."

Yep, nobody wants to lose and the competition is tight! Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are battling for the top positions in the WTA ranking. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have a competition of their own for the Tennis nº 2 ATP position, even if their goal actually is to leapfrog Novak Djokovic. On the other hand, the Serbian is competing with himself for the "Novak Slam". He could become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive slams in a row, if he takes the title at Roland Garros. 

The stakes are high but everyone is having fun, as you can see from the photos and videos shot in the lovely city of Paris (Credits: All by FFT/Roland Garros, except for Federer's photo with the poster, which is from his FB page).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Caroline Wozniacki on Maxim Hot 100 List

Caroline Wozniacki is the only tennis player to be named as one of Maxim 2012 Hot 100. Every year, the magazine lists the top 100 most beautiful women in the world. Tennis beauties like Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova have made the list in the past.
Coming in at number 86, the Danish is the lone tennis star in a list topped by Supermodel Bar Refaeli. Olivia Munn, Mila Kunis and Katy Perry take the next spots.

Caro, who recently downgraded from Tennis nº 1 to 9, was thrilled to be named one of the hottest women in the world. On her Facebook page, she wrote: "Hey guys! The 2012 MAXIM Magazine Hot 100 just came out and guess who made the list!! I was voted #86! Make sure you check it out... The issue will be on stands May 29th. Pretty cool, right?? :)"

Djokovic renews image and signs with Uniqlo

New logo, new website and concept, and finally a new sponsor. In less than two months, the "brand" Novak Djokovic turned everything upside down and improved its image on all levels. Tennis nº1 announced Today, just a day after the split with italian company Sergio Tacchini, that Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing and sports equipment manufacturer, will be his new sponsor for the next five years.

"From today I am a samurai", joked Nole on his FB page
Nole has secured his position as the best player in the ATP World Tour and has been attracting a lot of fans in Europe and Asia. But the Serbian hasn't caught the attention of one of the biggest markets for tennis, the United States. Surely, this new image and the implementation of a marketing and communication strategy (through the creation of a concept, a logo, etc) is nothing more than a means to an end, but in a good way. Djokovic needs to maximize his potential. It's the right moment for him to raise the bar and to improve the fine machine that is responsible for the inevitable destruction of Nadal-Federer dominance of the last 7 to 8 years.

The 5-year sponsorship deal takes immediate effect and Djokovic will wear his new outfit for the first time at Roland Garros, which begins on May 27. In a statement released today, Uniqlo stated that it has appointed "the world’s top-ranked male professional tennis player as its global brand ambassador." The Chairman and CEO of the company, Mr Tadashi Yanai, announced that they will work with Djokovic in the creation of future product lines, and in co-development of the ultimate Uniqlo functional wear". The Japanese brand promises to use "the most innovative fabrics and technologies to develop match wear that can contribute to the performance of the player".

Commenting on the announcement, the Serbian said: "UNIQLO is a cool brand with strong roots in Japan, a country whose culture and way of life I respect. I have a personal philosophy which I call ‘Be Unique,’ and this is based on my strong passion, drive and eagerness to keep improving myself. I am passionate about being the best possible tennis player, as well as the best possible person, and I have a continuous desire to help people, especially children, who have been less fortunate than me.”

Recently, Novak Djokovic's official website and Facebook page were modified to include new features and a more clean design. The player's motto, which is "The Greater the Challenge the more Glory in overcoming it" is introduced at the top of the website, which is presented in two languages, Serbian and English. The logo associates Novak Djokovic's initials with strong principles such as tradition, freedom and the ability to dream.

Learn more in this interesting video about the construction, associations and typography of the new logo created for Tennis No 1 player.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Djokovic splits with Sergio Tacchini, New sponsor might be Uniqlo

Tennis nº 1 Novak Djokovic has ended his sponsorship agreement with Sergio Tacchini International, announced the Italian clothing company, a day after the Serbian lost the Rome final to Rafael Nadal. The brand wasn't able to deal with Nole's growing sucess. Problems with payments due to the player and a weak distribution of his gear, especially in the US, were some of the reasons for the split.

Djokovic at the Italian Open. Credit: Credit: Internazionali BNL d’Italia 
“It has been mutually and amicably decided that, as of the 2012 Roland Garros Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic will no longer be the brand ambassador,” the Novara, northern Italy-based manufacturer said in an e-mailed statement today, quoted by Business Week.
Nole signed with Tacchini in November 2009, when ranked third. The brand had already sponsored great tennis champions like Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis. 
In its statement, Sergio Tacchini International recognized that Djokovic "outgrown the Italian brand" and "has grown professionally, climbing from third to first place in the world ATP ranking". "Although losing such a precious spokesperson, Tacchini is offering Djokovic the opportunity to take on new challenges and new sponsors", added Tacchini. 
According to CNBC sources, Tacchini was able to sign Djokovic by offering him a smaller guarantee than the larger companies would pay, but promised bigger should he do well. When Djokovic kept winning, the company fell behind on payments to the tennis star. The italian brand, says CNBC, wasn't able to produce interesting outfits for the biggest tennis gear market, the United States, and, in fact, failed to deliver Djokovic's Grand Slam apparel to US retailers.
Serbian media is saying that Djokovic will sign with Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, who already sponsors Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori. But Nike and Adidas could also be in the run. 
The Serbian player or his staff haven't made any comment on Sergio Tacchini's statement. 

Happy 25th birthday, Novak Djokovic!

Credit: Djokovic's Facebook page
Born 22 May 1987, in Belgrade - former Yugoslavia, now Serbia - Djokovic has a lot to celebrate at 25. He had the best year of his career (in fact, one of the best seasons in tennis history), and holds the title of world Nº1 in the ATP World Tour ranking. Djokovic finished the 2011 season with a 70–6 record (wins-losses) and with victories at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. This year, he started by winning the Australian Open and the title in Miami.

Today on his Facebook page, he thanked the fans for the "great wishes, love, photos and nice words!" "I had a great day with my closest ones! My Jelena [Ristic, girlfriend] even made me a Bday cake! Can you imagine what was my wish? :)", he said.  ... .... well, we can only guess, but maybe winning Roland Garros and making four majors in a row would be an awesome gift!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nadal regains Rome title and number 2 spot

Credit: Internazionali BNL d’Italia 
Rafael Nadal regained the 2nd position in the ATP men's ranking, by defeating Novak Djokovic this Monday in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final.
The Spaniard triumphed 7-5, 6-3 in a 02h20 match, and regained his Rome crown, won by Djokovic in 2011. The final had been delayed by a day because of rain and was only played on Monday.
It’s Nadal’s sixth Rome title and his 21st ATP Masters 1000. The Majorcan will now move ahead of Roger Federer in the ATP World Tour's ranking.

Rome final. Credit: Internazionali BNL d’Italia 
Rafa vs Nole head-to-head will continue at the French Open. Credit: Internazionali BNL d’Italia 
After his victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Nadal is considered a favourite to win the French Open. But the player is not happy about his game level yet. “I didn't consider myself that good. I can do better. When you are not serving 100% perfect then you are in trouble because he (Djokovic) returns hard. I am trying to play more aggressive and I am touching the ball better and my forehand is more painful than last year and that is why I am able to go more to the side", said Nadal at Rome's post-match press-conference.

Nadal was back home in Majorca later this Monday. Credit: Nadal's FB page
On the other hand, Novak Djokovic is heading to Roland Garros in "his top form", as he admitted after the Rome final. The world Nº1 wants to win four majors in a row at the French Open, where he’s never made the championship match. Despiste his confidence, he considers Nadal to be the best player in the world on clay surface.

Heavy rain in Rome? Ok, let's play pool!

It was a frustrating day for fans eager to follow the Rome men's final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The match was postponed until Monday (10:00 GMT).

For the players, it is business as usual. No game today? OK, Monday is just as good. Nadal even had the chance to play with some other kind of balls...nothing like a pool game to keep the mind focused. :)

Credit: Rafael Nadal's Official Facebook Page

Sharapova, the "raining" champion

For the second straight time, Maria Sharapova guaranteed the Italian Open title. The reigning champion had to sweat to defeat China's Li Na (4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5)), "in a match full of momentum shifts, a lengthy rain delay, and noisy distractions from football fans", reported AFP.

Rain at the Foro Italico. Credit: Getty Images
Both players had a lot of swings during the match, and that had a lot to do with several events such as the heavy rain and the intense noise made by football fans heading for the Italian Cup final between Juventus and Napoli, at the Olympic Stadium, just a few hundred metres away.

In the third-set just, before the tie-break was about to commence, the match was delayed due to the weather. "It was a crazy match. It was tough having to wait two hours. It's difficult to have a loser and a winner, but I'm happy." said Sharapova in the press conference.

Credit: Internazionali BNL d' Italia
Li Na was more eloquent. "The match was a joke, it was like playing a football match in the rain". The Chinese admitted it was tiring for both players and it was hard to concentrate.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rome finals: Nadal vs Nole, Sharapova vs Na Li

And the Internazionali BNL d'Italia finals are set! Sunday, early afternoon (13:00 pm, London time), Maria Sharapova, who is improving her tennis in red clay surfaces, will face last year's Roland Garros champion, Li Na.
Later in the afternoon, Nadal will play against Djokovic. Surely this will be another tough battle for both players and a wonderful show for the one's watching. Rafa seems relaxed and prepared, and Saturday, after what he called "a tough match" with Ferrer (7-6 (8/6) e 6-0), he had time to hang out with Juventus genius Del Piero.

Credit: Djokovic's and Nadal's Facebook Official pages
On the other hand, "Nole" is getting gifts and lots of love from the roman fans, and promising to defend his title on Sunday. The world Nº 1 seems to be on top of his game, since he was able to upset Roger Federer in just one hour and 39 minutes (6-2 e 7-6 (7/4)).

May the best win!

ATP World Tour and Tennis Warehouse launch online store for Europe

The ATP World Tour and retail store Tennis Warehouse have launched the official website for Europe.

Europeans can now buy ATP players’ gear online, but the store ships to customers around the world. The website offers costumer service in five languages (english, french, german, italian and spanish).

Accordind to ATP World Tour website, "Tennis Warehouse, a division of Sports Warehouse Inc., was started in 1992 as a 500-square-foot specialty tennis shop in San Luis Obispo, California. Since then it has grown to be the largest online specialty tennis retailer in the world and is the official online partner of ATP World Tour and the WTA Tour. In 2008 Tennis Warehouse expanded to include a European division, Tennis Warehouse Europe, located in Schutterwald, Germany."

Friday, May 18, 2012

New HEAD ad with Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic said, on Facebook, "it was so much fun". Maria Sharapova added that "it took a few extra takes" to keep her composure and to stop laughing. The result is a new ad for Head Tennis new promotion, featuring the men's tennis nº 1 and the women's tennis nº 2. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vogue celebrates 2012 Olympics with cover girl Serena Williams

The June edition of the American "Vogue" magazine is celebrating the 2012 Olympics. Serena Williams is one of the cover girls and is among the eight elite American athletes photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the Vogue special editorial.

On Facebook, Vogue remembers past photographs of Olympic athletes, such as Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad, will take place in London, UK, from 27 July to 12 August 2012. The tennis competition will be held at the All England Club, in Wimbledon.

Hope you enjoy the archive and 2012 photos and also a behind the scenes video of the cover shoot with the Olympic hopefuls including Hope Solo, Serena Williams, and Ryan Lochte.

Bryan Brothers for the June edition. Photos by Annie Leibovitz  

Serena Williams photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue, April 2003
Photo by Annie Leibovitz; Vogue, July 2003
Sharapova photographed by Norman Jean Roy. Vogue, March 2005
Nadal photographed by Bruce Weber, Vogue, June 2009
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in August 2004. Photo by Patrick Demarchelier
"Nole" photographed by Norman Jean Roy; Vogue, September 2011
Federer by Mario Testino, Vogue, June 2009
Behind the scenes of the 2012 Vogue's June edition cover shoot:

Don't miss the article about cover girl and Olympic athlete Serena Williams on Vogue's website. You can also check the archives to find features about Djokovic, Sharapova, and many other players.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rome, city open for tennis

Rome, the open city, is officially welcoming tennis. Red clay, tradition and a fashionable Masters 1000 is what everybody was hoping for, after the experiments in Madrid's blue clay courts. Rome, or should we say Internazionali BNL d'Italia, is the most important red clay event before Roland Garros - The French Open (which will start on 22nd May)

Beautiful training facilities, a draw in the famous Spanish Steps and players wondering around in happy faces is what Rome has to offer in the beginning of yet another lovely summer in Europe.

Take a look!
Agnieszka Radwanska in Rome Credit: I.BNL Italia FB
Djokovic after eating the best gluten-free pasta in Rome, as he told fans on Facebook
From Federer's Facebook: "Enjoying a tourist bus tour in Rome. This city is amazing"
Happy Birthday for Murray in la bella Italia. Credit: I.BNL Italia FB
Jelena Jankovic ready to play. Credit: I.BNL Italia FB

Nadal's first practice in Foro Italico. Bellissimo! Credit: Nadal's Facebook

Belissima Maria in Rome. Credit: I.BNL Italia FB
Preparing the draw event in the Spanish Steps Credit: I.BNL Italia FB