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The need for speed

head-speedlessons-nole09bThe folks at HEAD are wasting no time milking the newest member of their stable, Novak Djokovic, for some Q-rating padding. They have chosen Nole as the main vehicle for a new racquet technology named Speed. (Nevermind that they’ve already had Andy Murray and Marat Safin, right?)

The deets of the stick were hush-hush until Djokovic played with them at the Australian Open (pics), and HEAD moves onto the next step of their campaign with “Speed Lessons by Novak Djokovic”.

You can think of the site, found at speedlessons.com, as a cross between Teen Girl Squad and Palin as President — a mix of animated shorts and other mini-gags (including mouseovers voiced by Djokovic himself).

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Look out for a total of six flash-based “tennis lessons”, released about once a week. Much like the hammy Serbian, these shorts should be taken with a grain of salt. Watch ‘em and you’ll know what we mean.

Mousing over the landing page induces a few cute sound bites (e.g., “With a two-handed backhand, you won’t have a free hand for a remote control.”). The folks we talked to at HEAD said that Nole had a good time recording the voiceovers for the site.

And finally, users can take a three-question quiz, after which they can enter to win one of ten Speed racquets autographed by Djokovic.

The global campaign, conceived by an Austrian agency, will culminate with the racquet’s retail launch in late April or May.

HEAD wanted something “new, fresh, and online based because that’s what everybody is,” said a company rep. They’ve included links for Facebook, del.icio.us, Technorati, and Google to help spread the word.

Visit: Speed Lessons.

Scoreline: Djokovic, who retired in the heat against Andy Roddick during the Aussie Open quarterfinals, bounces back after a two-week break to reach the quarters (vs. Mischa Zverev) in this week’s Open 13 in Marseille. Nole hasn’t been looking his best, but has yet to drop a set in two rounds.

Breaking up isn’t hard to do

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Customer satisfaction, guaranteed: Bjorn Borg and his right-hand pimpster Bibi wouldn’t be the kind to leave you hangin’. If their matchmaking and lucky charms can’t help you through the romance, perhaps you just need an out.

And even that’s been simplified with the help of their Break-up service.

After answering a few basic yes or no questions about the state of your love life (with visual aids to match), out comes Bibi’s recommendation for what to do with your ball and chain.

If she deems ‘em ill-fitting, you have the option of sending a pre-written dump SMS to the offending party, and back on the merry-go-round you go.

If you are already with your soulmate, she wants you to consider leaving them anyway, just to spice things up. (Bjorn Borg even designated Feb. 13 as Break-Up Day.)

Face the music: Take the quiz here.

Fashion Focus: K-Swiss springs forward with Haas

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The March issue of Tennis has this two-page ad of German dreamboat Tommy Haas modeling for his new sponsor, K-Swiss. I want that headband!

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Tennis goods: There’s not much to look at in their tennis line — the graphics on these tees aren’t anything special. From left to right: Tnns Ball Prntd Crew, $45; IN Motion Slvlss Crw, $42; Ultracel Polo, $52.

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But this jacket from their casual line gets our thumbs up. Skur Track Jacket, $70.

Shoes: Yep, if there’s one thing K-Swiss is known for, it’s delicious shoes. Check out the latest offerings.

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Debut: K-Swiss Tommy made a quick debut at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships last week. Still rusty from a shoulder injury layoff, he bowed out in the first round to Diego Hartfield 6-2 3-6 6-2.

(ad from Tennis, Haas photo by Palm Beach Post)

Monica has dancing shoes, Steffi hawks Louis Vuitton pumps

A tale of two legends: Recent retiree Monica Seles will join Marlee Matlin, Adam Carolla, Priscilla Presley and Kristi Yamaguchi in the latest season of Dancing With the Stars. Wow, that’s a “Who’s Who” if I ever saw one.

The sixth season of DWTS will premiere March 17 on ABC. On joining the show, the 34-year-old Seles says “I’m a tennis player. I don’t know a tango from a mango.”

Seles’ recent return to the limelight is likely a big push to move her away from “tennis star” to “celebrity”. If you remember, she followed an appearance on the CBS Morning Show earlier this week with the announcement of her retirement. And now, the dancing. She’s well on her way, but has to play catch up to her biggest rival on the court…

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Steffi Graf‘s PR machine continues to churn. Graf will have a guest stint on Oprah’s Big Give, a “pay it forward” reality show produced by Oprah Winfrey. (Remember when hubby Andre Agassi whacked her in the face? They were taping a segment for it.)

And page five of this week’s New York magazine has an ad from Louis Vuitton featuring the Narcisse Pump. The uppers on this two-tone three-inch heel are hand-stitched. Below the picture is this copy:

Walk with me. By Steffi Graf”

I look at my schedule and I just have to laugh. I’d need to be six people to get through it all. It seems I’m still running all over the place – only my footwear has changed.”

That’s deep. Do you think she wrote it herself?

Buy: Narcisse Pump, two-tone hand-stitched calf leather with three-inch heel, $1,120, louisvuitton.com.

(USA Today via Marie; photo from New York)