Alex Ovechkin

Maria Kirilenko: Not Another Dumb Blonde in Melbourne

On behalf of blondes everywhere, the blonde jokes need to stop.

We don’t think the capital of California is the letter C. We don’t take an inordinately long time to finish puzzles because the boxes says “2-4 years.” We don’t peel M&Ms and we try not to get stuck on broken escalators.

Then again, maybe these jokes are for the best. They make you underestimate us, so you never see us coming. Maybe that’s how Maria Kirilenko was able to sneak into the fourth round of the Australian Open. The 25-year-old Russian is likely hard-pressed to ever go anywhere unnoticed, but the No. 14 seed has definitely been under the radar at the start of this year’s Australian Open.

It must be difficult to be Maria Kirilenko.

Not in the ways you would think. Indeed, the 25-year-old Russian does not need sympathy because she is blessed with stunningly good looks, the endorsements and photo shoots that come with that, and a hockey-playing fiancé who worships her.

No, take pity on her because she has all those things but still wants to let her game do the talking.

With every excuse to rest on her laurels, Kirilenko continues to put in the long hours to get the most out of her petite frame and (relatively) underpowered game. An all-court player with no standout weapon, the Olympic bronze medalist in doubles has been steadily improving in the last few years and emerged at the start of this season fitter and more ready than ever to make her mark on the singles court.

A fan favorite (for obvious reasons), Kirilenko is not without her critics. Those detractors would probably tell you that she is overrated, given special attention because of her looks and with her recent engagement to Alex Ovechkin, destined for a Kournikova-esque fade out of the tennis world.

To believe all of that is to assume Kirilenko is another dumb blonde. Take it from those who watched her third round encounter with Yanina Wickmayer; “Kiri” is a smart cookie.

She was smart enough to withstand the Belgian’s early barrage. She was cool enough not to panic when that relentless stream of winners caused her to fall behind an early break. Instead, the Russian steadied herself and stayed with Wickmayer, who continued to belt winners one minute and miss only by millimeters the next.

The eventual tiebreaker was a tense affair, for it promised a massive momentum boost to its winner. Unwilling to crack beneath the weight of the moment, Kirilenko stuck to her game plan and mixed expert defense with intelligent offense, all in the effort to keep her emotional foe off-balance.Her patience was rewarded when she nabbed an essential mini-break to take the first set, but Wickmayer would not go away quickly. She persisted early in the second set with her signature aggression as a means of pegging the crafty Kirilenko to the back of the court, and began sneaking up to the net with unheard of efficiency.

But by that point, it was too late. The Russian was already dialed in and ending points earlier and earlier thanks to some flawless angles, and ran away with the second set to set up a meeting with presumptive favorite, Serena Williams.

Many will write off this match before it even begins. Kirilenko lacks the punch to keep up with the American powerhouse who has only lost one match since Wimbledon. But to underestimate the Russian would be a grave error in judgment. Be smart.

Kirilenko certainly is.

Novak Djokovic to cameo in Expendables II

Novak Djokovic turns to acting

If you are a fan of movies and especially of 80s action movie heroes like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger and a fan of tennis, in particular of Novak Djokovic, then the movie Expendables II is definitely a must see.

The Serbian number one of the world is set  for a cameo in the ensemble movie.

As New York Magazine puts it so eloquently:

Nole will play himself in the cameo, meaning either that Expendables 2 will involve a terrorist attack on Wimbledon or that the Expendables crew now requires a tennis impressionist among its ranks.

(Novak Djokovic is getting into acting – New York Mag)

Maria Kirilenko and Alex Ovechkin: What will their celebrity couple name be?

Has anyone heard of the break up between Russian bombshell Maria Kirilenko and Igor Andreev?  I haven’t heard or read anything about that. Imagine my surprise when I read about Kirilenko dating Washington Capitals hockey player Alex Ovechkin.  I suppose that somebody had to succeed Anna Kournikova who was the NHL mascotte in her early career in the early 2000s, I just never thought it was going to be Maria Kirilenko.  And while we are at it:  What will be their celebrity couple name?  We have got Wozilroy but the word is still out on Ana Ivanovic and Adam Scott.   Kirilenko and Oveckin: MariaLex? I really have no clue.  Help us out here and leave a comment.  For some more hot shots of Maria Kirilenko follow this link to Lawntennisnews.


Rafael Nadal, the champion who drinks responsibly!

And for those of you who are of legal drinking age. This is what I just got in the mail:

Bacardi Limited today launches an international free prize draw competition to meet its Global Social Responsibility Ambassador Rafael „Rafa. Nadal as part of the award-winning “Champions Drink Responsibly” social responsibility campaign. Starting today, legal drinking age consumers and fans from around the world will get the opportunity to “Ace Rafa” in an online virtual reality video game created by Bacardi Limited.
Fans who successfully “ace” the ten-time Grand Slam winner in the game will go into a free prize draw to win a spot in the Grand Final. The lucky finalists will get to meet Rafa Nadal face-to-face in Mallorca, Spain, in 2012 for the chance to try and “ace“ him in-person.

Legal drinking age consumers can enter the competition via the “Champions Drink Responsibly” Facebook page ( where they will face Rafa by using the RoboServ 3000 –– a state-of-the-art 12-foot tall tennis-serving robot.

And it even included a great video:


Never can say goodbye

It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing that my time at TennisGrandstand has come to an end.  After four years of editing, recruiting and all of that jazz I have decided to move away from TennisGrandstand. I leave the site in the capable hands of Romana Cvitkovic and you can already see her hand in many things that are TennisGrandstand. Such as the great articles of the past couple of weeks.  What will I do? I am going to be the editor of with a few TennisGrandstand Alumni like Stephane Carter.

I will miss you all!

And to make sure that I am really gone from TennisGrandstand I leave you with this video: