kudos

Caroline Wozniacki Signs Tennis Racket for J/P Haitian Relief Organization

First of all welcome to the new design of TennisGrandstand. I hope you will enjoy the new design as much as I do. I even got my own section on the site and I am very very pleased with that. So kudos to the tech team of TennisGrandstand for a great job on the redesign.

And now on with the good news. The US Open is over and Kim Clijsters and Rafael Nadal did some good business.

But even though the US Open is over, it doesn’t mean that everybody went home immediately after.  Take Caroline Wozniacki for example. She stayed in New York and helped out with some charities.  One of the charities is Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization (JP HRO).

For the JP HRO she signed a racket and you can bid on it at the St Giles New York – The Court Hotel from September until October 31 of 2010. All proceeds will go to the  JP HRO.

For more information on the J/P Haitian Relief Organization please visit:  http://www.jphro.org

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Rafael Nadal: Post-US Open Media Tour Videos and Photos

Newly crowned U.S. Open winner Rafael Nadal began his media tour the second he fell to the ground after defeating Novak Djokovic in the championship. All eyes were on him then and not much has changed in the past 48 hours.

Gone are the days of trying to decipher Rafael Nadal’s words in an English-speaking interview. With his heavy Mallorcan accent, he created sounds that the average American hardly knew what to do with. Add on top of that his unique facial expressions that further strained his enunciation of certain letters and it quickly turned into a frustrating venture, even for die-hards fans. Today, however, his English is starting to look like a legitimate second language next to his native Spanish. And it came just in time for his first win at the U.S. Open this year.

One theory I actually have about why Rafa didn’t win the Open earlier in his career, is that he needed to perfect his English for media and fan purposes first. Seems like a silly notion, but think about the times you have listened to athletes, political figures, and leaders express joy in a language you didn’t understand. If the language barrier is significant enough you may not have connected with them on an emotional level at all. Knowing the language of the country you are in strongly accelerates the fanbase you have there, the U.S. Open and Americans notwithstanding. So kudos to Rafa for improving not only his game during all these years, but also his dedication to improve his English. Without it, we may not have a new Career Grand Slam Champion.

We can also finally understand all the great interviews he gave us during his media tour following his win in Flushing Meadows — without having to pause and rewind after each sentence. Let’s get started!

If you missed the Men’s Trophy Ceremony on Monday night like U.S. viewers did when ESPN2 cut away just before Rafa hoisted the trophy, fear not. Now you can watch it in full here and giggle in his boyish charm:

Rafa made his way to the press conference room two hours after the last point was played and one of the journalists wasn’t afraid to ask him “What took so you so long?” Rafa said that he already had “control antidoping,” met with the “US Open staff,” the “President of the Spanish Federation” and his “family for a few minutes.” Then after in the locker room he had sponsor obligations before his presser. The man barely won and already a flood of responsibility! Catch his full press conference here (video and transcript): http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2010-09-13/201009141284439013666.html

Via @EsteAcostaRubio on twitter, the ATP’s Media & Marketing Manager for the Americas, we got a glimpse of Rafa still on-court later that evening giving an interview.

The champ finally earned his sleep, but only for a few hours before making the rounds at the early-morning talk shows in New York City. First up was the Today Show on NBC. Sporting a casual look in jeans and a navy Nike polo, Rafa talked about his goals.

Part two happened on the show Live with Regis and Kelly. Not only did Rafa meet Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively (who was also a guest star), but Regis had a total man-crush on Rafa. He couldn’t get enough of his smile and even asked if he had a girlfriend!

Next up was the traditional photoshoot in New York City’s Times Square. If you’ve never been, it’s already one of the most hectic intersections in all of the U.S. Add on top of that a handsome 6’1” Spaniard with striking looks, screaming fans and security galore and you have a scene straight out of a movie!

Rafa and Team Nadal

Watch the video on Yahoo!  http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/21899049

Rafa then joined John McEnroe for a Q&A session at Niketown New York honoring his historic victory.

Rafa really doesn’t like to let go of that trophy!

And one more interview with Candy Reid from CNN International as a send-off before the champ headed home.

If you thought the U.S. media was crazy so far, the Spanish media didn’t even let Rafa leave the Madrid-Barajas Airport without holding a press conference first! He was all-smiles of course and stuck around to sign autographs.

“As a tennis player, I took an important step forward with this [win] and these have been six unforgettable months,” Nadal said shortly after touching down in Madrid. “I can’t say that I’m the best Spanish sports person of all time because I have no idea. But it’s an honor to be considered.”

Eurosport commentator Miguel Seabra tweeted that Rafa also did a Spanish interview with El País journalist Juan José Mateo. If you’re comfortable with your Spanish, you can read the full interview here, but I did my best on translating a few key points below (http://www.elpais.com/articulo/deportes/he/terminado/historia/elpepidep/20100915elpepidep_2/Tes).

When asked about his emotions between winning Wimbledon and winning the U.S. Open, Rafa had an interesting insight. He said that at the U.S. Open, he “was much more calm [before the final], nervous obviously because it was a final of a Grand Slam, but more calm … I was more nervous before the final of Wimbledon and Roland Garros.”

Rafa was also asked about all the knee treatments and shots he’s had to endure in the past to stay healthy and ready. “It was painful the first time: the following times were not so painful because I asked to be sedated. I could not stand it … I almost fainted the first time. It was between Monte Carlo and Rome. A pain so great that I nearly fainted!” It looks like Rafa is human afterall.

The last tidbit that was entertaining was when Rafa was asked about whose serve he would steal from the tour. He answered that he “would take Karlovic’s serve, no doubt. With that serve it would be very difficult to lose.”

The last stop of Rafa’s media tour was fitting. As he is an avid soccer fan, his final appearance was at the start of the UEFA Champions League game between Real Madrid and Ajax at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. A short clip was shown of his win and he acknowledged the crowd with his killer smile, one that hasn’t faded since he won. Amazing. Catch the action below:

I leave you with this great poster Nike made in commemoration of Rafa completing the Career Grand Slam.

PRAISE TO ANA IVANOVIC: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Serbian Turnaround – Over the course of the last year or so, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic have experienced varying degrees of a downward spiral in their careers, but signs seem to indicate that they are well on their way to turning things around.  Earlier this spring, Jankovic snagged the Indian Wells title, and she showed great mental toughness to defeat both Williams sisters back-to-back in Rome.  With a few more big wins under her belt, she may just find the consistency that took her to the top of the game in 2008.  My bigger praise, however, has to go to Ana Ivanovic.  While she lost early in Madrid to countrywoman Jankovic, she did put together a great run in Rome that included wins over Azarenka, Dementieva, and Petrova.  She’s gotten herself a new coach, she’s lost some weight, and most importantly, her mindset couldn’t be better.  Ivanovic acknowledges that she’s faced her worst fear in experiencing her playing slump and is ready to begin the climb back up the rankings.  Kudos to both, and I hope that they’ll once again strongly factor into the top of the women’s game.

Chaos Reigns – Roland Garros is just over a week away, and with the decimation of the seeds in Madrid, the women’s field couldn’t look more open. After winning Stuttgart, many (myself included) thought that perhaps Justine Henin was worthy to wear one of the heavy favorite tags, but her upset by Aravane Rezai, which included a bagel in the third, might suggest otherwise.  Serena Williams has looked decent for a player who hasn’t competed since the Australian Open, but with her failure to twice serve out the match against Jelena Jankovic in Rome and a listless performance against an inspired Nadia Petrova in Madrid, she hasn’t exactly looked solid.  Throw in that names like Wozniaki, Sharapova, Safina, Dementieva, Kutznetsova, and last week’s Rome champion Martinez Sanchez have all made an early exit in Madrid, and the time may be ripe for a dark horse to step up and take her first Slam victory at the second major of the year.  And yes, I realize that the seeds that have fallen in Madrid haven’t exactly had the greatest past couple of months, but that only sets the stage further for a surprise victor or finalist in Paris.  But then again, the champions are champions because they can turn it on when it counts.  One thing is for sure…it should be an interesting two weeks at the French Open.

Turning Back the Clock – First there was the return of Kim Clijsters that was then followed by the comeback of Justine Henin. Now there’s another news item that harks back to days gone by. With her three-set victory over Francesca Schiavone this week in Madrid, Venus Williams has guaranteed that she will be the No. 2 player in the world when the new rankings come out on Monday. Younger sister Serena currently holds the No. 1 ranking, and the occasion will mark the first time since May 2003 that the sisters have held the No. 1 and No. 2 spots.  While the Williams sisters aren’t dominating the game as they once did when they previously held the world’s top rankings, their longevity and ability to come up big on the sport’s grandest stages, which has led to their return to the top, deserve tremendous applause.

Zero Pressure – That’s what American Andy Roddick should be feeling as he goes into Roland Garros. Roddick opted to skip Monte Carlo and Rome and do his Paris preparation in the Spanish capital. A stomach virus has since forced him to alter his plans, however, as the virus resulted in his withdrawal from the Madrid Masters before even playing a single match. Not that Roddick has probably ever held great expectations on the red dirt, given that it is his worst surface, but this year in particular he should really be swinging freely. Who knows? Perhaps possibly mental lower expectations will ultimately lead Roddick to his best finish in Paris.

Off into the Sunset? – A lot of tennis fans, myself included, are wondering when Spaniard Carlos Moya will decide to hang up his racquet.  The 33-year-old Moya has rarely played in recent months, and his showing against Benjamin Becker this week was dismal. One wonders if he is able to play Roland Garros, which is currently his plan, if that won’t be the last we see of him.  Having won a major, reaching the No. 1 world ranking, and even winning the Davis Cup, Moya has nothing left to prove. And with Moya and his girlfriend Carolina Cerezuela expecting their first child later this year, he may find it the perfect time to call it a career.