Celebrities and fellow tennis players swarmed to Twitter to give their congratulations to tennis’ newest Slam winner, Andy Murray as he defeated Novak Djokovic in a nearly five hour championship match.
Congratulations, Andy! You are a true fighter and champion!
Have a look at the warm wishes below from players like Juan Monaco, Andre Agassi, Sabine Lisicki,Victoria Azarenka and Ross Hutchins and celebrities like Russell Crowe, Pau Gasol, Ewan McGregor, Rory McIlroy, Piers Morgan and Mario Andretti!
Brother of Andy Murray:
Coach of Roger Federer:
Novak Djokovic’s hitting partner:
Former ATP pro:
Former WTA player:
Former coach of Andy Murray and current ESPN commentator:
Former ATP pro and current Tennis Channel commentator:
Former ATP pro and current ESPN commentator:
Former ATP pro and current tennis commentator:
Fellow tennis players:
Last, but not least, Prince Charles. Well, the parody account anyway…
Even before match play began on Thursday morning, spectators got their money’s worth as Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray, and Feliciano Lopez were all spotted on the practice courts at the Sony Ericsson Open. Check out all the photos at the end!
Caroline Wozniacki was hitting with adidas Player Development Program’s Mats Merkel as coach Sven Groeneveld gave small tips from the sidelines. Her boyfriend and professional golfer Rory McIlroy sat side-by-side with her father Piotr. Both were relatively quiet – which is a stark change for the ever-vocal Piotr.
Wozniacki’s hitting was clean and surprisingly flat. Makes one wonder why the incessant moonballing continues to trump her game into oblivion during match play.
On a court across from the central Tennis Plaza, tennis’ golden girl Ana Ivanovic was seen practicing with a University of Miami athlete. There is no sweeter individual on the WTA tour willing to chat with fans, sign autographs or smile for photos, but during practice she is brutal on herself. Floppy forehand? Unacceptable. Missed volley? Disappointing. Missed serve? Pathetic. It’s no wonder she’s had her fair share of struggles coming back in the rankings over the last couple of years. She’s tough on herself but it sometimes makes you wonder if it’s too much of the wrong kind of pressure.
Of note though is Ivanovic’s improved physical appearance. Just last year, she was looking eerily thin for a girl with a 6’1” frame. But today, she seems to have put on a few healthy pounds – thanks in part to her new coach since Wimbledon, Nigel Sears. She needs to keep this athletic and lean figure in order to have the strength and power required to hit her signature forehand well.
On a neighboring court, fans clustered around the fence for a peek of Andy Murray practicing with Feliciano Lopez. There were plenty of laughs, intentional pegging by Murray of his coaches while he served, and great match-like points during their joint practice session.
After a 30 minute warm-up, Murray’s coach Ivan Lendl walked over to his pupil and asked “What do you want to do today?” Oh, so that’s how you coach! If this is the type of approach Murray requires of a coach, then he may have been better off with just his core team. However, Murray’s demeanor on court was lively and he seemed to be enjoying himself. So maybe having a bigger team helps his psyche in that manner. Whatever it is, I hope he gets far here because he’s a fun player to watch.
Lopez likewise was having fun in the sun and the two have a good friendship going. Perhaps Lopez can convince Murray to get back on twitter? A girl can hope!
Lopez laughing at Murray pegging serves at his team and coach (bonus video below!). Not sure, Wilson thought through the sweat situation on this latest t-shirt…
In the two photos below, I would like to think that both Lopez and Murray are looking directly at my camera for an awesome photo-op. In all seriousness, it’s probably the hot redhead next to me that made their jaws drop.
Hey. At least I got Murray to smile. AT me. Win!
Murray and his team mesmerized by a yellow airplane in the sky. No joke. I can’t even make this stuff up!
Feliciano Lopez laughing as Andy Murray pegs his team with serves:
Clumsy Andy Murray:
Around 11:30 PM at Madison Square Garden a tan Rory McIlroy, the newly crowned #1 golfer in the world, stood quietly and practically unnoticed in the back of a crowded press room. All eyes were on his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, as she talked about dragging McIlroy onto the tennis court earlier that evening to play a point against Maria Sharapova. “He was not too pleased with me but at least he can say he played tennis at Madison Square Garden. Not a lot of people can say that.,” she laughed. Later in the same press conference Roger Federer and Andy Roddick were asked what they thought of the breakout New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin. Federer, who has been overseas the past month, was well aware of “Linsanity”, and said he hoped to watch (Lin) play at the Garden one day. Roddick had actually used Lin’s locker before the exhibition that night and said he might have to “send (Lin) a thank-you note” after his victory.
Tennis, meet pop culture. Pop culture, meet tennis.
Amidst all of the scheduling, length-of-season, and injury dramas in the WTA and ATP these days, exhibition matches are often frowned upon. But last night’s 5th Annual BNP Paribas Showdown’s Tennis Night in America showed exactly why they’re an integral part of the game. Andy Roddick put it best when he said, “I’m not sure how 18,000 (spectators) in the most famous venue in the world watching our sport can be a bad thing. I think it’s a great thing. There are a lot of people (in the media center) who don’t cover tennis on a regular basis and it will be out there tomorrow. I think it’s a huge positive for our sport.”
The evening started at 7:30 when world #2 Sharapova and world #4 Wozniacki stood (under spotlights) on opposing ends of the court on top of blue light-boxes as sparklers flew behind them and Katy Perry’s “Firework” blasted from the stadium speakers. This was not going to be your average night of tennis. However, during the first set Wozniacki and Sharapova battled like the match was taking place a few miles east and a few months later at Flushing Meadows. They were laser-focused, engaging in sharp rallies, and playing very aggressive tennis (yes, even Wozniacki). There was barely even the hint of a smile.
Things changed in the second set. In the break between sets Sharapova, Wozniacki, and the chair umpire talked and giggled (yes, even Sharapova). Later, after the girls exchanged leads, Wozniacki decided to kick things up a notch. During a changeover she took a young girl from the audience and began dancing with her. Never one to be outdone, Sharapova then took an older man from the audience and danced with him. When the music stopped and it was time for tennis again the boisterous New York crowd made it known they weren’t ready for the fun to stop. Wozniacki- an expert at milking a moment of fun- knew exactly what to do. She went into the crowd and fetched McIlroy. At first it seemed like the couple were just going to dance, but then she put the tennis racket in his hand and created a blockbuster moment- he actually played a point against Maria Sharapova.
After losing the point to McIlroy (“He won more points (against me) than Caroline did!” Maria joked), Sharapova would go on to serve out the match and fairly easily defeat Wozniacki 6-3 6-4.
Then, around 9:00PM, it was time for the men (professional tennis players, not golfers) to take over. Andy Roddick and Roger Federer are clearly no strangers to each other, New York, or the big stage. The two have played twenty-three times- seven times in the semis or later of a Grand Slam- with Federer holding the infamous 21-2 lead in their head-to-head. But this time was different. It’s Roddick’s home country and Roddick was born to comically entertain a large crowd. In the first set alone Roddick got Ben Stiller’s autograph, tossed a racket after a failed tweener, reacted mockingly to a foot-fault call from the crowd, and did a spot-on impersonation of Rafael Nadal.
Impersonations and jokes aside, Roddick played some crafty, powerful tennis, and most importantly looked healthier and moved better than he has in months. Federer, fresh of a victory and a plane-ride from Dubai, also played some brilliant points but the American was just a tad looser and sharper than his adversary this night. With the near-capacity crowd hanging onto every point Roddick upset the Swiss Legend 7-5 7-6 (7).
After the match it was all jokes and respect between the two. Roddick quipped that he “must be in Federer’s head,” and said that the 16-time Grand Slam Champion “clearly isn’t very good under pressure”. Federer seemed pleased that Roddick is playing well again, saying “it is good to see (Roddick) play so well and hopefully he can make another run at the top-10.”
There’s no telling what the tour-level significance of these matches will be. Is Wozniacki going to actually employ the more aggressive techniques she displayed tonight at Indian Wells? Will Sharapova stay loose and serve-quip free from now on? Can Roddick build on this momentum and make another run at the Top 10? Will Federer ever survive the humiliation? Only time will tell. But last night 18,079 people in person and countless others on sketchy streams around the world got to say they saw Andy Roddick beat Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova laugh and dance, and the best golfer in the world play tennis. Tennis has had many memorable Monday nights, but none quite like this one.
My motto has always been: Why be the best of the best when you can be the best of the rest? But apparently the WTA Tour and ATP Tour have other ideas about that. That is why we are having the WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul. The best eight players of the 2011 season will come together one more time to compete and show the world who really is the best of the 2011 season.
But even with a winner this year, how certain can we say that it is indeed the best player of the 2011 season? It has been a long season and I guess we can say that it is not so much about skill anymore at this stage but more about determination and will.
To analyze the tournament we will just go by seeds. From top to bottom.
Caroline Wozniacki (no. 1 seed)
Caroline Wozniacki was off to a great start of the 2011 season. She reached the semis at the Australian Open and won in Dubai and Indian Wells. She was ousted in the second round at the Medibank International but as the season progressed started the feel the pressure of being a slamless number one. And ofcourse she has been distracted by boyfriend Rory McIlroy as well. Losing in first rounds and midnight sessions with the boyfriend on her phone cost her dearly and she has not played up to her potential at all in the second part of the season and my guess is that she will have trouble getting past the round robin stage. Better luck next year.
Maria Sharapova (no. 2 seed)
Maria Sharapova is a special case. She has won three out of four slams in her career but the last couple of years and was a title favorite at the French Open 2011 after winning in Rome. She would have completed her career Grand Slam if she indeed had won the French Open. It was not meant to be as she was ousted by later French Open winner Na Li. Before Rome she was written off by many people who said that she will never win another slam or be that player who indeed won slams and while it has been a while ago that Sharapova won one, I wouldn’t write her off and in fact her bid for a next Grand Slam title could start right here in Istanbul.
Petra Kvitova (no. 3 seed)
While many people were surprised by her taking Wimbledon, I have to admit that I am not surprised at all. With a strong display in Madrid at the Mutua Open I was convinced that it was only a matter of time to see her win a Grand Slam tournament and it happened in London. Her statistics haven’t been great ever since that Wimbledon win but I saw her play a few weeks ago in Linz and I saw a strong and confident Petra Kvitova: A force to be reckoned with!
Victoria Azarenka (no. 4 seed)
Victoria Azarenka. I have long waited for her to win her first major but it is yet to happen. She is definitely a contender in any Slam she plays in but just misses that final piece. Nevertheless with great wins at the Sony Ericsson Open and great runs at the French Open and Wimbledon this lady just won’t give up until she has won that Grand Slam. And it can’t be soon enough for me. She has had a good run in Luxembourg by defeating Monica Niculescu in the finals. It looks to be a good rehearsal for the Istanbul tournament. It is too bad that Azarenka is prone to injury or she would have perhaps won tournaments this season.
Li Na (no. 5 seed)
Li Na was my personal heroine this year after she won the French Open. The first female Asian player but she kind of fell off the radar after that. With early round losses and simply returning to her sloppy form between the Australian Open and the French Open I don’t have high expectations for this great player. In fact I am hoping for a first round loss to put her out of her misery.
Vera Zvonareva (no. 6 seed)
Vera Zvonareva had two great seasons in a row in 2009 and 2010. She is not having her best season this year but I reckon it is tough to stay on top of your game for three years in a row. The season slump has already set in and her two consecutive losses to Agnieszka Radwanska aren’t doing her any good either. Zvonareva is not a contender this year but she may be able to surprise us with a win here and there. Who knows?
Sam Stosur (no.7 seed)
Samantha Stosur did what many fans hoped she would do one day: Win a Grand Slam tournament. She came close at the French Open a few years ago but the US Open fell prey to her this year and it was a great and well deserved victory versus hot title favorite Serena Williams. I am undecided if she can win the Istanbul tournament. Her stats after the Open win aren’t that good but I do hope that she gets her act together and shows us one more time this season why we cheered for her for years.
Agnieszka Radwanska (no. 8 seed)
Agnieska Radwanska is the lucky loser. She got into the tournament after Marion Bartoli decided to withdraw. Does lucky loser mean anything? It means that you are the underdog in every match and with that Radwanska can thrive under it. Just like she is the kind of top 10 player who always seems to fly under the radar until you see her win tournaments. She might just be the tournament revelation.
The groups are set
The players are divided in two groups, the red group and the white group.
The Red Group
The red group harbors the following players:
Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska
The White Group
While the white group contains the following:
Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Samantha Stosur
McIlroy calls Wozniacki his girlfriend, Ana Ivanovic and I are looking forward to the US Open and win another Virtua Tennis 4 goodie bag!
It has been a while since I last wrote a blog entry for TennisGrandstand. I have been on vacations and what good is a vacation if you take your laptop with workstuff with you? It’s just not a vacation. Did you go on vacations? If so, how was the weather? I hope a lot less rainy than mine was.
Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy make it official
Caroline Wozniacki has been struggling for quite a while now. She hasn’t won a tournament since April and her performances at the French Open and Wimbledon weren’t exactly, to put it mildly, of high quality. Then the US Open series started and two second round losses at the Cincinnati Open and the Rogers Cup versus Roberta Vinci and America’s upcoming talent Christina McHale followed in quick succession. But this week everything seems to be good. Caroline Wozniacki made to the finals of New Haven and won in straight sets versus Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-4 , 6-1.
Rory McIlroy confirmed that Caro and him are dating by telling the press that you can “refer to her as my girlfriend now.”
Ana Ivanovic arrives in New York and shows off US Open attire
Has anyone kept up with Ana Ivanovic lately? She is making quantum leaps since she hired coach Nigel Sears. And it is as I have been saying for years now: Girl’s got game! Just got to have the right coach to put the finishing touches on her style. Just like myself, Ana is excited for the US Open 2011.
It’s always great to be back in New York and go to some of my favourite restaurants here. Practice has been going well this week – let’s just hope the weather holds up. Now that the draw is out, the excitement is even greater…
And I am not just excited because I think Ana can survive the first week but also because I like her US Open dress. For more information you can always take a look at Ana Ivanovic’ official Facebook Page.
Bondi Bands: Because I hate it when sweat gets in my eyes!
Don’t you just hate it when you are playing a sport intensely and sweat gets in your eyes. You spend more time whiping the sweat off your forehead instead of actually doing what you are supposed to do: Play the sports! That’s why I started to use Bondi Bands. Bondi Band is awesome athletic headwear for men, women and children. The headband that has no slip and no drip.
More contests: Win a Virtua Tennis 4 goodie bag!
The last time it was won by Adilson Strahotski! The man answered the question correctly and was the first one to reply so he won. But now I have a new contest. You can win the same goodie bag but this time I am changing the contest a little. Join the TennisGrandstand – Unique Tennis Perspectives Facebook page and tell me why you of all people should get the goodie bag!
Thanks to Sega for making it possible!