tennis balls

The ATP’s Newest Art Project

As if they haven’t hustled enough to get to London — aka the site of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held Nov. 21-28, 2010 — each of the eight players who qualify is being asked to create a self-portrait to celebrate their achievement.

The set-up: the guys, during the Masters Series stop in Cincinnati, hit paint-covered tennis balls against stenciled canvases showing one of the player’s signature moves. The pieces will be exhibited in Central London in early November; it’ll move to The O2 for the duration of the actual event. And after, it’ll be auctioned off for charity.

We can’t wait to see what signature moves they’ve stenciled for Muzz, Nole (tearing off his shirt?), and Andy Roddick (adjusting his crotch?). Six more spots are up for grabs.

Rafa Nadal, who owns a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, said this about creating his painting:

“Making the artwork was fun and something I’ve never done before. It’s a great way to celebrate the World Tour Finals coming back to London. It was a little bit of a challenge to put the balls on the silhouette! Of course this is the least we can do for charity and for those who need it the most. It’s very important that people in our position help those who really need help. I’d like to thank everyone for the support they give us.”

He qualified for the year-ending tournament back in May 23, 2010. Jesus.

And Roger Federer said this:

“It was great fun being invited to create my self portrait and I’m excited to see how the finished piece looks. Raising money for charity is always a great thing so already I would like to thank people who will buy these pictures and it’s going to be for a good cause. I’m happy I can help a bit.”

Federer qualified in August 7, 2010. This will be the ninth time he’s participated in the year-end event.

Flashback: Of course, this isn’t the first time the boys have been asked to help out with some year-end art. Remember those terracotta statues created by Laury Dizengremel for the Shanghai Masters? And this isn’t the first time the pros have dabbled in ball-art either. Martina Navratilova‘s churned out a few pieces herself.

More info: Check out the details (including tickets) for the Year-End finals here and specifically about the Art of Tennis here.

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The Women Who Hit Hard: The Making of…

One of the things that I like about the US Open is the media buzz and thanks to one of my Facebook friends I found a great article created especially for the Open. You can find it here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/08/29/magazine/womens-tennis.html

The video features Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Kim Clijsters, Jelena Jankovic, Samantha Stosur and Vera Zvonareva. The video is produced by the best newspaper in the world: The New York Times.

The article that goes with it is about the hard hitters in tennis. The article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/08/29/magazine/tennis-hard-hitters.html

Photo shoots don’t come much bigger than this. Bright lights, incredible cameras and glitter-laden tennis balls awaited Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Elena Dementieva, Vera Zvonareva, Sam Stosur, Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka on the set of the New York Times photo shoot ahead of this year’s US Open. Decked out in glamorous fashion attire, the players looked incredible for photographer Dewey Nicks.

The making of the video  can be watched here:

RODDICK AND FRIENDS ENTERTAIN ATLANTIC CITY

By David Goodman

There was plenty of good humor at the Caesars Tennis Classic in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall Saturday night. Emcee Justin Gimelstob remarked that at least Ivan Lendl, who lost 6-3 to Mats Wilander, wasn’t wearing the tight shorts he sported in the 1980s and 1990s, and Andy Roddick taught courtside fans how to play a tennis drinking game during his 6-4 win over Pete Sampras. But the best line of all may have been the courtside announcer’s remark that the 7,300 fans in attendance represented the largest tennis audience in the history of Atlantic City.

Perhaps that was funny because there were likely no more than 5,000 fannies in the seats, or because Atlantic City has never hosted an actual ATP or WTA Tour event. (The city has hosted a Fed Cup match, a couple exhibitions and the Atlantic City vs. Pennsylvania Athletic Club match in 1931.) It wasn’t brought up in any of the press conferences, but I’d bet last night’s after party at Dusk Nightclub in Caesars was the loudest and most crowded tennis after party in Atlantic City’s history.

All kidding aside, tennis fans – no matter how many were actually there – had plenty to smile about. They saw Wilander and Lendl renew their rivalry from the late 1980s, Sampras bang serves, Marat Safin hit winners, and Roddick hit and giggle his way to victories over both Sampras and Safin. They also watched as event “host” Venus Williams – with a little help from the more experienced Gimelstob – bantered about with her male counterparts between sets.

It was undoubtedly a feel good event, and great for tennis lovers to see six former world No. 1s having such fun. And Caesars deserves credit for getting in on the action by decking out their hotel and casino with tennis posters, giant tennis balls and nets hanging from the ceilings, and tasty tennis cupcakes (free!).

Who knows if the promoter made money or Caesars got enough bang for their buck. Let’s hope so. This type of evening can be a real win-win. Pay the players, entertain the fans, fill up the hotels, attract paying sponsors and make tennis the story of the day. And don’t forget the after party.

FEDERER’S ABU DHABI TENNIS MATCH

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Roger Federer posted this photo on the Facebook fan page of him hitting tennis balls the Yas Race Track in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.  The Yas track is the site of Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 race. Federer competed in the Capitala World Tennis Championships exhibition last week, losing to Robin Soderling in his first match, but defeating David Ferrer in a third-place match.

Del Potro Advances to Semifinals

NEW YORK – Welcome to Arthur Ashe Stadium, the world’s largest tennis facility, Juan Martin del Potro.

Ranked sixth in the world, the Argentine had to wait until the quarterfinals to make it to the 23,700-seat facility this year without having to buy a ticket. Del Potro made sure he will return to the big stage in the semifinals after beating Marin Cilic 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-1 Thursday.

“It’s like a dream,” del Potro said of the victory. “My dream is win this tournament. I’m so close to do it, but now I am focusing (on) the semis.”

Del Potro will play the winner of the late quarterfinal between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Gonzalez, which was twice delayed by rain, the first time this fortnight that weather has caused an interruption in play. The match was eventually suspended until Friday, although rain, heavy at times, was forecast for the New York City area throughout Friday.

The other semifinal was set Wednesday when top-seeded Roger Federer, seeking his sixth straight US Open title, and fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic both won their quarterfinals.

Thursday’s first quarterfinal was an old-fashioned heavyweight battle, a throwback to the New York City days of championship heavyweight bouts in either Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium. But this time the combatants stood 78 feet (23.77 m) apart, blasting tennis balls at each other.

Del Potro stood at one end of the court nestled at the bottom of Arthur Ashe Stadium, his Croatian opponent at the other.

Del Potro vs. Cilic. Two 6-foot-6 (1.98 m), 20-year-old right-handers who excel at the long-range gunnery that moves an opponent from side to side until an opening, ever so small, is created for a winning shot or one or the other commits an error.

Cilic pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament in the fourth round when he knocked off second-seeded Andy Murray. Del Potro ousted 24th-seeded Juan Carlos Ferrero in his fourth-round match.

Until Thursday, Cilic and del Potro had only met once before, del Potro winning in four sets at the Australian Open in January. Del Potro made it two straight, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as the score might indicate.

Cilic, seeded 16th and playing in his first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, was nearly perfect to begin the match. His powerful ground strokes found the far reaches of the court and every corner as he dominated play. He slammed 13 winners, six coming on forehands, controlling play.

“At the beginning of the match I was playing really good and moving him a lot around. I found after the first set that it got a lot cooler and the court was a little bit hard to play on. The ball wasn’t going through the court as much as it was in the beginning.”

Cilic’s sharp play in the opening set quickly disappeared along with the good weather that had graced this year’s US Open. He finished the match with 53 unforced errors against 29 winners, while del Potro balanced 24 unforced errors with 27 winners.

“Was a good comeback, you know, the crowd cheering for me at 1-3 in the second,” del Potro said. “I start to play better after that moment. … Of course I need to improve for the semis a lot, but I’m happy with my match and with the result.”

The match was played with temperatures in the mid-60s and winds gusting up to 30 mph.

“The weather was bad,” del Potro said, “but it was bad for both players. I just need to be in focus in the beginning of the match until the last point and play my game.”

The first title of the tournament was determined Thursday when Carly Gullickson and Todd Parrott, playing together for the first time, upset defending champions Cara Black and Leander Paes 6-2 6-4 to win the mixed doubles.

Serena and Venus Williams began the day by advancing to the women’s doubles final with a 7-6 (4) 3-6 6-2 win over Russians Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova.

Serena is scheduled to return to the court Friday for her women’s singles semifinal where she will take on another defending champion, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters. The second women’s semi pits ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium.

Serena Williams, who captured the crown last year, is going for her fourth US Open title. Clijsters won in 2005, the last time she played America’s premier event because of injuries, retirement, marriage and the birth of a daughter.

Ted Kennedy Was An Avid Tennis Player, Fan

The United States, as well as many around the world, mourn the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, called by many as one of the greatest U.S. lawmakers ever and the youngest brother of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy was an avid tennis player and fan for most of his life and was a member of his high school tennis team at Milton Academy. He also participated annually in the Robert F. Kennedy Celebrity tennis tournament at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, a very popular event in the 1970s.  Later in life, Kennedy used his tennis racquet to hit tennis balls for his dogs to retrieve.

kennedy-1 Eunice, Bobby, Ted and Jean Kennedy, left to right, children of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, line up on the tennis court of the Kennedy Estate at Palm Beach, Fla., in 1941.

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kennedy-3 Kennedy at the Robert F. Kennedy Celebrity tennis tournament at Forest Hills…