Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!

Haven't really posted much, been a quiet albeit somewhat sad Christmas.

This year has been a good one but, I am so ready to start fresh with a new one.

Last official post of 2012.  Here's to 2013!.

With the start of Australian Open the first grand slam in a couple of weeks expect more tennis news (and who knows what else to come).  Bring it!.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Song of the Moment: Sara Remirez-Silent Night

The only version of this Christmas Carol I simply adore, so simple, pure and beautiful.  Perfection at it's finest ♥.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Roger Federer loves South America

BUENOS AIRES — Eric Carmen’s ballad “All by Myself” was playing on the car radio last Thursday as Roger Federer opened the door, ducked through the opening with another crowd shouting behind him and took a seat for the late-night ride back to his hotel.

As the vehicle and its police escort pulled away from the tennis stadium, the convoy rolled past a long line of cheering Argentines. A number of fans broke free of the barricades and began running next to the windows, shouting “Roger!” or, in the shock of making eye contact, nothing at all.
“Bye-bye,” Federer said through the glass in a conversational tone, waving and smiling without flashing his teeth.
“Does it start to seem normal after a while?” I asked.
“This?” he said, his voice rising. “No, no, no. This is unbelievable.”
You might think that Federer, at this advanced stage of his chart-busting career, would have seen it all through the tinted window when it comes to hero worship. But the regular tennis tour, it turns out, is a relatively sheltered place: a circuit full of routine and regular haunts.
Federer’s exhibition tour in South America, which ended last week, was a long way from Wimbledon in both distance and spirit, and perhaps it is easier here to see just how far Federer has come from Basel and his days as an unpolished, pony-tailed Swiss wunder teen.
“They are so passionate here,” Federer said. “I’ve had more fans break down here in South America than anywhere else in the world. They cry, and they shake, and they are just so, like, not in awe but so happy to meet you. It’s disbelief for them that they can meet me, and that is something that has happened a few times before, but it’s very rare. Here I must have had at least 20 people probably hugging me and kissing me and so happy, you know, just to get a chance to touch me, even. And they’ve actually been very, very respectful when they realized I couldn’t sign more autographs because it was a safety issue or whatever the circumstances might have been.”
The mania was fueled by the fact that this was the 31-year-old Federer’s first visit to South America as a professional and his first visit of any sort to the three nations on his itinerary: Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.
It was hardly a nonprofit mission. Federer played six matches on the South American tour, including two in the temporary 20,000-seat stadium constructed in the northern Buenos Aires suburb of Tigre. He was, according to local reports, paid $2 million for each of his six matches (news conferences and other appearances included), which surely made this the most lucrative exhibition tour on a per-night basis in tennis history.
It also earned Federer significantly more money in 13 days than the $8.5 million in official prize money he earned during the entire 2012 season: a year in which he returned to No. 1 for several months and won six titles, including his 17th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon.
The paydays surely did not go unnoticed at A.T.P. headquarters. The off-season is two weeks longer than usual this year, which required a tighter schedule at the end of the season and contributed to Federer’s skipping the Masters 1000 event in Paris in November.
He still maintained his exhibition schedule, however. But while Federer surely would not have cut into his energy reserves and family time if the finances were not right, he insisted that money was not his primary motivator.
“With the season shorter, you can actually do a trip to South America like this,” he said. “Of course, you can always do a one-day trip, but I’m at the stage of my life when I do a one-day trip all across the world, I don’t think it’s worth it. I felt I needed to organize something that was really going to have an impact: for me personally, and also then for the people.
“The first idea was to play maybe three, maybe four matches, and at the end, they wanted an encore in São Paulo and an encore here in Argentina, and I was like, ‘It’s going to cost me four more days but I’m already over here, and you know what? I’m really, really happy to do it and it shows there’s great excitement and maybe there’s a big market for this kind of thing.’ Personally, I’ve always wanted to come to South America, and I think tennis-wise, obviously, it’s really coming along now.”
The continent has actually seen much brighter days in terms of star power. Guillermo Vilas, the long-haired Argentine, was once winning major titles and writing poetry on the side. Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten of Brazil once won three French Opens and drew hearts in the Paris clay.
Marcelo Rios, the Chilean left-hander with the touch and temperament reminiscent of John McEnroe, once sat at No. 1 in the rankings.
For now, the only three South Americans in the top 50 of the men’s rankings are the Argentines Juan Martín Del Potro and Juan Mónaco at No. 7 and No. 12 respectively and the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci at No. 33. The women are in much direr straits, with no South American in the top 100.
But momentum could rebuild again with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and with Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, soon to stage a regular men’s tour event and more South American cities in line.
Federer, a tennis history buff, did his best to honor the past: exchanging groundstrokes in São Paulo with the 73-year-old Maria Bueno, the Brazilian women’s star who won seven Grand Slam singles titles. He then spent time with Gabriela Sabatini, the Argentine, now 42, who won the 1990 U.S. Open.
Federer also extended his reach beyond tennis. He met with the Argentine president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, at her residence in Buenos Aires and got goose bumps of his own when he met Pelé, the Brazilian soccer icon, for the first time in São Paulo.
“It was very powerful,” Federer said. “It’s like disbelief he exists, because you only know him from TV and from pictures. He was very sweet, a very passionate, larger-than-life kind of person.”
But even if tennis continues to bob in soccer’s massive wake, particularly in South America, this is now Federer’s moment — even at No. 2 in the rankings behind Novak Djokovic — to stir the global pot.
“There were a lot of No. 1’s in tennis who were playing in Argentina: John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, all these guys, but I’ve never seen something like this,” said José Luis Clerc, the former Argentine star who helped persuade Federer to make the South American journey. “The reaction of the people, everybody was crazy.”
It was indeed a scene on and off court. The V.I.P. Lounge at the stadium in Tigre was a vast assemblage of artfully crossed legs, tight shirts, half-eaten finger sandwiches and Argentine celebrities on the lookout for other Argentine celebrities. Three large golden statues of nude male figures dominated the lounge, holding tennis rackets in a position from which not even Federer could make a winner.
His arrival was delayed for nearly an hour on opening night by concerns about the structural integrity of the temporary stands. But Federer and Del Potro eventually made it on court to play in front of the biggest tennis crowd in Argentina’s history, with Del Potro winning in three sets on Dec. 12 and with Federer winning in two a night later. Exhibition or not, the tone was more intense than light-hearted, even if Federer and Del Potro managed to orchestrate an exchange on Thursday in which Federer could hit two of his trademark between-the-legs shots off lobs in the same point.
“It was a great night but a little strange for Juan Martín,” Del Potro’s coach, Franco Davín, said Thursday. “He’s at home in Argentina, and they cheer more for Federer.”
So it goes at this stage as Federer rides the wave of his own making and then rides off into the night with his public in pursuit, not sure if it will get another close-up look.
“It is totally an out of body experience, almost disbelief that it’s really happening,” he said, looking out the window at the crowds. “I feel very fortunate and I guess that’s also one of the reasons I would like to play for more years because these things are not going to come back around when you retire.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Martina Hingis from hate to love

I used to despise Martina Hingis. While she was busy reaching12 Grand Slam finals between 1997 and 2002 (and winning five of them), I was cultivating a dark hatred for her entire being. Her joyless, little-Miss-Perfect smile. Her waxy, bulbous forehead (which has inspired some on the tour to nickname her "Chucky"). Her offensive comments (she once called Amelie Mauresmo "half-man").

Above all, I hated this chick's game. Hingis reminded me of those human backboards I used to face off against on my sixth-grade tennis team. No power. No gusto. Lots of cautious chips and bloops. I was thrilled when she began to get whupped by big hitters like Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters. When Hingis dropped off the tour entirely in 2003—ostensibly because of foot injuries, but really (I felt quite certain) because she knew she couldn't compete with the cruise-missile ground strokes of this new generation—I said goodbye and good riddance, Chucky.

It is thus with great surprise that I now make the following two predictions: 1) Martina Hingis will win this French Open, and 2) I will be rooting for her all the way.

Hingis seems far more human now. Most world-class athletes are bland, blinkered automatons—captivating inside the arena, painfully dull outside it. But the Hingis redemption tale lends her a little soul. She was beaten down and broken; she fled from the battlefield, licking her wounds and seeking inner peace; and now she's back—humbler, wiser, rededicated. Doing it for herself and nobody else this time around.
Any frustrated, midcareer professional can find some solace and hope in that story. (OK, Hingis is still only 25 years old—not exactly a grizzled veteran. But female tennis stars age like canines.) Tennis regularly offers up this optimistic lesson. We've seen Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, and now Hingis make successful comebacks after fading out of sight for a couple of years because of loss of focus or emotional stress. I cling to the thought that, facing my own failure, I might some day cocoon myself as these tennis stars did and re-emerge as a stronger, more centered person.
As for Hingis, not only do I admire her never-say-die spirit, I've also come—to my own great shock—to adore her style of play. It turns out I got bored with all those power hitters on the women's tour. What fun is there in watching cannon forehands, flat and low and hard, one after another? Half the players seem to come from a mysterious genetics lab somewhere in Russia, which pumps out 9-foot-tall blondes who do nothing but grunt, crush the ball cleanly down the line, and occasionally attempt an ill-advised drop shot. Meanwhile, Hingis' arsenal includes some gorgeous, looping topspins; bedeviling slices; pinpoint placement; and sudden changes of pace. As with her countryman Roger Federer (though she lacks his floating, ghostlike movement around the court), it's Hingis' tremendous variety that makes her such a treat to watch. (To paraphrase Orson Welles' take on the Swiss in The Third Man: Five hundred years of democracy and peace produced not only the cuckoo clock, but also some enchantingly graceful tennis.)
Of course, generally when you see a woman player with great touch, a crafty bag of tricks, and not much oomph on her shots, she's getting blown out in the first round by one of those Russians. The fact that Hingis can hang with the big girls (she's already beaten Davenport, Venus Williams, and Maria Sharapova this year) is partly a testament to her abilities. It's also a commentary on the shallowness of the women's talent pool right now. After returning this January from a three-year layoff, Hingis has already crept back into the top 15. And she seems certain to keep climbing. Other than Mauresmo, none of the real power players have been at the peak of their games lately. The lack of top-echelon players on the women's tour these days no doubt played into Hingis' decision to come back.
And it's also why I'm picking her to win it all at the French. That clay surface at Roland Garros slows down the big boppers' thunderous ground strokes and serves, negating many of their strengths. What's more, Hingis is coming off her first tournament championship since her rebirth—and she got it on clay courts (at the Italian Open). Her second serve is still quite vulnerable (it always has been), but otherwise she's almost completely rounded into form. And she remains the most strategically brilliant player in the women's game.
I was even happy to see some of her patented crude arrogance return this week. When asked about her first-round match, Hingis replied, "Well, I don't think I was totally tested today. It's hard to say something after 6-2, 6-2 against Lisa Raymond."
Daaaaaaaamn! Why you gotta hate on Lisa Raymond like that? I'll tell you why: because Chucky's back.

Found this little gem on Tumblr of all places, it's an oldie but it expresses very eloquently what I have been saying & will continue to say about Martina Hingis.

The writer even touches on very similar feeling I had when I first started watching her in her prime...and how ironically so many fans are now longing for the days of the Swiss Miss domination.

Hell at this point I would take domination of any kind.

The WTA in it's current era is a sad imitation of what it once was with a revolving door of forgettable newcomers (despite some possible break-outs).

None of them seem to rival the guile & spunk that made Martina the talent she was.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Roger Federer Swiss Athlete of the Year


Tennis great Roger Federer has received the Swiss Athlete of the Year award for the fifth time.

Federer, 31, also clinched the award in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

"There is nothing more wonderful than receiving standing ovations in Switzerland," Federer said on his website Monday.

"I do hope I can continue to spark emotions."

In 2012, Federer won his 17th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and conquered new heights in breaking Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks as world No.1, stopping at 302.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Roger Federer says no to Davis Cup, disappoints

Stanislas Wawrinka tells that while he understands his compatriot Roger Federer’s decision not to play Switzerland’s 2013 first-round Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic, he is disappointed.

The 31-year-old Federer recently said that if he chose to play Davis Cup next year, he would have to drop more tournaments from his schedule. He will already be skipping the Masters tournament in Miami, which begins in mid-March.

“Roger has been saying for years that he wants to play the Davis Cup and it is important, but that’s apparently not the case,” Wawrinka said.

“It’s a shame how he interprets things to suit his own opinion. Davis Cup is not a priority for him at the moment.”

Federer did play two Davis Cup ties this year: Against the United States at home in the first round of the World Group (a loss), and against the Netherlands on the road in a World Group playoff (a win).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2013 U.S. Open Men's Tennis semi finals officially changed to Monday

The United States Tennis Association made official the schedule change that has been discussed for months: moving the United States Open men’s singles final to Monday and the women’s final to Sunday, ending the Super Saturday format that featured the men’s semifinals and women’s final on the same day.
The change, however, is only official for 2013. The format for future years will probably not be determined until after the 2013 tournament.
The new schedule allows for a day of rest for the men’s finalists, but only if rain has not scrambled the schedule already, which has happened for five straight years, pushing the men’s final to Monday each time. But even when the schedule runs as planned, it has drawn the ire of the top men’s players, who prefer the other Grand Slams’ format of putting a day between the semifinals and finals.
The U.S.T.A. also increased the prize money by $4 million, to $29.5 million, the largest one-year increase in tournament history. Over the past year, the top men’s players have been pressuring the Grand Slam tournaments to increase prize money.
“We recognize the increased physicality required to compete at the highest level of the sport, and we have responded to the players’ request for a scheduled day of rest between the singles semifinals and finals,” Jon Vegosen, chairman and president of the U.S.T.A. said in a statement. “The record increase in U.S. Open prize money and the changes in the next year’s schedule are aimed at rewarding the players’ talents and accommodating the rigors of the modern professional game.”
The 2013 men’s final is set for Sept. 9 at 5.m., with the semifinals scheduled during the day session Sept. 7. There will be no Saturday night session. The women’s semifinals will be played Sept. 6, with the Sept. 8 at 4:30 p.m. — the traditional Sunday slot for the men’s final.
Yet to be determined are the days the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles finals will be staged.
“The day of rest is being embraced across the board,” said Chris Widmaier, spokesman for the U.S.T.A. “Because of the nature of the game, and to assure a final that can be played at the highest competitive level, you need an extra day of rest. We recognized that.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Roger Federer Gillette Exhibition tour & off court fun

 I think Roger needs to have a little boy some time in the future ♥
 Iguassu falls!

I love Del Potro's relaxed off court appearance 

 The return of Mr. Goof Ball! (also please wear more yellow♥)
Maria Sharapova looking nice and relaxed :)

Lots of random pics (Argentina, Brazil) from Roger's official Facebook and the Federer News Facebook page.

Is it me, or is he having entirely too much fun? ♥

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kim Clijsters wins last post retirement match

ANTWERP, Belgium -- Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters ended her career with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Venus Williams in a ceremonial farewell match in Belgium.

Clijsters retired after the U.S. Open but organized a match to thank her fans, 13,000 of whom turned up at Antwerp Sports Palace, including Crown Prince Phillipe and Princess Mathilde.

In the lighthearted encounter, Clijsters was destined to win but still wowed the crowd with the play that made her famous before injuries added to her retirement at 29.

Clijsters beat Williams on the way to her last two U.S. Open titles, in 2009 and 2010, and she held a 7-6 edge over the American on the WTA Tour. She also won at Flushing Meadow in 2005 and earned the 2011 Australian Open crown.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Roger Federer 17-time Grand Slam Champ & Champagne Ambassador

Like Moët & Chandon, the worldwide sports and lifestyle icon Roger Federer radiates boldness, elegance and generosity, from the tennis court to the red carpet to giving back to the world community. Moët & Chandon, the world's most-loved champagne, and Roger Federer share the values of doing what they do with excellence. In his new role as brand ambassador, Federer will take centre stage in the House's upcoming advertising campaign, certain to generate lots of buzz when it is revealed in March 2013.
"It's more than just an honour to be Moët & Chandon's brand ambassador, it's an invitation to be part of a very glamorous tradition," enthused Roger Federer. "Moët & Chandon has always been the champagne of international trendsetters and I'm proud to be part of a brand that is as dedicated to the pursuit of excellence as I have been throughout my career."
"Roger Federer personifies the achievement, great generosity and tremendous style values that have been key to our House throughout its long history," declared Stéphane Baschiera, President and CEO of Moët & Chandon. "As a champagne of victory and an enthusiastic supporter of major tennis tournaments around the world, we are extremely proud to welcome Roger Federer with Moët & Chandon's hallmark hospitality."