The ATP has approved the Serbian Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event, to be played in May on outdoor clay. The tourney will replace Amersfoort.
Come on. If it's not being played in a pool it ain't Serbian.
The ATP has approved the Serbian Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event, to be played in May on outdoor clay. The tourney will replace Amersfoort.
Come on. If it's not being played in a pool it ain't Serbian.
Baby Koala's been frolicking around the beaches of Australia with Australia PGAer Adam Scott. The pics are tiny but you can see them here. I'm sure it's completely innocent despite everyone trying to blow it out of proportion, but let this be a lesson to Fernando: Don't leave the girl alone.
But really, this whole post is an excuse to post pictures of A Scott, who is apparently a huge hit with the tennis ladies. Can't blame Masha though. Dude is a hottie:
The girl sure knows how to pick em, no? Rafa, Fer, and now Adam.
Seriously, I'm looking forward to drunkenly throwing 2008 out by the scruff of the collar, pushing it down the stairs, kicking it to the curb, pouring lighter fluid on it, and ever so dramatically and coolly flicking a cig on it. Fuck you, 2008.
But there were some highlights. And one was starting this blog up, which I did for shits and giggles. And the other was people actually reading it, which was weird. And the next was people starting to comment, which was creepy. And the next and most recent was the weird little community we've all somehow formed, which was awesome. It's pretty neat.
Which brings me to this awesomely apropos article from The Onion, entitled "If Someone Wanted To Publish My Blog Entries For Money, I Wouldn't Say No":
Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I started my blog because I needed an outlet for my thoughts and feelings during the 2004 elections, not for the prestige and loyal readership it might bring me. I just needed a personal creative space where I could jot some things down that someone might be able to Google.
Now, if my friends happen to read my blog, great. If they e-mail others about it, fantastic. If people I don't even know check it out—and according to my hit counter, as many as 62 a day have—so much the better. And if, say, Harper's, Rolling Stone, or any other publication ever wanted to publish some of my blog entries for money, I guess that's their prerogative.
My blog is more of a hobby than anything else, something to do for fun when I get home from my bookstore job. I've never dreamed of making a living from it. Though hypothetically speaking, if The New Yorker—a publication that I'm sure pays top dollar—wanted to publish my August 9, 2005 post "Creative Thinking Spots" in its "Shouts And Murmurs" section, I'd consider it. Didn't cross my mind when I wrote that post, and that's certainly not why I wrote it, nor why I have a Google news alert set up for New Yorker editor David Remnick, but I can understand how someone on their staff might think the piece is a good fit for that section.
The No. 1 rule of my blog is that there are no rules. I write about everything from movies I've seen to crazy observations that just pop into my head about Starbucks. And sometimes I'll just write, "Had a pretty boring day today," take a picture of myself eating cereal for dinner, and call it a night. It's a web log, people. I'm not striving to be a great essayist, but if by chance some amazing commentary flows out of my keyboard, so be it. I don't write my blog to entertain anyone else, especially not some uptight Esquire editor. But if an Esquire editor is crazy about my work, and wants to run a three-page spread on my hilarious reviews of horrible movies, who am I to dismiss it out of hand?
If the Old Media bigwigs ever do decide to visit my blog (http://bentiedemanntellsall.blogspot.com) they would see it doesn't have that familiar opportunistic "look at me, look at me" feel of so many others. They'd see I'm just a small-town guy, humbly making his way in the big city, who happens to have a lot of unique and humorous outsider perspectives on that experience. For example, I got a few comments (from as far away as Boise!) on how interesting my post was about how in my hometown of Akron everyone is really laid-back, but in New York City, everyone is always on edge. I could see how these types of entries could be adapted into a syndicated column with a title like "Small Town Takes A Bite From Big Apple" that could run in a dozen papers. Though I'm not one to put myself out there and try to initiate these things, I wouldn't turn my nose up at them either.
Some of you are thinking that I'm just a sellout. But the true sellouts are blogs like Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo that blatantly rely on advertising. Sellouts are bandwagon bloggers like my colleague AudreyGrrrl, who recently got written up in Wired as one of the best bloggers under 30. Have I spent the last three and a half years trying to get profiled in Wired? No. Do I think some of my daily musings, such as the times I've blogged about missing the bus, are more interesting than the entries posted by those so called "best bloggers"? Yes. But blogging shouldn't be a competition. It's not about getting published in an anthology with a foreword by David Foster Wallace and going on a 30-stop book tour. I don't need that kind of attention. AudreyGrrrl might, but not me.
Look, if I wanted to be a "professional" print writer, I could easily do it. Last week I posted a very insightful piece on why Saturday Night Live is emerging from the bleak shadows of the past several years and may be on the cusp of experiencing a renaissance. Nearly three of the seven people who commented on the posting said they could envision the piece being published in the New York Times' Arts & Leisure section. Hey, I didn't say it, they did. And to be honest, by the looks of the section, they could use some new blood over there. Just saying.
I'm not some pathetic, lonely soul who sits in front of his computer refreshing his e-mail in hopes that somebody from HarperCollins, Three Rivers Press, or Random House will offer me a book deal. In fact, to prove how little I'm expecting from the blog career-wise, I'm taking the next few weeks off to focus on my spec script for Two And A Half Men—which I'm doing strictly for the practice, you understand. I could care less if it lands me an agent and a three-movie deal with Paramount.
I'm just doing this for me, after all.
Happy New Year, Forty Deucers! Here's hoping 2009 doesn't suck donkey balls.
Baby Koala wishes y'all a Happy New Year:
It's pretty easy to go to bed early when your boyfriend's not in town. I had read somewhere that Fernando would be in Australia for the New Year.
If that's the case then my only request to Fer: Let. The Girl. Sleep.
Here's the Hopman Cup schedule. The tourney kicks off on Friday with France (Cone and Gilly) vs China (Hsieh and Lu) at 10:30am local time.
I have a big ol happy face drawn on January 8th at 6pm. I CAN'T WAIT!!!
Serbian magazine Blic has named JJ "Personality of the Year". Yup, that sounds about right:
Tignor with a rundown of the top ballers' New Year's Resolutions.
Ana Ivanovic: Where's that old T-shirt of mine, the one that read, "No time for love"? I might need to remember that in 2009.
Fernando Verdasco: I will burn that shirt.
Here are my 2009 Tennis Resolutions:
Pretty sure none of that's going to happen. One out of ten would be a major accomplishment.
How about you guys?
Is there any doubt that the two players that everyone will be watching in 2009 are Muzz and JJ? Bring it on.
According to Masha's site, she's pulled out of the Hong Kong exhibition. She'll be replaced by A-Chak. Here's Masha's latest blog entry:
Here's hoping she'll be ready for the AO.
Interesting tidbit buried in this article on the potential bidding war taking place by various management companies to sign Andy Murray:
Ivanovic's first match will be played on a Monday night, January 5, in the opening night session of the new $485,000 event. The tournament combines the former Australian Men's and Women's Hardcourts Championships which were played in Adelaide and the Gold Coast, respectively.
While many overseas tournaments can guarantee when their No1 seeds play, Australian tournaments have never followed suit - until now.
Huge demand to see the Serbian in her Brisbane debut has forced the hand of tournament director Steve Ayles.
"There's been a lot of people ringing up and asking when is Ana going to play. And the standard line we've been using is that we can't guarantee anything," Ayles said.
"But she has no lead-up tournaments and with the co-operation of her management, it made it easier. While it hasn't been done in Australia before, it is certainly not new on the international scene."
Apparently guaranteeing when a top seed or any player will play in advance of the draw is unprecedented in Australia.
It's amazing what a little hotness can do.
You all know about my towel superstition. So obviously I had to check out what towels I will soon be wrapping around my oh so sexy body (not really, as I'm sure none of my faves are making it to the finals):
Why is JJ hell bent on making sure that I don't like her? I mean, here I was actually missing her and appreciating the awesome ridiculousness that she brings to the game. But then she opens her mouth and says stupid shit:
Jelena Jankovic has no doubts about who should be ranked number one at the end of a year of surprises and upsets in women’s tennis which saw five players hold the top spot "I feel like Yes in fact I’m the best player in the world," Jelena told Tennis Week in an interview during her final big training session of the year in Spain. "To be number one is no small accomplishment. It’s something people dream of achieving. And it’s not just being number one in the middle of the year, and then slowing down. This is huge."
She pulled it off without ever winning a major tournament and making it only once to the final of a Slam. But that doesn’t deter her.
"At this point, I’d rather finish the year at No. 1 rather than have a Slam," Jankovic said. "You can have a lucky two weeks, a draw opened up, you receive that check and glory and then maybe not win another title ever again. Being on top of the rankings takes a far greater commitment."
I understand her need to defend herself and her position. But to do it with not-so-veiled swipes at others? Not classy and not cool.
Does anyone have Serena, Venus, or Masha's addresses? I'm sure they'd love to hear this.
In the course of my last minute Christmas shopping on Amazon.com, I stumbled upon this awesome graphic novel: Regards from Serbia: A Cartoonist's Diary of a Crisis in Serbia, by Aleksandar Zograf. I love graphic novels so I had to pick it up. Here's what the back of the jacket says:
I'm really looking forward to reading it in the next few days. I'm sure it will be extremely controversial (as most things Serbian seem to be), but it'll be the first non-historical book on the NATO bombings that I'll have read.
Kamakshi Tandon gives us the year in quips and verbal slaps. She covered most of the bases, though there really should have been more Jelena. And what's a quipfest without some Marat and Crazy ReRe? Weak.
Really great interview with Rafa by Neil Harman for The TImes Online.
The first question is as inevitable as the warmth of his greeting and he answers: “I'm a little bit tired, but only in the shoulder because of so much practice. The knee is perfect.”
And how does he view the onset of another year, his seventh on the tour, having burst on to the scene as a 15-year-old in Monte Carlo in April 2003? “Of course, like everyone I am going to be a little bit nervous but after a couple of matches, you find your rhythm and start to play your normal level,” he says. “Am I afraid of anything? I don't think afraid is the correct word. Maybe worried a little bit because when I go out on court, if it is the Wimbledon final, or the first round of Umag, I know I can lose but also I know I have a very good chance to win. In the final of Wimbledon this year, there was a chance I could lose but I was not afraid to lose.”
It has not taken Nadal long to be drawn to the match to end all matches in 2008 and for many a long year. Though he concedes that surviving the endurance test of the clay-court season and winning its brutal finale, Roland Garros, in four consecutive springs takes the biscuit, his success on Wimbledon's grass, against someone on the brink of a sixth straight victory in Roger Federer, gave him the singular emotion that will never be topped. Nadal led by two sets to love, lost the interrupted third set on a tie-break and, having had two match points in the fourth-set tie-break, was pegged back. “I was still very positive,” Nadal says, though the combined body language of his support team suggested that they were not quite so upbeat. “I knew I was a little bit closer to losing than a few moments before, but I was still close to winning so I continued to be positive.
“I knew it was important for me to hold serve for the first three games. If I had chances on his serve, that would have been perfect, but I needed to get to 3-3 at least because I knew after he had won the third and fourth sets, he has to be thinking he can push me hard in the fifth. All I was thinking was to hold my serve and, as it turned out, he served better than me in that fifth, but I was telling him that I was still here. If I get it to 4-4, 5-5 then the pression [Nadal's word for pressure] is equal for both, no?” Seemingly, Nadal never doubted. “It is stupid to think negative,” he says. “If you dream a lot to win Roland Garros, to win Wimbledon, why should you be negative? Everybody said that the style of the game is not for Rafa, the grass. When I arrived at the French Open this year, I had won three titles on clay, so I am a favourite; Federer won Estoril, finals at Monte Carlo and Hamburg, he is a favourite, Djokovic won Rome and had semi-finals in Monte Carlo and Hamburg, so he is a favourite, too.
“On clay, I know the tactics, it is play there [pushing his arm out to the right], there [to the left] and change to there [we shan't give that one away]. Who is the No 1, No 5, No 10, No 30 on grass? On grass, there is not always that security. Two good returns and you can have break points and the match is there.
“Last year, I had a terrible draw, Mardy Fish in the first round, Robin Söderling [a match that spanned five days], Mikhail Youzhny, Tomas Berdych, Djokovic and then lost to Roger in the final, being so close to winning.
“Maybe my best chance was gone, so yes I cried, for about half an hour. I cry in special situations, that is OK, no? This year, I played Queen's just for fun - one win, two wins, is OK - then I won the title [admitting that the final against Djokovic was not for fun at all], so instead of zero preparation, I am prepared. I am comfortable. I am a favourite. It is different. To win this time, I tell you, is the most special.”
Nadal, by dint of this and many other achievements, usurped Federer as the No 1 player after a 237-week reign. Surely it has changed the way he views his relationship with the Swiss. “Believe me, nothing changes,” he says. “I was very happy being No 2 and I am very happy being No 1 now, but I have no different feelings from five months ago. I had titles before this year. I should change my feelings about him because of one number? That's stupid.”
Being No 1 at the start of the year will bring an added pression and the theory goes that Nadal's style, the honesty of his physical approach, the relentlessness of running, is bound to catch up with him sooner rather than later. “You remember me at 16?” he says. “The same argument. Now I am 22 and everything is going very well. I respect and accept opinions but sometimes people talk without thinking. They say my career is going to be short, but already it is seven years. If I stop at 25, that is ten years. But you know, watching me play now than from three years ago, I do a lot less running because I play more ‘inside' the court and I have improved my shots.
“The end of my career may be because of [physical aspects] but I think it will come when I have no more the illusion to improve my tennis, when the motivation to win titles - and not only grand-slam titles - has gone. If I am No 20 in the world and my satisfaction with my game is still high, I will play. But to play eight more years with this calendar, I tell you, that is impossible.”
At that, he departs, to prepare for a lot more hours of practice, a family Christmas in Mallorca, where he will play his part in the Christmas Eve ritual of the procession of the three kings to Christ's manger, open his presents, then travel to his mother's parents' home, on Christmas Day, for lunch.
Gambas (prawns to you and me) will be on the menu, he says. He shakes hands and you are reminded that, during the conversation, he was asked how he might like to be remembered when all is said and done. “As a good person,” he says. “Nothing special, just a good person.”
Squee! Love him.
Well for all the Baby Koala* fans who have been freaking out about her extracurricular activities lately, you'll be happy to know that she's now down in Australia training and working on her fitness.
And boy...she's REALLY out of shape, huh?
Thanks babypanda for the head's up on the pics!
*As promised to Forty Deucer chuppachup months ago, we're going with Baby Koala while Ana is down under.
Birmingham, Alabama will be rolling out the red carpet for Fed and Company. It's been selected as the site of the U.S./Switzerland Davis Cup tie in March.
All I can say is that the San Antonio bid must have been really f'ed up if they couldn't seal the deal for this. I was really looking forward to a Showdown at the Alamo.
Drucker weighs in on his top 10 matches of the year.
I'm sorry, but you can't have both Williamses matches as one match. I'm no math expert but I'm pretty sure two matches does not equal one match. If I had to pick I'd pick the USO quarterfinal. But if Drucker did that he'd have to bump up the Murray/Gasquet match in my opinion.
The top 10 matches list is the absolute toughest one to compile. I'm so glad he picked the Simon/Nadal match and the Special K/Ferrer match. Those were particularly memorable to me. Simon/Nadal was a particularly great choice since I think it's one of the more underrated matches of the year (best men's 3 setter in my opinion). But for sheer drama, what about the Murray/Fed match in Shanghai? Nole/Rafa in Hamburg? JJ/Pazcek in AO? Masha/Justine in AO?
Totally random aside: I was talking to a colleague of mine who took a tour of Wimbledon recently and he said that the scoreboard hasn't been changed. Kinda eerie and cool.
The much hyped Iker vs. Rafa exhibition finally took place yesterday and as you can see, all their buddies were there. FeLo, Nole, DB Chuck, JCM, Daveed, Sergio Garcia, and a bunch of other peeps I don't recognize.
Tignor moves on to Martina Hingis:
It’s an odd time for a Martina Hingis retrospective. At the moment, our vision of her is colored—tainted—by her recent, mysteriously sudden second retirement after a positive cocaine test. Maybe these two clips will help put her back in perspective. More than with any of the other players I’ve watched on YouTube over the last two weeks, I’d forgotten what Hingis did well. Or, I should say, I’d forgotten all the different things she did well.
Aside from her re-retirement, there’s also a tendency right now to see Hingis in a negative light, as an “in-between” champion who snuck five majors in during the late 1990s, after the demise of one power era—the Graf-Seles edition—and before the rise of the next—the Williams-Williams-Davenport-Sharapova era. And that’s true. But we can also feel good, after watching her dissect her opponents in these clips, that her reign was one where variety, finesse, and instinct were allowed to flourish. Unfortunately, the second of these two videos will show that this queen was brought down not just by the bullying power of her bigger opponents, but by her own immaturity.
I'll be honest, and I know this is blasphemy. But goddamn do I hate this kid. Never liked her, never appreciated her style of tennis, and even looking back on it objectively, I still don't. Her flair and wily game just came across to me as arrogant and, in some ways, immature. She's the Dakota Fanning of tennis. Skilled? Yes. Intelligent? Absolutely. Wise beyond her years? Yup.
But goddamn do I hate that kid.
Before there were the Serbian Sisters, there was the even odder coupling of the Belgian Sisters. And boy, these girls were even more awkward with each other than the Itches. Anywho, they reunited this week at some Gala where Justine got an award. Shocker.
Meanwhile, Justine's been busy in her 9 month retirement. Proving that she is ever the overambitious overachieving uberwoman, she's somehow popped out two pre-adolescent boys already. You go, Justine!
UPDATED: Well I wasn't that far off. Apparently those are Carlos' two kids.
Drucker weighs in on his top 10 players of the year. It's an interesting list with some points of argument, but in the end I think it's the most accurate list of all the ones I've read so far.
A fantastic write up over at WTA Backspin on my favorite Serb to make fun of at all times. As per yoosh, Todd hits it right on the head:
Be sure to click on the link. The whole write up is great.
It is, in a word, horrible. Check out these totally confusing, unintelligible pics:
I'll really never understand Baby E's sponsors. I mean, you have one of the most naturally beautiful tennis players schilling your stuff and yet you can't leave well enough alone. "Oh, I know, let's make her hair look greasy, have her hold random objects, and inexplicably make her topless." That'll move product.