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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Letter to DtL readers: On the road this week

We finally embarked on our cross-country trip to our new digs in Los Angeles. I'll miss New York City; it was once a dream of mine to live in the Big Apple and I did. For 16 years. But sometimes life calls for new adventures, and now happens to be one of those times.

Obviously the timing isn't ideal with the US Open starting tomorrow. I won't be posting this week, but I'm hoping to be settled enough to write some post towards the end of the tourney. Fingers crossed. Enjoy the matches and coverage, and I'll see you on the West Side!

[Photo(s) credit: Me, duh]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

FASHION FIX: Nike and fragment design introduce Nike Court collection

Nike Tennis and Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design label have collaborated on Nike Court, a new capsule collection debuting today during a pre-US Open event in Tribeca, New York. The streetwear designs are inspired by some of Nike's classic tennis styles with modern updates.

The Herrington Jacket is constructed from lightweight fabric and features white zips, stitched detailing, and a mock neck.

The Polo features blue accents on white cotton, as well as ergonomic seams for ease of movement.

The Tennis Classic features a crisp white leather upper and sole is accented with a contrasting heel patch in either blue suede or grey snakeskin embossed leather, while a perforated Swoosh adds a fresh detail to the minimal sneaker.

The Half-Zip features a zip-off adjustable hood, drawstring hem, and large center pocket. A mesh lining and mock-neck collar offer breathability and lightweight warmth.

Personally, I love this collection. Clean, sleek, classic styles with a streetwise sensibility. Plus, Rafa is in the ad. You really can't go wrong.

All the styles are available at

[Photo(s) credit: Nike Tennis]

VIDEO VAULT: Serena Williams talks and sings while Roger Federer just talks

Serena Williams loves her some karaoke. It's been well-documented, of course. But I still give her props for getting up on stage at the Delta OPEN Mic event last night in front of actual people and doing her rendition of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". Jack Sock, Orange Is The New Black’s Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox, comedian Kathy Griffin, 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden, Glee’s Darren Criss, and celebrity fitness trainer Shaun T joined the 17-time Grand Slammer at the party.

Roger Federer sat down with sponsor Wilson to talk about winning Cincinnati, his new racquet, and a little about his pre-match routine which includes not missing the match. His words. Swear.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Will Bethanie Mattek-Sands go all Johnny Weir on Tennis Channel?

Brace yourselves, Tennis Channel viewers. The broadcasting company today announced the addition of Bethanie Mattek-Sands to the on-air coverage team for the US Open starting next week. Yes, that BMS. And this one. And the one above. Not a bad way to spend an injury-induced layoff.

I think it's an absolutely inspired choice by Tennis Channel and I'm harboring very high expectations for her broadcasts:

She really needs to Johnny Weir (see the Nick McCarvel-penned definition here) the shit out of her on-air time. Like this:

And this:

And, well, this:

But @4AllSurfaces posed a very interesting question on Twitter:
Andy Roddick. No question for me. Why, do you have a better choice?

[Photo(s) credit: BMS - Getty Images]

Monday, August 18, 2014

FASHION FIX: UNIQLO launches 'Match Wear' collection for Djokovic, Nishikori, and Kunieda

UNIQLO just announced the release of the 'Match Wear' collection for their tennis ballers and Global Brand Ambassadors, including Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, and men's wheelchair champion, Shingo Kunieda. Some of these items will be on full display at the US Open beginning next week.

According to the company press release, the match shirt for Nole features an eagle motif (click the image above for a closer look at the motif on his sleeve) – the national bird of both his native Serbia and of the United States – while eagle wings on the back are a nod to his style on the court. Of course, the 7-time Grand Slammer has had a feathered fashion history. While with adidas, he launched a Falcon-themed collection and said at the time:
It’s one of my favorite animals, and I think it describes in some ways my personality as well. I play a pretty aggressive game, and I’m very emotional, and I’m kind of connected to that bird. My grandfather used to call me always when I was younger, ‘falcon, falcon’ – doesn’t make any sense in English, but in our language it does.
It may also have something to do with his love of flying. You can see his full collection here.

For Shingo and Kei, the match wear is designed to look great both on and off the court, featuring red, white, and blue stripes inspired by the American flag, Route 66, blue skies, and the sunset.

Kunieda will sport a V-Neck T-shirt at the US Open, while Nishikori a polo shirt. All the items are available for purchase at UNIQLO stores and online at

[Photo(s) credit: UNIQLO]

Rafael Nadal officially withdraws from the US Open due to wrist injury

Today Rafael Nadal officially withdrew from the US Open with the right wrist injury he sustained in practice at the end of July. He made the announcement via his Facebook page:
I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open a tournament on which I’ve played 3 consecutive finals in my last participations. I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things… Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.

Siento anunciar que no podré participar en el US Open, torneo en el que en los últimos años he tenido muy buenos resultados. Entenderéis que es un momento duro para mi porque es un torneo que me encanta y en el que tengo muy buenos recuerdos, de los fans, de los partidos nocturnos, de tantas cosas. No me queda otra que aceptar que no puedo competir este año y como siempre trabajar para que cuando vuelva esté preparado de la mejor manera para competir.
Roger Federer, who won the Cincinnati Masters over the weekend, will take over as the second seed. Here's the potential list of the men's top eight seeds: 1. Novak Djokovic 2. Federer 3. Stan Wawrinka 4. David Ferrer 5. Milos Raonic 6. Tomas Berdych 7. Grigor Dimitrov 8. Andy Murray

It's never good news when a top baller withdraws from a major, especially when he's the defending champion. He had such a sensational season last year after dealing with another injury-induced absence from the ATP tour. Let's hope Rafa's recovery is swift and he's back in action soon.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FASHION FIX: Nike US Open looks for Serena, Sharapova, and Azarenka

Along with the duds Nike unveiled for their boys, the sportswear giant released images and information on what their lady ballers will be wearing at the US Open. It seems like they're trying to go for some eye-catching, chatter-inducing styles for Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka this year. If that's the case, then it's working.

Yes, you're looking at leopard print for the Serena Dress, the choice for her day matches. They've been teasing the print during the hard-court tune-ups but in a tank-top version. I didn't mind it so much as a one piece of a total kit, but as an entire dress and in THAT color? Hmmmm.

We all know Maria likes to push the on-court fashion envelope from time to time. See Exhibits A, B, and C. I could go on and on but I'll just stop there. She started teasing the idea of making the biker shorts a more prominent part of her kit during her championship run at Roland Garros this year. You could tell the dress' hemline was taken up so they would show better. The Maria Day Tunic takes it to the extreme, ditching the dress style completely for a tunic. Usually, tunics are a bit more roomy to give the silhouette volume on top paired with a slim look on the bottom. Because the top of this kit is skin tight for performance purposes, the Russian just looks like she decided to wear an apron to the court. Perhaps Forbes' highest-paid female athlete on the planet will be taking drink orders on the changeovers.

I won't go too much into Vika's US Open kit because it's very similar to the one she wore in Stanford. The only difference in this particular image, and it's a major one for me, is that they've dropped the MAGICAL SHORTS for the Printed Pleated Woven Skirt. I much prefer the shorts Vika's wearing in the top photo of this post; they've become her trademark. Hopefully she'll bust them out and not this skirt (although on its own I like it).

Here are the duds Maria (left) and ReRe (right) will be wearing for their night matches. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, there's nothing shiny, shimmery, or eye-catching here. Too bad. These kits really could have used some pops of color or something to make them special. I mean, they are for the US Open night matches.

[Photo(s) credit: Nike]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FASHION FIX: Nike US Open looks for Nadal, Federer, and Dimitrov

The season's final major, the US Open, is less than two weeks away and Nike just officially released the duds for their top ballers. Here's a run down of what their boys will be wearing, including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Grigor Dimitrov.

The status of Rafa and the defense of his title at Flushing Meadows is still up in the air (we should all reportedly know something by end of week) but what he'll be working isn't anymore. There were rumors about the Spaniard going back to sleeveless a while ago and I had a few things to say and so did others (see comments). Well, it's confirmed #TeamSleeveless. He'll be working the Advantage Premier Rafa Sleeveless, classic Premier Rafa Jacket, the Premier Gladiator Shorts, and the Lunar Ballistec. I'm really loving the varsity-style Premiere Rafa Jacket. Must. Purch.

Fed will be going for his sixth US Open title while wearing the Nike Advantage Premier RF Polo, Nike Premier RF Sweater, Nike Gladiator Premier Shorts and the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour. This color combo is much better than the green-on-green polo and grey shorts he's been wearing during the hard-court swing. The blue contrast gives the polo some pop.

After reaching his first major semifinal at Wimbledon, Grisha will look to go a couple of steps further in his Advantage Polo, Nike Freestyle Short, and Nike Sphere Tennis Jacket. I've been a fan of how they've outfitted Grisha this season, especially the Touch Stripe Tennis Henleys he wore in the spring. You could say I'm a sucker for stripes. But I'm going to take a wait-and-see approach on this polo with the mismatched sleeves. It's fun and a bit off-beat. The Bulgarian just might be able to pull it off. I wonder if Maria Sharapova had to sign off on this look.

Here are the looks for Federer's and Nadal's night matches. They're dark. Because night.

[Photo(s) credit: Nike]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tsonga and Aga walk away winners, Venus' game goes retro at the Rogers Cup

"I'm super stoked to win and all but what IS this?!"

I just got back from some time away last week and wouldn’t you know I missed some tremendous matches at the Rogers Cup. I was keeping up with most of it by reading the news and watching some highlights, but I was able to see some of Maria Sharapova’s loss to Carla Suarez Navarro and Novak Djokovic's shockingly easy defeat to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga live on Delta. When I noticed this particular flight had satellite TV and access to ESPN2, I was more than thrilled. Like a kid in a Sugarpova pop-up. THANK YOU GAWDS FOR THE TECHNOLOGIES.

It was a fantastic week for Jo-Willy and Agnieszka Radwanska, who won their first titles of the season at this Masters 1000 and Premier 5 event, respectively. Jo-Willy was already out of the top 10 but he strung together wins over the likes of Nole, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov, and Roger Federer in the final to vault himself back inside. The Frenchie, with his power game and aggressive play, has always been the kind of baller that could beat anyone on any given day or go on a streak like he did in Toronto. This quality is what's separated him from his countrymen. While they have always seemed to prefer to entertain rather than win matches, Jo-Willy went about the business of brutal execution. But, he’s never been able to sustain excellence like Nole, Fed, Muzz, and Rafael Nadal; it’s what separates the “Big Four” from everyone else, including the Frenchman. This week he was focused, determined, and healthy which made all the difference. Let’s see what Cincinnati, which kicks off this week, will bring.


Aga’s summer was utterly forgettable up until she lifted the Rogers Cup trophy. In fact, she seemed to have hit a plateau after her all-court clinic over Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open back in January. It’s like she blew her wad so early in the season that the Pole had nothing left to give. But in Montreal she got her game back on track, notching a win over a resurgent Venus Williams in the final, and proving that she still has the game to trouble the elite lady ballers. This hard-court stretch has never been favorable to Aga’s game, so grabbing a title should give her a huge lift. But the question remains – can her old-school finesse game stand strong against the modern power ballers over seven matches?

"I'm taking you back for a minute."

For me, one of the biggest story lines around is the play of Venus. When I saw the score line to the Venus-Serena match, I could only selfishly think of one word: FINALLY. I’ve always been a Venus fanboy. When she first burst her way into the tennis consciousness, it was mesmerizing to watch her cover the court like a gazelle during one point, and then regally walk to the other side, completely self-contained, to serve or return with a steely gaze. If there was a WTA award for the least amount of fuss or pretense on court, V would’ve owned it. Seeing her play in Stanford and then watching the highlights and other videos of her matches in Montreal, including the insta-classic against Angelique Kerber (see V’s reaction after match point if you don’t believe me), was like stepping back into the Venus Era when no one, not even her precocious little sister, could push her back from the eventual win. Those days are, naturally, few and far between; but we have all been given a chance to relive those moments. Perhaps there are a few more in the cards. We should be so lucky.

If you missed the semifinal between the Williams sisters, here you go. It’s the entire match. YOU’RE WELCOME. Oh yeah, one more thing: as I mentioned a while back, we're relocating to LA and the timing of it couldn't have been worse. During the first week of the US Open, we'll be driving cross country to our new digs. Super excited since it's our first time doing the cross-country thing, but sad to miss the tennis. My postings from now until we finally land out west may be somewhat sporadic. I'll try to tweet as much as I can, but the posting here may be slow.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PHOTO OP: Stanole takes Toronto

We've had Fedal, Rafole, and now we can add Stanole to the mix. Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic have had EPIC (and I don't use that word lightly 'round these here parts) battles on-court, which is a prerequisite for a tennis portmanteau. They've also created a social media storm in Toronto together, posting pics of their bromance before and after their first round doubs match. Speaking of that match, Stanole beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and David Marrero 6-3, 7-5 in a rain delayed match, which means we should get more photos. Thank you tennis.

It's not their first time playing doubs together. Stanole first got together in Beijing last year reaching the semifinals. But they seem to have developed quite the friendship this time around, at least by the looks of the pics. Plus they both love using social media, interacting with other ballers and fans, and posting hiiiiilarious pics. THEY WIN THE INTERNET AND SO DO WE.

I really love this shot from @nidssserz. The bromance in full bloom!

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