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Archive for the ‘Tennis’ Category

French Open: Men’s Final Four Set

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Roger Federer

Like the women, the men’s French Open Final Four is now set as unranked Frenchman Gael Monfils just defeated the fifth-ranked David Ferrer from Spain to advance to the semi-finals. Monfils’ reward?

Roger Federer.

While it’s highly likely Federer will be the favorite, Monfils will certainly have the backing of the French crowd. Will Roland Garros provide a large enough home-court advantage to rattle the likes of Roger Federer? That’s doubtful.

However, a pro-Monfils audience can help energize the Frenchman as he faces one of the best tennis players ever. Also, the clay court conditions could work in Monfils’ favor. While Federer normally has no problem advancing deep into the French Open, he has never won its title — although, he does have seven titles from other clay-court tournaments.

Perhaps clay isn’t Federer’s problem after all. Maybe it’s just Rafael Nadal.

Of course, what would a modern-day Men’s French Open semi-final be without the appearance of Nadal? Lacking, that’s what. However, there’s no need to worry about what’s missing because after smoking Nicolas Almagro , 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, Nadal is making another appearance in the French Open semi-finals. In fact, Nadal has been so impressive during the Open, some think he’s a shoe-in to four-peat.

Aside: while a four-peat in any major sport is impressive, isn’t it time for Rafael to win a major NOT played on a clay court?

In order for Nadal to complete his quest for four-straight French Open titles, he’ll first have to beat third-seeded Novak Djokovic from Serbia. Earlier this tennis season, Djokovic won the Australian Open. This means Nadal will probably have his hands full.

The Men’s semi-final matches are scheduled to take place on Friday.

French Open: Women’s Final Four Set

Jelena Jankovic

To say the Slavic countries are well represented in this year’s 2008 Women’s French Open Final Four is an understatement. On one side, we have Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, two Serbians, going against each other. On the other side of the draw, we have Svetlana Kuznetsova versus Dinara Safina. Each represents Russia.

Both Kuznetsova and Safina won matches earlier this morning to propel them to the semi-final round.

However, most of the attention will probably be on the other match when Ivanovic and Jankovic square off against each other. Because of Justine Henin’s shocking retirement, these two were considered two-of-the-three favorites to win the French Open. The other, Maria Sharapova, was ousted by Safina earlier this week. However, because the two Serbs are the default favorites does not mean the winner of their match will simply be able to stroll their way to French Open championship.

Once their match is complete, one of them will have to face the winner of Safina/Kuznetsova. Safina has turned heads because of the Sharapova and Elena Dementieva dispatches whereas Kuznetsova is merely ranked fourth in world and already has made one French Open final in 2006.

Of course, another reason for all the attention being paid to the Ivanovic/Jankovic match-up might have something to do with this:

Ana Ivanovic

Just a thought.

The matches are scheduled to take place on Thursday.

Maria Sharapova Like Pictures Again

Maria Sharapova

We recently had a post about Maria Sharapova and her unwillingness to pose for a four-hour photo shoot for the WTA’s promotional machine. Apparently, both sides have reached an agreement, allowing Sharapova to avoid a fine the BBC reports as £153,000 — almost 300,000 US dollars.

On her personal site, reports were the fine could be in excess of $700,000.

Nevertheless, both sides have agreed and monies are being protected. To appease her association, Sharapova agreed to take part in a 90-minute shoot instead of the four-hour Vogue-like marathon. Whatever. As long as she does some pictures like the one leading this post, we’ll all be fine.

Compromise — even in women’s tennis — is a wonderful thing.

Maria Sharapova Would Rather Play Than Pose

Maria Sharapova

The crown jewel of the Women’s Tennis Association, Maria Sharapova, is having some issues with their scheduling requests and is in a position to receive one of the more ludicrous fines in the history of sports. The issue has to do with a WTA-sponsored photo shoot and Sharapova’s unwillingness to take part in it so close to an actual tennis tournament — you know, the reason she’s even apart of the WTA to begin with.

As pointed out over at Fanhouse, for her unwillingness to deal with a four-hour photo shoot in Rome after arriving from Los Angeles, Sharapova is facing a $700,000 fine (other reports indicate the fine was $300,000). I say again: the WTA wants to fine their most popular member almost/over a half-a-million dollars because she doesn’t want to take part in a photo-shoot so close to a tournament she’ll be participating in.

That’s a little steep, isn’t it?

Over at her official site, Maria addresses this issue and actually comes across with some sense, unlike the WTA’s idea of fining someone $700k for not wanting to have their picture taken.

Regardless of how long the potential shoot might take, Sharapova has taken her case public, as the tour is threatening her with a $700,000 fine if she doesn’t participate. This isn’t a phantom fine, the kind where the tour dips into a player’s year-end bonus pool; it’s a real fine, which would be deducted from her upcoming prize money.

“The tour does not care what any of the players think, not just top players,” Sharapova told TennisReporters.net from her home in LA. “The tour will say we have done all these amazing things that the players wanted, but trust me these things they wanted as well and financially benefited from, including this shoot. I want people to understand that I took this action because this is one in a long list of things that the tour has ignored the players. This is not about just one shoot. I just could not just sit back anymore.”

For some reason, I’m absolutely blown away by the amount of the potential fine. Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars? Are you freaking kidding me? Because one of the best women players in the world would like to abstain from a photo-shoot that could interfere with her preparation for playing in the actual tennis tournament she’s in Rome for.

So which is it, WTA? Is Maria just your mantel piece you’re dying to exploit a little more or is her play AND her natural beauty one of the main reasons women’s tennis is so popular?

Wouldn’t you rather her, you know, be in a position to actually win the thing and continue to increase the popularity of women’s tennis, or would you rather her appear in some eye candy photographs just so you plaster her face all over the place to promote your product?