Tennis

Hi friends. How are you? It’s been a while. Luckily for you, online the SDI family was never too far from my heart. Every time I saw some asinine sports atrocity, nurse I kept it in my mental rolodex (i.e. my Twitter favorites) just in case I was able to share it with you guys. And now the opportunity has finally come to share my thoughts on random sports stories with you.

So here we are. It’s football season. Baseball season. I’m sure hockey might be on (???). Or table tennis. Maybe curling is happening…in Canada or Russia or wherever they watch that. The Cubs are good (right?). The Bears have a two-time-Super Bowl-appearing coach (he lost, cialis but still….he was in the building). Everyone’s favorite Bull may or may not have been involved in a gang rape (I. Can’t. Even.) And the Blackhawks dismantled their championship team and have deflated the hopes of another ticker tape parade in Chicago for like a decade.

Eesh.

So what have I been up to sports-wise? Well, I learned to golf. Ok, well not like actually learned to golf. I got golf clubs, try hopelessly to hit the ball with either my driver or my nine iron, and give up at around the third hole to focus on keeping score and getting drunk. You have no idea how difficult it is to count when you’re six mimosas in. I am a great humanitarian.

I also moved to Pittsburgh and have spent the past five months devising a plan to bribe bartenders to play Bears games when the Steelers are on. In addition to that, I am trying desperately to become the best amateur binge-watcher in America: I devoured four seasons of Game of Thrones in two weeks. If I keep this up, I’ll surely qualify for the Olympics. Because America.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about other people. So pop the cork on the Cabernet, light your pumpkin-scented candle and let’s talk proper sports.

The NFL

I really don’t want to talk about Deflategate but since I have a column with thousands of readers (right? RIGHT?!), I’ll throw in my two cents. Here’s the thing: the Patriots are known simultaneously as champions and cheaters. So it’s very difficult to believe that Belichick and Brady wouldn’t do this. That’s the thing about lying; get caught doing it once and everything else you say comes into question. Do I think they did this on purpose? I sure hope not. I would like to believe that what we are witnessing is a great team headed up by a brilliant coach and a seemingly terrific owner in Bob Kraft who are playing a brutal, unforgiving game as fairly as possible. But I will say this: it wouldn’t exactly surprise me if this ended up to be true.

In other news, Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson is dating singer Ciara. And that makes sense for both parties. Russell probably never got any action with chicks as ridiculously gorgeous as Ciara. And now, because she’s on his arm, Ciara is introduced as an R&B star (which – name three unaccompanied Ciara tracks not called “Goodies”… exactly.)

The NCAA:

So, two things:

  1. Kansas has a football team! WHO KNEW?!
  2. Students at the University of Kansas cannot name the head coach of said football team.

Yep. Moving on.

Golf

I am very confident in my relationship, but if some heifer EVER asks my man out on a date with me standing right there?! {link: http://thebiglead.com/2015/08/21/miss-texas-jordan-spieth-girlfriend-rangers-game/} No ma’am. In the illustrious words of Tupac, ‘you betta back the duck up before you get smacked the duck up.’ Because no rapper rant will ever beat the one at the end of Hit ‘em Up. {link: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=41qC3w3UUkU}

Aside: can someone tell the people in charge of autocorrect over at Apple that I literally never mean duck? Thanks.

Tennis

Drake and Serena Williams have been a thing for a while, so this is not news{link: http://m.bleacherreport.com/articles/2554239-report-drake-and-serena-williams-seen-making-out-at-cincinnati-restaurant?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=programming-national?is_shared=true). I compare this to having a real boyfriend, breaking up with him occasionally and hooking up with the side piece. Who is Drake in this scenario? Side piece.

One last thing…

Im currently drinking my way through Italy so I feel it would be remiss not to talk about soccer. JUST KIDDING! Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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If you don’t know the name Rafael Nadal, no rx we don’t know what you’ve been missing. The tennis player just earned his ninth French Open title yesterday in a repeat of last year’s final versus Novak Djokovic, illness making the 28-year-old clay legend (he’s got a 63-1 record!) our HAM of the Week.

Rafa”, as he is known to his legion of fans, is the current world #1, and he’s aced his way into our hearts. He’s a sexy and single Spaniard who has won more than 50 titles in his 13 years of turning pro—what more can we love about our HAM of the Week?

For starters, he is only one of two singles players (behind tennis legend Andre Agassi) to complete a Career Golden Slam, meaning he has won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, in addition to the Olympic gold medal (which he won in 2008) in the span of his career.

He’s also an avid soccer fan, having played the sport when he was young in addition to tennis. Though he chose to focus on the latter, he still supports Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca as well as the Spanish national team, fitting for the World Cup, which begins this week.

Rafael Nadal HAM

Rafael Nadal, http://www.hollywoodgossip.com

Turning pro at 15, Nadal participated in events at the junior and senior circuits, winning his first major senior match on the ATP circuit just before he turned 16. But it wasn’t until the following year that he faced current rival Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

By 19, Nadal won his first French Open title in his first appearance at the event, the first man to win the title since 1982. He went on to win the tournament the next three times.

Injury sidelined Nadal in 2012, but he’s obviously emerged as the reigning king of the (clay) court, quite possibly making him one of the best tennis players of all time.

If Nadal ever reaches a final in a tournament, you can bet he’s either going against Djokovic or Federer, the other two players who seem to be challenging Nadal for the best of the best. Nadal has faced Djokovic more than 40 times, with about half of those matches faced in the final round. Nadal has faced Federer 33 times, with 20 of those matches faced in the final.

Rafael Nadal HAM

Rafael Nadal, http://www.tennisnow.com

According to his autobiography, while he does have a game plan against Federer, he’s still looking for one against Djokovic.

We’re not sure about Rafa’s constant habit of biting his trophies, but wow, it makes him so much sexier…

And it’s not everyday that you have an asteroid named after you. According to ATP World Tour, the asteroid is located between Mars and Jupiter and travels through space at 20 kilometers per second. Talk about star power.

Nadal is also charitable; his organization, Fundacion Rafa Nadal, provides educational programs for deprived children and teenagers through sports.

Rafael Nadal, http://www.dailymaik.co.uk

Rafael Nadal, http://www.dailymaik.co.uk

The one sport he’s not good at? Golf. But we’d rather have a superstar with 15 major Grand Slam titles to his name on the tennis court than anywhere else.

As a spokesman for Nike, Nadal also has a collection with the retailer, and has also emerged as a somewhat fashion icon. At just over 6 feet, he seems to be all muscle and pure heart.

Not to mention, being photographed by famed photographer Bruce Weber for the June 2009 issue of Vogue:

Catch up with Rafa at Wimbledon, which starts Monday, June 23. Follow Rafael Nadal on Twitter at @RafaelNadal (he tweets in Spanish and English!) and at www.rafaelnadal.com.

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rafa french open 2014 semi

Torrential rain delayed the start of quarterfinal action on day 11 of the French Open Wednesday and looked like it was going to force the 5th set of both men’s semifinals to be postponed due to darkness.  But both Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray managed to dominate the 5th set of their matches to finish business in record time as the sun was setting over Paris.

monfilsIn what looked like it should be a fast match for Murray, pilule Frenchman Gaël Monfils looked as if he had been playing possum the first two sets – Murray was looking like he was on the ropes. It seemed certain that the match wouldn’t have time to finish before dark, treat but with Murray clearly irritated by the call from the umpire to continue play in the fading light, buy he only needed 24 minutes for the last set to defeat Monfils 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 with Monfils winning just seven points in the entire last set.

MEN’S SINGLES SEMIFINALS FRIDAY

Nadal to play Murray Friday

Can anybody stop Nadal? In an unbelievable match that was looking like a nail-biter early on and perhaps even a loss for top-seeded Nadal, Rafa defeated fellow countryman David Ferrer, the man who lost last year’s final to the eight-time French Open champion.

After a slow start in which he conceded the first set 6-4, Nadal hit back to take the next three sets 6-4 6-0 6-1. The World No.1, who was beaten at Monte Carlo in April by Ferrer, remains a huge favorite to win the title.

Djokovich vs Gulbis

Gulbis defeats Berdych in quarterfinals

Gulbis defeats Berdych in quarterfinals

Ernests Gulbis followed up his victory over Roger Federer by crushing sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-2 6-4 to claim a place in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career.

Gulbis will meet second-seeded Novak Djokovic, who was impressive in his 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic. Djokovic is through to his 22nd Grand Slam semi-final and has reached the last four at 14 of the last 15 Grand Slam tournaments.

WOMEN’S SINGLES SEMIFINALS THURSDAY

Genie Bouchard advances to seminfinals

Genie Bouchard advances to seminfinals

Sharapova vs Bouchard

Maria Sharapova had a sloppy first set vs 35th ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the quarterfinals, but grabbed control of the match by breaking her to go up by 6-5 in the second set and served out the set and easily winning the last set 6-1.

The seventh-seeded Sharapova has emerged as one favorite in this upset-filled tournament. Last year’s champion Serena Williams (1) was easily defeated in the 2nd round by Muguruza 6-2, 6-2. Second-seeded and Aussie Open champion Na Li was shockingly defeated in the 1st round by 103th ranked Kristina Mladenovic of France, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Sharapova will meet 18th seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. Twenty year old Bouchard is currently on a streak – winning 10 matches in a row – including a run to her first WTA title in Nuremberg, Germany, the week before the French Open began.

Bouchard was inspired to take up tennis when she saw Sharapova’s Wimbledon victory 10 years ago at age 17. However, Genie has made clear that she isn’t intimidated by Sharapova by telling reporters, “We’re not friends, so there is that. Of course as a child I looked up to her and I remember watching her in the finals of Wimbledon and, you know, thought what she was doing was so cool and I wanted to do the same thing. We’re in the semis of a Grand Slam, so I’m going to respect her but not put her too high on a pedestal and really just battle.”

Petkovic vs Halep

Halep Beats Petkovic In Nürnberg Final

Halep Beats Petkovic In Nürnberg Final

Neither Petkovic nor Halep has ever played in the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament. But they will meet on Thursday for a spot in the final.

Andrea Petkovic, a 28th-seeded German, beat 2012 French Open runner-up Sara Errani of Italy 6-2, 6-2 and fourth-seeded Simona Halep defeated 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, also 6-2, 6-2.

TV COVERAGE

The Women’s semifinals is scheduled for Thursday, June 5th at 8 a.m. on ESPN2, as well as on NBC beginning at 10 a.m. (CT).  The Women’s final will be played Saturday, June 7th beginning at 8 a.m. (CT) and shown on NBC.

The Men’s semifinals will begin at 7 a.m. Friday, June 6th on the Tennis Channel and from 10 a.m. on NBC. The Men’s final will be Sunday, June 8th at 8 a.m and broadcast by NBC.

Have a Smashing Day! Smashing Golf & Tennis apparel is now available at the Made in Chicago boutique at 17 E Pearson St, Chicago.

www.SmashingOnline.com

 

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mcillroy_wozniacki_broke_up_over_phone_600

The French Open tennis Grand Slam began with early round play a couple days ago and a summary of who’s in and who’s out (e.g. what happened Serena?) will be coming out soon. Plus, cheap you won’t want to miss my notoriously wrong picks. But the big story now is what has happened off the court.

This has been a busy time for gossiping golfers and tennis players. The huge headline is that our favorite sports power couple Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki have broken up just weeks after their wedding invitations had been sent out. The big question was who will recover first?

This past week it has become very apparent on who is struggling and who is not. Rory recovered so strong that he won the BMW PGA Championship in Virginia Water, England on Sunday. He finished out his winning round with a birdie and seemed to find an escape from his personal drama out on the course. However we must keep in mind Rory was the one to break off the engagement (over the phone!) so we cannot help but wonder if this was somewhat of a weight lifted off of his shoulders.

Photo: Darko Vojinovic, AP

Photo: Darko Vojinovic, AP

However for Caroline it seems like the weight of the world is crashing down on her!

In her first round at the French Open she had a pretty tough first-round draw. She had to face off against number 64 ranked Yanina Wickmayer. Wozniacki was ranked number 12 and it seemed like she should win without issue, but Wickmayer is an excellent player who was once ranked number 12 and was a semifinalist at the 2009 United States Open. We also need to remember that Wozniacki has had a season filled with injuries. She has endured injuries to her wrist and knee and has not been fully focused on her tennis career.

So the big question remains, was it the breakup that accounts for her loss? Or is it the slew of other factors? With a final score of 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2, Wozniacki is out of the French Open in the first round and questions came flying. She responded: “I don’t really want to talk about my personal life.” She has admitted to the breakup being a bit of a shock and we know that that must have some affect one her personally.

Our hearts go out to Caroline Wozniacki and we hope she will recover from her heartbreak.

A big shout out and thanks to Smashing intern and Lehigh University golfer Nicole Feierberg for the research for this article.

Smashing Golf & Tennis - Made in Chicago

Smashing Golf & Tennis – Made in Chicago

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Stan

It was a victorious weekend in Melbourne for the long shot underdogs when 28-year-old Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Rafael Nadal to win the Men’s Singles Championship and 32-year-old Chinese player Li Na defeated Slovak Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday to win the Women’s Singles.

It was expected to be a Nadal vs defending Aussie Open champion Djokovic in the Men’s Final and Serena vs defending champion Azarenka in the Women’s final.  However, sovaldi sale world No. 1 Nadal was the only top-seeded player to even make the semi-finals. No. 2 Djokovic lost to eight seed Wawrinka in an epic five-set quarter final 6-2 4-6 2-6 6-3 9-7.

Nadal defeated Roger Federer in straight sets to reach the Australian Open tennis final and Wawrinka defeated Tomas Berdych in 4 sets in the semi-finals.

No. 1 Serena Williams  lost to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round and Agnieszka Radwanska upsets No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in quarterfinals.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland won his first Grand Slam title with victory over an injured Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final Sunday. Wawrinka defeated the world number one, help who was struggling with a back problem, 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3.

He becomes the second Swiss man to win a Grand Slam singles title after 17-time champion Roger Federer.

“I still think that I’m dreaming,” said Wawrinka after the match. “It’s a strange feeling. I saw so many finals. I always try to watch the finals of Grand Slams because that’s where the best players are playing. Before today, for me it wasn’t a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it.”

Stanislas Wawrinka consoles Rafael Nadal after Wawrinka’s win. (Photo ABC.net)

Nadal, always the class act, revealed he felt the back problem during the warm-up. Rafa said: “It is a tournament that I really had some troubles physically in my career and is something that is painful for me. But that’s part of life. That’s part of sport. It’s not the end of the world. Is just another tough moment. The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final. It’s not the moment to talk about that. It’s the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserved to win that title.”

Before this Championship, Wawrinka had never won a set, let alone a match, in 12 previous attempts against Nadal, and was making his Grand Slam final debut against Nadal who was in his 19th.

Despite Nadal’s loss, he will retain his world No.1 ranking.

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Li Na wins 2014 Australian Open (Getty Images)

Li Na erased memories of previous final losses in 2011 and last year to defeat 24th ranked Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 7-6, 6-0 Saturday in 97 minutes.

“This is my favorite grand slam (championship) and I’m so happy I’ve won the title here”, an exuberant Na said after the final.  However most memorable is her hilarious victory speech.

After paying respects to her opponent, Li thanked her agent Max Eisenbud for “making me rich” and her husband and former coach Jiang Shan, long the butt of his wife’s jokes, for special praise. “Now, of course, my husband … famous in China. Thanks for him for giving up everything, just travelling with me to be my hitting partner, fix the drinks and fix the racquets, so, he did a lot of jobs,” she grinned as Jiang was ribbed in the players’ box.

“So, thanks a lot, you’re a nice guy. And … also you are so lucky, you found me.”

Watch Li Na’s Australian Open victory speech here:

Have a Smashing week and the long wait until the next tennis Grand Slam – The French Open 2014 begins on Sunday, May 25  and ends on Sunday, June 8.

Smashing Golf & Tennis – Made in Chicago

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Event-AustralianOpenofTennis-landscape

Temperatures reached 108 degrees during the second day of the tennis season’s first Grand Slam event of the year.  The Australian Open began Monday, capsule January 13th in Melbourne and this hard-court slam lasts two weeks – culminating with the Women’s final on Saturday, drugstore January 25th and the Men’s final on Sunday, January 26th.

Juan Martn Del Potro of Argentina feels the heat. Michael Dodge Getty Images

Forecasts call for more 100-plus degree heat for the next two to three days. Although not all due to the extreme heat, nine players retired in the first round after the second day, which ties the 2011 U.S. Open for most retirements in a single round at a Grand Slam tournament.

It was so hot that a ball boy required medical attention after collapsing during an early-day match. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France said the under soles of his sneakers became soft.

China’s Peng Shuai threw up in a bucket and then cramped near the end of a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 loss to Japan’s Kurumi Nara. Peng limped off the court barely able to finish. Others described the court surface as a frying pan and the wind like “when I open the oven and the potatoes are done,” said American John Isner.  (Isner, seeded 13th, had to retire during his match again Slovakia’s Martin Klizan with an ankle injury. Isner had just won the title last weekend at Auckland.)

However many players took the scorching heat in stride, including Roger Federer, who often trains in the hot desert of Dubai and had little sympathy for his peers, calling it “just a mental thing”.

Aussie Open Outlook

Djokovic  def. Murray 2013 Australian Open final. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

In the spotlight are whether last years’ Aussie Open champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka can both defend their 2013 singles titles.  It was Djokovic’s third straight victory at Melbourne Park, making him the first man to win three straight Australian titles in the Open era.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

The men’s side is dominated by the Big Three—Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Many tennis enthusiast predict that Djokovic will break the record for most titles by anyone in the Open Era – or after 1968 when professionals were allowed to join the tournament. He is currently tied with Federer and Andre Agassi with four Aussie titles.

Roger Federer plays a forehand in his first-round match against James Duckworth. Scott Barbour, Getty Images

Novak Djokovic improved his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 22 matches as he began his bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title defeating Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.

World No 1 Rafael Nadal easily advances to the second round after one set after Bernard Tomic is forced to retire with a groin injury after losing opening set.

Andy Murray has reached the final of the last five Slams. In his opening match, Murray hit 32 winners, 12 aces and only 13 unforced errors on his way to an easy victory against Go Soeda of Japan 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

However, Roger Federer is looking to re-enter fray and won in his first match with former world no. 1 Stefan Edberg as a coach, by defeating James Duckworth, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Not surprisingly, Serena Williams will head into the Australian Open as the player to beat. On opening day, Williams easily defeated Ashleigh Barty, 6-2, 6-1 a 17-year-old Australian wild-card entry. The World No.1 has an incredible 78-4 win/loss record for the season including The French Open and the US Open slams.  Serena ended the season with the WTA Championships and will arrive in Melbourne with an 18 match winning streak. Serena will be competing for her sixth Aussie Open and 18th Grand Slam crown.

Azarenka celebrates defeating Na Li in 2013 Julian Finney/Getty Images

The second-ranked Victoria Azarenka had a difficult match Monday against Larsson, ranked 91st, who twice had chances to serve for the first set but lost in a tiebreaker. However, Azarenka still seems to be the only player who has both the talent and attitude to have a chance of defeating Serena Williams. Azarenka beat her twice in 2013 at Doha and Cincinnati and challenged Serena by taking her to three sets of the US Open final in September.  However, Azarenka has yet to beat Williams in a Slam final – losing out to the 17 times Major winner in back-to-back finals at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and 2013.

However, it’s not impossible for Azarenka.  She just beat Williams in straight sets in an exhibition match between the world’s top two women’s players in Thailand the end of December. Azarenka defeated Williams 7-5, 6-3 in front of about 3,000 fans at the Hua Hin World Tennis Invitation in a match both players used as a warm-up ahead of the Australian Open.

Australian Open TV Coverage

Melbourne is 17 hours ahead of Chicago. As far as TV coverage goes, ESPN and the Tennis Channel have you covered throughout the whole tournament. ESPN’s early round coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on their ESPN2 network, and will run through 7 a.m. The Tennis Channel will carry coverage from 7 p.m. through 9 p.m.  For complete listing see link ESPN.

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