Rafael Nadal

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.


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.


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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

Andy Murray US Open 2012 Champ (USA Today Sports)

The tennis season’s final Grand Slam event, remedy the US Open, cialis begins today in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.  This hard-court slam lasts two weeks and culminates with the Women’s final on Sunday, September 8th and the Men’s final on Monday, September 9th.

This has been a crazy tennis season, with three different men and three different women winning singles titles in the year’s first three Grand Slam events.  Not to mention the big name players that crashed and burned at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

In the spotlight are last years’ champions #3 Andy Murray and #1 Serena Williams with the question of whether they can both defend their 2012 US Open singles titles.


Murray has reached the final of the last four Slams he’s played and most recently won the title at Wimbledon.  Unfortunately, he’s on the same side of the draw as #1 Djokovic, so a repeat final of 2012 is impossible this year.  I’d look forward to a Murray vs Djokovic semi-final on Saturday, September 7th, assuming that Murray isn’t upset by Tomas Berdych earlier in the quarters.

Djokovic is always a favorite to win and has six consecutive semis-or-better at the US Open.  Djokovic and 2009 US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro could see each other in the quarterfinals, if everything holds true to seed.

This could be a not-to-be-missed quarter final, as del Potro is the only man outside of the “Big Four” (Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer), that can upset the status quo.  At 24 years old, del Potro is the youngest player in the ATP top 10.

Juan Martin del Potro (Getty Images)

Due to the draw, Djokovic will likely need to also beat Murray and Nadal in successive matches to win the tournament.  This will probably prove too much for even Djokovic.

#2 Rafael Nadal has had a roller-coaster year winning the French Open, but getting knocked out of Wimbledon in the first-round.  But Nadal is 15-0 on hard-court this year, including wins at Indian Wells, Montreal and most recently Cincinnati, and thus has proven his ability on a surface other than clay this year.

Nadal winning the Western & Southern Open final in Cincinnati 8/18/2013 (AP Photos)

Nadal is on the same side of the draw as #7 Federer, so we could see a fantastic quarterfinal between Nadal and Federer.

My Prediction:  If his knee holds up, Nadal is my pick to win the U.S. Open. Nadal has the much favorable draw, his early exit at Wimbledon appears to have been a fluke, and he is undefeated on hard-courts this year. Since Murray is in the other half of the draw from Nadal, Nadal will need to beat only Murray or Djokovic, but not both, to win the tournament.



US Open 2012 Champion Serena Williams (Reuters)

On the women’s side, clear-cut favorite #1 Serena Williams will be looking for her fifth career U.S. Open crown and third since 2008.

#2 Victoria Azarenka has proven she can beat Serena Williams on hard courts. She is 2-0 against Williams on the surface this year, including a three-set victory over Williams in Cincinnati, their last tournament before the U.S. Open. Azarenka reached the finals of the past two Grand Slam events on hard courts: a victory in the 2013 Australian Open and a tough fought loss to Williams in the 2012 U.S. Open finals.

Maria Sharapova surprisingly withdrew last week from the US Open because of bursitis in her right shoulder. Even more surprising: Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli isn’t entered in the U.S. Open because she suddenly announced her retirement this month at age 28.

Due to the lack of any real competition, a Williams vs. Azarenka Final seems likely, but with Azarenka’s 0-7 record against Williams in Grand Slam events, this should be Serena’s event.

My Prediction: Serena Williams will repeat her 2012 US Open championship, as long as she isn’t bothered by her persistent abdominal issues of late.

All right Sports Divas, who do you think will win the US Open this year?

US OPEN TV Coverage

TV Coverage is spread over a number of networks: CBS, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, plus you can catch the live stream on WatchESPN.  See US Open TV Coverage for complete listings.

Fashion that Performs SmashingOnline.com (Photo Mike Caplan)



Serena Williams Crashes Out Of Wimbledon In A Massive Upset (Photo: AP)

Breaking News – Serena Upset on Super Monday

Serena Williams just lost to Sabine Liscki at Wimbledon in the latest major upset within one of the most turbulent and unexpected Wimbledons in recent memory.  Liscki won 6-2, view 1-6, 6-4 in the round of 16. Williams had a 34-match winning streak coming into the match.

There is now only one top-10 seeded player left in the women’s draw Petra Kvitova. At age 23, Lisicki is one of the most powerful players in women’s tennis.
Serena can typically blow her opponents off the court, but Lisicki was able to make Serena uncomfortable with her power. Serena had a break point at 5-4 in the third set, but couldn’t convert it.

Super Monday

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament to schedule the entire men’s and women’s fourth round on a single day, and thus called Super Monday.  However, it will feature many unknown players, as the first crazy week ended with many of the top names upset, including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova.  Of the 32 men and women playing Monday in the 4th round,10 will be trying to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time. Players vying for a chance at a quarterfinal berth include Kenny de Schepper and Adrian Mannarino, Ivan Dodig, Jerzy Janowicz, Karin Knapp and Monica Puig.

Janowicz Has the Fastest Serve of the Week (Getty Images)

One of the more exciting players to watch is No. 24 ranked Janowicz. At 6’8”, he is fun to watch on the fast lawns of Wimbledon. He averaged 130 mph on first serves and had the fastest serve of the tournament at 140 mph.  He also had 30 aces in his third round, straight sets defeat of World No. 16, Nicolas Almagro.  He has defeated Andy Murray as recently as 2012.

Someone from this list might be the future of tennis. Serena Williams sees the positives in having some new names to watch. “I feel like this is an opportunity to come learn the new players,” she said. “I’m not going to be here forever.”

Men’s Singles – Monday’s Matches to Watch

No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 13 Tommy Haas

No. 2 Andy Murray vs. No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny

No. 4 David Ferrer vs. Ivan Dodig

No. 7 Tomas Berdych vs. Bernard Tomic

No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz vs. Jurgen Melzer

Djokovic cruises past Chardy (BBC Sports)

Top ranked Novak Djokovic put in a Wimbledon performance that was close to perfect, as he played near-flawless tennis to reach the fourth round Wimbledon on Saturday, going close to a full match without making an unforced error defeating 28th seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. “I felt very confident stepping onto the court but it’s never easy against Chardy, he’s a quality player,” said Djokovic. Djokovic will face 35-year-old Tommy Haas, the oldest player left in the men’s draw.

Murray def Robredo (Telegraph.co.uk)

Tommy Robredo of Spain, the player who stunned Roger Federer, in one of Wimbledon’s greatest upsets didn’t stick around very long. Andy Murray, one of the men who can benefit from Federer’s absence, advanced easily by defeating Robredo of Spain 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.  Murray reaches the last 16 without dropping a set at Wimbledon. Robredo was broken five times in all, while Murray lost his serve just once. Murray’s fourth-round opponent will be hot-tempered Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Women’s Singles – Monday’s Matches to Watch

No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 23 Sabine Lisicki

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Tsvetana Pironkova

No. 6 Li Na vs. No. 11 Roberta Vinci

No. 8 Petra Kvitova vs. No. 19 Carla Suarez Navarro

Monica Puig vs. No. 17 Sloane Stephens

American Sloane Stephens (USA Today)

Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens have had continued success at Wimbledon and will both play in the fourth round at Wimbledon and are the only Americans to reach the second week.  (No American men reached the 4th round of the Men’s Singles.) Williams, 31, and Stephens, 20, represent opposite ends of the current generation of American women.

No 17 Stephens, who upset Williams to reach the Australian Open semifinals, defeated Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 7-6, 0-6, 6-4.  Stephens won this morning, defeating Monica Puig.  Still shocked by Serena’s upset this morning.


Of course, we still expect top seed Novak Djokovic to face Andy Murray in the final in a week’s time. We expected Serena Williams to be left standing at the end on the women’s side, but with her massive upset today – the field is wide open for a new name.  Stay tuned.

Men’s Doubles Action

Singles isn’t the only game in town. Another Monday highlight is Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-seeded Americans will face the No. 16 seeds, Treat Huey of the Philippines and Dominic Inglot of Britain. The Bryan brothers are going for their fourth consecutive Grand Slam title.  They already own 14 Grand Slam titles and are the most successful doubles team of all time. Since winning gold in the men’s doubles at the 2012 London Olympics, the twins have enjoyed a stellar year winning 11 titles including the 2012 US Open, 2013 Australian Open and 2013 French Open titles.

Wimbledon TV Coverage

ESPN will begin coverage at 5:30 a.m. CT and will run throughout the day.  Center Court coverage begins at 7:00 a.m. See ESPN for complete listings here.

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Tsonga def. Federer (Photo: www.rolandgarros.com)

The French Open is heating up as Roger Federer is eliminated, stuff Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova advance and the matchup everyone has been waiting for, Nadal and Djokovic, gets underway on Friday. All this and more below.

Men’s Quarterfinal Results

Federer Falls to Frenchman Tsonga

Former world No. 1 Roger Federer lost Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the French Open, falling to No.6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, showed all of his 31 years and simply couldn’t get his game going and Tsonga took advantage in a big way, winning in straight sets.  Federer dismissed any suggestion that he was suffering from a revival of his back problems of late.

“I thought he played great today,” said Federer. “He was in all areas better than me today, that’s why the result was pretty clean.  No doubt about it. I was impressed by the way he played today.”

There are already questions whether Federer, widely acknowledged greatest tennis player of all-time, should retire. Though the legendary tennis star has struggled thus far in 2013, he is far from finished as a major force in men’s tennis, and I for one look forward to watching him next month at Wimbledon to defend his title there.

Ferrer Crushes Robredo (Photo: Reuters)

Tsongo will go on to play 4th seed David Ferrer of Spain in the semi-finals Friday.  Ferrer easily defeated fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Many feel Ferrer will have the edge in Friday’s semifinal considering he took out Tsonga in straight sets in their only clay-court meeting in Rome three years ago.

Nadal vs. Djokovic Meet in Semifinals

Djokovic vs Nadal Semi must see this Friday (Getty Images)

Due to the seeding and the being in the tougher bracket, the best match of the Men’s Singles at the French Open may well be the Nadal vs. Djokovic meeting in the Semifinals. The winner of this semifinal will be the heavy favorite to win the title against the winner of the Tsonga vs. Ferrer match earlier in the day

Seven-time champion Nadal defeated Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets 6-2 6-3 6-1, while world number one Djokovic beat Tommy Haas 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 7-5.

Nadal wants nothing more than winning the French Open for an eighth time. But he first needs to conquer his fiercest rival and the No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic on Friday. This must watch match will be the 35th meeting between the two with Nadal holding a 12-3 lead on clay, who is arguably the best clay-court player of all time.

Women’s Quarterfinal Results

Serena Williams Rallies to Semis

Serena def Kuznetsova (Photo: news.yahoo.com)

Serena Williams came from behind in the third set to defeat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 Tuesday and advanced to Roland Garros’ final four for the first time since 2003.

“I’m very happy to have won this quarterfinal because the whole night I was afraid of my quarterfinal match,” Williams said in French. “It was a very tough match today…. I am exhausted.”

Williams is the first American woman to reach the French Open semifinals since Jennifer Capriati in 2004. Her opponent Thursday will be 2012 runner-up Sara Errani, who advanced by beating No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6. Williams is 5-0 against Errani.

Sharapova Overcomes Quarterfinal Scare

Sharapova advances to Semi’s. (Getty Images)

Maria Sharapova had an early scare losing the first set 0-6 against childhood rival Jelena Jankovic.  But defending French Open champion Sharapova rallied the next two sets to defeat Jankovic and winning 0-6, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the French Open semifinals.

Sharapova will face third-seeded Victoria Azarenka Thursday, who had an easier time dismissing Maria Kirilenko, 7-6, 6-2, to advance to her first semifinal at Roland Garros.

Semifinal Schedule of Play

Thursday, June 6

8:00AM  Maria Sharapova vs. Victoria Azarenka on ESPN2

10:00AM Serena Williams vs. Sara Errani on NBC

Friday, June 7

4:00AM David Ferrer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on ESPN2

7:00AM Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal on NBC


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