Sorana Cirstea Dances Into the Off-Season

Written By: achangeofends - Nov• 01•11

Romanian tennis star Sorana Cirstea won’t be lounging around during her off season. She¬†announced that she would be participating in her home country’s version of “Dancing With the Stars.”

ITS OFFICIAL now,I can finally say it!!!Romanian "DANCING WITH THE STARS" here I come:) 1st day of rehearsals today,can't wait ūüėÄ
@sorana_cirstea
Sorana Cirstea

The Romanian version of the show is entitled “Dansez Pentru Tine,” which airs on Pro TV. In a slight twist of the American version, the stars choose a charitable cause to represent. On her facebook page, Sorana did not reveal her cause, but did say she was excited about being able to raise money for a humanitarian cause.

This isn’t Sorana’s first foray into the world of dance. Check out this Xperia Hot Shots video from earlier this year.

Anyway, if you’re in Romania, you’ll be able to watch Sorana’s performance on Friday, November 4th. For the rest of you, I make no guarantees, but I believe you can live stream the show on the Pro TV website¬†or watch video clips later in the week.

****Updated

Watch the first clips of Sorana and her dance partner here.

 

Friday Funnies

Written By: achangeofends - Oct• 28•11

The ladies in Istanbul better watch out for Aga. She’s a tricky one.

Friday Funnies

Written By: achangeofends - Oct• 07•11

There are plenty of players that like to talk to themselves, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone chat away quite like this.

Friday Funnies

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 29•11

This week in Kuala Lumpur, Bernard Tomic, Ryan Harrison, Viktor Troicki, and Nicolas Almagro played with lightsabers. No, I’m not kidding, there is photographic evidence. However, I was really hoping for a video. Can we get more ridiculously nerdy pre-tournament publicity events? I mean, who needs Muay Thai when they have a¬†light saber?

Tomic, Harrison, Troicki, Almagro. Photo via @KLOpenTennis.

Anyway, since we’re talking light sabers, here’s a video. I think someone should start developing this.

Gratuitous Photos: Men and Babies

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 27•11

The tennis season may be a bit slow at the moment, but that gives us time to reflect on photos past. I give you a new segment which I will be calling gratuitous photos. This week on gratuitous photos, men with babies.

Tommy Haas and daughter Valentina. Photo via @saramfoster

@saramfoster has been an excellent addition to twitter this week, particularly because she provides us amazing photos like this one of Tommy and little Valentina.

Gilles and baby. Enough said. Photo via Blog de Familledesport

What’s cuter than photos of Gilles Simon and his adorable son Timothee? I have no idea. No, seriously, I’ve seen this kid and he’s kind of perfect.

Juan Martin del Potro stops to pose with a fan's baby. Photo via Juan Mabroamata/AFP/Getty Images

Was Juan Martin running for office? Did I miss it? I would totally vote for him after seeing this adorable photo he took with a fan’s baby.

Rafa may fear puppies, but he seemed happy to hold Carlos Moya's baby. Photo via @charlymoya

It’s a good thing Carlos Moya had a baby instead of getting a puppy because otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten photo op.

More men and babies after the break. Click for more.

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Toray Pan Pacific Open Player Party

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 26•11

Last year, some of our favorite WTA players learned to be ninjas at the Toray Pan Pacific player party.

As far as I know, there weren’t any ninjas this year, but let’s take a look at some of the arrivals.

Misaki Doi, Ayumi Morita, and a friend arrive at the Toray Pan Pacific player party.

The Japanese ladies arrive to the party. I’m loving Misaki’s hair. It’s nice to see the ladies without a ponytail once in a while.

Jelena Jankovic arrives at the Toray Pan Pacific player party

Jelena went with an all white ensemble. Unfortunately JJ looks a little over dressed for the occasion. A good ninja is always prepared for a fight and that skirt is totally going to get in the way.

Sam Stosur arrives at the Toray Pan Pacific player party.

The US Open champion looked great, arriving in a simple black Lacoste sweater and grey pants.

Irina Falconi arrives at the Toray Pan Pacific player party.

I can’t see much of what’s behind the flowers, but it certainly looks like Irina dressed to match the floral arrangement to her left. Perhaps she was trying to blend in with the surroundings. Falconi is only 21 and I would have loved to see her wear something a little younger.

Rebecca Marino learns about Japanese instruments.

Rebecca Marino tested her musical skills, dressed in a cute lacy white top and some jeans. Love it.

Yaroslava Shvedova and Jill Craybas make some music in Tokyo.

Yaroslava and Jill gave it a shot as well. Looks like jeans and a t-shirt was the status quo for the night. Someone should let Jelena know next time.

(all photos via the WTA facebook page)

Friday Funnies

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 23•11

What marketing genius sat down in a conference room and pitched a SHAMPOO commercial starring Richard Gasquet? I’m prefacing this with the fact that I like Richard, but every time I watch him play, I basically spend the entire match trying to figure out what’s wrong with his hair. Regardless of how many times I watch, I’ve never been able to figure it out.

Davis Cup World Group Playoff Recap

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 19•11

Last night I tackled the teams still in contention for the title, or at least most recently ousted from the competition. Tonight, we’ll take a look at the relegation ties. Sometimes relegation ties provide just as much drama as the World Group because countries often bust out the big guns in hopes of keeping their spot in the World Group. Also, it’s the year before the Olympics which means all those top players who usually skip out on Davis Cup because of their busy schedules are making themselves available to maintain their Olympic eligibility.

Czech Republic def. Romania 5-0

This is what we could call a no drama tie. Even given the advantage of a home tie, when none of your players are ranked near the Top 100, it’s tough to beat a team like the Czech Republic. The Czechs make lack some depth, but they have two excellent singles players in Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, which is really all they needed to sweep this tie. Romania was unfortunately lacking it’s main man, Victor Hanescu, although I don’t think that would have made much of a difference.

Dima always comes prepared. Photo via REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Russia def. Brazil 3-2

The idea of Russia falling out of the World Group kind of threw me for a loop. Russia won the Davis Cup twice in the last ten years, and finished runner up three more times in the last twenty. I definitely miss the days of Marat, but the current team isn’t too shabby either. Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov, Igor Kunitsyn, and Igor Andreev are all talented singles players in their own right, so as a team they should have had little trouble subduing the Brazilians, who were pretty much counting on Thomaz Bellucci. Mikhail Youzhny put in a heroic performance in the fourth rubber to send the tie to a fifth. He beat Thomaz Bellucci 14-12 in the fifth set. That meant that the fate of the tie rested in the hands of Dmitry Tursunov, who Coach Shamil Tarpischev subbed in for Igor Andreev. Dmitry was able to keep his nerves in check and defeated Ricardo Mello in four sets. Most importantly, Dima was a true team player and very emphatically cheered on Youzhny before his match. Look, he even brought props!

Canada def. Israel 3-2

The Canadians celebrate Vasek Pospisil's amazing Davis Cup run. Photo via REUTERS/Nir Elias

Anyone think Vasek Pospisil was going to be a Davis Cup hero? Does anyone actually know what Vasek Pospisil looks like? Well, now you do. Milos Raonic may be the next big thing, but this was his first week back since Wimbledon and he was understandably quite rusty, losing to Amir Weintraub (yeah, I had no idea who he was either) in four sets in the second rubber. Pospisil basically managed to win this tie all on his own, with an assist from Daniel Nestor in the doubles. That’s not something a lot of guys can say they’ve done, certainly not a lot of guys ranked 124 in the world. Vasek beat Israel No. 1, Dudi Sela in a grueling five set match to give Canada a 1-0 lead before Weintraub evened things up 1-1. Teaming up with world class doubles player Daniel Nestor, the duo beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, a well established doubles team. Finally, after Peter Polansky dropped the fourth rubber to Sela, Pospisil kept his cool in an easy three set victory over Weintraub. The guy only recently turned 21. Perhaps we’ll be seeing more of him?

Croatia def. South Africa 4-1

Kevin Anderson did his part for South Africa, but the rest of the team fell a little short. Granted, it was a tall order considering Marin Cilic played in three of the remaining four rubbers and he’s ranked significantly higher than any of the South Africans, with the exception of Anderson who is only eight spots below Marin in the rankings. On a side note, the fifth rubber was a match between Raven Klaasen and Nikola Mektic. Yeah, that’s what happens in dead rubbers.

Italy def. Chile 4-1

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t strictly paying attention to this tie. I know that poor, injury plagued, Fernando Gonzalez was forced to retire in his match against Fabio Fognini. This deeply saddened me as I know Fernando was gutted, but also because it meant that Fabio Fognini won, which I find disturbing. It appears that the Chileans were carrying a few guys who weren’t quite at fully capacity. Both Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu retired in their matches, although I’m not entirely sure Massu would have retired from a live rubber. Anyway, Italy’s in the World Group, which means more Fabio.

Japan def. India 4-1

Neither of these countries could be called a tennis powerhouse. In its 74 year Davis Cup history, India has only been part of the World Group 12 times, while Japan has only made it 2 times in 73 tries. So, you can imagine that this was a pretty coveted spot for both teams. No. 175, Yuichi Sugita was very impressive in his straight sets victory over Somdev Devvarman, who can be incredibly tricky. Kei Nishikori easily won both of his matches, which was great to see since he’s spent so much time injured lately. The Indian team has several very talented doubles players, so even though they were missing Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna were able to take care of the doubles rubber. Overall, this was an impressive victory for Japan, but they may have a tough time in the World Group.

Belgium def. Austria 4-1

When I saw this match up, I certainly did not expect that the only win for Belgium would be Steve Darcis over Jurgen Melzer. That one confused me a bit. I was also impressed with Andreas Haider-Maurer’s victory over Xavier Malisse, who seems to have a serious confidence issue going on. I’m guessing this was behind Belgium’s decision to send Oli Rochus in for reverse singles. Either way, Darcis was the only one to score a win for Belgium.

Hewitt and Tomic share an embrace after Hewitt and Guccione won the doubles rubber. Photo via @zoejrogers.

Switzerland def. Australia 3-2

This isn’t the kind of tie you usually associate with the playoffs. In fact, in 2003, this was a semifinal. Even more interestingly, the same two guys who headlined the tie in ’03 were the headliners this weekend. Just last week Federer said that his five set loss to Lleyton in that tie, giving Australia the win, was tougher than his five set loss to Djokovic in the US Open semifinals, where he held two match points. Frankly, I was looking forward to this more than the World Group matches. Unfortunately, it wasn’t televised, at least here in the States, which meant we were all forced to search for crappy streams. Considering Hewitt was injured enough to skip out on the US Open just a few weeks ago, most people would assume Switzerland held the advantage, particularly since the grass surface definitely played to Roger’s strengths. But never underestimate the fight of Lleyton Hewitt when it comes to Davis Cup! He may not be at his fittest, but he took a set off Federer, won the doubles, and took Stan Wawrinka to five sets in the final rubber. Remember how I said David Nalbandian is kind of obsessed with Davis Cup, well I think Lleyton is its second biggest devotee. Also, I have to give a lot of credit to Bernard Tomic, who scored a big win over Stan in the first rubber and took a set off Federer in the fourth. Pretty impressive stuff from the young Aussie. Despite all the controversy, it seems Lleyton and Bernard have put aside their differences, or at least that’s what I’m getting from this embrace. Is it just me, or do they look like they’re about to make out?

Not to be outdone, Federer wanted to make sure everyone knew that he was willing to do anything his good friend Stan needed to come back on Monday and win the fifth set against Hewitt. This video is extremely sweet, but perhaps bordering on creepy. You decide.

Davis Cup Finalists Decided

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 19•11

We’ve come to the end of the weekend, which means the end of the Davis Cup semifinals. In case you missed it, the defending champions Serbia took on Argentina at home while Spain hosted France in a repeat of last year’s quarterfinal.

Juan Martin del Potro celebrates with his teammates. Photo via REUTERS/Novak Djurovic

Argentina def. Serbia 3-2

  • David Nalbandian def. Viktor Troicki 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3
  • Juan Martin del Potro def. Janko Tipsarevic 7-5 6-3 6-4
  • Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic def. Juan Ignacio Chela/Juan Monaco 7-6(4) 6-4 6-2
  • Juan Martin del Potro def. Novak Djokovic 7-6(5) 3-0 ret.
  • Janko Tipsarevic def. Juan Monaco 6-2 0-0 ret.
Last year, Argentina was blindsided by France in the semifinals, losing all five rubbers. France went on to lose in the fifth rubber of the finals to Serbia. On paper, Serbia probably had the edge over Argentina this weekend. They have the nearly unbeatable Novak Djokovic, two Top 20 players, and one of the best doubles players in the world. Argentina’s team included only one Top 20 player, but two players in the Top 30, and David Nalbandian who is currently ranked No. 63, but has been as high as No. 3 in the world.
Novak Djokovic may be the tennis version of superman, but even he had trouble winning the US Open on Monday in New York and being ready to play Davis Cup in Belgrade on Friday.

Novak Djokovic retires in tears against Juan Martin del Potro. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

In an effort to give him as much time off as possible, Team Captain Bogdan Obradovic chose Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic to play singles on Friday. He may not have accounted for the fact that David Nalbandian loves Davis Cup more than anyone. This guy is desperate to take home the very first Davis Cup for Argentina. That means that even in mediocre seasons, Nalbandian often comes up with his best tennis when he’s wearing the Argentinian flag. This weekend was one of these times. Nalbandian fought off Troicki to put Argentina up 1-0. Former world No. 5 followed up with a quick three set victory over recent US Open quarterfinalist Janko Tipsarevic, giving Argentina a solid 2-0 lead going into Day 2. Troicki and Zimonjic managed to keep Serbian hopes alive by winning the crucial doubles rubber on Saturday. However, this meant that the fourth rubber was a must win for Serbia if they were going to stay alive in the tie. Viktor Troicki was supposed to face off against Juan Martin del Potro, but Obradovic felt Djokovic was a safer choice given his current form. However, the back injury that plagued Novak in the US Open final caught up to him on Sunday when he collapsed to the floor in the second set against del Potro and was forced to retire, losing the tie for Serbia.

So, Nalbandian and the other Argentinians will have a shot at the Davis Cup title for only the fourth time. Unfortunately, they will once again be the underdogs, taking on Spain, arguably the strongest team, on Spanish soil.

Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco celebrate their victory over France. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Spain def. France 4-1

  • Rafael Nadal def. Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-0 6-1
  • David Ferrer def. Gilles Simon 6-1 6-4 6-1
  • Michael Llodra/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Fernando Verdasco/Feliciano Lopez 6-1 6-2 6-0
  • Rafael Nadal def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-0 6-2 6-4
  • Fernando Verdasco def. Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-1
Last year, France put together a stunning 5-0 victory over Spain; however, they had the choice of venue and the distinct advantage of facing a Rafa-less Spain. Nadal may have been exhausted after making the trip back from New York, but that didn’t stop him from doing his best for Spain. Unlike Djokovic, Nadal took the court first up on Friday, handily¬†dismantling Richard Gasquet. Guy Forget came under some criticism for his decision to sub in Gilles Simon for Jo-Wilfired Tsonga, who has an impressive Davis Cup record on clay. However, he wanted to keep Jo well rested in case he needed to take on Rafa on Sunday. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned. Tsonga and Llodra were very impressive in their defeat of Verdasco and Lopez, but Fernando and Feliciano handed in one of the worst doubles performances of all time. Seriously, it was hard to watch. While Nadal had hoped he would not be needed on Sunday, he stepped in and clinched the tie for Spain, easily defeating Tsonga. Now, he will get some much deserved rest.

Friday Funnies

Written By: achangeofends - Sep• 16•11

I know we’re all still reeling from the US Open, but tennis is relentless and there’s lots of action this weekend in the form of Davis Cup. Davis Cup is an interesting phenomenon because it can bring the intensity of a Grand Slam and the hilarity of an exhibition all at once. Best of all, it tends to make people want to dance and sing and dress up in funny costumes. I present the following as proof…

You’ll come to realize this is the standard Spanish celebration. Group hug, singing, dancing, jumping up and down…

I’m 100% convinced Roger made up the lyrics to this song/cheer as he went.

If you’re going all the way to Serbia to support your guys, you better dress the part.

I want in on this!!!

More Davis Cup fun after the break.

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