Thursday, January 24, 2008

Please Stand By...

Racqonteur, as has been readily apparent from this page's recent stasis, has been on something of a hiatus these past few weeks. Truth be told, for this lover the game, time spent actually playing the sport has recently been more attractive than time spent commenting on it. But this site, a lot like the Ivanovic-Hantuchova semifinal at 0-6, 0-2, is far from over. Please check back soon for post-Aussie impressions and a revitalized stream of courtside chatter. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Maria Starts '08 with...Bangs!

After what must have felt like the most fleeting vacation imaginable, the tennis world's wheels are turning once again. Like clockwork, Maria Sharapova has jumped out of the gates at an exhibition match in Hong Kong, showing off her new blunt-bang hairdo and a dash of Chanel tweed. Sassy! Classy! Champion-esque! She sure smoked the competition back in November at the year-end tournament in Madrid, so it should be interesting to see what kind of form she shows up with in Melbourne.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roger Reigns Supreme

So the men's 2007 season reached its inevitable conclusion this weekend with FedEx hoisting yet another substantial trophy over his carefully tussled locks. Yet again, a "hot" challenger (this month it was that stocky Spanish firebrand, David Ferrer) stepped up to the line with the intention of de-throning the king, only to be dispatched like a commoner. So now Roger eyes '08 with $10 million more in the bank and with Sampras' record firmly in sight. Well-timed to the end of his stellar year, Roger just turned up as King Arthur in this latest Disney ad, shot by the ultimate star-maker, Annie Leibovitz. All hail!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shanghai Surprises?

It's been a oddly anticlimactic championship week for the men over in China. None of the players—the best eight in the world according to the computer—seems to be in particularly good form. FedEx got pummeled by Fern Gonzo early in the week; Rafa still seems a little banged up; and Nova-Djok seemed like a pale shadow of his form earlier in the season, going 0-3 in round robin play. So the final four duking it out for the $1 million prize will be FedEx v. Rafa and Roddick v. Ferrer, who blitzed his group 3-0. It's an intriguing lineup. The trouble is, with the extreme time difference between the States and China, it's nearly impossible to catch any of this action live. Sometimes it's just hard to get very excited about stale matches on Tivo, you know?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pirates of the ATP?

Aaargh! Matey, it seems the world of men's tennis has devolved into a near-lawless state of banditry worthy of murderous one-eyed pirates. Each day brings new allegations against the blood-thirsty Russian contingent of players, who seem to be intimately involved in a stop-at-nothing campaign to profit from their matches (Moscow did recently become the world's most expensive city, after all). So now we have the tale of Tommy Haas being poisoned before his match in Germany's recent Davis Cup semifinal tie against Russia. Wow. Poison? They say the stakes are never higher on court than in a Davis Cup match, but this is getting ridiculous. Perhaps Roddick, Blake and the gang need to line up some food-tasters to have on hand when they roll into Portland, OR at the end of the month for their final-round Davis cup showdown with the rascally Russians.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Maria's Beat-downivic

After a pair of nasty little losses to the ever-charming Ana Ivanovic throughout the season, Maria Sharapova had to be a little nagged by the whole thing: "Who's this little cutie kicking me out of the French semis?" Well, even though the third round of the Championships didn't technically matter (both 20-year-olds were already securely in the final stages of the tournament), Maria came out and gave Ana a serious schooling (6-1, 6-2). Assessing her chances for the rest of the tournament, Masha coolly declared, "If I play like I did today, I'll be fine." Fugly outfit aside, Racqonteur concurs. Bravo!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spanish Bagels... Who Knew?

Madame Henin served a neat Spanish buffet of bagels (no cream cheese) in Madrid tonight to Marion "broken robot" Bartoli, who snuck into the Championship draw in the middle of the night when Serena Williams' knee gave out for the 486th time. This was El Grande Beat-Down. As Justine said after the match, "I wanted to get my revenge." Oooh, girl! This was a solid demolition. With each stinging whoosh of her racquet, the Heninista effectively ground Marion's game (and her will, for that matter) into an increasingly fine dust. Double bagels (6-0, 6-0) are a rare delicacy in the cuisine of tennis, even more so in the Championship tournament. Good for Justine.

I'm Maria! Can I Take Your Order?

Okay, it's no secret Racqonteur is down with Maria Sharapova. No reason to hide it, right? Well, despite any passionate fan preferences, in the interest of journalistic integrity, one simply has to call Miss Masha out a little bit for the frumpadelic getup she turned up wearing in Madrid. Come on, Nike. Even with all the little sporty elves you have churning out chic tennis attire for your girls throughout the year, you save this maroon and salmon number for Maria's Championship look? Many Denny's waitresses offer more allure. Double fault.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Justine's Makeover Marches On

Wow. Check out what a 20-match winning streak can do for your inner glow! Queen bee Justine "no more drama" Henin breezed into Madrid this week for what is likely to be a fairly routine sweep of the season-ending championships. Since unhitching her scowling hubby Pierre Yves Hardenne early in the year, it's been smooth sailing for the diminutive Belgian player. On top of eight titles (including a neat pair of Grand Slam trophies in Paris and New York), Justine has polished herself up, adding a generous dose of star power to her previously dour and grim personage. So cheers to Justine—it's nice to see a smile to match all that success.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nouveau Novak

All the big boys are banging away over in Madrid this week in the year's second-to-last Master Series event, leading up to the Shanghai blow-out next month. Roger's cruising along, Rafa bit it this morning against David "South American Samurai" Nalbandian (who looks like he might have shaved down that spare tire he's been dragging around the last season or two) and Andy Murray's finally back from a lengthy hiatus, ready to resume trying to live up to the hype. The big news, though, as far as this particular tennis fan is concerned, can be seen on little Novak Djokovic's face. Novak showed up not only with this stinging double-handed backhand up the line, but also with a goatee, sending a clear message that this boy is here to be taken, well, a little more seriously. The chance for him to vindicate all those squandered set points against R-Fed in the U.S. Open final would certainly help spread the news.