SPECIAL REPORT: Dressing Up In Australia - UBITENNIS
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SPECIAL REPORT: Dressing Up In Australia

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By Cheryl Jones and Mark Winters

It is Australian Open time. The first of the 2017 Grand Slam tournaments is roiling and broiling. But, it is Melbourne…so what else is new?

 

The tennis season is off to a colorful beginning as tennis fans anxiously watch the way the “names” are playing. The major focus is on the men who are returning from medical sabbaticals. Roger Federer is back, and so is Rafael Nadal. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova are not. But, there is, as always, more going on.

Watching players who could make an impact during the year with significant results on the men and women’s tours is part of Melbourne’s unveiling. Catching a glimpse of the new fashions sported by the competitors is another aspect, (though one that is often overlooked), of the Australian Open. In the past, women have usually been the focal point of the fashion frenzy found at the Grand Slam tournaments. Now, both women and men sport innovative colors and combinations for their sponsoring company’s entry in the showy world of the latest colors and design.

Each of the four majors gives “Tennis Fashionistas” a two-week period to see what the clothing and shoe manufactures are showcasing. It is a real opportunity, with the players serving as models, to call attention to just introduced products by apparel giants such as adidas, ASICS, Nike, Under Armor and several others. Though different company logos adorn the blouses, shirts, shorts and so on, the combination of patterns and hues, are often similar.

Last year at Roland Garros, adidas opened eyes and earned approval and some vocal chagrin with the “Zebra Look.” Many thought it was a fashion

May 25, 2016; Paris, France; Simona Halep (ROU) in action during her match against Zarina Diyas (KAZ) on day four of the 2016 French Open.

May 25, 2016; Paris, France; Simona Halep (ROU) in action during her match against Zarina Diyas (KAZ) on day four of the 2016 French Open.

catastrophe, that is similar to what used to be the norm in Tijuana, (Mexico), with burros painted white with stripes, so that the animal resembled a zebra. Others believed it was a bold move like the faded denim look pioneered by Andre Agassi. The look, in time, carried over to both men and women’s clothing.

Melbourne has premiered Federer sporting the Nike version of the “Zebra”. The swoosh look is much more ordered and appears more like a geometry lesson that’s been turned into a crazy quilt. The women of Nike follow the company line in similar dresses and blouse and skirt combinations. Actually, it isn’t reminiscent of matching bowling shirts but more like updated costumes for Dancing With The Stars.

Serena Williams, who could be the Naomi Campbell of tennis fashion, is wearing a “Subtle Zebra” with a less glaring black and white blouse and stair-step length skirt that rises up on left side, almost like a sarong. Some of the other women who wear Nike apparel are in the Vintage Denim Agassi Skirt.

Angelique Kerber, who was the answer to “Who was the adidas pastel Tennis Player of 2016?” was trotting about the courts in much more subtle combinations (until she crashed out of Melbourne). Actually, this year there are shades of Orange that are reminiscent of the Day-Glo era of days gone by. There are stunning examples of the deep-sea blue being worn in Melbourne. The standard red, white and blues are still scattered here and there on the courts. In fact, some of the adidas’ women players are sporting a bandeau top with a puffy, swirly princess style that releases a skirt constructed of various colors that are reminiscent of car lot advertising banners swaying in the wind.

Not every player has a clothing/shoe contract, but that doesn’t always mean they are lacking in their ability to have design magic.  Before hooking up with Under Armor, Bethanie Mattek-Sands swore she shopped for her clothing in thrift stores. Actually, it was quite believable after watching her court performances. Now, her court wear still includes those iconic knee-high stockings that she explains are compression hosiery for circulation issues.

There is little deviation in the styles of each of the clothing manufacturers. If the “in” color is tangerine, even the men’s shorts are glowing shades of orange. If it’s pink – well, can we remember Rafael Nadal’s shorts?

It’s no wonder that the search for something unique can be next too fruitless.  Obviously the top players have contracts with clothing manufacturers. They are bound by those contracts to model their sponsor’s fashions. Vania King, the talented Wimbledon and US Open doubles winner with Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, was ranked No. 349 at the beginning of last year’s Australian Open because she had been injured and was occupied with rehab. Moving forward with her quest to be back in the game in 2017, after recovering from a variety of issues, she is now ranked No. 80.  In Melbourne, she is wearing a line of clothing designed by her older sister, Mindy, who knows the game very well. Mindy and her twin, Ivana, played college tennis. They come from a family of tennis players.

Vania King Photo Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The line is called MINX, and Mindy King explained, “MINX is actually a play on my name. My family calls me ‘Min’ and when I started dating the man who is now my husband, Will, my online username was Minx so MINX was born. The logo is a three-pointed crown that ties to our last name King. Each crown point stands for one of the three King sisters.”

She said of the year-old line, “It’s been great that people like the product once they see it, but it’s hard to compete with adidas, Nike and the other big companies without big bucks behind it. So I am just focusing on homegrown awareness (in Long Beach, California) of the brand and once we get that we’ll start to expand to different types of products that include menswear, etc.” Others may envy the simple but beautiful lines of MINX, but the colors (fuchsia and rich shades of blue) are what stand out – vibrant and chic.

It’s summer in Australia. Europe and North America will have to wait for a bit before the season changes. In the meantime, “Fashionistas” following the color and cut showings in Melbourne can plan some shopping before looking forward to the next major tennis style presentation that will take place in Paris at Roland Garros.

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Iga Swiatek Demands Talks With ITF And WTA After Withdrawing From Billie Jean King Cup

Iga Swiatek is not happy with the ITF and WTA after withdrawing from the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

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Iga Swiatek (@IgaSwi_France - Twitter)

The world number one has announced that she will not compete at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November after criticising tennis’ governing bodies for not looking after player welfare.

 

The event is set to take place the week after the WTA Finals in Glasgow which causes a huge problem and obstacle for many players.

This is definitely the case for Swiatek who has qualified for the WTA Finals which takes place in Texas on the 31st of October.

A huge dilemma which now means Swiatek will not compete for her country at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Speaking on Instagram the Pole criticised the decision from the ITF and WTA and wants to speak to them about player welfare to prevent future decisions from happening, “I was thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again, but I will not be able to play at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow,” Swiatek said in her Instagram story.

“And it makes me sad. I’m very sorry because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best. Playing in Poland this year was an honour and I hoped to do this again at the end of the season.

“I’m disappointed that tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone. This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.

“I’m going to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our fans.”

It’s clear Swiatek wants change in terms of player welfare and communication between governing bodies on how to facilitate the schedule.

However Swiatek now turns her attention to preparing for the WTA Finals and first up for the Pole is Ostrava this week.

In her opening match Swiatek will face either Ajla Tomljanovic or Shuai Zhang.

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Cameron Norrie Withdraws From Tokyo After COVID Positive Test

Cameron Norrie will miss the rest of the Asian swing due to COVID.

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Cameron Norrie (@the_LTA - Twitter)

After withdrawing from his quarter-final in Seoul, Cameron Norrie has now withdrawn from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.

 

The Brit’s absence from the latter stages of the ATP 250 event in South Korea, raised eyebrows with Norrie suffering from illness.

However Norrie then withdraw from the ATP 500 event in Tokyo where he was due to play Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Now his absence has been explained as Norrie confirmed on social media that he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement originally posted on Instagram, Norrie explained he had no symptoms but has to quarantine in his hotel room in Seoul, “Unfortunately I had a positive COVID test in Korea and wasn’t able to compete in the rest of my matches,” Norrie said.

“I have no symptoms and I am feeling 100%. It’s been a complicated situation and I appreciate the Republic of Korea trying their best to be amicable in a very tough situation.

“I was really hoping to go to Tokyo but because of the quarantine period I will not be able to play there. Looking forward to getting back to Europe for the indoors. See you guys soon!”

This is the second time Norrie has tested positive for COVID with the first time being before the start of the season.

Norrie’s scheduled next tournament will be in Stockholm which will take place on the 17th of October.

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Carlos Alcaraz Faces Rune Test In Astana

Carlos Alcaraz leads a stacked field in Astana next week.

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Carlos Alcaraz (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Carlos Alcaraz returns to the ATP tour next week in Astana next week where he faces Danish talent Holger Rune.

 

The world number one plays his first ATP tournament since winning his first Grand Slam title at the US Open and becoming the youngest world number one in history.

Having qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, Alcaraz will now look to build momentum over the coming weeks for the event in Turin.

First up for Alcaraz is the ATP 500 event in Astana next week where the Spaniard faces a tough opening round in the form of Danish talent Holger Rune.

The Dane reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros earlier this year but had struggled for form since then.

However Rune has reached the semi-finals in Sofia this week and is hitting form at the right time so this will be a big test for Alcaraz.

Should Alcaraz get through that test than a potential second round meeting with Stan Wawrinka could be on the cards with the Swiss wildcard facing Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

Andrey Rublev is the player that could face Alcaraz in the last eight with the eighth seed facing a qualifier in his opening round match.

Rublev is one of a number of players who are chasing the remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Also in the top half of the draw is Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz with Tsitsipas facing Mikhail Kukushkin.

While Hurkacz faces Francisco Cerundolo and a potential second round match against home favourite Alexander Bublik could await in round two.

In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will continue his search for a surge up the rankings against Cristian Garin.

Djokovic’s potential quarter-final is Jannik Sinner who begins against tricky serve and volleyer Oscar Otte.

Daniil Medvedev is also taking part in a stacked field in Astana as he faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in his opening round match.

In the bottom quarter there is also an intriguing opening round match between Felix Auger-Aliassime and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Here is the full draw with play starting on Monday:

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