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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Alexander Zverev Continues To Struggle After Jarry Defeat In Barcelona

Alexander Zverev’s poor recent form continues as he goes out in Barcelona in three sets to Nicolas Jarry.

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Alexander Zverev (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev continues his poor 2019 season after losing 3-6 7-5 7-6(5) in Barcelona to Nicolas Jarry.

 

The German battled back from a double break down in the final set however after wasting a match point, couldn’t beat the powerful Chilean.

It means that Zverev has only won three matches in five tournaments since reaching the Acapulco final, where he lost to Nick Kyrgios.

It was a positive start for the recently turned 22 year-old after he played fairly aggressively and took the first set 6-3 with some great play.

After a consistent first set, the German failed to control the match to his tempo as Jarry rallied back in the second set with some aggressive play of his own.

The Chilean brings an aggressive game to the court and has the confidence to beat anyone on his day although he is yet to win an ATP title.

A run of five games saw Zverev’s confidence get knocked as Jarry levelled the match and stormed into a double break lead in the decider.

If there is a positive to take from the ATP Finals champion’s play today, it’s the fight he showed to rally back and show some much-needed energy.

After breaking in three consecutive games it was a controlled match from both as this was a big match for both in their respective seasons.

A simple backhand miss on match point didn’t help Zverev as the world number 81 forced a final set tiebreak to settle the match.

In the end after a nervy 12 points, it was Jarry who kept his cool to earn one of the biggest wins of his career as Zverev continued his bad run of form.

Since falling ill in Acapulco, the German has only won three matches in five tournaments and admits he is in a dilemma, “I’m in a hole and I don’t know how to get out of it,” the German explained.

“I just play bad, it’s not a secret. I’m missing backhands all over the places, which is my best shot. I cannot make one impressive shot. I’m double faulting.”

The German now has titles in Munich and Madrid to defend before final points in Rome as he goes through the toughest time of his career.

As for Jarry he will now play Grigor Dimitrov or Fernando Verdasco in the third round.

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Tough draws for Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep at the Porsche Indoor Grand Prix in Stuttgart

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Reigning US Open and Australian champion and world number 1 Naomi Osaka has been drawn in the same quarter as two-time champion Angelique Kerber and Hsieh Su Wei at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, which features six of the top 10 players of the WTA Ranking. The tournament takes place on indoor clay at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart.

 

Osaka will make her second appreance in the star-studded Stuttgart tournament after losing to Great Britain’s Johanna Konta in the opening round in 2017. The Japanese player, who is receiving a bye from the opening round, is on a collision course for a possible second round match against Hsieh Su Wei, who will make her debut in the Stuttgart tournament against Qiang Wang in the first round.

Last year’s Roland Garros champion Simona Halep could face crowd favourite Andrea Petkovic in the second round. The Romanian player could meet either Kiki Bertens or this year’s Dubai champion Belinda Bencic.

Defending champion and this year’s Miami champion Karolina Pliskova will take on the winner of the blockbuster match between Garbine Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka. In this section Caroline Garcia has been drawn with Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who reached the semifinal in Stuttgart last year and in Miami in 2019. Garcia contributed to the win in the decisive doubles match alongside her teammate Kristina Mladenovic in the Fed Cup semifinal against Romania in Rouen.

In the bottom half of the draw this year’s Australian Open finalist and Sydney champion Petra Kvitova could meet the winner of an all-Latvian first round clash between 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasjia Sevastova.

 

 

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Fabio Fognini lifts his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo

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Fabio Fognini beat Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters to win the maiden Masters 1000 title of his career. Fognini has become the first Italian to win in the Monte-Carlo Country Club since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1968.

 

Fognini, the first Italian player to reach the final in the Principality since Davis Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti lost to Bjorn Borg in 1977, is the lowest player to win the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title since Gustavo Kuerten in 1999. Fognini was on the verge of defeat in the first round when he trailed 4-6 1-4 during the second set against Andrey Rublev.

In the next rounds Fognini went on to beat 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev in the third round, Borna Coric in the quarter final in another three-set match after trailing 1-6 0-2. 11-time Monte-Carlo champion Rafael Nadal in the semifinal and Dusan Lajovic in the final.

Fognini is the first Italian champion in the Masters series since 1990. Since 2005 the only three other champions in the Monte-Carlo champions have been Rafael Nadal (eleven times from 2005 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2018), Novak Djokovic (twice in 2013 and 2015) and Stan Wawrinka (2014)

In his first head-to-head match against Lajovic Fognini saved two of the four break points he faced and broke serve four times. The Italian player hit 19 winners to 23 unforced errors, while Lajovic produced a ratio of 16 winners to 36 mistakes.

Lajovic earned the first break of the match in the third game to take a 2-1 lead, but Fognini broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to win five of the next six games.

Both players traded breaks in the first and second games of the second set. Fognini earned the decisive break to take a 3-2 lead, when Lajovic sent a forehand long. Fognini received a medical time-out to treat his ankle, but he held his next three service games to close out the match with a service winner on his second match point.

Fognini will reach his career high of world number 12 just 5 points behind Marin Cilic. He is just 250 points away from the top 10.

“I was born near Monte-Carlo and it’s awesome to win this tournament. Congratulations to Dusan. You have a great team. your coach José Perlas trained me in the past. Continue to work hard. It will be your time soon. I thank my team. This year I started badly. Thanks to my wife Flavia for her support. Thank to my town Arma di Taggia. I want to thank the Tournament Director Zeliko Franulovic. I dedcate this trophy to my mother, who will celebrate her birthday tomorrow”, said a delighted Fognini during the award ceremony.

 

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