Archive for the ‘Tennis’ Category

Iconic Sounds, Looks and Habits of the Australian Open

The Australian Open tickets are officially selling online. To get you ready for the glorious summer of tennis that awaits in Melbourne, here is a reminder of all the wonderfully outrageous things your favourite tennis stars do. In just few months, you could be witnessing their iconic sounds, looks and habits for yourself up close and personal. 

Nadal picking his wedgie

There is no Australian Open without mention of Nadal’s habitual tugging of his wedgie. It would make the perfect drinking game if it didn’t run the risk of literally everyone in the room fainting and vomiting from alcohol poisoning before waking up in hospital the next morning. Maybe his booty is too big or he needs to invest in a new pair of underwear, but Nadal, without fail, will pick at his butt after almost every point. Nadal himself has explained that the problem is his bottom. “A little bigger than usual,” he told reporters. 

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The Spaniard is also renowned for his compulsive habits from the precise positioning of his drink bottles, the towel face wipe followed by a tucking of his sweaty hair behind each ear routine.

Sharapova’s grunt

Call it a grunt or a wail or a dying sea lion but the noise that comes out of Sharapova’s voice box has become a staple sound of the game. Yes, we all cringe a little every time those screechy tones emanate across the court, but we secretly we love how it matches the intensity of her game. Mostly, we marvel at how tennis is more than just a sport; it’s a game. And often a shout across the court is more than just a grunt of tiredness; it’s a war cry to the opponent that stands on the other side of that net.

sharapova-gruntDjokovic’s ball bouncing

Besides his piercing eyes that stare into your soul, his cheesy ‘Djokes” and his incredible flexibility, Djokovic’s best known habit is his tendency to bounce the ball INCESSANTLY, ENDLESSLY, REPEATEDLY, NEVERENDINGLY before he takes the serve. Sometimes, he takes so long it’s a wonder his opponent doesn’t fall asleep, hypnotised by the bouncing tennis ball. It’s not unusual for frustrated players to complain to the umpire about Djokovic’s habit that at times has his bouncing the tennis ball 25 times in a row.

djokovic-flexible

Serena Williams’ nail polish

Often dubbed one of the main fashionistas of the Australian Open, Serena Williams perfectly manicured nails are almost as famous as her explosive tennis skills. Somehow, Serena manages to navigate a tennis racquet and win grand slams with her super long designer nails. Every tournament, her manicured designs are different and every time, they are fabulous.

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“Marcos Baghdatis” chant

Maybe it’s just me (it’s probably just me), but ever since 2006 when he somewhat miraculously made it to the Australian Open final, Marcos Baghdatis has been a remarkable player to watch. Mostly, it’s because the moment he enters, the stadium erupts into a never-ending stream of chants and songs, brought by his loyal and passionate fan base. Whether he wins or loses, his games at the Australian Open always promise to be one of the loudest.

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The Australian Open is more than a sporting tournament; it is an experience full of fun, laughter, excitement and cringe-worthy moments. With all the top (and sometimes neurotic) tennis stars making their way to Melbourne soon, it’s an event you do not want to miss. Start booking!

This article was proudly brought to you by Grand Hotel Melbourne , the perfect place to stay when you go to see the Australian Open. 

Table Tennis World Champ Loses Entire Prize Purse for Outrageous Celebration.

Zhang Jike. Image: www.tabletennisdaily.co.uk

Zhang Jike. Image: www.tabletennisdaily.co.uk

ln a bizarre post match celebration World Tale Tennis Champion Zhang Jike destroyed two advertising boards. After hitting the final winner Zhang leapt into the air with joy. He turned from the table and ran over to the nearest sponsor’s board and put his foot through it.

This is not what the sponsors are paying for.

Zhang, the Olympic champion, had just regained the World Cup title from top seed Ma Long. The match in Dusseldorf had been close and tense and hard-fought.

Zhang relinquished his hold on the World Cup three years ago in Paris. Since that time he has been amongst the world’s best, but the prize has always just eluded him.

Zhang told the International Table Tennis Federation’s website, “I am very sorry for what I did. It was not acceptable behaviour and I am sorry. This was a perfect victory. I have been under a great deal of pressure, with people questioning my form.”

Germany’s Timo Boll won the bronze medal, while Ma Long takes home the silver.

For his outburst Zhang was fined $50,000 – his entire winner’s purse.

Maria Sahrapova Raises Questions With a Joke.

What an amazing world we live in.

Maria Sharapova recently blew out of the Wuhan Open. In the third round on Wednesday she

Maria Sharapova. Photo:searchednews.com

Maria Sharapova. Photo:searchednews.com

went down to the dogged and determined rising Swiss hopeful Timea Bacsinszky 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.

Sharapova racked up an uncharacteristic six double-faults in the first set alone. She never looked comfortable against her machinelike rival. Sharapova also managed to blow two tie-breakers in the second set.

It was an uncharacteristic loss of focus for the Russian tennis superstar, and one that earned her an early trip home.

This is where things get strange.

“Hey buddy, I’m, right behind you … :)” Photo: www.news.com.au

“Hey buddy, I’m, right behind you … :)” Photo: www.news.com.au

Maria had taken her seat on the aeroplane. Sitting in front of her was a man reading a newspaper. He turns to the sports section (as men are wont to do) and starts reading about Maria’s early exit from the Wuhan Open.

Maria seized the moment and took a snapshot of the fellow. She posted it to Twitter with the caption, “Hey buddy, I’m, right behind you … J”

All Maria’s fans on Twitter must have enjoyed the joke.

But several questions emerge:

First, how did the Chinese man not notice the tall, blonde, famous Russian tennis superstar on a plane full of other Chinese?

Second, what the hell was Maria Sharapova (the best paid sportswoman in the world) doing flying economy!?

Ron Artest Changes Name to The Pandas Friend

Ron Artest, Aka The Pandas Friend. Photo: bleacherreport.com

Ron Artest, Aka The Pandas Friend. Photo: bleacherreport.com

Former NBA maverick Ron Artest stunned the world in 2011 when he legally changed his name to ‘Metta World Peace’. The name apparently, hasn’t satisfied his identity issues with him deciding to change it again; this time to ‘The Pandas Friend’.

At the time of his first name change Artest told bemused reporters ‘Metta’ comes from the  Buddhist language, meaning friendship, love and kindness.

In 2014 Artest joined the Chinese basketball league, becoming a member of the Sichuan Blue Whales. The move has prompted this latest name change.

The move from a name with Tibetan undertones to one with a distinctive Chinese flavor is clearly winning him friends.

Earlier this week Artest Tweeted, “New Chinese name coming soon. You guys are going to love it!”

And the China Daily did; reporting on the demise of Metta World Peace and the rise of The Pandas Friend.

Many have taken to social media to mock The Pandas Friend for his latest ‘stunt’. The man himself takes it in stride.

Other notable, strange or outright bizarre name changes include:

Maria Sharapova attempting to change her name to Maria Sugarpova for the 2013 US Open. Unfortunately doing so would have caused travel document headaches preventing her entering the US.

Outspoken NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson assumed the name to Chad Ochocinco once he started earning the big money at the Cincinntati Bengals.

Geelong footballer star Gary Hocking incurred the ire of the AFL when, for round 12 in 1999, he changed his name to ‘Whiskas. The cat food maker paid the Geelong Cats football club $80,000 (and the Captain, Hocking, $20,000) for the stunt.

Snooker player Jimmy White became ‘Jimmy Brown’ when it was announced HP Sauce was the major sponsor of the series.

Sharapova Claims French Open

Sharapova Wins French Open

MariaRussian tennis ace Maria Sharapova claimed her second Frnch Open by annihilating Romanian fourth seed Simona Haep 6-4, 7-7(5), 6-4.

Halep came into the Grand Final a favourite after not dropping a set throughout the tournament. However she had no answer to Sharapova’s thunderbolt forehands; with the Romanian was forced to watch Sharapova’s cross court shots rocket by, time and again, just out of reach.

The first set was a spirited fight with the two women treating the Roland Garros crowd to superb tennis. Halep got out to an early two set lead. Sharpaova clawed back to make it two all.

The crowd were chanting ‘Simona, Simona’ as it seemed Halep would find some answer to Sharapova’s forehand. The two battled to 4-4 in the first set with Sharapova fending off two break points.

But it wasn’t to be.

Sharapova’s dominance wore Halep down. And while she won the hearts of tennis fans aroundSimona the world for her never-say-die fighting spirit, there was little Halep could do to hold back the tide of ferocious forehands that pounded her court from all angles.

In the third set Sharapova broke Halep to love and fell to her knees in celebration.

Halep too was very emotional after the game, “Its’ my first grand slam page, emotionally it’s difficult. I hope there will be many more, but this one will be special for me all my life. Congrat’s Maria, you’re a great champion.”

Williams the One to Beat in French Open

Maria Sharapova and Li Na both have a healthy respect for Serena Williams as they go into the French Open. Both tennis stars consider Williams the one to beat after her almost complete domination of the title last year in Paris.

Serena WilliamsWilliams has had, at best, a patchy 2014. She has won titles in Brisbane and Miami, but was bundled out of the Australian Open and succumbed to a succession of injuries.

However, she goes into the French Open as favourite on the back of a power-pack performance in Rome last week where she dropped just one set throughout the tournament.

Sharapova concedes she has a big hill to climb. Williams has a long run of wins against Sharapova. Sharapova is hoping the French crowd will get behind her. “It’s tough to handle the pressure because you know that if you do bad you know they are going to be tough with you; but on the other hand, you ned to charm them because they are pretty tough to charm.” But when yu have them in your pocket they are just behind you 100% and they can give you wings.”

Williams, by contrast thrives on the pressure, “… as Billie Jean King tells me,” she told reporters, “pressure is a privilege.”

A Sporting Body

body-muscles

We’ve all seen them: the toned bodies of professional sportspeople, glistening in the summer sun, their muscles rippling under the glorious scrutiny of a televised super slo-mo…

After you re-surface from a reverie involving the enviable figure of your favourite tennis star, you might start to ponder how you could go about whipping your body into similarly flawless shape. The god(dess)-like forms of professional sportspeople are a thing of wonderment, and can often inspire us – particularly during the summer months – to improve our own lot. In cases such as these though, aesthetics might take priority over actual health benefits, even though the two ultimately go hand in hand.

Crafting a body on par of that of a professional sportsperson is much more easily said than done. Those of us whose working hours are dedicated to anything other than regular, intensive exercise – the vast majority of the population, then – might need to review a few different options to develop a sporting body.

Dietary changes

Depending on your body inspiration, you might be looking to slim down – or bulk up. If the latter is your objective, then lean proteins (fish, red meat, dairy products) and carbohydrates (fruits, paste, legumes) should make up a decent majority of your diet. It’s important to remember that this diet will only be of benefit if you’re undertaking the right sort of exercise to go with it. Of course, protein shakes will also help, but sacrificing your tastebuds for the sake of your muscles mightn’t necessarily be worth the trade-off.

Those looking to slim down should probably try to minimise their intakes of the proteins and carbs favoured by their bulking counterparts, and consider enlisting the help of tried and tested dieting aids like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers.

body-boujardShortcuts

Professional sportspeople have so many resources at their disposal: coaches, dieticians, physios, sponsors, exercise equipment – the works. Both time and money can impede the access us mere civilians have to these sorts of leg-ups. To compensate for the head start full-time athletes have in the body stakes, some might consider options like body sculpting in Melbourne, for instance.

The ability to skip the months of blood, sweat, and tears that define any long-term body transformation is always tempting. Services like the Me Clinic help customers to achieve their aesthetic goals in a short amount of time. Procedures like breast augmentation surgery even offer up possibilities that no sportsperson could achieve with mere exercise.

Work Bitch

You want a hot body? This is a tried and tested formula, if you’re willing to put in the hard yards. Develop an exercise plan that takes your day-to-day schedule into account, and stick to it. Make like Michelle Bridges, and remember that in any given workout, the mind is sure to reach breaking point well before the body.

If you can select the choice that will works best for you, and put in the effort – monetary, physical, emotional – that is required, then next summer you could be the envy of Roger, Maria, Novak and Eugenie.

Excitement Builds for Australian Open 2014

australian open 2014

One of the most exciting and eminent events on the sporting calendar in Australia is back with a vengeance in January. With higher levels of doting than a Taylor Swift concert, more grunts than a gorilla park and greater controversy than a DRS cricket scandal, it can only be one thing…the beloved Australian Open. The 2014 tournament is being held in Melbourne from 13-26th January.

The Asia Pacific Grand Slam is one of the most important tennis tournaments of the year because it sets the tone for the tennis players as they begin a fresh year
of competition. The 2014 tournament is of particular significance because it marks the return of Andy Murray following months of injury and it heralds the 10th anniversary of Roger Federer’s first Australian Open victory, an act which the tennis legend is adamant on repeating.

The Australian Open provides Australians with the important advantage of playing on their own home turf and being cheered on by an explosive home crowd. Our Aussie tennis players are ready for a fierce few weeks of competition against the best players in the world. The top seeded Aussies, Bernard Tomic and Samantha Stosur are ready to don their green and gold and make the country proud after an intense period of preparation leading up to the tournament. Former number one, Lleyton Hewitt is reportedly back to his peak fitness and is feeling better than he has in years. Wildcards, Casey Dellacqua and newcomer 19-year-old Jordan Thompson will bring fresh blood and vigour to an all-star lineup.

99 of the top 100 players in both the men and women’s open competition will be pitting racquet against racquet in what is set to be one of the most entertaining competitions in years. With appearances from returning victors, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, as well as current world number one’s Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, you want to strap yourself in for two weeks of thrilling, world class tennis. 
rafael-nadal-serena-williams

The stakes are even higher this year with an increase of $3 million in prize winnings to a massive $33 million. CEO of Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley reports, “these incredible athletes deserve every cent and we will continue to do everything in our power to make the life of an international professional tennis player more worthwhile”.

On top of the prize money increase, the Australian Open 2014 will also see a heavily improved sporting complex following the Victorian Government’s $336 million redevelopment project of Margaret Court Arena (MCA). The MCA now has a large new roof providing over 3200mof shade to seated areas. There are also extra bridges for increased ease of access and more locker rooms, gyms, and rest facilities for players. 

Rather than stagnantly watching the tennis by yourself from behind the divide of the television screen, you want to ensure you are part of the action for this incredible tournament. The priceless atmosphere of the Australian Open is a once-in-a-year opportunity and it is the perfect time to make a trip to Melbourne. With the unprecedented skill level present at the tournament and so much competition fervour from players looking to make a comeback or preserve their title, you’ll be kicking yourself if you’re not in Melbourne in January 2014.

Make the trip easier by staying at a Melbourne CBD hotel simply around the corner from the arena. Ticket prices are already on the rise due to such high demand, and both flights and Melbourne hotel prices will only follow suit. Book now to avoid increased prices, or missing out altogether. Check out the Australian Open and Australian Open Series Ticket Guide for all the information on how to get tickets and to make your stay in Melbourne much smoother and easier. Visit Ticketek to secure yourself tickets to to the exhilarating tournament now. For convenient and comfortable accommodation, book yourself a room at Urban Hotel Melbourne before they all sell out.

 

Australia’s Summer of Sports

summer-open

The Australian summer is always shaped around rituals. First, of course, is Christmas; then Boxing Day; the trawl up the coast to a sleepy, beach-side town; and the sporting events scattered throughout the calendar.

Often the annual matches and competitions that occur over summer can go by – or be flicked past on the television – relatively unnoticed. However, it’s worth giving them a look-in, as these events draw huge crowds (and television audiences) year in, year out. They’re an important part of our national psyche, and engaging with them can help you feel more connected to your fellow Australians.

Sailing

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race, which I’ve previously written about, is a chief motivation for avoiding alcoholic over-indulgence on Christmas Day. The knowledge that you’ll be spending the following day in awe of a sea of boats – perhaps from North Head, or even on a spectator boat – is reason enough to put the eggnogg away at a reasonable hour. Each year, the race generates a flurry of publicity in the weeks and months leading up to the start of the race. Equally intense is the swarm of bets – frequently placed in a last-minute, post-Christmas, still-somewhat-inebriated rush. In order to avoid this stress, dedicated commentators and observers alike are sure to learn how to pick and bet on winners well in advance. It is expected that this year, six-time line honours winner Wild Oats will engage in a fierce battle with Perpetual LOYAL for the prestigious pole position.

Although the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race is undoubtedly the highlight of the yachting calendar, races occur regularly across the year, meaning that enthusiasts can get their fix on a regular basis.

Cricketsummer-cricket

If you find it challenging to eschew the temptation of eggnogg (or other, more powerful spirits) on Christmas Day, then staying at home to watch the Boxing Day test might be preferable to testing your sea legs so soon after alcoholic consumption. Putting some money on the sporting events directly following Christmas is also a great way to maximise (or minimise) any generous Christmas cheques. There’s so much horse racing info online, but resources and odds for other sports like cricket are also easy to find.

This year, the Boxing Day test will be played against England, forming the fourth test of the current Ashes series. Australia is currently leading the series 2-0, meaning that this test could prove pivotal in securing the series for Australia after a disappointing, 0-3 loss in the last Ashes series. The test looks set to be a roaring success crowd-wise, with tickets already sold out – a potentially record-breaking feat.

Tennis

You could be forgiven for thinking that following a cluster of Boxing Day events, things generally start to calm down in the sporting domain. Tennis, though, only begins to hit its stride in the New Year, with the Sydney International kicking off on January 5. Similar warm-up tournaments around the country will culminate in the Australian Open – perfect viewing when nursing a cup of over-sugared tea, waiting for the sun to begin its decline so you can return to the beach. Clued-in betting services like Practical Punting might suggest that Australia’s chances of producing a slam-winning player in time for the tournament mightn’t be all that great. But we can hope, right?

The Resurgence of Australian Sport

resurgence-mitchell

Over the last few years, Australian sport has taken a real battering. We pride ourselves on our ability to better much larger, more established nations in a great variety of sports. The swimming pool, the running track, the grainy sand of the beach, and the soft green of the cricket pitch are all established settings to so many Australians. But, after a glorious run following the Sydney Olympics, Australian sporting professionals have experienced diminishing returns for their efforts. A few major events spring to mind: our rugby team’s Bledisloe cup results since 2002; James Magnussen’s disappointment at the London games; the departure of many of Australia’s greatest cricketers.

But, mercifully, things finally seem to be turning around. The media’s fixation on the doping scandals that have plagued various sports on an international level have allowed Australian professionals to refresh, resurge, and refocus away from the spotlight. And now, we’re starting to see the seedlings of positivity emerge once again.

Swimming

Pride comes before a fall. This mantra proved to be all-too-true following the disappointing performance displayed by Australia’s swimming team at London’s 2012 Olympic Games. Some of the old guard have since departed from professional sport in favour of Celebrity Apprentice, with exciting new talent beginning to shine through.

At November’s World Cup in Beijing, the Australian team – comprised, to an impressive extent, of new up-and-comers – put in an impressive performance. Even those who failed to meet their own self-imposed expectations in London have begun to pique curiosity once again, with James Magnussen recently professing that his confidence is starting to rebuild.

Cricket

Over the last decade, Australia’s favourite game has been overshadowed by egos and wags. We haven’t won the Ashes since the 2006-07 series, and in recent months tensions within the team have grabbed headlines. In an open letter to fans of the game, Darren Lehmann – the coach of the Australian cricket team – expressed a desire to return Australia to its golden era of cricketing achievements. Let’s hope he puts this desire into action in time to effect the outcome of the current Ashes series, which began in November.

Tennis

Our tennis achievements have been less dramatically changed than in some other sports. Although our status on the circuit is not as impressive as it was ten years ago, players like Sam Stosur have helped to keep us well-represented. Now, younger players like Bernard Tomic and Casey Dellacqua are beginning to deliver on the promise they have shown, with Tomic recently taking on a new coach in time for our summer tournaments.resurgence-stosur

Tennis Australia has also acknowledged the importance of recognising its highest-achieving players, with the Newcome Medal predicted to be awarded to Stosur for the fourth consecutive year. Just like any workplace rewarding its best and brightest, Tennis Australia clearly recognises the benefits of encouraging and motivating its key players.

It’s time that we regained our reputation as a truly great sporting nation. The thirst for accolades exhibited by our sporting stars reveal the way we, as Australians, thrive off of positive reinforcement. Whether it’s a globally coveted trophy, or an employee recognition plague or trophy, we love being recognised for our efforts. And we certainly love resurgence. Let’s hope the trophies – and the results – keep rolling in over the summer months.