Right before this press conference, I was watching Rafa practice with Mikhail Youhzny. They were playing quite a heated practice set. Now I’m no expert, but it looked like Rafa was moving quite well and ready for the hard courts at the BNP Paribas Open. Yesterday he had no wrap around his knee but it’s there today. What does that mean?! Am I reading too much into this? Probably.
It’s 12:38 p.m. Here comes Rafa. Opening it up to questions now. Note: Due to my listening/typing skills, or lack thereof, the interview is paraphrased.
How is your knee on the hard court?
I’m here to try my best, I will see how the knees answer on the hard courts. On clay the results were positive. The knee feels better and better every week.
Before you continue reading, answer these questions. Do you like tennis? Do you like to have fun? Do you like nice, warm weather? If you answered yes to all the above, then you should love the BNP Paribas Open! The unofficial 5th grand slam. Located in Indian Wells, CA, the BNP Paribas features the world’s best from the ATP and WTA (minus the Williams sisters) and now with a billionaire owner, Larry Ellison, it is only going to get better. See site expansion plans for 2014.
Stadium at the BNP Paribas Open
Some quick facts about this tournament:
- Features the 2nd largest tennis stadium in the world (2nd only to Arthur Ashe at the US Open)
- The most attended tennis event outside the 4 grand slams.
- Located about 125 miles east of Los Angeles
- Has Hawk Eye replay system technology on every match court. Not even the Grand Slams have that.
We are in beautiful Indian Wells, CA, for the BNP Paribas Open. Today I am behind the scenes at a Tennis Warehouse and Athletic DNA commercial shoot. I thought I’d give you some exclusive access to what goes on behind the camera.
Behind the scenes at the Athletic DNA-Tennis Warehouse commercial shoot.
It’s 9:30 a.m. and the oh so subtle Athletic DNA bus rolls into the Palm Desert High School. On set, we have Athletic DNA pros: Rajeev Ram, Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Tim Smyczek.
You can find Athletic DNA’s styles exclusively online at Tennis Warehouse. The brand is fully dedicated to the tennis player and brings fresh new designs to the courts.
This season you’ll find new graphics both bold and subtle (look for graphic hits in the placket and in the pockets!). As always, there’ll be practice and match day gear to keep you on the courts.
Look beneath the surface for cool attention to detail.
The latest collection is coming out very soon, and I managed to shoot some pictures of the apparel line (coming soon!). And look for our TV commercial on the Tennis Channel!
Without further ado, check out some more pictures …
Born For This.
Be on the lookout for cool new graphics.
Alex Bogomolov Jr in a jacket from the spring collection.
Tennis is such an emotional sport. More so than any other sport because you’re an island out there on the court. A one-man wolf pack if you will. One can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a matter of minutes. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and you can sometimes only hang on for the ride. As such, anger and frustration is a natural part of the game. It doesn’t matter whether your Roger Federer or Joe Schmo, at some point we’ve all gotten pissed off on court.
And we all handle our frustrations differently. Some people internalize it. Others need to vocalize it. Regardless, there’s a breaking point in all of us. And when this pent up anger builds to this breaking point, it needs to be released. Where can it go? This isn’t basketball or football; you can’t yell at your teammates, and your coach isn’t standing on the sideline to be a human punching bag for you. This isn’t baseball where you can take your bat to an innocent Gatorade cooler. And this surely isn’t hockey where one can actually physically take their anger out on the opponent while the referees watch and the crowd cheers. Sure, one can yell at the commentators (who did deserve it) or scream at the umpire/line judge ala John McEnroe and Serena Williams, respectively. But where can one turn to really rage? I’m talking, let-the-world-know-I’m-pissed-off-and-I’m-turning-green rage. Yea, I’m talking Hulk rage.
Today is the last day to order with ground shipping to receive your order by Christmas, so if you’re in need of some quick ideas, check out our Staff Picks. We asked them to pick a racquet, string, pair shoes, apparel piece and one “wild card” they would like to get as gift this year. Below, Jason explains his choices.
Boris Becker Delta Core NYC Racquet
This has been my go-to racquet ever since it came out. There are a few reasons why I gravitated toward the NYC, but the main reason was because it’s easy on my arm. With the dampening system in the handle, it really helps out with my constant arm issues. With the low swingweight, it was really easy to customize. I started with it in stock form, and by the end, I had customized it with lead tape at the handle and at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions.
Gamma Zo Tour string
People who know me know that I love me some polyester strings. But arm problems+polyester = ouchy. So when I use a full bed of poly, it has to be on the softer side. Which is exactly what the Gamma Zo Tour string is. It provides great access to spin, good ball pocketing and a softer, more forgiving response than traditional polyesters. Plus, the bright orange string is fun, fun, fun!
Babolat SFX shoe
Aaaaaaaaaaah. That’s the sound I make every time I slip my feet into the Babolat SFX shoes. I only do that if a shoe has three key characteristics: low arch, wide fit and cushioning. I can usually find shoes that hit two out of the three requirements, but rarely do I get the hat trick (hockey term for all three). This shoe does it. The SFX has one of the most, if not the most advanced insoles on the tennis market, and it provides amazing cushioning. Combine that with the wide, low arch fit, and I have myself a winner.
Nike Basic Pro Combat Crew 2.0
You know what I love? Tennis. You know what I don’t love? Cotton t-shirts while playing tennis. They suck up the sweat and don’t let it go. These Basic Pro Combat Crew 2.0 shirts on the other hand, with their polyester construction, do an amazing job of wicking away sweat. Not all polyester shirts are created equal, some are rougher feeling than others but the feel of these shirts are silky smooth. I love ‘em!
KT Tape Pro
Before there were such things as kinesio tape, I’d have to have a brace for every injury. Knee brace, tennis elbow brace, wrist brace, etc, etc. But with KT Tape, I don’t necessarily need all that. It’s certainly no miracle device, but it helps. There is a instructional video on how to tape for almost every mild injury on YouTube. What I like about KT Tape Pro is that it sticks. It can be left on for three days, through multiple showers. I use it all the time and so do many of our playtesters. It’s what the kids call, the shizzle.
Congratulations! We’ve made it another year. Another year that was filled with the usual: unbelievable matches, shocking upsets and ridiculous shot making. But this year was different, this year had something happen that in the past 2,011 years didn’t happen. Yup, you guessed it, this year we had Gangnam Style. You might hate it, you might love it, but either way, you know you’re singing along when you hear “heeeeeeeeeey, sexy lady.” If you are one of the very few, and I mean, very few, who has no idea what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and click here. And since we’re on the subject of firsts in 2012, and because this is “technically” a “tennis” blog just because it’s “technically” related to “Tennis Warehouse“: Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka both won their first Grand Slams. How about that!
Before we get to the 2012 T-Dubby awards, here is a quick recap of this past year:
- Novak Djokovic is human! But still really good. He couldn’t duplicate his unreal 2011 season but 2012 was no slouch.
- Rafa is still really good on clay.
- Rafa’s knees, in general, not as good.
- Roger Federer is still really good despite being 31 (that’s 58 in tennis years)
- When motivated and healthy, Serena is scary good.
- Blue clay is scary bad.
- Redfoo of LMFAO really likes tennis. Or really likes hanging out with tennis players. One of those.
Redfoo from LMFAO rocking the TW exclusive Gel Resolution 4 shoes
With 2013 right around the corner (or if you’re following the Mayan calendar, maybe not), let’s take a look at this year’s nominees.
Best Match Nominees: Australian Open Men’s Finals: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
It was the longest match in Australian Open history and at the end, both players could barely stand during the trophy ceremony. I remember watching the 5th set and thinking that these guys were hitting the ball harder in that set than the 1st set. This was a match that ended at 1:27 in the morning, lasted almost 6 hours and featured the score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 to Djokovic. And yet, despite that all that, Novak Djokovic was still able to muster up the energy to rip his shirt off. How?! HOW?! I’m going gluten free.
Olympic Second Round: Milos Raonic vs. Jo Wilfried Tsonga
It was just a 2nd round match that featured the 5th seeded Tsonga and an unseeded Raonic. This was supposed to be a relatively win for Tsonga, who made it to the semi-finals of the last 2 Wimbledons. They exchanged sets and then the 3rd set happened. Let’s see here, the first 2 sets were 6-3, 3-6 for a total of 18 games. The 3rd set had a total of 48 games and ended 25-23 to Tsonga. That was exhausting just typing it out, let alone playing it out.
French Open Quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic vs. Jo Wilfried Tsonga
4 match points. Novak Djokovic battled off 4 match points to beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-1. He also had to battle off a crowd that was audibly against him and for the Frenchman Tsonga.
US Open Final. Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
After the 1st set, it looked like it would be another easy win for Serena Williams. But after Azarenka battled back to take the 2nd set, the match went to the decisive 3rd set, a first since 1995. At one point Azarenka even served for the match. But Serena, with the crowd behind her, and Serena being Serena, fought back and eventually won it 7-5.
Winner: Australian Open Finals: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
The “Wow These Guys Are Good” Award (Best Point) Nominees Rafael Nadal vs Tomas Berdych @ Australian Open
Olivier Rochus vs Fernando Verdasco @ Monte Carlo Rolex Masters
Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic @ ATP World Tour Finals
The Barricade socks are my hands down favorites. And I’ll tell you why.
First, the fit. Because there is a specific right foot and left foot sock (clearly marked), the socks fit like a glove! There is no bunching up of extra material anywhere (I hate that). The height of the sock is just right too. It doesn’t come up too high like most crew socks do.
Second reason why I love these socks? The material. The Climalite technology really works and does a great job in keeping my feet dry. It’s a nice blend of many different materials, which I like because I’ve worn 100% polyester socks before and they make my feet smell. Gross I know.
And lastly, I love these socks not just for the material used, but for the amount used. They don’t feel like they’ll rip if I pull on them too tightly. They aren’t super thick like a Thorlo sock, but there is just enough there to make me feel like this is a high quality product. And the proof is in the pudding, as they say, because I’ve worn and washed these for months now and they still feel and perform like new. Who knew I could have so much to say about socks?! But for me, these Barricade socks are like the Highlander: There can only be one.
The U.S. Open is only a few days away, and I cannot wait. It’s my hands down favorite Grand Slam of the year. Why? Maybe because it’s on U.S. soil, maybe because I don’t have to wake up at 4 am to watch the matches or maybe because it’s the only Slam I’ve actually attended in person. Or maybe it’s all three reasons. We like to get pumped up for these Slams by making our picks in our Tourneytopia Racquet Bracket (which you can sign up here for men and here for women). And once our picks are in, we like to do a little trash talking and friendly betting. Now I cannot fully disclose what these bets entail, but let’s just say it rhymes with nappy hour.
This year, I think there are two major storylines for both the ATP and WTA. On the ATP side, the most obvious headliner is that Rafael Nadal will not be playing because of knee issues. Which, as a Nadal fan, is very worrisome for his future, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog.
Murray and Federer should be the favorites to win the U.S. Open title.
I think the other big story is going to be Federer and Murray. No disrespect to Djokovic, but he’s been put on the back burner because of the outstanding play from the ageless Federer and from Andy “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” Murray. Federer has been playing like the Federer of old the past few weeks, save the Olympic finals, and looks like this could be his best chance to win another Major because his nemesis is sidelined with a knee injury. And for Murray, this could be his best chance to win his first Major. Here’s why: He’s riding high from his Olympic gold medal, Djokovic is not nearly playing as well as he did last year and Murray won’t have the pressure of an entire nation on his shoulders. Which is a lot of weight considering the United Kingdom has a population of 60 million people at an average weight of 156 pounds. That equals to 9.36 trillion pounds! Sorry for the math tangent.
On the WTA side, we say goodbye to one of the great ambassadors of the sport, a truly great champion and human being, Kim Clijsters. After 41 WTA singles titles and 4 Grand Slams, Kim is walking away from the game a second time.
Kim Clijsters at the 2010 U.S. Open
And at the ripe old age of 29 (yes, that was sarcastic), this time is the last time. Can she retire on top with a U.S. Open title? There is one big obstacle standing in her way, which brings us to…..
The second major headliner? One word: Serena. Is there a more heavily favored No. 4 seed in the history of women’s tennis? Me thinks not. It seems like all the top players have been on the receiving end of Serena’s wrath lately. Just look at the Olympics. She rolled through Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2 and then shellacking Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1. There’s nothing scarier than a healthy and motivated Serena. And believe you me, nothing motivates Serena like Grand Slams.
Serena holding up her 2012 Wimbledon trophy. Who's stopping her at the U.S. Open?
Be sure to check out more U.S. Open previews and blogs from Andy and Siobhan in the upcoming days.
A few weeks ago, I got in the lab, put on my lab coat, took out the bunsen burners and created the perfect male tennis player. This week, I’m back with my ultimate female tennis player. She’s got a huge serve, a wicked forehand and wheels for legs. My only restriction was that no one player could be put in more than 2 categories. Without further ado, here she is.
The Ultimate Female Tennis Player
Full disclosure: I originally had Sam Stosur here, but after Serena’s performance at Wimbledon, I had no choice but to put her in this category. She hit more aces at Wimbledon than any other player, and that’s for both the women AND men. ‘Nuff said.
When it’s on, it’s on! She hits this shot with pace, depth, spin, angle, while on the run, standing still, or doing the splits. What more could you ask for?
This shot is probably the main reason why she’s as successful as she is.
Well, considering she doesn’t hit a single flat or topspin backhand, her slice better be pretty good to be ranked as high as 18 in the world.
And perhaps even more impressive, here she is at 16 years old:
She hits her returns with so much aggression it’s almost angry-like. To add to the intimidation factor, she stands right on the baseline or inside of it. Hit it to her forehand, and this is what happens:
To be a counter-puncher or defensive player is one thing, but to do it at a level where you eventually become the #1 player in the world means you’re getting to a hell of a lot of shots. Agneiska Radwanska would be 1A here.
Heart/Mental Toughness:Maria Sharapova
I was torn on who to pick but Tiffani made a great case for Sharapova. It takes a lot of mental toughness and heart to work your way back from shoulder surgery, to becoming once again, the #1 player in the world (after winning the French Open). It was 3 long years of struggling and rehab before she was fully back to her winning ways. Now that takes some mental fortitude.
The sweetheart of the WTA tour. Is there anyone that doesn’t like Kim Clijsters?! We’ve had her come sign at our tent at the BNP Paribas Open a few times, and each and every time, she was the perfect role model. She smiled and interacted with all her fans, and even when her time was up and her agent is asking her to go, if there was still a line, she’d go overtime just to make sure everyone got an autograph that wanted one.
Do you agree with my picks? Build your own ultimate tennis player in the comments below.
There’s a saying we use around here that I’m fairly certain originated at TW, and it’s, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Profound. You’ve probably never heard of it.
Prince NEOS 1000 Stringing Machine
That saying basically sums up our feelings on the Prince NEOS 1000. This stringing machine has been around for more than 15 years, and it’s the only machine we use at Tennis Warehouse. It’s tried and true. It’s an oldie but goodie.
Nowadays, it can be overwhelming with so many different options and price ranges to choose from: starting from a couple hundred dollar drop weight to a machine that costs nearly $4,000 in the Prince 6000. Machines have come and gone, but yet, we stay committed to the NEOS 1000. And here’s why.
- Durability. There are no power cords, computers, motors or thing-a-mabobs on this machine that’ll easily break down. The entire machine is almost entirely constructed from metal and aluminum.
- Maintenance. Keeping these machines in tip-top stringing shape doesn’t take much work. If the few moving parts do break and need to be changed out, they are cheap to buy and easy to replace. Besides tuning the tensioner after 14-18 string jobs, the only other regular maintenance would be a terry cloth and rubbing alcohol.
- Consistency. Whether you’re stringing for yourself or stringing for the best tennis customers in the world (yeah, that’s you, and, yes, I’m pandering), the results needs to be consistent. And that’s what this machine delivers.
- Ease of use. The actual stringing may take you hours to master, but mounting of the racquet and set up is easy. There’s two clamps, a lock bar and the tensioner. Can’t get much easier than that.
Sure, this machine might not be for everyone. I’ll admit to that. It might be too expensive or maybe you really want a constant pull machine with all the bells and whistles. But know that with the Prince NEOS 1000 you’ll get a solid, reliable stringing machine that’ll last for years.
And if you still don’t know which machine you want, check out this comparison chart.