Random thoughts, observations and links from the tennis world ...
• This adorable picture above got me thinking: Which tennis players from this era will kids be dressing up as for future Halloweens? The answer is no one, especially after Rafael Nadal abandoned the sleeveless/pirate look. Bring back the crazy styles, tennis, even if that means acid wash and wigs.
• In fact, dare you to wear that on the court, Mikhail Youzhny or Tommy Haas:
• Why aren't Ryan and Christian Harrison playing doubles together at the Tallahassee Challenger this week? Brothers don't shake hands, brothers gotta hug. And play doubles together every chance they get, especially when said brothers made the U.S. Open quarterfinals last year.
• Courtesy of Maria Kirilenko, here she is with Alex Ovechkin and friends bouncing to some hip-hop.
• This week I rewatched ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary Renee, which tells the story of tennis' first and only transgender player, Renee Richards. Watch it if you haven't yet. It's streaming on Netflix.
• Donald Young, in his own way, congratulated the umpire for calling a time violation on his opponent at the Savannah Challenger last week.
• Speaking of Challengers, having spent the last two weeks watching Ryan Harrison play at that level (via this USTA stream, which is great), all I can think is, "Boy, he seems so relaxed." That's an odd phenomenon, considering he has way more pressure to win here than on the ATP Tour.
• Champions may drink responsibly, but they sure do bartend with reckless abandon.
• Bar chat: Svetlana Kuznetsova is one of the most athletically gifted athletes on the WTA and has won two Slams. Has she underachieved or overachieved?
• Not sure which I enjoy more: Andy Murray's dogs or Kim Sears' sense of humor:
• BMW missed a prime comedic opportunity in giving Petra Kvitova a Beemer instead of a Mini Cooper. Also, what's up with Grand Slam champions getting free cars all of the time? Maria Sharapova won't even give away free bags of Sugarpova this easily.
• Here's Sergiy Stakhovsky's version of Hawk-Eye on clay: When in doubt, just take a picture of the ball mark with your camera phone. Let's not give Caroline Wozniacki any ideas.
• Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3) in Portugal this week. So you could say the only thing separating Pavs and Vez is one Martina Hingis.
• Check out the recent results from 21-year-old Pablo Carreno-Busta. He's won seven straight Futures events and beat Pablo Andujar in Casablanca and Robin Haase in Barcelona, along with victories this week against Julien Benneteau, David Goffin and Fabio Fognini in Portugal. A name to track, and someone I'm looking forward to watching for the first time.
• I'm also looking forward to seeing Victoria Azarenka back on the court, in Madrid. It's been more than a month and a half since her last match. It's easy to forget that she's a threat on clay. She made the final of Stuttgart and Madrid last year.
• The curse and benefit of playing a streaking player: Azarenka draws a red-hot Pavluchenkova in the first round of Madrid. Unfortunately (fortunately?) for Pavlyuchenkova, she's in the final of the Portugal Open on Saturday and will have little time to prepare for that opening-round match.
• Wait, is this a tennis tournament or an underfunded remake of American Gladiators?
• The ATP posted its first Vine and it's kind of the stuff of nightmares.
• Ah, nostalgia: Genie Bouchard was 1 when Skee-Lo released I Wish.
• Radek Stepanek is back after neck surgery in January and, yes, his shirts are still horrendous: