Us-open

Federer Fixation: Roger Lost And I Can’t Cope

It was deathly quiet on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Novak Djokovic took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and tossed the ball. He was serving on championship point. The usually rambunctious crowd was still; having collectively inhaled their war cries, saving them for the inevitable end of the battle raging below them. Novak is tall, imposing, and incredibly Serbian, with charisma oozing from every pore and cheekbones to die for. A gladiator, a champion, a warrior waiting to strike.

RELATED: Serve Him Up: Djokovic Voted US Open’s Sexiest Player

But down the other end of the court, his opponent is something else entirely. The man standing hunched over his racquet, ready to fight for his life, is more than your everyday celebrity sports star. This man has been labeled not just the greatest tennis player, but the greatest athlete to ever live. He is called the Maestro, the Master, the Genius, the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). I call him God. He is none other than Roger Federer; the Swiss tennis deity who has enriched the lives of everyone who’s ever watched him play.

Novak smacks the ball with terrifying force. Back, forth, back, forth, back again; it whizzes over the net. The crowd begins to stir; the gasps, shrieks, and other inexplicable noises come thick and fast as the final point is played. Suddenly, Roger’s ball lands just outside the baseline and Novak Djokovic has officially claimed the 2015 US Open crown.

Silence.

After a moment, the crowd begins to clap; a grudging, watery sound that increases gradually as the two move to the net. It’s a weird moment. Victory is usually delirium from the winner and ecstatic chaos from the crowd…but not this time. As these two kings of the court exchanged post-match niceties, it was overwhelmingly clear that of the 23,000 people in Arthur Ashe Stadium, 20,000 of them were desperate for Roger to win.

I sat on the couch at my home in Sydney for a solid half hour when the match ended. Crying – loudly. I was so heartbroken by Federer’s defeat I could feel a pain in my chest. Oddly enough, I wasn’t the only one. Three of my friends sent me texts littered with teary emojis, expressing the terrible sadness we all felt. I checked Twitter; the die-hard Federer fans (who call themselves the FedFam) were distraught. Even the Rafa Nadal fans (the Rafamily) were loudly lamenting the loss and they are about as partisan as a fan club can be.

So, what is it about Roger Federer that inspires this cult? Why are people like me, who have never played the sport and have absolutely nothing to do with the tennis world, so entranced by everything he does? And why is Novak Djokovic, the sensational athlete, philanthropist, and hilarious impression-maker, so terribly resented whenever he beats the Swiss tennista?

After much contemplation, the only answer is that dearest Fed is a perfect human being.

I’m not kidding; that man is quite literally nailing life like he’s following a textbook. His impeccable record extends far beyond the court. Aside from the 17 Grand Slams, 87 career titles, and his 300 million dollar net worth, he’s just an all around good guy. Not only is he head-spinningly gracious, he’s funny! And handsome, and kind, and gentlemanly, and he has two sets of identical twins (two girls, two boys). This adds about 5 points to his perfecto-ranking because not only will they always have a buddy, they’ll be able to play men’s, women’s, AND mixed doubles together.

How can such a being exist? How has such a masterful member of the human race have manifested in this imperfect world? And why does nobody begrudge him anything? All I can say is thank you, Universe, for Roger Federer. You’ve done us all a great favour. Now excuse me while I comfort-buy “I Heart Roger” T-shirts on e-bay.

Image via Ibtimes.co.in

September 22, 2015

Serve Him Up: Djokovic Voted US Open’s Sexiest Player

With the US Open in its third day of play, the temperature is rising on the sticky, humid courts of Flushing Meadows, New York City. However, it’s not just the thermometer that’s making the stadiums steamy. Victoria Milan, a dating website for married/attached people looking to cheat (move over, Ashley Madison), has taken a very interesting US Open poll. According to the ladies on the website, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is not just #1 in the rankings, he’s also been voted the #1 most desirable player at the 2015 tournament.

RELATED: Rafael Nadal, Tommy Hilfiger, And That Underwear Campaign

In order to discover this staggering statistic, the website asked 8,364 of its female members whether tennis players feature in their sexual fantasies. A colossal 79 per cent of these women admitted that the heaving, lunging forehands, backhands and aces made them a little hot under the collar, with a few clear favourites. Novak Djokovic led the pack at 28 per cent, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal (of Tommy Hilfiger fame) came in a close second at 24 per cent and the Swiss maestro Roger Federer rolled in at third with 16 per cent.

Here are the Victoria Milan data specifics, to give you an idea of who to save your smile for:

1. Novak Djokovic – 28%
2. Rafael Nadal – 24%
3. Roger Federer – 16%
4. Fabio Fognini – 9%
5. Gilles Simon – 7%
6. David Ferrer – 5%
7. Benoît Paire – 5%
8. Andy Murray – 3%
9. Feliciano Lopez – 2%
10. Grigor Dimitrov – 1%

Personally, I think Rafael Nadal should be a resounding number 1, but, like, whatever…

This isn’t the first time that tennis players have been acknowledged as the best celebrity crushes. InStyle and Elle magazine have each recently released a list of the sexiest male tennis stars, citing (along with the top three) players such as the Czech Tomas Berdych, Italy’s Fabio Fognini (Google him, you’ll thank me later), and the smoldering Spaniard Feliciano Lopez (who was recently described by commentators as “genetically modified”).

And they’re not the only ones jumping on the bandwagon. Sugarscape.com capitalized on the terrific tennista trend circa Wimbledon, compiling their own top 14 list. Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov (ex-boyfriend of Russian beauty Maria Sharapova) got the biggest mention, because let’s face it, he’s magnificent. And don’t forget the 6 foot 10 American John Isner, the boyish good looks of Canada’s Milos Raonic, and Spain’s David Ferrer, whose Disney-esque face and princely physique will leave you breathless (again, please, PLEASE Google him).

So what is it about tennis players that makes them so incredibly crushable? CEO and Founder of Victoria Milan, Sigurd Vedal, stated that the fact that tennis players do it for the ladies is not surprising. “Muscles flexing, sweat dripping, determination and strength are all showcased during the US Open, and once a bit of imagination kicks in, it’s no wonder the female members of the audience are the most avid viewers. Everyone has a fantasy – and it’s easy to see how US Open tennis players just make it so easy for women,” he explained.

But it’s not just all that sweaty, gladiatorial action on court that makes us gleefully giggle. Think about it; these guys are not only in peak physical condition, plus super tall (no need to sacrifice the stilettos), they’re just inherently dateable. They’re disciplined as hell (none of that egomaniacal superstar actor crap), conditioned to keep their heads in high pressure situations, and all that practice at good-sportsmanship gives them a gentlemanly core. Add to that the fact that they get flown around the world by sponsors for 10 months of the year with their entourage of coaches, family, and partners, and you’ve got the perfect boyfriend!

I am unashamed to say that on my bucket list, along with skydiving, meeting Meryl Streep, and hunting for sexy vampires in New Orleans (they all apparently live in the South), is spending a period of time as a tennis WAG. Seriously, I can think of nothing better than running around the world with my gorgeous, disciplined, gentlemanly boyfriend, and watching tennis from the exclusive players’ box all day, every day. Admit it; 2015 is a VERY attractive year for tennis. So gentleman, if your wife or girlfriend has developed a sudden interest in the sport, be warned; she’s probably (in fact, definitely) in awe of more than the fabulous tennis skills on display.

I’ll leave you now with a serve of my top 10 US Open tennis hotties. You’re welcome.

Images via The Guardian, Tommyhilfiger.com, Dailymail, Harpers Bazaar, Tennis View, Aircelchennaiopen.org, Express, Ksiazkizbojeckie.blox.pl, Sexpornimages.com, Zimbio, Tennisworldusa.org

September 3, 2015

Say What?! US Open Women’s Final Sold Out Before Mens

The US Open has long been the most flamboyant of the four grand slams. Held in New York; the city lives up to its reputation of endowing whatever it touches with a sense of “there’s a first time for everything!” This year, in tennis terms, is no exception…the sky high screenings in Times Square of Rafael Nadal casually flaunting his Tommy Hilfigers is testament to that. However, another notable first this year is that the women’s final has sold out before the men’s.

RELATED: Inspirational Women: Ellyse Perry

According to the organisers, this has never happened before in the history of the tournament. Ever. So why this year? The advertising has been no different. The crowd has the same interests, or do they? Alongside the Federers, Nadals, and Djokovics of the tennis world, one player has a more interesting story than anyone. A female player. I’m talking about America’s Serena Williams, who is aiming for the first Calendar Slam achieved by a woman since 1988.

To nail a Calendar Slam, a player must win all four grand slams in a calendar year; The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. Serena already has the first three; to win the fourth on home soil is beyond making history. But this fascination with her is unusual. Plenty of records have been smashed by extraordinary female sports stars/teams, and nobody cares or even knows about it. I mean, the Australian Diamonds netball team just won the World Championships and the media was covering Nick Kyrgios’ sledging of Stan Wawrinka.

And it’s not just netball. The Southern Stars women’s cricket team just regained the Ashes, yet only 7 per cent of sports programming in Australia covers women’s sports. And as for the pay gap, it stinks. At the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the men competed for at least $3.975 million. Two years ago, when female cricketers played their most recent World Cup in India, the $75,000 winnings paled in comparison. There is a similar disparity in many sports including surfing, soccer and golf.

Which brings us back to tennis, one of the only high profile sports to have equal pay for both men and women. There is some contention about this. At grand slams, women play best of three sets, and the men play best of five. Women will spend about two hours on court per match, and men will play for four, five, sometimes six hours. In other smaller tournaments, all players play best of three.

The disparity in court time means a disparity in TV air time; less advertising, sponsorship exposure, and ratings. It is perfectly understandable and logical to argue that for grand slam tournaments, men receive more prize money than the women. Until seven years ago, when Wimbledon joined the pack of equal pay, that was the case.

So why the lack of pay gap in tennis? If you consider the gender equivalent training, travel, physio, press, injuries, jet lag, pain, and self-discipline athletes put themselves through, it’s entirely justified that the pay is the same. Women in all sports undergo the same physical and mental struggle as men, coupled with the constant battle to be relevant in a boys club. Yet the vast majority of sportswomen are not properly acknowledged for their colossal efforts.

There are other female sporting role models out there like Serena Williams; we just don’t hear about them. I’m not sure if women in sport will ever receive the same appreciation, at least not in the near future. However, if we make an effort to watch women’s sport on TV/in person (we should; it’s actually fabulous), talk about it on social media and generally push an interest, we may close the gap sooner than we think.

September 3, 2015

Rafael Nadal, Tommy Hilfiger And That Underwear Campaign

With the US Open just around the corner, the world’s tennis elite have flocked to New York City to for the final grand slam of the year. However, amidst the frantic last-minute training sessions and nervous pre-tournament press conferences, one tennista is attracting more attention than the others. Former world number 1, Rafael Nadal, has recently been announced as the brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger, and the promotion has been a little…interesting.

RELATED: Would You Buy Your Man Sexy Male Lingerie?

Although Rafa promotes the snappy suits and the new Tommy Hilfiger Bold fragrance, the focus is (of course) on the underwear range. When visualising sports stars and their generic underwear campaigns, the mind goes straight to the likes of David Beckham. He’s usually photographed in black and white, posing semi-seductively, face and body shrouded in shadow. The photos, while somewhat sexualised, do not come close to the almost pornographic imagery of female swimsuit and lingerie models. Don’t even start on the objectification of actresses when they promote anything and everything; right down to the last tube of foundation.

However, Tommy Hilfiger has well and truly flipped this sexist double standard on its head. This particular underwear promotion involves a three pronged attack. Firstly; the photo-shoot. It’s done in mostly bold colour, it’s very suggestive, and has a keen focus on Rafa’s extraordinary legs and booty, rather than the more conventional abs/biceps shot (although they certainly get a look in!).

nadal-shirtless

Curious yet? It gets even more fascinating. The second prong was featured yesterday in Bryant Park; a promo event with a twist. Rafa and a number of Hilfiger models (both male and female) took to a red, white, and blue court (Tommy Hilfiger’s signature colours) to play a game of strip-tennis. The rules were simple (and obvious); lose a point…lose an item of clothing. The idea was to eventually reveal the entirety of the Tommy Hilfiger range, bit by tantalising bit. Although Rafa fared better than the models, he lost the jacket, shirt, and tie of his new elastic suit; just enough to keep the fans happy, but still leaving something to the imagination.

Finally, the third tier that has everybody talking. Earlier this week, Tommy Hilfiger released a 30 second TV commercial featuring Rafa, his undies, and a locker room. It can only be described as a striptease worthy of Gypsy Rose Lee. Slowly, Rafa pulls off his shirt, jeans, and eventually his underwear, tosses his briefs at the camera, and saunters out of the room wearing nothing but a thin white towel. Just before he uncovers ‘everything’, the camera cuts to his face. He throws us a truly smouldering look, shakes his head, and turns away. That shake of the head must have broken a million hearts. What a tease.

Although this commercial is clearly a health hazard because it induces breathlessness and chronic fits of the giggles, it shines a new and surprisingly feminist light on the industry of underwear. Rather than the coy, casual imagery of every other undies campaign, Rafael Nadal, in all his Spanish glory, is teased, stripped, and objectified at the very same standard that women are held to.

There is nothing macho about it; no attempt to preserve the reserved/uptight masculine sexuality we are so used to. This is Rafa plus underwear plus raw sex appeal. As Glee star Jane Lynch put it, while hosting the strip-tennis match, it is “reverse sexism”.

But wait; there’s more! In addition, to showing off Rafa’s body in the same way a woman’s would be, Tommy Hilfiger has also moved a step closer to eliminating the standard of hetero-normativity in advertising. Obviously, the ad is aimed at straight men; they all (hopefully) wear undies. However, the overtly sexualised aspect; the portrayal of a male wearing very little clothing is clearly not aimed at women…they don’t wear men’s Tommy Hilfiger briefs (although some of them might after seeing the commercial).

If the global standard of heterosexuality were observed, Rafa would be in the usual Beckham-esque pouty poses. However, the seductive music accompanying the exposure of Rafa’s stunning body plus the steamy glance at the camera is also aimed at homosexual men. Rather than ignoring gay sexuality, this commercial takes it by the horns and uses it as an advertising tool. It’s the same as using women’s sexualised bodies to lure straight men into buying pretty much any product.

Maybe Tommy Hilfiger has dared to be so raunchy because of the European thing; the Spanish are, after all, a bit more comfortable with sexuality than North Americans and Australians. Maybe he subverted the idea of male sexualisation in this way simply to grab our attention. Hey; maybe it was Rafa’s idea. Either way, with or without realising it, Hilfiger has made quite possibly some of the most heartening progress in terms of eliminating the screaming double standard in male vs. female sexualisation. It even has its own hashtag; #tommyxnadal. So thank you, Tommy, for this (quite honestly) ground-breaking campaign. You and Rafa have given us all hope. And speaking of Rafa; it’s fairly certain that his support for the US Open has exploded spectacularly. Let’s hope he wins. As they say in Spain; vamos!

Images via Ilovefashionnews.nl and Mallorcaadiario.com

August 27, 2015
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