Wozniacki does the Niculescu grunt

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Caroline Wozniacki doesn’t exactly hold back on the tennis court, when she feels she’s been wronged.

And she took it to a new level last week when she did a very passable imitation of opponent Monica Niculescu’s grunt, which she said was distracting her.

“Yeah, sure, because that’s the only way she can win, is to p___ people off,” was Wozniacki’s charitable assessment of Niculescu’s self-described “strange” game.

Wozniacki’s not big on the grunt. A few years ago, she complained about the noises Bojana Jovanovski (who admittedly had quite the screech) was making.

Randomly, Nadal also in Netherlands

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What are the odds that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would both be in the Netherlands at the same time?

Probably crazy high.

Nadal has played the Rotterdam tournament only twice, in 2008 and 2009. Federer played it often early in his career, but not between 2005 and 2012.

And yet, Nadal was in the Netherlands Thursday – in Amsterdam, about an hour away. But not to play; he received a one-million Euro donation for his charitable foundation at the annual Goed Geld Gala.

He’s extremely well-spoken in his third language, on the subject of the good his foundation hopes to do.

Kypson just there for the handshake

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Texas A&M player Patrick Kypson only added to the bad PR dogging American players these days in a match against Ohio State’s J.J. Wolf.

Wolf won in an upset. As he waited at the net to shake hands, Kypson appeared to spit on his hand. Wolf spotted this, and did an end-around.

Kypson’s coach, former pro Steve Denton, told Deadpin Kypson had been “appropriate disciplined for his behavior.”

The two were junior rivals. Kypson beat him both in the Kalamazoo finals, and in the 3rd round of the 2016 US Open juniors.

Zverev Instagrams – on a trampoline

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Rising star Alexander Zverev, it turns out, is a good multitasker.

In a bit for the ATP Tour, he goes live on Instagram, giving a tour of the facilities at the Rotterdam tournament. Everyone but the stringers pretty much ignores him.

While he’s doing it, Zverev also takes a turn on a trampoline. They’ll have some fun with that in adding a few special effects.

Luckily, he didn’t drop his phone in mid-air.

Oh, and he also shows off his lookalike mom, and his doggie. 

It’s good to be Sasha.

1999: Federer’s first trip to Rotterdam

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Things have changed quite a bit for Roger Federer since his first trip to Rotterdam.

All the way back in 1999, when Federer was 18 and his bold hair move from the most recent Orange Bowl was still growing out, he talked about everything from Pamela Anderson to Bruce Willis, to his favorite book (he didn’t have one; “I don’t read books,” he said.)

Ranked No. 178 going in, Federer lost 6-4 in the third set to No. 2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the quarterfinals that year.

Federer is back this week, looking to regain the No. 1 ranking for the first time since Nov. 2012.

First-round exit for Sharapova in Doha

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Getting a qualifier was theoretically a good opener Maria Sharapova in Doha as she faced Monica Niculescu in the first round Monday.

But Sharapova lost, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a two hour, 38-minute match where, ironically, she showed far more variety than usual.

She had to get down-and-dirty, matching Niculescu forehand slice for forehand slice as the Romanian’s funky game threw her groundstrokes for a loop.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly has been missing in Sharapova’s game since her return last April. The fighting spirit is there.

But she’s not dictating as she once did.

Djokovic communing with nature in Italy

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As Novak Djokovic convalesces from the procedure he had done a week ago, he’s with his family communing with nature in Val Gardena, Italy.

“I grew up on the mountain, but I went around Europe to ski in my life on several mountains, but I’ve never seen something like this. So, so beautiful,” he said.

Djokovic is entered at Indian Wells. So was Andy Murray, who had hip surgery in January. Murray has since withdrawn.

Both, as of this year, meet all three criteria (age, matches, longevity) to no longer have any Masters 1000 events be mandatory.

Muguruza, Nadal get Spanish accolade

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Garbiñe Muruguza and Rafael Nadal received a major accolade in Spain this week.

They were voted “athletes of the year” at the Grand Gala hosted by Mundo Deportivo, a major sports daily newspaper.

Not “tennis players of the year”, which would be patently obvious. The two were chosen among all of the distinguished Spanish athletes – in any sport.

Both won in a landslide.

Among the nominees were Masters champion Sergio Garcia and world motorcycling champion Marc Márquez.

It’s the fourth award for Nadal and the first for Muguruza.

 

Osuigwe on “Trans World Sport” radar

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Many of the tennis’s future stars have gotten the “Trans World Sport” treatment – prospects hyped as the next great ones.

The latest is 15-year-old American Whitney Osuigwe.

Among former subjects are Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic Serena and Venus Williams – all bonafide superstars.

But there have been others – 12-year-old Maria Shishkina – a “superstar in the making” and “the next Maria Sharapova”. (Here’s an update on her). Emily Appleton, Camila OsorioBorna Devald – “the next sensation of Croatian tennis.” And Bernard Tomic.

Predictions of future greatness are risky. And the pressure is immense.

Robert second-oldest Challenger champ

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Just over a week ago, France’s Stéphane Robert was keeping his pal Roger Federer in shape on a packed practice court in Melbourne.

Sunday, likely in front of the same number of people, he became the second-oldest Challenger winner ever in Burnie, Tasmania.

At 37 years, eight months, Robert is short of the record holder, Dick Norman of Belgium.

Norman was a month past his 38th birthday when he went from the qualifying through to the title at a $35,000 Challenger in Mexico City.

Also a shutout to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, who reached three Challenger finals in 2016, at age 38.