There was a time when players’ fashion baggage was almost as expansive as the racquet bags they carried on court. Remember the days when the men in Melbourne took the court in shapeless, grungy garments so baggy you could have created carry-on luggage from the excess fabric, and sometimes still have enough material left over to cover a surfboard?
Thankfully, those days have largely gone the way of the Walkman as we’ve seen streamlined shapes, sharp silhouettes and some crisp color combinations during the Australian Open’s opening week.
Here are our picks for this year’s Oz apparel aces. Please feel free to voice your views in the comments.
Gael Monfils subscribes to the Serena Williams theory that the best players are also entertainers, and he continues to put on a show with his playing and fashion style.
The 6’4”, loose-limbed Frenchman has an elastic ability to bend his body into positions previously realized only by cartoon characters and contortionists. His apparel is an appropriate accomplice in the process. When he’s on, Monfils plays with the acrobatic exuberance of a Cirque du Soleil performer and looks like a sculpted super hero in his fitted K-Swiss clothes.
The blue, light-blue and white graphic gradation sleeveless shirt plays upon the concept of the horizon, and the light-blue shorts with a single white strip alongside the pocket recall the North Carolina Tar Heel colors. It’s an outfit as eye-popping as Monfils’ energetic, electric game, and complements his showmanship style, even looking good during his victory dance celebration.
Victoria Azarenka underwent an off-court fashion makeover under the guidance of Australian pop singer Danii Minogue, who gave the Belarusian a dress from her new clothing line, Project D. But Azarenka’s fondness for bold colors needs no direction when it comes to her tennis apparel, as she makes a distinctive pink splash on the blue Aussie courts.
Azarenka looks like a comfortable, confident competitor in her pink Nike Set Point knit dress with white accents. The outfit updates a classic form by incorporating Nike’s Dri-Fit fabric, which wicks sweat off the body. It fits her form without suffocating her body. Attention to color-coordinated detail is apparent in the contoured, white, long-sleeve Smash top the No. 8 seed has worn over the dress during warm-ups, as well as her white wristbands with pink swoosh logo, pink headband with white swoosh and pink Power Balance silicone wrist band, seen on her left wrist.
Pastel power has made is presence felt on the blue courts of Melbourne. Amid the blue hue, Gisela Dulko delivered a clean, classy combination with a pale blue shirt and matching skirt by Lacoste.
The multi-colored drawstring detail on the skirt recalls the light blue, orange, white and yellow detailing on the top. The shitrt accommodates Dulko’s preference for sleeveless wear, offering comfort and a wider range of movement. Australia’s Samantha Stosur sports an all-white version of the outfit and compatriot Jarmila Groth wore a polo variation of the top.
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki dumped Dulko from the singles draw, but you can still catch her in doubles, partnering Flavia Pennetta in one of the best-dressed tandems in women’s tennis.
Injury-induced inactivity has caused a slowdown in Juan Martin del Potro’s quest to return to the Top 100, but despite his second-round defeat to Marcos Baghdatis, del Potro made a statement in his blue Nike Showdown shirt.
The blue V-neck shirt with white trim along the front shoulder represents Argentina’s national colors, and combined with the black woven short, creates a bruising color combination for a competitor capable of blistering the ball. Del Potro was wearing a sleeveless shirt when he beat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in back-to-back matches to capture the 2009 U.S. Open championship, but he opted for sleeves in Melbourne.
In a distinctive touch Nike applies for several of its stars, his nickname, “Delpo,” is emblazoned on the back of his Nike shoes.
Lastly, response to the “Fashion Faults” blog entry arrived almost as fast as a Hawk-Eye review. Based on email and posts we’ve received, many of you have selected Nadia Petrova as the most egregious fashion felon of the tournament.
While some of you lauded Petrova for her environmentally-friendly approach in apparently recycling the remnants of a piñata as a tennis dress, poster Jean Kirshenbaum called Petrova’s dress a descent into a purple haze of ruffled madness: “It’s the worst so far. She looked like a baked potato in ruffles. And the color combo? Yuk: horizontal ribbons of blue and green. It was all so awful I can’t find words to describe it.”
Alice from San Francisco summed up her dissatisfaction with the Russian’s dress succinctly: “Petrova takes the prize with her piñata-looking outfit which would look great on a 2-year-old girl, not someone who is 5'10" tall and built like a tank.”