Google Down the Line!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

[UPDATED] THE LOW DOWN: Li Na to announce her retirement from tennis according to reports

CCTV, the Chinese state-owned news outlet, is reporting that reigning Australian Open champion, Li Na, will announce her retirement according to her agent, Max Eisenbud:

Li, who reached a career-high of No. 2 in the rankings, withdrew from all the summer hard-court tourneys, including the US Open, to deal with a recurring knee injury.

If she does retire, it will be unfortunate timing for the WTA. Asia has been a big focus for the women's tour recently, and Li is the region's most recognizable star (and the second highest-earning female athlete in the world behind Maria Sharapova). The season-ending WTA Championships was moved from Turkey to Singapore this year for the first time. Moreover, the inaugural tournament in Li's hometown of Wuhan is set to begin next week (she's still on the competitor's list).

I'll update this post if and when the news is confirmed.

UPDATE: Li Na confirmed the retirement reports in a lengthy and beautifully written post on Facebook. You can read it here. It's a MUST. Maria Sharapova, also represented by Eisenbud, posted a note on her FB page saying: 
A truly respected athlete and person, wishing Li Na much happiness and health in her next chapters of life.
We hear about the injuries and sometimes see them as they happen, but I don't think we ever really know the extent of the pain and suffering some of these athletes endure on a regular basis all in the name of competition and performance. By her own account, she was suffering significantly and more than I even understood.

It makes sense. She has nothing to prove on-court, and off-court she has seen the fruits of her labor born out in front of her eyes. Even in retirement, Li will continue to inspire others in her country and around the world to overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. She is a trailblazer the likes we don't see very often. And it's not just about her tennis; the way she handled herself on-court and in interviews was stellar. Seriously, there's really no one on the WTA tour that can cut up the way Li does. SERIOUSLY.

Thank you, Li Na.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

PHOTO OP: I'll see your Wheaties box...and raise you Cup Noodles

US Open finalist Kei Nishikori is being honored by Nissin with his likeness on Cup Noodles for being the first man from Asia to reach a major final.

[Via: For the Win, photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP]

[UPDATED] Nicole Vaidisova posts a win in her return to tennis - is Jennifer Capriati next?

Did anyone else catch the return of Nicole Vaidisova today at the ColemanVision Tennis Championships today?

Yup, she made her official return at the ITF Challenger in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and took on another former up-and-comer (although not as decorated), Sesil Karantantcheva. It’s been almost four-and-a-half years since the former world number seven played a pro match and so much had happened in between, including a marriage and divorce from Radek Stepanek and a couple of shoulder surgeries. But she had been teasing the return for weeks and then spelled it out on her Instagram feed:

Hey everyone! So I guess the news of me playing again in a couple of weeks is no secret i am excited to be competing again,its been a long road to get to this point...This time last year I was recovering from my 2nd shoulder surgery and going through a very personal heartbreak.I will be forever grateful for the unwavering support of my amazing family,friends and medical team to get me where I am now.I dont know how this will play out,but no matter the outcome, I know I will be proud of myself for giving it my all and for the person I have become through all this.Thank you for all the sweet messages and words of encouragment,it means the world to me and I truly appreciate the support I get from all of U
During the match it really didn’t look like much had changed. She still has the big serve and forehand, and did everything she could to run around her backhand and not come to the net. Her temper seemed to be intact as she swiped the court with her racquet and bounced it out of frustration all by the third game of the first set. She was even still working Reebok. Yes, REEBOK. But she regained her composure and took it to Sesil. Vaida was only broken once and managed to close out the match 6-3, 6-4 against the world number 191 with relative ease (there was a double-fault on one of her MPs). All good signs for the Czech lady baller as she continues to rebuild her game and confidence after such a long time away. Or as I said on Twitter:

At least one person got my joke. Sadz. If you’re feeling nostalgic like I was while watching Vaida, check out some of the old posts about her here. Hope she can keep it up.

In other former-top-lady-ballers-on-the-comeback-trail news, it sounds like Jennifer Capriati is actually sniffing out a return of her own. Check out these tweets from the former WTA Penthouse resident:

Sounds like a return is in the works to me. It must be hard for Jennifer to accept the fact that an injury is what did her career in (like Vaida, Jennifer's shoulder was to blame). But at the age of 38, it’s going to be a lot tougher for her to return than Vaida. Sure, Serena Williams just won her 18th major at the age of almost 33, but she’s in tremendous physical condition, and she has ways of getting through games quickly and saving energy with her serve alone. For Jennifer, it’s more of a grind because her serve is meant as a starting point…not an end.

You could also make a case for her return by looking at the incredible effort by Kimiko Date-Krumm who will be turning 44 at the end of September. While there’s no doubt that the Japanese is an inspiration, she’s not winning major titles, or any titles for that matter. I’m sure the American, with her experience and competitiveness, would want to make an impact at the elite level. But I guess we’ll see. Stay tuned...this could get interesting.

UPDATE: ICYMI: Highlights from Nicole's win over Sesil.

[Photo credit: Getty Images]

Monday, September 15, 2014

VIDEO VAULT: Roger Federer clinches, cries, and takes a ride

This is what happens when you clinch your country's first appearance in the Davis Cup final in 22 years. Or you happen to be Roger Federer. Or both. Weeeeeee!

The Swiss team will hit the road to take on France at home for the Davis Cup crown from November 21st to the 23rd. Find the rest of the results here.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Serves them right: Serena Williams, Marin Cilic, and their US Open titles

It’s great to finally be settling into our new digs in LA! The cross-country road trip to get here was spectacular. If you ever get the chance to do it, I highly recommend taking the trip. There are some really mind-numbing spots along the way (I MEAN ALL THAT CORN THOUGH), but overall it's an unforgettable experience.

The varied landscapes that make up America are truly breathtaking. From lush forests and the Great Plains, to high deserts and bustling metropolises, you really get a new appreciation for the US after a trip like this one. The sunrises and sunsets in the Midwest and Southwest truly left us speechless at times.

While on the road I followed along with the scores as best I could (we didn’t always have great reception) and watched some bits of matches, but not much, when we were able to sit still in front of a TV. I did catch the entirety of both finals, which were, if we’re all being completely honest, DUDS. What stood out to me was how the matches were similar in many ways but with one big difference – Serena Williams was going for her 18th major while Marin Cilic was looking for his first. They even played out the same; both ballers started off nervously, making errors and coming under pressure immediately in their first service games. But the one shot that never left them was the serve. As their serve went, so did their games. Once they found their footing and relaxed, they powered past their stunned opponents and straight to the titles.

ReRe, playing against good friend, Caroline Wozniacki, had all the pressure in the world on her shoulders. It had been a terrible season by her standards, not getting past the quarterfinals at any Slam. Plus, she was trying to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with her 18th major championship. ReRe came in with confidence having lost only once since Wimbledon, and she proceeded to plow her way through the draw. She never lost more than three games in any set and that trend continued in the final where she overwhelmed Woz from the start to reach another milestone in her career. With this type of form, it's hard not to see her reaching number 19 and then some.

Even though ReRe never gave her a chance in the final, Woz will leave New York knowing her game is better now than when she first made the finals and moved into the WTA Penthouse. Her serve is bigger and she has a more aggressive mindset on her returns. I’m still not convinced she’ll win a major in her career, but at least her game is continuing to evolve. It wouldn’t bother me at all if she proved me wrong.

Marin looked every bit the part of a multi-Slam champ. He was self-possessed and in complete control of his mind and game. After pushing aside Roger Federer in the semifinals, he came out for single-minded and extremely focused for the final. Not a hint of frustration betrayed his steely look. This match, tournament, and history were his for the taking – and he took it out on Kei Nishikori with ruthless abandon.

Whether it was the fatigue from his previous battles, the weight of the occasion, or both, the Japanese was a shadow of the baller who knocked out three top 10 seeds, including world number one Novak Djokovic. Even thought he didn’t walk away with the men’s title, Kei at least proved his body could sustain a few epic matches in succession without falling apart. He will need to figure out how to save some energy by shortening early round matches if he wants to compete for major titles.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Letter to DtL readers: On the road this week

We finally embarked on our cross-country trip to our new digs in Los Angeles. I'll miss New York City; it was once a dream of mine to live in the Big Apple and I did. For 16 years. But sometimes life calls for new adventures, and now happens to be one of those times.

Obviously the timing isn't ideal with the US Open starting tomorrow. I won't be posting this week, but I'm hoping to be settled enough to write some post towards the end of the tourney. Fingers crossed. Enjoy the matches and coverage, and I'll see you on the West Side!

[Photo(s) credit: Me, duh]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

FASHION FIX: Nike and fragment design introduce Nike Court collection

Nike Tennis and Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design label have collaborated on Nike Court, a new capsule collection debuting today during a pre-US Open event in Tribeca, New York. The streetwear designs are inspired by some of Nike's classic tennis styles with modern updates.

The Herrington Jacket is constructed from lightweight fabric and features white zips, stitched detailing, and a mock neck.

The Polo features blue accents on white cotton, as well as ergonomic seams for ease of movement.

The Tennis Classic features a crisp white leather upper and sole is accented with a contrasting heel patch in either blue suede or grey snakeskin embossed leather, while a perforated Swoosh adds a fresh detail to the minimal sneaker.

The Half-Zip features a zip-off adjustable hood, drawstring hem, and large center pocket. A mesh lining and mock-neck collar offer breathability and lightweight warmth.

Personally, I love this collection. Clean, sleek, classic styles with a streetwise sensibility. Plus, Rafa is in the ad. You really can't go wrong.

All the styles are available at

[Photo(s) credit: Nike Tennis]

VIDEO VAULT: Serena Williams talks and sings while Roger Federer just talks

Serena Williams loves her some karaoke. It's been well-documented, of course. But I still give her props for getting up on stage at the Delta OPEN Mic event last night in front of actual people and doing her rendition of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". Jack Sock, Orange Is The New Black’s Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox, comedian Kathy Griffin, 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden, Glee’s Darren Criss, and celebrity fitness trainer Shaun T joined the 17-time Grand Slammer at the party.

Roger Federer sat down with sponsor Wilson to talk about winning Cincinnati, his new racquet, and a little about his pre-match routine which includes not missing the match. His words. Swear.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Will Bethanie Mattek-Sands go all Johnny Weir on Tennis Channel?

Brace yourselves, Tennis Channel viewers. The broadcasting company today announced the addition of Bethanie Mattek-Sands to the on-air coverage team for the US Open starting next week. Yes, that BMS. And this one. And the one above. Not a bad way to spend an injury-induced layoff.

I think it's an absolutely inspired choice by Tennis Channel and I'm harboring very high expectations for her broadcasts:

She really needs to Johnny Weir (see the Nick McCarvel-penned definition here) the shit out of her on-air time. Like this:

And this:

And, well, this:

But @4AllSurfaces posed a very interesting question on Twitter:
Andy Roddick. No question for me. Why, do you have a better choice?

[Photo(s) credit: BMS - Getty Images]

Monday, August 18, 2014

FASHION FIX: UNIQLO launches 'Match Wear' collection for Djokovic, Nishikori, and Kunieda

UNIQLO just announced the release of the 'Match Wear' collection for their tennis ballers and Global Brand Ambassadors, including Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, and men's wheelchair champion, Shingo Kunieda. Some of these items will be on full display at the US Open beginning next week.

According to the company press release, the match shirt for Nole features an eagle motif (click the image above for a closer look at the motif on his sleeve) – the national bird of both his native Serbia and of the United States – while eagle wings on the back are a nod to his style on the court. Of course, the 7-time Grand Slammer has had a feathered fashion history. While with adidas, he launched a Falcon-themed collection and said at the time:
It’s one of my favorite animals, and I think it describes in some ways my personality as well. I play a pretty aggressive game, and I’m very emotional, and I’m kind of connected to that bird. My grandfather used to call me always when I was younger, ‘falcon, falcon’ – doesn’t make any sense in English, but in our language it does.
It may also have something to do with his love of flying. You can see his full collection here.

For Shingo and Kei, the match wear is designed to look great both on and off the court, featuring red, white, and blue stripes inspired by the American flag, Route 66, blue skies, and the sunset.

Kunieda will sport a V-Neck T-shirt at the US Open, while Nishikori a polo shirt. All the items are available for purchase at UNIQLO stores and online at

[Photo(s) credit: UNIQLO]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...