Google Down the Line!: 2007-07-29

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

+ TUESDAY NETCORDS: Venus, Amelie, Martina vs. Anna...ESPN grabs Bud, Ana remembers and more

(image courtesy of rampant_media)

- Power play: The WTA Tour introduced the "power index" at last week's Acura Classic to rate the hardest hitters on the women's side. The index takes into account a player's fastest groundstroke (forehand or backhand), first serve, second serve, first-serve return, second-serve return and overhead or volley. Rankings at the Acura Classic: No. 1? Venus Williams. No. 2? Maria Kirilenko - they may need to check their meter.

- Talking to the press in Carson, CA for this week's East West Bank Classic Serbian World No. 5 Ana Ivanovic described the bombings in Belgrade, saying "I still remember the first night we went into a cellar because we didn't know what to expect," [...] "At first we were very scared because we didn't know what to expect, but later they explained that they were aiming only at military targets. Still, there was quite a bit of collateral damage, but we still tried to live as normally as possible."

- Double vision: Swiss Martina Hingis definitely sees similarities between her game and Russian Anna Chakvetadze saying, "She’s very smart around the court and she has good vision. You don’t see anything specific that she’s winning matches [with] so I definitely see some similarities." We agree and we like.

- Take that NBC: Sports network giant ESPN gave struggling NBC the proverbial finger by hiring legendary sports writer (and tennis Hall of Famer) Bud Collins after Collins was unceremoniously dumped by the peacock network during this year's Wimbledon. Gotta love it...

- Frenchie Amelie Mauresmo, who's having a less than stellar year as it is, has pulled out of the upcoming Tier I Rogers Cup in Canada and the Pilot Pen in New Haven, CT to recover from her appendectomy in March. You can scratch her from your US Open office pools this year.

FASHION FIX: Serena Williams hits Rodeo Drive for charity

The Serena Party Watch got hit up again this past weekend. Serena "ReRe" Williams was spotted at basketball stars Baron Davis and Paul Pierce's LA Stars Rodeo Drive Experience All Star Charity on August 4.

Still sporting the soft cast on her left hand for the thumb injury, ReRe looks beautiful in this silk empire waist dress in fuschia. The color and style work very well on her.

And although we love seeing her out and about for the Serena Party Watch, we can't wait to see ReRe back on the tennis court (and by the look on her face, she can't either.)

Mark Philippoussis says goodbye to reality TV...for now

Okay everyone, a collective *sigh*. Age of Love, the relationship reality show starring former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis, has come to its rightful end. After a disappointing ratings start, the program's finale ended up as the third-watched program last night behind FOX's Hell's Kitchen and repeats of CBS sitcoms Two and a Half Men & Rules of Engagement.

Not surprisingly, the Aussie chose 25-year-old "kitten" Amanda Salinas over 48-year-old "cougar" Jennifer Braff. The couple made their first public appearance together at the party for the show's finale held at the Extra Lounge in the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino on August 6.

Alas, Mark's reality show aspirations may not be ending: he's in talks to star in a second show chronicling his "comeback" to tennis.

Monday, August 6, 2007

+ MONDAY NETCORDS: Ana, Lindsay, the Grafassi's pay up...US Open Series sleeps, Bec designs, Nicolay denies and more

(image courtesy of Katie Tegtmeyer)

- Yawnsville: We agree with Tennis-X - the US Open Series has been in a slumber even though it's hitting the FOURTH week. The action heats up on the men's side, though, with The Rogers Cup in Montreal - anyone want to pick against a Federer/Nadal final?

- Looney tune: Nikolay Davydenko, all wrapped up in a betting scandal, vehemently denies the allegations and states he's "flabbergasted" along with his handlers Sylvester, Bugs Bunny, and the Wiley Coyote.

- Ana Ivanovic is recovered from a knee injury and says, ""I'm so ready to play," [...] "Let's go."

- Update on the Grafassi's: Fresh off the news that the dynamic (retired) duo will be featured in a new ad for Louis Vuitton and opening a Fairmont resort hotel in Idaho, word has come that legends Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi will be opening ANOTHER resort in Costa Rica. Price tag: a cool $800 million. Got cash?

- Preview: Stella McCartney for adidas launches the Gym Dance range for Fall/Winter 2007

- Actress/singer/mom/designer? Bec Hewitt, supportive wife to Aussie hothead Lleyton Hewitt, is launching Bec Kidz, a line of children's wear and says, ""It's something I've always wanted to do."

- PHOTO OP: Do they realize she's not playing? Maybe they meant S-H-A-R-A-P-O-V-A. (image courtesy of Peter Bodo's Tennisworld)

FASHION FIX: Off the tennis court, on to the runway

Some of the ATP tour's finest dropped their tennis racquets and hit the runway in Montreal this week. A number of the top men's players took part in a fashion show during The Rogers Cup at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel on August 5.

Players who worked the runway included Jamie Murray, Marcos Baghdatis, Novak Djokovic, and James Blake.

Though all the guys look great dolled up, we really are speechless about the clothes the Djoker was forced to wear...a true fashion DON'T.

(images courtesy of Getty Images)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

THE LOW DOWN: Tennis stars who play with wood

An interesting editorial in the current Tennis magazine by Douglas Robson is a study on the temperament of current players on the tours. Robson carried a few wooden rackets and visited the practice courts of Indian Wells and the Sony Ericsson Open with hope of getting a few of the players to take a crack at hitting with wood.

Who were the most personable and approachable players? Take a look:

Swiss Martina Hingis, an old school player in her own right, had this to say about hitting with wood:

“You'd have to get used to it and find out the strength and weakness of the racket because the strategy would definitely have to be a little different,” [...] “You get the flat ball, so you'd have to be more aggressive [and] try to hit winners sooner."

Spin merchant Russian Sveta Kuznetsova, when asked if she could possibly beat a current player with the wood, said:

“Yeah,” [...] “Depends against who, but I think I would.”

Cutie Novak Djokovic and his 2 hitting partners played a series of tiebreaks with the wood. Always the "Djoker" the Serb had this to say:

“It's the first time in my life,” [...] “When we started to play, I tried to play as players did 20 years ago – the flat hits, chip and charge… volleys, slice. Then I tried to hit as we do today with spin and it was pretty good. I won I think three dinners."

And, clearly not the modest type, Daniela Hantuchova said:

"It was coming off the racket pretty well...I always thought I'd be quite good playing maybe 100 years ago."

Not a surprising bunch, at least to us. But more interesting was who gave wood the thumbs down:

It makes us wonder why they refused to experiment. They are obviously too young to have actually played with wooden rackets so why the disinterest? Too intensely focused or too self-conscious??

We think it would be great to see modern players compete with old technology in an exhibition match. Some players need to appreciate the history...and lighten up.

FASHION FIX: A bright tennis moment for adidas

Russian hottie (and perennial headcase) Marat Safin and Swiss Patty Schnyder are both sponsored by adidas. Though we give huge props to the sporting giant for their successful collaboration with Stella McCartney, we think they went wacky with the Crayola crayons box this season.

Color is good on the tennis court (read: white + green), but in small doses. The yellow/orange is a bit bright, particularly when someone chooses to wear the entire outfit (think: hazard sign).


Tell us!

(images courtesy of AP Photo)

Friday, August 3, 2007

FASHION FIX: The short(s) of it all

We've really been loving the flirty skirt moment happening on the women's WTA Tour this summer. The trend continues at this week's Acura Classic with Maria Kirilenko in Stella McCartney for adidas and Tataina Golovin in Lacoste. For all the athleticism and power these players possess, this style adds some much needed elegance to the sport.

But we've also noticed a disturbing trend looking to take the spotlight from the skirts: shorty-shorts. Recent perpetrators include usually fashion-conscious players like Venus "V" Williams (who we know owns a flirty skirt) and slender Slovak Daniela Hantuchova. We're all for minimalism and comfort, but this looks too boyish (and it seems we're not the only ones thinking this way.)

Our memories remind us that Russian Elena Dementieva was the first player we spotted wearing fashion shorts back in the day.

BEST LOOK: Flirty skirts or shorty-shorts? Tell us!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

+ THURSDAY NETCORDS: James talks, Vince raps, Serena eats...Acura bids adieu, player dopes and more

(image courtesy of alex whittaker)

- Fact or Fiction: Tennis blog Racqonteur is claiming to be following a story about a power player on the WTA Tour known for using performance-enhancing drugs. This player had a good end of year in 2006, and slow start to 2007, and is looking to hit the 'roids again to defend her ranking points...

- Taking a break: American James Blake, whose book "Breaking Back" is No. 22 on The New York Times Best Seller list, took a rest from the US Open Series and visited Good Morning America as part of his promotional tour. Tennis Week is hosting a link to the interview.

- Serena Party Watch: No, not another party this time, phew. Just video of ReRe leaving Mr. Chow's in LA, followed by paparazzi and fans, before hitting Common's album release party this week. Not that we needed proof.

- Get a grip: Why the Washington Post gives any ink or paper to Vince Spadea's "rap" and ramblings is beyond us.

- We've been watching tennis articles this week wax nostalgic about the ending of the Acura Classic. Add Tennis Diary to the mix with this thought to ponder: does Acura's fate symbolize the future of American tennis tournaments?

MARTINA HINGIS: A champion living in limbo

Martina Hingis is facing a very different tennis life than what she started with in 1997. That year, Martina won 3 out of the 4 Grand Slams with her ethereal all-court game (losing the French Open final to Croatia's Iva Majoli), dominated the women's tour where Steffi Graf and Monica Seles left off, and became the youngest No. 1 in history. Like a grinning assassin, Martina seemingly took pleasure in the efficiency at which she picked off each opponent.

But at the end of 2002, after being hit off the court by bigger, stronger athletes and suffering several injuries, Martina left the tour for the next 3 years. She had a successful return last year, finishing in the Top 10 and making the quarterfinals of the Australian and French Opens. However, the 5-time Grand Slam has been challenged this year by new injuries and old issues - namely her lack of power and strength.'s Matt Cronin talked with the "Swiss Miss" who had this to say about the state of her body and mind:

"If your body doesn't let do things you should be [doing], it gets hard on the mind and motivation because you know what you should be doing and you are not and it doesn't give you a huge chance at success. It can vary. Sometimes I have very fast thoughts. When I feel better I say I can continue for another five years, but then when I am not, I say, 'Do I really have to do this to myself?' If everything is great and I'm playing well and winning, I feel go on forever. And, if I'm not, I say why all the hassle and the travel? It's very close. Sometimes in a few weeks I can be a totally different person. You talk to me at Wimbledon and I'm one way, and then now I'm another person who is saying the fire is back."

Is it her body, her mind, or both? Some think Martina should emulate the current World No. 1 Justine Henin, who is similar to Martina in stature but superior in physical conditioning. Or maybe the winning ways of her fiance, Czech Radek Stepanek, will rub off on her.

She can only hope.

Fun fact: Martina Hingis was the first female athlete to grace the cover of the U.S. edition of GQ magazine.

(image courtesy of bueroalbers)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

+ WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Justine & Jelena, Venus & Serena...Bjorn's undies, tennis blogs and more

(image courtesy of dean armstrong)

- Tennis Diary is keeping track of the continuing saga around the Masters Series musical chairs.

- Ted Robinson gives his opinion on the US Open Series so far and so does Tennis-X.

- World No. 1 Justine Henin and World No. 3 Jelena Jankovic have secured their spots in the season-ending WTA Championships in Madrid.

- On the Baseline discusses the champion mettle of Venus and Serena

- Fill in the blank: ________ is the key to success at the elite tennis level

- Legendary Bjorn Borg not only influences sneaker design, he makes underwear too!

- PHOTO OP: Boys will be boys (via TennisPlanet)

ROUND ROBIN: Serena Party Watch, Ana takes on Spain, Tomas and his 'roos

Serena Party Watch: Okay, it's official. We can't keep up with Serena "ReRe" Williams' party-hopping ways - we get dizzy just thinking about it. This week, the 8-time Grand Slam champion was spotted at hip-hopper Common's Finding Forever album release event sponsored by Target. I have to give it to ReRe though, this is the best she's EVER looked. Wearing a taupe double pocket wrap-dress, strappy wedge heels, and a bouncy bob hairstyle, ReRe looks sexy and confident (though not very injured...hmmm.)

Ana conquers Spain: The Global Domination Tour continues for World No. 5 Ana Ivanovic. The Serbian beauty was recently interviewed by Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. Click here for the link to the interview. (via

'Roos news: We caught a glimpse of Czech Tomas Zib battling (and losing) to cutie Andy Roddick at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic and couldn't help but notice the kangaroos he was sporting on his shirt and wristbands (plus the white + green combo-of-the-moment we're loving.) After a little research we found out the clothing company is L'Alpina, an Italian sportswear company. Apparently, they've been around since the 1980's and players such as Anders Jarryd and Goran Ivanisevic have sported their duds in the past. We like, but does anyone have more information on L'Alpina? Let us know! (photo via AP Photo)

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