Google Down the Line!: 2007-08-05

Saturday, August 11, 2007

INSTANT REPLAY: a look back at this week's top tennis plays


"adidas and the amazing technicolor clothing"
Got wood?
The boys of the ATP strike a pose
The reality of a tennis afterlife
Pretty in fuschia
Serbia has a new playboy
"I prefer to play tennis and be alone than to be working in a tennis club from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and having two kids to feed and a wife that is never happy," said _________.
A player, her coach, and an ever growing brand


Catching up with Jennifer, Lleyton, & Daniela


MONDAY: Ana, Lindsay, the Grafassi's pay up...US Open Series sleeps, Bec designs, Nicolay denies and more
TUESDAY: Venus, Amelie, Martina vs. Anna...ESPN grabs Bud, Ana remembers, and more
THURSDAY: Jelena vs. Maria, Patrick on Lleyton...Brett Ratner remembers Serena, Martina debates and more

Friday, August 10, 2007

The continued growth of the Justine Henin brand

(images courtesy of

After some much needed time away from the courts, Justine Henin has begun preparations for her assault on the North American hardcourts and her second US Open title. Her last match was, of course, the shocking semifinal loss to Frenchie Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon.

During her break, Justine not only showed off her new fashion smarts. The World No. 1 also had a chance to work with her charity, 20 Hearts Foundation, where she spent 3 weeks in the Swiss Alps at a therapeutic holiday camp. If that wasn't enough, the feisty Belgian and her long-time coach, Carlos Rodriguez, launched an elite tennis player development program, JUST iN TEAM, an extension of their tennis academy 6th Sense. Recently, Justine and Carlos held a press conference and spoke about the program and its goals:

JH: "I am very happy that JUST iN TEAM was born. It's begun and ready to go. All the necessary things needed to launch this project enables us to start quickly, but we also think it's a good moment to do it now. We answer to the desires of many people in our tennis academy. From the adults who wish to play one hour a week to a young person's tennis lessons. I feel that this project is the logical extension of our academy."

CR: "The goal is to integrate these players into the professional tennis career environment. We know how difficult it is in the transition from junior level to the full time pro circuit. Its especially tough for young males because the differences between boys and men are extreme. [...] Justine and I have learned so much, and it's our turn to teach what we know. We do not see the performance as the end in itself, but a state of mind. The matches won, and the rankings become the results. It is this approach which we want to give our academy and JUST iN TEAM. We want the parents and young people to realize that the goal in fact is to give your best all the time, and nothing else."

JH: "We have two great people joining us. There's Andres Bruno, he worked previously at the Juan Carlos Ferrero tennis academy. He has vast experience as a coach, and toured with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Guillermo Lopez at tournaments. In addition, we have Philippe Dehaes, who was the coach of Kristof Vliegen, Christophe Rochus, Xavier Malisse, and Gilles Elseneer."

FASHION FIX: More bright ideas from adidas

Here's more evidence for our case that the adidas designers have been sniffing the Crayola crayons box a little too hard this season.

We are fans of color on the court, but in small doses. C'mon adidas, take it down a notch.


Tell us what you think!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

+ THURSDAY NETCORDS: Jelena vs. Maria, Patrick on Lleyton...Brett remembers Serena, Martina debates and more

(image courtesy of intensity)

- Trouble brewing: World No. 3 Jelena Jankovic has called out Maria "Shriek"apova saying, "She's still the No. 2 player in the world, and only winning one title is not something I think you should see from the No. 2 player in the world." (women's tennis blog)

- 2 time Grand Slam champion Patrick Rafter doesn't believe fellow Aussie Lleyton Hewitt will reach No. 1 again, but Indian tennis legend Vijay Amritraj believes his countrywoman, the red-hot Sania Mirza, has top 10 game in her.

- Serena Williams, who hasn't played since her quarterfinal loss to Justine Henin at Wimbledon, has entered the Pilot Pen tournament. Meanwhile, her former boyfriend, director Brett Ratner, remembers Serena telling him, "Brett, I want to be honest with you, OK? There’s nothing I hate more in life than playing tennis with you."

- Greg Garber asks: Is gamemanship just part of the sport?

- Legendary Martina Navratilova, holder of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, gives her thoughts on tonight's "gay debate" between Democratic contenders for the US presidency.

- Apparently shorty-shorts look good on someone: New York City men

- PHOTO OP: Happy 26th birthday, Roger!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

MARAT SAFIN: Struggling to find a place in the game

2-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin has always been somewhat of an enigma. Blessed with natural power and perfect technique, he is arguably the most talented player on the men's tour (next to a certain Swiss superstar.) The explosive Russian can defeat any player on his best day, but, with his tempermental nature and lack of consistency, lose to an unheralded journeyman on his worst. Time is not his friend, however. At 27, his best days may be behind him.

This year, hoping to turn around his game, Marat has hooked up with Hernan Gumy as his new coach. The 35-year-old Argentine, who formerly coached Guillermo Canas, Gustavo Kuerten and Guillermo Coria, is working with him through the hard-court season.

This week, Marat entered the Rogers Cup and lost in the second round to World No. 2 Rafael Nadal (their first meeting.) At a press conference after his first round match, the Russian spoke philosophically (and with his trademark humor) about his life, the current state of his game, and whether he can return to the elite level of men's tennis.

On where his life is at:
"...look at me now. Not bad for 10 years of career. Instead of that ... I'm doing the things that I love to do. So you know, I was lucky to catch the train. I have everything that I need. I have a good life. I'm flying business, first class. I have my friends coming to watch me. When I go to Moscow, I'm staying at a nice place, nice area, good neighbourhood, nice cars. So everything is great. So why I have to be frustrated?"

On what his life could be:
"In the worst scenario, the worst scenario, I would be a coach in some club in Russia, in Moscow, that nobody would even think about me" [...] "That's for sure not for me yet. I prefer to play tennis and be alone than to be working in a tennis club from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and having two kids to feed and a wife that is never happy. Sounds familiar or not?"

On the state of his game:
"Of course, you want to do a little better than you are doing ... But after all, if you thinking the big picture, it doesn't really matter ... If you want to play tennis, and I want to play tennis, I really want to try, I think everything can come back and everything can be improved."

On playing Rafa and the other young players:
"When the guys played against me before, yes, was different story. Not now ... Anything can happen, of course. I'm not going there and tank the match. I'm going to try to win it, of course. But I'm definitely not expecting anything great out of it."

Novak Djokovic dresses up Serbian Playboy

Tennis' World No. 3 Novak Djokovic is trying to keep things light. After being forced down the Montreal runway in a scary, chest-baring "fashion" statement during the Rogers Cup this week, the Djoker turns up the hotness meter in this spread for Serbian Playboy.

Though we can't read the article worth a lick, the images showcase different sides of his engaging personality. The Djoker's elegance is undeniable.

ROUND ROBIN: Jennifer returns, Lleyton opens up, Daniela hits the clubs

A champion's return: 3-time Grand Slam champion Jennifer Capriati made a special appearance this past weekend at the Tier I Acura Classic. Though she recently discussed her struggles with depression, J-Cap was all smiles this day, looking summery in her boho-chic moment. Could this be a sign of her return back to the tennis court?

A kindler, gentler Lleyton: Lleyton Hewitt, who has teamed up with World No. 2 Rafael Nadal for doubles at this week's Rogers Cup, seems to be in a better place these days as well. Now managed by trusted former Tennis Australia administrator David Drysdale and coached by Tony Roche, who most recently worked with Roger Federer, the Aussie is reportedly more open and approachable. Could this transformation be much deeper than just a marketing ploy? (via adelaidenow)

Clubbing it: When shorts-loving Slovak Daniela Hantuchova isn't powering groundies, she enjoys hitting something else: the golf course. Though not anywhere near as capable on the green as she is on the tennis court, she has had some success. "I've got a hole-in-one at the Hopman Cup in Australia," said the World No. 10 from the East West Bank Classic. "I loved it right from the start. For me, it's a great way to relax and get away from everything." (via LA Daily News, image courtesy of AP Photos)

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)

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