Google Down the Line!: 2007-11-18

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Letter to our readers: we're on holiday!

Hello readers,

We won't be posting today because we'll be traveling to Florida and stuffing our faces in celebration of Thanksgiving.

We want to wish those celebrating this holiday a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

- Down the Line!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rafael Nadal reveals Wimbledon post-match cryfest to El Pais, "I don't like to be seen crying," says Rafa

For Rafael Nadal, the 2007 season was in many ways a mirror image of 2006 - a slow start to the season highlighted by a beatdown in the Australian Open quarterfinals at the hands of Fernando Gonzalez, an as-expected successful clay court season capturing his third straight French Open crown, a run to the Wimbledon final losing a nail-biter to Roger Federer, and another disappointing US Open campaign followed by a lackluster fall to end the season.

In a very revealing interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, the World No. 2 discusses his lingering foot injury, the never-talked about aftermath of his Wimbledon loss to Federer, current doping policies and controversies, and where his mental and physical health is now. (The interview was originally conducted in Spanish, but translated to English via Talk Tennis.)

Q: You’ve played this entire year without a lot of physical training for endurance.

RF: I have never said it, because it sounds like an excuse. I don’t like to talk about injuries. I do physical training everyday, except I can’t run. But now, during the pre-season, I am going to try. Ever since my foot injury in 205 (sic), I am very careful and I avoid running. And that shows. I need to get my physical form as I play matches, and it’s hard because I don't have a good foundation.

Q. Weren't you injured during Roland Garros?

RF: I played all of Roland Garros with a numbed, anesthetized foot. I didn’t want to go to the hospital so as not to put doubts into my head. I knew it was noting (sic) serious. My foot hurt. I went to the hospital after the final, and I had a small contusion.

Q. What have you done to counter this problem?

RF: I swim, I run inside the pool to get endurance, I do rowing, bicycle, the elliptic machine… But from experience, I know it does not replace running. It does not give you the same kind of confidence. It’s hard.

Q. What happened in the locker room after that [Wimbledon] final? There are some rumors going around…

RF: I kept myself together pretty well during the ceremony, I didn’t want to act like a child. But once I arrived in the locker room , I sat down, and naturally, after losing the final of the tournament that thrills me the most, against the number one player, and having had lots of opportunities, I started to cry – out of disappointment, sadness. It was the only match where I cried afterwards last year, and one of the few where I’ve done it in my entire life. It was a very even match. I spent 20 or 25 minutes totally crushed. Once people started to arrive, I sat in a bathtub. They were coming to encourage me. I would thank them and ask them to leave me alone. I don’t like to be seen crying.

Q. At some point, your uncle Toni even proposed he stop being your coach.

RF: This year, when things weren’t going well at the beginning, he did suggest that. I said no. That was not the problem I thought I had enough strength in me to turn the situation around, with no need of a new coach. Toni is, and will continue to be, my coach.

Q. Do [the media] ask you questions about doping more than any other player?

RF: I don’t feel more persecuted, but mistreated. A lot of these things seem ridiculous to me. When I finished my match against Ferrer, I had to stay there until midnight because I couldn’t pee. I ate on the floor.

Q. Now, a positive result would get four year’s suspension.

RF: A Frenadol [cold medicine], a Vicks Vaporub... it's considered doping. We have to be aware that, often, just a little oversight can become doping. I don’t know if Martina Hingis has taken cocaine. Do you think that’s going to help her? To me, it wouldn’t at all. And yet, they destroy her image. I am disgusted by drugs, but some things are just ridiculous. We the players should have more solidarity among ourselves, be strong, protest. We are not united. I am gone all the month of December and I have to report where I am going to be every single day. It’s ridiculous. You say to yourself: Why am I being treated as a criminal?

(image via AP Photos)

THE LOW DOWN: Boris Becker splits with Sharlely Kerssenberg, blames 'different lifestyles'

Becker break-up: In a recent interview with Revue magazine, tennis star Boris Becker confirmed he has split from girlfriend Sharlely Kerssenberg. The pair most recently walked the red carpet together at the MTV Europe Awards where Boris was also a presenter.

The 40-year old former Wimbledon champ tells the magazine, "We came to realize in the course of time that we stood for different lifestyles. In such a situation you have to be honest with each other."

Boris' explanation is a bit cryptic, we think. What does he mean when he says "we stood for different lifestyles"? Wow -for someone who helped conceive a baby in a restaurant broom closet, that's really saying something.

Gallery of the Unknown Tennis Player #2

So, the answers to yesterday's GUTP quiz were Spain's David Ferrer and Russia's breakdancing wannabe Svetlana Kuznetsova. Congrats if you picked them out correctly !

Do you know who these mystery players are? Tell us.

"I'm a choker extraordinaire. I can't seem to close out matches when it counts. I can even have huge leads over my opponents and squander them away. My biggest nemesis: Justine Henin. Who am I?"

"Some peeps call me the Mallorcan Matador for my intensity on the tennis court. I have this bizarre habit of picking my wedgie every time I serve, even when I don't have one. I even think it's strange! Who am I?"

Roger Federer featured in GQ magazine's Men of the Year issue

The Roger Federer accolades never stop coming. The World No. 1 is featured wearing an Armani Exchange t-shirt in GQ magazine's influential Men of the Year issue for 2007. Tennis' 'Court King' joins cover boys Bill Clinton, Kanye West, and Daniel Craig in the December issue.

Click here to see the full list of honorees and here to see the beautiful slideshow of images.

(image courtesy of Liz Collins for GQ)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let's play Gallery of the Unknown Tennis Player!

Over here at Down the Line! we've noticed, during our many hours perusing image banks and sites, the thousands of photos of tennis players that will simply go unused. Why? Many times the player's face is covered with some sort of object, rendering the images useless but often with hilarious results. Most media outlets would pass these by, but not us.

We've decided we're going to uses these photos to test your player knowledge in a series we'll call Gallery of the Unknown Tennis Player. Each player's face is covered by an object - a shirt, towel, or their own uncontrollable hands - and all you'll get is the player's own description of themselves (well, not really, but we'd like to think so).

Think you know your players? Let's find out...

"I once gave up on tennis out of frustration only to return after a stint doing construction work. Recently I destroyed the No. 2 and 3 players in the world in a major tournament, and I own one of the best returns on the ATP tour. Who am I?"

"I may not look it but I'm black. It may have been in a previous life, but I'm still black. The Williams sisters even give me tips on my many hairdos, and I'm going to learn to breakdance if it kills me. Who am I?"

(images via AP Photo)

Federer wins first match against Sampras, players hit in traditional Korean garb

The first battle of the tennis titans, also known as the Hyundai Card Super Match, was played out between 14-time Grand Slam champ Pete Sampras and his heir apparent Roger Federer in Seoul, Korea. After working the press room the day before, the legends began match day giving a tennis clinic to some extremely lucky (not jealous, really) amateurs, working on serves, groundies, volleys while pocketing some uber-valuable autographs.

The clinic was followed by their highly-anticipated exhibition match. The World No. 1, as expected, pulled out an easy win over Sampras 6-4, 6-3 in 61 minutes. The win wasn't a total whitewash, however. "It was a little tricky situation. I'd been playing well and Pete's been retired for five years," Federer said. "I expected myself to win tonight. "I am very happy with my performance but I think Pete's still playing very, very well. [...] "When I found my range, Pete missed a few too many shots, [...] I was maybe lucky to win the first set. Then I got on a roll and started to relax. I enjoyed the match very much." For his part, Sampras said, "I feel a little disappointed, [...] But I made Roger sweat a little bit tonight. "I can still serve quite well but the hardest thing for me is movement,[...] I was a little careless up on the net and missed a few easy balls. But I think I will play well in the next match."

They ended the first match by donning traditional Korean clothing to thank the fans, even managing to swat some balls in the gowns. Now that's what we call tennis fashion.

(images via AP Photo)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Svetlana Kuznetsova wants to breakdance her way to World No. 1

Svetlana Kuznetsova is the No. 2 player in the world, but you wouldn't know it. The Russian has been forced to play second, and sometimes, third fiddle to her more famous compatriots including Maria "Shriek"apova, Anna Kournikova, and even Elena Dementieva. But the former US Open champion says she's okay with it.

In a recent interview with Ace Tennis Magazine, Sveta discusses growing up in an athletic environment, her (un)marketability, her past life as a black woman, and her desire to learn breakdancing.

On growing up around her father's cycling team:

"I was always living with Dad's team. They had to go to bed at 10pm and always get up very early. I wanted to be just like the guys. I remember, in the middle of winter, they would get up and go running at 7am. On Sundays when I had no school I would get up with them. It was very cold. They would say "What are you doing here. Why aren't you sleeping? [...] I looked up to those guys and I liked to do what they were doing."

On becoming World No. 1:

"I'm starting to be much more consistent, [...] It was one step to get to the six finals this year. The next step, next year is to win all these finals and get to No. 1 in the world."

On her lack of sponsorships and marketability:

"Maria [Sharapova] is not getting deals because she was No. 1 in Russia, [...] It's because they've made this image of her. She is a marketing player. I'm different. If I would be sold as she is, I don't know if I could handle it. It's really hard to be always posing and smiling. She deserves this money but, in the end, I think every player should ask themselves this question: 'Are you happy with what you're doing?' I'm not going to answer for Maria or for Anna Kournikova or anyone else. But I can say I'm happy wwith what I'm doing. And I don't have lots of sponssorship deals."

On not receiving a congratulatory call from Russian president Vladimir Putin after winning the '04 US Open:

"[Putin] is from my city and I'm the only (champion) tennis player from St Petersburg. When [Anastasia] Myskina won the French Open and Sharapova won Wimbledon, he called them. But I won the US Open and I had nothing. I was really sad about that. It really hurt me. He never did anything."

On her affinity for black culture:

"I like African people so much, [...] I have a lot of black friends. I feel great with them. I love everything about black culture. You know how sometimes you feel you have a past life? I feel like I was black in mine."

On wanting to learn how to breakdance:

"It's funny because I can play tennis in front of many people, [...] but I cannot start dancing because I have no clue. I would love to dance well, especially breakdancing, but I hate it when people laugh at me. "

(image via

THE LOW DOWN: Is Serena Williams dating rapper Common?

Does Serena Williams have a new beau? Serena, who was previously linked to actor Jackie Long, was spotted holding hands with rap-artist Common at the launch party for sister Venus' clothing line EleVen at Tenjune last week, reported the New York Post's Page Six.

A spy for the gossip rag said, "They were very friendly, arm-in-arm. She looked great, [...] All night they were sitting together. They were keeping it cool, but you could tell Common likes himself some Serena. I asked a friend of his and was told they are dating."

Sampras and Federer come together in Seoul, Korea for exhibition tour launch

Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, two of tennis' greatest men's champions, met up in Seoul, Korea for the first of three exhibition matches - known as the Hyundai Card Super Match VI - in Asia. Together they own an astounding 26 Grand Slam titles. Following Seoul, the two legends will hit up Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 22 and then the November 23 meeting in Macao, China.

Sampras and Federer showcased their framed hand prints for the media.

(images via AP Photo)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

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


Justine on top of the world, so let's celebrate!
Picture perfect
Maria launches Dubai Lifestyle City
Fed finishes No. 1
Brad dumped by another Andy
Serena supports her sister
Venus gives good face, launches the EleVen media tour


THURSDAY: Roger, Andy vs. Brad II, Ana vs. Jelena ...Venus and Serena double up, Bec cries and more

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