Google Down the Line!: 2007-11-25

Friday, November 30, 2007

Justine Henin inaugurates new tennis club and school, channels inner-Madonna

World No. 1 Justine Henin, channeling her inner-Madonna circa 1990, spoke at a press conference today to celebrate the inauguration of her new tennis club and school La Palestre in Limelette, Belgium. The facility will include three new clay courts, a clubhouse, a restaurant, an open space events hall, gardens and a medical treatment room.

(images via BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images,

Gallery of the Unknown Tennis Player #5

So here are the answers to Tuesday's GUTP quiz: Roger Federer and Anna Chakvetadze. Congrats if you guessed correctly!

Can you unmask today's mystery players? Good luck...and make sure to check back next week to find out who'll join Serena Williams as a recipient of a TENNIS 2007 Award!

"Dude, I've got a cannonball serve but I still can't beat Federer. Even if he had one arm tied behind his back and was blindfolded, I still couldn't ace that guy. I'm lucky to have one win over him in sixteen matches. Who am I?"

"One year I was in the top 5 but then I hit the skids. Some say it was due to weird dieting and some say I had an eating disorder. But I say it was some off-court personal issues with my family. Who am I?"

(images via AP Photo)

THE LOW DOWN: Andy Murray assembles team, "I don't want any egos involved," says Andy

Apparently there's only room in Andy Murray's world for one ego, and that's his own. According to This is London, high-profile coach Brad Gilbert was dumped recently because the 20-year old Brit doesn't "want any egos involved" in his tennis career. Andy went on to say,

"I need to make sure that I put together a team with the right people who will work for me. With Brad it wasn't just a clash of personalities, there were a lot more things contributing to it than that."

"I wanted to take the opportunity to be in control. I feel much more relaxed about my tennis now, as I feel like I'm in charge of the decisions. The responsibility is on me to sort things out."

"I wanted to make sure I could go on court with a free mind, believing that I have the right people in place."

The No. 1 British player has assembled a team that includes former British Davis Cup player Miles Maclagan, fitness experts Jez Green and Matt Little, and coaches Louis Cayer and Leon Smith. Phew - that's a team.

Of course it's important, thought, for players to feel comfortable about the team and support system they have in place. However, his references to "egos" strikes us as very similar to the rumors about why Andy Roddick split with Brad in 2004. Sounds like someone needs to get the hint.

(image courtesy of AP)

THE LOW DOWN: Nadal's doctor gives injury thumbs up, entertains media at Red Cross event in Madrid

Rafael Nadal's doctor, Angel Ruiz Cotorro, has come to the defense of Rafa's statement yesterday that his injury is not career-threatening. In a statement released today, Dr. Cotorro said,

"After carrying out routine tests, I consider Rafael to be in perfect condition to continue developing his career in the coming years, [...] "I am absolutely certain the said injury will not be a handicap [to his professional activities at the highest level]."

"He picked it up in April 2004. It was a stress fracture in the left foot. Once cured, a specific program was instigated along with his fitness trainer Joan Forcades and physiotherapist Rafael Maymo."

"From a medical point of view, by following the program Rafael has been able to develop his professional career to the highest level winning 23 titles over the last three years."

In other Nadal news, the World No. 2 joined Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillastook today at a Red Cross media event to support their campaign to free the world from malaria at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Rafa dropped his tennis racquet and showed off his football skills to the media.

(images via Getty)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

THE LOW DOWN: Rafael Nadal releases statement on fitness questions, "...I want to make it clear for everyone that I’m fine," says Rafa

Rafael Nadal is determined to refute the remarks his coach and uncle Toni Nadal made about Rafa's lingering foot injury to El Diario de Mallorca. Yesterday, Uncle Toni was quoted as saying, "It's very serious. I don't know [if it's career-threatening]. I'll let the doctor reply to that. He has to take a lot of precautions when he plays." Rafa already spoke out on Spanish state TV last night but he's continued to speak publicly today about Toni's comments.

In a clear move to calm the speculation and remove doubts about his fitness (most importantly in the mind's of his opponents), the World No. 2 made the following statement via his website:

Hello everyone!

I’m usually not the kind that likes to clarify what is written about me on the press, but given the all the fuzz around the interview my uncle Toni did for ‘El Diario de Mallorca, I want to make it clear for everyone that I’m fine."

The injury I had in 2005 - and that I have already recovered from - is under total medical control. I don’t agree with what is being published, nor with the things that are being said in relation to the injury. I don’t know if the statements were taken out of context or if Toni didn’t express himself well (I wasn’t’ at the interview and therefore can’t give my opinion).

The truth of the matter is that it’s not like what the press is saying. In fact, I’ve been playing and training normally since 2006 by being cautious like it was advised. The only injury I had this season was, like you all know, in my knees. But as I said before, there is no need to be alarmed and my career isn’t in danger."

Finally, I just wanted to point out that this has been my best season yet. I was able to get the most points I’ve ever had since I started my career, was also able to achieve great results and on top of that I was able to shorten the point difference between me and an unreachable Roger Federer.

Thank you all for the support you always give me.

Rafa Nadal

It seems Rafa's publicist, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, needs to step up here because there's obviously some miscommunication happening in the Nadal camp. Was Uncle Toni speaking out of turn, or is Rafa hiding his wounds so he won't appear vulnerable to his opponents?

(image via

Paradorn Srichaphan marries former Miss Universe Natalie Glebova

Paradorn Srichaphan married the stunning Natalie Glebova in Bangkok today. The pair met at the Thailand Open in September 2006 when the former Miss Universe gave the Thai tennis star a kiss on the cheek after his win over the now retired Tim Henman.

The couple formally announced their engagement to a throng of gathered press at Bangkok’s luxurious Sukhothai Hotel in April. At the time, Paradorn said, "I'm a bit nervous,[...] For a man to decide to have a family, it's a one-time decision and a big one."

Though her felt the butterflies, he went on to say, "This feels right. We share the same passions and really understand each other.“It is once in a lifetime that a man has to decide to settle down and have a family and I have only one chance to make this. Natalie is definitely going to be a daughter-in-law for the Thai people."

He doesn't plan on hanging up his racquets, however, now that he's a married man. "I will continue to play after I settle down, because tennis is my passion."

(images via getty,

SIGHTING: Seles, Davenport, and King gather for March of Dimes award luncheon

Three of tennis' greatest champions attended the March of Dimes 24th Annual Sports Luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Monica Seles was on hand to present The Corporate Leadership Award to Chairman and CEO of IMG Ted Forstmann.

Lindsay Davenport was the recipient of The Sportswoman of the Year Award (strange since she only officially returned to tennis action this fall, but okay) and grabbed a photo-op with the legendary Billie Jean King.

(images via, wireimage)

Boris Becker to Sharlely Kerssenberg: "no mre i luv u"

no mre i luv u: Sharlely Kerssenberg, who was recently dumped by Boris Becker due to "different lifestyles", revealed the former tennis star made his intentions known a day before his 4oth birthday through an SMS text message. British tabloid The Sun quoted an interview Sharlely conducted with German mag Bunte, in which she said,

"The way it was done hurt me deeply. That was anything but cool. But he is the love of my life. He was the perfect boyfriend for me, a true gentleman. I admire him so much."

A true gentlemen? Seriously Sharlely?? He dumped you through a TEXT MESSAGE. We think you need to get yourself to some therapy, stat.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

+ WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Venus, Justine, Igor, Roger vs. Pete...Tommy talks racquets, Davis Cup doodles and more

- Tommy time: When Tommy Haas isn't battling foes on the tennis court or crying "poison!", the German star hangs with girlfriend Sarah Foster and Kate Hudson, plays basketball with Xavier Malisse and Taylor Dent, and stays clear of suicidal tennis racquets. According to a recent Q & A with DEUCE magazine, he rarely breaks tennis strings but "[n]ormally if a string breaks it's at 3 in the morning and it scares the hell out of me. I string my racquets tight so they can break by themselves in my racquet bag. It's loud enough to wake me up, which is annoying, so I usually try to put the bag in a corner of the room."

- Davis Cup doodles: Captain Patrick McEnroe has found his own voice, even in the shadow of his legendary loud-mouth brother, John...the four amigos of the US Davis Cup team genuinely enjoy each other's camaraderie, which they believe should help them bring home the Safin surprise for the US. "These guys [on the Russian Davis Cup team] are playing better than Marat, he's not going to be here," says Russian coach Shamil Tarpishchev...Tennis Served Fresh finds the Bryan Brothers Blogging

- Did Roger Federer throw Pete Sampras a bone in the final match in their exhibition tour? Tennis-X thinks so. Is Sampras a current day top-5 player? Federer thinks so.

- The notoriously private Justine Henin has in fact been providing us a version of her own reality TV show, argues Tennis Diary. Nina Rota writes, "Tennis has been the substitute for some of Justine’s life outside of tennis and now that the outside world is creeping back into her life, her tennis is secure enough that it enhances her game. Most people need their personal lives in order to perform well in their career. Some people do it the other way around. Success in their career gives them the confidence to open their hearts to those in their personal lives. Justine doesn’t need a reality TV show, we’ve been watching it all along." Interesting perspective, we think.

- Kamakshi Tandon for believes players should be given unlimited challenges per match. We don't agree - limited challenges force players to strategize about how and when to use them, which we think adds more excitement and intrigue in a match. Discussss...

- Lacoste and innovators Kidrobot have released their holiday collaboration featuring 3 styles - Missouri 85, and the Revan 2 & 3 - each complete with your own PEECOL toy. But move fast: only 500 pairs total were produced.

- Black Enterprise magazine named Venus Williams one of America's Most Powerful Players Under 40. We're thinking they don't mean tennis when they reference 'players'...

- Getting to know Igor Andreev. Funniest moment: "Well, once when I was 17 I went to practice with Kournikova, me and another guy (Pavel Ivanov), in Miami, tournament before the Orange Bowl. It was Sunshine Cup. We were making sparring to her and when we were at the volley, she hit the ball so hard — and it close to hit my balls so... So that happens, but, it was very close, fun moment. I don't know if it's fun but for me it wasn't fun but for them it was fun [smiles]."

- Tennis Planet holds the blueprint for Novak Djokovic's quest for World No. 1.

THE LOW DOWN: Richard GasGay, Part Deux

Those pesky gay rumors keep following Richard Gasquet. Back in April of this year, the Frenchman took a defensive stance when asked about his sexuality during the Monte Carlo Masters saying, "This question [about his sexuality] has come back hundreds of times, and every time someone turns up saying, Oh, I have evidence. It is just bullshit."

But according to OutSports, during the recent Masters Cup in Shanghai Richard again denied the gay rumors. A journalist questioned him about his post-match plans after a beatdown by Spain's David Ferrer:

Q. Now your matches are finished. Do you still have any plan to go around
the city maybe with your uncle or your girlfriend?

RG: My uncle? No. My girlfriend, no. I have no girlfriend, so I will
try to find one, one Chinese girl. Why not? Why not? I lost 6-1, 6-1. It will be
very hard for me tonight. I’m ready to lose, you know.

Q. Who is the girl watching your match with your uncle?

RG: Not my girl. I don’t know. Not my girl, for sure. No, no, no, I
have just friends. Men friends, but I’m not gay.
Hmmm, defensive much?

(image via AP Photo)

THE LOW DOWN: Toni Nadal speaks out on Rafa's foot injury, "It's very serious," says Toni

Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal's coach and uncle, is speaking out about Rafa's lingering foot injury. The World No. 2 recently discussed his injury to Spanish newspaper El Pais saying, "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." He even revealed that he won his most recent French Open crown with what he described (and was translated) as "a numbed, anesthetized foot."

Now Uncle Toni has publicly confirmed his nephew's injury. Speaking to Spanish daily Diario de Mallorca, Toni said,"He's been affected by an injury to his foot since 2005. He has to learn how to live with it and so far he has managed for two years." He refused, however, to discuss the seriousness of the ailment saying, "I prefer not to answer. It's very serious. I don't know [if it's career-threatening]. I'll let the doctor reply to that. He has to take a lot of precautions when he plays."

At the tender age of 21, what chance does Rafa have of having a long, illustrious career? Certainly, he can continue to grind his way to another clay-court crown, but this news does not bode well for his chances of winning titles on the many, many hard surfaces featured throughout the rest of the tennis season. What major adjustments will the Spaniard need to make in his game to save his career?

UPDATE: According to Sporting Life, Rafael Nadal was interviewed on Spanish state TV Wednesday night and refuted Uncle Toni's claims that the injury is "very serious". Rafa was quoted as saying, "This injury hasn't stopped me competing at the top level for over two years, [...] "The story that has come out is totally false."

(images via TheAge and Viewimages)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Roger Federer films TV spot to commemorate World AIDS Day

Roger Federer has filmed a public service announcement to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to their children. The PSA supports the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign, launched by UNICEF and UNAIDS to draw attention to the impact of the disease on children and young people. The World No. 1 is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and joins David Beckham, Amitabh Bachchan, Susan Sarandon, Roger Moore, Shakira and basketball stars from the NBA and more than 40 international cricketers in recording a video message about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

In a statement, Federer said, "I’ve seen kids in South Africa [his birth town] who’ve been affected and it’s a very big problem, especially in the poorer countries, [...] It’s important to break down discrimination and stigma. Many people always think ‘I can’t talk to this person’, but I think it’s very important to speak openly about it. Ask your parents, teachers and coaches.”

“Sports have always been a great part of my life. It brings people together, so it’s easier to talk about a subject like HIV, [...] Sport inspires you to move on in life, and it’s important to speak together if you’re playing a team sport.”

“I think if people can help the process, trying to make HIV a thing of the past, I’m willing to help, too,” he said. “It’s a hard subject to talk about. People sometimes try to avoid it – that’s not the way to go.”

The video messages will be broadcast in English, German, and French on December 1 to commemorate World AIDS Day. To see the PSA featuring Federer, click here.

(images via

Gallery of the Unknown Tennis Player #4

Did you guess the players from yesterday's GUTP quiz? If you guessed sexy Serb Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, you were right!

So, here are today's mystery tennis stars - who could they be?

"I'm good. Scratch that - I'm really good. I'm left speechless every time the ball leaves my racket. I'm even impressed with myself - aren't you? Who am I??"

"I'm smart and crafty on the tennis court - I have to be since I'm smaller than the other girls. Plus, I used to study psychology at university so I can play mind games with my opponents. Who am I?"

Letter to our readers: we got a face lift, y'all!

Hello readers,

So as you can probably see, we made some changes to the blog. We fiddled around with our template a bit, added an image to the header, and played with the colors. Sometimes you just need a touch here, a pull there, and voila: a new face!

We're happy with it and we hope you are too...

- down the line!

THE LOW DOWN: The ITF finds no evidence of Tommy Haas poisoning

Tommy Haas' claims of poisoning by the Russians before his Davis Cup match have been refuted by the ITF. According to their recent report, "Following inquiries, the ITF has concluded that there is no medical information or other evidence whatsoever to support recent speculation concerning the medical condition of Tommy Haas during Germany's Davis Cup semifinal tie against Russia."

The tennis federation in his home country of Germany also denied the poisoning claims earlier this month saying, "[...] because we have no evidence of poisoning and because we do not know how reliable the informant is, we must assume that it's no more than speculation."

It seems to be a case of sour grapes for Tommy...tsk, tsk!

Monday, November 26, 2007

SIGHTING: Serena Williams out with Common, out of good hosiery

Holy hosiery, Batman! Serena 'ReRe' Williams and new boy-toy Common were spotted leaving a London hotel together, confirming rumors of their romance. The 8-time Grand Slam champ must have been in quite a hurry though - she forgot to put on her good tights.

(via ThisIsLondon)

TENNIS 2007 AWARDS: Best Dramatic Performance

The tennis world is heading into its brief off-season after this weekend's Davis Cup final with players enjoying only a few weeks of R & R before hitting the grind for another long tennis season. However, this time gives us a great opportunity to look back, sigh, and honor the players who made us laugh, the outfits that made us cry, and the matches that kept us pinching ourselves (or others if you were so lucky.) We'll offer our take on the best and worst of TENNIS 2007.


This part-time actress gave us one of the best - if not THE best - performances of her still-budding acting career. She made us laugh, she made us laugh more, and she made us shake our heads in amazement.

At this year's Wimbledon, Serena 'ReRe' Williams met Daniela Hantuchova in the 4th round. The match went along as expected - ReRe breezed through the first set 6-2 but found more resistance from the Slovak in the second. All of a sudden at 5-all, the 8-time Grand Slam champion fell to the grass with a severe cramp in her left calf muscle. She laid on the court as she was treated by the medical staff but returned to play despite wearing heavy tape on the injury and tears on her disappointed face. Though Daniela went on to win the second set in a tie-break, the drama was just beginning.

As if on cue, the ubiquitous rains of this year's Wimbledon tournament returned and the players left the court to grab shelter. They returned two hours later with ReRe sporting sweatpants and a determined look in her eyes. Like a wounded animal, the American screeched, scowled, stretched, and growled her way past a shell-shocked Hantuchova in the final set, winning 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-2.

In her post-match press conference, ReRe had this to say: "It's definitely among my gutsiest matches, [...] I had little to no movement. It was all about hanging in there, hitting aces and going for it. [...] I just decided at one point it was over and I was going to die trying, I was not going down to day - there's no way. I figured my heart wouldn't give out."

We knew it wouldn't either ReRe. We always know we can count on you to bring the drama - and that's why we've honored you with the TENNIS 2007 Award for Best Dramatic Performance. Congrats!

Gallery of the Unknown Tennis Player #3

The answers to last week's GUTP quiz were Jelena Jankovic and Rafael Nadal. Congrats to you if you guessed them correctly. Here are today's mystery you know who they are?

"I love taking my clothes off in public - I'm such an exhibitionist. If you've got it, flaunt it right? Plus, I know all of my fans love it, and I don't blame them. Who am I?"

"Listen, I'm the best player in the world, period. No one can beat me when I'm on - even if they demolish me, I'm still better. Let's just say they're lucky. It's all about me and my game, okay? Who am I??"

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