Google Down the Line!: 2008-02-03

Friday, February 8, 2008

PREVIEW: Video from ESPN's upcoming match-fixing segment

As we wrote about yesterday, ESPN's Outside the Lines is set to air a segment on the match-fixing scandal involving Russian Nikolay Davydenko. Here are some outtakes from that upcoming show, including part of the interview with Nikolay:

(video courtesy of

Tennis Week now hiring obscure, but pretty, former tennis ballers for writing gigs

Beautiful former top-30 tennis baller and apparent renaissance woman Angelica Gavaldon has recently been pulled from the depths of obscurity by Tennis Week to pen some musings about ballers and the superstitions they keep safe in their racquet bags. But Angelica, who included the large-scale glamour shot above with her in-depth piece, makes sure we know it's all about her.

We get to read Angelica wax poetic about her superstitious early days - loaning a "lucky" shirt to then unknown junior baller Monica Seles at a tournament actually called Sport Goofy, getting high marks from Anna Kournikova for warming up the Russian beauty before a match that she actually won, and her own superstitious doodlings from her old playing days:

"I had a different routine at the Grand Slams:

  • At the Australian Open, I would eat a chocolate chip cookie everyday.
  • At Wimbledon, I made sure to eat corn on the cob.
  • At Roland Garros, I really didn’t have any kind of a ritual or superstition, but maybe I should have, since the furthest I advanced in the tournament was the second round.
  • At the U.S. Open, I ate plain pasta before every match."
Eating a chocolate chip cookie everyday? Now there's a fool-proof method of winning!

Angelica even attempts to explain superstitions by speaking with Marc Sagal, a psychologist and managing partner at a company that helps overachievers strive for their personal best. Sagal gave his insight into superstitious behavior saying, "We all make connections between what we do and what happens — and, we often believe that because something has happened before, it will happen again." Very logical, indeed.

Nevertheless, the article regains focus on our 2-time Aussie Open quarterfinalist and ends with a link to her sports apparel line called, of course, Angalo (play on her name maybe?) We immediately jumped on over to her website and were greeted by these images:

Wow - she models too! Is there anything this woman can't do? Smart choice, Tennis choice.

(images via +

Warning: Ana Ivanovic's fan contest may cause drowsiness

Image 911: As we all know, the sport of tennis is suffering from some serious image issues these days, from match-fixing scandals to doping and drugging. So when we stumbled up Ana Ivanovic's January competition winner announcement on her website, we cringed at the outcome.

The winner of the contest would be the Ana fan who came up with the best caption for this photo:

Here's the result:

"The winner of the January Competition is Alex from Suffolk, England. His caption to the image displayed here was judged to be the wittiest of those received: "Leave it out Ana, I'm trying to sleep."

Witty?! Either they didn't get enough entries or their definition of witty is something closer to corny.

Don't get us wrong, this isn't as serious as betting on your own match or hitting the nose candy during a tournament, but this whole competition is, like the koala bear, putting us to sleep.

(image via

PHOTO OP: Models or ballers?

Male model line-up at New York Fashion Week or the Serbian Davis Cup team?

(image via ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Quote of the Day: Marat Safin on Nole

“Djokovic has never been to Moscow before? I’ll gladly give him a tour around the city to see the Kremlin, The Bolshoi Theatre and other major sights, although I’d more prefer to beat him on the court and show him who’s better."
- Marat Safin on battling Serb Novak Djokovic during this weekend's Davis Cup competition.
Sounds like a dinger to us! Isn't it always with Marat?

Too bad he just pulled out of the tie with a fracture in one of his leg bones.

(image via
AFP/File/Torsten Blackwood)

BREAKING: ESPN to broadcast Sopot match-fixing story, interviews accomplished gambler who bet on match

Details: ESPN's Outside the Lines is set to disclose the results of a 4-month in-depth investigation of the Sopot match-fixing controversy involving Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who has been at the center of the firestorm since August 2007.

According to Bob Larson's Tennis News:

After four months of investigation by the ESPN Enterprise Unit, Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN; noon ET ESPNEWS) will show how a suspicious betting pattern on an August 2007 match in an obscure Sopot, Poland tournament prompted the ATP to launch an investigation amid pervasive reports of widespread gambling in the sport.

The British gambling website Betfair, which handled more than $7 million in wagers on the match between No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and No. 87 Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, noticed that despite easily winning the first set against his little-known opponent, Davydenko became a bigger and bigger underdog. When Davydenko retired early in the third set after receiving treatment for his foot, Betfair took the unprecedented step of voiding all bets and contacted the ATP.

In addition to extensive interviews, ESPN has obtained never-before-released details of the wagering on the match, which, until now, were known only to those close to the ATP investigation.

Correspondent John Barr details how the suspect betting unfolded and interviews an accomplished gambler who says he bet on the match and is certain that the fix was in that day in Poland

ESPN The Magazine senior writer Shaun Assael obtained a never-before-published internal ATP email that details the suspicious betting activities of Martin Fuhrer, a gambler accused of knowing the outcome of some matches in advance. Assael traveled to Vienna to interview Fuhrer, who acknowledged having friendly associations with some of the players on whom he has won money. In 2003, Fuhrer had a 100-percent win record on Irakli Labadze of Georgia to lose with one betting website, documents say. In one of those matches, Labadze was fined $7,500 for showing "a lack of effort."

Now, do we think this will prove one way, or another, that the Russian was involved in the betting? No, of course not. But this story certainly won't help his image nor that of tennis.

(image via Getty)

Tennis gives back: Rafa Nadal Foundation to launch on February 13

Rafael Nadal is giving back in a big way. According to his website, the World No. 2 is launching the Rafa Nadal Foundation on February 13th in his hometown of Mallorca, Spain with more details to come. Here's the invitation + media alert for the event - we're loving the logo:

Is anyone out there planning to go? Let us know!

The Davis Cup Chronicles: Andy Murray takes heat over withdrawal, "It was a shock to me..." says brother Jamie

Battling brothers: Jamie Murray is giving his little brother a public spanking. Andy recently pulled out of Britain's upcoming Davis Cup tie, their first in the World Group in five years, versus the tough Argentinean team due to a right knee issue. At the time, the British No. 1 said,

"I am very disappointed not to be joining my Davis Cup teammates in Buenos Aires because I love playing for my country and have always enjoyed the team atmosphere of the Davis Cup. Since returning from Australia my knee is still bothering me and the experts have advised me that going from hard courts to playing 5 set matches on clay and then back to indoor hard courts could increase the chances of further injury, set me back even more, and I don’t want to take that risk."
John Lloyd, Britain's Davis Cup captain, was clearly disappointed at the prospect of losing his top baller but didn't sound completely convinced of Andy's intentions saying,
"I think he's very disappointed, he says he is, and we're waiting to hear from him. The team is very disappointed but what can you do? It's one of those things."
Now a surprised and irritated Jamie Murray has joined the public flogging, according to The Independent. The elder Murray talked to the press before this weekend's tie and said,
"It was a shock to me, and I think for the team it's also very disappointing, [...] It's a shame that he decided that it was best for him not to come here. It kind of affects the way we feel about him. [...] "From what I've heard he hasn't actually said that he was injured, it was more of a preventive thing, [...] If he really wanted to push himself, he probably could have come here to play the tie."
The Independent also mentioned that "it did not help his public relations that his own website showed him playing football with three friends last week." Now, lo and behold, Andy's site is showing photos of him getting treatment on the tender knee:

Hmmm - coincidence or conspiracy? Either way, family dinners at the Murray house just got a little bit uncomfortable. But we'd still take a seat at that table.

(images via BBC,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

PHOTO OP: Fernando Verdasco gets pumped for Davis Cup in all the right places

More Davis Cup eye candy: So we took a stroll around the world this morning to check out the boys of the ATP getting pumped for this weekend's Davis Cup ties. But we found one baller who took "getting pumped" quite literally: Fernando Verdasco, who's become buff + ripped seemingly in all the right places.

It looks like the Spaniard has taken some cues from his countryman Rafael Nadal. Now let's all keep our fingers (and everything else) crossed that he'll soon become the newest member of the shirtless brigade.

(images via AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

PHOTO OP: Taking in the beauty of Davis Cup

The sexy tennis ballers of the ATP have gathered around the globe for the first Davis Cup tie of the year. Defending champions the US will try to make a quick turnaround after winning a record 32nd title at the end of last season when they take on Austria. Click here for a full run-down of the schedule this weekend.

In the meantime, enjoy some of the beauty of Davis Cup competition...

(images via AP Photo)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

+WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Andre, Nole, Mahesh + Leander...Bridget talks "mommyhood", Jamie has issues and more

- A second life: The legendary Andre Agassi is featured on the cover of Outside's Go magazine and discusses his dream of becoming the next Donald Trump saying, "This [Tamarack] [...] is more important than what I did with the game. We're creating a platform for life here. ... In tennis, there's no coaching, no passing the ball. It's problem solving at its purest. And that's what business is: galvanizing and solving problems."

Doubling up: The former World No. 1 doubles team of Mahesh Bhupathi + Leander Paes (who has more pressing issues to worry about) have put their past squabbles behind and will pair up for the Beijing Olympics. In 2006, after Paes questioned Bhupathi's fitness and commitment following India's early exit from the Asian Games men's team event, the pair refused to play together until now.

- Nolewear: Are you a fan of sexy Serb Novak Djokovic? Well here's a chance to wear own a piece of him: Tennis Served Fresh has uncovered Stick it Wear?! which features a line of men's + women's t-shirts and tank-tops featuring the Aussie Open champ's backhand "pose".

- Nate Cunningham over at Tennis Diary made already made his end-of-season ranking predictions for the men and women then felt pressured by readers to defend his choice for men's year-end No. 1.

- "Tennis mom": Bridget Wilson-Sampras talks mommyhood with and shows her enjoyment of using quotes around important terms such as "mommy", "date night", "giver", "family unit", and "self-full". These must be insider terms in the Sampras house, because we can't fathom what any of them mean. Oh Bridget, please help us understand!

- If you think tennis is all about fashion, gossip, and controversy (that just might be us), then you must read Sportingo's article on the sport, which reminds us it's good for your health, too. According to the piece, "
People who play tennis three hours a week (at a moderately vigorous intensity) cut their risk of death in half from any cause." So, what if you just write about it?

- Man, machine, or both: Check out the pedal-powered tennis ball launcher, created for a Specialized Innovate-or-Die contest. We love the dramatically moving background score to the Oscar-winning touch.

Father knows best: Robin Borg, son of 11-time Grand Slam champ Bjorn Borg, is following in his famous father's footsteps, though he's taking a decidedly different path.

PHOTO OP: Looks like British baller Jamie Baker's having some personal issues...

(image via & AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

THE LOW DOWN: Leander Paes criticizes Mirza, "Nobody is greater than the game," says Leander

Elvis-wannabe Leander Paes has hit back at Sania Mirza's decision to skip the Bangalore Open amidst the constant scrutiny by their home country. In a recent e-mail interview, the 21-year old Mirza criticized the media and her country for neglecting to focus equal attention on Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes' decision not to play the Chennai Open.

The Indian Davis Cup captain and seven-time Grand Slam winner told reporters after a pratice session for the upcoming tie,

"Look at every celebrity, who does not have controversies? We all have adversities. Every celebrity have adversities in their lives. It’s how dignified and honest you are. It's about how you project yourself and how you handle them.[...] I do not want to get into it. I am not bothered but the greatest joy for any athlete is to play for the country and in the country and play for the people. Nobody is greater than the game. That's something Sania has to be careful about."
We don't think Sania believes she's greater than the game of tennis. But the controversies and her own country's accusations have made these issues a political one - something that's becoming bigger than tennis itself.

(image via

SIGHTING: Annoyed Anna Kournikova hits Miami gym, sports super-skinny look

Having you eat it: What's the deal with these notoriously camera-loving tennis ballers getting all shy for us now? First we spotted a clearly nervous + embarrassed Serena Williams being videotaped in the passenger seat of rumored boyfriend Common's SUV after a night out in Hollywood.

Now we find a super-skinny Anna Kournikova leaving her Miami gym looking annoyed by the paparazzi. We suppose fame is a double-edged sword, isn't it?

(images via

THE LOW DOWN: Sania Mirza reiterates decision to skip Bangalore Open, "I do not think I'm in the right frame of mind right now..." says Sania

Sania Mirza has reiterated her decision to skip the Bangalore Open after receiving constant criticism from her home country of India recently. The 21-year old tennis star did clarify that she isn't withdrawing from the tournament since she never actually entered the event.

In an email interview, the World No. 29 responded,

"First and foremost, it would be wrong to say that I have pulled out of the Bangalore Open because in the first place, I did not even enter the draw. [...] "This is the first time in my career, when I have not entered an international tournament being played in India for genuine personal reasons. I do not think I'm in the right frame of mind right now to do justice to myself or my abilities. If I was to play in this state, I believe I will be letting my fans down."
Sania also believes she's been held to a higher standard by the media and her country saying,
"I don't think that all sportspersons have faced the kind of situation that I have, particularly in the last two months. Why nobody made an issue when two [India's] greatest tennis players, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, chose to skip the ATP event in Chennai? [...] We also probably need to take a look at the lack of restraint with which certain sections of our media tend to highlight petty issues relating to me, which are bound to encourage mischievous elements because of the massive publicity that they generate."
This situation is unfortunate on so many levels, but this controversy reminds us that the balance of power and equality in the world, even for athletes, is still severely skewed.

(image via AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)

Novak Djokovic earns first Laureus nomination, joins Federer + Henin for prestigious Award

A star on the rise: New Aussie Open champ Novak Djokovic has earned his first Laureus World Sports Award nomination for Breakthrough of the Year. The Serbian tennis star earned the prestigious nomination after a stand-out 2007 where he won 5 titles, was runner-up at the US Open, made the semifinals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and reached No. 3 in the world.

According to the Award's site,

"The 20-year-old Serbian made a major impact on the men’s game in 2007, winning five tournaments, though his most significant achievement was probably finishing as runner-up at the US Open, where he lost in the final to Roger Federer. He also reached the semi-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon. His victories included two Masters series events in Miami and Montreal. He reached World No 3 ranking in July 2007. In the Davis Cup, by winning all of his three matches, Djokovic played a key role in the win over Australia, promoting Serbia to the World Group."
Nole is in stellar company as he joins World No. 1's Roger Federer (Sportsman of the Year, 3-time winner) and Justine Henin (Sportswoman of the Year) as nominees for a 2008 Laureus Award.

The Awards will be handed out on February 18 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

(image via + AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ana Ivanovic bests Maria Sharapova on's Top 99 Women list

Sweet revenge: Not only did this beautiful tennis twosome meet each other in the year's first Grand Slam final, but Maria "Shriek"apova and Ana Ivanovic have made's Top 99 Women list. But here's the kicker: Ana bested Maria this time, coming in at No. 73 to the Russian's No. 74 position.

Here's what they had to say about the Serbian stunner:

"In 2007, Ana Ivanovic was ranked in the top five female tennis players worldwide. In her three years of professional tennis she's become a fan favorite. And Ana's as pleased to be on this list as you were to put her there. 'It’s very flattering,' she says. 'It’s been an amazing year and this shows that people have been following my tennis, so that’s a big honor. And like all women, I feel very flattered when I receive a compliment about how I look, so it’s very nice.'"

The site had this to say about the new Aussie Open champ:

"In winning the Acura Classic in San Diego in 2007, Maria Sharapova proved to the world, once again, that beauty and brawn can go hand in hand. And she started 2008 off on the right foot, taking her third Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. The Siberian Siren has an animated personality that makes her a joy to watch on the court. And the fact that she could moonlight as a runway model doesn't hurt either. And as far as you’re concerned, given her place on our list, Maria Sharapova's definitely got game."

The pair joins World No. 1 Roger Federer, who made the Top 49 Men's list for 2007.

We like that this match-up is becoming a rivalry in every way.

(image via AP Photo)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

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


Aussie Open champ drinks up newfound fame
Serena Party Watch grows, but why so shy?
Mutual respect between champions
Serbian cheese? We think not.
Nike feeds Fed some serious funds
The FED CUP Chronicles: Russians arrive in Israel, Maria full of grace
Mystery mane
Jo-Willy joins Davis Cup + Swiss army
The origins of Russian beauty
Separated at Birth: Michael vs. McDreamy
The future is now for the Aussies
A hot, sweaty mess
Secret lovers caught on video, spotted in Sydney
Blind item: Doing double duty
does Monarch Mag

A-Rod's game not quite 'frustrating'
What the *uck???
Maria gets sexy in red + white
The WTA Tour's hairy situation: Alona + Francesca
Fed + football

FASHION FIX: Roger Federer visits Super Bowl XLII, goes casual-chic in grey and black

Common ground: Roger Federer was spotted walking onto the field of The University of Phoenix Stadium before the start of Super Bowl XLII today, where the undefeated New England Patriots will attempt to make history by defeating the New York Giants and becoming the first NFL team to go 19-0 (not to mention winning their fourth Super Bowl title.) Though some aren't sure why he made an appearance, we think Fed wanted to be part of a history-making moment - something he can truly understand.

Fashion-wise, the Swiss looks his casual-chic best in this grey Nike zip-mock sweatshirt with kangaroo pockets, black jeans + trainers, striped shirt, and the ubiquitous RF cap. It's refreshing to see the World No. 1 looking relaxed and stylish off the court - very nice.

(images via Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

The WTA's hairy situation still growing, Francesca Schiavone to blame

A growing problem: We were hoping Alona Bondarenko's hairy situation was an isolated incident on the WTA Tour - but we were so wrong. We found our second culprit in Italy's Francesca Schiavone, who displayed her muffin-top hairdo (left) during this weekend's FED CUP tie versus Spain.

It seems, though, that we somehow we missed the Italian's dust-mop moment (right) at last month's Aussie Open. But no worries, Francesca - we'll never miss another messy moment again...never.

(images via MARIO LAPORTA/AFP/Getty Images & PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

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