Google Down the Line!: 2008-04-20


Friday, April 25, 2008

Monte Carlo mash-up: Fed vs. Nole, Rafa vs. Kolya

Well, well. The men's clay-court season couldn't have started off better if you planned it (but let's not start the match-fixing talk again, ok?)

The top four ballers in the world are meeting up this weekend in the semifinals of Monte Carlo:

The marquee matchup pits world no. 1 Roger Federer against growing nemesis Novak Djokovic. Their last meeting was, of course, in the same round at the Australian Open where the sexy Serb defeated Federer and went on to win his maiden Grand Slam. Their head-to-head stands at 5-2 for the Swiss but Nole has taken the last two out of three. And don't be fooled - there's no love lost between these two ballers.

In the other half three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal, who owns a staggering 95-1 record on the slippery stuff dating back to 2005, will face-off against Davydenko. The Russian took their most recent meeting in the final of last month's Sony Ericsson Open so he'll come in with some confidence against his Spanish foe. But Rafa will be looking for revenge and Davydenko knows the odds are stacked against him on the red clay.

Who'll take this title and make their move towards Roland Garros?

(images via Getty)

Serena survives, launches Nike Fall 2008 collection


Serena Williams seemingly survived her outfit from the BAPESTORE opening in LA and traveled to Venice Beach for the Nike women's Fall 2008 launch.

The presentation included a full range of sports apparel including track suits, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, gym bags, sneakers, and accessories.





(images via Getty)

Quote of the Day: Gasquet on Querrey

..I was dominating the game during the first two sets. I must say, he was a bit lucky.

- Richard Gasquet on his loss to Sam Querrey at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday.
Yes Richard, I guess luck is exactly why you lost and Sam's in the quarterfinals - lucky that you're a head case. Get a grip.

(image via Getty)

Fed Cup Chronicles: Russians to face inexperienced US team

The Russian Fed Cup team featuring Elena Vesnina, Vera Zvonareva, Anna Chakvetadze, Svetlana Kuznetsova and headed by captain Shamil Tarpischev will battle a decimated US team featuring Vania King, Ahsha Rolle, Liezel Huber, Madison Brengle and coach Zina Garrison during this weekend's semifinal tie in Moscow.

No Venus, Serena, Lindsay or even Ashley? Oh, so that's why the Russians are smiling!

(image via Getty)

SIGHTING: Blake on a break, hits the green


James Blake switched out his tennis racquets for golf clubs as he took part in the Stanford International Pro-Am at Fairmont Turnberry Isle in Aventura, FL. He was also joined by 8-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl on the green.

(image via Getty)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SIGHTING: Serena hits BAPESTORE opening, may need paramedic

Serena Williams was spotted at the opening of BAPESTORE in LA last night.

I think ReRe looks sexy + confident in this outfit though her jeans may actually be painted on her body. I mean, is she even breathing in these photos? Can she??

(images via bossip.com)

THE LOW DOWN: Querrey's Monte Carlo march over choking Gasquet


Aside from his ridiculous comment on Roger Federer yesterday, Sam Querrey and his intriguing non-dom hand are having a great ride at the Monte Carlo Masters. Who wudda thunk it?!

Sam's dismissal of former French Open champ Carlos Moya in the first round was enough of a shocker, but today the 6' 5" American blasted perennial head-case Richard Gasquet 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. He'll have a monster task, though, in the quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic.

But does this match say more about Sam's abilities on clay and the growth of his game or Richard's eminent tag as a choker? I'm not sure, but one thing is clear: Richard's Davis Cup debacle has legs.

(images via AP + Getty)

"Dirtballer" a dirty word in tennis says James Martin


TENNIS mag's head honcho James Martin thinks the term "clay-court specialist" has become an insult more than a compliment for a baller, and they deserve more respect in the sport.

Martin argues in his "Viewpoint" column that Rafael Nadal is a dirtballer's baller, irregardless of his record on other surfaces, because the Spaniard's

"a tenacious baseline warrior who grinds out his victories on the most physically grueling surface in tennis. But therein lies the rub. Although Nadal has a strong record on hard and grass courts, he is a clay-court specialist. The stats prove it. No other player comes close to equaling his record on the dirt. And as hard as he tries to do well on other surfaces, Rafa is the quintessential dirtballer."
Not that there's anything wrong with that according to Martin:
"It’s no knock on his accomplishments. Yet, you can’t help but think how the term “clay-court specialist” has become a sort of backhanded compliment in the sport."
But if Rafa never adds to his three French Opens, Martin believes his legacy won't be as impressive:

"Do people look at Gustavo Kuerten, who’s retiring after this year’s Roland Garros, as anything but a clay-court specialist?

Unfortunately, history doesn’t always look kindly on players of his ilk (Bruguera, for one, got snubbed by the Hall of Fame this year) and are rarely considered among the pantheon of all-timers."
So if clay-court prominence and success holds less weight than success on other surfaces, why is Pete Sampras' legacy or Roger Federer's career thus far negatively impacted by the fact that neither great owns a French Open crown?

Seems like hypocrisy to me.

(image via tennis.com)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

PHOTO OP: It's Maria's party...and she can get blasted if she wants to (now)


Maria "Shriek"apova's NYC birthday tour ended with a big bash thrown by sponsor Tag Heuer at Tenjune. Celebrity guests included Michelle Trachtenberg and Dave Annable of ABC's Brothers & Sisters, along with designers Vera Wang, Doo.Ri, Brian Wolk and Claude Morais of Ruffian, and the original bang-er Vogue editrix Anna Wintour.

Like any newly-minted 21-year old global celebrity athlete Maria danced, drank, and shrunk everyone in her presence.







UPDATE: Check out Tennis Week's look inside the party featuring interviews with Maria and fashion friend Vera Wang.



(images via celebrity-gossip.net)

Nadal revamps website, let's us in on the "real" Rafa


Rafael Nadal, who has Nole nipping at his clay-coated Nike heels, revamped his website just in time for his march towards a fourth-straight French Open title.


The site is oversized, to say the least, featuring large-scale fonts and and moving images of the speedy Spaniard and his unique groundstroking. Most of the contest remains the same except for:


1) The new "Rafa" section which features a video Q+A for the 21-year old including "Does a plain dude like you feel comfortable with fame?" which may or may not have been asked Andy Roddick.


2) The new "Ask Him" column for exciting fan questions including: "I'd like to know where did you have your best fishing experience, and how big was the biggest fish you're captured." (The biggest fish I captured was about one meter long, I think, in Mallorca.) and "How many sons would you like to have?" asked by someone named Grama (Well, I don't know it at this time.)

I feel like I know Rafa better already...

(image via rafaelnadal.com)

Quote of the Day: Querry on Federer

I feel sorry for him in a way.

- Sam Querry on Roger Federer's recent struggles to keep up the standard set by the Swiss
Are you *ucking kidding me? I don't think anyone, including Fed himself, would feel sorry for a tennis baller with 12 Grand Slams, millions in the bank, and a spot at the top. Pleeeease.

(image via Getty)

Fed Cup Chronicles: BoscoSport becomes official clothing sponsor


BoscoSports, a Russian brand that clothes the country's Olympic, Davis Cup + Fed Cup teams, will become the official clothing sponsor for Fed Cup beginning during this weekend's semifinal round. The sports apparel label will dress all lines people and ball kids for the weekend ties.

Russia will battle the US in Moscow while China takes on Spain on their home turf in Beijing. The final will take place in September.

(image via AP)

Davis Cup Chronicles: Grosjean says French are fine, media went nuts


Somebody should remind Sebastien Grosjean about who let the cat out of the bag during the French team's recent Davis Cup debacle.

The Frenchman, who wasn't in attendance during his country's tie versus the US in Winston-Salem, was asked after his retirement to Ivo Karlovic at the Monte Carlo Masters about the drama involving Richard Gasquet:

Q. What is your view of what happened in Davis Cup?

A. I was not told what happened. I don't have much to say. I just think you make too much of it, you went too far. It's not that bad. But I was not there during the tie. What Michael [Llodra] said is right, I believe. He said the meeting after the tie should remain private within the team. This is good for the trust amongst the members of the team. This is what keeps us united.
Bad media! Well I'm glad he cleared that up - it's good to know that Guy Forget and French federation president Christian Bimes had privacy on their mind when they made the spat public. I can't wait to see the French team holding hands, singing "koom baya" all the way to Roland Garros!

(image via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: Nole fires warning, will take rankings one step at a time


Tennis ballers can be so clear in their talk, even when they're trying to be vague.

Novak Djokovic was interviewed after his 6-3, 6-3 drubbing of friend Ivan Ljubicic about his goals for the rest of the season after checking off a big one on his list. The perpetually shirtless Serb made his intentions known saying,

And, you know, my goal for this year was to win a Grand Slam, and I did it. So now I'll try to be as much consistent as is possible on the major events, and hopefully I can get further - at least a step further - on the rankings till the end of the season.
Does that mean stepping on his card-playing 'friend' Rafael Nadal for number two? With all the points Rafa has to defend during the clay season, it may come sooner than later for Nole.

(image via AP)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SIGHTING: Sharapova continues b-day tour, revisits bad fashion moments

Maria "Shriek"apova was spotted on her NYC birthday tour today walking (and most likely shopping) on the streets of Manhattan.

It seems the tennis fashionista combined two of her worst outfits, Hong Kong + Doha, and ended up on the wrong end of a really bad one. And I haven't even started on the ballerina flats (hint: they're over!).

(image via jezebel.com)

Bolelli is beautiful, beats Chela in Monte Carlo


Simone Bolelli
hasn't made his mark on the ATP tour just yet, but the Italian dismantled Juan Ignacio Chela 6-2, 6-2 in the first round of the Monte Carlo Masters. He'll take on a recently-injured Nikolay Davydenko in the second round, giving him a great opportunity for a breakthrough.

Could he be one of the most beautiful men on tour?

(images via AP)

Sharapova's NYC birthday tour: Barney's, Letterman, + Tag Heuer


Maria "Shriek"apova is finally legal! The now 21-year old blogging Russian is celebrating with a full-fledged NYC tour - spending time with family on Saturday (her actual b-day) and doing some damage with the plastic on Sunday:

Just a quick update as a 21 year old! What a great feeling! To be honest I can't wait for someone to ask me for my ID, haha (as thats the only real perk you get right?)! I am in NY celebrating with my close ones :)...my parents were here yesterday and all my friends are slowly arriving for a big celebration on Tuesday...I'm off to the MOMA, and some shoe shopping at Barney's! Bye!
Last night, the leggy Aussie Open champ, looking stunning in a white flowy blouse, high-waisted black bubble skirt, and ridiculously high heels, visited with a flirty David Letterman who seemed taken by the stylish tennis baller (will Nole be jealous?). They talked birthday parties, clay-court tennis, and even met up for some 2-on-1 tennis with Billy Crystal on a make-shift court.

In case you missed it:



Of course, the big Tag Heuer event for Maria is tonight - do you think she'll show up looking like this?

(image via mariasharapova.com)

Monday, April 21, 2008

WEEKEND WINNERS II: Ferrer + Granollers-Pujol


I covered the first round Weekend Winners earlier this morning, so here's the second round featuring a dynamic duo by way of Spain.

Valencia - David Ferrer

The speedy Spaniard defeated countryman and defending champ Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(2) to make his move towards a French Open challenge. SI's Jon Wertheim is betting either one of these ballers could challenge Rafa in Paris if the world no. 2 is off his game. The numbers could be catching up with Rafa on clay, but I'd put Nole ahead of these two right now - no offense boys.

Houston - Marcel Granollers-Pujol

Relatively unknown Spaniard takes a tight three-setter from James Blake to win his first career title. Of course, this is deja vu for Blake. What's up with him losing finals to unknown players who are going for their first titles EVER? Those mental demons are so nasty!

(image via AP)

PHOTO OP: Rafa + Nole channel James Bond, hit up Monte Carlo Casino


Like something out of a James Bond flick, Rafael Nadal + Novak Djokovic dropped their tennis gear and donned penguin suits as they hit up Les Casinos de Monte Carlo.


The dapper duo, who aren't BFF's by any means, look to be enjoying each other's company at the blackjack table - even if it's only for an ATP public relations moment for the Monte Carlo Masters.

See - can't we all just get along?

Check out some behind-the-scenes footage of their outing here.


(images via Getty)

WEEKEND WINNERS: Federer, Serena, + Kirilenko

Two ballers looked to get their games back on track while another continued her march towards the top.

Estoril - Roger Federer + Maria Kirilenko

Top-ranked Fed, who had been mired in a slump this year, entered Estoril with a new look: Jose Higueras in his back pocket and an ugly blemish on his usually flawless face. But it seems the Swiss stylist finally made the right moves, making his first final this year and earning his first title when Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury in the second set trailing 6-7 (5), 2-1. But with the mid-tier field and a title win over a limping opponent, I'm not sure Fed has silenced speculation about the state of his game...onwards to Monte Carlo!

The other Maria, Kirilenko that is, had a career week on the red clay of Estoril earning both the singles and doubles titles. Could the Russian finally earn the same respect for her on-court play that she gets for her beauty and spot-on fashion? Friend-for-now Maria "Shriek"apova may have something to say about that.

Charleston - Serena "ReRe" Williams

Word to Justine Henin: watch your back. ReRe made a statement this week, earning her first Bausch + Lomb title with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over feisty Russian Vera Zvonareva and showing she's ready to challenge for the top clay titles including Roland Garros. But the 26-year old also displayed some mental fits in the second set, berating her game for no apparent reason. Nerves? Perfectionism?? Common on the brain??? It's hard to say, but ReRe's surely moving closer to the top of her game.

(images via AP)

VIDEO VAULT: Jankovic heads home, shoots video for Reebok "Your Move" series


Jelena Jankovic is headed home after her disappointing quarterfinal loss to Russian Vera Zvonareva in Charleston. The Serb's game wasn't ready for the clay saying via her blog,
My timing was off and I wasn't moving my feet or sliding very well, and that's especially a problem when you're playing on clay...The next morning I went out there and practiced three hours, doing tennis and movement drills with my coach and sparring partner.
Jelena did have time recently, though, to shoot a video for sponsor Reebok as part of their "Your Move" athlete series. The piece shows the Serb hitting forehands + backhands, even while doing the splits:



Here's some behind-the-scenes footage of the video shoot:



(image via AP)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

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


COURTSIDE

V
clears the air
Behind-the-scenes with Anna K.
Davis Cup Chronicles: manly moments
Fed's game gets some help but what about his face?
The media + Mia
Is Ryan America's new hope?
Anna gives good quote
ReRe fears Fabrice
Maria's site goes down then up
Fish fashion
Richard feels the heat
What's the other Maria wearing?
Bethanie's bagels
Fed's feeling the ladies
ESPN to the rescue?
Fashionistas heart Nole

(image via AP)

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