Google Down the Line!: 2008-05-04

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dinara defeats Serena in Berlin, avoids "Safin syndrome" this time around

Who knew she had it in her?

A day after derailing world no. 1 Justine Henin in Berlin, Dinara Safina shocked a disappointed Serena Williams 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) in the quarterfinals and ended her 17-match win streak in the process.

Though she seems to suffer the same "Safin syndrome" as brother Marat (you know, the ability to get in your own way and *uck everything up), these back-to-back wins over the clear French Open favorites has to give the 22-year old Russian hope...well, until the next implosion I suppose.

(image via Getty)

Victorious Stepanek shows off his worm while Vaidisova watches

As usual, Radek Stepanek saved his best move for last.

"The Worm" caused another huge upset in Rome defeating Roger Federer in the quarterfinals 7-6(4), 7-6(7) and denying the Swiss his first title here. And guess who was there to cheer on the Czech?

Why none other than girlfriend Nicole Vaidisova who had time to watch her beloved compete since she was a first-round loser in Berlin. I hope she picked up some helpful hints on how to play elite-level tennis again.

(images via Getty)

+ FRIDAY NETCORDS: Ana, Venus, Tati loves Frenching...Martina loves speed, Hillary's fifth set strategy and more

- Ana appeal: Ana Ivanovic grabs the spotlight as the featured story in the May/June issue of Tennis Week magazine. But is the sexy Serb ready for the spotlight given a Grand Slam champion? Matt Cronin for thinks the time has come for Ana to put up or else...

- Caught in the act: Tatiana Golovin, who lost in the first round of Berlin, was spotted giving a street-bound Frenchie to soccer star Samir Nasri.

- Political play: Tennis has become a metaphor for the Democratic presidential nominee race. Hillary Clinton's strategist, Geoff Garin, compared his candidate's current predicament to a best 3-out-of-5 match saying, "If someone was down a few games in the third set, I think you would be disappointed if the person walked off the court. And sometimes even when people are down two sets to love and down a couple of games in the third set, they end up winning by the fifth set." True indeed - ask Andy Roddick about Wimbledon last year.

- Comedy relief: Saturday Night Live's Amy Poehler and 30 Rock's Tina Fey do their best tennis impression and a not-so-bad victory dance at the end.

- Martina the motorhead: Martina Navratilova loves speed. The 18-time Grand Slammer not only favored the quick grass courts of yester-year but also the German Autobahn. "I drove a 959 Porsche in Germany 20 years ago now and I had the thing going 200 miles an hour, so that was fun. I think we drove for two hours and averaged about 150 miles an hour. So that was a blast. This is 20 years ago when there wasn't so much traffic."

Rafa's reveal: If Rafael Nadal had to choose between a fourth French Open title or a first Wimbledon crown which would he choose? "Obviously I would love to win them both. But if I had to sign for one now, I suppose I would say Roland Garros because I have won there before and want to keep that going."

- Classically cool: Check out the adidas Tennis TC at What's All the Racquet.
- Purple power: Venus Williams will be starring in new ads for PowerAde Zero and the Wimbledon champ let's us in on her fave flavor: "Grape is my favorite. Purple is my favorite color, and grape is the best flavor, and that's the one that's always gone." Thanks Marcell!

(images via,

Quote of the Day: Serena on Justine

Henin's such a great winner. She can play a lot better. She knows that, and she can take solace in that fact.

- Serena Williams on the world no. 1's struggles this year

For all the talk of ReRe's lack of respect for other ballers, it's good to see her support her once bitter rival.

(image via AP)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

THE LOW DOWN: A-Rod + Blake make Rome quarters - could American's red tide be turning?

Clay-court tennis is always chalk-full of surprises (remember hearing "French Open champion Iva Majoli or Gaston Gaudio"? INSANITY.) So this week's no different with the biggest surprise, of course, being Rafael Nadal's defeat yesterday at the hands of Juan Carlos Ferrero. But another one (or two?) is lurking in the dusty, clay-covered centre court in Rome: Andy Roddick and James Blake making the quarterfinals.

American ballers fears and, frankly, disinterest in the terra bateau have been well documented. But no one could've predicted that one let alone two of them would advance this far. Today A-Rod defeated Simone Bolelli 7-6, 6-3 and James took a big clay scalp in Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

Could the red tide be turning? Some would say yes, with DtL! reader Kai even giving A-Rod the title:

Rome will be in roddick's hands =P
Perhaps they gained confidence from buddy Sam Querrey's impressive stomping of Richard Gasquet in Monte Carlo? Perhaps. But one thing is clear: the Americans have decided to step up their challenge and give the dirt its well-deserved respect.

Whether it leads to a title is anyone's guess.

(images via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: Henin dumped out of Berlin - career crisis or momentary lapse?

The best lady on the terra bateau is no longer: Justine Henin suffered a surprise 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 defeat to Dinara Safina in the third round of the German Open in Berlin.

The world no. 1 has been a non-factor so far this season and this loss on her favored surface at a tourney she's won 3 times against an opponent she owned 5-0 clearly shows she's lacking any confidence and may be burnt out after her spectacular run last year. Plus, her recent talk of a post-tennis life shows her head is in the future and not in the here and now:

I don't really know when (I will retire). Maybe in two, three, four years but it's impossible to say. I hope I can remain healthy and motivated. I'm not going to play all that much. Already last year I didn't play that much and I want to stay focused on the main events. We'll see. Maybe in two, three, four or five years (I'll retire). We'll see.
Two years or five years? Those are very different time frames.

I can't help to think that the clay season is Serena Williams' now. If Jelena Jankovic can keep her acting dreams at bay and focus on the task-at-hand, she has a chance to make some noise because of her fluid movement and consistency.

But at this point, this is ReRe's to lose. As for Justine, there's always the next tourney. That's tennis!

(image via AP)

Jankovic wants to act and not just on the tennis court

Serena Williams watch out - we have another tennis baller with stars in her eyes.

Jelena Jankovic, who loves all things Hollywood and has performed in videos for her sponsors, has begun taking acting classes though she already brings full drama (and a fully made-up face - shhhh!) on the court. She talks about it on her blog saying,

Monday was so busy for me. Apart from practicing and All-Access Hour which is always scheduled at the beginning of the week, I had an acting class that I took part in. It was so much fun. It is always a good time when you do something to forget a bit about tennis, and relax your mind. It was only an hour long, but I was given several themes and at the beginning they gave me a task to be in certain situations and I really had to use my imagination. After that, I did variety of exercises in order to test me and see my acting potential.
Oh - no worries for you Jelena. You've got acting potential for miles (see image above.)

(image via

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Murray loses early again - looks to the heavens for answers

Sure Andy Murray - screaming to the heavens for answers may be your last chance to get your game (and head) together before the French Open.

The Brit baller is most definitely disappointed by his 6-2 7-6 defeat at the hands of Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka. He also must be super-pissed about not reaching a quarterfinal since Dubai back in March.

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Still mad about the supposed mama-bashing?? Does anyone have Brad Gilbert's digits???

(image via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: Rafa falls in Rome - which baller will step up now?

OMG - The tennis world is in a tizzy after Rafael Nadal lost today on the terr(ier) bateau and offered up a rare clay-court chew toy for any number of ballers still left in the draw.

The Mallorcan matador lost only his second match in 105 matches to compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero in Rome today, suffering a shocking 7-5, 6-1 defeat. But I guess it wasn't so shocking since he was suffering from a blister on his right foot:

Today when I woke up, I said it was impossible to play. I spoke to the doctor today and yesterday, and they put special protection on it and cream, but it was still tough.
In any case, Rafa's loss blows the draw wide open for Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and even David Ferrer to make a run to the title and gain confidence for Roland Garros.

Hey doggie, who wants it more?

UPDATE: So I'll have to cross David off the list since he was shown the door by Radek "the worm" Stepanek.

(image via Getty)

Serena channels Dear Abby...or is it Tyra Banks?

Is Serena Williams the WTA Tour's Dear Abby or Tyra Banks even? Maybe. The 8-time Grand Slammer is espousing relationship advice on her blog to friends and fans alike based, most likely, on her own experiences. Acting, relationship coaching, winning matches on one good leg - is there anything this woman can't do?

Anyway, here's an exchange that we all know ReRe has experience with:

When dating someone whom is either a professional athlete or in the music industry how do you deal with the things that come with that terriotry (i.e rumors, groupies etc.)?

Please see my trust article. On a previous relationship blog. If you don’t trust who you are going out with that maybe something inside is telling you something. Trust is the only way you will get through dating someone that is on the scene like that all the time. Don’t look through phones don’t ask questions that make him feel like you don’t trust him. This will make him want to cheat and or leave. If he loves you than he will not do things to hurt you. Sometimes it’s hard (for the athlete) to have so many women throw themselves at them, and not react. It takes a real man. My advice? Trust him. Give him his space, when he needs it. If you find out that he is cheating on you (and you guys are exclusive) deal with it at that time either let him go or give him another chance. But I will tell you this, men will respect the woman that respects herself. What I mean by that is men will respect you if you don’t allow them to run all over you.


Did you hear that Common???

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Kiefer loses to Ferrero in Rome, joins shirtless brigade

Even though Nicolas Kiefer lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 in Rome's first round, the German does get a consolation prize: induction into DtL's shirtless brigade! I offer you my warmest welcome Nicolas.

One other thing: Is it me or is he doing his best Colin Farrell impression?

(image via Getty)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

THE LOW DOWN: Juan Martin hits a new low, becomes a mama-basher

Now how could you insult this innocent-looking woman? Juan Martin Del Potro saw something so mean, so evil in Judy Murray that he did something you never do: insult someone's mama.

During last night's first round match between Juan and Andy Murray, things got heated after an exchange at the net according to Andy:

I played a serve-and-volley and hit a bad volley in the middle of the service box and he came in and hit a full-power backhand straight at my head. I would have thought it's normal to apologize for something like that, and not to get an apology was a little bit disappointing. After that, the next two or three points I was maybe shouting, "Come on," a little bit more than I usually do.
Apparently the incident led to the insult and Andy was understandably bothered:
Someone saying something about your mother who is one of the nicest ladies you're ever going to meet? I don't think that's really that cool.
Yeah that was a low-blow Juan, you mama-basher.

(image via Getty)

SIGHTING: Venus attends Costume Gala at the Met

Though there are rumors she may be opting out of this month's French Open, Venus Williams isn't just sitting pretty - she's looking pretty, too.

The 6-time Grand Slammer was a guest at last night's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala saluting the power of "superheroes" imagery in fashion.

(image via Getty)

Monday, May 5, 2008

FASHION FIX: Azarenka loses in Prague but wins with style

Although Victoria Azarenka lost the fourth final of her young career to Vera Zvonareva this weekend at Prague, the Belarusian was a clear winner in the tennis fashion game.

I'm liking the 18-year old's affinity for classic looks with a twist of femininity as evidenced by her polka-dotted moment from Miami. Victoria continued that style in Prague looking spot-on in the white Nike Volley Women's Top with lilac trim and the black Rally Skirt.

(images via Getty)

An open letter to Richard Gasquet: any sports shrinks available for hire?

Dear Richard,

What has happened to you and your prodigious talents? For a while you seemed to be moving steadily towards the top, besting Andy Roddick last year in a classic 5-set Wimbledon match where your ethereal backhand shell-shocked the favored American into submission (probably not A-Rod's fave position.)

But this season you're spiraling. You've yet to sniff the quarterfinals of any tournament including a round of 16 dismissal at the Aussie Open, endured a Davis Cup debacle, called your conquerers 'lucky', and today suffered an embarrassing 6-4, 6-1 first-round loss to qualifier Luis Horna. After the loss you told the press,

I don't know why I played so bad. Last week in training I felt fine and I was happy to come onto the court today. Sometimes in my career I'm really down. Today is one of those moments.
To be fair, Luis is not a typical qualifier by any means but these are truly worrying signs for you and your French Open prospects...not that they're ever really great for any French baller at their native Grand Slam. Are you sure you want to even show up?

I'm thinking since you're feeling "really down" you could use the time during Roland Garros to visit a sports shrink. I bet Amelie Mauresmo has a few recommendations.

(image via Getty)

Bolelli makes breakthrough, sports sneaky tattoo

Simone Bolelli is full of surprises. The 22-year old finally made his breakthrough last week defeating top seed Paul-Henri Mathieu and becoming the first Italian baller to reach the Munich final in its history, losing to Fernando Gonzalez.

"Bolelli the Beautiful" also surprised with a sneaky tattoo on the underside of right bicep. I wonder what else the Italian is hiding under his tennis gear...

(images via Getty + AP)

PHOTO OP: Rafa gets wet for his win

Things are going swimmingly for Rafael Nadal these days. The world no. 2 got thrown into a pool after winning his fourth consecutive title in Barcelona, a tradition for Real Club of Barcelona members after a win.

(image via Getty)

WEEKEND WINNERS: Rafa, Gonzo, Vera, Gisela

Barcelona - Rafael Nadal

Can anyone stop Rafa on his run to a fourth straight Roland Garros crown? I'm thinking not. The Spaniard racked up a fourth Barcelona title and 21st straight win by defeating compatriot David Ferrer 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. He is virtually unbeatable on the terre bateau earning his 103rd win out of 104. Sick.

Munich - Fernando Gonzalez

In the battle of beauties, Gonzo captured the 10th title of his career in Munich, defeating the sexy Italian Simone Bolelli in three tight sets 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-3. Is this a career-reviving win or a blip on his radar? My sense is this win is a blip but who knows. At 27, though, the Chilean has few opportunities so he'll need to make good.

Prague - Vera Zvonareva

The best player on the WTA Tour this year not to win a title, Vera finally broke through defeating up-and-comer Victoria Azarenka 7-6(2), 6-2 in Prague. The Russian didn't lose a set this week while earning her sixth career title. With her experience and first title of the season, I have a feeling Vera will make some big noise in Paris and it certainly wouldn't surprise me to see her in at least the final four. Let's just hope she keeps her emtions in check - there's no crying in tennis Vera!

Morocco - Gisela Dulko

Gisela defeated top seed
Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) Sunday at the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem for her first title of the season and third overall. It was a sloppy match including 10 breaks, 5 for each player. Not pretty.

(images via Getty + AP)

A-Rod is just like (most) of us, scrubs toilets and moves himself

Andy Roddick is making moves - most likely to his new $1.19 million digs with Brooklyn in Manhattan.

The American blogged about it saying,

The week after Davis Cup was pretty much spent moving. I love my life, because one day I am representing my country in Davis Cup in front of 11,000 fans while closing out the French, and literally the next day, I am vacuuming, moving furniture, scrubbing toilets, and walking things up and down flights of stairs all day ha ha…. it really is a great balance and I am lucky to have it… but seriously, for those of you who have ever moved before, can you believe the amount of crap that is actually needed in a small place to function? That is not even counting the stuff that we want, but really don’t need at all… it’s a fun process though, and was the first time I had done it without help (besides Brooklyn of course) from a moving company of some sort… it ended up being a really fun process!!!
With all that dough, A-Rod moved himself? Okay - that seems ass backwards to me. Besides, scrubbing toitets and moving really sucks.

(image via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: Sharapova vs. WTA Tour, Part Deux

The intriguing battle royale between Maria Sharapova and the WTA Tour continues...

Doing her best impression of a savvy poitician (Hillary or Barack?), the Russian seems committed to firing up her base through her blog now that she's realized the power and accessibility of new media, even blasting the diva-esque behavior of some executives:

I am sure many of you can tell that I am just a little frustrated with a couple of tour executives who don't ever listen to the players and want to do their own thing. For a sport that has so much potential to grow and get bigger, you would think that the players voice would be important but unfortunately that's not the case. They just do whatever they want and tell us what to do and how to do it. And on top of that walk around like they're the stars.

I have tried to work with them, I have attended numerous amounts of meetings throughout the years, but they just do what they want and threaten to fine me. So since they will not listen to me, I am going to start giving my fans a behind the scenes look at life on tour...let the fun begin! I also want to thank everyone for voting...the number of people voting was way beyond our expectations.
The ballsy Maria is so confident about her stance, she even admits trying to fake a reason for pulling out of Berlin (so as to not get fined):
I got a really bad viral infection with a big fever and that I have to get on original! I know I'm always against those things, but I kind of had no other choice because I haven't been that sick in a while. Quite ironic, as a few days before that I was trying to come up with some 'excuse' for pulling out of Berlin...
Forcing ballers into lying? Take that WTA Tour! But it seems Maria has one more surprise for us:
There is also one other thing that I am soo excited to report but have to keep my mouth just have to wait a couple weeks. xx Maria
What could that be - retirement, pregnancy, marrying secret love Nole??? Oh, you're such a tease Masha.

(image via Getty)

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