Google Down the Line!: 2008-06-08

Friday, June 13, 2008

PHOTO OP: Young ballers getting hazed on the tennis tour

(From L to R) Tamaryn Hendler, Bernard Tomic, Caroline Wozniacki (a dead-ringer for Katie Couric), Olga Savchuk and Katarzyna Piter gathered for, what else, Mexican night during Tradition-ICAP Liverpool International Tennis Tournament.

Is this what's called "paying your dues" for young ballers on the tennis tours?

My apologies, really...

(Thanks for tip David!)

(image via

Quote of the Day: Rafa

Well, he is very, very good. He gonna be top 10 for sure, top 5. I am hundred percent sure, no.

- Rafael Nadal response on Kei Nishikori's potential

After taking a set of the French Open champ at Queen's Club, Kei must be feeling pretty good. And to get those props from Rafa, I'd say his future's looking pretty bright.

(image via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Nicole beaten by Bethanie in Birmingham but crushes American with Reebok style

Here are two things I haven't written about in a while: Nicole Vaidisova + Reebok. Why you may ask? Well, Nicole had been on a 6-match losing streak and Reebok hasn't been worth writing about until now.

The Czech finally broke the curse with a 6-1, 6-3 first round win over Frenchie veteran Natalie Dechy at Birmingham and won her next match against Ekaterina Makarovato to make the quarterfinals. But, alas, the good times weren't meant to last as Nicole was blasted today 6-3, 6-0 by fashionably crippled Bethanie Mattek working bebe.

The 19-year looked great, though, in her white Reebok tank dress with a ruffled hem - a classic look with a touch of femininity. A perfect look for the green lawns of Wimbledon (sans the sky blue visor.)

In any case, a tough loss to the American Nicole but at least you won the fashion battle today. Need proof? Check it:


(images via Getty)

A-Rod gives Outside magazine and inside peek, works out hairy situation

Andy Roddick, who's being supported by a fashion-y Brooklyn Decker as he defends his Queen's Club title this week, is featured on the cover of Outside magazine working his recent hairy situation out. It's amazing what hair stylists can do, right?

The mag also shot some behind-the-scenes video of the American baller and, in his usual dead-pan way, he "talks about what he would be doing if he wasn't on the pro tour and his honeymoon plans with fiancé, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker."

(via Towleroad, images via Outside + Marc Hom)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

VIDEO VAULT: Verdasco gets naked for a cause

Fernando Verdasco, who I think has one of the best tennis baller bodies around, got naked for Cosmopolitan magazine. No I didn't stutter.

The Spaniard speaks about the photoshoot and reveals it's to benefit a charity that deals with prostate cancer, for which is grandfather died.

Okay - did you hear me? FERNANDO VERDASCO GETS NAKED. Fine, just watch:

(video via

Forbes lets us know that Fed, Maria, Serena + Justine are famous and well-paid

Tennis has some of the most powerful and well-paid celebrities in the world. Like, duh.

Forbes just released their annual "Celebrity 100" list which ranks celebrities based on "earnings, then factors in media metrics like Google hits, press mentions as compiled by Factiva, TV/radio mentions from Lexis/Nexis and the number of times an A-lister appears on the cover of more than 50 consumer magazines." Wow - that's so scientific!

Anyway, Roger Federer, Maria "Shriek"apova, Serena Williams, and Justine Henin all made the list this year. Here's their ranking and what the mag had to say about our ballers:

Fed - (rank: 23) The world's top tennis player won $10 million in prize money in 2007—and another three grand slams. He recently signed up for 10 more years with Nike, one of the biggest deals ever in tennis.

Maria - (rank: 61) After the recent sudden retirement of Justine Henin, Sharapova moved to the top of the WTA Tour rankings for the fourth time in her career. She won her third Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open in January. In the past 12 months, she has renewed her endorsement deals with Canon and Tag Heuer, and she'll be getting double what they previously paid. She also has signed on to be a face of Sony. Also in her portfolio of global sponsors: Colgate-Palmolive, Motorola, Nike and Pepsi.

ReRe - (rank: 69) The younger Williams sister is back with three tournament wins so far in 2008 after chalking up only three wins in the three previous years combined. She signed a $2 million deal with Hewlett-Packard that adds to her hefty endorsement income, and she partners with Kraft, Nike and Wilson. Her $19 million in career prize money is the sixth highest among female tennis players.

Justine - (rank: 81) Henin shocked the tennis world with her sudden retirement in May. She is the first Tour player to quit while ranked No. 1. She had a phenomenal 2007, winning 10 of the 14 tournaments she played in and became the first woman to snag $5 million in prize money in one season.

(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Top ballers hit the skids at Queen's Club

Slippin' n slidin' seemed to be the name of the game today at Queen's Club (wait isn't the clay season kaput?) Not one but three ballers hit the skids on the slick grass today but managed to dig out wins - and isn't that all that matters?

Rafael Nadal defeated Japan's rising star Kei Nishikori 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, Andy Murray avoided serious injuries to his groin and ankle defeating the talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 and Lleyton Hewitt dismissed Frenchie Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-4.

(images via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Stacey watches Fish fall, channels Brooklyn's trench-style/fly-away moment

Mardy Fish's fiancee, Deal or No Deal's Stacey Gardner, was spotted at Queen's Club watching her husband-to-be default from his match against friend Andy Roddick with a left ankle injury after losing the opening set 6-7 (5).

Stacey looks to be working the same trench-style/fly-away hair moment I spotted Brooklyn Decker in yesterday. Love. Plus, the spring scarf is a big trend this season so she hits the mark there as well. But I'm not loving the shape of her sunglasses - makes her face look bugged out or something.

In any case, I'm getting excited about seeing the ballers' significant others getting their fashion on in preparation for their oh-so-glam Wimbledon moment. Who'll be next? Stay tuned!

(image via Getty)

Mystery solved: Murray's hot friend revealed, one more to go

A-ha! One mystery solved in the case of Andy Murray's hot-ass friends.

The cutie on the far right of the picture from yesterday's post is Venezuelan Dani Vallverdu, the Brit baller's doubles partner at Queen's Club this week and old friend from the Sanchez-Casal Academy days.

site gives us the low down on Dani but doesn't let us in on which "team" he plays for (sorry Isa!). Let's take a read:

If you've seen the doubles draw for the Artois Championships, you'll have noticed that Andy is playing with his good friend and junior doubles partner Dani Vallverdu.

Dani is a a four time All-American college tennis player based at the University of Miami where he's a business management major.

He's also an old classmate of Andy's from the Sanchez academy in Barcelona and has since gone on to represent Venezuela in Davis Cup.

The guys play Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Mahut in the first round, so we caught up with Dani to find out a bit more about him.

Ed: So how did you and Andy first meet?

Dani: I remember being at Sanchez, playing on a hardcourt there, and I was told to play with him. I thought he was pretty confident in himself! A couple of days later we had dinner together at the college and I realised I had the wrong impression of him. He's a really nice guy; we've been good friends ever since.

Ed: Did you guys come into contact much at Sanchez?

Dani: Yeah, we practiced a lot, but he travelled a lot too. You know, he would be gone for a couple of weeks, and then he would come back. It was fun when he was based at the dorms, but then he moved. It was a bit harder to see as much of him then.

Ed: You guys had a decent record in junior doubles right?

Dani: Yeah. We started playing when we were 17, played five tournaments together. We won four of them, but had to pull out of the fifth; I had to go play qualies for the US Open juniors. We were good.

Ed: We don't see so much of him on a doubles court, what was he like to play with back then?

Dani: He's an unbelievable doubles player. He's got great feel. You know, we had a lot of fun on court together. He didn't take it so seriously. Singles was his job, doubles was a different opportunity.

Ed: So playing doubles with him on the ATP tour must be a big thing for you?

Dani: It's been a dream since I was little, you know, to play on a show court at an ATP tournament. They're probably gonna be wondering who the hell this guy is! No, because it's the UK, I know we'll get good support; people will be cheering for us.

Ed: Nervous?

Dani: I'll be a little nervous for sure, first couple of games. But once I settle in, I'll just try my best, and enjoy it.

Ed: And what do the rest of your team back in Miami make of it?

Dani: They're really happy for me. We've been talking on MSN, so they know all about it. They'll be supporting for sure.

Ed: Can't imagine there were many grass courts in Venezuela growing up?!

Dani: Yeah, the first couple of days playing on grass was difficult, but I'm feeling rally comfortable on it now. I don't think it'll be a problem. It's my first time around a grass court tournament, and it's amazing. Everyone is talking about it, everyone is interested; you go out in Wimbledon village and you can see all the players. It'll be good.

Never really watched doubles but I may have to now...well, at least Murray's matches.

(image via

Dani still not healed, will skip Ordina Open

More bad news for Daniela Hantuchova.

The slender Slovak, who's been dealing with a stress fracture that kept her out of Roland Garros, is still not healed and won't be competing at the Ordina Open as she hoped:

It is very disappointing but after almost two months of being out of competition due to a stress fracture in my foot, I am still not completely recovered and I am sad to announce that I won’t be able to compete at the Ordina Open this year. I really enjoyed playing in s-Hertogenbosch last year and was looking forward to coming back and preparing for Wimbledon. Unfortunately it takes a while to fully recover from such injury and I have to be patient throughout this recovery process. I hope to be ready for competition soon and I wish everyone a great week of tennis and much love to all the fans!
Oh boy. As I've talked about previously, stress fractures suck and have ended a few baller's careers most notably Monica Seles'.

I really do enjoy the pureness of Dani's play though her tendency towards implosion makes me cringe (think: Aussie Open '08 semis people.) Let's hope her recovery continues, though, and she's back soon.

(image via

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

SIGHTING: A-Rod + Brooklyn reminisce at Nobu London

A bit o' romantic reminiscing maybe?

Andy Roddick and our new fave tennis fashionista Brooklyn Decker were spotted leaving Nobu in London. A-Rod returned to action this week in the English capital as the third seed and defending champion at Queen's Club. He defeated compatriot Robby Ginepri 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-1 in the second round and showed no effects of the shoulder injury that kept him out of the French Open.

It was last year during the US Open that the tennis twosome were spotted getting their romance on at the restaurant's New York City location for the first time.

Pop quiz: Does anyone remember what Nobu London is also infamous for in the tennis world? Here's a hint - I wouldn't go into the broom closet if I were you...

(image via via

Marion's got a hairy situation and Pocahontas is its name-o

Yikes Marion Bartoli.

It seems the Frenchie, who was "fed up" recently after her first round Roland Garros loss, has resurfaced as the top seed at the DFS Classic in Birmingham after a number of top ballers withdrew. Unfotunately her stay wasn't long as she was booted by Petra Cetkovska today 5-7, 6-4, 6-0 and later said she may miss Wimbledon after complaining of tendinitis still lingering in her wrist.

Let's not forget the duel-fisted groundstroker has tons of points to defend at Wimby after making last year's final and needs to get herself in gear.

Marion may also want to get her hairy situation in gear too. If you're a 23-year old woman on the world stage of tennis, do you really want to channel Pocahontas a la Tatiana Golovin?

Pretty it's not.

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Murray has hot friends - who wudda thunk it?

Okay Andy Murray. Now that you're a gay icon and all, I guess I can ask: what's up with the cute boys you're hanging with at Queen's Club (no pun intended, I swear)?

Oh, and speaking of gay may not want to hang out in this pose too long:

Just something to keep in mind...

(images via

FASHION FIX: Smart + sexy Brooklyn trumps Bec's beachgirl anyday

Brooklyn Decker, like Bec Hewitt, Jon Leach, and Barbara "Zen Master" Streisand before her, has taken her rightful place as supporter extraordinaire in the ballers' box. The swimsuit model is, of course, engaged to be married to Andy Roddick who is the third seed at Queen's Club this week.

I have to say I'm loving the trench-style shirt jacket, blackened aviator sunglasses and fly-away hair Brooklyn's working here. It's smart and sexy without being too casual. In any case, she's already won style points over the trashy beachgirl look of Mrs. Hewitt:

Let's be sure to keep and eye on their fashions, shall we?

(image via Getty)

Letter to the readers: Down the Line! celebrates its first birthday today

Hey y'all,

Today is Down the Line!'s first birthday. I can't believe it's been a whole year since I started writing this blog. Check out the very first post here...

It's been a blast not only writing about the sport we're all obsessed with but to read the great comments left by readers around the world. Whether you agree, disagree, question, or tell me to fuck off (yes that's happened!), the reader comments keep me motivated and entertained.

So thanks to all of you for reading and I look forward to continuing to bring a raw + uncut look into the world that we all love: tennis!


- I'm always looking for contributors with a unique voice for previews, wrap-ups, and on-the-ground reporting from the Grand Slams so if you're interested in writing/blogging (and come with thick skin) hit me up with your best stuff at

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quote of the Day: Uncle Toni

I never sensed any determination. He never put himself in that state. I was watching his face. Closed. Even when he broke back in the second set, you couldn't read anything on his face. He wasn't sending any messages to Rafa...He didn't have a winner's mentality. It wasn't the real Roger.

- Uncle Toni Nadal, Rafa's coach, on Roger Federer during his French Open drubbing

Yeah, he basically called it a day after he was first broken in the opening set. No fire, no intensity of any kind. Fed seems so mentally drained right now.

(image via Getty)

Mirka may not want to look in The Mirror today

One of the UK's biggest tabloidy newspapers, The Mirror, had some harsh words about Sunday's Roland Garros bloodbath and they weren't directed at Roger Federer but at his constant companion Mirka Vavrinec.

In today's edition the paper said,

Roger Federer was highly embarrassed at Roland Garros on Sunday afternoon. And he's only himself to blame for letting his tubby fiancee Mirka sit in the stands.

Poor old Fed - he offered as much resistance to Rafael Nadal during the French Open as Mirka does when the dessert trolley appears.

Oh that's rough, but Mirka has been looking hefty these days. If only those pregnancy rumors were true...

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Ivanovic returns to Belgrade, greeted by thousands at City Hall

Ana Ivanovic, who's looking pretty stunning here if you ask me, is finally enjoying the fruits of her labor as the new world no. 1 on the WTA Tour and reigning French Open champion.

The 20-year old attended a press conference in Belgrade, Serbia to discuss her great win and then, like Novak Djokovic after his win in Melbourne, was greeted by thousands of cheering Serbians as she stood on the City Hall balcony showing off the mini take-home prize.

(images via AP)

No rest for the wicked: Rafa's Paris celebrations end, arrives at Queen's Club

Rafael Nadal had one more stop during his Roland Garros celebrations before making his way to London for The Artois Championships at Queen's Club. The Spaniard is the top seed and features a great draw including Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian.

Rafa and his Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy stopped for a photo op on Pont Alexandre III bridge yesterday and Nike gave the French Open champ a new marquer l'histoire polo with the "2008" now crossed out to signify his fourth consecutive win in Paris.

But the ever-ready Rafa doesn't waste time with long, drawn out celebrations and hit the road for London. Today, the 22-year old was spotted with traveling coach Francisco Roig already sharpening his grass-court skills at Queen's Club.

(images via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Preview of Nike Wimbledon gear for Fed + Rafa

Will this be the scene again on the final Sunday of Wimbledon this year?

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will try to match their final efforts at Roland Garros from the last three years by making a third consecutive Wimbledon final. Let's hope for Fed, though, that he recovers from his beatdown by the Spanish steamroller and makes it that far.

And what about their Wimbledon Nike fashions? Of course, all ballers are required to work their whites so Fed will be wearing the Federer Wimbledon Polo in white + dark obsidian and the Control Short in white for match play. Rafa continues with the Global Power Sleeveless in white and the Nadal Longer Length Short also in white.

Additionally, Fed + Rafa will be getting new colorways in their popular Vapors and Cages.

But what will Swiss stylist be wearing this year as he enters Centre Court at The All-England Club? Stay tuned!

(images via

Monday, June 9, 2008

FRENCH OPEN 2008: It's a wrap!

When the clay finally settled in Paris, a dominant champion grew his legacy while a new queen took her rightful place at the top of the tennis world.


What the men's draw lacked in drama and suspense, it gained with the awe of watching one baller pick apart all pretenders with surgical precision: Rafael Nadal. Though whispers of an upset began brewing when the defending champion lost early in Rome, the Mallorcan Matador silenced all speculation with his herculean effort these past two weeks, dominating the entire men's draw (making his semifinal Marquee Matchup a mismatch with Novak Djokovic), claiming his fourth consecutive Roland Garros championship (tying Bjorn Borg's record) without losing a set (first since Borg in 1980) and saving his most devastating performance for the final where he thrashed a lethargic Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in the most lopsided Grand Slam final since 1977. And for the third year in-a-row, he prevented the world no. 1 from becoming the sixth man ever to claim the elusive career Grand Slam and keeping a perfect 28-0 record in Paris. Oh yeah, Rafa also turned a ripe old age of 22.

And what about Fed? Well, the top-ranked Swiss made his way through the draw with relative ease but hit some turbulence in his semifinal against Frenchie Gael Monfils. But no signs pointed to the what would become Fed's worst Grand Slam performance ever, only winning four games and losing his first 6-0 set since 1999. In a year where he has only one title to his name so far, Estoril, Fed seems to be suffering a crisis in confidence after his preparations for the season were disrupted after contracting mononucleosis. The 26-year old's favorite time of the year, however, starts now and he'll be looking for a record sixth consecutive Wimbledon title in a few weeks time. But with the state of his game in shreds after a sound beatdown by 2-time finalist Rafa, his dominance at the All-England Club will be challenged not only by his Spanish nemesis but from the all-courter Novak Djokovic. (BTW - is it me or did Fed look half-a-step slow on Sunday?)

Nole, for his part, lived up to his third seeding making the semifinals for the second straight year where he ran into the Spanish steamroller. Expect the Serb, though, to rebound nicely on the green grass of London where he made the semifinals last year. Centre Court seems a fitting place for the 21-year old to begin making his big push towards the top ranking.

Gael Monfils and Latvian Ernests Gulbis became the breakout stars of the French Open this year. La Monf, the former top-ranked junior, became the first Frenchman since Sebastian Grosjean in 2001 to make the semifinals at their native Grand Slam stealing a set from Federer, hanging with girlfriend Dominika Cibulkova and entertaining the home crowd with his explosive athleticism and jubilant celebrations. Ernests won as much praise for his lovely locks and nerdy cuteness as he did for his big game, making his first Grand Slam quarterfinal and taking old friend Novak Djokovic to his 3-set limit.


All hail the (new) queen! Ana Ivanovic made 2008 Roland Garros her coronation ceremony as she earned her maiden Grand Slam title by defeating Dinara Safina and ascended to world no. 1 on the WTA Tour - the first Serbian to ever hold the top ranking (that ringing you're hearing are the sponsors calling Ana!) She also played the best women's match of the tournament, going the distance with countrywoman Jelena Jankovic in their semifinal Marquee Matchup with no. 1 on the line and showcasing the most lethal forehand in the women's game and much improved defensive skills. A semifinalist last year at Wimbledon, it'll be interesting to see how Ana transitions to the grass and how she deals with the new pressure and expectation of a world no. 1.

The breakout star on the women's side, Dinara Safina, seemingly conquered here mental demons this fortnight defeating 3 top ten ballers on her way to the final including former no. 1 Maria "Shriek"apova after being a set, a break, and then match point down in their fourth round battle. Unfortunately the Russian had little left in the tank after two tough weeks on the terre battue, competing valiantly in the finals but eventually folding. Dinara, like her brother Marat, is not a grass court lover by any means and has already pulled out from Birmingham this week with a back injury. Don't expect a similar scenario for Dinara in London that she had in Paris.

Another baller who also pulled out of Birmingham this week is Jelena Jankovic. The Serb is still dealing with the brown-nosing right arm injury she received during the French Open. Regardless, JJ still made the semifinals winning the second set and going up a break in the third before eventually succumbing to Ana's more courageous play.

And what's there to be said for the efforts of Maria "Shriek"apova, Venus + Serena Williams, and Svetlana Kuznetsova? Not much, but we can be sure that at least the first three ballers will be feeling a whole 'lot better once their feet hit the grass. Sveta, well, we never know what fun (or misery) she'll bring to the party.

(image via Getty)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

PHOTO OP: Rafa crushes Federer for fourth consecutive Roland Garros title

The greatest clay court baller ever? Perhaps.

In one of the most thoroughly dominating performances in Grand Slam final history, Rafael Nadal turned the French Open final into a clay-court clinic, dismantling a clearly befuddled Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 and grabbing a fourth consecutive crown. The Spaniard tied Bjorn Borg's record for consecutive wins at the French and handed the world no. 1 his first 6-0 set since 1999.

Even Rafa felt compelled to tell a humbled Fed during the trophy ceremony, "I'm sorry..." Enough said.

(images via Getty)

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