Google Down the Line!: 2008-06-29

Saturday, July 5, 2008

PREVIEW: Wimbledon Men's Final

Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal
Head-to-head: 6 Fed, 11 Rafa
Last meeting: Roland Garros '08, Rafa 6-1, 6-3, 6-0

Weren't we just here recently? Oh yes, I remember it well though I'm sure Fed would probably want us to forget it. The two truly dominant ballers on the ATP Tour reasserted their places in the tennis heirarchy by systematically dissecting their draws with astounding precision. Top seed Roger Federer will look to make it six-in-a row, breaking Bjorn Borg's record, when he battles nemesis Rafael Nadal for the Wimbledon title.

How they got here: The top-ranked Swiss has looked in imperious form, even with a cardigan on, and has not gifted a set this fortnight. His latest victim was the resurgent Marat Safin, who never really believed in his chances and went down with a quick 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-4 decision. Rafa was just as tidy in his dismissal of another resurgent baller, German Rainer Schuettler, booking his spot in the final by a similar scoreline of 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Here's some of what Fed had to say about how Rafa's challenge:
He's made me improve, you know, just the approach, you know, playing against him. I was playing him quite differently in the beginning of my career. Well, the thing is also he's evolved as a player, started to play better. He's challenged me, you know, especially on I think clay for me. That was the major, major part of playing on Rafa on clay, it was the ultimate test for me, you know. I mean, I don't know how much he's helped me to play against other players. Playing him, because it's such a different dimension, such a different type of game, it's hard to really judge, you know. But I definitely feel like he's made me more tough, that's for sure.
Rafa has this to say about facing the world no. 1:
Well, always a special feeling play against the No. 1, and especially against Roger, because, well, he plays specially, very nice all the time, very easy. Sometimes you distract watching his game, no?

We going to be play the sixth final in Grand Slam, so that's a lot important matches. Some more Masters Series finals, some important the rest finals. So sure it is a nice rivalry because we are No. 1 and No. 2. That's the main rivalry, because if someone is No. 1 and the other one is No. 5 doesn't matter, no? But for the last years we did well, and I hope continuing like this for a lot of years.
Outlook: This match, much like the ladies' final, is a true toss up. Both ballers are playing near-perfect tennis, showing that they are still head-and-shoulders above the rest of the tour when it comes to consistency, belief and championship mettle. Though Fed has yet to give up a set this fortnight, he'll be giving up at least one tomorrow though I think three is more likely.

Rafa's game has lifted to new levels since he made the final in Miami, crushing the field during the clay-court swing and continuing his untouchable form onto the grass, winning at Queen's Club for his first title on the green stuff. He seems ready to take the top-ranking and that'll begin when he grabs his first Wimbledon title on Sunday.

(images via Getty)

Friday, July 4, 2008

PREVIEW: Wimbledon Ladies' Final

Venus Williams vs. Serena Williams
Head-to-head: 7 Venus, 8 Serena
Last meeting: Bangalore '08 (hard), Serena 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4)

After all the major upsets earlier in the tournament we've finally arrived at Venus vs. Serena XVI; let's hope that this match, unlike their past meetings, will be a fiercely competitive one. Both ballers have been playing solid tennis this fortnight with neither sister even sniffing a third set. Incidentally, the Williams sisters have also made the ladies' doubles final so they deserve full credit for an incredible tournament *clap, clap*!

How they got here: 4-time defending champion V battled a familiar foe, Elena Dementieva, and easily dismissed the Russian 6-1, 7-6 (3) making 15 of 21 approaches to the net. 2-time champion ReRe faced surprise semifinalist Zheng Jie and hit 14 aces to defeat the Chinese baller by a similar score of 6-2, 7-6 (5).

The last time the sisters met was in the semifinals of the Bangalore Open where ReRe broke a 2-match losing streak to her sister, pulling out a 3-set win on her way to the title. It was their first meeting since the fourth round of the '05 US Open.

Here's what V had to say about facing ReRe in the past:
I really played the best that I could and she was just better. I mean, there were a series of matches where I just -- she was just better than I was at that point, you know, on that day. She was definitely on a high. I had just came off of a couple years of just winning everything. I was tired. And then she had come off a couple years of not winning everything and she was more pumped. So it was kind of like this, you know, balance of her going up and me kind of being a little tired, a little burned out probably.
ReRe has this to say about playing her sister:
It's like, you know, I personally want everything that Venus has. So, you know, she wins a trophy, I would desperately want it. I would be really, you know, eager to have it. We're good at this now. We just leave everything out on the court. This is the finals of Wimbledon. Who doesn't want it?
Outlook: This one is actually very tough to call since both sisters are pretty evenly matched. Historically, you have to give the edge to ReRe because she's 5-1 over her sister in Grand Slam finals and seems to summon the extra motivation against her sister. However, V is the defending champion and feels most comfortable on Centre Court.

If V can keep her first serve percentage high and utilize her superior net play, she'll gain the advantage in the match. But if she's giving second looks at her serve, ReRe will jump on her and grab the momentum quickly. It's a real toss-up here but I'm giving the nod to V in 3-sets.

(image via Getty)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

PHOTO OP: Maria drowns Wimbledon sorrows in haute couture fashion

Maria "Shriek"apova carried her Wimbledon blues to Paris where the Russian took in The City of Light's phenomenal Fashion Week. The 21-year old was spotted working a silver coat overtop a black pencil skirt and a pair of black heels at the Valentino 2009 Haute Couture runway show with her trusty sidekick Camilla Belle in tow.

Yes Maria its true: fashion can always mend a girl's (or boy's) broken heart...

(images via

Quote of the Day: Dementieva

I mean, if they're going to play against each other, I mean, I don't know what to say. I mean, I cannot imagine myself playing against someone from my family. It's really hard. For sure it's going to be a family decision.

- Elena Dementieva on the all-Williams Wimbledon final

Is the Russian eluding to the old match-fixing allegations leveled against Venus + Serena in the past or is this an issue with translation?

(image via Getty)

Jelena not feeling great, not feeling the press either

Jelena Jankovic is back home after her disappointing run at Wimbledon where she lost in the fourth round to Tamarine Tanasugarn. The Serb is currently rehabilitating the knee she hyperextended in her match against Caroline Wozniacki but she isn't happy with the press reports questioning the injury:

For me, it was disappointing to lose but I was more saddened by some of the press reports after the match. I decided to play through the injury, through the pain instead of letting people down by pulling out. I don't expect credit for this but I read some negative reports about the legitimacy of the injury and that was tough to take. I would like to invite these reporters to look at my MRI. I feel frustrated because I think with some people; there is a lack of understanding of what it takes to be tennis professional. Unfortunately, I can't control everything that is written about me and I guess you have to take the good with the bad. I just hope that in the future, some people will try a little harder to find out the facts before jumping to conclusions. I know that there are many people out there supporting me and wishing me well so to those people I say a BIG thank you!
I didn't think your injury was a bluff JJ - it seemed pretty legit to me. I just think you get injured way too much and need to figure out what's going on with your body (or your head).

It seems you're still paying the price for last season's scheduling ridiculousness - get more rest!

(image via Getty)

Men's 1st Marquee Matchup: Wimbledon Semifinals

Oh! Finally I've woken up from my long slumber over this Wimbledon fortnight (yes, not the most thrilling of Slams this year) to arrive at the very first Marquee Matchup in either draw. Maybe this semifinal match will kick start this snoozefest: 5-time defending champion Roger Federer will take on a resurgent Marat Safin for a place in Sunday's final.

Fed made quick work of Mario Ancic, the last man to beat the top seed at Wimby back in 2002, defeating the Croat 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 and even out-acing the big server 15-9. The world no. 1 has been on a tear, not losing a set to any of the pretenders. Marat battled Spain's Feliciano Lopez and himself, of course, losing the first set but rallying for a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory.

The head-to-head for these two ballers is 8-2 in Fed's favor. Their last meeting was in the third round of last year's Wimby when the Swiss pulled out a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) decision. But I'd prefer to reminisce about their classic, epic encounter in the '05 Aussie Open where the Russian giant saved a match point and defeated Fed 9-7 in the fifth set on his way to claiming his second Grand Slam title - oh, what a feeling!

Here's what the Swiss had to say Marat:

I never looked at Marat like No. 89 in the world. I mean, that's ridiculous. You know, he knows that himself. He's finally showing again what he can do. It's just quite surprising he does it here at Wimbledon in some ways, because he used to dislike playing on this surface. So it should be interesting, because last year I wasn't happy to see Safin in my draw. I'm never happy. He probably knows that. Just been disappointed with the way he's been playing lately, but hopefully he's got a second thing going here in his career.
Marat had this to say about facing the world no. 1:
You winning four matches and now you're starting to challenge the Federer. I don't think -- I'm playing semifinals, but that doesn't mean that I have a chance there, because the guy has won how many times already here? I mean, five, six times already, and he's on the way to win his seventh title. It's my first semifinal, so levels are a little bit different. To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place. But, yes, why not? It's another chance for me. But I think it's just a little bit too difficult it would be for me to beat him.
Outlook: Okay, so Marat is clearly playing his chances way down to beat Fed but I'm not sure he quite believes that himself. The Russian is a huge ball striker and has found his footing on the grass courts this year. More importantly, he has the experience of defeating Fed on the big stage with a lot on the line so it would be foolish to discount him.

But this is Fed's court and he's the king of The All England Club. His superior movement, forays to the net and his ability to improvise shots when the bounce is off kilter will be keys to winning this match. Though I like the Russian's chances to take a set off the top seed, I don't think we'll be seeing an upset this time around. I'll take Fed in four.

(images via Getty)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

PHOTO OP: Clement battles Schuettler, joins shirtless brigade

To say Arnaud Clement making the quarterfinals at this year's Wimbledon is a surprise would be a huge understatement. The same could be said, though, for his opponent Rainer Schuettler but full credit to both ballers for making the second week here.

But what isn't such a surprise is how good the Frenchie looks without his shirt on. He's definitely in great shape and I'm liking the beard too.

Welcome to the shirtless brigade Arnaud...we're glad to have ya!

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Tennis titans take part in official ITF Olympics book

The ITF has just released their official Olympics book "Journey to Beijing - Tennis celebrates the Olympics" featuring over 40 of the world's best tennis ballers dressed as athletes from differents sports including Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Maria "Shriek"apova, Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Daniela Hantuchova, Amelie Mauresmo, Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, and Dmitry Tursunov.

According to the ITF website:

The 140-page publication features a series of specially commissioned photographs of the game’s top names dressed as athletes from other summer or winter Olympic sports. These are accompanied by interviews with the players talking about their Olympic memories and hopes for Beijing.

The photographs were taken over a six-month period by some of the world’s leading tennis photographers, with photo shoots held in venues as varied as Barcelona, Beijing, Dubai, Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Miami, Melbourne, Moscow, Netherlands, Palm Beach, Santiago, Shanghai and Tel Aviv.

(images via ITF)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Making history: Zheng reaches Wimbledon semifinals

Zheng Jie's giant-killing ways continued to amaze at Wimbledon today dismissing a resurgent Nicole Vaidisova 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 and becoming the first Chinese baller to make the final four of a Grand Slam and the first ladies' wild card to make the semifinals at The All England Club.

The next giant in line: Serena Williams.

(image via Getty)

Ana's Wimby loss doesn't stop her Global Domination Tour

Ana Ivanovic's stay may have been short at Wimbledon but her Global Domination Tour will live on in the UK.

The FHM magazine featuring the world no. 1 on the cover was released and so were some of the inside shots of the Serbian star. But who was the stylist on this photoshoot? They need to be fired and should never style anyone ever again. I mean really, this wasn't for a cheesy lingerie catalog was it?

Ana's a true natural beauty but here she's completely over-styled and over-made up - sometimes less is more!

(images via FHM)

Hewitts expecting second child, sell story for $100K

So now I know why Bec Hewitt was looking like a schoolmarm at Wimbledon: she was hiding something under that tent.

Apparently the former Aussie soap star and her hothead hubby Lleyton Hewitt are expecting their second child and sold their story for $100,000 to gossip rag OK! magazine - pennies in this day and age:

(image via Getty, Ok)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Spoiler alert: Aggie on the rise, makes quarterfinals at Wimbledon

Is Aggie Radwanska going to spoil the Williams Wimbledon party? Maybe so.

Aggie completed the demolition of the top four seeds, the first time the in Open Era history the top four fell before the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, by defeating headcase Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in the round of 16 after being down 1-4 in the decider. This win is the Pole's second this year over Sveta in a Grand Slam, having bundled the Russian out of the Aussie Open's third round.

With her crafty + cunning ways on the tennis court and with her confidence on grass at a high after winning in Eastbourne, I'm thinking she may have a shot at taking down Serena Williams.

Am I off my rocker or what?

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Murray muscles way into first Grand Slam quarterfinal

Andy Murray showed some real muscle today - and I'm not talking about those spindly arms he's brandishing here.

The Brit baller dug deep and came back from a 2 set to love deficit to oust Richard Gasquet 5-7, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2, 6-4 in a epic battle and in front of a raucous home crowd. Andy also made the first Grand Slam quarterfinal in his career with this win. But the task gets a lot tougher in the next round - Andy gets Rafael Nadal. Scary!

So is it me or did this match, the way Andy 2.0 gutted this out with real grit, remind anyone else of the original Andy's old ways? What a shame A-Rod.

(images via Getty)

Quote of the Day: Jankovic

I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost need a helicopter to go to my court.

- Jelena Jankovic on playing (and losing) on court 18 to Tamarine Tanasugarn

Oh JJ. You were so ornery today and it had nothing to do with the court you were playing on. You've had injuries at every Grand Slam this year and your fellow Serbs have grabbed all the attention you crave so much - it must be frustrating.

Get it together!

(image via Getty)

SIGHTING: Sting + Trudie take in some Wimbledon

A very bearded Sting and his lip-licking wife Trudie Styler were spotted at Centre Court watching Andy Murray battle Richard Gasquet to a fifth set.

(image via Getty)

Vaidisova's victorious run continues, makes quarters at Wimbledon

She's baaack!

Nicole Vaidisova looks to have awaken from her season-long slumber, gutting out a 3-set victory over Russian Anna Chakvetadze 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-3 and grabbing her first defeat of a top-10 baller since beating Jelena Jankovic in Sydney - yeah, that was in January.

Well, Nicole is still working "The Worm" so we can't credit a breakup for the turnaround - must be new coach David Felgate. Whatever the case, it's good to see the Czech revive her game.

Good luck, though, with battling giant-killing Chinese baller Jie Zheng in the quarterfinals...the girl is on fire.

(image via Getty)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Comment of the Week: Lisa on Ivanovic loss

What's with all these top players going out? It's embarrassing. I agree with Brad Gilbert that all this talk about being "mentally tired" and "emotional" just sounds weak. Your either prepared or your not.

- Lisa on Ana Ivanovic's hasty exit from Wimbledon this week

Yeah, I don't think you should mention that in the press. Just say that you got your ass handed to you and they were the better baller on the day. I applaud Maria "Shriek"apova who was very gracious in defeat and gave no excuses.

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Elated Gasquet thinks he can dance - you be the judge!

My darkhorse of the men's draw, Richard Gasquet, is starting to make me look like I know what I'm talking about. The Frenchie headcase seems to be pulling his game together at Wimbledon, hitting 16 aces to take down compatriot Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 and make the round of 16 where he'll meet homeboy Andy Murray. Can he be any happier here?

Anyway, I was really impressed with the incredible moves the "Frenchie with flair" busted out in taking down Gilles. So you think you can dance Richard? Let the readers be the judge!

(images via Getty)

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