(Hey people! DtL contributor Cristina is offering her take on this year's ladies' US Open draw. She also covered the Nike "Grapple in the Apple" event last night for DtL which I'll post about later. So in the meantime, heeere's Cristina!)
New York will once again be the tennis capital of the world when the US Open begins on Monday. It’s an understatement to say the women’s field is currently wide open. So far, we’ve had 3 Grand Slams with 3 different champions - Maria Sharapova in Australia, Ana Ivanovic at Roland Garros, and Venus Williams at Wimbledon. But with defending champion Justine Henin retired away and Maria out with a nagging shoulder injury, who will shine under the New York lights to claim the final Grand Slam of the season? Let's take a look:
DINARA SAFINA - It’s only appropriate to start the women’s US Open preview with the hottest player on the WTA Tour right now, Dinara Safina. Marat’s little sis has been playing big since she reached the final at Roland Garros this year. Dinara also won the US Open Series with victories in LA + Montreal then topped it off with a silver medal at the Olympics. Will she be fresh enough for the glitz and glamour of the Big Apple? A win at the US Open would be a fairy tale ending for Dinara's amazing summer. If she continues with this surge, a Grand Slam title is within her grasp.
ANA IVANOVIC - Reigning world no. 1 Ana Ivanovic is looking to improve her performance in New York where she has never passed the fourth round. The sensational Serb has had lackluster results since her exhilarating French Open win including a third round thrashing by Zheng Jie and an early exit at the Rogers Cup, and a withdrawal from Beijing. Ana seems hungry to get back her winning ways so if the thumb holds up and her forehand regains its stellar form, she'll be a threat for her first US Open win.
JELENA JANKOVIC - Aside from being excited to debut a new outfit at this year’s US Open, Jelena Jankovic is anxious to reach her first Grand Slam final. Her short, but drama-filled stint as the top-ranked lady baller caused quite a stir because many felt she didn’t deserve it. The injury-prone second seed reached the quarterfinals in 2007 but she’ll have to do better if she wants to silence her critics.
SERENA WILLIAMS - Heart-inked Serena Williams is looking for her first Grand Slam since 2007 when she fought her way to the Aussie Open title. She had a great start to the year winning Tier 1's in Miami and Charleston and then reaching the Wimbledon final. Unfortunately the 8-time Grand Slammer suffered an injury to her shaky knee forcing her to withdraw from Stanford and LA. She turned it around in Beijing, though, partnering with sister Venus and grabbing doubles gold. Will this win give ReRe enough momentum to drive the 2-time champ to her third US Open title?
VENUS WILLIAMS - Wimbledon champ Venus Williams is looking for her first US Open championship since 2001. With a tumultuous year so far (aside from her fifth win at The All-England Club), Venus isn’t a shoe in for this year’s Open, but as they say, never count out a Williams sister in any Grand Slam event.
THE RUSSIANS - The Russians made an impressive run at the Olympics, but will they play as well in New York? Last year’s finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova has had a disappointing 2008 so far with no tour titles on hand. Can she repeat her 2004 US Open victory? Gold medal winner Elena Dementieva has made progress through each Grand Slam tourney this year – the fourth round in Australia, the quarters at the French Open, and the semis at Wimbledon.
With so many talented players in the WTA Tour it’s hard to predict a clear-cut winner. The sudden retirement of Justine Henin has challenged the ladies to fill some pretty big shoes. Every Grand Slam offers its own set of surprises, but tennis fans should expect the majority of the top players to outshine the rest. We’ll find out in two weeks which woman ends her summer with a new US Open trophy.
So who are your contenders for the women's US Open title? Do tell!
(image via Getty)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Here we are at the season’s final Grand Slam, the US Open, and every baller’s last attempt to leave their personal stamp on the 2008 season. For some it’s an opportunity to solidify a career-making year and for others a chance to salvage what could've been.
Let’s take a look at the top contender’s for the US Open championship:
RAFAEL NADAL – 2 Grand Slams. Olympic gold. 70-8 win/loss record. Rise to World No. 1. In past years we might have been talking about a certain someone else, but this year it’s all about Rafa. The Spanish steamroller crushed everyone and took names on his path towards world domination.
His sensational season really began on his beloved clay winning two Master Series shields (Monte Carlo, Hamburg) and a fourth consecutive Roland Garros crown staying undefeated at the Slam. Rafa continued his tear by earning his first grass-court title at Queen’s Club and winning arguably the greatest match ever at Wimbledon, grabbing Toronto for his third Master Series of the year, and then seizing an emotionally golden win in Beijing. Will Rafa have enough left in the tank for New York where the 22-year old has never been to the final four? If we’ve learned anything this year it's this: expect the unexpected from the Majorcan Matador.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC – Last year’s finalist had a solid first half of the season grabbing his maiden Grand Slam in Melbourne, defeating Rafa in the semifinals during his championship run at Indian Wells, and winning in Rome. But that’s where the fun stops: a poor showing at Wimbledon coupled with two straight Master Series losses to Andy Murray (someone he dominated) has shown fragility in the Serb’s usual bravado. But Nole made his country proud with his bronze-winning ways at the Olympics. Will this give him the confidence to go one more in New York?
ROGER FEDERER – Once the odds-on favorite at any non-clay Slam "the Fed" has, over the course of the season, become human. The usually ethereal Swiss has been utterly ordinary hoisting two small trophies at Estoril and Halle. However, recent losses to Gilles Simon, Ivo Karlovic, and James Blake are more worrisome and have revealed severe cracks in his once invincible aura. But the former no.1 did make the semifinals in Australia, finals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon and grabbed the elusive gold medal, albeit in doubles, at the Olympics. You'd be a fool to count out a 12-time Grand Slammer in anything and a comeback story in New York would only add to his legend.
ANDY MURRAY – The Brit baller wants to play with the big boys and he’s shown he’s ready this year. The turning point in Andy’s season was his epic come-from-behind win against Richard Gasquet in Wimbledon’s fourth round. He went on to lose to Rafa in the quarters but the Richard win set the stage for his aforementioned, consecutive wins over Nole and his first Master Series shield in Cincinnati. Aside from the ugly, first round loss to unheralded Yen-Hsun Lu in Beijing, Andy has looked fit and ready to take his first career Grand Slam.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO – This rising Argentine won his first pro title in Stuttgart and preceded to go on an unprecedented four tourney win streak – the first baller in history to win their first four tournaments consecutively. J. Martin showed great maturity when he decided to skip New Haven even with the possibility of winning the US Open Series and some extra bank. The 19-year old currently owns a 19-match win streak and with his clean ball-striking and much improved mental and physical game I have one thing to say: BALLERS BEWARE.
Who are your contenders for the men's US Open title? Do tell!
(image via Getty)
Never one to miss a fashion fiesta, Jelena Jankovic is throwing herself into the style game for the US Open.
Admittedly, I wasn't so kind to the JJ and her initial attempt at custom fashion for the Olympics (fine - I screamed "piece of crap".) Can you blame me? Anyway, when the Serb mentioned recently she and Reebok collaborated again on her US Open fashion I was worried to say the least. But I have to say it's (very) slowly getting better.
JJ will be working a very fitted, lemon yellow double-layered tank dress featuring something resembling a geisha-style obi belt (though not as wide or dramatic - go figure.) It's kinda cute but unfortunately the dress reminds me of sleepwear which is appropriate given JJ looks a bit jet-lagged here.
Let's hope she wakes up in time for the start of play on Monday though...
(image via Getty)
More Nike US Open gear for your viewing pleasure...
Here's the dress Serena Williams will be wearing as she goes for Grand Slam number nine, which would tie her in the record books with our beloved Monica Seles.
ReRe will be working the elegant Serena Day Dress in dark red. The outfit is essentially a gussied up tank dress featuring a fitted body and front pleating for ease of movement on court. The former 2-time US Open champ has had an incredibly stylish spring/summer beginning with her Roland Garros duds, the much ballyhooed Wimbledon wear, her Olympics moment, and now this gorgeous get-up.
(image via Nike)
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Big thanks to Nike again for sending over a preview of world no. 1 Rafael Nadal's newest, limited-edition duds for the US Open - so exciting!
The sexy Spaniard has moved towards a more buttoned up look for the Slam, favoring sleeves over sleeveless and shorter shorts while still channeling his trademark flair. Rafa was heavily involved in the evolution of his latest look + style and even invited the Nike design team to Majorca for the collaboration.
Rafa will be working the surfing rashguard-inspired Rafa Polo Reinvent ($60) in orange blaze/chlorine blue/concord/white which features seams strategically placed to reduce friction or pull, mesh side panels for breathability and range of motion, and a tonal grid pattern for texture.
The Polo Reinvent is paired with Rafa's Short Reinvent ($55) in white which "incorporates the best of boardshort design to produce a silhouette that moves with him--from baseline to net--without chaffing or bunching up" (hint, hint Rafa.) Elements include a no-sew, surf inspired waistband, bonded velcro fastenings, and a shorter length signed off and approved by the Spaniard himself.
Here's the kicker folks: only 500 of the pieces were made and will only be sold at Niketown - NYC, Nike.com, or the on-site Nike booth at the US Open. Get 'em while they're hot!
I'm loving this new direction - it's fresh, innovative, and most importantly wearable. Clearly the Majorcan Matador wants to be more involved in how the "Rafa brand" is presented and that can only be good news for him.
(image via Nike)
Maria Sharapova and her supposed look-alikes joined forces to launch the new Power Shot Diamond Collection and debut her new Canon commericial at South Street Seaport in New York. The new spot features the Russian fashionista with her partner-in-crime, Dolce the dog.
Speaking of fashion, what the hell is this one-shouldered number Maria is working here? I thought she'd want to keep her right shoulder warm, y'know, the one that's injured?? And with her "rehabilitation" looking more like a vacation, her priorities seem to be all screwed up.
But I guess she's laughing all the way to the bank...say cheese!
(image via mariasharapova.com)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
So thanks to Nike for sending over a sneak peek at Roger Federer's US Open duds.
Like last year, the former no. 1 (still sounds funny, huh?) will be working two different looks for the occasion. He'll debut the Federer Sphere React Cool Manhattan Polo ($60) in smoke/comet red/white which features a closed placket and double seams running down the front. The shirt is lacking some detailing, though - it seems flat though the color gives some pop.
The shirt is paired with the Swiss stylist's fave Control Short ($45) in smoke - which I'm totally loving. adidas used grey earlier in the season on Nole but this darker tone is great for fall.
As for the second outfit...well, let's say I'm having flashbacks of a certain someone's catsuit:
Addtionally, Nike is offering the headband ($12) and wristbands ($10) in smoke (though I highly doubt he'll be wearing an all-smoke outfit - gag) and the comet + white Air Zoom Vapor V ($115)he sported in Beijing.
Ravi Ubha's power play [ESPN]
Matt Cronin's US Open ladies' Top 10 [FOX Sports]
Wertheim whistles a different tune [SI]
Oh, stick a salami in it James [Forty Deuce]
(image via Getty)
- Blame Hewitt's hip - Former champion Lleyton Hewitt officially withdrew today from the US Open + Davis Cup after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery. Retirement, though, is not on table.
- Tati takes a pass - Tatiana Golovin also withdrew today siting a naggging back injury. Tati hasn't played a match since losing in Berlin's first round back in May.
- Fed's final stand? - Former Deadspinner (its founding editor, actually) peeks into the world that is Roger Federer and his final attempt to salvage, by his monstrous standards, and awful season at the US Open
- Cloning Rafa - Can the USTA's new Saddlebrook-based player development program, headed by Patrick McEnroe, create an American Nadal who could actually win in New York? (Thanks NY mag + reader vs346c for the tip.)
- Good eating at the Open - Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano is launching Wine Food Bar located at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center's South Plaza. The food will be comprised of tastes from around the Mediterranean with the spot resembling a Spanish tapas bar. Yum!
Now you can have your very own, partially disrobed ATP baller every month of 2009.
Tommy Haas, Marcos Baghdatis,Tomas Berdych, Tommy Robredo, Fernando Gonzalez, Dmitry Tursunov, the Bryan brothers, Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Verdasco, Juan Monaco and Ivan Ljubicic were all shot in black-and-white by Corinne Dubreuil and will be featured in the latest ATP calendar.
An exhibit showcasing the entire set of images will be on display right in time for the US Open from August 22 - Sept 18 on the seventh floor "living room" at the W New York Hotel, Times Square.
Seriously, if they wanted to do a real calendar they could've at least taken the entire shirt off. What a tease.
Oh - can we also get Fernando Verdasco's image please?? Clothed is fine I suppose.
(via tennis week; image courtesy of Corinne Dubreuil/Nikon D3)
So exciting news: I just found out Down the Line was nominated for 2008 Blogger's Choice Award for "Best Sports Blog"! So cool.
Thanks to reader Sarahmcq for the nomination. Click here to vote for DtL!
The pending divorce and custody battle between Hall of Famer and ESPN correspondent Pam Shriver and former James Bond George Lazenby is getting downright nasty. The estranged couple married in 2002 and have three children together: 4-year old Georgie and 2-year old twins Katie and Sammy.
Shriver has accused Lazenby of abuse, threats of violence towards her, anti-Semitism, and even offering their children beer. Lazenby recently submitted papers to a Los Angeles court leveling all sorts of accusations including drug addiction and physical abuse and questioned Shriver's parenting skills saying,
I have great concerns about Petitioner's [Shriver] habitual consumption of prescription painkillers, Ambien sleeping pills and rum or vodka each night and during the day.
When I have expressed my grave concern to Petitioner about her combining Ambien with alcohol, she flew into a rage and attempted to justify her addiction by claiming she has debilitating migraines and shoulder pain.
I have observed Petitioner wake up on many mornings in a stupor from her nightly cocktail.
Petitioner is in no condition to drive in the morning. I have seen Petitioner be drowsy and dizzy, with difficulties in coordination.
I have warned Petitioner on numerous occasions to refrain from transporting our children in the car when she is in such a state.
Petitioner has confessed to me that she has memory blackouts.
Petitioner has rarely been alone with our children, and when she is alone with them she is constantly checking her Blackberry.
Petitioner has never been without the help of her nannies. She cannot tolerate the presence of all three children at once.
She does not know how to handle them and is easily irritated and annoyed by them.
Lazenby even remarked he witnessed "deep fingernail marks" on Georgie's right thigh which Shriver explained as a pinch mark for misbehavior.
Can this divorce get any uglier? I guess it's possible. You just never know what goes on behind closed doors...
(image via tennisserver.com)
Jelena Jankovic followed her Serbian sister, Ana, and updated her blog after leaving Beijing.
The oft-injured baller, who suffered a calf strain in practice during the Games, is still in Serbia getting treatment but will be traveling to New York tomorrow for the US Open.
And when she arrives on court in Flushing Meadows, the fashion-loving Serb will be debuting some new duds and gear for the Slam:
I am looking for to promoting my new Reebok dress. I really like how it fits and I hope you do too. I also have anew Prince bag that I will be taking with me on court so, now that I look good, I better play well too! :)))) Apparently she was inspired by the supposed great reaction she received for her Beijing dress:
I am proud that the dress that I was wearing and helped design was getting so many compliments! So the sexed-up Swiss milkmaid look was her idea??? OMG - that so doesn't bode well for her new duds. I can't wait!
(image via Getty)
Could Ana Ivanovic finally be recovered from the nagging thumb injury that's hampered her summer season?
The sexy Serb has already arrived in New York to prepare for the US Open and all signs look good:
I’m in New York practising for the US Open. Preparation is going quite well. I am slowly finding my form again after what has been one of the most difficult months of my career.Great news! Ana should be well-rested and ready for the year's final Slam after pulling out of Beijing. Hopefully she can make good on that top billing - we'll see.
I made an unexpected trip to Australia for treatment on my thumb. It felt a little strange to be there in the middle of the season – usually I only visit during the off-season. But I tried to make the best of the situation and enjoyed visiting my favourite country.
My doctor there has travelled to New York with me because I am still receiving treatment. But it’s going well and I am confident I will be fit for my opening match here.
I’m looking forward to taking part in Kids Day again on Saturday and feeling the excitement of the year’s last Grand Slam. Love Ana
(image via anaivanovic.com)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Ford's US Open breakdown [ESPN]
And what of Amelie? [Eurosport]
Rafa sets sights on year-end no. 1 [Sporting Life]
Free US Open tennis for the masses [tennis week]
Li Na gets slammed, Chinese style [Forty Deuce]
Nick's US Open men's Top 10 breakdown [Nick's Picks]
(image via Getty)
Lindsay Davenport + Daniela Hantuchova were spotted getting in some doubles action in New Haven today. The pair defeated Jill Craybas + Olgo Govortsova 6-3, 6-4 in the tourney's first round.
Wow - what an inspired pairing. These lady ballers with their all-court games can make the ball do just about anything.
But note to Dani: you may want to change out of your Olympic gear - you're not in Beijing baby. Damn that jet-lag!
(image via Getty)
It's hard to imagine the US Open is right around the corner and it's coming fast! I think I'm still recovering from my Olympic hangover - oy.
In any case, here are some quick hits about the year's final Grand Slam:
- US Open seeds announced - Rafael Nadal + Ana Ivanovic are named top seeds. This is the Spaniards first turn as the top baller at a Slam while Ana will try to erase memories of her first top seeding debacle from this season's Wimbledon.
- US Open Soho - A US Open-themed pop-up store is launching at 129 Mercer St. in Soho, NYC (above). The shop will sell equipment, t-shirts, games, etc. by T.A. Davis and will open this Friday, August 22nd. If you're coming to town, check it out!
- Up close and personal with A-Rod - Andy Roddick will be making a personal appearance at the Lacoste shop located inside Macy's Herald Square on Thursday, August 21 from 6 - 7:30pm.
- Shop 'til you drop - Polo Ralph Lauren is launching its 2008 US Open Collection "along with a new system that allows shoppers to purchase gear via cell phone. All that's necessary is a camera phone or hand-held device loaded with software that can read the black-and-white symbols known as Quick Response (QR) codes." The Collection includes the usual suspects: shirts, shorts, skirts but hopefully no skorts - ewww.
- Maria takes Manhattan - Maria Sharapova may have pulled out of the US Open but she's still making her way to the Big Apple to launch her limited edition Canon PowerShot Diamond Collection at New York's South Street Seaport. Shrieka will also debut her latest Canon commericial entitled "Fans". The event is set of for tomorrow night.
Doubles baller Brian Battistone was spotted working The Natural dual grip tennis racquet in New Haven yesterday. He and his partner, brother Dann, were beaten by the Italian team of Simone "the Beautiful" Bolelli and Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-5.
And, not only does Brian serve with this awkward racquet he also utilizes a volleyball-style, leap-in-the-air, spiking serve:
Hmmm - I'm all for innovation and craftiness on the court but I don't see this as a winning combination. But props to Brian for taking chances - why not?
If you've ever used The Natural racquet in any level of play I'd love to hear about your experience. Do tell!
(images via Getty)
Rafael Nadal is sittin' on top of the world. After grabbing the gold medal in Beijing and rising to world no. 1 this week, the Spaniard is THE baller of the moment.
But Rafa wasn't feeling so great about his chances at the Olympics after arriving in the Chinese capital "incredibly tired" after a summer beyond his imagination. So how did he find the motivation to make the golden run? According to Rafa,
The only reason I was able to win was the lift I got from living in the Olympic village. Being among many other great athletes was fantastic. And the support I got from the rest of the Spanish team was amazing.So surrounding yourself with the energy from people striving for the same, ultimate goal is more motivating than holing up in some 18-star hotel by yourself? It's genius!
Although they don't know it, it was thanks to them that I somehow found the energy and mental strength to get the gold medal. I would not have been able to manage this from a hotel, however luxurious it was. The feeling at the end on the podium was indescribable. I am very happy to have made it to Olympic champion.
(image via Getty)
Andy Murray is back in Roehampton after his disappointing and self-described "unprofessional" attempt at a medal in Beijing.
The Brit baller is preparing and training for the year's final major, the US Open, where Andy is a top threat to take the championship after his stirring win in Cincinnati.
Let's hope the Olympic Omen's effects don't follow the mop top to New York.
(images via andymurray.com)
Monday, August 18, 2008
Ballers pay tribute to Rafa [ATP]
Rafa's ascension complete [ESPN]
Ana on top...again [Eurosport]
Major US Open storylines [FOX Sports]
Anna Wintour's new boy toy [New York]
Wertheim's Ad-In, Ad-Out [SI]
Flink's US Open predictions [Tennis Channel]
Nole's new love interest? [Great Tennis Photos]
Sabine joins adidas stable [Nick's Picks]
(image via Getty)
(UPDATED) "Beefcake" Rafa officially moves into ATP penthouse, featured in New York magazine's Fall Fashion issue
After his golden triumph in Beijing this weekend, Rafael Nadal officially moved into the penthouse of the ATP Tour today rising to world no. 1 after a record 160 weeks in the second position.
I think it'll take a moment to get used to the order but no other baller is as deserving of the top position as the Majorcan Matador.
And, in honor of the US Open and his rise to the top, New York magazine is featuring a sexed-up Rafa in "The Beefcake in the Backcourt" for this week's Fall Fashion 2008 issue.
The mag discusses the above right image saying,
Take your time. It’s okay. That photo of Rafael Nadal on the back cover of this magazine is undeniably … what’s a polite way to put it? Arresting. The mussed locks curled just so above the shoulders. The biceps curved like a particularly ripe aubergine. The shadows playing across the deeply grooved abs. All demand extended scrutiny.Most definitely not and I don't know if I'd want him to! New York also delves into Rafa's boundary-pushing on-court fashions saying,
When you’re done, ask yourself this: Would Roger Federer ever pose for a photo like that?
And now here’s Nadal. His has been called a “pirate” look, but the interesting thing about Nadal’s style is that it’s so feminine—a thinner, less physical player could not pull off those clothes. Maybe that’s why he’s been greeted with the kind of moral outrage—“Abominable!” “Infernal!”—usually reserved for the latest female player to show too much skin. Debate over the pants in particular, and Nadal’s habit of reaching back to loosen them between points, has trespassed on the familiar terrain of comfort versus sex appeal. Are they too tight? Is it one of his many elaborate on-court rituals (Nadal’s own explanation)? Or are his butt muscles just too big?I'd say all the above - and aren't we all lucky for it.
Check out more on tennis' influence on fashion over the years.
Thanks to Preppy Princess for the NY mag tip!
(image via ATP, NY mag image courtesy of Nigel Parry)
Teenager J. Martin continued his remarkable run on the ATP Tour picking up his fourth consecutive title defeating Serb Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-3. He becomes the first baller in history to win his first four titles in as many matches and raised his match wins to 19 in-a-row, something not seen since a teenaged Rafael Nadal won 24 straight matches in 2005. If he stays healthy, the Argentine will be a true threat for the US Open title.
Nadia made the most of a soft draw in Cincinnati defeating Frenchie Natalie Dechy 6-2, 6-1 and earning her first title of the year. A good win for sure but as always with the Russian headcase it's not necessarily a sign of good things to come.
(images via SEWTA, Getty)
Sunday, August 17, 2008
- Babz on Wertheim + Tignor's apathy towards Olympic tennis
Agreed. I would also add: since when does the tennis media decide which tournaments are important to cover and which ones aren't worthy? Personal feelings aside, isn't it their job to cover the tourneys the ballers decide are important enough to play??
Like Babz said, the ballers are out there playing and competing so it's the media's responsibility to cover them. Can you imagine going to your job and deciding you're not interested in one aspect of your position so you don't complete the work? I wonder if you'd still have that job tomorrow.
What a strange (tennis) world we live in...
(image via Getty)