Google Down the Line!: 2008-08-31

Saturday, September 6, 2008

PREVIEW: US Open Women's Final

Jelena Jankovic (2) vs. Serena Williams (4)
Head-to-head: Jelena 3, Serena 3
Last meeting: Miami '08 final (hard), Serena 6-1, 5-7, 6-3

We've reached the final Grand Slam match of the 2008 WTA Tour season and we'll have a fourth different lady baller to join Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, and Venus Williams as major champions this year. But that's not all: the winner will also move into the WTA penthouse as the top lady baller. Fun, huh?!

Second seeded Jelena Jankovic will be going for her first Grand Slam title when she takes on fourth seed Serena Williams, who will try to tie the legendary Monica Seles with 9 Grand Slams, for the US Open championship.

How they got here: JJ covered the court beautifully in her 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Russian Elena Dementieva chasing down seeming winners and forcing errors - 42 for the Russian against only 22 for JJ - out of the gold medalist. In breezy conditions, ReRe out-steadied Dinara Safina and stomped all over the frustrated Russian 6-2, 6-3.

The last meeting for these lady ballers was in the spring when ReRe defeated the Serb 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 for her fifth title in Miami continuing her 15-match win streak at the time.

Here's what JJ had to say about facing ReRe again:
This year we are 1‑1. I beat her at the Australian Open; she beat me in Miami in three sets. So it will be a tough match. She's a powerful player. She loves to play here at the Open, but so do I. I love being here. I love the atmosphere.
ReRe had this to say about the challenge the second seed brings to the court:
I don't know too many people on the tour that can hang in there as much as she can, and it's definitely ‑‑ she's playing well, and she's just going for glory here...
Outlook: JJ has shown throughout this fortnight that she will defend all day long forcing her opponents into errors and taking her chances when the ball is short. But she's never been a mental giant on the court and the pressure of appearing in her first major final may rattle the Serb's nerves.

But seriously, this match rests on ReRe's racquet. If she's focused, and no doubt she will be, she has the better overall game - power, movement, groundstrokes, serve - and experience to earn her ninth major championship.

And I believe she will.

(images via Getty)

Friday, September 5, 2008

PHOTO OP: The sun finally shining on JJ - can she seal the deal?

The sun shined brightly on Jelena Jankovic in today's US Open semifinals.

The Serb reached her very first Grand Slam final when the she out-ran Russian Elena Dementieva 6-4, 6-4. She'll take on 2-time champ Serena Williams who crushed a clearly befuddled Dinara Safina 6-3, 6-2 to reach her fourth final in New York.

Well at least JJ answered one of the big questions facing her but can she answer the biggest one of them all on Saturday (or Sunday depending on Hannah's mood...)?

(image via Getty)

Men's 1st Marquee Matchup: US Open Semifinals

We've finally arrived at our first men's Marquee Matchup of the US Open and it's a rematch of last year's final. Second seeded Roger Federer, who's looking to make it five straight championships, will face third seeded Novak Djokovic for a place in the final Sunday.

An emotive Roger Federer got past qualifier Gilles Muller in 3 tight, high-quality sets defeating the lad from Luxembourg 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (5). The Swiss stylist hit 42 winners to 19 errors, won 86% of his first serves, and made 15 of 24 net approaches - gawdy stuff.

A smack-talking Nole schooled a frustrated Andy Roddick dismissing the former US Open champ 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5). The Serb managed 53 winners against 28 errors, matched A-Rod with 15 aces, and was perfect on break point chances going 5 for 5.

The last time these ballers met was at this year's Monte Carlo Masters when Nole pulled out of their semifinal match with a sore throat, dizziness, and fatigue. Something tells me we won't be seeing any withdrawals in this semifnal showdown.

Here's Fed on meeting up with Nole again:

Only played twice since, Australian Open and Monaco. We haven't played that much really. He gave up in Monaco, which was only one set on clay. Really the only one we can look back at is almost the Australian Open.

But there I didn't think I did my really very best. I hope this time around it's going to be something similar to the US Open, you know, hard‑fought tennis from the baseline.

You know, if we were to play, he's definitely gained in experience. You know, he's played in bigger matches and, you know, deep into the tournaments he's been very consistent with his young age and won his first slam.

So things have changed for him, no doubt.
Nole had this to say about facing Fed in the final four:
As I said on the court, he's absolute favorite in that match, and for him, it's a big challenge now to win another Slam, and to at least stay in the race with Rafa to be No. 1 player of the world and end of the year, still big chances, of course.

It's a bit strange, though, to see No. 2 next to his name, you know. He was so dominant in last couple of years, and I lost to him here the finals last year. I took some, well, necessary thoughts, and things out of that match, so I can improve in the next challenges, and/or next encounters, and I won against him this year in Australian Open. That was my best tournament of the career, and against him, that was one of my best matches.

Hopefully I can do the same. I just need to be myself and need to be aggressive.
Outlook: Fed's form has definitely improved over the last month or so since Wimbledon. He was able to claw his way out of his 5-setter against Igor Andreev and has become much more outwardly expressive, pumping himself up on big points and celebrating his wins. However, his forehand is still shaky, particularly when running out wide, and his footwork has seemed slower than in past years.

These issues are worrisome against a baller like Nole who will run everything down forcing his opponents into low-percentage shot making. Nole has much more experience on the big stage now and has already defeated the former no. 1 in a major this year.

Nole seems like a man on a mission, with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. I think this attitude coupled with his growing game will push him past Fed and put him through to his second consecutive US Open final.

(images via Getty)

SIGHTING: Common joins Serena on practice court, earns 'Sexiest Ball Boy' award

Rap artist Common was spotted with Serena Williams working a couple of practice sessions with the 8-time Grand Slammer before her quarterfinal win over big sis' Venus.

I'd say this relationship is all but confirmed at this point, though no word on whether the rumored engagement happened.

But if this is what ball boys look like these days please sign me up!

(images via Women's Tennis Blog)

VIDEO VAULT: Pissed off Nole gets booed by NY crowd - will he and A-Rod ever be the same?

Nothing like a little controversy to cap an evening, huh?

After Novak Djokovic's defeat of Andy Roddick in the US Open quarterfinals last night, the Serb made reference to the comments A-Rod made about his recent injury woes to USA's Michael Barkan.

Let's just say the New York crowd wasn't feeling Nole last night:

Yikes! But, alas, the drama was short-lived. Both ballers discussed the incident in their post-match pressers and seemed to suggest all will be okay.

According to Nole,

Andy made a statement ‑‑ I don't think it was intentional, okay. He made a joke and it was a misunderstanding, so I don't blame it on him. Okay. I did react on the court. Maybe I reacted. Maybe I exaggerated and reacted bad in that moment. No, I apologize if I reacted like that.

But this was just impulsive, you know.
I had a lot of emotions in last two days. It's not nice when you get that from media all around the world and from players, and I never needed to make any excuses in the press.

I just didn't need ‑‑ because I know that what I'm doing is right, that I have all the rights to take the medical timeout, that I'm doing it just for the purpose to make my physical condition better and just that I continue playing better.
I never made medical timeout because I wanted to distract the player, the opponent, or, you know, make the result look worse, you know. And I just never did it. I didn't pay attention when I took the medical timeout. I just didn't care about it.

Medical timeout is there because physiotherapist are there and doctors are there to help you out. This is what I did. I just took the medicals to help me out.
Maybe the people think that I'm exaggerating with these things, but it's just ‑‑ it's nothing bad, nothing negative, because I just ‑‑ I twist my ankle, I feel bad, you know. I get the pain in the back. I just want to make it right, you know.

Andy was always nice to me when I got to the tour, so this was just a clear misunderstanding.
When asked if he has spoken to A-Rod, Nole responded, "Yes, but this is just between us."

The American baller had this to say about the incident,
Well, I mean, listen, here's the deal: I mean, if you guys haven't ever seen me joke in a press conference, I'd be shocked, okay? I think you guys know it was completely meant in jest.

Listen, I had four questions from each one, I had eight questions about all the other ones. Finally after 12 questions I decided to make light of the situation and it actually stopped after that. Or it screwed me up and you guys got me out of it.
I'm willing to talk about it. I don't know if, you know ‑‑ he took it as seriously. I figure if you're going to joke and imitate other people and do the whole deal, then you should take it.

Listen, if someone makes fun of me I'm most likely going to laugh. If I'm over the line I'm going to come in here and say I was ridiculous. And I was wrong. I've been the worst of it in the past. By no means am I sitting here trying to be holier than thou or anything like that. But I promise you that if somebody makes a joke about it I'll probably laugh.
I'm sorry he took it that way. There's nothing else to say.

I don't think I was over the line. It wasn't my intention, and, you know, I'm sorry he felt that way. Maybe I did him a favor tonight.
And when asked if the two had spoken about the comments, A-Rod said,
Anything that's going to be said between Novak and I is going to stay between Novak and I because I'm not going to air out private conversations in front of you guys, because I just don't feel like that's necessary.
A-Rod was obviously joking and Nole was being overly sensitive. Listen, if you're gonna dish it, you better be able to take it. But I guess there's nothing like a little fire to burn up a Grand Slam tourney!

In any case, it's good to know they can be professional and move on from something like this.

Let's hope they can get back to this moment again. Can't we all just get along? *sniffle, sniffle*

(images via Getty)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ana asks "Got Milk?" but that's the least of her worries...

Well looky here: Ana Ivanovic is the new face of the iconic "Got Milk?" ads joining celebs like David Beckham, Britney Spears, and many, many others.

Hmmm - I'm thinking there are a few other things Ana should be asking for right now like "Got Backhand?"

What do you think Ana needs right now? Do tell!

(image via

Venus aims for 2016 Olympics - and not in the geriatric field either!

After her disappointing loss to sister Serena in their US Open quarterfinal Marquee Match last night, Venus Williams dropped a bomb on the unsuspecting press contingent during her post-match presser.

The 7-time Grand Slammer told the media,

...for the record, I'm aiming for the 2016 Olympics. We'll be playing doubles. I'll be here for a long time still grinding and earning titles and making life hard for anyone and everyone.
What?! 2016??! V will be, like, 80 when those Olympics roll around. But you know what? She'll still be kicking WTA arse and taking names.

How sad for the other lady

(image via Getty)

VIDEO VAULT: J. Martin gives his all, breaks down in post-match presser

Juan Martin del Potro's titanic quarterfinal match against Andy Murray was apparently a very emotional affair for the Argentine.

The 19-year old's 23-match win streak was broken when he was defeated by the Brit baller 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-5 and he told the press afterwards,

We did good match. The people enjoy the match. He's more happy than me, but I'm not sad, you know.
But when speaking to the Spanish media, the 6'6" baller broke down and was unable to continue with the conference:

Clearly J. Martin needed to release all the tension and pressure he's been holding ever since his spectacular run began after Wimbledon.

Congrats to him on a tremendous effort!

(image via Getty; video via ATP Tennis Blog)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Women's 1st Marquee Matchup: US Open Quarterfinals

Venus + Serena Williams will be facing off for the 17th time today in the first Marquee Matchup of the women's draw when the sisters meet in the US Open quarterfinals. This matchup was eagerly anticipated after their high-quality battle in the Wimbledon final but disappointing because the Sisters Sledge are playing the best ball in the draw and only one can possibly make it to the final Saturday. Oh well.

V completely outclassed Agnieszka Radwanska crushing the ninth seed 6-1, 6-3 by hitting 33 winners to 11 for Aggie and 4 aces to none for the Polish baller. ReRe followed her sister's lead by dismantling Frenchie qualifier Severine Bremond 6-2, 6-2 hitting 24 winners to only 11 errors.

Their head-to-head stands at 8-8 and 2-1 at the US Open in favor of V. Their last meeting was in the Wimbledon final this year where older sis' broke a streak of five straight Grand Slam final losses to ReRe. V came back from a break down in the first set to grab her fifth Wimbledon title and seventh overall.

Here's what V had to say about ReRe:

I think more than anything she likes to win. She loves her job and loves what she does and loves the competition and all that comes with being able to be at the top of what you do, best in the world. Ultimately that's what it boils down to, I think, for both of us.
ReRe had this to say about facing V:
It sucked that it can't be the final. At least the semis. It's so soon. Actually for me, I've been really working on playing more and getting my ranking together. You know, it's just disappointing to be so soon.
Outlook: This is truly a tough one to call. Clearly ReRe will be super-motivated to avenge the loss to V at Wimby. But she may feel more pressure to defeat her older sister, not to mention having the top ranking on the line, which could lead to tightness and errors. Morevoer, the 26-year old has struggled to close out big matches recently when the going got close - something to watch out for in this match.

V has looked outstanding - calm, cool, and collected on the court. She had the tougher fourth rounder and completely whitewashed Aggie, a very crafty and capable baller in her own right.

I'm thinking this match will most likely go the distance with V edging out ReRe again for a place in the final four.

(image via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: Nole takes the heat, Tommy + A-Rod question Serb's injury struggles

Tommy Robredo and Andy Roddick had some choice, but differing, words for Novak Djokovic and the supposed injury woes and ailments he's been suffering at this year's US Open.

After his defeat to the struggling Serb, Tommy was describing a big point in his post-match presser and said, "Also Novak was doing the show, that he was ‑‑ that he couldn't run." The Spaniard was then asked about the Serb's injuries and calls to the trainer:

Q. You sound like you don't believe Djokovic's ailments . Is that true?

TOMMY ROBREDO: That's not that I don't believe. I have pain, as well. I was running like hell and my feet were burning but I say nothing, no? I think that if you're not fit enough, then don't play. But after every time he was asking for a trainer, he was running like hell and he was making the shot, but he does what he does a lot of times. So I think we should take care a lot more of these things, because one thing is that if you fell down like I did, I can have blood and it's normal that trainer gets in because there's blood or whatever. But for having pain, I had pain, as well, all over my body because I think I run a lot more than him, and I said nothing, no?

So did I trust him? No. No. I think he took his time because he did it because he was a little bit more tired and that's a part of the game. It help him a lot.

Ouch! However, Nole's quarterfinal opponent, A-Rod, had a slightly different spin on the same issue:

Q. When asked about [Nole's] injuries today, mentioning the right ankle as opposed to the left ankle, the other day ‑‑

ANDY RODDICK: Isn't it both of them? And a back and a hip?

Q. And when he said there are too many to count.

ANDY RODDICK: And a cramp.

Q. Do you get the sense right now that he is...


Q. Lot of things. Beijing hangover.


Q. He's got pretty long list of illness.

ANDY RODDICK: Anthrax. SARS. Common cough and cold.

Q. Got a lot of things going on with him.


Q. Do you think he's bluffing?

ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, I'm sure ‑‑

Q. The way you're saying it, almost means you feel like...

ANDY RODDICK: No, if it's there, it's there. There's just a lot. You know, he's either quick to call a trainer or he's the most courageous guy of all time. I think it's up for you guys to decide.

Hysterical. C'mon guys, you can't take it so seriously or let it affect your game.

We all know Nole has a history of on-court antics and ailments. But he's not the first baller to stretch the rules, and he certainly won't be the last.

I'd take A-Rod's humorous response over Tommy's cranky call any day.

What's your take on this issue? Do tell!

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Elena in the pits but still wins at the US Open

Elena Dementieva was spotted staying cool by icing her pits during her quarterfinal thrashing of Patty Schnyder at the US Open. The Russian will face Jelena Jankovic for a place in the finals.

Elena has skill but she's definitely not as talented at the Majorcan Multi-tasker... no chance.

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Fed gets fired up, goes the distance against Igor

Roger Federer followed Novak Djokovic's lead and went the distance in his fourth round match at the US Open. The Swiss stylist battled a streaking Igor Andreev dropping the opening set but rallying for a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.

Have you ever seen Fed so fired up like he was throughout the match yesterday? I loved it. In fact, it's what he's been missing in his matches this year. Let's hope this intensity continues because he'll most certainly need it.

(images via Getty)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SIGHTING: Cameron Diaz and boy toy take in the US Open

Cameron Diaz and boy toy Brit model Paul Sculfor, who also dated Jennifer Aniston, were spotted watching Andy Roddick annihilate Fernando Gonzalez last night in the US Open fourth round.

I guess they must really be in love. Why else would they be wearing matching outfits?

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Nole's heady win over Tommy - but what's left in the tank?

Novak Djokovic's head wasn't the problem in his fourth round match today at the US Open.

The ailing Serb, who's already been bugged by injury, went the distance with Spain's Tommy Robredo but prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. But along the way Nole hurt his hip, rolled his right ankle, and had more stomach issues. But pure exhaustion was the biggest issue according to the third seed:

Well, the hip was the problem, yeah, during the match, but it was more exhaustion.

The physio helped me a lot, and it was a hot day. So mostly, you know, I don't think I would feel that bad today if I didn't finish that late two nights ago.

So it was quite difficult schedule for me, but ‑‑ so you can recover two times playing four hours is not easy, so I had to really put an effort in.
Will he have anything left? We'll see but in any case it's great news for either Andy Roddick or Fernando Gonzalez.

(image via Getty)

Quote of the Day: Serena on rivalry with Venus

"Classic" and "unique."

- Serena Williams describing her rivalry with sister Venus

I definitely agree with the "unique" descriptor. But "classic"? No, not just yet. Your Wimbledon final was the closest to a classic match but not quite.

We'll see how your quarterfinal match goes Wednesday night in New York. We're all waiting to see...well, a lot of us anyway.

P.S. - Make sure to check back later on for my preview of their Marquee Matchup!

(image via Getty)

Monday, September 1, 2008

FASHION FIX: Nole gets gritty in win over Marin, goes green for adidas

Novak Djokovic was put through a massive test last night against teenager Marin Cilic but the third seed gutted out a tough 4-hour 6-7 (7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (0) win over the rising Croat. The sexy Serb will now face Spain's Tommy Robredo for a spot in the US Open quarterfinals.

Nole also debuted new adidas duds for his night matches in New York. He's working the Edge Theme in black + rave green paired with the Edge Bermuda in rave green.

I like the bright green with the black - it's a nice change and I haven't seen anyone else working this look. But like his recent gear (which he's wearing in his day matches), Nole has matched the shorts color with the shirt accent color - most definitely fashion overkill.

But thankfully the world no. 3 is finally getting some special gear from adidas that no one else is getting to wear - good start.

(images via Getty)

SIGHTING: Brooklyn + Stacey's US Open fiancee fiesta

Brooklyn Decker, fiancee to Andy Roddick, was spotted watching her husband-to-be get his game back on track at the US Open this week. It seems sporty Brooklyn and classic Brooklyn will be making appearances in A-Rod's baller box this week, though my fave is still fly-away Brooklyn from Queen's Club.

Mardy Fish's betrothed, Deal or No Deal's Stacey Gardner, was spotted working a hippy-chic dress as she watched her man battle Frenchie Gael Monfils in the fourth round. Though I'm not usually a fan of this look, it does seem like a comfortable, end of summer moment for Stacey.

(images via Getty)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

THE LOW DOWN: Nole denies relationship with Leryn - life can go on now

Apparently those pesky rumors about Novak Djokovic and his Olympic romance with Paraguay's javelin thrower Leryn Franco are not true.

After his second round win against American baller Robert Kendrick at the US Open the Serb denied the rumors telling the press,

Yes, I've heard that this has been the main subject in the papers, and I've heard that even they showed it on the TV two days ago when I played my first match, so I'm denying this, and I'm saying that we don't have a romance like people call it already. I even heard that she's here, so it's kind of strange, because I would be the first to know, probably.

Yeah, the papers are probably trying to make another scandal of it, you know. Another romance. This is part of my life, and I have to accept it like this, but we know each other, that's true, and we met, and then she came to watch my matches, but there is nothing more than friendship.
Okay Nole I wouldn't exactly say your girlfriend merry-go-round was the big headline in the New York media - the presidential election and other global matters might have bumped you off the top...might.

But in any case, I guess Maria Sharapova still has a chance. Go for it Shrieka!

P.S. Thanks to Isa for the image.

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