Google Down the Line!: 2008-09-14


Friday, September 19, 2008

+ FRIDAY NETCORDS: adidas makes a racquet...for tennis that is



LINKS

Wilson still has official balls [tennis week]


BLOG TALK


Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do... [GOTOTENNIS]
Return of the Racquet: adidas edition [Tennis Served Fresh]

(image via adidas)

Murray motivated by Melzer remarks, puts chokehold on Peya


Jurgen Melzer gave Andy Murray all the motivation he needed to go 1-all with Austria after Alex Bogdanovic lost the opening rubber for Great Britain in their play-off today.

After dismissing Alex Peya 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 the Brit baller imitated a choking gesture by putting his hands around his throat, a reference to comments by Jurgen questioning Andy's ability to handle the pressure.

The US Open finalist told the media,

It's not nice when fellow competitors make suggestions like that. Yeah, it fired me up a bit.
Now Jurgen - take either foot in your hand and insert it into your mouth. How does it fit?

(image via Getty)

JJ arrives in Beijing for gold, leaves with sexy water poloist - go figure

Jelena Jankovic may have left Beijing medal-less but she didn't leave the Olympics empty handed (like some other Serb we know.)

The saucy slider, who was narrowly defeated by Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6, 7-5, 7-5 in Tokyo and missed ANOTHER opportunity to grab the keys to the WTA Penthouse, revealed in the Serbian edition of Hello! magazine that she's now dating 24-year old Mladjan Janovic, a sexy water poloist from Montenegro.

JJ, who recently split from longtime boyfriend Nemanja Mirković, told the gossip rag:

Yes, there is a guy from Montenegro… Before I met Mladjan in Beijing, I was single for a couple of months. He plays water polo for the Montenegrin representation, he is 24 years old and his name is Mladjan Janovic.
He's 6' 3" and 205 lbs. of hotness for sure. But if you weren't sure, let me share a few more pics of the strapping Serbian.

PS - I hope this new boy toy doesn't distract from your game, JJ, although if he does I can certainly see why...oy.





(images via nbcolympics.com, Getty, cgekonomist.com, reportages-press)

Mario regains health, replaces Marin in Davis Cup play-off


Mario Ancic made a welcome return to the ATP Tour in today.

The Croat skipped both the Olympics and the US Open with a recurrence of mononucleosis but seems to have his health back. He replaced compatriot Marin Cilic, who's dealing with a nerve inflammation in his left cheek, in his country's Davis Cup play-off versus Brazil.

I'm happy I was wrong in thinking your season might be over, Super Mario. Good to see you back in the mix - stay well.

(image via AP)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

+ THURSDAY NETCORDS: Sam faces The Bull...Boys breakup...Elena's off to Doha!

(Nicolas Massu, Antofagasta)


LINKS

Sam
queried about Davis Cup [ESPN The Magazine]
Two boys breakup [Sporting Life]


BLOG TALK

Middle Earth revisted in Buenos Aires [Forty Deuce]
Van's not crying for Argentina [Tennis Talk, Anyone?]
Elena books ticket to Doha [Women's Tennis Blog]

(image via Getty)

Quote of the Day: ESPN's Ford on Las Ventas bullring


It's equipped with a skinning room, a chapel and an emergency medical area, none of which, hopefully, will be necessary this weekend. It's almost impossible to imagine what the decibel level will be like when the arena is packed. In quiet moments, the acoustics are said to be so good that spectators can hear the bull's breath in the ring.

- ESPN's Bonnie D. Ford on Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, the venue for the US-Spain Davis Cup semifinal

Wow - that's intense and I'm not talking about Rafa's breath. Good luck US and, if anything, just enjoy the experience.

(image via GOTOTENNIS.com)

PHOTO OP: Is Fernando's body carpet a true hairy situation?


Fernando Gonzalez was spotted changing his t-shirt while working a super hairy torso in Antofagasta, Chile. The Chileans will battle the Australians in the Davis Cup play-offs this weekend.

I don't mind some body hair but his carpet seems like too much for me. I guess I need your help on this one people: is this a classic hairy situation or should we just let this slide since we're talking body hair?

Do tell!

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Brooklyn, you've been warned again


Ah-ha! Now that "handshake" between Andy Roddick and David Ferrer makes total sense.

A-Rod: you were soooo asking for it. What a tease.

(image via AP)

FASHION FIX: Rafa cut his locks but did he switch out his sneakers?


Rafael Nadal was spotted working shorter, but still lovely, locks in his Davis Cup presser today. But his hair isn't the only thing new with the speedy Spaniard.

It looks like he's working some new style Nike trainers in Spain's colors which don't look like his fave Cages. Anyone have any word about this style (and remember: focus on the shoes ONLY people)?


(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: A-Rod's got sore knees and a warm thumb


Andy Roddick was spotted getting his knees iced in Madrid as he prepared for the US' semifinal battle versus Spain in Davis Cup this weekend.

Hmmm - when did his knees start acting up? I'm thinking he and Rafa should go out and get matching tape jobs for the weekend. In any case it's a very worrying sign for the US team's already bleak chances against the Spaniards on red clay. Strange happenings indeed.

What's also strange? A-Rod's "handshake" with David Ferrer in their Davis Cup presser:


Note to Brooklyn: you've been warned...

(images via Getty)

(UPDATED) Ana performs Serbian Slide in Tokyo, site calls Nadia's sportsmanship "questionable"


Ana Ivanovic continued her Serbian Slide in Tokyo today.

The French Open champ, who brought a new Yonex stick and purse to help her faltering game, struggled with her rhythm and was dumped out of the Pan Pacific by Nadia Petrova 6-1, 1-6, 6-2. Good for Nads, but after such a dominant second set how did Ana end up losing such a winnable match?

Her website told the tale of the third set saying,

Predictably, Petrova proceeded to take a bathroom break immediately before the deciding set. Any momentum that Ana had at that time evaporated thanks to her opponent's questionable sportsmanship, although the Russian did not act outside the rules.

When she returned to the court after a five-minute delay, she broke Ana in the opening game and continued to pressurise the youngster. Eventually Ana succumbed after an hour and 41 minutes.
Whoa - "predictably"..."questionable sportsmanship"? Did they just call Nads out?? I'm thinking so.

I've never really seen a baller's site be so honest about another baller's supposed sketchy behavior but I'm loving it. Kudos to you Team Ana!

UPDATED: Well, well. Good news travel fast. Apparently Team Ana didn't mean to be so honest in their review of what happened in the match because the story has been changed on the Serb's website.

Here's how it reads now:
Petrova proceeded to take a bathroom break immediately before the deciding set. Any momentum that Ana had at that time evaporated; when she returned to the court after a five-minute delay, the Russian broke Ana in the opening game and continued to pressurise the youngster. Eventually Ana succumbed after an hour and 41 minutes.
WTF?! What's with this watered-down crap??! It's too late guys - it's all out there. But you know what? It's worse when you backtrack - boo to you Team Ana.

(image via Getty)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

+ WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Justine's 6th Sense...Davis Cup doodles...WTA's fan challenge

(Dominika Cibulkova, Tokyo)


LINKS

J. Martin ready for Davis Cup debut [ATP]
Perrotta's surprise Davis Cup pick [ESPN]
WTA mixes it up [Challenge Your Hero]
Flink on Arias [Tennis Channel]

BLOG TALK

Justine's 6th Sense to open this month [Women's Tennis Blog]

(image via Getty)

TENNIS mag's Tignor feeling moody, hits high mark with "A Thank You and a Good-Bye"


Did anyone else catch Steve Tignor's post-US Open article in his Concrete Elbow column at TENNIS.com?

I know I was pretty critical of his stance on Olympic tennis (something about being whiney, right?) but in most instances I truly appreciate his witty, dead-pan perspective on tennis and its never ending dramas.

In his post entitled "A Thank You and a Good-Bye" Tignor waxes poetically on the two weeks that were the US Open including his fave quote and matches from the fortnight (surprisingly Nole figures in twice), his anxieties after walking the grounds at dusk, getting inspired on his long trips to and from Flushing Meadow Park via the Long Island Railroad and "7" train, and concludes with a moving tribute to the late, great writer David Foster Wallace in which Tignor confides,

From one tennis player and tennis lover to another, I can only offer a sincere thank you, and a sickened good-bye.
It's a haunting, sometimes funny, introspective piece that hints of a sadness bubbling directly beneath the surface of the page.

Beautiful.

(image via tennis.com)

Davis Cup Chronicles: Murray + Melzer share war-of-words ahead of Davis Cup playoff


A mini war-of-words has begun boiling between Great Britain's Andy Murray and Austria's Jurgen Melzer ahead of their battle in the Davis Cup relegation play-off this weekend.

The pair's last meeting was in the US Open third round where the Brit baller pulled out an epic 6-7 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 6-3 win after saving two match points - surely one of the highlights of the first week in New York.

During his country's Davis Cup presser Jurgen, who was admittedly devastated by the US Open loss, spoke about the pressure Andy must be feeling ahead of their meetup:

Andy isn't in an easy position because the whole country expects him to win the Davis Cup by himself. After playing such a great grand slam I imagine it would be tough to get your head clear and focus on the next one. It's a big one.

Britain want to be in the World Group so there's a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Let's see how he copes with that on the weekend.

Andy, however, was quick to counterpunch the Austrian's claims saying,

I don't think there's a lot of pressure on me. Jurgen doesn't have a particularly good Davis Cup record. I'm confident I'll be able to handle the pressure.

Ha - touché Andy! It does sound like Jurgen is still smarting from his missed opportunity in New York. But their playoff is happening at Wimbledon so the pressure will be on Andy to carry Great Britain into the World Group while the whole country watches.

Though I think he'll pull through just fine, I always appreciate a little dust up before Davis Cup!

(images via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Maria K's game falls but style rises in Tokyo


Maria Kirilenko
didn't have the tournament she was hoping for in Tokyo. The Russian was completely dismantled by Frenchie Marion Bartoli 6-2, 6-2 in the first round. Ouch.

At least Maria looked pretty while losing: she worked the Tennis Mesh Tank in light clay and the Tennis Skirt in chalk 2 both from the Fall 2008 adidas by Stella McCartney collection.


I'm loving the detailing including the buttons on the tank top and the duel-tiering and pleating of the flirty skirt. Plus, the silhouette is quite striking. But the color combo is pretty bland and completely whitewashes the Russian.


Overall a great look for Maria - she wears it very well.

(images via Getty, adidas.com)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

+ TUESDAY NETCORDS: LTA's gettin' paid...bamboo tennis gear...the return of FSN to tennis

(Dmitry Tursunov, Buenos Aires)


LINKS

LTA gains AEGON as sponsor [BBC]
Higueras hired by USTA [SI]
Ballin' in bamboo? [TENNIS]

BLOG TALK

Gastao joins adidas [Nick's Picks]
ReRe's cat to JJ's mouse [Peter Bodo's Tennisworld]
An FU to FSN [Tennis Diary]
Van picks US over Spain - is he sniffing glue? [Tennis Talk, Anyone?]
Ballers on the new media kick [Top Spin Tennis Blog]

(image via AP)

Serena's memoir to hit in 2009, Lifetime made-for-TV movie next


It's official: Grand Central Publishing has won the right to publish Serena Williams' memoir in 2009 after negotiations reportedly reached a top bid of $1.3 million.

Editor Karen Kosztolnyik released the following statement about ReRe:

Serena Williams is one of the world's most remarkable athletes. We've watched her rise to No. 1 despite physical and emotional setbacks, and her hard work and determination have inspired legions of fans young and old. Serena will give her memoir a strong motivational slant.
Word to Ms. Kosztolnyik: make sure to have a ghost writer involved in the process. Why you might ask? Please view Exhibits A, B, and C for your reference. Godspeed.

Word to ReRe: I can't wait for your Lifetime made-for-TV movie. But, who would play you ReRe? Wait - you could!

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Majorcan Matador gets bullring for Davis Cup fight

The Davis Cup semifinal between Spain and the US will taking place at Madrid's spectacular Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, a stadium usually reserved for bullfighting.


Oh how fitting for the Majorcan Matador to be battling his foes in this beautiful venue. In fact, Rafa sounded inspired when he spoke about this weekend's spectacle during an apparently awe-inspiring Davis Cup presser:

It is going to be an unforgettable experience to play in an arena like Las Ventas. It is special to play at home and more so in a place like this.
I'm thinking the defending champion US team, sans James Blake + Bob Bryan, will be doomed on the slow red clay of Las Ventas against the Matador...doomed I say!

(images via AP)

Confessions of an Aussie Open ballboy, reveals more juicy baller bits


During the US Open we were all treated to some juicy baller bits by Justin Hom, a 31-year old ballman at the year's final major. Well, after putting out the word for more stories, I received a letter from DtL reader Tim who was a ballkid at the Aussie Open in 2000 + 2001.

The requirements to be a ballkid in Melbourne are slightly different from the US Open. Tim explains,

For a start the age limit is very strict, 12-15. Aussie sun being what it is, we were made to wear Legionnaire's hats and long sleeves despite the heat. The other big difference was of course that we rolled the tennis balls, and for good reason. It was quicker and far more efficient than throwing them.
And, unlike Justin who described the so-called "caste system" at the US Open where only senior ballkids worked the big matches, Tim was part of a few major meetups during his short stint including an epic encounter between two great rivals:
My first tournament (2000) was also the first Australian Open to have a semi-final played at night, and I was lucky enough to be chosen for it. Agassi versus Sampras over five sets with a massive fourth set tiebreak. From memory Agassi came from behind to win the tiebreak and used the momentum to win the match. It was intense. Sampras barely ever looked at the ballkids, and never spoke. Agassi was forever urging himself on and talking to himself. After big points he'd turn around and point at us, wanting his towel. He worked the ballkids hard.
The only work Sampras made you do was to get him another of his drinks. He still didn't speak, and just held his nearly empty bottle up and shook it like a bell. If you didn't understand, he'd just shake it again.
How entitled of him! But, Tim not only worked men's matches but the ladies' too. He was involved in a women's doubles match featuring some rising sisters against a couple of teen queens:
2000-2001 was also during the height of Kournikova hysteria. The male ballkids would look expectantly at their court allocation for the day, fingers crossed that they'd get to stare at Miss Kournikova's backside for a while. What do you expect from 15 year olds?
One of my strangest days was a day late in the tournament in 2001. Rain had washed out a lot of games, so Vodafone Arena was used during the evening with the roof closed. Fair enough, except all the spectators had gone home. So the massive crowd pulling match of Kournikova/Hingis versus the Williams sisters went on without a soul watching. The players didn't bother covering their mouths when they were whispering to each other, because you could clearly hear what the other team was saying! The Williams sisters won the match in three sets, but they only lost the first because they were preoccupied with aiming the ball at Anna Kournikova's face!
Damn that's rough but whatever wins you the match, I guess. Tim disagreed, however, with one of Justin's observations:
To respond to what Justin Hom said said about Arnaud Clement, 2001 was the tournament where he reached the final. He was quite demanding, but he never abused anyone that I saw. The reason he wants the towel the way he does is because he only has one hand free, the other preoccupied with holding his prescription sunglasses, which he has to take off to towel his face! After he was punished by Agassi in the 2001 final Clement thanked the ballkids and apologised for working us so hard. Agassi didn't. I know which one I'd prefer to give a towel to, and after being in 'towel corner' for every Agassi match of the tournament, it's not Andre.
I'm not really surprised Andre was such a task-master but it's good to know Arnaud isn't a total ass.

Phew - good stuff! Alright, I'm putting the word out again for ballkid stories. If you've ever worked any of the Grand Slams, especially the French Open or Wimbledon (to complete my own Grand Slam of sorts) I'd love to hear from you.

Send your stories to tips@downthelinetennis.com. Do tell!

(image via australianopen.com)

PHOTO OP: Rafa completely captivated by Davis Cup media moment


Rafael Nadal was spotted looking attentive and interested during a presser for this weekend's Davis Cup semifinal versus the US in Madrid, Spain.

Ahhh - at least the Majorcan Matador is consistent with his boredom during these media moments though I fear he may be completely A.D.H.D.

What the hell is going through Rafa's head people? Do tell!

(images via AP)

Ana looks to revive game, performs equipment switch-a-roo in Tokyo


Change seems to be the word surrounding Ana Ivanovic these days and it continues this week in Tokyo.

Apparently, the French Open champ is looking to tweak her once explosive game and has switched to the Yonex RQiS 1Tour XL, a model not yet on sale publicly and only used by Ana in the professional ranks. She revealed the reason for the switch in her diary saying,

Talking of rackets, I have a new one! Yonex have made a slightly lighter racket for me, which helps because I can get a little more head speed. It’s a new design too, which I really like.
And no girl would be caught dead with an old style bag to lug around her shiny new stick so the Serb will be toting around an new, exclusive racquet purse:

Ballers are usually very sensitive to even minute changes in racquets, stringing, balls, etc. so it'll be interesting to see if her results change either way.

We'll all be watching Ana.

(image via anaivanovic.com)

JJ voted best dressed lady baller by some blatantly blind fans


Jelena Jankovic has made her way to Tokyo for the Toray Pan Pacific as the tourney's top seed. But the Serb is still reminiscing about her time at the US Open where she made her first Grand Slam final:

I think once the disappointment from the defeat sets in, I will look back with happy memories for how the last two weeks went. To reach my first Grand Slam final after 5 semi finals is another step in the right direction for me.
JJ was also very busy with her sponsors during the fortnight including Reebok who made her custom dress with the help of a surprise designer:
Before the tournament started I was busy doing sponsor appearances and media. One of the highlights was a Reebok photo shoot at the top of the Empire Hotel. I was shot in my new Reebok dress and I got many compliments about it so I am happy for that! With my Mom I helped to design it so even if I didn't win the tournament people told me I was the best dressed player ;-)
Wait - who are these freaks that keep telling JJ she's the best dressed lady baller? They're making her think she's going in the right direction with these style experiments.

I have one word for them: glitter.

(image via Getty)

Monday, September 15, 2008

+ MONDAY NETCORDS: Marat, Ana...Shrieka shuts it down, WTA ATP combo and more

(Svetlana Kuznetsova, Madrid)

LINKS

Marat to miss Davis Cup [BBC]
Ana's return to form? [Eurosport]
Shrieka heeds warning, will return in January [Tennis Australia]

BLOG TALK

Silk stalking [Forty Deuce]
WTA + ATP = WWT [Tennis Diary]

(image via Getty)

VIDEO VAULT: Rafa's ass-et is out of control

So we're all familiar with Rafael Nadal's ass-et - it's been well documented by those who shall remain nameless (fine - it's me.) But who would've known his brilliant backside would have a mind of its very own?

Here's proof: Rafa joined a number of other Majorcan athletes at a ceremony in Spain to honor their Olympic efforts. The world no. 1 accidentally dropped his cell phone and when he bent over to pick it up his ass-et made its move.

Let's just say Rafa finally got his unruly goods under control. But I bet he could give JJ a run for her money in the power shot department.

Check it:



(video via ATP Tennis Blog)

Quote of the Day: Norm Chryst on instant replay


Best innovation since the tiebreak. It makes the game fairer and helps us get close ones right. Everyone—chair umps, line judges, players—makes mistakes. It's made some chair umps more conservative about overruling calls, and some players more willing to admit they don't always see the ball correctly. No one is perfect.

- Veteran umpire Norm Chryst on instant replay

Take that Mary Carillo. I know it's pricey but if the tennis gods could be consistent and get it installed, at least, on the main show courts at each Grand Slam that would be a good start. Do it to it!

(image via hawkeyeinnovations.co.uk)

FASHION FIX: It's all about tennis + tutus for Thom Browne


Menswear designer Thom Browne was feeling tennis for his Spring 2009 collection which he showed in Bryant Park, NYC.

The models, walking out onto a make-shift grass runway featuring a scoreboard as the backdrop, showcased a provocative collection of tennis-inspired suits, jackets, vests, polos, shorts, headbands, and even tutus featuring tennis racquet emblems. Fashion not for the faint of heart.

So I'm envisioning Rafa in the polo + shorty-shorts above, Fed in the long tennis racquet jacket below. But who gets to work the tutu?

Click here to see the full collection.






Check out video of the runway show:


(images via NYMag.com)

THE LOW DOWN: Ana up for grabs - where will she land?


Will Ana Ivanovic be jumping adidas' ship?

The sexy Serb, who is currently backed by the global sports brand in terms of sponsorship and coaching, is said to be on the search for a potential new home once her contract is up in 2009.

According to CNBC's Darren Rovell, DH Management, Ana's managing agent, is already starting to hear from various companies interested in the French Open champ but DH's interest is in a lifetime deal.

Rovell explains,

Lifetime deals in the industry are typically deals that run to what is projected to be the end of the athlete's playing career. In this case, it's believed that what's being shopped around to Ivanovic's next shoe and apparel suitor is a 10-year guarantee with the potential for Ivanovic to earn additional money in her post-career life as a brand spokesperson.

The goal, insiders say, is for Ivanovic to have the ability to earn $10 million in some years from this brand if she plays in most tournaments, becomes No. 1 in the world and consistently wins. If that happens, the contract could be the most lucrative endorsement in the history of women's sports.
Holy crap. Insiders are saying adidas is only willing to pony up $3.5 million a year on the lifetime deal with bonuses increasing it to $5.5 million - not quite the numbers DH Management is trying to wrangle for Ana which could hurt their chances.

Rovell speculates Nike might be interested in bringing Ana back into the stable (she was first with Nike) once newly crowned US Open champ Serena Williams' contract expires. She's on the back end of her career and hasn't been worked into any major ad campaigns recently suggesting the sports brand is ready to move on.

This news is truly exciting for Ana and the potential for the most lucrative sponsorship in women's sports is incredible but work needs to be done on her game if she's to max out on this type of contract. Her summer campaign was disastrous and showed major weaknesses including no B-game and a lack of real self-belief. Plus, if she leaves adidas she'll most likely have to part from her current coach, Sven Groenefeld, who works in the brand's development program and not for Ana privately.

The 20-year old is, however, a Grand Slam champion, has already hoisted the number one trophy, and is a marketer's dream. Plus, if she never has to wear another atrocious adidas number then we're all better off.

Stay tuned...

(image via Getty)

Russia defeats Spain, earns fourth Fed Cup championship

There were hugs all around for the Russian Fed Cup team this weekend.

The defending champions, led by Svetlana Kuznetsova, defeated Spain going 4-0 to win their fourth Fed Cup championship in the last five years ('04, '05, '07, '08.) They now stand behind the US (17), Australia (7), Spain and the Czech Republic (5) in terms of total Fed Cup titles.

So the Russians owned the medal stand at the Olympics and have now won their fourth Fed Cup title all without their top lady baller, Maria Sharapova. Seriously, either their pool of talent is scary deep or their need for Shrieka is truly overhyped.

(image via Getty)

WEEKEND WINNERS: Gilles, Patty


Gilles Simon - Bucharest

The Frenchie baller made it three championships on the year as he successfully defended his Bucharest title by defeating Spain's Carlos Moya. Gilles rises to the twelfth position in the ATP Race to Shanghai and sits a mere 48 points behind no. 8 James Blake. But, with the way James has been playing lately I'd say Gilles has as good a shot as anyone of booting him from the Race. Tough luck James.

Patty Schnyder - Bali

The Swiss lefty decides to grab some vacation time in Bali and along the way earns her 11th career title, 500th win, and first championship in more than three years by crushing up-and-comer Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-0. Gotta love it.

(images via Getty)

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