Google Down the Line!: 2008-09-21

Friday, September 26, 2008

+ FRIDAY NETCORDS: Faulting the fall...Tignor asks...Rafa's peaked

(Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Bangkok)


Upping the year-end ante [ESPN]
Steve's fall storylines [TENNIS]


Don't forget about me, says Amelie [On the Baseline]
It's all downhill for Rafa [Tennis Diary]

(image via Getty)

SIGHTING (NSFW): Rafa's ass-ets uncovered...literally!

Holy hiney Batman - it's exactly how I imagined it. Nothing more to say. *Faints*

(image via Throw Up the Deuce + Men's Tennis Forum)


SIGHTING: Fernando scopes out Ana with Dragana - is "Anando" in the works?

Fernando Verdasco was spotted with Ana Ivanovic's mama, Dragana, watching her daughter practice before going down to Zheng Jie in Beijing today.

Hmmm - after seeing Fernando whisper "sweet somethings" to the Serb during the player party this week and now this photo, the pair are most definitely getting closer. Another trip to Spain for Ana has got to be in the works.

I'm liking the idea of "Anando" very much - quite the sexy couple. What says you? Do tell!

Side note: Though she seems sweet enough, the name "Dragana" scares the crap out of me. Don't ask...

(image via HCFoo's Tennis Blog)


Reuters has a secret crush on "classy" Nole - who knew?

Reuters must be watching Novak Djokovic very closely these days and loving it.

The global news organization reported on Nole's 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Swede Robin Soderling in Bangkok today with the headline "Classy Djokovic through to Thailand Open semis". Classy? Intriguing.

Stumped as I was by this description, I anxiously ran through the story to see what level of classiness the Serb displayed today. Did he offer an overly excited fan an autograph and a hug? Did he give full credit to Robin for his own defeat?? Did he share his Pad Thai???

But, alas, nothing. Nothing even close to the Nole's past attempts at classiness like, oh, putting words in a stadium crowd's mouth.

You're a tease Reuters and now your secret is out.

(image via Getty)

Quote of the Day: Ana on Beijing loss

She was really aggressive and she was dominating a lot. At the (time) I wasn't realizing I was running a lot, but after the match when I talked to my coach, he was saying that, probably, I should have been more aggressive.

- Ana Ivanovic on her second consecutive loss to Zheng Jie in Beijing

You probably "should have been more aggressive"? You didn't realize you were "running a lot"?? Seriously???

Oh Ana - get a grip.

(image via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Fitting Murray in 2009 Fred Perry, behind-the-scenes of course

Andy Murray, who I think has one of the best baller sites around, is giving us a behind-the-scenes peek at a fitting for his 2009 Fred Perry gear.

The Brit baller is seen in a meeting discussing the design inspirations and getting fitted for his new duds:

It's an interesting process, which is all the more important to pro athletes. Whilst we might just size clothes up in a 'well, it kind of fits' kind of way, these guys have to feel totally comfortable in it day after day.

Every little detail is looked at, with feedback taken on items from last year.

So now you know, a lot of work goes into making sure that shirt sits absolutely right on his shoulders. They even discussed how the fit of the shirt changes over the course of a match.

And, it looks like the designers found an iconic source of inspiration for next season:

Could it be the return of the shorty-shorts to tennis after all? [Insert Rafa/Simone imagery]

This is great stuff. I give big props to Team Andy for consistently giving fans an "insidery" look into his world on and off the court including pre-/post-match thoughts, training, fitness, fashion, and plain ol' fun.

Now if only more baller sites could jump on his bandwagon.

(image via


Sharapova officially shutters 2008 season, to begin training next week

As predicted, Maria Sharapova has officially closed down her 2008 season as she still rehabs her balky right shoulder.

The 21-year old made the announcement via her website's "Weekly Doodles":

I've been progressing really well but its taking a lot longer than I had selfishly planned. Therefore my team and I decided to 'shut it down' for the season.
Not a surprise but a very smart move for sure. Shrieka is, however, getting ready to begin training again next week:
To be quite honest this whole experience has been quite the change to my usual yearly pace. On the weekends I have been able to go home and have a normal quiet life...which is so unusual because my days off during the year are so random. Next week I am going to finally hit my first tennis ball and a few weeks after that my first serves.
Hallelujah! Aside from being a bit quieter, the Aussie Open champ's presence on the WTA Tour has been sorely missed. Even doubters would have to admit she brings a champion's intensity and focus that's been lacking in the top echelon of the women's game (right Ana?).

As the cliché goes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

(image via Getty)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

+ THURSDAY NETCORDS: Charity balls...ReRe vs. Elena...Kei goes home

(Simone Bolelli, Bangkok)


Bid on autographed Wilson balls for charity [USTA]
ReRe vs. Elena [PNC Tennis Classic]
Ravi's September Power Rankings [ESPN]
Dominika who? [TENNIS]


Kei's homecoming [Nick's Picks]
Reviewing Reebok [Tennis Served Fresh]

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Agnes + Dominika are cute but Caroline is a real drag

Here's a promotional image for a new series of Bluetooth watches launched this week by Sony Ericsson and starring Agnes Szavay, Dominika Cibulkova, and Caroline Wozniacki.

The watches can control a cellular phone and "with a glance at your watch you can see who is calling, what the time is and with a push of a button you can change your music or use it as a music remote control when your phone is on the other side of the room– all in one stylish device.”

How convenient indeed. But what happened to Caroline in the promo? Agnes and Dominika look fine and all but the 18-year old Dane looks like a 40-year old West Village drag queen. Someone get Wozy to a piano bar stat.

C'mon people - can't we just let kids by kids? Geesh.

(via Women's Tennis Blog, image via Sony Ericsson)

Ana stops Serbian Slide, earns first win since first round of US Open

Ana Ivanovic put a stop to her Serbian Slide for now.

The former no. 1 defeated rising Frenchie baller Alize Cornet 6-1, 7-6 (1) in Beijing today earning her first tour win since her US Open first round defeat of Russian Vera Dushevina on August 26th - almost a full month ago.

I guess that's why Ana looks so pumped up here - and what a good sign. Let's hope she can keep her intensity and consistency for the remainder of the season. A championship run at in Moscow and at the WTA Championships in Doha could get her career back on track, quiet the talk, and set Ana up for a great 2009.

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Nole's arms are doing their own thing - and he's worried

Uh-oh. Novak Djokovic, who made the quarterfinals in Bangkok by crushing Germany's Simon Stadler 6-1, 6-3, looks like might have busted something in his Serbian body here.

I'm thinking Nole's saying to himself, "Oh shit. I think my arms might detach right now. Is that possible?" Ouch, ouch, ouch.

(image via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Shirtless Jo-Willy works shorty-shorts in where's Rafa's pair?

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who managed to scrape out a 7-6 (9), 3-6, 7-6 (1) win over Czech Lukas Dlouhy in Bangkok, took time out to perform an obviously Ali-inspired kickboxing presentation (as Forty Deuce observed) at the Impact Arena.

So Jo-Willy's been a shirtless brigade member since the Aussie Open (when he was looking a bit fitter, btw.) But who knew he'd be able to pull off the shorty-shorts moment?

- get a move on it please.

(image via Getty)

Wertheim worried about "graying" ballkid takeover, fans become frenzied

It seems SI's Jon L. Wertheim's has created a stir with tennis fans after witnessing a growing trend over the US Open fortnight. In his "50 parting shots" Wertheim mentions:

Something to watch for: the graying of the "ballkids." I swear, for many matches, the average age of the officials was less those of the "kids" squatting at the net. Insert Kramer reference here.
A clearly concerned reader responded in his September 17th mailbag saying,
Re: the graying of the ball kids. I, too, am deeply disturbed by this phenomenon, and can only think of one possible explanation. Perhaps ballboy is a tenured position, and the same people have been ballboying year after year since the beginning of the open era.
Yes, ballkidding is a tenured position like being a long-standing professor at, say, Harvard. So Wertheim answers,
I'm not sure this is cause to be "deeply disturbed," but I think it's a shame nonetheless. I'm sure it's fun for the adults, but being a ballboy seems to me such an effective way to draw kids to the sport. They get to see top-shelf tennis up close and personal. They interact a bit with players. They see just how much talent (and mental strength) is required to be a pro. They get free gear. I think it's no coincidence that so many pros -- including Federer -- were once ballkids.
Good point Wertheim! "Shame" is exactly the word I was grasping for here. But the drama continued in this week's Mailbag when another reader had this take:
About the Kramer-like ball boys, when a Rafa match (for example) goes on and on until past 2 a.m., you can't use kids because it's against U.S. child labor laws. So at least for night sessions, it makes no sense to use kids. So the ball men are necessary!
Wertheim's response?
Those darn child labor laws! That's so F.D.R. We're talking about giving Radek Stepanek a towel, not working the graveyard shift at the bakery. Have we really gotten so soft as a society. ...No, you're right. I presume that's the reason many of the ballkids need their food cut into bite-size pieces and had to curtail their shuffleboarding in order to work the matches.
Hysterical. Seriously, I could care less whether the "ballkid" is a teenager on summer vacation, a 31-year old marketing manager, or my grandpa. That's why they have "tryouts" - if you can run fast and throw far, you're in fair and square, even with grey hair.

(image via Getty)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

+ WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Remembering Pancho...Wertheim's mail bag...Nick's forehand tip

(Tommy Robredo, Beijing)


Your very own PHOTO OP [ATP]
The "Lone Wolf" revisited [ESPN]
The Magician's last stand? [Eurosport]
SEWTA opens Beijing digs [WTA]
Jon Wertheim, you've got mail [SI]


How to hit a forehand [Nick's Picks]
Red pumps...sequined jean jackets...WTF? [Peter Bodo]
Watch those balls [Top Spin Tennis Blog]

(image via Getty)

SEPARATED AT BIRTH: Ekaterina vs. Steffi

Ekaterina Makarova, who defeated Klara Zakopalova 6-3, 6-2 in Seoul, has a striking resemblance here to 22-time Grand Slammer Steffi Graf.

I'm thinking this is what daughter Jaz Elle's going to look like when she gets older. Uncanny.

(image via Getty)

Mare demolished in main draw debut, looks to lose Jan Brady label

Marko Djokovic's ATP main draw debut went pretty much as expected: the 17-year old was pummeled by flying Finn Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-0.

But Mare wasn't discouraged by the result of his first foray into the Big Boys Club:

Being here is amazing, playing in the ATP is a huge experience. I'm happy to play -- very, very happy.
And what does he think of the comparisons to big brother Nole?
Everyone expects me to be like him, they come to watch me play because I'm his brother. People have told me I play with the same technique as Novak. They say it's like watching him. My backhand is very similar to his. I'm trying to think like him, I've watched him all my life, but I'm also trying to be my own player. I want to be Marko, not Novak's brother.
Exactly Mare. Here's some advice from one Jan Brady to another: Be smart, learn from their mistakes, and find your own way. You'll be much better off and a lot happier in life.

At least that's what my therapist told me to do...

(image via Getty)

Sharapova plays model for Hello! magazine, discusses balky shoulder

Maria Sharapova, who is still rehabbing her balky shoulder, isn't set to return until January in Hong Kong. But she's not just sitting pretty.

The Russian fashionista used some of this free time to visit New York Fashion Week and also to shoot a special Sony Ericsson promotion in the current British Hello! magazine. Shrieka discusses her career and family, relationships, and the injury which forced her to shutter her 2008 season early:

Maria, it must have come as something of a shock to discover that you'd been playiong with an undiagnosed tear in you shoulder...
I had an MRI scan in April because I was starting to feel it again, but they said it didn't show much apart from inflammation. After a while, though, the pain was still there.

How did the experts miss it?
Good question. I've bascially been playing with a torn rotator cuff for maybe seven or eight months.

It must have affected your game...
Obviously, it it always on your mind. You are always trying to compete at the highest level, and when you're told it's a little inflammation, you think it's not that bad, but then when you find out how bad it it, it becomes a concern and you're afraid of making it worse.
Ever the wannabe model, Shrieka worked it for the camera as well. Check it:

(images via

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

+ TUESDAY NETCORDS: Shoes news...Cañas assaulted...the long and winding road

(Agnes Szavay, Beijing)


A total shoe-in [TENNIS]


Cañas assaulted + robbed in Buenos Aires [ATP Tennis Blog]
What about the journey baller? [Tennis Diary]

(image via Getty)

SIGHTING: Nole arrives in Bangkok with Jelena - does she have him on lockdown?

Novak Djokovic was spotted arriving with Shrieka...I mean Leryn...I mean his actual girlfriend Jelena Ristic in Bangkok where the Serb is the top seed. Nole has teamed up with brother Marko, who received a wild card, in doubles and could face Mare in the quarterfinals of the singles draw.

Based on these pictures, the couple seem to be holding it together though I wonder what Jelena thinks of all the girl rumors (and pictures, btw.) Maybe that's why Nole looks so stiff - she's probably got him on lockdown after the whole Olympics mess.

As the saying goes, "What happens on the Tour, stays on the Tour". She'd be a fool to give up her cash cow, right?

(images via Great Tennis Photos)

Beautiful Bolelli banned by Italian federation - US passport in the works

Simone "the Beautiful" Bolelli has been banned from any and all of Italy's national team events, including Davis Cup and the Olympics, for skipping out on his country's Davis Cup tie against Latvia this weekend. The 45th-ranked baller will also be denied any wild cards assigned for select tourneys by their federation. Ouch.

In his defense, Simone argued he advised Davis Cup team captain Corrado Barrazzutti well in advance of his intentions to skip the tie to work on his fast-court game in Asia to no avail.

Poor Beautiful Bolelli. Just look at that face - how could you Italy?

No worries Simone - come to the US. We have plenty of open spots for good ballers here...believe me.

PHOTO OP: Top ballers take the stage (and drums) for China Open party

The top ballers competing at the China Open this week donned traditional Chinese garb and hit the drums as they took part in the official opening party for the tourney.

However, some of them seemed to be a little distracted...

What could Ana + Fernando be talking about? Another trip to Spain for the Serb?? Poor Sveta got the shaft though - oh well...

Thanks for the tip B2012!

(images via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Maria K starts strong in Seoul, still working bad bubble trend though

Maria Kirilenko chose to avoid the top lady ballers in Beijing and travel to Seoul as the top seed at the Hansol Korea Open. The stylish Russian got off to crushing start disposing of Lenka Wienerova 6-2, 6-0 in the first round.

Although I was loving the adidas by Stella McCartney Tennis Mesh Tank + Skirt Maria was working in Tokyo, I'm not feeling this Tennis Mesh Dress mainly because of the dreaded bubble skirt. Why, oh why would Stella McCartney want to pull an old, bad trend for her Fall 2008 collection? I just don't get it.

Plus, doesn't it look like Maria's wearing bloomers in the far left image? Probably not the best look for a young lady baller.

Side note: The website for the Korea Open is pretty awful. The home page is showing Martina Hingis and the 2006 draw. Tsk, tsk.

(images via Getty)

Monday, September 22, 2008

+ MONDAY NETCORDS: JJ talks back...Joyce remembers...Gasquet & Racquet put to bed

(Richard Gasquet, Beijing)


Bonnie revels in Rafa [ESPN]
JJ has nothing to prove, says JJ [Eurosport]
Argentina aims for indoor carpet [Sporting Life]
Ad-In, Ad-Out [SI]
Michael Joyce on David Foster Wallace [tennis week]


Closing time [Gasquet & Racquet]
Safina to sneak out top ranking? [Nick's Picks]

(image via )

Quote of the Day: Murray on British Davis Cup team

The way I play shows that I love the Davis Cup, but I make sacrifices to play. I want every single person to make those sacrifices, I want them to come here physically able to play for all three days even if it is for three five-set matches. I want to know that everyone in the team wants to win as badly as I do and if I don’t feel everyone has that attitude, that will definitely demotivate me.

- A frustrated Andy Murray on the lackluster efforts of the British Davis Cup team during their play-off loss to Austria

Great point Andy and it's good to see you taking a leadership role. But it sucks that you're the only one who believes (or is good) over there.

The influx of monies coming to the LTA from new sponsor AEGON will surely help the development of future Brit ballers. In the meantime, though, it's all about you Andy - good times!

(image via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: adidas losing more ballers, Chaky to join Fila

adidas' grip on tennis is becoming a slippery slope for the global sports brand.

With news already swirling that Ana Ivanovic is considering jumping ship after her contract goes up next season, Smith & Street's SportsBusiness Journal is reporting that Anna Chakvetadze signed a new deal during the US Open to join Fila. The former top-tenner will join Svetlana Kuznetsova and Agnes Szavay in the brand's stable.

None of this news is particularly surprising when you consider their lackadaisical efforts to promote tennis, including non-existent press initiatives to promote their ballers and the majors (where were their lead up events to PR the US Open last month?). Plus, they offer uninspired designs for their tennis gear and can't even provide proper grass-court trainers for their top ballers to wear during Wimbledon. And now they want to push racquets? P-P-P-Please.

I'm not even sponsored by adidas and I want to leave. Could Nole be next to jump after his contract expires next year? Stay tuned...

(image via Getty)

Oh no it's another Djoko: Mare makes main draw debut in Bangkok

Brace yourselves people: the Djokovic Clan is looking to begin their full-scale invasion of the ATP Tour this week in Bangkok.

Nole is the top seed at the Thailand Open with a potential Aussie Open final rematch with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who comes in as the second seed. But here's the more intriguing news: Nole's brother Marko, the family's "Jan Brady", received a wild-card into Bangkok, his first main draw into a pro-tourney, and the two could meet in the quarterfinals.

Let's hope the Djoko's have learned from their past mistakes and put Mare in the PR machine (high, spin cycle please) before he starts spewing chunks of nonsense publicly too.

(image via Vince Caligiuri)

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