Google Down the Line!: 2008-12-28

Saturday, January 3, 2009

(UPDATED) SIGHTING: Marat and his shiner arrive in Perth and attend Hopman Cup baller party

WTF happened to Marat Safin?!

The Russian baller was spotted arriving at the Perth airport and traveling directly to the Hopman Cup Ball sporting a t-shirt, shorts, and a pretty shiner as his accessory of choice.

The black eye really compliments Marat's oufit I think. Pretty.

Thanks to Uvijek Argen and an anonymous DtL reader for the tip off!

Click here for images of some tennis celebs in their baller best at the party.

UPDATE: From Marat's mouth "I got in trouble in Moscow... I wasn't in the right place at the right time, put it this way. I won the fight. I'm good, I'm okay. It happened a week ago." Good times.

(image via

Murray makes stunning start to '09, defeats Rafa for inaugural Capitala World Championship title

Andy Murray is ready for his closeup.

The Brit baller dusted off an impressive 3-day spin in Abu Dhabi, dominating James Blake, squeaking out a third straight win over a smarting Roger Federer and, today, defeating top baller Rafael Nadal 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 to win the inaugural Capitala World Championship and $250K to boot.

After getting a daily look at his off-season training intensive in Miami, we all knew Andy was serious about making his move and he def looks like the one to beat, exo or not.

Any doubters out there now?

Click here for Andy's post-match interview.

(image via KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

(UPDATED) PHOTO OP: Take a picture, it lasts longer

"If it wasn't for the on-court security, I might just jump your bones Nole."

Novak Djokovic was spotted signing autographs for some obviously eager fans after getting in a practice session at the Queensland Tennis Centre for the Brisbane International. The sexy Serb is the top seed at the tourney and could meet current nemesis Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final, a rematch of last year's Aussie Open final won by the World No.3.

Nole is also working the new metallic silver adidas Edge ClimaCool trainers I previewed late last year. Still loving 'em!

More pics of his training below; click here for the Brisbane draws.

DtL reader Maja noted "I probably lived under a rock but when did he leave Wilson and headed (ha!) to head? Is it for the money or does he really think Head makes the better racquets?"

Anyone have any info on whether the switch is permanent or if it's just a trial run with Head?

(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Ana wants to be Miss Queensland 2009 and has the evening gown to prove it

Ana Ivanovic, who's been in Queensland training and tanning for the upcoming season, was spotted either preparing for the evening gown competition of some Aussie beauty pageant or for a Brisbane International photo call.

Love the hair, hope you win Ana.

(image via Getty)

Friday, January 2, 2009

SIGHTING: Shakira watches Rafa in Abu Dhabi (and that better be all)

Singer Shakira was spotted in the stands to watch a fashion-y Rafael Nadal destroy Nikolay Davydenko to reach the Abu Dhabi finals today.

Listen up Shak: His girl Xisca may be petite + pretty but I'm sure she'll take you down if you even think about moving in on Rafa (not to mention the rabid Rafanatics out there.)

You've been warned...

(images via KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

(UPDATED)FASHION FIX: Rafa crushes Kolya while stylish evolution begins - can you handle it?

Okay Rafanatics - brace yourselves.

The evolution of Rafael Nadal's style is officially beginning but isn't complete just yet. He's still working the Nike Cages (which will be replaced with the new-fangled Air Max Courtballistecs - so exciting!) but he's finally broken out the Bold Stripe Polo Shirt from their Holiday Collection and the Longer Length Short in white on-court (which we saw him practice in recently.)

It seems the top baller's trademark sleeveless and capri shorts have been sent to pasture (or eBay) for good. Can you stand it?

(Hello headlights!)

Oh yeah, the match: Rafa will be facing Brit baller Andy Murray in the final of the Abu Dhabi exo after he crushed Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-3 and Andy outlasted a facetious Roger Federer earlier in the day.

Great start to the year boys!

PS - Here's a post-match interview from today showing the duds (and Rafa) in full glory.


UPDATE: Here's more video this time from the pre-match moments showing Rafa preparing for the battle working the Trend Long Sleeve Coverup in white that I previewed back in November!

(images via KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO OP: Sneak peek at Nole-owned Serbia Open grounds, website launched

Here's a sneak peek of the SRPC Milan Gale Muskatirovic grounds for the newly-established Serbia Open in Belgrade which was launched by Novak Djokovic, his family, and the Belgrade-based "Family Sport" who initially bought the formerly named Dutch Open tourney from Amersfoort early last year.

Nole had this to say about launching the new ATP World Tour event:

I am very excited that we are able to create an opportunity in Serbia to be a part of the ATP World Tour. My family, along with myself, is also very emotional about that. Tennis is a very popular sport in my country and we are happy that this event will help us show the world the beauty of my home town Belgrade and of Serbia.
The Serbia Open is a 250 event and will run from May 4th - 10th. Click here for the official website.

(image via

PHOTO OP: Ringing in the New Year at the Brisbane baller party

A few ballers dropped their tennis gear and threw on some party duds for the Brisbane International New Year's Eve party on Wednesday:

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Can he BE any cuter?

Marion Bartoli: Hey Bart, your sequined tank is melting. Like the shorter locks, though.

Marcos Baghdatis: Let's hope for better things in ' more fitness and less injuries.

Bernard Tomic: You may want to drop the stage dad as coach. Just sayin'...

(images via

(UPDATED) Quote of the Day: Federer on '09

Hopefully I can just have another terrible year with only just the one grand slam and that will be just fine.

- Roger Federer after his 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(6) defeat to Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi, his third straight loss to the Brit baller

Sarcastic much? I'm sensing a little bitterness underneath those words. Is it because there are now two top ballers who definitely have Fed's number? He may be lucky to squeak out one major this year with that 'tude.

UPDATE: Straight from the horse's mouth...and it sounds even more bitter. WTF?!

(image via AP)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

PHOTO OP: Rafa looking completely engaged in Abu Dhabi pre-event presser - so what's new?

Rafael Nadal, who had fun with some fans at the Palma de Mallorca airport before taking off for Abu Dhabi yesterday, was spotted looking his usual engaged self at a pre-event presser for the Capitala World Championship.

It seems the Spaniard would rather be anywhere else on this New Year's Day, but I'm sure the appearance fee (and the possible $250K for actually winning this thing) will make everything MUCH better.

What the hell is Rafa thinking now???


(image via KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Letter to DtL readers: HAPPY NEW YEAR Y'ALL!

I'm going to be signing off for today so I can get ready to, well, party my arse off in celebration of the New Year.

I wanted to take this time to thank everyone out there for continuing to read and support Down the Line! and for all the insightful, hilarious, and sometimes scathing commentary about this game we all love. You guys keep me entertained, no joke.

I'm so looking forward to the start of the 2009 season and I know you are too. Until then have a safe and prosperous New Year!!!


(image via

SIGHTING: Ana gets beachy with golfer Adam Scott, Nando + Shrieka be damned

Is Anando on the fritz? Prob not - but Ana Ivanovic was spotted frolicking with sexy Aussie golfer Adam Scott on Noosa Heads Beach in Queensland.

I wonder what Shrieka thinks of all this? I guess her hopes of a "night match" with Adam will be crushed.

See more (tiny) pics here. And thanks to DtL readers Maja + Brandy for the tip!

(image via Rex)

VIDEO VAULT: Rafa spotted at Palma de Mallorca airport, takes fun photos with fans

Here's one for the Rafanatics to close out 2008: Your boy Rafael Nadal was spotted today at the Palma de Mallorca airport taking off for the inaugural Capitala World Championship in Abu Dhabi. The World No.1 took time out to take photos with some lucky fans and do a short interview.

Along with Rafa, the 3-day exo will feature a smattering of top baller boys including Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, and James Blake.

I wonder what celebrations these ballers will be having for the New Year in Abu Dhabi? I can't wait to see those images!

As always, feel free to leave the translation in the comments section, if you can...


Quote of the Day: Jo-Willy on year-end No.1 for '09

I hope me but I don't know. I think there is a lot of good players and it's going to be a war.

- Frenchie baller Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on who will end 2009 as the top baller boy

Sorry Jo-Willy but I don't think it's going to be you - at least not in '09. True, there's going to be a war but it'll most likely be the current top quartet who'll fight it out.

We still need to see if your body can actually withstand a full season mostly healthy and then we can talk World No.1.

But here's to wishful thinking!

(image via

PHOTO OP: And the baller bod belongs to...


Congrats if you guessed correctly. And here are a few more images of the German baller getting his shirtless practice on in Perth ahead of the Hopman Cup where he's paired with Sabine Lisicki.

Check out more images of Nicolas and his sweaty bod here.

(images via Socialite Life)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PHOTO OP: Guess the baller bod - who owns this hotness?

Thanks to DtL reader Maja for sending me a prelude to what we'll hopefully be seeing in Australia very, VERY soon.

This sexy, shirtless brigade member was spotted getting in some practice for next month's Hopman Cup in Perth.

Can you guess this baller bod?

+ TUESDAY NETCORDS: Ana goes green...Andy + Jamie get managed...Jon vs. Dmitry

* Ana Ivanovic recently shot a new ad for sponsor Rolex, who she signed with earlier this year. You guys know I've been wanting to see the Serb in a green jewel tone and after seeing this ad, I think adidas should design a few more duds for her in this color. LOVE.

* Brit ballers Andy Murray and brother Jamie will be going all Hollywood after they pair signed a lucrative deal with 19 Entertainment and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to help manage their on and off-court activities beginning March 1, 2009. 19 is owned by American Idol creator Simon Fuller and the deal is reportedly worth 100 million pounds ($144.1 million). So now, what does Andy get win he actually wins something substantial?

* I have my list of story lines to watch for in 2009 and so does SI's Jon Wertheim

* We all know someone who's ready for 2008 to end and 2009 to begin: Nicole Vaidisova. The Czech baller is blaming a wrist injury and time off for rehab on her dismal '08 season saying, "It was just a year for me of transition, a lot changes, and it took a toll. I'm just ready for next year." I say "The Worm" is also to blame for sidetracking and distracting Nicole. What says you?

* Take a ride with the WTA as they tour Patty Schnyder's memory lane

* TENNIS' gear guru Jon Levey takes Bjorn Borg's signature racquet, the Donnay Borg Pro, for a hit and says, "Hitting with pace, however, is another story. When I tried to unload, I sprayed balls all over the place. I played like Dmitry Tursunov in a bad mood." Yes, we all like Dmitry when he's in a good mood, right Jon?

(images via,

PHOTO OP: Anastasia LOVES her lady friend too - is it a Russian thing?

There's either something in the water over there or the Russians just love to get freaky for the cameras.

So I just showed you Dmitry Tursunov man-handling a lady friend's lady part, right? Now here are some images of former Roland Garros champ and drunken MILF Anastasia Myskina swapping spit with retired Russian figure skater Anna Semenovich.

Maybe they're all born to do porn...oh, and play some tennis too? I give up.

(images via WTA Tennis Blog)

(NSFW) PHOTO OP: Dmitry's lady friend might be a porn star (or just loves her boobs a lot)

Thanks to DtL reader JD for sending over these fun and very revealing images of Dmitry Tursunov getting somewhat acquainted with a lady friend and her, eh, lady parts in the backseat of a car.

Boy those Russian ballers sure love to party. But does it always have to be with a wannabe pornstar?

PS - Dmitry does look kinda cute here, though. I might've shown him my boobs too...if I had some.

THE LOW DOWN: Shrieka reveals surgery on shoulder, questionable for Aussie Open defense

Will Maria Sharapova miss out on defending her Aussie Open title? Maybe so.

The Russian glamazon has revealed via her Weekly Doodles that after 10 weeks of rehab in Arizona the pain in her balky shoulder remained and she underwent "minor arthroscopic surgery" in October to fix the issue. She has subsequently pulled out of the Hong Kong exo and could possibly miss the Aussie Open:

Hello Everyone!

I am finally back on the court hitting tennis balls again! It is such a relief to be out there enjoying every second of it.

Let me tell you how I got to this point. As you know from my last doodle, I went to see the top shoulder specialist in NY and he sent me to work with a shoulder rehab specialist in Phoenix, Arizona. I was in Phoenix working on my shoulder for 10 weeks. We were working hard on my strength and building up all the muscles around my shoulder. Since I can only do that for 2 hours a day, I also worked really hard on working on other parts of my body. Unfortunately after my 10 weeks of shoulder rehab, I started hitting and serving again and I still felt the same exact pain that I have had in my shoulder since March. I went back to NY to see Dr.Altcheck on October 14 and we went to plan B. On the morning of October 15 Dr. Altcheck performed a minor arthroscopic surgery that lasted 22 minutes on my right shoulder.

The procedure was successful and very simple. I left the hospital a few hours after the procedure and flew to my home in Florida for 3 days and then I flew back to Phoenix to start working on my shoulder. The 10 weeks of shoulder strength before the procedure really helped the shoulder heal quicker. Dr. Altcheck thought my recovery would be very fast and he was right. I had full range of motion after 14 days, after 6 weeks I was throwing a foot ball and after 8 weeks I was back on the court where I belong. I know this entire process has made me stronger and more hungry. I miss competing so much. I am trying to do everything possible to be ready for Australia, but I have promised my doctors, coach and family that I will not rush back. Since I only started practicing 16 days ago, I have only been able to practice so many hours at a time which is why I don't feel like I am ready to compete at a high level right now and this is why I need to pull out of the exhibtion in Hong Kong. But the great news is that we have taken care of the problem that has been bothering me so much over the last couple of years, and now is the time to get into what I call 'match shape'. I know my shoulder will be 100 percent by Australia, I just need to see if I have enough tennis training to be ready for that level. I want to thank all my great fans for their support, it meant so much to me during these tough weeks. I hope everyone has a great holiday.

That sucks. I'm really looking forward to Shrieka's return for a variety of reasons, but it's better to be safe than sorry I guess.

I think she should still make the trip to Melbourne, though, if the shoulder is healed. The other lady ballers could be rusty + cold and Shrieka could make some noise (though that goes without saying of course.) You never know.

Stay tuned!

(image via Getty)

Monday, December 29, 2008

So, like, what'll you be watching out for in tennis' 2009 season? I have some ideas!

I hope everyone had a great holiday last week - I sure did. Not only did I get a chance to prepare for the big day but I also gave myself time to reflect on the past year of tennis, blogging, and everything in between.

And now I'm ready for the 2009 season begin - I mean really ready. There are so many story lines waiting to be told including:


* Can top baller Rafael Nadal continue the momentum from his sparkling and historic 2008 season and remain in the top spot?

* Will Andy Murray's off-season training intensive in Miami help the Brit baller breakthrough to his first Grand Slam title?

* Will Roger Federer finally break Pete Sampras' record of 14 major titles?

* Can Novak Djokovic build off his Masters Cup win and add to his lone Grand Slam title?

* Will we see Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian, James Blake (and to some extent Andy Roddick) be replaced in the top echelon by the likes of Juan Martin del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Ernests Gulbis?


* Will Jelena Jankovic's stay in the WTA Penthouse be short-lived or will she earn her first major and hang out a little longer?

* Can Ana Ivanovic get her game back on track after a disappointing second half to 2008?

* Will Maria Sharapova's shoulder stay healed and can she regain her top form?

* Was Dinara Safina's 2008 breakthrough season an anomaly or a sign of greater success?

* Where will Svetlana Kuznetsova's game be after moving back home to mother Russia?

* Will the Sisters Sledge, Venus + Serena, continue to be add to their major title collections at this latter part of their careers?


* Will tennis' couple of the moment, Anando, continue their lovefest or will it fizzle in '09?

* Can adidas overtake Nike as the sports brand with the best tennis fashions, designs, and sponsorships?

* Rafa's new Nike style - love it or leave it?

* Will it seem really strange to be playing major grass-court tennis indoors at Wimbledon when Centre Court's new roof debuts?

* Will Fed finally pop the question to the ever-patient Mirka or will he continue his love affair with himself?

* What will Shrieka's new 'do be for the season?

* Will anyone give a damn about Davis Cup + Fed Cup again or will they continue their perceived irrelevance?

* Will JJ put a cap on the glitter jar or bust it out again for '09?

* Are the major scheduling issues on both Tour calendars finally resolved or will we be subject to more bitching and complaining from the ballers?

* Can ReRe get any loopier and will we all watch her slowly dissolve into insanity?

So many questions I need answered! Oh well, the season is just about to start and the painful wait will be over.

Which story lines will you be watching closely in 2009?


(image via

MEDIA MASHUP: The ATP World Tour revamps site for 2009 - love it or leave it?

The newly-named ATP World Tour, which recently debuted the next evolution in their "FEEL IT" global marketing campaign, has also revamped their website to match the the campaign's other worldly, celestial theme. The Tour also released the following video promoting their new campaign:

So the gods of tennis are hitting into the heavens? Interesting, if not reaching a bit. I'll definitely be watching to see how the ATP World Tour continues to infuse this theme and messaging throughout the 2009 season - remember, consistency is the key here.

What do you guys think of the new website - love it or leave it??


(image via

VIDEO VAULT: Rafa shows off new Nike kicks, sits for documentary special

Here are a couple of videos of the world's top baller, Rafael Nadal, that circulated last week that you may or may not have seen.

The first one shows the Mallorcan Matador fit-testing some of the new Nike kicks for the 2009 season.

In the video he's wearing the Men's Bold Stripe Polo Shirt from the sport brand's Holiday Collection and wear-testing the new Air Max Courtballistecs from the 2009 Spring Collection which he'll be wearing at the Aussie Open next month.


It's great to see Rafa actually wearing some of this new gear and it looks really good so far. I can't wait to see the rest of the collection on him.

The second video was taken from a 4-hour Christmas special on Rafa which featured a 1 1/2 hour interview followed by 2 1/2 documentary about his life all in Catalan. Here's the first of five videos from the special:

Click here to see the rest of the videos.

PS - Seriously, am I the only one out there who can't wait for the 2009 season to begin?

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