Google Down the Line!: 2009-01-18

Saturday, January 24, 2009

PHOTO OP: Rafa gets in some practice, gives behind-the-scenes interview at Nike shoot

Thanks to DtL reader CJ for these great practice photos of Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park!

The Mallorcan Matador has been cruising through his matches losing a total of 19 games in three matches and not even coming close to sniffing a fourth set at the Aussie Open this week. He subdued tricky veteran Tommy Haas in the third round today 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 and will face an intimacy-loving Fernando Gonzalez for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Color me so jealous of all those fans there who got to watch Rafa get his practice on under the watchful eye of coach Uncle Toni. Apparently the Spaniard was open to requests, gladly handing over autographed balls and towels to eager fans. On second thought maybe it's better I'm NOT there...

Click here to see more of CJ's Rafashots.

Also, thanks to rabid Rafanatic Johanne for tipping me off to this behind-the-scenes video and interview (in Spanish) of the 5-time Grand Slammer getting powdered + pretty at his recent Nike photoshoot for the Eugene Track Jacket.

*still drooling*

PS - Feel free to leave the translation of Rafa's interview in the comments section!

(images via CJ,

Things looking up for Nando these days, feeds The Worm some bagels

Fernando Verdasco is seeing a lot of upside in his game right now.

The Spanish baller absolutely dismantled Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-0, 6-0 in the Aussie Open third round hitting 34 winners against only 15 errors and landing 81% of his first serve deliveries. In fact, Nando has lost a measly 12 games in three matches and hasn't dropped a single set - impressive indeed.

The 25-year old attributes his new-found success to some off-season training with heralded fitness trainer Gil Reyes in Las Vegas and dealing with some issues in his personal life:

This year feels very different already. Having so much confidence and being really fit means it is easier to fight harder and to have good feelings in your private life, means you are going to be happier and better to go out and play on the court. It has been tough for me just recently because I have had some problems with the family, my father's uncle has been sick and there have been other situations too and I need to be able to focus on the tennis because that is what I have been fighting all my life to be, a successful tennis player. For sure, though, this is my best moment in tennis but it matters also to me to be a good person because it is a lot easier to play well when you are happy rather than sad and depressed.
Was there a hidden reference to Anando in there? He sounds much happier to be focusing solely on his tennis now anyway.

And, it seems at least one half of the former couple got some real training this off-season (or maybe Nando's to blame for stealing Ana's mojo.)

In any case, he's not the only one who's happy the pair finally broke it off:

(images via Getty)

(UPDATED) PHOTO OP: Sveta scrapes past Alona but what's hiding underneath her Fila gear?

Remember Svetlana Kuznetsova? Yup, the only other lady baller left in the draw besides Serena Williams to have won a Grand Slam in their career. She's actually still alive in the draw at the Aussie Open although you wouldn't know it.

The Russian headcase needed five match points and a double-fault by Alona Bondarenko on the sixth one to defeat the Ukranian 7-6 (9), 6-4. Sveta hit a miserable 68 errors against 37 winners and converted only 4 of 15 break chance opportunities - UGH.

She'll next face former Wimbledon semifinalist Jie Zheng for a spot in the quarterfinals - good luck with that one.

I haven't written much about Sveta as of late because, frankly, there hasn't been anything worth mentioning about her sketchy game. But I did notice the tail-end of a sneaky tattoo living underneath her Fila gear.

What could it be?

UPDATED: Thanks to the Fila team who confirmed the tattoo is, in fact, a tiger!

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Richard + Gonzo share intimate post-match moment

Richard Gasquet + Fernando Gonzalez were spotted basking in the afterglow of their epic third round match in Melbourne.

The pair battled for four hours (and through Richard's broken toenail) with Gonzo eventually coming back from 2 sets to love down and saving a match point to defeat his Frenchie foe 3-6, 3-6, 7-6(10), 6-2, 12-10. He'll next face top baller Rafael Nadal for a spot in the Aussie Open quarterfinals.

It warms my heart (and a few other places) to see Richard + Gonzo get so touchy-feely with each other after the heat of the battle. Now I'm thinking Gonzo was trying to one up someone else entirely the other day.

(image via WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, January 23, 2009

(UPDATED) THE LOW DOWN: Violent eruption between Serb + Bosnian fans marr Aussie Open again

Ethnic violence between groups of Serbian and Bosnian tennis fans reared its ugly head at the Aussie Open today again today.

The incident occurred as the fans sat outside in Garden Square watching the tight 4-set battle between Serb Novak Djokovic and American via Bosnia Amer Delic in the third round won by the defending champ. A thrown drink was the alledgedly the catalyst of the 20-person riot which was followed by punches and a tossed metal chair that hit a female bystander. Two men will be charged with "riotous behavior and discharging a missile." Two years ago, an violent incident involving 150 fans from both countries marred the Grand Slam.

Amer had posted a message on his website to his supporters earlier in the week asking for calm after disruptive Serbian fans appeared at his match against Frenchie Paul-Henri Mathieu. They had just watched countryman Janko Tipsarevic fall to Croat Marin Cilic before appearing at Amer's match.

A few of the ballers from the countries involved expressed their thoughts on the incident.

Novak Djokovic:

I can't do much. I'm on the court. I have to keep my focus on the tennis, because I need to win the match. As I said, authorities are there, chair umpires, referees, the people, security. If they think that they're overreacting or somebody is complaining about them, then it's different and they can do something about it.
Jelena Jankovc:
Not really, because I was playing after [Nole]. I heard about it, you know, that there was some fighting or something between the fans. I think overall it's great that the fans come and support us. But I think the most important thing is that they should respect each other, the fans and our opponents. The crowd should be quite fair and just go out there and enjoy the match.

Ana Ivanovic:
It's very sad. I think sport is a great thing to bring people together. No matter from where you come from, it's important that everyone be enjoying and happy and enjoy the tennis or sport at all. I'm very sad to see these things happening. Kind of every year here and there a little bit. I really hope in the future people can end this and appreciate the tennis and the hard work we put in and just enjoy it rather than have fights.
Amer Delic:
Yeah, I just heard about that. I'm really sad to hear about that. As I said a couple days ago, there's absolutely no place for that here. This is a tennis match. As I'm sure you all saw at the end, I mean, Novak and I are friends. We're both competitors, obviously. In the end it was a fair match, and there was no reason for such things.

It's so unfortunate these incidents have to occur but it seems past resentments + alcohol = trouble.

Let's try to keep the focus on tennis over there.

UPDATE: Here's video of the clash courtesy of ESPN2 - what a shame:

(image via

Marat knocked out by Fed, reiterates retirement plans in post-match presser

It seems Marat Safin may have seen his last Aussie Open.

The towering Russian confirmed he has most likely played his final match in Melbourne during his post-match presser after falling to Roger Federer 3-6, 2-6, 6-7 (5) in the third round:

Q. Do we have a chance to see you back here next year?
MARAT SAFIN: I doubt it. I really doubt it. I really doubt it.

Q. How does it make you feel to be saying good‑bye to Grand Slam events?
MARAT SAFIN: I don't like this bye‑bye part. It's just a sad story. It's not for me. I prefer to leave this way, quietly, nice, with a great match.

Unfortunately, I couldn't do better than that, three sets. But anyway, I lost today probably to the better player, one of the greatest ones in the history of tennis. I really hope for him to be so I can tell the story to my kids that I played with him. I think it's a nice story.
And what is Marat planning for his post-tennis life?
Q. What would it take to change your mind about walking away from tennis?
MARAT SAFIN: Nothing. I've been already too many years. I want to change and do something else. I'm ready for that. It's been a nice trip. It's enough.

Q. Do you know what that something else is?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, but I'll keep it to myself for the moment. I would love to do that. I'm ready.

Regal Rog expressed his thoughts on the 2-time Grand Slammer and his pending retirement after the match:
He brings something different to the tennis world with his character, the way he is on the court and the way he is off the court. He’s larger than life. I respect him for what a competitor he is. I hope it’s not the last one tonight.
Oh what a sad day it will be when Marat hangs up his racquets for good. He's enigmatic, frustrating, colorful, exasperating, and entertaining all wrapped up in a sexy 6' 5" frame.

He'll be sorely missed. *wears sad face*

(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: JD wins third rounder and battle of the "O" face over Wozzi

Jelena Dokic continued her dream run at the Aussie Open today.

The 25-year old, who already upset Anna Chavetadze earlier in the week, was at her aggressive best and shocked 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki (and me, truthfully) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the tourney's third round cracking 31 winners to Wozzi's 16.

JD also defeated the rising Dane in the battle of the "O" face. I mean, seriously, you could fit Wozzi's entire head, racquet, and new-fangled adidas duds in that hole.

In any case, great win JD. Keep 'em coming!

(images via Getty)

(UPDATED) Serena blogs from Melbourne, discusses memoir and reveals questionable fashion designer credentials (shocker)

Serena Williams, who scraped past Gisela Dulko in the Aussie Open second round, posted a new blog for USA Today in which discusses the inauguration of Barack Obama, surviving the heat from her first round match, and a couple of her major off-court activities:

You see I am doing so many things it's simply crazy. I don't know how I manage it. I love to write, and I am in the middle of writing a book about my life. Now wait — this is not a memoir with a "capital M," it is actually a mix with a motivational piece. I have gone through so many things in my yet-young life, but I love helping people and I would love to have the opportunity to motivate others. So just this week I got a package of 500 pages of the book redone that I have to reread, re-mark up and rewrite. I love to be 100% hands on, but it's so much that I think that it's intimidating me! I want people to read my book and be motivated and laugh their hearts out when they read. So every night I write a bit more and correct more of the work. It's hard work, but in the end I hope it will be worth it.

That is just one of the things that I am doing. Also this week I got a massive package from my new clothing line which I will be debuting in April on HSN called the Serena Williams Signature collection. I just did a photo shoot, and I have to go through all of the photos which is over 2,000 of the ones I like, dislike, what to use, where and more! What a task!

I am debuting a jewelry collection, a handbag collection and some apparel. I am so excited to be doing this because I love fashion and I love clothes. I went to fashion school to learn to be a better designer for more than two years! Finally it seems like my diligence is paying off. What I love most about this collection are the price points. I want them to be competitive so everyone can look good, and not pay thousands of dollars to do so!!

I feel so blessed and so honored to have the opportunity to do different things.

So you went to fashion school for a whole two years?! Now I understand why that Nike outfit you wore in the first round was so *cough* well designed by you.

Hmmm - if I go to tennis camp for two years, do you think I should join the ATP World Tour? Sounds like a good plan to me.

UPDATE: Maybe she could sew some pants with her design "skills" for this fan who streaked onto ReRe's doubles match with sister V yesterday. Maybe:

(image via Getty)

Ana upset by Alisa, crashes out of Aussie Open third round

Ana Ivanovic's struggles continued in Melbourne today.

The Roland Garros champ, and last year's finalist, was defeated by Russian lady baller Alisa Kleybanova 5-7, 7-6 (5), 2-6 in the Aussie Open third round after hitting 7 double faults and 23 winners against 50 errors. A disappointed Ana told the press afterwards that the search for a much-needed coach is on:

I'm looking for a coach. We have already chat with a couple potential coaches. In the near future, I really would like to make a decision. I think it's important.

Also, without a coach for so long it's a little bit tough. You just need some direction sometimes. That's something I felt was missing in my game. Already for a while we're trying to look into some good possibilities.

Obviously, it's a hard one, so I want to make sure we get the right coach.
I can't say this result is shocking based on her recent form and would've been hard pressed to find anyone who thought the Serb would get far in this major.

But it's a very smart move for you, Ana, to find a full-time coach sooner than later. Clearly you need someone to eyeball your game and find out what's working and what's not because something is definitely off, especially your once vaunted serve.

(image via Getty)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

PHOTO OP: Fernando one ups La Monf in Melbourne

Fernando Gonzalez
gave the fans (fine - just me) a welcome treat during his 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win over Guillermo Canas in the Aussie Open second round today.

OH MY. La Monf's got nothing on you Gonzo. NOTHING, I swear.

Score: Gonzo 1, La Monf 0

*comes to, looks at Gonzo glory*
*faints again*

(image via TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

Murray grounds Marcel, hits back at Fed + Nole comments

After his 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 defeat of Spanish baller Marcel Gronellers, Andy Murray was asked in his post-match presser about recent statements by Roger Federer + Novak Djokovic questioning his place as a fave for the Aussie Open title:

Q. Have you been intrigued that Roger and Novak are a bit irritated that you're getting a bit more attention and people are suggesting you might even win this thing?

ANDY MURRAY: I mean, quite big contradictions. You know, they don't ‑‑ you know, they say there's a lot of pressure on them, but then people aren't saying they're the favorites, but they want to be the favorites. Therefore, by saying they're the favorites, they're putting more pressure back on themselves.

I don't really understand the whole thing. I mean, I think I played well enough in the last six or seven months to be in that sort of group. Whether I'm the favorite or not, I don't know.

Like I said at the start of the tournament, Federer, Nadal have got the most experience, you know, and probably merit being favorites. But there's a reason why people think I have a chance to win here, because I played very well the last few months and won against them.
So no mention of Nole meriting fave status Andy? Interesting. Anyway, after your tremendous results recently including wins over Fed and the defending champ, you deserve to be included in the group of faves for the title - period. Everyone starts at zero and some were faves while some others were surprises when they grabbed their maiden major.

The real champion will be crowned in a little over a week anyway.

However, I can't say that I'm not enjoying the fireworks!

(image via Getty)

(UPDATED) FASHION FIX: Rafa bounces Roko in Melbourne, reveals Nike "dayfit"

Rafael Nadal debuted his Nike "dayfit" in Melbourne today while easily defeating Croat Roko Karanusic (and a few of his other personalites) 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, continuing the solid form he showed off in his first rounder. The Mallorcan Matador cracked 24 winners against 17 errors, 68% success on first serve deliveries, and 19 of 26 net approaches. He'll face tough veteran Tommy Haas for a place in the fourth round.

So, we all saw this "fun, bright, playful, sexy" Rafa in a practice session recently (though he's working the Long Checked Short in neo-turquoise now) and it's good to see him bust out these duds for match play even though some oppose the pink.

But don't be fooled Rafanatics: underneath all that sunshine "dark, brooding, stealthy, sexy" Rafa for those night moments was still fighting to come out and play. *gasp*

UPDATE: Rafa was asked about his new Nike stylings in his post-match presser:

Q. There's a lot of interest in your new outfits. Some of your fans on the websites don't seem to like them too much, your clothes. Do you like the change of image?
RAFAEL NADAL: What happened? The fans didn't like?

Q. Some of them don't.
RAFAEL NADAL: Sorry (laughter). I don't know.

No, I am feeling okay. I am feeling well. For sure, when you have a change, some people like, other people don't like. For sure with the sleeveless, not everybody like the sleeveless. Right now gonna be the same, no?

But, anyway, is a change. But I feel good like this. Important thing in the end is not the clothes; is the ball and racquet and play well.
Yes Matador, it's always about balls and a good racquet, no?

UPDATE #2: Thanks to DtL reader Miri for the video link to the above mentioned post-match presser. It's pretty funny. *wishes to be at all Rafapressers* CHECK IT.

(images via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Scrappy Serena downs Dulko, dumps print for Nike neo-turquoise (phew)

Like sister V, Serena Williams struggled in her Aussie Open second round match but, unlike sister V, she survived.

The 3-time champ defeated a determined Gisela Dulko 6-3, 7-5 coming back from 0-3 the 3-5 in the second set and saving 6 set points to pull out the match. Interestingly, after giving herself a "D minus" for her performance ReRe was spotted on the practice court honing her game shortly after completing the match and she'll need to: she faces tough Chinese baller Shuai Peng for a spot in the fourth round.

I was thrilled (THRILLED I say) to see ReRe dump that self-designed Nike mess from her first round. However it's still the same style and, without the horrible print, you can really see how the skirt is definitely not in proportion to the top - it looks too short for ReRe and for the outfit in general.

But at least it's in the pretty neo-turquoise color.

Let's hope, for all our sakes, she continues with this choice.

(image via Getty)

Venus shocked by Carla, gets dumped out of Aussie Open second round

Something about Venus Williams was shocking today in Melbourne and I'm not just talking about her sneaky pink shorts.

The Wimbledon champ put in a shaky performance down the stretch against '07 Roland Garros quarterfinalist Carla Suarez Navarro in the second round and was unceremoniously dumped out 6-2, 3-6, 5-7 after holding a 5-2 lead and a match point in the third. The Spaniard will battle compatriot Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez for a spot in the Round of 16.

Though the stats of the two lady ballers were relatively even (28-26 winners, 37-32 errors, 60-63 first serve percentage, 5 double faults each), V admitted the Spaniard was the better baller in the crucial moments:

Q. Do you think maybe you played a little bit too defensively in the third set?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I wasn't in control of the points. I definitely noticed that she kept getting the first shot. I was definitely playing defense. I'm definitely used to dictating the points a little bit more. It was kind of a pattern that wasn't the best for me.
Q. How heavy were her balls?
VENUS WILLIAMS: She hit a lot of good balls. I felt like I was hitting my balls a little too short. I think she was taking good advantage of that.

Q. Were you feeling a hundred percent out there?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. Like I said, I think she just played well. Really, really played well.
It was V's earliest exit from Melbourne since 2006 when she went down to Tszvetana Pironkova in the first round.

Oh Boy. There are going to be a few bookies, pundits, and fans alike who'll be kicking themselves after hearing this news today as she was a top pick to take home her first Aussie Open crown. However, as I mentioned in my preview, the 28-year old has only made the final once in 10 attempts and is traditionally a slow starter to the season. Regardless, this loss is a major upset.

But a huge congrats to Carla on the tremendous win and I hope she carries this momentum far into the tourney!

(image via Getty)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nole gets prickly when talk turns to Murray - what gives?

Is Novak Djokovic feeling disrespected? Shocker.

After his second round comprehensive defeat of the modelesque Frenchie Jeremy Chardy (seriously, he's kinda hot), the defending champ bristled when the discussion in his post-match presser turned to Andy Murray's status as the fave this fortnight:

Q. Last year everyone was talking about you as sort of the third man after Rafa and Roger. Now it's Andy as the third man. Do you get that sense?
Nole: Why Andy?

Q. Because he's the one being talked about as the third challenger.
Nole: What's his ranking and my ranking?

Q. I'm not going on the ranking system.
Nole: The thing is that you cannot put somebody, I mean, all the respect to Andy, I like him as a person and as a player. He's done a lot in the last couple months, and he's a very talented player and we can expect him to win some Grand Slams in the future.

But you cannot put him as the favorites next to Roger and Rafa and myself here at Australian Open.
Oh boy - here we go again. Now we know why the defending champ has been looking a bit mopey out there on the court.

You need to get a grip Nole. Don't you know by now those media mimbos are just trying to goad you? First fave, second fave, third fave, no fave, whatever. All that matters is that you go out, compete, and win.

So quit the whining and focus on the ball. Yeah, like in the picture. Geez.

(image via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Bernard ousted from Melbourne, makes case for banning sleeveless (apologies Rafanatics)

Bernard Tomic's
run at his home Slam is over.

The Aussie prodigy, who stunned Italian Potito Starace in the first round, struggled with his game and was shown the second round door by Luxembourg's Gilles Muller 6-3, 1-6, 4-6 2-6. He hit 7 double faults, hit 39 errors and only converted 1 of 6 break point chances. But, it was a great showing for the 16-year old in any case.

What was NOT a good showing were his spindly arms in this sleeveless Nike shirt. Please let Bernie's image in this gear make the case that these shirts, by any brand, must be banned - permanently.

Now I know the Rafanatics will not be pleased with this statement but if Rafa gets to wear them then EVERYONE will be given the opportunity to wear them. And we don't want EVERYONE to wear them do we? (Please study Bernie's pics above + below intently.)

It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

(images via Getty)

Rafa + Nicolas receive Davis Cup mini trophy and let's hope the others did too

Rafael Nadal continued his trophy-biting ways when he received a replica of the Davis Cup trophy at Melbourne Park today in celebration of Spain's victory over Argentina in the final last season.

*awakes from RafaTrance*

Oh shite, compatriot Nicolas Almagro was also on hand and received his own mini-trophy moment. No offense Nico, seriously.

So I'm assuming the boys who actually played the final received theirs already - at least I'm hoping so.

(image via AP, Getty)

PHOTO OP: Tipsy gets red in the face...and the shirt...and the racquet...

Janko Tipsarevic was spotted getting a little match-y in his Aussie Open second round match.

The quirky Serb hit 42 errors and was booted from the tourney by Chennai champ Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. The Croat next faces David Ferrer in the Round of 16 - should be one-to-watch people.

So Tipsy - really? It didn't seem like overkill when you woke up this morning and said, "It's a good day. I think I should match my ENTIRE outfit - red is my power color. Yeah, I like"??


Bad match, bad move - though this wasn't.

(image via Getty)

Yen-Hsun shocks Nalby in Melbourne, continues giant-killing ways

Yen-Hsun Lu "the giant killer"? It seems so.

The baller from Chinese Taipei grabbed a huge win at the Aussie Open today when he knocked out Sydney champ David Nalbandian 6-4, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a messy second round match featuring a combined 121 unforced errors against only 88 winners. Ick. He'll face Spain's Tommy Robredo for a spot in the Round of 16.

It's not the first time Yen-Hsun has served a big-name baller an upset special: Yen-Hsun also shocked Brit baller Andy Murray at the Beijing Olympics last summer.

As for Nalby, well, I can't say that I'm really THAT surprised. He's like the guy who tells you he'll call you but never does because he's just not that into you.

*has dating flashbacks, sobs uncontrollably*

But even though he lost early here, I still say he shouldn't quit his day job.


(image via Getty)

SEPARATED AT BIRTH: Dane vs. Ziggy Stardust

Me thinks Australian doubles specialist Dane Propoggia bears a striking resemblance to androgynous 70's super icon Ziggy Stardust aka David Bowie.

Separated at birth?


(images via Getty, MySpace)

PHOTO OP: JD keeps her eyes on the bigger prize

Jelena Dokic continued her inspiring return to form in Melbourne today.

The former World No.4, who opened up recently about her struggles, shocked Anna Chakvetadze 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in the Aussie Open second round. She'll most likely have a tough go-of-it when she faces rising Dane Caroline Wozniacki for a spot in the Round of 16.

It's great to see JD playing good ball again but something tells me the ride is about to end. However, this performance should bode well for the rest of her season and give JD confidence about her abilities on the court.

But it's all up to her.

(image via Getty)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quote of the Day: JJ on JJ

I do tend to be quite emotional and cry easily. It is not something that I particularly like about myself, but that is how I am as a person.

- Jelena Jankovic discussing her emotional personality on her blog for The Age

Okay JJ, not quite breaking news for you but what's there not to like about that quality? I prefer emotion over being cold + aloof. It just makes you human, JJ.

Cry me a river if you like...just not during a match, please.

(image via Getty)

Rafa talks post-match moments, prefers being on back in bed

Rafael Nadal, who won his first round Aussie Open match in style, posted his latest blog for the The Times UK:

Hi everyone,

Sorry for sending this blog late, very late but as you might well know I played the last match tonight and that means I get to the hotel pretty late. Today it wasn't too bad since the matches didn't go that slow and so I could jump on court before 10 pm.

On the other hand I also played a god match and finished pretty fast. Still I got to the hotel by midnight and by the time I finished eating dinner and every thing it has gotten pretty late.

I actually was lucky since the women's match before didn't go to a 3rd set. If it would have happened I would have probably gotten to the court at 10.30 or later. This is why the night matches are difficult, you really finish late and by the time you go to bed it can be really late.

I remember 2 years ago that some times I went to bed around 4 or 5. One day it was even daylight! Why so late, why go to sleep so late if the match was over, like today, at 11 pm. or so? Well, we have to do press conference after the match. I normally take around 30 minutes to go to press if everything is well, meaning that if I have pain or need to check something it can take me up to an hour or more to go to press.

Then, after press, we normally go to the hotel and since it is late I normally do room service. You know it takes 40 minutes or more to get the food to the room so in the mean time I make some phone calls or play some games at the PlayStation. We did this today. By the time I get on the massage table to get my physio to work on my body doing stretching and massage it can be very late. So imagine if the match finished later...

I am very happy with the way I have started this tournament. I really felt great on court and very confident. Already when I hit to warm up at 5.30 I felt well.

I know the beginning of the tournament, the first match is complicated but today it went very well and i think I played some great and powerful tennis. Again, I am happy, but there is a long road still ahead.
Also the court was packed full and that's a great thing. First round, night and full house in the stadium.
Great feeling.

Many thanks for following.

Hasta mañana!

Rafa also answered a few more reader questions for the site. My fave?

Q: Do you normally sleep on your side, stomach or back? Do you snore? Marty, Cincinnati
RN: I don't think I snore... I sleep on both but I go to bed on my back.

Hmmm - so on your back, like La Monf?

(image via TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

FASHION FIX: Venus and EleVen dress on the rise, reveals shocking pink shorts to the world

Venus Williams had her own version of an Aussie Open surprise today. The 7-time Grand Slammer played near flawless tennis in her 6-3, 6-3 defeat of German Angelique Kerber in the tourney's first round. She hit 7 aces and only 2 doubles, 28 winners against 20 errors, and made 20 of 28 net approaches.

Now I don't need to discuss this EleVen by Venus Williams dress since she's been wearing this style seemingly since she turned pro (what's that, 15 years?). Anyway, I'm liking the spritely lemon yellow color but LOVING the sneaky shocking pink shorts underneath. She's like walking sorbet.

Can V be feeling any more confident about her game, and herself, right now? The women's draw should be very worried.

PS - I'm still wondering where V will be selling these duds since she's still wearing them even though former partner, Steve & Barry's, has been completely liquidated. My vote still goes to Target.

(image via WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO OP: La Monf lies in wait for something but what could it be?

Gael Monfils was spotted in an uncompromising position during his first rounder in Melbourne today. The Frenchie dismissed Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 and will face Austrian veteran Stefan Koubek in the next round.

Been there, done that La Monf. But be careful what you ask for because you might get it.

Just sayin'...

(image via GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO OP: Evgeny surfing for a breakthrough in Melbourne

Thanks to Swiss DtL reader Cathy for this tip-off on Evgeny Korolev!

The Russian qualifier was spotted looking all kinds of hot while getting his surf on for a photo call in Melbourne today. He shocked Carlos Moya in the Aussie Open first round 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (9) but will face a daunting task in the second round when he faces Roger Federer.

I'm thinking Evgeny should just drop the racquets now and pick up the surf board permanently. Am I wrong?

Anyway, word to the wise: enjoy this sexy site now because we won't be seeing him in this tourney after Regal Rog is through. Surf on on.

*turns on photographic memory, smiles*

(image via FIONA HAMILTON/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO OP: Jo-Willy turns his back on the crowd in Melbourne Park

It seems Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is mostly recovered from his latest injury setback.

Last year's finalist, who withdrew from Sydney with another back issue and was sporting some cool-looking tape for support today, struggled a bit in his 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 defeat of Argentine Juan Monaco in the Aussie Open first round. He hit 27 winners against 30 errors and only managed to land 49% of his first serve deliveries.

Jo-Willy was asked about the injury in his post-match presser:

Q. Looked like your back wasn't giving you any troubles today.

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: No, that's all right. I played without pain. So it was a nice match. That's it.

Q. You're fully recovered? You feel fine?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I feel okay.

Hmm - not very convincing. I guess we'll see how Jo-Willy's back holds up in his next match against the experienced veteran Ivan Ljubicic - a true test.

(image via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Serena defeats Yuan, reveals self-designed Nike gear

Serena Williams made a relatively clean start towards a fourth Aussie Open crown today.

The 9-time Grand Slammer, who's dealing with a head cold, weathered the soaring heat to knock out China's Meng Yuan 6-3, 6-2 in a 75 minutes first round match. However, she made 31 errors against 26 winners so she'll definitely be motivated to shore up her power game when she faces Argentine Gisela Dulko in the next round.

ReRe also showcased her the new Nike duds she'll be working over the fortnight. Now, it's not the outfit rumored to be her Aussie Open gear online (another Nike semi switch-a-roo) but something she helped design herself. She was asked about it during her post-match presser:

Q. Your outfit was nice today. What inspired your choice?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Thanks. It was a pattern. Most of the time the outfits are always solid. But I love patterns. I'm really inspired by prints, like Pucci, and things like that.

Actually with that, I did the design. We had someone come over. I remember I was sitting in my apartment. I literally had to go to like different websites, not websites, but pages on the computer and kind of graphically design the pattern. So it was interesting. You know, it was just really weird concepts. We came up with some circles and some lines, just kind of things like that. It was cool.

Q. How long did it take you?

SERENA WILLIAMS: It didn't take long. Probably took like two hours at the most, so...

I'm not a big fan of this outfit. With ReRe, I always prefer her tennis to be loud and her fashions to be subtle so this feels a little over the top to me. The design is striking but messy and distracting and really interferes with the silhouette of the entire outfit.

Additionally, the stiffness of the fabric in the skirt makes it bell out, which is not flattering on her body type and tends to make ReRe shorter and wider on the bottom. She looks much better in softer, flowy fabrics.

All in all, a definite "miss".

(images via Getty)

FASHION FIX: Rafa's stunning + stylish debut in Melbourne, showcases new-fangled Nike duds (to die)

Rafael Nadal made a stunning debut in Melbourne today, and in more ways than one.

The world's top baller absolutely crushed diminutive Belgian Christoph Rochus 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round and threw down some sick numbers to boot: 47 winners against 18 errors, 10 aces, 69% on first serve deliveries with 91% success, and made 8 of 9 net approaches.

In addition, the Mallorcan Matador finally debuted his highly-anticipated (and controversial) new Nike Spring '09 stylings I previewed back in November. He's working the Short Sleeve Top in white + classic charcoal, the Long Checked Short in classic charcoal (with some subtle dotting BTW), my fave Air Max Courtballistecs in light green + classic charcoal, and bandana and wrist bands in light green.

How incredibly sexy does he look in these duds?! *swoons*

Rafa was asked about the new look in his post-match presser:

Q. I notice you didn't have a sleeveless shirt on today. Are you sort of getting a bit older?

RAFAEL NADAL: You like it or the prefer the other one (smiling)?

Q. I wouldn't go sleeveless myself. What do you think?

RAFAEL NADAL: I feeled well, no? I feel good. Well, in this moment we gonna play like this. You never know in the future. But right now I am fine like this.

Q. Anything cause the change? Was there any reason to change it up?

RAFAEL NADAL: For change. I don't know.

LOVE. There really isn't anything more to say about this entire ensemble although, like any outfits seen on the runways during Fashion Week, I warn against wearing the complete look head-to-toe.

I mean, who wants to be compared to Rafa? You'll lose - just sayin'.

PS - As if this wasn't enough, here's a BONUS for all you rabid Rafanatics:

Get it while you can!

(images via Getty, AP, TennisWarehouse)

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