Google Down the Line!: 2009-02-22


Friday, February 27, 2009

Letter to DtL readers: A slow go today!

Hey guys,

Posting will be a slow go today because I'm taking care of some personal matters.

Talk to you later!

RiCH



Thursday, February 26, 2009

PHOTO OP: Hair today, gone tomorrow - so it is with Carla


A newly-cropped Carla Suarez Navarro (left) may have been on her favored clay in Acapulco but it didn't help much. The Spaniard fell to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 7-5 in the tourney's second round.

So if I remember correctly, a few of you felt Carla was bordering on a hairy situation at the Aussie Open (right) and I won't argue there. I mean, her hair had a life of its own and almost made the main draw too. But I'm not sure I'm feeling the new 'do either. There MUST be a middle ground people.

What do you guys think?

DO TELL!

(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Can you guess the baller who's boiling up?


This baller tried to cool down from the heat of Dubai the best way he knew how: to shove an ice bag in his face.

Who is this mystery man? Hint: He's got nothing up his sleeve - it's magic!

(image via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Murray pulls at his shirt but maybe he meant his hair


Andy Murray must be feeling frustrated right...about...now.

The Brit baller, who hasn't been feeling well since the Aussie Open where he lost in the fourth round, was forced to withdraw from Dubai citing illness and leaving his appearance in his country's Davis Cup tie in doubt.

The 21-year old told the press he started feeling better for a few days during he winning run in Rotterdam but has been unwell since arriving in Dubai:

I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. I went to the doctor and started taking antibiotics, but I have felt very tired all week. I have felt cold and shivery and had a sore throat. I feel that my temperature is up and my body feels bad.
I don't know what it is, some virus perhaps, but after playing Granollers I didn't feel great and I've not felt 100% since. There were a couple of days in Rotterdam [the week before last] when I felt better, but I haven't felt well again since I have been here.
The World No.4 plans to return to Britain to get more tests completed:
I've had a blood test, and I've had antibiotics before for five or six days. I will have to fly home tomorrow and take some time off and see how I'm feeling in a few days.
In between sets [of the Clement match] I felt tired, really weak. You know where it feels like the adrenaline wears off, I felt cold and shivery. So obviously my temperature is up. My body is aching a little bit. I need to take some time off.
Oh boy. Could it be the dreaded mononucleosis that rocked Roger Federer for most of last season not to mention Justine Henin, Nicole Vaidisova, and a few others? I hate to say it but maybe Andy overtrained during his off-season training intensive and hasn't allowed his body a chance to really recover.

Let's hope he gets better quickly and gets his game back on track.

(image via Getty)

VIDEO VAULT: Serena would like to smash Ellen's face - but why?


Serena Williams has been on the media merry-go-round of late appearing at an event for Gatorade G2 and sitting down for a "fatabulous" interview with ESPN's Jim Rome.

The top lady baller also had time to stop by the Ellen Degeneres Show yesterday to discuss all things ReRe - everything except for her on-again boyfriend Common. Not that the talk show host didn't try...

CHECK IT:


VIDEO VAULT: Rafa spotted in Manacor, practices for Davis Cup


iB TV interviewed Rafael Nadal during a recent practice session in his hometown of Manacor. The world's top baller was practicing for his country's upcoming Davis Cup tie versus Serbia and managed to show off some nifty footwork to go along with his fine hands.

Not sure what they're saying (do I ever?) so feel free to leave a translation in the comments section!

CHECK IT:



(video via Nadal News)

VIDEO VAULT: Monica talks Serena, US tennis, and her toughest competitors with Fox Sports


Monica Seles, who will be inducted into tennis' Hall of Fame on July 11, sat down with FOX Sports to discuss a few topics including Serena Williams, the state of U.S. ladies' tennis, the sport's grueling calendar, her most memorable moments and her toughest competitors.

The 9-time Grand Slammer also talks about Tennis Night in America on March 2, which is comprised of the PNB Paribas Billie Jean King Cup at Madison Square Garden and a Youth Registration program across the U.S. Learn more at TennisNight.com.

Click here for Monica's interview.

I have to say out of all the ballers, she's the one who really got me into tennis. I loved her passion, intensity, style, and fun personality - not to mention her devastating game. She was an innovator out there.

I still miss seeing her on court. *sigh*

(screen capture via FoxSports.com)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

+WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Yeah it's me and, no, you can't touch this

Rafael Nadal, Madrid

* Japanese baller Kei Nishikori has been warned against being phone-y during his country's Davis Cup tie after a Memphis misstep. [Eurosport]

* NBC's Tony Kornheiser gives props to A-Rod for his Dubai boycott during a interesting yet strange dressing room discussion. Does Tony even watch tennis? Can't tell. Why is the woman in video reading? No answer. What the hell is that ringing noise? *sits very confused* [NBC Sports]

* Jon Wertheim places Rafa + ReRe's odds of achieving the calendar-year Grand Slam at 4-to-1. [SI]

Thanks to B2012 for the image link!

(image via daylife.com)

Quote of the Day: Andy Ram on Dubai


[Sports is] a bridge that connects people, countries, culture, everything, religions, and that's the beauty of it. That's why I decided to go into sports and not politics...I decided it was the right decision to play here and I will come and try to do it again.

- Andy Ram after his Dubai first round loss with partner Kevin Ullyett

Short stay but worth the trip. Good for you Andy.

(image via Getty)

Marat talks retirement in Dubai, looking towards Paris Masters as final stop


After his first round loss to Richard Gasquet in Dubai yesterday, a newly-cropped Marat Safin spoke about his impending retirement during his post-match presser including where he would most like his career to end this year and what his life might look like afterwards:

Q. And all things being equal, the last (tournament will be), what, Moscow? Bercy?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, we’ll have to see. Paris, we’ll have to make it the last tournament in Paris, a tournament where I play the best tennis and where I won the Davis Cup. So I would say I would love to say bye-bye there.

Q. Are you going to keep more motivated when you know it’s the end, or is it tough?
MARAT SAFIN: No, I’m motivated. I’m just not working out. And I’m trying to keep my body in shape. Looking forward for some good results throughout the year. I think that it’s much easier to do something great when you are less stressed and less — you have less expectations on yourself. So I think it will be a little bit easier, but just to get the confidence back, and maybe just a few lucky points and I can change. I don’t think that overall, I’m tired. I’m satisfied with the way I’m moving, but unfortunately sometimes wrong decisions.

Q. What things will you miss from the tennis tour, and what things won’t you miss?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, just the thing of being on the court and having the spectators watching you play and when you’re playing a great match and enjoying it. And also some moments when you’re playing terrible tennis and nothing is going your way, it’s sad to be on court, especially when you know that you are playing bad and you cannot do anything about it. So just a lot of stress on one hand. And on the other hand is some great matches that you are going to forget.

Q. You’re still only 29, but do you think that there’s an outside chance we could see you on the oldies tour?
MARAT SAFIN: I would love to play seniors, but just, it’s enough. I had a very good ride. Although I had been unlucky with injuries and should have done better than I did. And every time I played well, I got injured, so, what can I do? That’s life. And it’s just a part of — it’s just the beginning of the life, and there is another life coming after tennis. I think it’s just everybody should try something new.

Q. And what is that, business?
MARAT SAFIN: Anything. I’m open to anything, to any possibilities, but of course it has to be projects. I’m not jumping in something when there is no base. . .

Q. Would you be happy to stay in tennis, or are you looking outside, as well?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, of course I will try to do something with tennis. I would love to, but just it has to slow come up to something interesting and to do something in Russian, of course, if I can be useful for ATP in some way, maybe not a full-time job, but something interesting, yeah, I will do, but definitely not running into the offices and crying for help and all of these things. (Laughter) That’s not the way. . .

Q. Do you see yourself as a coach?
MARAT SAFIN: No, no. Playing is one thing and teaching is completely different. It looks simple but it’s really not. It’s a really tough job.

Q. Have you done any TV in Russia?
MARAT SAFIN: Oh, no. I can’t — I will not do commentating, that’s for sure. I will try — there are plenty of people who do that and they are doing pretty good job, so I don’t want to interfere on this when they are enjoying it.

Q. Do you think you could mark your farewell year with a tournament success?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, of course, but I have to agree with all of the players and make it happen. (Laughter) But unfortunately a lot of people are very ambitious and I don’t think it will happen.

Q. But that would be a final ambition of yours?
MARAT SAFIN: Yeah, why not? A nice farewell bye-bye, and, well, just win the tournament and just a present for me; I give away the prize money of course to everybody, but I would love to do that.

Q. Do you have your coach with you this time?
MARAT SAFIN: No, no, saving some money. Crisis, you know (Laughter).

Q. You won the Grand Slam against Kafelnikov; do you think you have underachieved or perhaps could you have done better?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, everybody is asking the same question, and of course, Federer should have won already 20 Grand Slams and of course Sampras should have won another five, six. I guess I should have won, instead of eight, how many, I should have won 14. Basically speculation; what happens if something will go in different directions. And of course if, if, if, we would not be in a crisis like we have a problem all over the world right now. So it’s just speculations, and of course, I wish I could have more, but as I said, was injured and every time I played well when I was injured and I can’t complain. Also where I’m coming from, I could have end up doing something completely different and I would not be sitting here and talking about this.

Q. Tarpischev can’t be Davis Cup captain forever, can he?
MARAT SAFIN: Well, there’s a person that shouldn’t be even considering being seated on the bench. There is a person already and I think it will not happen in the next five, ten years, that’s for sure so. We are going to keep it for later (smiling).

It'll be a sad, sad day when all is said and done for Marat. The tennis world will seem a bit more grey without the his colorful, yet sometimes exasperating, personality.

I can't imagine him doing anything but hanging out on the beaches of Miami, enjoying a bevy of beauties on one arm and a few drinks (or a hookah pipe) in the other.

Ahhh - that's more like it.

(via GOTOTENNIS, image via Getty)

VIDEO VAULT: Serena sits down with Jim Rome, excited about "fantabulous" G2 campaign


Serena Williams took a break from the Gatorade G2 event in Hollywood yesterday to sit down for a pretty insightful interview with ESPN's Jim Rome for his show "Alone with Rome".

The top lady baller discussed a number of topics including the new G2 campaign that features a "fantabulous" backstory, winning her 10th major in Oz, her rivalry with sister Venus, her upcoming "memoir", and the Dubai controversy including whether she and her sister considered a boycott (she claims timing of the UAE's decision was the biggest factor in not boycotting.)

She also mentions her website, SerenaWilliams.com, is planning a relaunch soon - phew. It surely could use a few botox shots here and there.

My fave quote from the interview: "...when I play [Venus] it's, like, I really want to win. I have to bring my best game and she really has to bring her ultimate best game."

I wonder what V thinks of that observation?

CHECK IT:

(video via ESPN.com)

PHOTO OP: Hair today, gone tomorrow - so it is with Pablo


In a battle of sizzling Spaniard's in Acapulco, Pablo Andujar was knocked out of the tourney's first round 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2 by Carlos Moya. The former No.1 will next face Argentina's Leonardo Mayer for a spot in the quarterfinals.


Now let's talk Pablo: HOT DAMN. Seriously, what's there NOT to like? Oy.

So maybe I'm just splitting hairs here (no pun please) but -

a) do you like him with the close shaven look from Acapulco
b) with some longer locks (below)
c) RiCH you're hitting the crack pipe again. The boy's sex personified - hair, no hair, clothed, no clothed


What do you guys think?

DO TELL!

(images via Getty)

Lleyton being sued by Octagon, earning details revealed


It's tough times for Lleyton Hewitt.

The 2-time Grand Slammer, who was upset on his 28th birthday in the Delray Beach first round by Lu Yen-Hsun 7-5, 2-6, 6-2, is being sued by his former management company, U.S.-based Octagon, for "breaching the Trade Practices Act, reneging on agreements and breaching exclusive contracts." They believe they're due to a bigger slice of his monies from 2000 and beyond.

Lleyton has filed a countersuit which accused them of misleading and deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment and management incompetence. He and Octagon parted ways in late 2004.

Due to the lawsuit, many of the Aussie hothead's earnings were revealed including:

- In 2005 and 2006 Lleyton was paid $6.75 million from endorsements and tournament guarantees

- New Idea magazine paid him $84,000, Nike $3.5 million, Yonex racquets $2.3 million and Optus $130,000, it is claimed. Lleyton received $330,000 from endorsing tennis games for two video companies

- Tournament organisers in Sydney, Adelaide and London paid him $340,000 in appearance fees

In addition to the lawsuit, Lleyton has been reportedly considering a move to the U.S. to ease the burden of travel and accomodate his family.

I'm sure this lawsuit and his desire to move are a huge distraction to him right now, particularly as he tries to come back from last August's hip surgery. But, in all honestly Lleyton's best days are way behind him.

(image via Getty)

MEDIA MASHUP: The bouncing bird returns to Dubai baller bash - and so does Fed (huh?)

"Is this boy glow-in-the-dark or what?"

The bouncing bird made a return appearance for the boy's baller party in Dubai.

Andy Murray + Novak Djokovic made the event but it was surprise visit by a non-injured Roger Federer that brought the buzz.

Isn't it awkward to make an appearance at the event for a tourney you skipped? Well, I guess Fed will getting his "appearance" fee after all.

"Oh, to be a bird on the wall for this conversation. Wait - I am! DO TELL boys."


"The Serb pulled a ReRe and booted me from this fun photo. Whatevs Nole, you're not so hot these days anyway."


Here's video from the party showcasing the boys getting their party on - and some more than others.

CHECK IT:



(images via Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, video via ATP)

Serena + Serena to join forces in Gatorade's "Everyday Athletes" ad campaign

Serena Cuevas, Serena Williams, Nancy O'Dell

Serena Williams met up with Gatorade G2 at Hollywood's famed Roosevelt Hotel yesterday to help select who will join her in the upcoming "Everyday Athletes" ad campaign for the low-calorie sports drink. The event was emceed by Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell and featured five semifinalists from the contest - all named Serena - who discussed their personal stories of triumph over severe challenges to reach a significant goal.

Serena Cuevas, a 23-year old from San Diego, California, was chosen as the winner by a panel consisting of representatives from Shape magazine, Gatorade G2, and ReRe. Cuevas was grew up wanting to be a dancer but was sidetracked by a horrific accident when she was 17-years old. Though doctors told her she would never dance again, Cuevas fought through and managed to compete in national and international salsa competitions, as well as establish her own dance company - Deseo Dance Company – in San Diego.

The ad campaign will debut this spring and, along with ReRe, G2 will feature three more “everyday athlete” ads featuring the NBA’s Kevin Garnett, WNBA’s Candace Parker, and Gold Medal Beach Volleyball star Kerri Walsh with their “everyday athlete” counterparts.


Others are encouraged to share their own “everyday athlete” stories at missionG.com, the new sports and entertainment portal for Gatorade.

Great program Gatorade and I love how all the contestants were also named "Serena" - how fitting for the 10-time Grand Slammer.

(images via Gatorade, missiong.com)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

+TUESDAY NETCORDS: No one told him to wear THOSE shorts with THAT shirt

Santiago Gonzalez, Acapulco

* Matt Cronin is takes a leap onto the Jo-Willy wagon. Will he regret it? [FOXSports]

* A-Rod gets some McLovin from Wertheim for his Dubai doings - or is it "not" doings? [SI]

* FSN has opted to fuck up U.S. coverage of IW + Miami again so get those open letters ready. Just sayin'. [tennis week]

(image via Getty)

Quote of the Day: Venus on Acapulco


So, nothing too interesting yet, just living the dream in Acapulco!

- Venus Williams on her trip to Acapulco for the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL

Winning big, traveling the world, wearing fun wigs - it's not fair! Now we all know why she's playing there: BECAUSE SHE CAN.

*stomps, pouts, holds breath 'til blue*

(image via Getty)

THE LOW DOWN: Fed not injured says fitness trainer, working on preventative practices in Dubai


Roger Federer's fitness trainer + conditioning coach, Pierre Paganini, sat down for a Q & A with Blick to discuss the Swiss' recent fitness issues which forced him out of Dubai + Davis Cup.

The pair are currently in Dubai, where Fed owns a home, for the next two weeks working on preventative practices. Pierre reiterates the former No.1 is not injured:

- Mr. Paganini, what’s going on with Federer? What is he doing?

Paganini: At the moment we give him some time to recover. We intensified the work with his physio therapist. But to make it clear once and for all: Federer is not injured. What we are doing is pure prophylaxis. We are working for the next two weeks in Dubai. Roger also flew in two sparring partners to be able two work on the court.

-Was Federer a 100% fit in Melbourne?

Paganini: Well we have to go further back for this. Roger got injured last November. His injury is cured. Everything was ok in Melbourne. But with so many matches it is not easy to recover 100%. He wasn’t impeded in his game. But it meant a lot of stress, the journey, the pressure, etc., so the body’s reaction in a stressfull situation and during a normal traning is not the same. He felt it, and that’s why we have decided to take a break in order to prevent other injuries from occuring [sic].

-What did you learn from it? Do you have to change something?

Paganini: Well we understood that we have to spend even more time doing physical preparation. This is the priority between the tournaments. Roger wants to pay attention to his body in order to be able to manage those stressfull situations.
- Does that mean that he is going to play fewer tournaments?

Paganini: No, it simplyn [sic] means to plan in a different way, manage the time differently. We have to organise ourselves even better in order to be able to do a proper physical education wherever Roger is.

- Roger is not going to play the Davis Cup. As a Swiss man it must hurt you, but as a fitness coach you must think that it is right.

Paganini: As a fitness coach I always should be against it whenever it concerns the body. You have to recognize that if he would be playing Davis Cup he’d be playing as the team leader. He’d play Friday, Saturday and Sunday non stop. That’s just a lot for your body. Roger is like a jewel. And he knows that it would just be too risky.
It's interesting that Pierre describes Fed as "a jewel" - solid, precious, luxurious but requiring much care and maintenance.

Anyway, it sounds like the 13-time Grand Slammer is having a more difficult time these days recovering from long matches and tourneys. Clearly it's a product of age but also he may have a harder time, mentally, recovering from these losses when he's so close to making history.

It's a tough cycle: Fed's body naturally begins to give so he puts in tons of effort in preparation for the majors. But when he loses it's a big fall tinged with all kinds of disappointment. So the questions for him become "When does all this physical preparation become too much preparation?" and "How do you recover the mental aspect from the tough loss?" I'm not sure he's had many opportunities in his career to ponder these questions until now. New turf me thinks.

I'd say the next couple of Grand Slams, where he'll be looking to surpass Pete Sampras' record 14, will be the toughest of his career and may likely take him longer to achieve then we could even imagine.

Thanks to Tennis Times for the translation!

(image via Blick.com)

Andre + Steffi to play exo under Wimbledon's new Centre Court roof, will face Tim + Kim

Andre Agassi + Steffi Graf, Wimbledon '92 Champions' Ball

Former Wimbledon champs Andre Agassi + Steffi Graf will be playing "A Centre Court Celebration", a series of exhibition matches to be played on May 17 against Tim Henman + Kim Clijsters at The All-England Club to test out playing conditions under Centre Court's new retractable roof.

The format will feature men's and women's singles and a mixed-doubles match played in a pro-set format - first to eight games and a tiebreaker at 8-all.

The officials have stated they want to test the atmospherics and humidity levels with 15,000 people sitting in the stands because the court surface needs to be "bone dry" when the roof is closed.

Both Andre + Steffi were thrilled at receiving the invitation to play."I have great memories of playing at Wimbledon and to be among the first to play under the new Centre Court roof is really exciting," said Andre.

Steffi also recalled her past moments at The All-England Club saying, "There is no tennis venue more special to me than Centre Court at Wimbledon. It just doesn't get any better. I couldn't be more honored to play there again with my husband, Andre, and tennis greats Kim and Tim. It will mean so much to return to Wimbledon and ... relive so many wonderful memories."

The couple, married since 2001, won matching Wimbledon titles in 1992.

Sounds like fun though I think it would be more fun if they recreated their '92 Champions' Ball moment - mullet and all - on court. I'd give anything to see that. But question: do they make tuxedos out of lycra?

(image via abcnews.com)

PHOTO OP: Hair today, gone tomorrow - so it is with Marat


Marat Safin's last minute trip to Dubai was cut short today (no pun intended - I swear!).

The Russian giant, who took a wildcard into the tourney, was defeated by a still-injured Richard Gasquet 3-6, 7-5, 3-6 in the first round. The Frenchie headcase will face either Serb Viktor Troicki or Simone "The Beautiful" Bolelli in the next round.

Good win for the struggling Reeshard - blah, blah, blah - but can we talk about Marat's latest buzz cut? Do we like him better with his longer locks??

DO TELL!



(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Natural Ana's bringing sexy back for adidas


Team Ana has released some still images from her new "Me, Myself" adidas ad campaign.

Not much more to say here besides I still HEART Natural Ana. She's obviously wearing some makeup but it's not overdone and her hair isn't blown out Bozo-style. And, ironically enough, her wannabe sex-kitten ways are nowhere to be found here *phew* yet I think it's the sexiest I've ever seen her.

Nice moves Ana...nice moves.




(images via anaivanovic.com, courtesy of adidas AG)

Monday, February 23, 2009

PHOTO OP: Rafa comes undone for Lanvin L'homme Sport

A big thanks to Meri for sending me the new Lanvin L’homme Sport ad image featuring a sexily disheveled Rafael Nadal!

If you recall, the world's top baller became the face and spokesperson for the new men's fragrance line he developed in partnership with the French brand.

So, anyone else hoping for a scratch-and-sniff Rafa shaped bottle?

Check out the full ad here.

(image via Glamour Paris)

Matt Cronin gives insight on WTA coaching-go-round as told through Vaida + Ana


Matt Cronin for Tennisreporters.net has insight into some recent rides taken on the WTA's coaching-go-round by two lady ballers with very similar games:

Nicole Vaidisova is again being coached by her former coach and step dad again, Alex Kodat. She let go of David Felgate, who could do nothing with her outside of practice. But neither could Kodat prior to their emotional split. Her confidence is near nil. Coaching changes are both under and overstated in tennis. Take Ana Ivanovic’s recent hire of Craig Kardon, who coached Martina Navratilova and Jennifer Capriati, among others. If memory serves us correctly, when Capriati stopped working with Kardon, she went back to her dad, Stefano, and then to her brother, Stephen. She, Like Vaidisova, liked to her keep her family close. So did Mary Pierce, who also worked with Kardon. Pierce did dispense with her father Jim as a coach, but toward the end of her career, was primarily coached by her brother, David. And what of AI? Neither of her parents coach, but her mother runs a very tight ship and is extremely aware of the ins and outs of her daughter’s career. How long does Kardon last, and will he really have Ivanovic’s full attention?
Well, no surprise Vaida went back to her stepdad after her horrendous results recently. I mean, the only tourney appearances the girl makes these days is on the scrawny arm of The Worm. Kodat knows her game and personality very well and was the person who coached Vaida to two Grand Slam semifinals (Roland Garros '06, Aussie Open '07), two major quarterfinals (Roland Garros '07, Wimbledon '07), and a Top 10 spot. I don't think you can argue with those results, though I hope Kodat finally fixes the ferociously funky technique on her backhand side. Not pretty.


And what of Kardon's effect on Ana? Well, she had great results with Sven Groenefeld and he was only part-time. I imagine even if there isn't tons of closeness between these two (and she's been public about liking some distance with her coach), she could still get the best out of this relationship. Much of it depends on her attitude: if she can lighten up on herself and not expect perfection, Ana might just get out of her Serbian Slide with Craig's help.

Let's just hope she doesn't call on any old advice. *crosses fingers*

(images via Getty)

PHOTO OP: Nole hits the (simulated) open air, Andy hits the high seas in Dubai


With Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and defending champ Andy Roddick all choosing to skip Dubai for various reasons, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will have to provide most, if not all, of the star power for the embattled tourney.

Nole, who comes in as the top seed after losing in Marseille to current nemesis Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week, attended a photo call on a A380 aircraft flight simulator provided by Emirates Airline. The Serb is scheduled to meet Italian Flavic Cipolla in the first round and could meet Marin Cilic (quarterfinals) and Gilles Simon (semifinals) along the way.


Andy also attended a photo call to promote the tourney, opting for a ride on an 85-foot luxury yacht in front of the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel. The British second seed will meet Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovsky in the opening round and could face dangerous wildcard Marat Safin (quaterfinals) and David Ferrer (semifinals) on his path to the final.

Good luck boys!

Click here to download the full draw.

(image via barclaysdubaitennischampionships.com)

Ana owns better tennis than Serena + Justine says former coach - are you laughing yet?


Ana Ivanovic's site just published the full text of a lengthy story about the Serb featured in the January issue of Australia's Inside Sport written by Suzi Petkovski.


The piece discusses the usual stuff: her rise from an empty pool at the 11 April Sports Center in Serbia (pictured here, where she shot a HBO promo for the Billie Jean King Cup exo recently) to the WTA Penthouse after her Roland Garros romp last season. Her former coach David Taylor provides the mag with one of the most laughable quotes I've heard in a while:

Ivanovic was not alone in suffering from altitude sickness at the summit of women’s tennis; no less than five players occupied the top spot in 2008. Following the abdication of Justine Henin in May, even vastly more experienced types like Maria Sharapova (who spent three weeks at No. 1 but succumbed to injury) and Serena Williams (four weeks) could not impose themselves for any longer than the novice.

“Ana probably owns the best tennis of the five who held the [top] ranking,” observes David Taylor, who oversaw Ivanovic’s rise from 24 to 13 in the rankings. “If Ana could develop a more complete Plan B and her mental consistency improves, she could potentially dominate women’s tennis.”

Are you friggin' kidding me? Ana owns a good game but a better game then current top lady baller Serena Williams and the now-retired Justine Henin?? That's so funny I can't even laugh - and I'm trying - especially since she has a combined win/loss record of 0-6 against them.

I can see why the Serb left him. I mean, who wants someone in their inner circle who's going to lie to your face?

(image via anaivanovic.com)

SIGHTING: Serena steps out in leopard print for Oscar night


Hollywood wannabe Serena Williams was spotted on the red carpet for the FOX Searchlight post-Academy Awards party for big winner Slumdog Millionaire (yay!) and the Mickey Rourke comeback film The Wrestler. The Bollywood drama racked up 8 Oscars including Best Picture + Director though favorite Mickey lost out on the Best Lead Actor Award to Sean Penn who starred as iconic gay rights activist Harvey Milk in Milk (yay!).

I'm not a big animal print lover but this leopard print silk halter dress is quite striking on ReRe - it def fits her personality. And I love that she kept it simple with a few accessories including the black flap and small earrings.

I bet ReRe was pushing around the "dramedy" screenplay she's supposedly writing - she's never one to miss a good opportunity!


(images via Getty)

VANtage Point: Buh-bye Dubai, hello Acapulco!


What a week that was in Dubai, huh? I can’t remember the last time a tournament was caught up in so much controversy. But the organizers brought it upon themselves and hopefully have learned better from it. We are in the 21st century after all! Now it’s the guys’ turn over there, at least those who are showing up. (Hats off to you, A-Rod!) But like Rafa + Roger, VANtage Point is bailing on the tournament and looking elsewhere.

A Look Back: Venus Williams was back at in Dubai, picking up her 40th career crown by taking out surprise finalist Virginie Razzano. I have to tell you, I really didn’t see V's win coming! One of these days I’ll learn to always pick at least one of the Williams sisters when both of them are in the draw.

This Week’s Spotlight: I’m actually giving you twice the Point this week, all for the low-low price of "FREE", by taking a look at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, a co-ed event in sunny Acapulco (let’s just call it my recession special!). This is the last stop on the early-season Latin American clay-court swing, and both the men's and women's draws have some pretty decent names amongst them. David Nalbandian + Gael Monfils are the top two seeds on the men’s side, while the women’s field has none other than Venus Williams leading the way.

Players to Watch: For the men’s side, I’m going with the hottest player on the planet right now, Tommy Robredo, who is coming in with a 10-match winning streak. He could meet up with Juan Monaco in the second round, who he just squeaked out a win against in the finals in Buenos Aires. And, I’m announcing it here on the Point first: Watch out for Tommy at this year's French Open!

As for the women, I think you have to watch Venus. Like me, are you asking yourself "What is she doing here, flying from Dubai to Mexico, going from hard court to clay?" There's a lot going on here but I do hope she plays well, more so for the fans’ sake. Watch her while you can, though, because if she does play, I think she'll fall to Lucie Safarova in the quarters.

The Final Fours: Nicolas Almagro over David Nalbandian and Tommy over Thomaz Belluci. For the women, I’m going with Gisela Dulko beating Lucie Safarova and Flavia Pennetta over Tathiana Garbin.

And the Winners Are: Tommy, who keeps it rollin’ with his third title in a row, and Flavia, who owns this tournament.

Van Sias writes the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone?

(images via Getty)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

WEEKEND WINNERS: Jo-Willy, A-Rod, Todo, Venus, Vika, M. José


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - Marseille

The Frenchies made good at Marseille this week, with 3 of the 4 semifinalists coming from the host country and and two making it through to the final. Jo-Willy captured his fourth career title and second this year (Johannesburg) defeating Michael Llodra in a tight two set battle 7-5, 7-6(3) and raising his record to an ATP World Tour best 19-3. He also leads the Tour in the ace category with 235.

Along with a few other readers, I'm excited to see Jo-Willy showing real consistency in his big game and displaying real confidence in the key moments of his matches. His serve is becoming a big weapon and helped him keep his foes down and out this week. However, along with those same readers, I'm still cautiously optimistic with regards to his injury issues. The Frenchie's been injury free during his last two title runs so let's hope he finds the right balance in his schedule, doesn't overplay, and rests when required. I mean, who else would do the crazy thumb dance?


Andy Roddick - Memphis

The boycotting American, who took a wildcard into the tourney, avenged his loss to Radek Stepanek last week in San Jose straight-setting the Czech 7-5, 7-5 and earning his first title of the season and 27th of his career. He improved his record to 17-3 and prevented The Worm, who was the eventual winner at the SAP Open, from winning consecutive titles.


Tommy Robredo - Buenos Aires

Todo def owns the South American swing on the ATP World Tour so far capturing his second title in as many weeks (Costa do Sauipe) after edging out homeboy Juan Monaco 7-5, 2-6, 7-6(5) in the Argentinean capital. It was his ninth ATP title and the first time he won back-to-back titles in his career. However, if I were Todo I'd be very careful making out with that trophy. Just sayin'.



Venus Williams - Dubai

In all the hubbub and brouhaha that was the UAE/Israeli controversy this week, some pretty good tennis was actually being played by two lady ballers in particular: Venus Williams + Virginie Razzano. V reached her first final here by knocking sister Serena from her perch in the semifinals while the Frenchie ousted Russian top tenners Dinara Safina + Vera Zvonareva.

Virginie won her last meeting with V at the '07 Japan Open but there would be no final surprise here as the 7-time Grand Slammer easily dismissed her foe 6-4, 6-2 for her 40th career title. The 28-year old re-enters the Top 5 for the first time since 2003 and, with the exception of the major blip at the Aussie Open, has been playing perhaps the best ball out there. Will this form continue when she *gasp* hits the clay in Acapulco next week (no, I didn't stutter)? Who knows but let's just hope she finds something new to wear. Anything but THAT dress. Ugh.


Victoria Azarenka - Memphis

In a minor upset, Vika earned her second title of the season (Brisbane) when she subdued top seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-3 in a 70 minute blowout. The Belarusian made it 2 for 2 as she teamed up with Wozzi to capture the doubles crown over Michaella Krajicek + Yuliana Fedak.

I don't know about you, but my sense is Vika is on the cusp of something big - a career run at Indian Wells, Miami, or even at one of the remaining Grand Slams this season. In my mind, the 19-year old seems ready to take that next step. She enjoys the big stage and relishes the fight. It wouldn't surprise me if it happens sooner than later.


María José Martínez Sánchez - Bogotá

M. José won her first career singles title upsetting third seeded Gisela Dulko 6-3, 6-2 in Colombian capital. She also joined Vika this weekend going 2-for-2 in winning the doubles crown with Nuria Llagostera Vives.

(images via AP, Luis Ramírez for Colpressphotos)

MEDIA MASHUP: Rafa + Uncle Toni receive Real Mallorca medals, Tennishead says BYO Rafa sans ass-ets (drats)

Thanks to Meri for sending over the latest video of Rafael Nadal!

The world's top baller (in red again) and his coach, Uncle Toni, were presented with medals before the Real Mallorca football match by Rafa's uncle and Toni's brother Miguel Angel Nadal, a former footballer. The pair were honored with the club's gold insignia.



In other Rafanews, Tennishead has a created a fun, interactive page in the latest issue of their e-zine called "Build Your Own Rafa" where readers "reassemble" the 6-time Grand Slammer and learn why these parts i.e. brain, heart, racquet, left hand vs. right hand, right foot vs. left, etc. of the Mallorcan Machine are so vital to his grand game.


WTF Tennishead? You missed THE most vital (and obvious - at least to the Rafanatics) part of 'em all: his famous ass-ets. You know how many of your readers would love to put a cursor on that shite?


No worries though - I can help you out. I've got a few reasons why that part is so vital (hint: they have nothing to do with tennis.) Let me know if you'd like me to elaborate.

(image via tennisheadezine.net)

INSTANT REPLAY: A look back at the week's top tennis plays

(Caroline Wozniacki + Victoria Azarenka, Memphis)


Dubai denies Shahar, some show support
Ana exacts revenge on Alisa, serve still shaky though
Shrieka (and publicist?) back at Bollettieri's, revs up comeback
ATP discusses Dubai while Tennis Channel cancels coverage
Is there a head shrinker in the house?
Dinara dumped from Dubai
Monicu makes funny faces
Fed backs out of Dubai + Davis Cup
Telling the tale of the bouncing bird
JJ performs her own Serbian Slide, give good quote
Andy gets his visa, Shahar speaks out
Frisky fotos from Marseille
Billie Jean King talks Dubai + coming out
V tops ReRe, does Marie Claire + CNN, gives her two cents
Rafa in red, officially bucks Dubai
JJ, ReRe, and V shoot BJK Cup promo, Serb's right side still MIA
A-Rod backs Shahar, boycotts Dubai
Nole beaten by Jo-Willy again, gives lessons for HEAD

(image via AP)

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