Google Down the Line!: 2009-03-01

Saturday, March 7, 2009

(UPDATED) Shrieka to reportedly play doubles only at Indian Wells with Vesnina

Maria Sharapova was rumored to be skipping Indian Wells yesterday due to her balky right shoulder but, apparently, that was only half true.

The injured Russian will reportedly only be competing in doubles play at the PNB Paribas Open, according to Matt Cronin over at

Three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has decided not to play singles at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells next week, but will play doubles with Elena Vesnina at the March 9-22 event in California, has learned.

Even though Sharapova has been practicing daily at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida for the past seven weeks, her surgically repaired right shoulder still gets fatigued after three consecutive days of two out of three set matches and her doctors aren’t convinced that it’s a good idea to push it in singles during the next two weeks.

But if all goes to plan, the L.A. resident will play singles in Miami at the end of the month. Sharapova underwent surgery last October, and hasn’t played since the Canadian Open in early August.

The 21-year-old hasn’t played doubles since mid-2005, but does own three career doubles titles, taking 2004 Birmingham with Maria Kirilenko, and 2003 titles in Tokyo and Luxembourg with Tamarine Tanasugarn. She’s never played with fellow Russian Vesnina. She’s said to be itching to get back into action and thinks that being around the other players – as well as hitting with some of them -- will help ease her transition back on to tour.

The former No. 1’s ranking has dropped to No. 23 and she will drop semifinal points at Indian Wells, the same locale where she first re-injured her shoulder last year in the third round against Alona Bondarenko.

It's been a slow go for Shrieka but at least she's getting back. Her camp, though, still has not released a official statement about the situation. Can we expect a new "Weekly Doodle" in our future?

UPDATE: Well, it's not exactly her "Weekly Doodle" but her website is confirming the news...

Maria will be making her comeback from her shoulder injury at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells which begins on March 11th. Maria will not compete in the singles competition, but will compete in the doubles tournament with Elena Vesnina. Maria has never played with Vesnina before and this is Maria's 1st doubles tournament in nearly 4 years.

"I am excited to be playing competitive tennis again," said Maria. "The healing process takes time, and requires things to move more slowly than I would like, but I am taking things one step at a time. I look forward to playing at the BNP Paribas Open, it is definitely one of my favorite tournaments in the world."

"We are very glad that Maria will be competing at the BNP Paribas Open," said tournament director Steve Simon. "It is great to see her healthy and back on the court. The game has missed her and we wish her the best of luck and hope she has a great tournament."

Color me happy!

(image via getty)

Friday, March 6, 2009

PHOTO OP: Sneaky Simon + racquet get all Frenchie in Ostrava (bad strategy)

Gilles Simon didn't get his country's Davis Cup weekend off to a good start at all.

The Frenchie baller, who I thought looked out of sorts yesterday was defeated by Tomas Berdych 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the opening rubber in Ostrava giving the Czechs a 1-0 advantage. But Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saved the day defeating Radek Stepanek 7-5, 6-2, 7-6(1) to draw even with the host country.

Sneaky Simon, I'm thinking you owe Jo-Willy some of that same racquet attention now. And you should allow us to watch. All of it. Now.


(image via AFP)

PHOTO OP: That Viktor is all arms

Viktor Troicki was spotted looking tangled up at a practice session in Benidorm today. I guess those wild winds wreaked havoc on more than just the stadium. Poor Viktor.

Can you imagine playing tennis against someone with four arms? Frightening indeed.

(image via AP)

PHOTO OP: Rafa lacing up for a big fight in Benidorm

Speaking of ass-ets, Rafael Nadal (and I'm assuming the rest of the Spanish Armada) took part in a practice session today after their opening rubbers versus Serbia were postponed due to high winds in Benidorm.

The Mallorcan Matador even bumped into Novak Djokovic + Nenad Zimonjic on the sidelines and provided us and some local fans with another "money shot" of sorts (still not my fave kind - drats.)

(images via Nadal News)

VIDEO VAULT: Serena gives Jimmy Fallon a good buzz, infamous ass-ets on display

Serena Williams is still working the media merry-go-round hardcore.

The top lady baller, who just won the first-ever BJK Cup and some free crap to boot, stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night. Earlier this week, she told celeb rag OK! she's been a fan of the former Saturday Night Live star:

I'm so excited. I love him! I've been a fan forever--I even saw the movie Taxi. He has a good personality. Comedians are always great hosts. It was really a no-brainer.

Jimmy foolishly challenged the 10-time Grand Slammer to a game of beer pong and let's just say talk-show host probably got what he wanted: a cool buzz. Oh well - all the better to enjoy his next guest: Ludacris.

But ReRe looked all sexed-up in her old Hollywood glamor moment - not to mention her infamous ass-ets. I guess she + Rafa have always had more in common than just biceps and a World No. 1 ranking, huh?


(video via

PHOTO OP: K-Swiss goes off-shore fishing, nets Anna K. (how lucky)

K-Swiss has released images from their Spring/Summer 2009 ad campaign starring Anna Kournikova.

The original Russian glamourpuss, who hasn't completely shut the door on a comeback apparently, looks typically sexy in these black and white photos. She'll be starring in two TV spots and a series of print ads for the sports apparel brand.

So, what was the one of the themes here? Off-shore fishing?? C'mon, even Anna can't make this net look hot - we all have our limits.


ATP to return $3 million in fees, offers support to tourneys during economic crisis

The ATP World Tour is giving back during these tough economic times.

The boys' governing body is returning around $3 million dollars in fees to tourneys, all from ATP resources, to help ease their bottom line during this global economic downturn. Prize money will not be effected. No word on whether the WTA Tour will follow suit.

An ATP spokesperson told Reuters,

In these difficult times the ATP has decided to give the tournaments a reduction in tournament fees to help them financially.

This allows the tournaments to take some pressure off their bottom line while waiting for economic circumstances to improve.

Big props to the ATP World Tour and especially newly-appointed CEO Adam Helfant. Ever since Helfant came on board there seems to be more smart decision-making and more public successes including Andy Ram getting a visa into Dubai after Shahar Peer was denied.

Moreover, I'd say this is an intelligent use of funds during these times and an effective way to build bridges amongst the tourneys, gather support, and instill trust in the Tour executives.

Note to WTA CEO Larry Scott: Helfant is beginning to make you look really bad. You may want to take some pointers from your counterpart. Just sayin'.

(image via atpworldtour)

THE LOW DOWN: Is Shrieka preparing to withdraw from Indian Wells?

Maria Sharapova may not be making her welcomed return at next week's Indian Wells tourney after all.

According to Maria Sharapova Blog, an inside source has confirmed the Russian glamazon will be pulling out due to the slow recovery from her shoulder injury and surgery. The former top lady baller hasn't been seen on the court since last August but was scheduled to compete at the Paris Open + Dubai before withdrawing. She had been spotted recently practicing at Nick Bollettieri's in preparation for her return to the WTA Tour.

Shrieka's still entered in the draw at the newly-name PNB Paribas Open, however, while her website has remained mum on the rumor.

If it's true, let's hope she gets healthy quickly and returns to action. However, I think at this point it's fair to say her long-term prospects have come seriously into question.

(image via

Thursday, March 5, 2009

PHOTO OP: JJ + Lefty get a workout, Righty still flabby (maybe) is giving us a look into some of Jelena Jankovic's workouts with famed strength + conditioning coach Pat Etcheberry.

Though JJ's recent off-season training intensive has many wondering if she's been overcooked (hence the shaky results recently), it can never hurt to be in the best shape possible for the long tennis season. Plus, you can't argue with THAT bod. Damn.

But one question: did poor, neglected Right Side get as much workout as Left Side even though we can't see it? Maybe she's secretly lopsided. So many theories, so little time...

(images via courtesy of Manuela Davies/doublexposure))

VIDEO VAULT: NaturAna talks tennis with Harry Cicma

NBC Sports' Harry Cicma grabbed some time with Ana Ivanovic while she was here for the BJK Cup this week.

Harry had to, of course, mention the ubiquitous pool story we all know and love (or not). He also asks Ana about the competition on the WTA Tour right now (read: the Williams sisters), her relationship with the other Serbs, and her goals for the season.

Oh, she looks great too - no fussy makeup or big hair. I so heart NaturAna.


VIDEO VAULT: Spain + Serbia get drawn, press get their "money shot"

Here's video of the Davis Cup draw for the Spain versus Serbia tie in Benidorm today.

The press made sure to get the "money shot": Rafa + Nole hand in hand on stage. Good thing I wasn't invited because an entirely other shot would've been requested and it has nothing to do with money (though I'd take that too.)

Can I die now?

*circuit overload*

(via merikob)

PHOTO OP: The baller boys get in gear for Davis Cup's opening weekend

Davis Cup weekend is just about underway! The matchups for each tie have been decided and the stage is set for a powerhouse weekend of great tennis. Click here for the draw and here for TV coverage and schedules.

Check out some of the latest images from around the globe...

(images via ap, getty,

PHOTO OP: Gilles has no idea where he is or what he's doing

Gilles Simon was spotted looking morning fresh as he sat through his country's Davis Cup presser in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The Frenchies have battled the Czechs 13 times in DC play and hold a 7-6 advantage.

Let's hope Gilles gathers himself (and combs his hair) before hitting the courts this weekend. Just sayin'.

PS - Check out the ATP World Tour's breakdown of the opening ties here and VANtage Point predictions here.

(image via getty)

Serena's site relaunched, gets a bit of botox

As promised, Serena Williams finally went under the needle. Well, more like her website did, that is.

The top lady baller has just relaunched her site and left a message for her fans while in New York for Monday night's BJK Cup:

Hey everyone!!

I'm so excited for my new site to be up. It's been a long, withstanding effort to get it just right. I hope you all enjoy it!

I am in NYC, having a fantastic time. I loved playing the Billie Jean King exhibiton at Madison Square Garden. I'm soooooo happy I won! It was a blast, and I absolutely love the fans in New York. I have been going from photo shoot to photo shoot. Long days, but so much fun. I love being involved in fabulous fashion spreads. It has been bitterly cold here, but the SNOW is amazing! I got in a snow ball fight with my assistant, Nikki and slipped and fell! LOL! I'm more sore from that, than playing tennis. I will post a video of it soon!

Thanks for coming to my new site. I would love to hear your feedback.


There doesn't seem to be much new in the way of content besides a new tab for her philanthropic efforts. I'm just hoping she gets back to her vlogging ways. You know, comedy relief and all.

(image via

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

THE LOW DOWN: Fed + Cahill working together in Dubai on "trial" basis says Godsick

According to GOTOTENNIS, Roger Federer has found his new coach, at least on a "trial" basis: Darren "Killer" Cahill. He, of course, famously worked with compatriot Lleyton Hewitt + Andre Agassi and has been in the broadcasting booth of late for ESPN's tennis Grand Slam coverage.

Fed's agent over at IMG, Tony Godsick, confirmed the pair have been working together in Dubai, rebuffed the rumor the Aussie was not his first choice, and even discusses the Swiss' recent back issues.

On Killer's new role:

The speculation is over in Dubai: Federer is working with Cahill. The Swiss, who is taking a timeout in order to spare his back, is testing his new coach in the desert.

Federer’s IMG Manager Tony Godsick confirmed: “Yes, the two have met in Dubai and played a few balls together.” More specifically: “It is a test for both. One can not yet say whether it will be something long term. They work together now and see how it works out. “
On the rumors:
The American manager is also denying the widespread opinion that Cahill was not Federer’s first choice: “The two have long had a great respect for each other. It was occasionally discussed. It’s a trial. Now that Roger’s had a break, anyway, because of his back, the timing was perfect for a test. So Roger’s with him and has reported that he’s arrived.“

This also means that Federer’s current companion Severin Lüthi no longer matters in the future? “No! As I said, with Darren it’s on a trial basis. And if it works, we will continue with Severin on the team. There is no question about it. “
On the recent back issues:
Federer underlined that his retirements from Dubai and the Davis Cup in Birmingham vs. the USA have nothing to do with the test-training with Cahill. “No one should question Roger’s honesty about his back. He made a selfish and unpopular decision, but it was the only possibility for his health and his back. He noticed that his back had a problem again and wanted to eliminate this before it could become a real handicap,” said Godsick.

Federer has trained hard for his back injury over the past 2 weeks with Pierre Paganini and is now totally in shape to play without any problems. He will come to California at the beginning of next week to play Indian Wells and Miami. It’s not certain, yet, if Cahill will be at his side, said Godsick. The possibility to work together came up in the last few weeks, and because of his will to always get better, Roger did not want to let this chance pass him by. “The test is important for both of them. Although they know and respect each other, it could be that their personalities do not match,” said Godsick.
I think it's a brilliant choice if the trial basis becomes permanent. Killer has a great tennis mind and sees the game in a very modern way. Hopefully, he'll offer Fed the much needed eyes into his opponents' games, most notably Rafael Nadal.

(image via

+ WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Someone may be overcompensating for a hidden short-coming (poor Brooklyn)

Andy Roddick, Birmingham

* "David [Ferrer's] going to be favorite in that match, to be honest, if we play against each other [in Davis Cup]," says Nole. C'mon - you're World No.3 for crying out loud. Stop pussyfooting and step up to the task at hand. Geesh. [ESPN]

* Tennis gives back: Casey Dellacqua, Samantha Stosur + Rennae Stubbs were joined by Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Ai Sugiyama + Serena Williams in donating items and money to benefit the victims of the bush fires that ravaged New South Wales + Victoria (thanks anon!) in Australia. [SEWTA]

* Jon Wertheim gives the BJK Cup a thumbs up all around and hopes for a combined event next year. Me too. I'm thinking "Rafa vs. ReRe - A Battle of Biceps". [SI]

* "Djokovic must ride a precarious balance of control and aggression. He’s got more game than almost all of his opponents, but to show it off he needs time to develop a point. If he goes for a lot too early or stays back and rallies for too long, he gives up his shot-making advantage and becomes just another player—his game is not as unique to begin with as any of the other members of the Top 4" - TENNIS' Steve Tignor. Okay - discusssss... [TENNIS]

(image via AP)

(UPDATED) PHOTO OP: Grigor's smile is nice, abs still better

Grigor Dimitrov was spotted arriving in Gyor, Hungary and attending a pre-tourney presser for his country's Davis Cup tie versus the host country this weekend. Bulgaria + Hungary are competing in the Europe/Africa Group II zone.

Ahhh - Grigor already has that winning smile though it doesn't even come close to those ridiculous abs. Wait - when is his 18th birthday again?

*feverishly checks Grigor wiki page*

UPDATE: Thanks to the observant eyes of DtL reader Sara who noticed Grigor has switched from adidas to Lotto. I guess someone really was blinded by that smile - we won't mention any names.

(images via HCFoo via MTF)

Nole visits site of Serbia Open, entered into tourney's draw - WTF?

Novak Djokovic was spotted with father Srdjan and brother Djordje at the Gale Muskatirovic sports center, the site of the upcoming Serbia Open.

According to his site Fernando Verdasco, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Ivan Ljubicic and Radek Stepanek will most likely take part in the event along with Nole. Pete Sampras is mentioned as a promoter.

The third-ranked baller sounded pleased with the progress:

I’m pleasantly surprised how much has been done already. Everything’s going well according to the plan, which makes me happy. I can’t wait to see how everything will look, when all the work is done on April 15.
The event is scheduled to take place from May 2nd - 10th and prize money is 450,000 euros.

I still find it strange Nole will be allowed to compete in a tourney he partially owns. Isn't it a conflict of interest? Anyone??

(images via

VIDEO VAULT: Rog looking quite regal in Nationale Suisse ads

Roger Federer will be featured in a series of ads for insurance company Nationale Suisse and a number of behind-the-scenes videos from the shooting of the spots have been released.

The videos, which are in Swiss German I believe (correct me if I'm wrong and please translate if you can!), showcase the 13-time Grand Slammer in different scenarios wearing different duds including a suited up Fed speaking with a gathering of colleagues and standing next to a car speaking with a woman, and a casual Rog playing with some kids and attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Say what you want about his ego/personality (and you usually do - one way or the other) but the man can work a scrumptiously tailored suit - wowzers.

looks absolutely stunning in these spots with nary a hair out of place (can I borrow it for a day?) and the clothes fitting perfectly.


Serena, JJ, Venus, and Ana gather at Sony Club for free lunch, will visit Donna Karan for free clothes (life sucks)

Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Venus Williams, and Ana Ivanovic all gathered with WTA CEO Larry Scott for a luncheon/media moment at the Sony Club in NYC a day after taking part in the Billie Jean King Cup at Madison Square Garden. The meet up was hosted by the Tour, Sony Ericsson, and the Luxury Marketing Council and emceed by U.S. FED CUP captain Mary Jo Fernandez.

I think ReRe looks great here followed, surprisingly, by JJ + Left Side, then Ana. I won't even comment on V's "I just rolled outta what?" look. Oops, just did.

Anyway, after the staggering amounts of monies these ladies "earned" for a quarter day's work (talk to Peter Bodo about that one) you'd think they'd be finished, right? Wrong-o.

The foursome are reportedly being invited as special guests to Donna Karan's flagship store on Madison Avenue for some "retail therapy" (read: free clothing). Say what?!

Well, I suppose it IS mentally exhausting lugging all that fast cash around during this economic crisis.

(images via

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

PHOTO OP: Stick it to Rafa's belly - which would you choose?

Rafael Nadal was spotted again with the Spanish Armada preparing for their Davis Cup tie versus Serbia in Benidorm, Spain.

Now THIS is the kind of practice I could get into, though I'm not sure which offer I'd take first.

*ponders deeply*

(images via nadal news)

Nalby knocked by rampant virus, won't compete in Davis Cup tie

The rampant virus that has struck the ATP + WTA Tour's this season has taken down another victim: David Nalbandian.

The Argentine was to compete in his country's Davis Cup tie versus the Netherlands but the virus, which effected him during his first round loss in Acapulco last week, continued to linger. Nalby could be replaced by Juan Martin del Potro in Buenos Aires this weekend.

Last week, Andy Murray was forced out of Dubai because of a virus which has bothered him since the Aussie Open; Jelena Jankovic was hit by the flu in January during the JB Group Classic in Hong Kong; and Victoria Azarenka walked away mid-match from her fourth round tussle with eventual champ Serena Williams in Oz because of sickness due to a virus.

So, what the hell is going on with this mystery virus? And more importantly how's it being spread around?? Inquiring minds would definitely like to know.

In any case ballers, wash your hands regularly, don't stick your (or anyone else's) fingers in your mouth, and above all else don't kiss anyone questionable - well, at least get their name and medical history first.

(image via getty)

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