Google Down the Line!: 2009-08-23

Saturday, August 29, 2009

2009 US OPEN PREVIEW: The Boys

The major tourney season is coming to a close *cries* and it's the last chance for the boys to grasp at glory and make their mark on the 2009 season.

Who are top faves for the US Open title? Let’s take a look:

From where he started this year (think: Oz Open tearfest) it seemed Roger Federer was a broken baller. But in a display of impressive determination, he turned the season on its head grabbing a Career Slam by taking his first Roland Garros title, breaking Pete Sampras’ record of major wins by winning a sixth Wimbledon Championship and 15th Grand Slam (holds 3 outta the 4 majors now) and returning to the top spot. Of course, the Swiss maestro’s personal life has gained almost as much attention with his marriage to Mirka Vavrinec and subsequent births of his twin mangoes. So with all of these happenings you’d think he’d be slightly distracted and less motivated, right? Wrong-o. He capped off his US Open Series effort by snapping a 4-match losing streak to Andy Murray in Cincinnati on his way to snapping a 2-match losing streak to Novak Djokovic in the final, winning his 16th Masters 1000 shield (one behind all-time leader Andre Agassi.) Fed has an astounding 45-4 record at Flushing Meadow and hasn’t lost a match there since 2003 so he’ll be feeling good about his chances for a sixth consecutive title.

He’s the highest ranked baller from his country ever sitting at World No. 2 and becoming the first man not named Federer or Nadal to hold the 1-2 ranking since 2005. Unfortunately Andy Murray has fallen short at each of the Grand Slams this year including a fourth round loss in Oz, a quarterfinal exit in Paris, and a semifinal defeat at Wimby. But outdoor hard-courts are where this Brit baller shows his best counter-punching stuff as evidenced by wins at Doha, Miami, and Montreal, three of his five titles this season. Most pundits and fans agree it’s just a matter of time before Muzz wins his maiden major and most feel Flushing Meadow, where he won the US Open junior title and reached his first Grand Slam final last year, is his best chance.

After his devastating loss to Fed in their monstrous Wimby final battle, no one was sure how Andy Roddick would recover. Would he retreat into a defensive posture or become even more motivated to earn a second major title? The answer isn’t completely clear yet but the former US Open champ made a strong statement to the latter by reaching the final in Washington, DC and the semifinals in Montreal losing both times to Juan Martin del Potro. And even though he lost to a streaking Sam Querrey in his opening round match at Cincy, his physical and mental games have looked solid. If he can ride the waves of the New York crowd’s boisterous support, A-Rod could make his third trip to the final Sunday.

Novak Djokovic has been an enigma the entire season. At times the Serb seemed to be hitting his stride and at other times he seemed downright indifferent. Check this stat: he’s reached seven finals already this season but has lost five including four losses in Masters Series 1000 tourneys. Ouch. But Nole’s a former finalist in The Big Apple and enjoys the raucous atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium (when he’s not getting booed that is), a quality important in winning the US Open. Plus, the 22-year old will be toting around another former finalist, Todd Martin, in his coaching back pocket so maybe, just maybe, he’ll find his form again.

It seemed 2009 was going to be his for the taking, no? Rafael Nadal began the season as the world’s top baller and solidified that status by winning his first Oz Open title and sixth career major. He continued with wins at Indian Wells and his usual domination of the clay-court circuit until Madrid where, after winning an exhausting 4-plus hour semifinal against Nole, he was defeated by Fed snapping his 5-match winning streak against the Swiss and 33-match win streak on the slippery stuff. The biggest shocks were still to come as he suffered his first ever loss at Roland Garros to Robin Soderling in the fourth round and withdrew from the defense of his Wimby crown due to knee tendinitis. His return to the ATP World Tour has shown improvement with each week but he’ll need to be at his best form to reach his first final at Flushing Meadow and complete a possible Career Slam.


– He’s on the cusp of being a top contender but hasn’t reached a major final….yet. The hard-courts are the Argentine’s fave surface, though, having grabbed the biggest scalp of his career in Miami defeating then top baller Rafa in Miami while also earning titles in Auckland and Washington, DC on this surface. It was at Flushing Meadow last season where Delpo reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal so he’ll have good motivation to take it further.

– It seems Sam Querrey is becoming more comfortable with the mantle of "Next Best American Baller". The 21-year old went on an absolute tear post-Wimby reaching three straight finals (winning the last one in LA), grabbing the aforementioned win over A-Rod in Cincy, and ending as the US Open Series champ. Sam may not be quite ready to steal the top prize in Flushing Meadow but a second week appearance should be for the taking.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA – The Frenchie made one of the most riveting comebacks in recent memory recovering from 1-5 down in the decider to defeat Rog at the Montreal Masters. It was his best win since defeating Rafa in the '08 Oz Open semifinals. His high-flying, athletic game and infectious personality should play well with the appreciative New York crowd so if he can gain their backing while playing with controlled aggression Jo-Willy could make a deep run here.

Also make sure to check out which ladies I think will make some NYC noise here!

(images via getty, ap)

Friday, August 28, 2009

2009 US OPEN PREVIEW: The Ladies

The WTA tour continues to be the place where the phrase “expect the unexpected” remains the constant theme, right? Well, not if you look at Serena Williams at the majors. She’s the defending champ at Flushing Meadow and also holds this year’s Oz Open + Wimbledon titles. So, should we just pack up our tennis bags and head home? Perhaps, but it IS the year’s final major so expect some of the leading ladies to lay it all on the line and make a big push towards the final Saturday.

Let’s take a look at the leading contender’s for the US Open ladies' title!

Who can really argue against picking the holder of three out of the last four Grand Slams and 11 career majors to win in two weeks? Fine, Serena Williams is not technically the top lady baller according to the WTA rankings and she hasn’t won a non-Grand Slam tourney since ’08 Charleston but when it comes to gutting out matches and winning on the biggest stages in the sport, Serena Williams is the best – hands down. The defending champ had uneven results during the US Open Series racking up losses to Sam Stosur, Sybille Bammer, and Elena Dementieva but as we all know she brings the big guns to the majors. A fourth US Open title is certainly well within her dramatic reach.

The newly-crowned Rogers Cup champ has had chances to make a major breakthrough this year. Elena Dementieva entered the Aussie Open as the smart pick with two tourney titles under her Yonex belt but fell from fatigue and ReRe’s game in the semifinals. In Paris a streaking Aussie Sam, who eventually made it to the semifinals, knocked her out early in shocker. But it was her epic, now classic heavy hitting bout with ReRe in the Wimby semifinals that finally gave Elena the belief she could go toe-to-toe with the Big Babes. And she’ll need this belief if she makes it to the second week in Flushing Meadow where surely another rematch with the defending champ could be waiting – in the final, no less.

Oh what a strange and confusing year it has been for Jelena Jankovic. The Serb began this year as the top lady baller with the dream of a first major title within her grasp. However, according to JJ, a muscle-building off-season regiment slowed her down and the result was an early loss in Oz and a big dent in her confidence. Though she won on the clay in Marbella, the inconsistency continued until Cincinnati where she gutted out a lopsided, three-set win over Elena in the semifinals then showed her best stuff crushing top seed Dinara Safina in the final for her 11th career title. Can last year’s finalist take that next step and earn her maiden Grand Slam?

Perplexing. That’s the best word to describe Dinara Safina this year. In her last matches at each of the Grand Slams – finals in Oz + Paris, semis at Wimby – the Russian was betrayed by her nerves and routed each time. However, she managed to grab the keys to the WTA Penthouse and has been housed there since April. The word is out on D, though: pressure her early, rush her long, loopy swings and she’ll fall to pieces as evidenced by the collapse of her serve and her double fault gift bags. Her most recent losses are the most worrisome: in her Cincy loss to JJ she couldn’t find the tennis court and during her opening round loss to Aravane Rezai in Toronto she seemed like mental toast. I could see D going out early or repeating her semifinal appearance from last year. Like I said, PERPLEXING.

The only reason Venus Williams is considered a contender at all is because of her glittering resume showcasing 7 Grand Slam titles including 2 US Opens, and certainly not because of her most recent results including a strange, opening round loss to Kateryna Bondarenko at the Rogers Cup last week. Unlike sister ReRe, you can’t always rely on V to bring her best stuff to any of the majors besides her fave Wimby (think second round loss in Oz to Carla Suarez Navarro and third round loss to Agnes Szavay in Paris this year.) But if she brings an attacking mentality to the fast Flushing Meadow courts and a laser-like focus, she has the experience and skills to earn her first US Open title in 8 years.


MARIA SHARAPOVA – Okay, so she’s still serving doubles in large doses. But Maria Sharapova has been improving with each week and made the first final since her comeback from injury in Toronto losing to Elena. She’s a former champ (2006) who loves the bright lights, big city vibe of New York and matches Gotham in its intensity. But again, it’s all about Shrieka’s serve: if it holds steady she’s a threat, but if it remains wonky she may not see the second round never mind the second week.

VICTORIA AZARENKA – I’ve been waiting, like many others, for Victoria Azarenka to make her major breakthrough. Yet, for some reason, she’s at a quarterfinal standstill reaching this stage in Paris and at Wimby. Moreover, her results during the US Open Series signal some possible physical, or more likely mental, fatigue for the 20-year old. I’m not sure Vika will make that long-awaited breakthrough here especially with Kim Clijsters + Venus Williams lurking in her quarter of the draw but hard-courts are her fave so who knows?

KIM CLIJSTERS – All hail the welcomed return of ’05 champ Kimmie! It’s the Belgian’s first major since leaving the tour a couple of years back and fans couldn’t be more excited though the lady ballers may feel otherwise. I mean, talk about a dangerous floater! She’s had impressive wins in her comeback over the likes of Vika, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Marion Bartoli, and Patty Schnyder so keep both eyes peeled for Kimmie.

(images via getty, ap)

PHOTO OP: Checking out Thomas Reynolds launch event - guess who crashed the party?

Last night Fila along with Lord & Taylor and TENNIS magazine officially launched James Blake's Thomas Reynolds collection in NYC.

The evening began with a meet-and-greet with James on the main floor followed by a VIP party held on the retailer's rooftop. It was an absolutely spectacular evening under the lights of The Big Apple and featured big beats by DJ Sky Nellor and the ubiquitous Honey Deuce, the official cocktail for this year's US Open. Guests included people from the worlds of tennis, media, fashion, and music. James' coach Brian Barker was in attendance along with brother Thomas and momma Betty.

My friend Erin from Purple Gate Design attended the party with me and we were lucky (or persistent?) enough to grab a picture with the man of the evening:

And - SURPRISE, SURPRISE - Kimmie Clijsters made an unexpected appearance and I, of course, had to have a picture with the former US Open champ. Can I say her heels were sick and she was much taller than I expected? Fine, I might be short. But, whatevs, it's KIMMIE!

I also got to hang with Erwin + Nick of Tennis Served Fresh and Karen of Global Village Tennis News. It's always great to put a face to a name.

Make sure to pop on over to to see more of the Thomas Reynolds collection. And, a big shout out to the Fila team for the invite!

(images via fila, DtL)

PHOTO OP: Will the real Serena please stand up?

Serena Williams unveiled her real wax likeness yesterday at the famed Madame Tussouds in New York.

So they chose the outfit from the infamous '04 US Open quarterfinal versus Jennifer Capriati that gave birth to instant replay over the infamous catsuit that shocked (or scared?) many a tennis fan. Not sure I completely agree with the choice but one thing's certain: ReRe brings the DRAMA even though she may say otherwise.

(image via getty)

PHOTO OP: Shrieka takes Rockefeller Center, launches Cole Haan collection

Maria Sharapova continued to blow up the NYC Shrieka Party Watch last night.

The Russian glamazon, decked out in an 80's-inspired Elie Saab multi-coloured geometric print satin mini dress - thanks Nirili! - and donning ankle booties and a clutch from her own collection, stopped by the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center last night to debut her Maria Sharapova for Cole Haan Collection.

"It's my hope that other young women will embrace the spirit of the collection; it's fun, chic, fashionable and most importantly, able to take you from day to night," says the 3-time Grand Slammer.

Shrieka's collaboration with Cole Haan began with sketches, mood boards, and inspirations from the tennis star. Her on-the-go, international lifestyle inspired this chic collection. The 22-year old infused aspects of her playful personality into every detail of the line from the polished buckles of the shoes, to the leather wrapped chain straps of the handbags.

(images via

PHOTO OP: NYC gets a Taste of Tennis

Andy Roddick

The 10th annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis was held last night at the W Hotel and guests were invited to share in tasty foods created by some of the most world-reknown chefs while sipping on cocktails provided by sponsor Rums of Puerto Rico.

Some of the world's biggest ballers took part in the event which benefited the Food Bank of New York City.

Fernando Gonzalez

Vera Zvonareva

David Ferrer

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Sabine Lisicki

Nicolas Kiefer

Aleksandra Wozniack

Chanda Rubin

Brad Gilbert

Sam Groth

Jamila Groth

(image via

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PHOTO OP: Madame Tussaud would be proud

"If we smile too hard our wax might crack."

Defending US Open champs Roger Federer + Serena Williams attended the much-anticipated US Open draw ceremony which was broadcast live for the first time on ESPN News today. BTW - nice moves ESPN. Nice.

The big news on the boy's side was the placing of Fed + Rafael Nadal in opposite halves of the draw meaning they could only meet in the final. The Swiss maestro looks to have a relatively smooth ride to another Flushing Meadow semifinal where he could run into Novak Djokovic or Andy Roddick. He could face a possible meeting with former champ Lleyton Hewitt in the third round and Roland Garros finalist Robin Soderling or US Open Series winner Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals.

The draw gawds weren't kind to Rafa who opens against a returning Richard Gasquet and could face World No. 2 Andy Murray in the semifinals (a rematch of last year's semi won by the Brit baller) if he gets by potential road blocks like Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The Sisters Sledge were placed in the same half of the draw and could only meet in the semifinals this time around. Venus has a potential fourth rounder with dangerous floater and '05 champ Kim Clijsters. Top seed Dinara Safina could meet up with Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals which would be a rematch of their Cincinnati final won by the Serb. And Rogers Cup titlist Elena Dementiva faces a potential blockbuster third rounder with '06 champ Maria Sharapova.

Click here to view the boy's draw and here to view the ladies's draw. And make sure to check back tomorrow for my preview of the year's final major!

(image via ap)

SIGHTING: Shrieka + Serena Party Watch hits NYC

Maria Sharapova, wearing a slate grey and black Chloé by Hannah MacGibbon Resort 2010 print dress, joined In Style magazine and Blake Lively at the Cooper Square Hotel in NYC to celebrate the Russian's collaboration with Frank Gehry and the Gossip Girl actress' 22nd birthday. Thanks Nirali!

See more images over at GOTOTENNIS.

Serena Williams + Common were spotted looking very much the couple at the wrap party for "Just Wright" at Greenhouse in NYC this week which stars the rapper alongside Queen Latifah. Hmmm - I don't know about you but I don't act like this with my exes. But that's just me.

See more images over at Black Tennis Pro's.

(images via wireimage, getty)

Stay cool (or lit up) with Grey Goose's Honey Deuce

Grey Goose is an official sponsor of this year's US Open and have created a sumptuous and tasty cocktail just for the occasion: the HONEY DEUCE.

Here's the recipe:

So if you can't make it out to the year's final major, at least drink like you were there. I know I already have. Enjoy!

(image via Grey Goose)

VIDEO VAULT: Fed may be riding the 7 train with you to the US Open

Here's an interview Roger Federer did with CNBC's Darren Rovell at the Nike event in NYC yesterday.

He talks about his effortless on-court style, sponsorships, Tiger Woods and of course his new fashion for the US Open. He even mentions how he likes the shadow dot design on his new Men's Fall Open Polo because it was inspired by the NYC subways which he says he "sometimes takes to the Open."

Really Rog? Somehow I doubt that, but whatevs.

To watch the video, click on the image above to be taken to Rovell's site.

(image via cnbc)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FASHION FIX: A closer look at Shrieka's US Open Nike styles

Thanks to DtL reader Maja for sending over images of Maria Sharapova's US Open Nike dresses I saw at the Nike event earlier today.

As I mentioned, the day dress comes in a dusty-rose colorway with fluorescent green shoulder straps and piping. She'll be wearing this bomber style warm-up jacket as she enters the stadiums for her matches.

This razor back tank dress is the choice for her night matches and comes in navy blue, almost midnight, with silver color blocks and piping. It's a bit more dramatic in it's design but should sparkle under the New York lights.

Shrieka will be working this warm-up jacket which features an over-sized hoodie for those cold evenings. Right. Also, in person, you can see the fabricaton of this jacket was heavy on the sparkle.

Okay so between the two dresses I'd have to pick the night dress as my fave. I don't think the dusty-pink color will compliment her skin tone and could wash her out a bit. The night dress is a good contrast in its deep tones and looks like it could really shine.

In any case, it seems the zig-zagging yet flowy theme found in her Frank Gehry earrings carried over to her dresses too.

Taking in NYC Nike challenge with Rog, Rafa, ReRe and more

So as many of you know I spent the better part of the day basking (or was it baking?) in the New York City sun for Nike's US Open challenge!

There were lucky tennis balling kids from every borough of the city bussed in for a hit with the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Gael Monfils, Victoria Azarenka and Na Li. Legend John McEnroe was on hand as well to help MC the event.

A makeshift, regulation-size and very bouncy court with bleachers was set up on Broadway + 23rd Street right next to the iconic Flatiron Building. I arrived around 9:30am and was greeted by throngs of fans and curious passersby surrounding the location. I decided not to stay in one place but to find all the best spots for picture taking.

Rog was the first one up to some balls with kids before being interviewed by the media. Gael Monfils came out after a short break to do the same. Next up were the ladies - Victoria Azaranka + Na Li - who demonstrated the pre-match warm for all the kids then practiced volleys.

And, finally, to close out the day (after about an hour more of sun-baking) was the pairing of Rafael Nadal + Serena Williams. The two were interviewed by Johnny Mac before being matched up with one of the kids. Rafa was asked by JMac about what he did during his time off to which he replied "Lot of rest, lot of relation, lot of party." JMac answered back, "Lots of partying?" and the Spaniard responded, "And hard work." Eh, right.

Anyway, they were challenged to coach their kid to return a machine-fed ball over the net and if they made it a donation of $5,000 would be made to one of the charities being represented. Suffice it to say both kids (and ballers) did their job.

And for the first time Nike unveiled the new outfits for their ballers by having them wear each kit during their appearance- all except for Maria Sharapova's. The Russian's outfits were featured in a display case on site: the daytime dress is a dusty-pink dress with fluorescent green piping with a visor and jacket to match.

The evening dress comes in navy blue with silver piping. The jacket is an off-white glittery number. Sorry - not the best pic:

So all in all a great event. It's amazing how big and fit these boys + girls really are when you're standing on the same level with them and not looking down from the bleachers or on TV. Impressive.

Check below for more images and visit my new Flickr page to see the full album!

PS - A big shout to Amy aka SapphireSwell for hanging out today and suffering with me. I think we may have bonded over Rafa + sweat. Good times.

(images via DtL)

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