Google Down the Line!: 2009-10-25

Friday, October 30, 2009

Letter to DtL readers: Have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

I won't be posting tomorrow so I thought I'd drop you a friendly note today...

To those of you out there planning to get your scare on in celebration of Halloween on Saturday please have a safe and happy one.

Oh, and if you happen to be out on your Big Wheel and two creepy twins ask if you can play with them, for the love of SexGawd say "HELL NO!"

Final four decided in Doha - will the drama never cease?

D-D-D-Drama. Part Deux.

The semifinals of the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha were decided today and included another injury-plagued match featuring a torrent of tears.

Victoria Azarenka lost her chance to qualify for the final four when she retired from her match with cramps against Agnieszka Radwanska trailing by a scoreline of 4-6 7-5 4-1. The Belarussian was up 6-4, 5-2 and served for the match but a pair of double faults allowed Aggie back into the match as she ran off 5 consecutive games to take the second set. The decider saw Vika call for two medical time outs after struggling with her left leg and she eventually conceded the match in tears.

Caroline Wozniacki, who knows a little something about cramping, was the beneficiary of the Vika defeat and will face an undefeated Serena Williams. In the other semifinal, Jelena Jankovic, who crushed a wobbly Wozzi 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the day, will battle Venus Williams for a shot at her first year-end title.

I guess we still have more opportunities for high-wire drama in the final stages with JJ still in the mix - oh, and ReRe too. So don't despair peeps.

Just make sure to keep the tour trainers close. I mean, REALLY close.

(Photo: Reuters)

SIGHTING: NaturAna supports Adam in Singapore

"Is that an umbrella in your hand or are you just happy to see me?"

Ana Ivanovic was spotted on the 15th tee during the second round of the Barclays Singapore Open golf tournament on Sentosa Island in Singapore.

She was there to support boytoy Adam Scott whose world ranking currently sits at a paltry No.76. I guess he needs all the support he can get though NaturAna obvs has her own issues in that department.

Note to Anadam: You're both a sexy distraction to the other but a distraction all the same. Get focused!

(Photo: Reuters)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

MEDIA MASHUP: Wozzi beats Bepa and leg cramps in Doha

"I'm going to Disney World. Screw this."


Caroline Wozniacki overcame a case of severe cramps to defeat Vera Zvonareva 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-4 and go up 2-0 in round robin play in Doha today. The Russian had replaced compatriot Dinara Safina after she pulled out yesterday with a back injury.

The Danish teen was treated twice for her left leg, which has been heavily strapped, and fell to the court in pain after netting a forehand at 30-15 in the last game. She managed to recover just enough to close out Russian foe and cried with happiness/pain/relief after it was all said and done.

I have to give Wozzi major props for closing out this dramatic match especially with all the leg issues she's been experiencing lately. And to be up 2-0 in the White Group after dusting off Victoria Azarenka yesterday is stellar. Hopefully she'll be recovered enough to out-run Jelena Jankovic in their final round robin match.

As for Bepa, well, she had problems of her own during the match besides the usual:

Here's some video of match point:

(Photos: AP, Getty)

MEDIA MASHUP: Rafa (and his thighs) take "The Best of US Challenge"

Okay - I'm admittedly late to the tennis match on this one but I couldn't deny you Rafael Nadal playing with balls, could I?

The Majorcan Matador joins other Olympic athletes including Michael Phelps, Asafa Powell, Barbora Spotakova, Lindsey Vonn and Pernilla Wiberg for a user-generated contest called "The Best of Us Challenge."

It gives fans an unique opportunity to compete against their fave athlete by breaking the sports star's record in a Challenge they created themselves. Anyone who records and submits their Challenge is eligible to win a trip to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games or the first-ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. In addition, those who beat or come closest to beating their Olympic athlete are eligible to win Gold, Silver, and Bronze level prizes.

So, can you beat Rafa at his Challenge (read: are your thighs strong enough to crack walnuts?)

Click here to visit The Best of US Challenge site.

Thanks Bob!

(screen grab via

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VIDEO VAULT: Marat may not marry you but he'll surely knock you up

Apparently Marat Safin likes, and wants, kids. And here's proof they like him back. Check.

Now, he may not want to get hitched but what more do you people need? Hop on the SexGawd stat.

PS - Ladies only according to this vid. Whatevs.

(via ATP)


(screen grab via twitter)

(UPDATED) PHOTO OP: Dinara Safina or Frank N. Furter? You decide.

Dinara Safina is featured in all her glorious gothness in the November issue of Russian Harper's Bazaar.

In the issue she "reveals how to become the top-seeded tennis player in the world, and what she would do if she didn’t play tennis."

Question: Why does every lady baller have to be marketed as some kind of pouty model? Dinara is one of the last ladies (next to Sveta, maybe) that I would've imagined showing up trying to sell clothes in a fashion rag. It's not her schtick and now we can all see why.

It would've been great to see a few images Dinara smiling, looking relaxed and wearing some fun, youthful fashion to go along with the article. I mean, she's only 23-years old but looks so much older here. Ugh.

WAIT! So now I'm thinking Frank N. Furter was the mag's inspiration for Dinara's styling and just in time for Halloween. Now it all makes sense. I was so wrong.

UPDATE: Dinara just retired from her round robin match against Jelena Jankovic in Doha. There are unconfirmed reports she is suffering from a back injury. She left the court in tears. Vera Zvonareva will replace D in the White Group tomorrow if she's unable to play. Of course, Serena Williams will grab the year-end ranking if she doesn't show as well. Stay tuned.

UPDATE #2: Back injury reports now confirmed. Her participation is still in doubt.

UPDATE #3: Dinara's out of the YEC and ReRe's in as year-end No.1. How very anticlimactic, but the right lady baller got the big prize in the end.

(Photos: Harper's Bazaar via Forty Deuce)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(UPDATED) THE LOW DOWN: Agassi's meth admission

In his forthcoming autobiography "Open" Andre Agassi admits to using crystal meth in 1997.

The first mention of this revelation was in a tweet by Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch earlier today and was later confirmed by The New York Daily News who spoke to a publicist at Knopf, publisher of the book. Incidentally, the tweet by Deitsch has since been removed but was published here. Gotta love the internets.

Many people have found it to be surprising, even shocking, to hear this news. I wonder if it's the type of drug, crystal meth, that has people confounded. Maybe we'd all feel a little more indifferent if it was marijuana, or even cocaine, Andre admitted to using. We're used to those drugs in tennis.

Athletes are normal, albeit gifted, people living extraordinary lives which just means they have greater access to things we could or would do if given the opportunity. We don't like to like to imagine our heroes are prone to the same struggles and pitfalls we're all confronted with in our own lives. But they are.

I'd be more surprised if I peeked in and found only good, clean living over the span of an athlete's lifetime. This news? Not so much.

"Open" will be released on November 9.

UPDATE: Andre admits to lying to ATP officials after testing positive for crystal meth saying he ingested it by drinking from an associate's "spiked soda." The ATP reviewed the case and threw it out. He also admits he's always secretly hated playing tennis but lived in fear of his violent father.

Andre was asked about fan reaction to his drug use - "I was worried for a moment, but not for long. ... I wore my heart on my sleeve and my emotions were always written on my face. I was actually excited about telling the world the whole story." (via

UPDATE #3: WADA wants an explanation.

(Photo: Knopf)


I was losing so much that I just had to do something about it. I didn't know what else, so I cut my hair. All of a sudden I started to win, so I don't want to change a thing now.

- Feliciano Lopez on cutting his lovely locks

Ah-ha! You see? Only good things can come from resolving a hairy situation even if it means growing it on your mug instead.

Lesson learned.

(Photo: Getty)

FASHION FIX: JJ vexed by Vika in Doha, amps up ANTA style

Jelena Jankovic's campaign for a first WTA Championship crown got sidetracked big time by a pesky Belarussian today.

The Serb was blasted by year-end debutante Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3 in the first White Group match in Doha. JJ, whose forehand went on sabbatical, was none too pleased by her performance and offered an appreciative Vika a ReRe-style explanation for the loss, according to a tweet by Tennis Channel's James Larosa:

Oh ladies, please keep the comedy relief coming.

Back to the issue at hand: JJ debuted another new ANTA dress for this match and - surprise! - it's my fave one of 'em all. I love the reddish-pink color particularly against the purple background of the court, the simple design, and the gauzy striped tiering which billows nicely when in motion.

Can you believe it? No strange frills, weird embellishments, or shockingly bright colors. I guess her days of "pinata prettiness" are done. Phew.

*wipes brow*

(Photo: Getty)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nole looks to improve, discusses changes with The Independent

Novak Djokovic took some time out to speak with The Independent's Paul Newman about regaining the No. 3 ranking, his relationship with co-coach Todd Martin, his focus on fitness and a few other interesting nuggets.

On regaining the third spot in the ATP rankings from Andy Murray:

I was world No 3 for a long time and to get it back feels great, because I think I deserved it, playing well in the last two or three months. I'm aware that another reason why I'm there is that I was able to play two weeks in a row [in Beijing and Shanghai] when Andy wasn't, but that's tennis.

I'm trying not to pay too much attention to the rankings, because calculations can distract you. I just want to continue playing tournament after tournament and building up a good shape and good form. I'm feeling good right now. Physically I'm feeling very fit and mentally I'm motivated to achieve good results.

I didn't think it was basically my fault [losing the No.3 ranking], so much as Andy Murray's great season. He deserved to get there.
On his relationship with former ATP baller Todd Martin:
He's a very positive person and that's what I like. Before the US Open we had lots of time on the tennis court. We put a lot of work into it. I'm a temperamental player. I show my emotions, even in practice. When I get frustrated I throw my racket. Then I look at Todd and I'm kind of scared about what his reaction might be, what he's going to say. But he always says: 'The shot you made before the mistake was good. So keep it going.' He always tries to find the positive in everything. I think that's a great thing about him. He's going to bring a lot of freshness to the team.
On improving his fitness with Gebhard Phil-Gritsch:
I've been putting a lot of work into the physical stuff. It's hard when you switch fitness coaches. You don't want to make a big change because it might ruin your system, so he adapted to my body and got me into his routine. It's been working well. We've put a lot of work into the legs, into my movement, because this is where I have a good feeling about my game. My advantage is my running ability. I like to be dynamic and show a lot of energy on the court.
On the overall improvements in his game:
I think it's great that I've improved my slice a lot. I have more variety in my shots now. I've gained a lot of confidence there. I've always been a good defensive player and a good baseliner. Now I will try to make my life a little bit easier and improve on my volleys and try to give myself confidence and push myself more to get to the net.
On his season so far:
Since Cincinnati I've been playing great tennis. Hard courts were always the surface that suited my game most and where I felt most comfortable. It's a good period. It's never too early or too late to find your form. It's a great time to find it now. I think I could have done a better job looking over the season overall. I could have done better in the Grand Slams but, except for a couple of ups and downs, I've had quite a consistent season.
After a strong end to 2008 - highlighted by his winning run at the Masters Cup - many believed great things were in store for Nole this year. However, after failing to defend his Oz Open title due to heat-related illness he seemed to struggle with the expectation and his enjoyment of the game suffered. But there have been glimpses lately of the old Nole and his results towards the end of summer and this fall have been encouraging.

Most importantly he seems to be looking to improve even more by solidying a strong team around him and making sure his health and fitness become non-issues during matches.

Let's hope he continues making the right moves, because if he does 2010 could be a stellar year for the Serb.

(Photo: Getty)

Just like old times: Pete edges Andre in Macao exo

Tennis legends Pete Sampras + Andre Agassi renewed their historic rivalry for an exhibition match in Macao this past weekend.

And it seems they picked up where the left off: Pete defeated Andre 3-6, 6-3, 10-8. Their last pro match was the 2002 US Open final when Pete grabbed his then-record setting 14th major title over his great rival.

The Las Vegas natives ball-striking ability can still impress according to the 7-time Wimbledon champion:

Andre just hits the ball so cleanly, even after being retired for three years. The pace of his shots was very heavy.

Pete's legendary skills at the net haven't seemed to dull over the years, either:
Pete's hands are the same as they've always been. He has great feel for the ball. He surprised me with the number of pickups he made out there. It was like it just came very naturally.

Last year, Pete defeated Roger Federer in Macao during the last match of their Asian exo series.

(Photos: AP)

Top lady ballers dress it up in Doha, attend draw ceremony for WTA Championships

The top eight lady ballers in the world have gathered in Doha for the 39th WTA year-end Sony Ericsson Championships.

They have been divided into two groups for the round robin format based on the colors of the Qatari flag: the White group features No.1 seed Dinara Safina, No.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki, No.6 seed Victoria Azarenka and No.8 seed Jelena Jankovic. The Maroon group is made up of No.2 seed Serena Williams, No.3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, No.5 seed Elena Dementieva and No.7 seed Venus Williams, who is the defending champ.

Alternates Vera Zvonareva + Agnieszka Radwanska also made the trip to Doha.

Check out the official site here.

Images of the ladies going glam for the draw ceremony below. My fave? Elena. Simple elegance. My least fave? V. It's not your 1985 senior prom girl.









(Photos: Getty, Reuters)

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