Google Down the Line!: 2010-05-16

Saturday, May 22, 2010

VANtage Point: Roland Garros 2010 bracket breakdown - who will come out on top?

Henin, Clijsters—everyone loves a good comeback story, right? So why not add VANtage Point to the list, and just in time for the 2010 French Open!

First, allow me to reintroduce myself and what’s going on here: My name is Van (it’s not short for VANtage, either) and I have a blog of my own called Tennis Talk, Anyone? Down the Line! in an example of pure blogging brotherhood gave me the opportunity to make some predictions on tournaments over here, like I love doing over at TTA? I’ve been a pro tennis statistics devourer for most of my life, and love reading and writing about the pros, just like RiCH here at DtL!

So enough of that background info stuff, which if you’ve seen the Point before, you didn’t really need. Let’s get on with it shall we?

A Look Back: This is where I usually recap the prior week’s tournament that I previewed. But let’s just skip this part since the last time I wrote a VANtage Point was in 1980 after the Borg-McEnroe finals.

This Week’s Spotlight: There’s nothing like Paris in the springtime; I’m assuming that’s what the pros are thinking! After all, there’s the matter of that second Slam of the year to be played, the French Open. It’s been hit harder than I can recall with a lot of big withdrawals, such as Kim Clijsters and Nikolay Davydenko. However, I wouldn’t say either draw has a weak field; you still have the favorites such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, the Williams sisters and one of the comeback queens, four-time champ Justine Henin, there.

Players to Watch:
Let’s start with the men. I’d say you have to keep an eye out for defending champ Federer as his play the past few months has been rather spotty—at least by the standards he’s held. Also, how will Novak Djokovic’s breathing problems affect him? And Andy Roddick. It says here at VP he’ll get knocked out in the first round. Oh, while I’m thinking of it, has Fernando Verdasco played too much tennis?

For the women, you have to wonder how Serena Williams will hold up while Henin’s going to be all kinds of hell for a player to face. A player I’m curious to see how they make out on the women’s side is Ana Ivanovic: Was that run in Rome a fluke or is she back?

The Final Fours: In the top half of the men’s draw, I’m picking Federer and Tomas Berdych, with the Swiss winning that one. On the bottom half, it should be David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal with the 4-time champion coming out on top. For the women, I’ll take Henin over Jelena Jankovic from the top half of the draw. And on the bottom half, I’ll go with Francesca Schiavone beating Venus Williams in one of the craziest calls you’ll see in quite some time!

And the Winners Are… : It’s only fitting that the two greatest clay courters of their generations end up with their fifth titles, that being Nadal and Henin. Should be a great Slam. We’ll see you soon!

Van Sias writes the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone?


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Letter to DtL readers: May I offer you some Strawberries & Scream?

I just wanted to give you guys an exciting heads up: I'll be writing a column for a newly launched tennis site called Strawberries & Scream which aims to bring the freshest, edgiest coverage of women + tennis. The column is called "Who's Hot?" and will focus on - what else? - tennis gossip, entertainment and celebrity. I'm uber-psyched to be working with Hilary + Erica over at S&S on this new venture and am grateful for the opportunity to spread my brand of tennis news.

So here's the very first post, freshly unwrapped for your reading pleasure. I do hope you enjoy it!

[Photo(s): Strawberries & Scream]

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Friday, May 21, 2010

PHOTO OP: Rafa gets gritty at the Molitor

Check out this awesome photo set of an exhibition featuring Rafael Nadal (apparently hitting a one-handed back hand return) and a couple of young ballers at the Molitor, an abandoned swimming pool near Roland Garros.

I'm loving everything about this exhibition including the gritty locale and the graffiti on the walls featuring Rafa's likeness. It's a bit reminiscent of one of the tourney scenes from Top Spin 3 for Wii. I'm not sure what those headless, polo-wearing mannequins are doing in the last pic, though. A make-shift audience crowd, perhaps?

More shots over at the Roland Garros site.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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Fed + Sveta join forces for Roland Garros 2010 draw ceremony

Defending champs Roger Federer + Svetlana Kuznetsova (dressed down much?) were joined by French Tennis Federation (FFT) President Jean Gachassin at today's draw ceremony for Roland Garros which continues its annual Sunday start this weekend.

Here are some quick links to each of the draws:

Men's singles

Ladies' singles

I'll be posting my thoughts on both of these draws a little later so stay tuned!

P.S. - Can you stand it?!

[Photo(s): Reuters]

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

+ WEDNESDAY NETCORDS: Quick hits from around the grounds

- Wayne Odesnik was given a 2-year suspension after pleading guilty to possession of human growth hormone (HGH) in Australia. He has denied using the substance and never tested positive for it but the ITF charged him because he did not have a "therapeutic use exemption." His ban will be backdated to start Dec. 29, 2009, and will end Dec. 28, 2011. All his results from this year will be erased.

He released the following statement regarding the suspension:

I accept the ITF's decision regarding my sanction for being in possession of a banned substance. I made an honest mistake and I regret the impact that my actions have had on the sport of tennis; a game that I have loved since childhood and one which has given me many great opportunities and memories. The sole reason I was in possession of this banned substance was under doctor's advice for treatment of a recurring shoulder injury. I was unaware at the time that this would be considered an anti-doping violation. I never have taken nor tested positive for any banned substance in my career. Finally, I want to thank all my family, friends, and fans who have been so supportive of me throughout this difficult time. During my time away from tennis, I will try to give back to the game in a positive way and use this experience to motivate me to work harder than ever."

- Juan Martin del Potro will not defend his U.S. Open title after undergoing surgery on his wrist earlier this month.

- So Rafael Nadal swept all the Masters 1000 tourneys on clay this season and defeated nemesis Roger Federer in the Madrid final. So doesn't that make him a lock for a fifth Roland Garros crown? Tom Perrotta ain't so sure.

- has some big questions about the boys + the ladies at Roland Garros.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PHOTO OP: JJ has balls in all the wrong places

"I should've done my kegels this morning. Aw, fuck it."

Jelena Jankovic uploaded some new photos of herself, of course, to the "Off-Court" section of her Facebook page including the one above. Listen, I'm not even going to get all snarky on the reappearance of Lefty (who's sorta like her Snooki) or her always questionable fashion taste. I just wanna know where that tennis ball fell from. Uh, on second thought maybe I don't.


One more new image of JJ below. See the rest here.

[Photo(s): Jelena Jankovic FB page]

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Opposite ends of the winning spectrum for Rafa + Rez

Rafael Nadal captured a record-setting 18th Masters 1000 shield this weekend when he continued his clay-court domination over Roger Federer defeating the world's top baller 6-4, 7-6 (5) in Madrid. He now becomes the baller with the most Masters 1000 titles surpassing Andre Agassi and increasing his H2H over the Swiss to 14-7 (10-2 on clay - ouch.) And he achieved this astounding feat all before the age of 24.

Although it was exciting to finally get another Fedal final on the ATP World Tour after almost a year I think we all knew who would come out the winner in the end. Rafa not only owns Fed on the slippery stuff but, based on current form, the outcome was clearly written on the wall. It was a great effort for Fed to make the final after his mediocre results of late but he'll need much more game in his Nike back pocket if he's going to defend his Roland Garros crown. Much, much more.

As for Rafa, he finally ended his year-long title drought in Monte Carlo and never looked back, returning to brilliance on his fave surface and making smart scheduling choices to preserve his body for an assault on the big ones, most importantly capturing his seventh major and fifth title in Paris. Even at this point I just don't see anyone stopping him. I dare you to try.

Aravane Rezai grabbed the third and biggest title of her career when she defeated Venus Williams 6-2, 7-5 in Madrid. The Frenchie lady baller had a career week in the Spanish city opening her campaign with a win over Justine Henin (feeding the Belgian a bagel in the third set) and stopping an in-form Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals. It was the first time Rezzie defeated two Top tenners in the same week (V, JJ.)

Not only can the girl crack a tennis ball, but she also has real grit and attitude on (and sometimes off) the court which served her well against the big ballers all week long. But it wasn't all ball-bashing in the final sending serves to all parts of the box to get V out of position and using one of the best strategies you can use on the clay: hitting behind your opponent. Rezzie used the strategy to perfection against V, never letting the newly-minted World No. 2 to set up for her shots particularly on the backhand side which opened up the American's shaky forehand. Brills.

Let's hope Rezzie stays healthy and confident in the weeks to come. If she does she'll surely give the Roland Garros faves something to think about.

[Photo(s): Reuters]

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