Google Down the Line!: 2010-06-27

Saturday, July 3, 2010

PHOTO OP: The queen keeps her crown

In a display of pure dominance, Serena Williams - led by her record-setting serve - strolled through the Wimbledon ladies' draw without dropping a set to earn her fourth title at the All England Club and 13th major title.

The top seed easily dismissed Vera Zvonareva in a manner similar to what she had shown towards her other unlucky opponents this tourney: huge serves, unreachable groundie winners and steely defense turned into blazing offense. She never faced a break point in this match due to these telling stats: ReRe had 66% first serve success, won 31 of 33 first serve points and pummeled 29 winners against 15 UEs. It was a wall of offense that the Russian was never able to break through, though the same couldn't be said for Bepa's serve which was broken 3 times in the match.

“My dream was able to come true," said ReRe after receiving her fourth Venus Rosewater Dish. “Everyone’s dream can come true if you just stick to it and work hard. This one is very special.” She also had kind words for opponent who recovered from a serious ankle injury sustained last season to make her first major final. “Everyone should give her a big round of applause. She defines what being a champion and never giving up means.”

The 21st seed played a pretty good match save for some unfortunate unforced errors but ReRe never allowed Bepa a chance to get comfortable out there. And when the 13-time Grand Slammer sinks her Hall of Fame teeth into a match, she can suffocate opponents with her powerfully intimidating play particularly in Grand Slam finals where she holds a 13-3 record. But Bepa showcased the best tennis of her career this week so hopefully she'll be feeling confident about her efforts and not get too distraught about the scoreline today.

Check out more images from ReRe's championship win below!

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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Serena Williams defeats Vera Zvonareva, wins fourth Wimbledon championship and 13th major title

A big congrats to Serena Williams who defended her Wimbledon title today defeating Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-2 in a 1 hour and 7 min rout. She never faced a break point in the entire match and didn't drop a single set the entire tourney. Oh yeah, she also threw down a record 89 aces this fortnight. Incredible.

It's her fourth Wimby title, one behind sister Venus, and 13th major championship surpassing Billie Jean King and moving her to sixth on the all-time list behind Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert (tied with 18), Helen Wills Moody (19), Steffi Graf (22) and Margaret Smith Court (24).

More coverage to come!

[Photo(s): Getty Image]

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Friday, July 2, 2010

SIGHTING: Becks + Brooklyn at Wimbledon

A suit-clad David Beckham was spotted with his son, Brooklyn, watching Andy Murray fall to Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon semifinals today.

Becks + Muzz are both represented by American/Pop Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment and are, apparently, texting buddies.

He looks equally as good with his clothes on as he does off, no? I'm thinking he inspired Muzz to do the same, though not exactly with the same desired result.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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PHOTO OP: Rafuzz post-match MOMA

Q. What about Andy, you said to him after the match that he could win a major.

RAFAEL NADAL: I wished him best of luck for the rest of the season, and sorry for today. I know it was an important match for him I think because he play at home, and this is a chance for him to win probably the most important title for him win here at home in Wimbledon.

Just I felt sorry for him because he's a very nice person, very good person. I am sure he gonna win a Grand Slam very soon, because when you have final in US Open, final in Australia, semifinals here this year and the last year, you are there all the time. So one day you win. I am sure he gonna win. He deserve to win.

*sniffle, sniffle*

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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Rafael Nadal to face Tomas Berdych for the Wimbledon men's championship!

Like the ladies' final between Serena Williams + Vera Zvonareva, the men's final on Sunday will feature a reigning World No. 1 and multiple Grand Slam champ versus a major final virgin when Rafael Nadal faces Tomas Berdych for the Wimbledon men's championship.

The Mallorcan Matador was at his best in the key moments of his 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-4 defeat of Andy Murray in their semifinal match today. The Brit baller stayed with Rafa for most of the match except in one critical area: break point chances. Rafa was able to convert 3 of 4 opportunities compared to 1 of 3 for Muzz. Moreover, the second seed had tremendous success coming forward making 23 of 26 (88%) net approaches compared to 16 of 28 (57%) for his opponent. Now the Brits will have to wait another year for a chance to bring the crown home. But what's another one when you've been waiting 74 already?

It wouldn't have been surprising to see Tomas Berdych have a letdown after ousting 6-time champ Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. But the Czech pretty boy's game never faltered during his 6-3, 7-6 (11), 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic. He still served big, winning 81% of his first serves and 64% of his second deliveries, and cracked 34 winners compared to 25 for the Serb. The 12th seed played first strike tennis and ran Nole side to side preventing him from controlling the center of the court.

The third seed seemed content to stay at the baseline and rally but fortunes smile upon those who are willing to take risks on the slick stuff. He, like Muzz, needed to have a more aggressive stance in the rallies and their opponents made them pay the price for waiting. And without a kill shot like the explosive forehands of Roger Federer or Rafa that can break open a point with one swing, they're forced to scramble just to win points - not a great recipe for success at Wimbledon.

This meeting is the 11th between Rafa + Berdy with the Spaniard leading the H2H 7-3. Their last meeting on grass was here in 2007 with Rafa winning 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-2.

Here's what the 7-time Grand Slammer said about his opponent in Sunday's final:

Q. What do you think about Tomas Berdych?

RAFAEL NADAL: Amazing. He did amazing tournament. I think he played very good match against Federer; very good match today against Djokovic. He save difficult match against Brands. Yeah, he's the best of his draw, so for that reason he's in the final. No one opponent can be more difficult than Tomas to play this final.

Q. Your feelings about the matchup against Berdych in this particular match on grass, is there a style that you're expecting to see from him or what?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, Tomas is a very aggressive player, very good serve, very good flat shots from the baseline. So gonna be very, very difficult. Very difficult match. Is very difficult to stop him when he's playing well, and he's playing really well. So gonna be very difficult to play against him.

And what did Berdy have to say about getting this far at Wimbledon?

Q. What does it feel like to be in the final?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, I mean, right now it's great feeling so far. I'm just trying to be enjoying the victory of today. You know, I think I will try to do the same as I did after Roger. So, you know, today just be thinking about today's match, and since tomorrow, just leave it on side and just get ready for the finals.

I'm still not done yet here. One more to go.

On paper Rafa is, of course, the heavy fave to win his - gasp! - eighth major title at the ripe old age of 24. He's won here before and owns superior experience over his opponent in these situations. However, the Czech is brimming with confidence and playing like he belongs - and he does. He's playing beautifully but well within himself. Moreover, he's been staying calm when challenged and not getting caught up in any past errors.

The first few games of the final will be important and telling of the Czech's state of mind. If Berdy comes out relaxed he could potentially hit Rafa off Centre Court. But if he comes out nervy, the second seed will smell blood and draw the 6' 5" baller into extended rallies - a winning strategy for Rafa. So, make no mistake about it: Berdy will need to be on his 'A' game and serve/return well to have any hope of stopping the Matador on Sunday.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Justine Henin out two months with partial ligament fracture, will miss U.S. Open

Justine Henin has suffered a "partial ligament fracture" to her right elbow and will need two months to recover forcing her out of next month's U.S. Open and the "Best of Belgium" exhibition match with Kim Clijsters on July 8.

The injury occurred during the opening set of her fourth round match against Kimmie at Wimbledon this week. She received medical treatment for the elbow but continued to play on. She eventually lost 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

"This injury will keep me away from the courts for roughly two months, with the consequence that I have to withdraw from my US round of tournaments, including the US Open," said the 7-time Grand Slammer. "In four weeks, I'll take complementary medical examinations that will give me certainty about the end of this season."

Kimmie just confirmed Serena Williams as the replacement for Justine at the "Best of Belgium" exhibition over Twitter.

Let's hope she recovers well!

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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It's Serena Williams vs. Vera Zvonareva for the Wimbledon ladies' crown!

The dust has finally settled on the ladies' side of the draw and only two are left standing: 3-time champ Serena Williams and first time major finalist Vera Zvonareva.

The defending champ fell down an early break with the score at 2-4 in the first set due to stellar serving - particularly the lefty swing out wide on the ad and second delivery - and aggressive playing at the net by Petra Kvitova. But she managed to get back to 4-all with some strong playing of her own and forced a tiebreak which ReRe won 7-6 (5). The second set saw the 3-time champ grab the early break in the second and storm through the remainder of the set to clinch it 6-2 and with it another trip to the ladies' final.

Like Venus Williams before her, Vera Zvonareva fell victim early on to the crafty play of Tsvetana Pironkova. The Bulgarian moved her side to side with a deft mix of forehand slices, off-pace groundies and sneaky blast that kept Bepa off balance. Tsveta grabbed the first set 6-3 and the momentum going into the second. But the Russian kept a clear head and began imposing her aggressive game on her opponent firing groundies into the corners, pouncing on short balls and closing out points successfully at the net (29 of 35 to be exact.) More importantly, Bepa was serving well on both first and second deliveries and saved 3 out of 4 break point chances against her. The 21st seed marched through the final two sets 6-3, 6-2 as Tsveta's game caved under the pressure to reach her first EVAH major final.

This match will be the pair's seventh career meeting with ReRe holding a commanding 5-1 advantage in the H2H, though they've never met on in a grass-court tourney.

Here's what the top seed had to say about facing Bepa again:

Q. What's the biggest danger for you going into the final?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Just putting too much pressure on myself, I think. On paper it looks like I should win. But Vera, I've played her several times; she's beaten some good people. Her last two matches she's been down a set, so she's obviously a fighter. She never gives up. So I think that will be ‑‑ the biggest thing, is for me to stay positive and not put too much pressure on myself.

Q. How would you describe her game? What does she do best?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think she does anything terrible. I think that's the best way to describe her game. She does everything good, so... It's tough playing a player like that who doesn't really have one real weakness and everything pretty much is a strength, from her forehand to her backhand to her movement.

And here's what Bepa said about facing the 12-time Grand Slammer:

Q. Can you get more specific about what the key to you possibly having success would be against her?

VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, I will have to stay aggressive no matter what and not to let her dominate. Because when Serena dominates, she's very difficult to play. So, I don't know. It's too early to say. I will have to sit down and just talk to my coach a little bit and see what the best things to do. But I know that she's a great fighter. When I go on the court I will have to expect a very tough match, I will try to fight for every point, and I think try to make it difficult for her on every point. Try not to give her any points.

Q. How much of an advantage does her serve give her against anybody?

VERA ZVONAREVA: It's a very big advantage, I would say, especially here on the grass. But, uhm, I think if you can find the timing you can return it. You know, it's very difficult when she's serving well, but there are moments where she may not serve as well. You just have to use those chances. You know, if she served well, okay. You go to the other side, try to return the next one. But there will be moments where she doesn't make a first serve. I haven't seen anyone make a hundred percent of first serves. So then you will just have to take your chances then.

Q. Is there anything in your background, in your experience with her, that might give you particular confidence going in against her?

VERA ZVONAREVA: Uhm, I remember I played a very good match against her in Cincinnati one year, and I was able to beat her. It was a very, very tough one, but I think I was able to play the right way against her. So I will just have to try to do it again.

Let's face it - this championship is ReRe's to win or lose for all the obvious reasons like her pedigree, experience in these situations, a record-setting serving prowess, etc. Bepa has a solid game and has been playing the best tennis of her career but if you compare her best to the defending champ's best she loses big time. Plus it's a brand new situation for the 21st seed to be in a Grand Slam final so nerves will certainly play a factor at least early on.

That being said the Russian will make ReRe pay for any lapses in serving and isn't afraid to close points out at the net. She'll be the last one standing if the American has an off day.

And that's a big IF.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

PHOTO OP: On Rafire

"Somebody hose me down. No, really. DO IT."

Rafael Nadal looks to have caught fire after passing a very tricky test in the big-hitting Robin Soderling at Wimbledon today.

I wonder how much hair gel it took to get this look. Wait - why am I asking you guys? I should be asking Mahut. Where is he? Oh right, probably here.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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HE SAID/HE SAID: Wimbledon Day Nine

Q. Roger said he had some physical problems; that his back and leg were bothering him. What did you notice and what is your reaction to him saying that?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Yeah, I mean, I don't know if he just looking for some excuses after the match or something like that. I mean, it happened to all of us. You know, I think he's been every time when he played, he was I think hundred percent ready.

So maybe right now he's getting some more troubles with the health. But, you know, I think it just happen today. So I didn't know that. I just heard it first time like you said it right now. So, yeah, just to him hope that he's gonna get back soon and that's it what I can just wish him.

Q. He also said he was unlucky and that he definitely gave the match away. What are your thoughts about that?

TOMAS BERDYCH: I don't know in which point he was saying that he was unlucky, if any specific moment or something.

Q. He was saying generally or on big points.

TOMAS BERDYCH: Okay. I mean, yeah, maybe you can take it for both ways. You can say that he was unlucky or you can say that maybe the opponent was a little bit better and he just won the big points against him. In his position, then he lost the match.

You know, I think, yeah, he's a great player. I mean, but still, I mean, when I just read some newspapers in the morning, I was not surprised, but, you know, to heard something from him to the way that he's fine, nothing is bothering him. When we played the last match, I lost. But last time in Wimbledon, I won pretty easily. You know, stuff like that.

You know, I saw him quite first time from him the reactions like that. So whatever. I'm in different position. I'm just enjoying the win today, and this is just everything behind me.

Q. Will this [loss] make you hungrier to make you come back and show you can lift this title again?

ROGER FEDERER: Sure. God, I can't wait for Paris and Wimbledon to come around next year again, that's for sure. So, uhm, because they've been frustrating tournaments for me, even though it wasn't too bad.

Quarters is a decent result. Obviously people think quarters is shocking, but people would die to play in quarterfinal stages of Grand Slam play. It's not something I'm used to doing, losing in quarterfinals, because it's not something I've done in the last six years.

So I am winning my matches. Today was a different story than Paris. I mean, I think in Paris conditions were tough. Robin played fantastic. Today was different. You know, I was struggling with my own game and with my physique.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to a rest, and then attack again in North America.

Q. What concern do you have that the injuries will linger?

ROGER FEDERER: Not much of a concern.

Q. Do you feel you can get back to a position of domination in tennis?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I do think that. That's why I'm here.

Q. You were upset about the overrule call there. What did the chair umpire say to you? How did he explain that? You seemed to start playing very well after that. You had a run of points. What happened there?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, you know, for the umpire sometimes is not easy to make the right decision. For me today was too important point, because was 30‑All to make this drastic decision. For sure if you asking me if that ball affect me, I said yes. When the line say 'out,' I play the shot like this without.

I mean, was a mistake, but everybody can have a mistake. Yes, after that I played very good point on the breakpoint against. I was little bit lucky to do the break in the first game on his serve in the second set. After, I think I played a great match.

Q. You seemed very fired up or angry immediately after that point. Do you think it helped you, the call?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, no, no. Was an important moment for me, because if he did the break in the first game of the second, gonna be hard to accept for me.

But anyway, I gonna fight all the match. But I saved that point, and after that change everything. I think I started to play much better. He started to do a few mistakes, because in the beginning he didn't have no one.

I'm very happy. Very difficult and very important win for me.

Q. How are the courts playing? There's been no rain at all. How are the courts playing?


Q. Perfect?


Q. Just your conditions?

RAFAEL NADAL: Lot of clay behind the baseline (smiling.) You can move well, so... Perfect conditions.

Q. Do you think Rafa is playing as well this year as anyone? How does he compare, his level, as in the French Open?

ROBIN SODERLING: Well, I think he's playing well. He's hitting the ball very well. Of course, he's moving well, as always.

But, you know, it's very difficult to compare how he's playing on grass compared to clay. But he's the world No. 1, and I think he's playing pretty solid tennis. He's got a good chance to win this one.

Q. You say he has a good chance to win the tournament?

ROBIN SODERLING: I think so, yeah. I think everybody still in has a good chance. But now that Roger lost, I'd pick him as the favorite.

Q. You looked excited by your performance today.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it's really refreshing, you know, to perform this way I'd say after a while. You know, I was struggling with the level of my performance throughout the last five, six months. It was a lot of ups and downs.

But right now I'm playing great. It definitely makes me happy.

Q. You said the game has changed for you. You've been struggling for the last couple months. What has changed or turned the tide for you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don't think game‑wise I was far away from my maximum and from my top game in the last couple months. It was more like a mental struggle, I guess. I wasn't finding myself on the court. I was ‑‑ uhm, had too much distractions, meaning mental discomfort on the court; wasn't feeling great; had a lot of ups and downs.

But it's a part of the sport, part of the career. You just have to accept it that way. I'm sure everybody has been through that little mini crisis if you want to call it.

But it's important to take the best out of it and continue in the right way. That's what I did. I just want to look forward now.

Q. Now you got to one Grand Slam quarterfinal. Have you got more in you?

YEN‑HSUN LU: I mean, is great. Is great for me. Now I know how I can reach the quarterfinal. Is good experience for me.

And I cannot say next time I play the US Open or next time coming back I have to be quarterfinal. But I know, and I knew, how I have to be, then I can reach the quarterfinal.

So I like to coming back here again and to play good tennis and to be ready next year. And also I hope I can play next time against Djokovic again. I mean, probably he's now happy. Today's too easy for him. I mean, I will try my best next year, yeah.

Q. What aspects of your game do you think you have to improve to compete with guys like Djokovic today?

YEN‑HSUN LU: I mean, I think of course probably I need to find some way to get the points. I think we play a little bit similar, but he's playing more fast, more aggressive than me. Also the returns, I have to bring more back to him, then I have chance to play the points.

So, I mean, everything I have, I still have space to improve. I mean, I'm not just think, Yeah, is great, is finish my career. I know I have many things to improve. Serve, you know. Physically, forehand, backhand, everything. I have to discuss my coach, conditioning trainer also, to see what we can do the next.

Q. What are your thoughts on the keys to playing well against Nadal?

ANDY MURRAY: Well, you need to serve well and you need to play great tennis. It's not, you know ‑‑ there's not one way to play against him. You don't want to leave the ball in the middle of the court to his forehand, because you'll do a lot of running.

But you've got to serve well and, you know, try and, you know, keep a good length and play well really, really, really well.

Q. How much have you seen of Nadal here this year and what have you made of him?

ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I've seen him play a little bit. Not that much. You know, we've been playing a lot of our matches ‑‑ we obviously play on the same day, and you're kind of focused on your match and obviously preparing for that.

Uhm, I saw a little bit of his match against Robin Haase and a little bit of his match against Petzschner. I followed his match with Petzschner. I saw a bit of that.

He's playing great. He's in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and he beat Soderling today, who's, well, playing the best tennis of his career. You know, he's a great player, too. So he's obviously playing very well.

Q. Do you take any sort of psychological edge after beating him in Australia?

ANDY MURRAY: No. I think, you know, he would definitely be the favorite for the match, you know, with his results here the last few years.

You know, he obviously didn't get a chance to defend his title last year, but he's played three finals in a row and now he's in the semis here.

You know, he's obviously a very tough player on any surface, but he plays great tennis here. No, I mean, psychologically I need to believe that I can win the match. That's the most important thing.

Q. Everyone in England will get excited about Murray maybe winning Wimbledon. How do you rate his chances?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA: Yeah, I hope is gonna be him. I told him, you know, at the net, Make me a pleasure; go all the way, you know.

Yeah, I hope he will win because it's a good player. It's never easy to play, you know, in front of his crowd. He's really strong, and I hope he will win.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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(UPDATED) Federer falls to Berdych in Wimbledon quarterfinals

There must be something in the water over at the All England Club (or they're definitely handing out those wonky strawberries) because the upsets keep on coming at Wimbledon, with the latest shocker coming courtesy of Roger Federer.

The 6-time champ was upended by 12th seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 a day after 5-time champ Venus Williams was knocked out by Tsvetana Pirokova and two days after 3-time finalist Andy Roddick was ousted by Yen-Hsun Lu.

The Czech baller was in an aggressive mindset all match long attacking every part of the court with his blistering forehand and overpowering the top seed with his play especially when he put in a first serve. He cracked 51 winners to 44 for the Swiss and won 59 of 72 points (82%) when landing his first serve compared to 57 of 82 (70%) for Fed. Berdy also converted 4 of 6 break point chances while the defending champ only grabbed 1 of 6.

He'll face Novak Djokovic, who routed Lu 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, for a spot in Sunday's final.

An seemingly surly Fed was asked what went wrong with his game in his post-match presser:

Q. You beat him almost every time you played him. Was he any different?

ROGER FEDERER: Like I said, I think he was a bit more consistent than in the past. I lost to him in Miami this year, where it was a really tight match as well. But from my end, obviously, you know, I'm unhappy with the way I'm playing. I couldn't play the way I wanted to play. You know, I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue. That just doesn't quite allow me to play the way I would like to play. So it's frustrating, to say the least. Looking forward to some rest anyway.

Q. How do those physical things affect you the most?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, when you're hurting, it's just a combination of many things. You know, you just don't feel as comfortable. You can't concentrate on each and every point because you do feel the pain sometimes. And, uhm, yeah, then you tend to play differently than the way you want to play. Under the circumstances I think I played a decent match, you know. But I've been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now. It's just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions, you know. So if there's anything good about this it's I'm gonna get some rest, that's for sure.

Q. When did you first start feeling the problems?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, the leg came in the finals of Halle. That kind of never really quite got away from me. Came back a little bit after the first‑round match, and then went away again and just kept creeping back sometimes during the matches. The back's been feeling stiff the last five days, six days really badly. Also in the finals of Halle. It's just something that's been lingering on the grass. It's normal that the back tends to get stiff, you know, in the grass court season because you have to, uhm, go for many more lower shots. I've had that for many years. I think many players have it. But it's not just not nice when it doesn't go away and you can't play freely. That's what I was missing today.

He was also asked about Andy Murray's chances to finally bring the crown home. Check out his answer to that one:

Q. I wonder if you think this might be his year, given some of the really threatening players haven't been doing so well this year.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, true, Rafa played terribly lately; Soderling is not a threat either. He's got an easy ride to this victory, that's for sure. Djokovic can't play tennis anymore it seems like. Got to make your own work, please. Respect the players. Obviously Andy is a fantastic player and he's got all the chances to win here. We all know that.

One word: WOW. It's pretty disappointing to see a 16-time Grand Slammer blame injuries, which he never mentioned earlier in the tourney, and not the stellar play of his opponent for his loss. He's human and obviously disappointed by the loss but he was outplayed today - simple as that. Berdy performed well the entire match and kept his head together in the tight moments - something he wasn't known to do but has done well this year.

Plus, what's with those biting comments towards Rafa, Sod and Nole? Was he trying to make a funny?

Me thinks someone was handing out sour grapes in the presser today.

As for the other quarterfinals, Rafa beat Sod 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-1 and will take on Muzz, who ousted Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals. *grabs popcorn*

Here's a bit of what Pretty Boy had to say in response to Fed's post-match commentary. I'll have more in today's 'He Said/He Said' post...

Q. How do you feel about Roger after the things he said after the match?

TOMAS BERDYCH: No, I mean, yeah, it's just his point of view. That's what he said, and I don't care. I mean, it's just his opinion. So he needs to have some reasons for it, and that's what he said.

Yeah, that's what I said. I mean, yeah, just respect him in all points of what he did, what he achieved, everything. But, yeah, that's how it is. That's was his reason, what he said, and just leave it with him.

And thanks to reader Ashzulfi for reminding me that Fed will now drop to the third spot in the rankings for the first time since 2003 behind Rafa at the top and Nole who will supplant him at No. 2 when they're released on Monday. Double OUCH.

[Photo(s): Reuters]

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PHOTO OP: Anna Kournikova + Martina Hingis reunite for doubles duty

"It's like we never parted. Now gimme some sugah."

Anna Kournikova + Martina Hingis
reunited on the court for a legends doubles match at Wimbledon today - yes, I said a LEGENDS doubles match - to the delight of boys, men, some women and a handful of photographers in the pit.

The pair, who won the 1999 + 2002 Australian Open women's doubles championships, defeated the team of Anne Hobbs + Samantha Smith from Great Britain 6-2, 6-4 in the match. But really, did anyone even notice? The match, I mean?

Anyway, they sat down for a post-match presser and were asked how this reunion came about. Here's what Kourny had to say:
Uhm, well, we were talking with Martina about summer plans, what she was doing, what I was doing and stuff. She told me she was going to be around here in Europe, Grand Slams, doing Grand Slams here in Europe, then she was going to play TeamTennis, which I'm also playing. We just came up with the idea. We thought it was a really good opportunity.
Especially for me personally it's an amazing opportunity to be back at Wimbledon, my favorite grass courts. I haven't been here since 2002. I'm not getting any younger. So this is probably my last chance to play here, just to experience, uhm, being on the court with much less pressure than when you play professional.

Playing with Martina, I mean, I think we just picked it up today where we left off eight years ago. Last time I played was eight years ago. I had so much fun today. Kind of jittery a little bit. You don't know how everything is going to go. But I had an amazing time.
In fact, Kourny had tons to say to the apparent dismay of Marty. Read the rest of the presser here - it's actually kind of entertaining in a 'I-was-a-former-teen-tennis-idol' kinda way.

More photos from their reunion below!

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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SHE SAID/SHE SAID: Wimbledon Day Eight

Q. What memories do you have of Wimbledon growing up?

TSVETANA PIRONKOVA: Wimbledon has always been, you know, like a religion to me. And I don't think it's just for me. I think it's for all of the players.

Q. Why do you say that?

TSVETANA PIRONKOVA: Because Wimbledon is the first tournament. It's the oldest tournament. Growing up, every player is looking at Wimbledon. They say, One day I want to play there. That's like a dream.

Q. So when you think of yourself out there in the women's semifinals on Thursday, what is your reaction?

TSVETANA PIRONKOVA: Well, you know, honestly I still cannot believe that I reached the semifinals. This is truly like a dream to me, and I will try to enjoy it as much as I can.

Q. Do you think you have more to offer in the semifinal?

TSVETANA PIRONKOVA: I really hope that I have more to offer. I'll just try to do all the right things: to rest well, to prepare well for the next match. I'll just try to do my best and we'll see what happens.

Q. When you won yesterday, you said you felt you've been trying to play too many perfect shots, not settling for good shots. Was that something that affected you today at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I don't remember saying that. But, you know, I think a lot of those approach shots I was missing because I felt like I got a short ball literally every point.

I just felt, you know, you have to have the mentality on the short ball to hit the approach and be ready for the volley. And I felt like I didn't slow myself down enough, and I just kept trying to hit too good of a ‑‑ you know, you have to not want to win the point, especially when the ball's bouncing low.

On the grass, the bounce isn't always true, so you have to adjust your shot. I think I just let things start going too fast.

Q. Losses and wins both can be either triumphs of the emotions, mentality, technique, or strategy. Which would you say was most responsible today?

VENUS WILLIAMS: All (laughter.) Like I said, you know, I didn't bring my best tennis today. And sometimes, like I said, you really have to live in the moment. I got too caught up in the mistakes I was making instead of just letting it go and moving on.

I expect a lot from myself, especially at this tournament. When I missed a few shots, I think I just kind of, you know, maybe was a little too hard on myself.

Usually I stay, you know, for the most part, pretty positive. But, you know, yeah.

Q. What do you know about your semifinal opponent? Must be rather a surprise that you're not playing Venus, that you're playing Pironkova.

VERA ZVONAREVA: You know, obviously Venus is going to be always one of the favorite players here at Wimbledon. But if Tsvetana beat her today, she deserves to be in the semifinals. She played great tennis.

I played her in Moscow last year and I lost to her. I will try to remember that match. I know I was not playing my best tennis over there. I will just have to, you know, think about it a little bit and prepare myself the best I can.

I'm gonna try my best over there, just the way I was trying today, and then we will see what's going to happen.

Q. What were her strengths when you played her in Moscow?

VERA ZVONAREVA: I think she's all‑over‑the‑court player. You know, it's hard to predict what she's doing on the court. Sometimes she can slice; sometimes she can hit the ball; sometimes she can play slow; sometimes she can play fast. You never know what to expect, so you lose your rhythm. Then you start thinking maybe too much on the court.

I just know that in that match I will have to concentrate on myself and execute my game no matter what the score, no matter what she's trying to do. Just try not to look on the other side and try to concentrate on myself.

Q. What are the biggest things you think you need to work on between now and the Open?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Obviously what I always want to work on is my serve, and, you know, making sure that I get a higher first‑serve percentage.

But when you play girls who hit the ball hard, and especially women's tennis these days, everybody hits the ball hard and flat and deep.

I think I have the habit of probably not finishing my service motion to a full end because as soon as I land with my first foot, I'm already pushing back to be ready for that next shot.

So you have to make a choice. You want to be ready, you know, maybe a little bit later for the next shot because you want to have a higher percentage of serve. I'm really trying to work on that.

Obviously, you know, in practice it's going well. In matches, it's your habits that come back at the most important moments in the match.

Q. How do you feel about your next opponent, Kvitova?

SERENA WILLIAMS: She's a good player. I mean, I've actually thought she would get through in the early rounds. I'm not surprised that I'm playing her.

She is lefty. She's really, really good.

Q. What made you think she'd get through?

SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, early in the tournament, I saw her playing a couple rounds and I was like, Wow, she's doing really well. She was just hitting the ball so clean.

Obviously, when she beat Wozniacki I wasn't surprised, because I just saw how well she was doing and how well she was playing.

She's a really tough player, especially on grass.

Q. When you beat Azarenka 6‑0 in the second set, she said, I think Petra, that girl, played the best tennis of her life. Do you feel like you can play that kind of level all the time?

PETRA KVITOVA: So, yeah, I think so. I play now very well, my best tennis in my life, my career. But it's very, very hard to stay on this level. So I have to be focused for each match, for each point.

Yeah, we will see what will be in the future.

Q. The future is against Serena, who has won 12 Grand Slam titles. She has a lot of experience. She's very good on grass. How do you go into that match and play your best and not get so nervous playing on the big court against her?

PETRA KVITOVA: So, yeah, she is very good player, and she won here I don't know how many times. I lost against her in the Australian Open. So it was very quick.

But, yeah, I'm not favorite, so I can play just my game and just play and enjoy. So we will see.

Q. Do you think you can win the tournament here? Do you think you can be Wimbledon champion?

PETRA KVITOVA: No, I don't think. I don't think so, no (laughter.)

Q. Why not?

PETRA KVITOVA: So maybe it's two matches. But, yeah, maybe I can lose in the Serena. I don't know what I can tell. I don't think so, yeah.

Q. Martina, obviously with your skill level and with Anna, you could go into the main draw and be competitive.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: No, not me. She could be. Me, there's no way. I mean, I'm not ready for that at all.

Q. Why not just do it?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I don't think we would be.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: You could for sure.

MARTINA HINGIS: I haven't played that much in the last three years. For me it's less time being away. It's only three years. But still, I mean, you have to commit. The commitment is totally different.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Different mental commitment also.

MARTINA HINGIS: Being on the tour full‑time, you can't pop up and say, I'm going to come back and win Grand Slams, even if you have a great partner.

It's great fun to be out there again with Anna. We had some great times. We're sharing some good time again. Totally different ballgame.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: For me it would be impossible really physically to be on the tour. It even bothers me a little bit playing like today. I mean, it wasn't strenuous match. It was quite fun and giggly. I'm sure I'm going to feel it tomorrow and I'll be sore. Even to prepare for the specific tournament, the last two months, I've had to have therapy, like real therapy, every day for an hour, hour and a half.

This is just for kind of the fun matches. I would have to live in the trainer's room for three hours every day. I have five different things wrong with my back from two herniated discs.

MARTINA HINGIS: It's a good day off tomorrow.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: From two herniated discs to four cracks that I have. The right side is smaller than the left side.

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't want to hear it.

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: All kinds of weird stuff.

Q. What was the trainer coming on today for?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: (Holding her hand up.)

Q. What is it?

ANNA KOURNIKOVA: It's a blister that's like bleeding.


ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Really, that's it? Suddenly when I'm older, I'm enjoying the press conferences (laughter). I thought we were just getting started.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]

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