Google Down the Line!: 2010-09-05

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nadal and Djokovic to face off in the US Open men's final

He finally did it. On a picturesque day at Flushing Meadows, Rafael Nadal reached his first EVAH US Open final defeating Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. The top seed has been in devastating form the entire tourney not dropping a set to reach the final Sunday and today was no exception. He cracked 23 winners against 19 errors, had a 65% on first serves including 3 aces and made 15 of 23 net approaches.

Misha was comprehensively outplayed the entire match and seemed to be feeling the effects of his 5-set battle with Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. The Russians energy couldn't match the moment or his opponent's (but really, who can match Rafa point to point?) His only chance, which he took, came in the third set with the Matador leading with a break and serving at 4-3. He grabbed the break only to give it right back allowing Rafa to close out the match.

After his victory leap and post-match celebration he thanked the crowd for their support and gave a mention to the 9-year anniversary of 9/11. A touch of grace by the 8-time Grand Slammer.

In a match for the ages Novak Djokovic saved two match points to overcome Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 and reach his second US Open final. The Serb had lost to the 5-time champ in the 2007 final and at this same stage the past two years so he carried an orangutan on his back as he walked onto Arthur Ashe Stadium for this battle.

But he came ready to break that streak digging deeper than he ever has, striking back when behind and keeping an aggressive stance in the key moments - the biggest one being, of course, the final set. And what an epic final set it was. The pair showcased awesome offense mixed with spectacular defense and brave forays into the net. It was a shot maker's wet dream.

Speaking of shot making, Nole faced those MP's serving down 4-5 with class including a swinging FH volley winner and a FH winner down the line to get back to even in the game. He earned the only break of the set at 5-all and sealed the win when the second seed's BH went wide. Even the Serb seemed shocked by the upset staring in disbelief at his box for what seemed like an eternity then dropping to his knees to kiss the court.

Fed was undone by UEs (66 in total compared to 38 for Nole) particularly on his fave FH side in crucial moments and none bigger than in the 10th game of the final set when two errors on that side gave the Serb the break. He lives and dies by that stroke and today, as it's been in many of his recent losses, it failed to come through when it mattered.

So, anyone else's mouth watering for Rafole? Mine might be.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Q. Right now you don't seem to be very, very excited, but normally you are someone who emotionally gives a lot to the public, to the crowd. I've seen sometimes crying, sometimes smiling. I mean, what do you think is better, weakness, or is it strength to be very emotional?

VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, I play with passion, but I leave it on the court. Off the court, I'm very calm, and, you know, just not that emotional at all. The tennis is an emotional game. As long as you know yourself and you know which emotions are good for you, which are bad, you can use it to your advantage. That's it. I think that tennis is an emotional game and that you should show your emotions, because it shows that you are trying your best out there.

Q. Which match provoke you more emotions if you can remember in the past? Which one shocked you a little bit more than others?

VERA ZVONAREVA: Nothing shocked me. Nothing. I'm out there. I'm trying to do my best. I'm trying to play my best. Sometimes I'm happy; sometimes I'm not; sometimes, you know, I have to be hard on myself; sometimes I have to pump myself up; sometimes I have to say to myself that, Okay, it's time to relax. That's what I'm trying to do. If I say something wrong to myself, I just take it as an experience, and I know that in the next match I'm not gonna do it.

Q. If you had to go out for dinner with a Russian tennis person, which one do you choose between the women and which one do you choose between the men?

VERA ZVONAREVA: That's a tough question. We go eat out with a lot of girls, you know, during the tournament, Russian girls. A lot. With guys more...

Q. Pick one.

VERA ZVONAREVA: Why? You need a story? (laughter.) You want a story?

Q. Yes.

VERA ZVONAREVA: I'll pick Matt Damon. He might be -- he might be Russian in his next movie. (Laughter.)

Q. Were those two double faults in the tiebreak because of the wind or nerves or a little combination?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, obviously the tiebreak is a little more pressure, and it's just -- it was just tough to start serving with the wind behind you in the tiebreak. It was a lot easier to serve into the wind, I thought. On that side I was waiting a lot longer for the wind to stop blowing so you could get a good toss. Regardless, I've got to get it in and start the point.

Q. How much pressure did you feel coming into this match today? Did it raise as the match went on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Ah, I think -- I don't know. I mean, I have a lot of expectations for myself going into these kind of matches. Um, yeah, it's just a lot of different feelings you go through in the match, especially when it's a long one.

Q. Your schedule before, you didn't say anything about Fed Cup. Since you're playing Italy maybe, are you going to go or maybe not sure 100%?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I committed already. I just forgot to mention it. So I'm in. My name's on the roster.

Q. Will you be there, because it was also last year?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Last year I didn't commit. I couldn't go. This year is different. I've already said I'd be there.

Q. Seemed like you were missing a lot of forehands.


Q. Were you not feeling it today?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: No, I just think in general both -- also the serves, you know, there is a little bit of -- there was a little bit of everything today. You know, points where I played unbelievable and points where, you know, I even didn't know how come I put it with the frame. Yeah, it was just a day like this. I was really trying. I was really trying to move my legs even more, trying to get into this rhythm where I could lead in this game. But, you know, she was really strong today and she played really well.

Q. You've had a real long run. Are you tired now? Are you feeling weary?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Um, no, I'm actually not feeling too tired, to be honest with you. I wouldn't have minded playing one more match. But of course I'm sure that, you know, when I get to settle down a little bit of the adrenaline comes down and I know that I don't have anything the next couple of weeks, then for sure I'll feel a little bit.

Q. This is her second Grand Slam final this year, and she did not make the breakthrough at Wimbledon. What do you think will be the issues for her, do you think, in order for her to win it, you having played a final here last year?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: What she has to do to win it?

Q. What are going to be the decisive things, you think?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I don't know. It's tough, because, I mean, she's a great player. It's always tough. A finals, you never know what's gonna happen. It's a finals. She definitely has the chance to win it. I mean, she's a really, really good player. She's playing well, so I don't see a reason why she shouldn't be able to.

Q. Were you surprised about how much support you got out there? You're playing an American. Seems to me like you got about 50% of the support.

KIM CLIJSTERS: It's fun. Obviously, you know, there's a few people that you focus towards, and they're always there. You know, obviously it's my group, the box. But there's moments when, you know, when it's close and you really get the crowd into it and there's big points. I mean, it's fun. It's fun to play in these kind of situations. I mean, it's a lot more fun than playing at 11:00 with half of the stadium full. Obviously this makes you play better, as well.

Q. What are you expecting from Vera tomorrow?

KIM CLIJSTERS: Um, I mean, she's very tough opponent. Obviously I've lost my last two matches against her that we've played against each other, so it's gonna be a tough battle. She's a player who doesn't give you much. She's always there, hangs in there. It's not that she has a game that's very unpredictable, but what she does she does extremely well. So it's going to be a lot different match than it was today, I think, just because, you know, she just, yeah, has a really good backhand. She likes to go for it. She's been serving a lot better, you know, in the last few months that I've seen.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Clijsters overcomes Venus, Zvonareva waxes Wozniacki to reach the US Open final

In the marquee semifinal ladies' match at the US Open today, Kim Clijsters pulled a few rabbits out of her Fila hat coming back from a set down to defeat 2-time champ Venus Williams 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 and reach her third consecutive final at Flushing Meadows.

It was match short on high quality play but long on D-RAMA with the defending champ getting blasted off the court by V's serving prowess and attacking game in the opening set. Kimmie was able to grab the early break in the second set, though, only to lose it while serving to even things. Lucky for her the third seed may have wanted the win a little too much, imploding in the tiebreak and leaking errors including consecutive double faults to fall behind 0-3.

After wrapping up the second set tiebreak, the Belgian lady baller earned an early break in the the decider but gave it back while serving at 4-3 with a swinging volley that may have landed in Brooklyn (I can neither confirm nor deny its location. I just live here.) Apparently V was feeling generous and handed the break right back (although an extraordinary lob winner on break point was all Belgian) allowing Kimmie to serve it out.

I really thought this was V's time not only because she was playing well (not having dropped a set until today) and seemingly pain free but because Kimmie was so streaky in her play for most of the tourney. However, the second seed has been the mentally tougher of the two in their H2H of late and it showed again today.

Okay, so I got this one wrong, too.

Vera Zvonareva backed up her finals appearance at the All England Club by reaching her second consecutive Grand Slam final out-hitting and out-steadying top seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3. The Russian was in sublime form controlling the center of the court, running Wozzi to all corners and dismantling the Dane's fragile forehand with her fierce ground attack. In fact, she was hitting with such ferocity she broke strings on four, yes FOUR, racquets and almost ran out of sticks before they had a chance to be replaced.

But it wasn't all baseline bashing: Bepa made numerous forays to the net to close out points connecting on 13 out of 17 attempts. After cashing in on match point she ended not with the screech she let out after winning her Wimbledon semifinal but a knowing look to Coach Sexy in her baller box and a confident stroll to the net to shake hands with her conquered foe.

Wozzi was a shadow of the lady baller who announced herself as a true contender for the US Open crown by torching through her early matches including a beat down of former champ Maria Sharapova. Her stat sheets are usually pretty quiet and her ratio of winners to errors close when she's playing in full flight. However, the 20-year old racked up 31 errors to only 13 winners compared to 25 errors and 18 winners for Bepa.

She never looked completely comfortable out there, moving sluggishly and looking frustrated through the 85 minute match. She's young and hopefully next time she's in a position to get to a major final she'll grab the moment by the throat and never let go. Like Bepa did.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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HE SAID/HE SAID: US Open Day Eleven

Q. I have noticed that you always leave every part of the center court with the right foot first. Why do you do that?

RAFAEL NADAL: No, that's not true. You write that? You heard that?

Q. Every part of the court you put your right foot first.

RAFAEL NADAL: I didn't know that before. (Laughter.)

Q. You do it all the time?

RAFAEL NADAL: Oh, yeah? You know better than myself. (Smiling.)

Q. Can you just speak about your memories of 2006 against Youzhny and then just talk about the match coming up.

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, I remember it was a painful match for me, 2006, because I think I arrived at the US Open playing better than before, because I had a not easy summer losing, I think, in round of 16 in Toronto, and quarterfinals in Cincinnati maybe. 

So I arrived playing so so, but during the tournament I was playing better and better. I think I lost that match because I was too yeah, I was too anxious for a moments. Remain a little bit of calm, because the match started bad, one set for him. 

But after that I won the second, and I had a set point I think in the third with easy, easy ball, no? So, yeah, was very difficult match. He's a great player, very aggressive, very flat shots. This court I think adapts very well to his game, so he's playing very good tennis. Gonna be very difficult to beat him. That's what I can say. And I have to play aggressive, because if I am losing court against him, gonna be impossible to come back. 

I have to play aggressive, serve well, and try to put him away of his right position with my forehand.

Q. With Rafa playing so well here at the US Open, how does somebody beat him?

FERNANDO VERDASCO: Well, I don't know. Everybody have better days than on others. He's playing good, but I think that he will have a tough if I am not wrong, I think that he will play the final against Roger. It's gonna be a tough match, because I think Roger play really good in these conditions. He gonna be a very tough final for Rafa if he plays against Roger in the final.

Q. So you think Roger's about the only one who has the game to beat Rafa right now?

FERNANDO VERDASCO: Well, Novak is a player that also on fast surface like this one, he already beat Rafa many times, and he have also the game to beat Rafa. But, I don't know. I think if I need to bet here, I will bet for Roger. I think that he won five times here and he like these conditions.

Q. You know that most people, most tennis fans, will want to see Federer and Nadal in the final. Are you going to be a bad person and try and ruin that?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: Yeah, I'm ready to be bad person. I love to be bad person in this case. (Laughter.)

Q. You can possibly face Nadal. What do you expect of this matchup?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: First of all, for me, it's not so really well if I talk to play now against Nadal and he lost today and I will play against Verdasco.

Q. Let's imagine.

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: He's No. 1; he won two Grand Slams; he play really, really well; it will be very tough for me.

Q. Is it better for you to play him here on a fast surface?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: Of course it's better to play here or on clay. (Laughter.)

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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PHOTO OP: Hingis, Kournikova, Wilander and Cash get their exo on at Arthur Ashe

Anna Kournikova, Martina Hingis, Mats Wilander and Pat Cash put on a doubles exhibition on Arthur Ashe Stadium last night ahead of the Rafael Nadal-Fernando Verdasco quarterfinal match won by the top seed 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

There was a lot of hardware on the court with Chucky, Mats and Pat combining for 13 major singles titles. As for Kourny, well, she was great at doubs back in the day, winning 2 majors with Chucky at the Aussie Open, and now is great at doing stuff like this:

Listen. It pays the bills. More images from last night's exo below...

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Thursday, September 9, 2010


Q. How important is it if you have to play Caroline not to get frustrated, because it seems like she makes everyone play patiently?

VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, you have to be patient against her. She's a tough player because she reads the game well. So you have to be patient but still go for your shots. But, you know, you cannot get frustrated if you are playing against anyone. If you get frustrated, well, you will probably lose the match. Doesn't matter if it's Caroline or someone else on the other side of the net. I think you can -- you know, you should get sometimes angry with yourself. Sometimes you should pump yourself. But you have to always be out there and trying not to get frustrated against anybody.

Q. Will experience matter for you, or do you think that Caroline has enough experience now where you being on the tour longer and being in bigger matches is all that matters to you?

VERA ZVONAREVA: Well, I think Caroline's got enough experience right now. She's very mature for her age, and I think a lot of people are underestimating her. But she's going out there and she's doing her job very, very well. I can say she's very experienced, so it's, you know -- if I have to play Caroline, it's just going to be a tough match, but we both have been in those situations.

Q. What do you feel like when you look up and see your father with your picture on his T shirt?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Ah, I don't know. (Smiling.) He's a proud father. What can I say? I'm just happy to see them supporting me. I don't know where he got this fancy shirt. To be honest, it was somewhere in Belgrade. I cannot say it. He's my father. If he wants to wear this shirt, he can wear this shirt.

Q. Do you want one of those shirts, Novak?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I would never wear the shirt. (Laughter.) Me, personally, never. My father, I understand. Okay. He's proud. But me? Never.

Q. Will you get a matching one of him and he would have you...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I would have him; why not? Not myself. I don't like myself that much. (Laughter.)

Q. What are your plans from here? What do you yourself term as a successful tournament? What are your plans from here on out?

KAIA KANEPI: I go home I think for a week, and then I go to Tokyo to prepare. I play Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, and if I get to Bali, then also Bali.

Q. What are you gonna take away from your successful tournament here? What do you think was the best part that you learned about yourself making it this far?

KAIA KANEPI: The fighting spirit.

Q. Nadal versus Verdasco, he's 10 0. He's got the winner of Stan and Youzhny if he gets past Verdasco. Can you get the percentage chances of him not reaching the final?

ROGER FEDERER: Want an exact number or...

Q. If you want, but more or less.

ROGER FEDERER: I think he's the favorite. Huge surprise. (Laughter.) I mean, he's No. 1 seed, you know, so he's always gonna be the favorite on that side of the draw. But obviously he's also playing against guys who never won a Slam, never been in finals before, and so that's obviously gonna he's gonna fancy his chances. Plus he hasn't had the roughest of all trips into the quarters.

Then again, with a Saturday Sunday final, it doesn't matter until Saturday how you got there. If you're gonna play an epic maybe on Saturday, that's gonna really influence your chances on final day. That's what's rough about this format here at the Open. Nothing is safe until you're through, until you're in the final. Seems like he's playing real well. 

Yeah, it's hard to say who's gonna beat him out of that section. But then again, they didn't get there without playing well, either, those guys. I'm particularly happy for Stan, that he's had such a great run so far. I'd like to see him go further. The other guys will have their shot, but it's gonna be tough.

UPDATE: In case you haven't seen the aforementioned t-shirt on Srdjan Djokovic, here it is. You've been warned. (via Busted Racquet)

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Q. I couldn't hear what you said on court about your victory salute. Do you give it a name? What is it?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: What kind of name you are waiting? (Smiling.) Just salute for thanks for crowd, you know. Everybody a lot of guys are kiss their hands and say thanks, put racquet up and say thanks. I do like this one.

Q. Do you practice it?

MIKHAIL YOUZHNY: After I winning matches.

Q. You haven't beat her in seven meetings. Coming into this match and considering how well you were playing in the tournament, can you talk about your expectations in terms of facing Venus, and is it that much more disappointing to lose this one?

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Yeah. Is a lot of disappointed, because I have the chance and the quality real to beat her because she doesn't like to play with me. I play different ball; I push her in defense; I don't give her the chance to play how she want, so every time I think we have a big fight. I don't know what she thinks, but I can say the true, and that often is the difference between me and other players. I can tell you the true. If I am injured, I tell you I am injured. If I am good, I say I am good and she play better. So this time is for her, but I will find the way to beat her. Yeah, yeah.

Q. Is that the case then tonight, that she was just better? Is that what you're saying?

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Si. I think I lost a little bit more this match than she won. But in the same times, I can say that she serve so good. Is big arm is big part of tennis. And with wind, she has a little bit more chance than me. But for sure she play good in the most important moments. She serve when she had the possibility. She serve an ace. So we are two great athletes. One has to win; one has to lose.

Q. What's the scariest thing about Verdasco to you?

RAFAEL NADAL: Everything. He's a very complete player. He has all the shots and he's playing very well, no? Much better than he did last months, so gonna be very difficult match. I saw him play today, and I saw him play against Nalbandian the other day. He's playing very good tennis, so gonna be a very interesting match. I have to play aggressive, to play well. It not gonna be impossible, I think.

Q. Do you think you've got any edge just because of how long he spent on the court today?

RAFAEL NADAL: Well, I don't know. We don't know yet, no? We will see in one day and a half. I think we are fit enough to resist that. It was four hours?

Q. Four and a half.

RAFAEL NADAL: What? Four hours 23, so, yeah, was long, but I played in Australia five hours 15 minutes in semifinals, and I had to play the final one day later. So I was very tired, but I was ready. I think for sure he gonna be ready.

Q. [Schiavone] said in her press conference that you don't like playing her. I don't know how she garners that, but that's what she said.


Q. She said the reason was she pushes you to the wall; she shows you a lot of things that other girls don't; is that true? Do you not like playing her? Does she present certain challenges to you that, you know, that stand out?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I like seeing my name next to her name. I'm good with that.

Q. You're 7-0 against her.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. (Laughing.)

Q. I pointed that out, too. You come in, you're 7-0 against her over the years. You come into the match, and she was playing very strong tennis in this tournament and obviously earlier in the summer.


Q. What were your thoughts coming into the match facing her?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, I've played her for so many years. There have been times when she's had me down, but fortunately I was able to come back. I think, you know, when your record against a player isn't that great you have to keep positive, and, you know, do whatever it takes to get out there and play a good match.

She does that every time. I know when I play her I'm gonna have to play good tennis. I really do enjoy our matchups, obviously, because I usually come out on top. But I enjoy it.

Q. Could you kind of describe match point? That's a shot that is going to go down for a long time.

FERNANDO VERDASCO: Is tough to explain. You are just you are with your sixth sense in the ball, in the point, knowing how important is, and, you know, just trying to run, fight, all the balls. So when I did the backhand along the line passing shot, you know, I was like even surprised that he took the volley. Of course, my reaction was just keeping the point and start running forward. Because normally with these volleys it's a dropshot, no, you gonna make another long volley. So I start running, and I just saw that space. (Smiling.) You know, is tough. Is tough to explain, because is like really short period of time and you are just running and trying to get the ball. When you see there a little bit of space, you just try to put the ball in. It was like unbelievable.

Q. But was the space you were looking at actually between the net and the chair?

FERNANDO VERDASCO: I was just first trying to get the ball; after that, yeah, it was only space. He was in the middle of the court, so I didn't see a space to play crosscourt. I saw a little bit of space just on the top of the net, just in between, like you said, the chair and the net, and I just tried to put the ball inside, inside out no, outside in, and it's good. (Laughing.) So happy when I saw that the ball was going in.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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SIGHTING: Nadal visits the commies

Rafael Nadal made a surprise visit to the commentating booth joining Brad Gilbert + ESPN's Chris Fowler for the start of the Novak Djokovic-Gael Monfils quarterfinal match won by the Serb in straight sets 7-6 (2), 6-1, 6-2. He'll face the winner of tonight's battle between Roger Federer + Robin Soderling for a spot in Sunday's final.

The top seed offered an interesting insight into the much-discussed tweak in his service grip which has resulted in more speed and, most importantly, no breaks of his serve yet: He made a slight adjustment to his grip two days before the start of Flushing Meadows moving from a more Continental/backhand grip to an Eastern which offers a more straight-on hit and flatter stroke production.

A risky proposition. But so far, so good.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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PHOTO OP: Wozniacki, Serena and Federer take in Fashion's Night Out show

Caroline Wozniacki, Serena Williams and Roger Federer joined Vogue editrix and FedKad Anna Wintour, supermodels Gisele Bundchen + Naomi Campbell and actresses Julianne Moore + Blake Lively for "Fashion's Night Out: The Show at Lincoln Center", the largest public runway show in NYC organized by Wintour, which kicked off Fashion Week in New York City.

The show featured a closing performance of the single "Hot-n-Fun" by N.E.R.D. at the top of Lincoln Center's fountain.

It's always great to see the ballers who are competing take part in the fun + frivolity of Fashion Week and grab some time away from the pressures of the US Open.  I'm sure it's a good distraction, at least for a night.

Serena Williams

Anna Wintour, Blake Lively, Roger Federer

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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(UPDATED) PHOTO OP: Verdasco's hairy situation

"Hair gel. That is all."

Fernando Verdasco fell to his knees after coming back from 2 sets down and 1-4 down in the decider to defeat compatriot David Ferrer 5-7, 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the US Open quarterfinals. He'll face top seed Rafael Nadal for a spot in the final four.

So there's been a lot of talk on Twitter about the Spanish chorizo's hairy situation and whether he should shear his long locks. After seeing this photo is there really any more discussion needed? I mean, seriously?  

UPDATE: In case you missed it, here's Fer's incredible shot on MP. *gets chills*

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

PHOTO OP: Don't try this at home kids


Mikhail Youzhny almost sold the family jewels during his 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 win over Tommy Robredo in the US Open fourth round. The Russian equaled his best Grand Slam result this year after also making the same round at Roland Garros, losing to Tomas Berdych in straight sets. He'll face either Sam Querrey or Stanislas Wawrinka, who is leading the American 2 sets to 1, for a spot in the final four.

Gotta love the athleticism of the boys on tour. Just be careful, though. Those jewels don't come with a spare. But come to think of it, how much more awesome would life be with a spare? *dirty thoughts*

[Photo(s): Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images]
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SIGHTING: Celebrities watch Federer win his fourth round match

FedFans Gavin Rossdale + Gwen Stefani

Like Andy Roddick, Roger Federer can bring the stars out to Arthur Ashe Stadium as he did last night for his 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 fourth round win over 13th seed Jurgen Melzer. He'll face a huge obstacle, in all ways, on his path to a sixth US Open title when he battles Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals, a rematch of their meeting Roland Garros in the same round won by the Swede.

One quick note: It appears Gwen Stefani + Caroline Wozniacki are either sharing nail polish bottles or, worse, visiting the same manicurist. And we all know who's to blame. Carry on.

Alex Rodriguez

Cameron Diaz

Pete Wentz + Ashlee Simpson

Boris Becker

 [Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Monday, September 6, 2010

HE SAID/SHE SAID: US Open Days Seven + Eight


Q. Do you think Nadal is gonna be able to figure out how to win this tournament here in New York eventually?

FELICIANO LOPEZ: I don't think it's gonna be an obsession for him at all. He just come here to play his best tennis, and as he normally does. It's not gonna be an obsession.

Of course if he wins here he will have the whole Grand Slam because he won already three of them, but I don't think he has to, you know, be focused only on that goal.

Q. You're a friend. Do you think he will figure it out? Do you think he will do it eventually?

FELICIANO LOPEZ: He will probably do it. I mean, he's still 24. A lot of years to play, so he will have the chance. I think so.

Q. Sorry about the ridiculousness of this question, but they were making a big deal on TV about you tugging at your dress. You just didn't seem comfortable out there. I know it was windy, but was the dress bothering at all?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No. The only thing that bothered me was when I didn't win the point, I think. That was it.

Q. Speaking of your sequinned tennis dresses, I think they're gorgeous. It's become the talk of the Open. What color are we gonna see next?

VENUS WILLIAMS: I do have some more colors, but so far I've worn the colors I liked best. So we'll see how I feel in the next round if I just do a repeat or something new.

Obviously the dresses are super fun. It's just fun. Hopefully just as much fun as my game is, and seeing those kind of fun in big shots.

Q. What happens to the old dresses? Like do you store them somewhere? Put them on a wall? Honestly, are they just gone?

VENUS WILLIAMS: They get retired. A lot of times people ask me for them. There aren't many, so I don't really give them away. But like the Wimbledon museum asked me for one of my -- the Tina Turner dress. I think maybe the Tennis Hall of Fame maybe asked me for the can-can from the French.
So of course that's awesome when people ask me for those. But other than that, they get retired, and...

Q. Do they become rags that you use?

VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, historically I've saved like one of each dress. I do a lot of the organizing at the house, so I'll save one of Serena's, too. Lately she's taken over that. But I think at the end of the day, I think, you know, to have an exhibition of all the dresses we've worn, I think that be -- it would be very interesting, I think. Hopefully that will happen one day.

Q. Nadal said on the court you had a baby.


Q. Two days ago?

GILLES SIMON: Yeah. That's why I'm going to be short. (Laughter.)

Q. Boy or girl?


Q. Name?

GILLES SIMON: Timothy. Like Timothy in English.

Q. When is your flight home, and how eager are you to get home?

GILLES SIMON: As soon as possible. I don't know yet. But I had a great match to play this afternoon. I knew that if I lose, I will be home right after. So my coach is doing the booking. (Smiling.)

Q. Were you distracted at all by these thoughts on the court?

GILLES SIMON: A little bit. It's hard to focus for me the last three days. But I think I was playing good. The two first sets were nice. I had some problem with my return today. I missed a lot of return. And then the third set, I have to say that I was already in the plane. (Laughter.)

Q. I assume you grew up on a clay courts at home. How did you get so good on a hardcourt?

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: I think I have physically the possibility because I am fast. And also to keep going, to mix this kind of shot, that is my quality. Is not easy to play on hardcourt, so I think I put some problems to the players to play so different.

Q. With your spin?

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: For sure on the clay I have more time, so I can take you and go 10 shots, 20 shots, 30 shots. Here is not like this. But in the same way, I can do serve and volley, I can play faster, I can play slow and back. Is a mix. It's like Capricciosa pizza. I don't give you margherita, I give you Capricciosa, different kind of ingredient.

Q. There was a report this afternoon that the other day you didn't want to take one of the transportation vans that had a picture of Roger. Can you describe what happened?

RAFAEL NADAL: Yeah, well, if you know me, you know that I not gonna do. This is very stupid thing. I was in a van of the picture of Roger, both sides of the van, like 15 times these two weeks. (Smiling). So that's very stupid thing. That's never happen.

Speaking seriously, is better the other side. I want this car because is bigger, and I am more comfortable with this car than with the others. You can see the car of Roger's photo is there, is outside, is a van. So is much bigger than the other ones.

Roy know, the manager of the transportation, that I always want this car. So it was good.

Q. Did you get out of that car that had his picture or you stayed in it?

RAFAEL NADAL: I thought my English was better. (Laughter.) I said I went with this car 15 times.


Q. Did you have confidence in that third set when you were down a break that maybe you might not have had if you were down a break in the first set just because you had seen [Gasquet] be kind of shaky to that point?

GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, I was still confident. I won't lie, on that one set point, I had like to hit backhand passing shot. It was tough. But then when you save it, you know, for sure I knew if it was my set point and miss it like this, I knew like I will be thinking or this or that. Just try to be solid, put pressure for him. And also, Richard, he doesn't really like pressure. He love like good play, not play. He don't like a lot of crowd around, the crowd involved. He don't like see the opponent like show emotions. Just play with that, play a bit with his mind, and that was it.

Q. You won in three straight sets. Do you feel like it could have gone either way?

GAËL MONFILS: Yeah, it could have gone -- I mean, I could have got two sets down, for sure. Two sets down. But like I told you, I mean, my mentality today was to push him like hard in head and hard in physically and try to break him physically and break him in the head. That was my plan.

Q. You held your serve pretty easily at 3 2. The next two, three games you lost your range. Did the wind pick up?


Q. The second set.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, yeah. But you could say that about so many different areas in the game today. Like I said, I played two good points and then made two return errors. It wasn't like she was hitting 120 serves out there. You know, in those situations, I didn't really give her a chance to play. I felt like I was just giving it out there.

Q. What are your thoughts on the state of your game now, your return from the shoulder problems, what you foresee down the road?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think it just needs to be more stable and not so up and down, especially against an opponent like her. Uhm, you know, I need to string a few more things together than I did. It's all really capitalizing on what you have. You work hard for something, and then you let it slip away. I think I've just got to capitalize on that. Obviously, a bit unfortunate in the Grand Slams. I had my fair share of chances and didn't take them throughout this whole year in the big events. Uhm, you know, that's just the way it's gone. But keep moving forward, keep working hard.

Q. When we think back three years ago when you were the sensational finalist and the joker on the court, don't get me wrong, but it seemed easy came for you, a, of things. Is that right, or maybe a wrong...

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, depends really, because at that time I was a 19 , 20 year old kid who just didn't care much about pressure or anything and didn't know what's pressure and expectations. Just hitting the ball, being very aggressive and open minded and just playing great game. I think a lot of us wish to have this kind of attitude on the court and not thinking about some things, some side factors that can affect your game, which in this present moment is something I have to deal with. But on the other hand, the positives of me as a player today is that I have more experience, I'm stronger, I just played so many matches on the big stage. I still enjoy. I still enjoy even though I'm not doing my impersonations on the court or after, but I still very much enjoy what I do.

Q. So you described how there was no pressure then. What's the pressure like now, and how are you dealing with it?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, you know, once you get mature, then you experience some things in your life, and, you know, you get to the stage when you're one of the best players in the world. Then you're not coming in Grand Slams anymore as somebody who is young and kind of the first 30, 20 in the world and not expected to go far and you don't have that amount of expectations on your back. On the other hand now, you know, you're getting into the tournaments and matches as somebody who is expected to win most of his matches he's playing on, and getting to the late stage of the second week. So that's something you have to deal with, and everybody deals with it. It's a challenge you have to overcome, and it makes you mentally stronger. So right now I learned over this year and a half how to deal with it and just happy with the process.

Q. How important is it to look good on the court for you?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Well, I'm so lucky that I am the face of adidas and Stella McCartney and I have my own special line that no one else is wearing. I think that's really nice. For me it's important to feel good on court and of course to look good. Then I can focus on my tennis at 100%.

Q. In this case, don't you think it's a bit short, your dress?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I think it's nice. I definitely am sure I'll get a lot of male fans now (laughter).

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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