Google Down the Line!: 2010-09-26

Saturday, October 2, 2010

PHOTO OP: That's no child's pose

"The things I do for money."

Here's Novak Djokovic giving us his best power shot during an exhibition with Andy Roddick in Seoul today.

Why do you make it so easy for me, Nole? Not that I'm complaining, of course, but WHY?!

It looks like I wasn't the only one enjoying the show though:

More photos from the exo after they jump (click the head.)

Thems are the breaks for Nadal

Rafael Nadal couldn't catch a break, or rather covert a break, when it really mattered today and was sent packing from the Bangkok semifinals by compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

The World No. 1 was only able to capitalize on 2 of 26 break point opportunities during the 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 defeat to his compatriot, bringing back memories of the US Open final - the last tourney he played - where he only converted 6 of 26 against Novak Djokovic. Of course he managed to win that (big) one but made a telling prediction during his post-match presser saying, "Yeah, on the statistics of the ATP I was No. 1 on breakpoints converted, so I think after this tournament I [won't] be No. 1 on breakpoints converted." No doubt.

Could it be possible his opponents have begun to find a chink in Rafa's muscular armor e.g. his lack of a strong return on hard courts? He seems to have difficulties with the backhand return on the rough stuff, opting for a chip rather than a drive, giving his opponents time to set up an aggressive stance off his return. From that point on it becomes very difficult for him to grab the initiative in the rally.

It's too early to say yet whether this is a coincidence or the beginnings of a worrying pattern for Rafa. He's playing the next two tourneys on the hard stuff - Tokyo + Shanghai - so it's surely something we'll all be watching.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Friday, October 1, 2010

FRIDAY FUNNIES: The Mallorcan Massacre

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PHOTO OP: Surprise!

"Somebody pinch(ed) me."

Former World No. 3 Elena Dementieva, who now sits at No. 10 in the WTA rankings, seemed to shock even herself after reaching her first final since Kuala Lumpur back in February defeating Roland Garros champ Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-5. She'll face off against Caroline Wozniacki, who gave up a 5-0 lead in the decider before finally closing out Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4, for the title.

Elena has become such a sympathetic figure on the tour particularly after her heartbreak in Paris earlier this year. But even before that moment, the well-read Russian always came across as someone who worked extremely hard at her game (was there any other way to fix that serve?) but never got the big pay off she deserved. And her fans. The ones who, even though she's ballin' big and torching her draw, live with the dreaded feeling that something will go terribly awry. And they're usually right.

Let's be honest, though. The 28-year old has had her chances including two major final appearances. Will she get another opportunity to enter the tennis history books? It's hard to say. Elena will need a few things to fall in her favor during the two weeks of a Slam for her to make that breakthrough. There are some who have completely written the Russian righty off, though, and point to this year's Roland Garros as the last, best chance she had at winning that maiden major. But I have only one thing to say to those doubters: SCHIAVO.

[Photo: AP]

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

PHOTO OP: Now what's wrong with a little love between two girlfriends?

"I wish I knew how to quit you..."

As you guys know I'm a huge proponent of MOMA on the ATP World Tour. There's just something about two boy ballers basking in the afterglow of their intensely physical and heated tennis making. It always brings a big smile to my face and a few other places to see them whispering sweet nothings in each other's ears while embracing in a pool of sweatiness, muscles protruding and eyes firmly locked at the net. Uh *ahem*, where was I?

Oh yes. The girls. Let me be clear: I have no, I repeat NO, problem with LOLA (Exhibit A.) It doesn't make me want to grab my tissue box (I'm a clean freak) but I can see how it would for some. I guess there's some sort of HAWTNESS given off when two lady ballers - that being besties Caroline Wozniacki + Agnieszka Radwanska - get all huggy-huggy and their mammies get all squoosy-squooshy at the net particularly when one is forced to retire from a match with injury (A-Rad) in the quarterfinals of an event like Tokyo.

This LOLA moment should come as no surprise to their fans since these two are very close and do lots together. Now I didn't say they do EVERYTHING together because that would be a complete fabrication on my part. But they have been known to vacay together topless on occasion:

Geez, must be uber-awesome to have a friend, who you'd feel completely comfortable flashing your mammies at, on tour with you for support. Kinda like your fave bra!

You see? That's what friends are really for.

More Woznieszka Tokyo LOLA after the jump (click the headline damnit.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PHOTO OP: Losing my religion

"I pray that tennis becomes a shirtless sport. For my fans, of course."
Is there any better way to start the day than coming face to screen with sweaty, glistening baller flesh in the form of Fernando Verdasco? It's like the Christmas mornings of my youth. Oh Santa, you really shouldn't have but I'm so glad you did.

Here's the Spanish chorizo in his fave get up - shirtless - at the annual Thai boxing exhibition to promote the Thailand Open. He was even joined by former Top Tenner Paradorn Srichaphan.

Word of advice Fer: NEVAH change.

Seriously, how can I get his job? I promise to keep my eyes above the waistline and massage Fer's feet like he's doing. That's what he's doing right??

A few more pics of the shirtless Spaniard after the jump (you know what to do.) 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

VIDEO VAULT: So you think she can dance?

Click here to watch the full video
It's Shrieka doing the dorky dance. And she's really good at it. Shocking, I know.

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TENNIS magazine hit by layoffs, print work to be outsourced

Tough times for TENNIS magazine.

The word going 'round the Internets is that there have been at least four layoffs at the print arm of the pub, not including Peter Bodo + Steve Tignor who are said to be safe. The website will continue to run while print work is being outsourced to

I noticed the alarming lack of ad pages all the way back in September 2008 so this news doesn't come as a surprise. They did a really good job of getting this far in a tough economy but I don't think it'll go much further. I would bet by next year TENNIS will be fully online.

I'll make sure to update this post as more news becomes available. Feel free to contact me, though, if you have any more info at DownTheLineTennis[at]GMail[dot]com.

[Photo(s): TENNIS magazine]
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PHOTO OP: "Goo goo lady gaga"

Here's Gilles Simon, who just ended a 51-week title drought by winning Metz last weekend, with his partner, Carine Lauret, and their new baby boy, Timothée, who was born four weeks early on September 2nd.  

Sneaky was competing at the US Open at the time of his son's birth, and after going down to Rafael Nadal he admitted he was a little bit distracted in his post-match presser. I bet he was. Also, check out the look of utter amazement and wonder on the his face. I guess being a first-time daddy will do that to you.

One more shot of full-on cuteness below.

[Photo(s): @FootFault]
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Juan Martin del Potro

The most important thing today was the wrist, and it was perfect.

- Juan Martin del Potro after going down to Olivier Rochus 7-6(7), 6-4 in the first round of Bangkok. It was his first match since losing in the fourth round of this year's Aussie Open to Marin Cilic

That's the news I was hoping to hear. I couldn't have cared less if you ended with a win or a loss today - just very happy to have you back you big boob!

[Photo(s): AP]
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SIGHTING: Nadal makes a tour of it in Thailand

Rafael Nadal finally hit the practice court after winging it into Thailand and taking a lengthy vacay with family and friends. He has a bye into the second round of Bangkok and was drawn to face a qualifier on Thursday.

Before returning to the courts, though, the World No. 1 participated in an anti-global warming project called "One Million Trees for the King" which featured a tree-planting ceremony in Hua Hin in honor of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej today. He'll be visiting with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at the Government House tomorrow.

Over the weekend Rafa traveled to a beach in the Prachuab Khirikhan province and offered lotus flowers to a Buddhist monk. He doesn't speak much about his spirituality but recently gave some insight to Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim on his beliefs:

"It's hard to say, 'I don't believe in God'" said the 24-year old. "I would love to know if God exists. But it's a very difficult thing for me to believe. I don't know. It's private and I don't want to speak about it, but I say, "If God exists, you don't need [to cross yourself] or pray." If God exists, he's intelligent enough to [do] the important things, the right things."

More images from the practice and the tree-planting ceremony after the jump (click the headline y'all.)

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The 40-year old victor

How dare she.

Kimiko Date Krumm, the now 40-year old lady baller (this is based on Tokyo time - Happy Birthday Kimi!), grabbed her fifth Top 20 scalp of the season this time off the multi-million dollar head of defending champ Maria Sharapova who she upset 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of Tokyo. It's like she doesn't realize she started playing before some of the WTA pros started breathing. What's more, Kimi isn't phased by all this talk of power in the ladies' game and how it's changed the game for better or worse. Her response seems to be, "Who the hell needs it?"

The ladies can hit powerfully and the game has become more physical but the newbies and oldbies can still hang. That's not a knock on the WTA tour, though, or a reference to the perceived lack of depth or mental toughness amongst the lady ballers. See, what's so awesome about Kimi's recent achievements is she has given old-school tennis a small, but very effective, place in the modern game.

Of course, supreme fitness - which was born during The Age of Williams - has been key to her big wins this year including on the red clay of Roland Garros against Dinara Safina and against Shrieka, who reacted to the loss by saying, "It takes a lot to come back and Kimiko is extremely fit." Take that fitness, then, and mix in a dash of savvy court sense, an ability to close at the net and a big heart and you've got win.

Let's be real, though: Kimi's not winning any Slams. We all know it. But could a development coach or an aspiring mom or dad coach learn a few winning strategies from a 40-year old with the gall to brandish a continental forehand in a world of westerns? Well, duh. Kimi obviously has tons to teach them.

[Photo(s): Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images]
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ATP art school

Click here to view the video
To celebrate their entry into the Elite Eight for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals each baller who qualifies will use his racquet-slugging skills to create a self-portrait showcasing one of his signature moves.

The ballers will hit paint covered tennis balls against a large, blank canvas with a stencil of the sig-shot placed over it to create these one-of-a-kind, autographed pieces. Once they're all completed the portraits will be publicly displayed and auctioned off for charity.

Rafael Nadal + Roger Federer are the first two ballers to qualify for the WTF and had the opportunity to create their self-portraits. Here are the results and a bit of what they had to say about the experience:

"Making the artwork was fun and something I've never done before. It's a great way to celebrate the World Tour Finals coming back to London. It was a little bit of a challenge to put the balls on the silhouette! Of course this is the least we can do for charity and for those who need it the most. It's very important that people in our position help those who really need help. I'd like to thank everyone for the support they give us." - Rafa

"It was great fun being invited to create my self portrait and I'm excited to see how the finished piece looks. Raising money for charity is always a great thing so already I would like to thank people who will buy these pictures and it's going to be for a good cause. I'm happy I can help a bit. I am very happy as it is the ninth consecutive year I have qualified for the year-end event. I have played in a lot of different venues during my career and I can say they staged a fantastic event at The O2 last year. I look forward to returning there in November and finishing the season strong." - Fed

The Rafa sig-shot is perfection. But I have to question their choice for the Swiss. How about a forehand shot or, better, a tweener? I mean, it's been ALL the rage of him recently. This one? Not so much. It's more Pete Sampras to me.

[Via: barclaysatpworldtourfinals]
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