Google Down the Line!: 2011-03-20

Saturday, March 26, 2011

FASHION FIX: Fila offers tank + tee to benefit Japan's relief efforts

Here's the Fila tank top Kim Clijsters was wearing during last night's event to benefit Japan and its recovery. It's only available for purchase this weekend at Fila's shop at the Sony Ericsson Open. The women's tank retails for $28 while the men's t-shirt (not pictured) will run you $30. All proceeds from the sale of these items will benefit Japan's relief efforts.

So if you're lucky enough to be in Miami taking in some world class ball bashing at the SEO make sure to swing by the Fila store and check them out!

[Photo(s): Fila, Getty Images]
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PHOTO OP: He's got wings!

The Falcon has landed.

Novak Djokovic and his latest, greatest hits made their hilarious entrance into the Sony Ericsson Open for their opening round match last night in Miami. The Serb donned the helmet and goggles from his recent HEAD masterpiece and carried his racquet in a hard shell case with a shout out to his sponsors Facebook page. You guys, I need a Nole in my life. Seriously.

He and a number of other ballers including his opponent Dennis Istomin also wore red t-shirts with Japanese flags to acknowledge the devastation in Japan; the ballers walked the stands to collect donations from fans for the relief efforts:

All told they raised $300,000 including contributions from the WTA women's tour, the ATP World Tour, the International Tennis Federation and the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Nole took to Twitter after crushing Isto 6-0, 6-1 (extending his winning streak to 19) saying, 
Had a loooot of fun tonight on the court. Especially coming in with suitcase,glasses,hat.. Hope you guys liked it too :-)) p.s. It worked !
I know I'm biased but the tennis community, led by Nole, deserve HUGE props for the attention and effort they continue to give towards the relief efforts in Japan including the football/soccer match and gala dinner. And like Rafole, a number of the top ballers recorded video messages of support to the stricken country (to be released shortly.)

Whenever there's a global crisis you just know the tennis world will come together and show support. Kudos.

More images from last night after the jump - click the head.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yup, it's worse

Luke: "I don't believe it."

Yoda: "And that is why you fail."

The slow slide into insanity continued today for a befuddled Andy Murray in Miami as the Brit baller fell to American qualifier Alex Bogomolov, Jr. 6-1, 7-5 in his opening round match. He stumbled at the same hurdle last year as defending champ - not the record he was looking to match me thinks.

"Wait a minute. He's ranked WHAT?!?!"
The fifth-ranked Muzz has now gone 0-9 in sets dating back to the Australian Open finals - a worrying stat for someone of his quality particularly since his loss today and at Indian Wells (to Donald Young) were to ballers ranked outside the Top 100 (Donald was ranked 143rd; Alex is ranked 118th.) He's not even winning sets off these guys and almost ate a bagel in the first set today.

So what's going on here? 

Well, Muzz may have given a clue in his post-match presser today saying,
I was trying to get myself back into the match, trying to find ways. But I just didn’t have that spark.
Ah, yes. That "spark" as in that desire, will and belief perhaps to push through tough moments in matches and pull out the win when your game is faltering. Muzz seems burnt out from his own self-induced pressure. Sure, he feels it from the media and fans but he's his own worst enemy. A frenemy, if you will.

"Mine eyes are empty."
And let's not underestimate what that loss to Novak Djokovic in Oz did to him. As much as they talk publicly of being good friends after coming up together, they're fierce competitors at heart. I'm sure it was tough for Muzz to watch his boy grab a Grand Slam first but even worse to lose a third major final to him, too. Not cute. He's falling further behind quickly - as if he needed more pressure. 

Too bad Yoga isn't available for coaching. He'd smack some sense into Muzz (who's kinda reminding me of petulant Luke in that clip above) not to mention making him raise crazy shit with his super Scottish powers. Plus, he wouldn't look half bad in a headband and adidas track suit. Don't get it twisted, y'all.

[Photo(s): Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]
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THE LOW DOWN: Former tennis pro reveals sexual abuse by doubles Hall of Famer

Now, here's a sad story that began circulating around the Internet yesterday.

Heather Crowe Conner, a former tennis pro who, according to a story in the Newburyport News, "played numerous times at Wimbledon and the US Open" broke her silence last week about a secret she had been keeping for the last 35 years: She had been molested and raped by her tennis coach for 15 years.

This tennis coach was not just any old pro at her local club or park, though. Conner reveals he was "a Hall of Fame tennis star widely considered 'the best doubles player in the world' and someone who had won 'many Grand Slam tournaments.'" The tennis pro, who was married at the time, became her traveling coach in 1975 when she was 14-years old. She recalls the abuse beginning shortly after they began working together and continued into her adult years. Although she managed to have a successful tennis career for several years she believed it was "directly linked to her 'special' relationship with this man."

Last year, she took an extended medical leave of absence from her teaching position to undergo intensive therapy to deal with the abuse and its effects on her life.  Conner made attempts to file criminal charges but the statute of limitations on the alleged abuse had expired and her abuser would need to be extradited from South Africa where he currently resides. Nevertheless, she has continued to work on healing herself and according to the article believes "speaking publicly about her experience is a step in her healing process." Let's hope, though the road to recovery will be long no doubt.

So, let's face the elephant in the room: Who's the person Conner has accused of the abuse? She doesn't say, of course, but there are enough clues in the article to go on including 36, his age in 1975 when they first met - he'd be either 71 or 72 now; he's a Hall of Famer and multiple Grand Slam winner in doubles; he was married at the time and now resides in South Africa.

Here's a list of Hall of Famers from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum website. I think if you do some quick research you could probably figure it out.

[Photo(s):, Bryan Eaton staff photographer]
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FASHION FIX: Sharapova makes a "Statement" in her return to Miami

I'm not kidding when I say this: Her arm in that top right shot looks as long as my leg. Good GAWD woman.

Anyway, Maria Sharapova played her first match at the Sony Ericsson Open in three years last night defeating Croat Petra Martic 6-3, 6-2 in 66 minutes. The 3-time Grand Slammer had missed the tourney due to injuries but was thrilled to be back:
It has been way too long. This is one of my favorite events. It's crazy I've missed it this many years. I'm just so happy to be back. I love playing in front of this crowd, they're so enthusiastic. They love their sports and have that Latin flavor. It's fun.
Smart girl. She loves the chorizo, too.

Shrieka also busted out a new Nike dress for her return to Miami: the Maria Sharapova Cross Court Statement Dress ($110) in chlorine blue, copa and bronze. It features a side split hem for increased ventilation, Nike's Dri-FIT technology to help wick away sweat keeping those who wear it comfortable and bronze screen printing on the front and back for texture and contrast:

I'm liking this chlorine blue color on Shrieka. It works well against her fair complexion and softens her up a bit. However, the best part about this dress is the simplicity of the design. There's nothing tricky or complicated in the execution like we've witnessed in her more recent attempts - just a tank dress with a beautiful racer back. The tonal color palette is also a nice change from the color blocking they were using previously. It's a bit ironic they've named it the "Statement" dress when really it's the subtlety that makes it work well.

In any case, let's hope her game and not her fashion starts doing the talking. And soon, please.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anything you can say, I can say better. Love, RF.

"Maybe she missed the London World Tour Finals. Maybe she was somewhere else climbing Kilimanjaro."


That would be none other than Roger Federer cracking funnies (sorta) and responding to the comments made by Martina Navrativlova recently about his chances of regaining the top spot in the world rankings.

While speaking to the media at the launch of the Liverpool International Tennis tourney, the 18-time Grand Slammer made her thoughts known on the state of the Swiss' game and whether he could regain the top spot ever again:
"Roger is on the other side of the float, I don't think he'll ever play as well as he did three or four years ago - that's not to say he can't still win a slam, but it's difficult to see him climbing back to number one.

"Nadal is dominating and Djokovic's confidence is off the chart. Roger has lost three matches (this season) to Djokovic and lost to him at US Open last year as well, it will get under his skin." 
Maybe Andy Roddick was talking to you, Martina. But seriously, if anyone understands what it is like to be where Fed is right now it would be a legend, a former No. 1 with 18 Grand Slams under her belt. I think she has a pretty good idea of how a champion tennis career begins, evolves to the glorious middle and ends in high praise and a Hall of Fame refrigerator magnet (or something else meaningful.)

She also has a pretty good idea of how difficult it is to get back to the top once you've been knocked down a few pegs by some hungry (and sexy, if I may say so - and I did) younglings with more stamina and strength than you can or care to muster up anymore. AND. She knows how difficult it is to not only to admit this obvious truth in public (perish that thought) but also to the champion's own mind: age is not your friend in tennis. It's the natural order, and at some point the end begins.

But, understandably, if said champ is currently playing at an elite level and challenging for tourney titles and majors then why would he want to admit any of this to anyone especially himself? I doubt Martina did.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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PHOTO OP: ATP ballers hit the pitch for Japan

Some of the top ballers on the ATP World Tour came together for a friendly football/soccer match at the Ranson Everglades School in Miami to raise funds for the relief efforts in Japan. The tennis All Stars were defeated by the Fort Lauderdale Strikers 4-2 in the 40 minute charity match.

Novak Djokovic was captain of the team that included Kei Nishikori, Feliciano Lopez, Juan Monaco, Richard Gasquet, Viktor Troicki, Andy Murray, Marcos Baghdatis, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jurgen Melzer. Baghs scored first and was voted MVP while Muzz scored the other goal in the match.

Alexandr Dolgopolov, Potito Starace, Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, David Marrero, Fernando Verdasco, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer were on hand as alternates.

Afterward, the ballers headed out to the gala dinner which raised $10,000 for the relief efforts. Craig Hickman, who writes Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog, has been providing coverage for Tennis Panorama and was on site for the event. He provided some great commentary, photos and videos (more to come.) Check out their Twitter timeline @GVTennisNews for last night's updates and for further Sony Ericsson Open coverage. It's been awesome!

If you'd like to contribute to the relief efforts visit the Red Cross website.

More images from last night's match below and after the jump - click the head.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Andy Roddick

Anyone who wants to criticize Roger for the way he's playing tennis right now better be very, very good at his job.

- Andy Roddick at his Sony Ericsson Open presser today

Was he talking about you, Bodo?

[Photo(s): Jeff Gross/Getty Images]
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SIGHTING: Brooklyn Decker's new 'do

Tennis WAG Brooklyn Decker was spotted in Miami with a new shaggy bob courtesy of celebrity stylist Ted Gibson. The model/actress is in town to cheer on hubby Andy Roddick during the defense of his Sony Ericsson Open title.

Love. It. Oh yeah, I asked out loud what A-Rod thought of his wife's new 'do over Twitter. I'll get back to you when he gets back to me. *wishful tweeting*

Two more images of Brooklyn after the jump - click the head.

PHOTO OP: SEO Baller Party blue carpet lady looks (with Boy Bonus!)

Follow my updates on Twitter @RawUncutTennis and Facebook here.

 Try saying that 10 times quickly...

The Sony Ericsson Baller Party - one of the biggest events of the year - happened last night at the Paris Theater in Miami Beach and, as usual, there were some hits and some "WTFs?!" on the blue carpet. Let's take a look!

Maria Sharapova: Shrieka looks like she's going out to a luncheon with the ladies and not hitting up a major party scene. Must be the engagement. The multi-striped top style with sheer panels and the strappy heels are working for me but the color washes her out. Even her hair and makeup seem too casual.

Caroline Wozniacki: I'm having déjà vu. I swear I've seen this dress before - not necessarily on her but on some other lady baller. In any case, the ocean/seaside-inspired print is fitting for Miami Beach and the colors fit her personality. I oppose the shoes.

Jelena Jankovic: There seem to be two separate outfits going on here - a floral moment on top paired with packing tape on bottom. That being said, this outfit shows off her fierce body nicely. Mladjan be very happy.

Venus Williams: So happy to see her! That is all.

More lady ballers and their outfits after the jump - click the head.

VANtage Point: Breaking down the Sony Ericsson Open

Hello, and Happy New Year! Granted, that sentiment might be a little late, but this is the first VANtage Point of 2011 and it would be rude for me to proceed without the proper salutations!

And if you’re wondering what VANtage Point is, it’s where guest blogger Van from Tennis Talk, Anyone? (that’s me) pops in on DtL and gives a breakdown of some of the biggest events on the ATP and WTA calendars. So let’s get into it, shall we? First, with …

This Week’s Spotlight: I’m taking my tournament-predicting talents to South Beach* - the scene of the Sony Ericsson Open - and what many in the tennis world consider the unofficial “Fifth Slam.” The defending champs are Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters who are both back in the field with all of the game’s elite. You know, players like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Caroline Wozniacki, Novak Djokovic and Vera Zvonareva—yeah, those guys!

Players to Watch: It’s funny to write this but keep your eye on that Federer fella. It’s hard to gauge how his season has gone so far: He’s made deep runs at every event he’s played—as he’s apt to do—but he keeps losing to Djokovic, who even took away Fed’s number-two ranking after capturing the crown in Indian Wells last week. Djokovic has a nice big bagel sitting in the loss column for the year, but can he keep the run he’s going on through Miami? Also, watch out for Andy Murray, who could possibly be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him seed in Florida.

On the women’s side, I’m going to actually point out a whole quarter for you to watch! Check out the one where Zvonareva is the high seed. I think there are all types of players that could get far in the draw that aren’t the world number three. She could go out in the second round after playing the winner of the Dinara Safina-Jelena Dokic first-rounder. You also have last week’s Indian Wells finalist, Marion Bartoli, lurking. Higher up in that quarter, top-10 seeds Francesca Schiavone or Agnieszka Radwanska have a great shot at getting to the semis.

The Final Fours: For the men on the top half, I’m going with the dream match-up—Federer vs. Nadal with Federer winning. On the bottom half, I have a little bit of a surprise with Stanislas Wawrinka over Djokovic. As for the women, on the top half, I like Wozniacki to take out Svetlana Kuznetsova, then Schiavone falling to Clijsters.

And the Winners Are … : Federer and Clijsters: two future Hall-of-Famers getting it done. Enjoy the tournament.

*And a special kudos to you if you can figure out where I got that asterisked sentence from, tennis fans!

Van Sias writes the blog Tennis Talk, Anyone?. Follow him on Twitter @ttanyone and Facebook here.

[Photo(s): ]
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VIDEO VAULT: Serena Williams spins her top (and other parts)

Check out this supposedly unauthorized Top Spin 4 promo starring Serena Williams and another woman called 'The World's Sexiest Gamer.' It features the former top lady baller in a onesie and thigh high boots showing off her gaming skills - a typical night at the ReRe mansion, no doubt.

I don't see what the big deal is here. After the catsuit and other near-nekkid ReRe moments this one is actually pretty tame.

Thanks jovan017!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kim Clijsters

I won’t go [to Tokyo.] And I won’t go to Beijing either.

- Kim Clijsters on avoiding the Asian tourneys in the fall due to fears of radiation contamination

Well, she didn't play any of them last year and she has talked at length about her limited schedule getting even more limited next season. It wouldn't surprise me if Kimmie never played those tourneys again. Just a thought.

[Photo(s): Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]
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PHOTO OP: Just because

"How YOU doin'?" asks Nipplet.
I give you Fernando Verdasco shirtless, of course, practicing in Key Biscayne for the Sony Ericsson Open. There really isn't much else to say but ENJOY.


A few more after the jump - click the head. And, remember, keep it clean. Just kidding!

Nadal wants you to drink responsibly (no, really)

Rafael Nadal has become the latest ambassador for Bacardi Ltd. and will star in a series of ads for its "Champions Drink Responsibly" campaign. The announcement will be made today during an event at the New World Symphony Space in Miami Beach.

The first spot (above) featuring the world's top baller is geared toward the message that champions watch out for their friends while drinking and includes the line "I'd always tell my friends where the line is." According to the Miami Herald, the second ad will focus moderation and features the message, "I try to beat everyone at tennis, not at drinking."
I enjoy socializing with my friends and family and drinking responsibly is important no matter what your game is,” Nadal said in a statement. “That is why I’m teaming up with Bacardi Limited as I want to take the lead in promoting social responsibility to fans and consumers around the world.
The Spanish lefty will participate in events around Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and other tourneys to help get the message out. He joins Formula One world champ Michael Schumacher who became the first face of the campaign in April 2008.

I always find it interesting when athletes partner with brands like Bacardi Ltd. that go against the athletic ideal (more in the minds of the fans than the athletes themselves me thinks) of strictly healthy eating/no drinking.  It's a fine line for them and could torpedo their well-crafted image. Granted, it's an educational campaign about responsible drinking, but Rafa still wasn't afraid to admit he enjoys "socializing" (as he put it) within limits from time to time. Like we didn't know that already.

[Via: The Miami Herald]

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PHOTO OP: Her arse don't lie

Christie's auction house in London is hosting an exhibition entitled "Court on Canvas" exploring the subject of tennis in art. Fiona Walker, 53, was 18-years old when she posed as the "Athena poster girl" in this now famous photograph.

I can only hope my arse holds up as well as Fiona's when I reach her age. Maybe I should photograph mine now...

*seriously considers*

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
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Monday, March 21, 2011

(UPDATED) MEDIA MASHUP: Who's got the real salsa skills, eh?

Here's a video of Rafael Nadal + Novak Djokovic during their exo today in Bogota, Columbia. You just knew they were going to pull them out on court for a bit of salsa, didn't you? Not sure if dance was contractual but, in any case, let the awkwardness begin!

Some images from the exo below and after the jump.

UPDATE: Double OMG. More of this here. Seriously, extra credit to both for flying down to Colombia a day after competing in the Indian Wells final only to put on these hats and carry those murses. Oh, and the money. They got lots of that, too. I guess it's all good.

VIDEO VAULT: Falcon flies again

It made me laugh, it made me cry. And it comes with an Oscar-worthy score.
[Via: HEAD]

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VIDEO VAULT: Charlie called. He wants his Angels back.

Maria Sharapova and WTA tour sponsor Sony Ericsson revealed the six lady ballers who will be taking part in the Xperia Hot Shots initiative during a launch party in South Beach, Miami ahead of the Sony Ericsson Open.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Heather Watson, Alize Cornet, Sabine Lisicki, Sorana Cirstea and Dominika Cibulkova were chosen to take part in the web-based series which will help them "realize their dreams" (aren't they doing THAT already?) by giving them exclusive access to a bunch of really cool events thereby helping grow their Facebook fan base (see the page here.) The lady baller with the biggest base gets a "support deal" from Sony Ericsson. No idea what that means exactly.

There's also a dedicated YouTube page where these webisodes will premiere. It's a bit Charlie's Angels to me - not that there's anything wrong with that. But the girls need more high-waisted pants, hair flipping and background explosions. Yes, definitely more explosions!

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Desert dust up

There have been comparisons aplenty lately between Novak Djokovic + Caroline Wozniacki. They both have world-class defensive skills (check), enviable footwork (double check) and a love for the big stage (triple check.) Here's another one now: They're both Indian Wells champs with Nole grabbing his second and Woz earning her first.

Nole was already playing like the world's top baller going undefeated on the season as he entered the final against the reigning World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. He had claimed the second spot in the rankings in the semifinals when bested Roger Federer for the third straight time - only the fourth baller EVAH to accomplish the feat (Rafa, Andy Murray, David Nalbandian.) But he had never beaten the Mallorcan Matador in a final in five attempts. You just knew this time could be different, though, based his soaring confidence heading into the match. And it was, with Nole winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The Serb was outplayed in the first set as Rafa pushed Nole around with his superior forehand. But, like all champs, he made crucial mid-match adjustments and began pummeling the Spaniard's backhand with his forehand. He was also able to neutralize Rafa's tricky second serve delivery by upping his footwork and getting around to smack it aggressively. By the third set, the top seed was bleeding errors from every part of his game and couldn't buy a first serve. I guess he was kinda upset:

Now here's where championships are won: Serving at 4-1 and up a double break in the decider, Nole put the clamps on the 9-time Grand Slammer cracking FH winners and pummeling an ace to snuff out any hope of a comeback. No indecision, no shakiness - just pure focus and drive. He was brimming with supreme confidence and wanted Rafa to know. That's how you do it, kiddies.

Wozzi played her usual brand of steady, heady tennis against Marion Bartoli and rolled over the French lady in the first set. Like Nole, the top lady baller's supreme footwork allows her to stay balanced and get behind the ball with enough time to pretty much do whatever she wants with it. By the second set, though, Bart was driving her double-fisted blasts into the corners getting past the Dane's defensive wall and forcing her to go for too much. Inevitably, the fatigue from reaching her first final in the desert (she also suffered a stomach flu earlier in the week) and punishing rallies started to show on the Frenchie. She was able to steal the second set but by the third the wheels were coming off:

Unlike Nole, who knows how and when to shut it down, Woz was broken while serving for the match against an foe who was clearly scraping through to the end. This is an important difference and where Woz will need to improve if she's to finally grab her maiden major. She still gets tentative in key moments, allows her opponents back in and gives them hope for the upset - sometimes they come through big (think Li Na in Oz) and sometimes they don't like Bart. In either case it never seems like it's in her control. Nole's FH is a much bigger weapon as well and he put it to great effect in the final stages of his win; Wozzi's is getting better but is still attackable and lands short when she gets tight.

Big props to the 20-year old for keeping her "head cool" and closing it out 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, though, and earning her first Indian Wells crown. I admit I have been one of those fans who's been on the fence about her chances to grab a major, but after her performance this week, particularly her demolition of Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, I can see it happening. Maybe not tomorrow, but at some point in the coming year or so. A congrats also goes out to Bart who re-entered the Top 10 at No. 10 on the back of her stellar week in the desert.

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