Google Down the Line!: 2011-03-27

Saturday, April 2, 2011

PHOTO OP: Before & After (with Body Bonus!)

Here's Roger Federer + Rafael Nadal posing for pics before beginning play in their 23rd career meeting at the Sony Ericsson Open semifinals in Miami. Oh the possibilities!

Fast forward. Here's Fedal after Rafa dismantled a seemingly frustrated and error-prown Fed 6-3, 6-2. The match certainly did not live up to the lofty expectations but, in all honesty, it rarely can save the classic 2008 Wimbledon final. There's an interesting perspective here : Rafa getting the winner's treatment while Fed walks past alone, hands to head as he takes in this brutal loss. Even the raucous crowd chanting, "Ro-jah" (or something like that) couldn't get him going. The pair seem even further apart than the rankings might suggest after tonight.

Bring on Rafole, bitches.

Get your Body Bonus after the jump - click the head.

PHOTO OP: "Preparing for take off..."

I can't make up my mind here. It looks like Novak Djokovic is getting ready to: A) take flight as he's known to do or B) put a hurt on all comers. Uh, keep it clean guys.

[Photo(s): Reuters]
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VIDEO VAULT: The good time girls

Whoever said life on the WTA tour isn't glamorous is a LIAR.

[Via: WTA Tour ]

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Learning to keep two left feet on the ground

If you think everyone out there has sad face about the end of the Petko Dance and all it has given to society you would be...uh....WRONG. I mean, really wrong.

Just ask Maria Sharapova. Well, I guess you can't and somebody else already did so read on:
Q. She said that one of the things that makes you such a good champion is that you sense right away a weakness in the other player and basically you jump on that. She said that she felt that you sensed she was hesitating, whatever. Can you talk about that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Well, to be honest, I felt like I was just making a lot errors in the first set and I wasn’t moving my feet at all. And especially with the wind I wasn’t moving towards the ball and letting the ball come to me and not really being aggressive. That’s what’s won me so many matches in my career is when I step in and I hit my strokes and they come deep. I just wasn’t doing that.

So first and foremost I felt like I had to start doing that and making little steps and adjusting my game a little bit. More than anything, I sensed that she was tired probably a lot of the dancing that she’s been doing and I took advantage of it.

Q. She thought you would be tired in the third after the long match you had the previous night. Didn’t seem to be that way.

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Because I didn’t do the dance after. I wasn’t tired.
Meow meow, kitty.

I wonder what got under Shrieka's Nike dress (hint: IT WASN'T ME)? Oh yes, it must have been their match at the Australian Open when the German torched her 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round then proceeded to rub Petko Dance all up in her post-match mug. I guess Shrieka wasn't feeling that. Or maybe it's because her moves aren't very, uh, dancey.

Speaking of that Oz Open match the 3-time Grand Slammer did say something back then that struck me after watching her reach her third Miami final:
I was happy that I was down the last two matches and able to find the level again and do the right things to win the match and pick it up. I wasn't able to bring that today. I didn't build on what I gained in the last two matches.
It seems Shrieka, with the help of Coach Hogs, has filled in that gap. She gave us an uber-scratchy performance against ever ready Alexandra Dulgheru, including those 17 DFs, and began the semifinal in the same way. But she made the right adjustment in the second set to her opponent and the conditions (windy, much?) and started moving her feet and cracking her trademark returns. Next thing you knew Shrieka was on a run of 11 straight games. Whatever she picked up in that last match she brought to this one and, as she said, built on it.

Speaking of returns I always think of it as being such a natural part of her game, that it would come much easier than say her serve since she's reacting to the ball, getting pace and not dealing with her all the intricacies of a service motion. Moreover, it sets her up for first strike tennis and dominating rallies - a winning game plan for her. But without the confidence it becomes another liability. But she learned and she gained from the Dulga match and even her Oz match with Petko and now she's in the Sony Ericsson Open final where she'll face Victoria Azarenka. Damn, that's gonna be loud as all hell.

[Photo(s): Al Bello/Getty Images]
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Thursday, March 31, 2011

VIDEO VAULT: Babies under assault, targeted at major tennis tourneys

Click here to watch full video
Did you hear that David Ferrer went all Charlie Sheen during his 7-5, 6-2 loss to Mardy Fish in Miami? It's true. He beamed a crying baby in the stands with a ball then grabbed the unconscious child, ran to the players' area, shoved it in a locker, had a massage and a quick bit to eat then came back and resumed his match. Blasphemy! Outrageousness! Impressive!

Actually, the baby was crying and it was an annoyance and he did lob the ball in that direction in the stands but it didn't come close to the child. The crying did stop, though. Afterward he told the press, "It was in one moment of the match, but nothing special. It was not the problem." The problem, according to Ferru, was a stomach thingy.

I agree it wasn't the most professional move; he should have just tried to ignore the crying and kept playing. I also think the parent(s) of the child should have left the stands if the crying could not be controlled. You know, respect for the ballers playing the match and the other fans watching. But if you go by how the U.S. national media, in this case ABC News, described it in their segment and on screen you'd think he went on a rampage and all but bit the child's head off on the changeover. Literally.

It's a real shame the only coverage tennis seems to get these days in the U.S. national media is crap like this "story" or incidents like Serena Williams going ballistic on a linesperson at the U.S. Open. I have yet to see anyone cover the tours efforts to raise funds for the relief efforts in Japan which occurred at major U.S. tourneys in the last few weeks. If you're not a hardcore fan of this sport you would not know about it since you're probably not living on the sites, blogs or other social media where the game is dissected to its minute detail daily. You might have the impression that tennis was only comprised of privileged athletes (there are some) who have temper tantrums (some do) on the regular and do not have control over themselves or their emotions. I understand sensationalism sells and grabs eyeballs but they really could cover both angles if they wanted. Step it up, guys.

[Video: ABC News]
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Novak Djokovic

Being able to get to the match points and then not finish off, you know, it's very unfortunate. But hopefully she can recover from that loss and take the best out of it and continue on playing well.

- Novak Djokovic on Ana Ivanovic's devastating loss to Kim Clijsters in Miami

We'll see how NaturAna recovers from this latest setback. The mental/emotional distress from a loss like this one can last a long time in tennis. We've all seen it.

[Photo(s): Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]
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(UPDATED) A view from the other side

Talk about two lady ballers on opposite sides of the tennis spectrum, eh?

Andrea Petkovic + Ana Ivanovic, whose pairing on the doubles court at the Sony Ericsson Open was all the rage with fans and online, are both 23-years old, Serbian by birth (Petko plays for Germany of course) and floating ever closer towards the Top 10 but now seem to be on decidedly different paths after yesterday's fourth rounders.

Petko was already having a career tourney in Miami after defeating top lady baller Caroline Wozniacki in three sets in the fourth round. She offered a 4-page presser filled with quotables after the big win and her soon-to-be retired Petko shuffle has been discussed at length in all kinds of media. She even got NaturAna to participate (with hilariously mixed results - see here if you dare.)

The German was guaranteed entry into the Top 20 for the first time in her career after ousting Wozzi so no one would've blinked if she had a let down in her next match. But she didn't and impressively outhit Jelena Jankovic posting a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 win for a spot in the semifinals. This girl is soaring.

NaturAna seemed to be playing with the same kind of confidence in her match against defending champ Kim Clijsters winning the second set after losing the first and going up 5-1 and 40-0 on the Belgian's serve in the decider. But after saving the three match points Kimmie tapped into her own reserve of confidence and experience (like winning the last two majors) saving two more MPs and earning an exhilarating 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-6(5) win.

We all know the struggles NaturAna has undergone since reaching the pinnacle of this sport and what a win over a lady baller like Kimmie could do for her game and state-of-mind. But as soon as it seemed the Serb would finally overcome a major hurdle it was gone in a flash. All credit to Kimmie for sure but this crushing loss will hurt. I mean, just ask Yonex:
"It's very hard, yeah - you should see my racquet," said Ana.
Not surprisingly, the doubs pairing that had become so popular this tourney was over. They were slated to meet Peng Shuai + Shahar Peer in the quarterfinals but called it quits. NaturAna explained after her loss:
"I'm just like exhausted. It's been a lot. Andrea also had a tough match today, and we were both very, very tired."
I'm sure they are, but in very different ways.

UPDATE: NaturAna has withdrawn from Marbella citing a need for rest. She also credits her doctor saying "it's only thanks to the brilliance of my doctor that I've been able to compete in Indian Wells and Miami."

[Photo(s): Getty Images,]
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PHOTO OP: Juan Mardy share post-match MOMA in Miami

Juan Martin del Potro + Mardy Fish shared some post-match MOMA after the American won their fourth round encounter 7-5, 7-6(5) in Miami. He's aiming to become the top-ranked baller in the States but will need to get by David Ferrer in the quarterfinals to accomplish the feat.

The two are apparently pretty good friends and are planning to pair up again in Madrid for doubs. You know, I love when boys play nice this way. Carry on, Juan Mardy.

[Photo(s): Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]
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TIMELINE: Murray making changes in coaching line up

Andy Murray's coaching sitch is in a bit of flux again. He's completely slumptastic at the moment and needs a restart. I think we can all agree on that one. But, the news of a potential coaching switch-a-roo is happening fast so here's a quick timeline to catch you up...

March 25: Falls to 118th ranked Alex Bogomolov in Miami losing his third straight match post-OZ and going 0-9 in sets dating back to the final loss to Novak Djokovic.

March 28: Rumors begin to circulate online about Ivan Lendl's interest in the top coaching post; the 8-time Grand Slammer informally reaches out to the Muzz camp The Guardian confirms.

March 29: Brother Jamie says to The Times of London via BBC reporting: "If he goes (down that) route, you have to give your trust to that person. You have to let your guard down a bit and listen...Andy could do with some advice from the right person...He is good enough to get to that next level, but he needs that something extra that's missing. It's a mental thing, he has all the ability in the world." Ouch, but most likely the truth. He would know, no?

Then, part-time coach Alex Corretja gets the boot as Mama Murray tweets: "No more Andy n Alex C :( gr8 guy, gr8 player, gr8 coach, gr8 fun. Will miss him." Sal y pimienta HAWTNESS is gone. *sad face*

And finally The Times' tennis scribe Neil Harman has a strange night and tweets: "Had a very vivid dream last night that Boris Becker became AM's coach - I did dream it, didn't I?" Yes, Neil, you dreamed a dream.

I guess it's your move, Muzz. If anything is confirmed I'll make sure to update this post so stay tuned!

[Photo(s): Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]
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Monday, March 28, 2011

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Maria Sharapova

When you come home, when you're done with your travels, you have somebody to come home to. It's always really comforting and nice.

- Maria Sharapova on future hubby Sasha Vujacic

I get it. I really do.

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PHOTO OP: Throw your hands up!

The girl def had reason to dance today.

Andrea Petkovic came through big in Miami upsetting top lady baller and seed Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in the fourth round. Petko held strong through some scratchy play from both ballers and took advantage of Wozzi's faltering forehand and atypical flat-footedness (yeah, it's a

You just knew this kind of day was coming for the Dane especially after her tremendous post-Oz effort reaching three finals and winning two - Dubai + Indian Wells. She was bleeding UEs all day and couldn't seem to find that extra gear consistently. I'm sure a few extra days off will do her nicely.

But the day belonged to Petko. The 21st seed had her own issues particularly on key points but remained positive throughout. She stuck to her "strict game plan" of mixing it up as she mentioned in the on-court interview she gave right after celebrating with her trademark Petko shuffle [edit: word on the digital street is she's retiring the dance. Boo.] The German opened up the court with fine angles, threw in some slices and denied Woz the opportunity to control the center. And it worked. Great win.

[Photo(s): Al Bello/Getty Images]
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No underwear needed

If you liked this shot from Rafael Nadal's ad campaign for Emporio Armani then you'll probably like this one even better. Let's just say it's for your private collection. Oh, and mine.

Now what kind of tennis blogger would I be if I didn't remind you that you've already seen Rafa's ass-ets in their full glory. You don't remember? Well, here you go (duh, NSFW.)

[Photo(s): Emporio Armani]
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Sunday, March 27, 2011

FASHION FIX: Federer lets the polo go in Miami - sign o' the times?

Is it just me or did it jolt anyone else to see Roger Federer playing his opening round match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami sans polo? Okay, 'jolt' is a strong word so how about 'supremely surprised'? He showed up working the Federer Trophy Men's Tennis Shirt ($70) in tech grey, gridiron, peach cream and white and proceeded to dismiss Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 tying Pete Sampras with 762 career match wins. 

The last time I can recall seeing the Swiss stylist wearing something other than his fave polo look in a match was back in 2009 at Indian Wells where he reached the semifinals. This outfit definitely gives him a fresh feel but at the same time it's reminiscent of all the techno trends dominating both tours at the moment.

Now I wouldn't have thought too much about it, but earlier in the week I noticed another polo-loving baller, Ryan Harrison, stripped of his button front and collars and dressed in the Nike Men's Spring Challenger Gradated UV Crew ($50) in vibrant blue:

I, of course, had to let my thoughts known to those who may have been responsible i.e. Nike Tennis.

So is this a new trend for the sports apparel brand and/or on the tour or just a quick change up for these two ballers in Miami? Not sure. Listen, I'm all for switching things up but it's also nice to have throwback styles showcased on ballers like Fed, Ryan and even Milos Raonic + Richard Gasquet in Lacoste mixed in with these modern looks with their bright, sometimes acidic colorways. The balance, to me, is what's most important.

I guess we'll have to just wait and see.

[Photo(s): Federer via Al Bello/Getty Images; Harrison via Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]
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