Google Down the Line!: 2011-05-01

Friday, May 6, 2011

PHOTO OP: Eyes wide shut

"Please GAWD let that ball be on the strings..."
Did anyone else notice Thomaz Bellucci, who's having the tourney of his life after knocking out Top Tenners Andy Murray + Tomas Berdych and reaching his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Madrid, hits his spinny, lefty forehand with his eyes completely shut? It's true. I noticed it after I was sifting through a bunch of his match photos. Strangely, it only happens on his forehand and not his backhand. It's an odd habit, but tennis ballers are full of 'em as we all know.

All I can say is the Brazilian better have those pretty peepers wide open and focused for his next match when he takes on Novak Djokovic, who raised his record in 2011 to 30-0 after getting past David Ferrer today 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Nole's only trailing John McEnroe (42 in 1984) and Bjorn Borg (31 in 1980) for the record of longest winning streak to open a season. Holy fucking hell. I mean, WHAT IS THAT???

Anyway, back to Thomaz. More shots of his closed eye FH after the jump - click the head if you need more proof. But don't say I didn't tell you so. Even though you will.

PHOTO OP: Wonder Twin powers ACTIVATE!

"Shape of a Babolat AeroPro Drive GT...PLEASE."

So, yeah, that's my update on Rafael Nadal and the defense of his Madrid Masters 1000 title. Insightful, eh? He's been steamrolling as usual and even got a walkover when Juan Martin del Potro withdrew yesterday with the hip injury he sustained in Estoril (uber *sad face* for Delpo but happy he's being cautious with Roland Garros on its way). I was so looking forward to that match but it wasn't meant to be in Madrid. Let's hope we see those two ball where it really matters, though, at RG.

Today, the top seed pummeled Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-2 bringing him to 36 straight matches on clay. You could tell he wasn't in the mood to putz around early on though the Frenchie's serve and volley tactic probably wasn't the right one either. The Spaniard now gets either Roger Federer or Robin Soderling. Good luck to them. Really.

[Photo(s): Getty Images]
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SIGHTING: Night & Day

Last night, Maria Sharapova and fiance Sasha Vujacic (no doubt Ice Rink was there, too) were spotted hand-in-hand leaving a Madrid restaurant. It's rare to see Sasha at her matches (probably 'cause he's kinda busy ballin' himself) but he's been there all week fist pumping and cheering her on. Cuteness. As I type this post Shrieka is battling Dominika Cibulkova in the third round of Madrid. Here's some trivia for your ass: They've never played against each other on any surface besides clay. It's true.

Five more images of Shrieka + Sasha after the jump.

Today, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Fernando Verdasco in the Magic Box to watch Rafael Nadal crush Marco Baghdatis 6-1, 6-3 and Roger Federer save match point and edge out Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (13), 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7) in an absolute second round thrillfest. While Cristiano seemed calm during the Fed-Feli match Fer couldn't help but rise up out of his seat to urge his boy on. In the end, a determined Fed and a shanked overhead by Feli told the tale. That one's going to huuuurt.

Two more pics of Cristiano & Co. after the jump.

FASHION FIX: Li beats Benesova in Madrid, wears Nike Gridiron

Don't look now but Li Na is on a mini roll! Yes, I cheer for small favors. She ousted Czech Iveta Benesova 6-1 6-4 from the Madrid second round today, the first time the Chinese lady baller has won back-to-back matches since reaching the Australian Open final in January. Li took out Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in her opening round match.

So what brought about this small turnaround? Well, Li's either missing that credit card badly (you know it's on severe lock down right now) or new coach Michael Mortensen is starting to make an impact. My guess? COMBO PLATTER.

Anyway, I'm really liking these Nike duds she's been wearing from the Gridiron Group this clay court swing. Obviously, we haven't seen much of it since she hasn't been winning but maybe we will now. Li's working the Smash Classic Top ($50) in white with gym pink and gridiron:

The top is paired with the Smash Classic Skort ($55) in gridiron with gym pink and white:

The combination of the gridiron, which seems to be similar to gun metal grey, and the pink gives a nice contrast. The accents of pink on the v of the tee, the bold stripe on the skort and the pops of it peeking out from the slits are pretty cool, too.

BONUS: Check out some of the stuff Li + Coach Morty have been focusing on during their practice sessions in this behind-the-scenes video. Look deeply into her eyes. You can really see how badly she wants it back. The credit card, I mean:

[Photo(s): Reuters, Tennis Warehouse]
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PHOTO OP: Here's a Hot Shot for you, WTA

With skills like this it's surprising Maria Kirilenko didn't make the Xperia cut.

Oh well, your loss.

[Photo(s): Reuters]
Bookmark and Share

PHOTO OP: A helping hand

"Uh, that's not my hip, sir."
Remember last week when I said, "I can't wait to see what [Juan Martin del Potro] does at Roland Garros. Could be kinda awesome (no jinx, really)" in this post? Now, I'm pretty sure my words don't have magical powers (that I know of) but look what happened.

Delpo defeated Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the first round of Madrid today but aggravated a hip injury he suffered during his run to the title in Estoril:
It’s a pain that I've had since Estoril and maybe it could be because it has been a long time since I played on clay. I always want to win and I think of winning no matter the amount of pain and it's a type of pain that allows me to play. It’s a Masters 1000 where there are lot of people looking at me to do the best I can and that’s why I continued on the court, because I knew I could win the match.
He also said he doesn't want to take a chance of missing out on Roland Garros by playing with the injury:
I will be careful for my future - I am playing really well last week and this, but my first goal is to play healthy. I want to be safe this week so I don't want to risk my presentation in French Open.
I agree. If it's bothering you, Delpo, pack it up. You're playing some top level ball right now and getting better each match. Even Nole said you'll be Top 5 by end of year. So don't be a hero. Save that for RG you big lug.

Bookmark and Share

SIGHTING: Sania Mirza's glacier

It's not only what you do with it. SIZE DOES MATTER.

Ask Shrieka, too, if you don't believe me.

[Photo(s): Mardy Fish Twitter page]
Bookmark and Share

Serena Williams attends MET gala, alleged stalker arrested

Serena Williams arrived wearing Oscar de la Renta at the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” Costume Institute Gala held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night. Anyone else think she was even little bit inspired by last week's Royal Wedding? C'mon, the dress in white, the hat? Really?? Okay, fine.

In other, more scary, ReRe news a man was arrested early Tuesday morning in Palm Beach County where both she and Venus reside for allegedly stalking the 13-time Grand Slammer. He was picked up while trying to enter the community where she lives and apparently told police he knows her whereabouts because he follows her updates on Twitter. Scary.

Check out the video news report below. There's also another shot of ReRe from the MET Gala after the jump - click the head:

Monday, May 2, 2011

PHOTO OP: Talk the talk

"Not a good look for you Andy. Just sayin'."
That Andy Roddick lost a match on clay is not a surprise. That he lost to Flavio Cipolla, a baller who hadn't won a tour-level main draw match this season until today, in the first round of Madrid is a little bit more surprising. Or depressing depending on how you feel about the former U.S. Open champ.

A-Rod also didn't get a warning from Mo for the amount of fuck bombs he dropped during the 6-4, 6-7 (9), 6-3 loss. Yes, they were plentiful like the hairs on his face. Now THAT was a surprise. The beard, guys, the beard. Not cute.

[Photo(s): Julian Finney/Getty Images]
Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breaking down the rankings and points for the Mutua Madrid Open

(Hey y'all, please welcome author and fellow tennis freak Richard Dedor. He's a new contributor to Down the Line! and will be discussing rankings and points for the blog. Enjoy!)

Not much can change at the top of the ATP this week in Madrid. Nadal is the defending champion so 1,000 points are on the line, but with a cushion of nearly 3,000 points he is going to make it to Paris solid. Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, has the best chance of anyone to make a big move this week. He has zero, take that zero points to defend in Madrid so look for him to remain No. 2. Roger Federer is a little more than 1,000 points behind Djokovic and has 600 (finalist) points to defend. With his play of late, I would look for him to lose some points this week. Finally, Andy Murray, who is coming off an elbow injury has quarterfinal points to defend but his movement will be negligible no matter what happens.

The biggest change in the WTA in Madrid can come from Kim Clijsters' absence. Even though she didn't play Rome and, thus, won't lose any points, she could be passed by No. 3 ranked Vera Zvonareva. (Yes I said Rome ... due to a scheduling change, Rome points or 16th best come off this week.) Caroline Wozniacki can seriously pad her ranking with a good showing in Madrid; with an 1,800 point lead, a win, or just a strong showing (she only has 125 points to defend) in Madrid would make the No. 1 ranking going into Wimbledon almost a sure bet. The players ranked between 4-8 could see the most movement: No. 4 Francesca Schiavone currently has 4,892 points followed by Victoria Azarenka, Sam Stosur, Na Li and Jelena Jankovic who all fall between Schiavone and 4,235 points. A win or good showing by any of them could shake up the rankings heading into Paris.

About Richard: A life-long tennis fan, Richard offers thoughts on rankings for both the ATP and WTA. He runs a tennis blog, The Let Tennis, and is the author of two books, including his latest, Anything is Possible. You can visit his website at
[Photo(s): Reuters]
Bookmark and Share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...