Google Down the Line!: 2011-06-26

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Steel blue

If anyone knows what it's like to let it fly in a first major final against a multiple Grand Slam champ it's Maria Sharapova. She was all but 17-years old and facing the daunting prospect of Serena Williams on the other side of the net at Wimbledon's Centre Court. But she had nothing to lose and played like it earning the big W at the Big W. The same could be said for Petra Kvitova who defeated Shrieka 6-3, 6-4 in her first major final to earn her maiden Grand Slam championship today.

The Czech seemed inspired while making Centre Court her own tennis playground. She played the aggressive game she wanted to play and hit the penetrating shots she needed to hit all with little fan fare and barely a shriek (what IS that noise?). But I suppose that comes with the territory of a baller whose game is tailor made for a certain surface. Think Justine Henin on clay, Kim Clijsters on hard court and Venus Williams on grass. The baller, surface and game just fit and one never questions the other.

According to Kvitz, she wasn't even feeling the pressure before entering the match:
I felt normal before the match. I was speaking with my coaches and we said I should play like it's a fourth round match. I was focused only on the point and the game and not on the final and the medal.
She may want to bottle that attitude and sell it on the WTA tour. Big Babe Bucks y'all.

Maybe we should've seen all of this coming. With those ice blue eyes and affectless expression, Kvitz possesses that steely look most champions own; her face never betrays the moment. You can't tell whether she's winning or not. Even when she looks to her box because she's desperate for support or joining their celebratory dance it's pretty much the same. During her post-match remarks, the 21-year old southpaw admitted she wasn't as calm as she may have seemed, though, saying, "I was nervous, because I thought I could win Wimbledon, but I just focused on each point."

Yup. That's exactly what champions do. Welcome to the club, girl.

Check out Nike Tennis' and Wilson's tributes to the new Wimbledon champ after the jump.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Getting high

Dear World: Meet your new tall, dark and bendy No. 1 Novak Djokovic!

After the disappointment in Paris where he lost out on a chance to grab the top ranking from Rafael Nadal the Serb finally made good on the green grass of Wimbledon. He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-7(9), 6-3 and earned the right to officially call himself the best. And I say 'officially' because he's been the playing like the best baller around all year long but as we all know it's never yours until it's actually yours.

Interestingly, even though he came into this fortnight with only a single loss under his Sergio Tacchini belt his storyline seemed to take a backseat to that of Rafa and Roger Federer after their brilliant French Open fight. His relative lack of success on the slick stuff didn't help either and brought up questions about his chances of achieving the feat here. But he's gone about the business of winning matches and when it came time to put up or shut up today, he answered emphatically. I mean, pointy fingers don't lie:

Afterward, he talked about the importance of the moment in his post-match presser:
"It's definitely one of the most important achievements and days in my life, in my career. We are all dedicated to this sport 100 percent. When you know you're going to be the best in the world and you're reaching the finals of your favorite tournament, it's something special…Both [Nadal and Federer] are incredibly consistent with their success and so dominant the last couple years. They don't give you a lot of chances to become No. 1. So I guess you need to lose only one match in seven months to get there. If you can do that, then well done…I think every child has a dream to become something in his life. We live for those dreams. We were going through some really difficult periods. You know, our country had wars and stuff. So it wasn't easy to hold that desire and really believe in yourself. But I always did." 
There's something truly special about earning the top spot by winning the big match rather than getting it because someone lost; it's a mental thing in the best way possible. Nole obviously learned something important from his disappointing loss to Fed at Roland Garros and wasn't interested in repeating the same scenario this time around. And he didn't.

The tournament, though, is not over by any stretch. Nole will face defending champ Rafa in the final on Sunday. Will he have enough left, emotionally, to defeat the Spaniard for the fifth consecutive time this year and win his first Wimby Championship? I guess we'll all find out in two days time.

[Photo(s) credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PHOTO OP: High-flyin' Frenchie

So about that 'no coach' thing. After Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's defeat of Rafael Nadal at Queen's Club I may have said this: "I guess this win will make him think this whole coachless thing is working. Don't believe the hype, Jo-Willy. Not just yet." Fine. You can hit the hype button.

After going down two sets to none, the Frenchie broke out his full arsenal on Centre Court today and shocked 6-time champ Roger Federer 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. The 12th seed served big and only gave up a single break point on his serve the entire match (which Fed converted). He summed it up beautifully in his post-match presser saying, "I felt so good on the court. I was quick. I was just perfect today." No kidding.

And now he gets Novak Djokovic who he leads in the H2H 5-2 though they've never met on the slick stuff. Jo-Willy will need to serve like he did against Fed or he'll be on his adidas heels all day long against the Serb's return. But that's for another day.

You know, I'm psyched to see him finally build momentum in a season and earn some big wins against the game's elite. He's always had a monstrous game but it never came together for him due to injuries and inconsistency. And now, with brother Enzo in the baller box, he's showing his true grit. Allez!

[Photo(s) credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images]

Monday, June 27, 2011

SIGHTING: Shawn Carter in the baller box

Oh, you know. It's just Jay-Z in Rafael Nadal's baller box. BECAUSE HE'S GOT IT LIKE THAT.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]


Geez. Where do I even start?

So Venus Williams was defeated by her Wimbledon nemesis Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-3; Serena Williams was beaten by Marion Bartoli with a more respectable 6-3, 7-6 (8); and Caroline Wozniacki fell to Dominika Cibulkova 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

The result that I'm least surprised about is actually Bart's win over ReRe. The Frenchie's been in stellar form ever since Paris and her win in Eastbourne gave her the confidence she needed on the slick stuff. Her serving was uber-impressive, though, so it's fitting she won on another unreturnable that the 4-time champ could barely get her racket on. As for ReRe the rust really showed today in her movement, shot selection and groundies. We really shouldn't be surprised since she's been out for a year but it's ReRe we're talking about here; she's like the tour's Wonder Woman. She can make anything happen on-court, right? But, if this tourney showed us one thing about her it's that she's human.

Woz's loss to Domi was somewhat surprising to me. No, I'm not surprised she ended up on the losing side because she's been susceptible to the big hitters in Slams these days. But she started off well playing pretty aggressively in the first set. Once the Slovak started feeling the forehand, though, Woz reverted back to her natural form: defense. And as we all know, once you're on defense on the grass it's hard to find your back on the front foot. In the end, Domi was the braver of the two and she won. Simple.

For me V's second consecutive loss by the same scoreline to Tsveta on Centre Court is mind boggling. The Bulgarian couldn't buy any match wins since last year's Championships but found the right formula to fuck up the 5-time champ once again. It almost seems like V can't even believe she's falling victim to Tsveta's peculiar mix of pace and spin and, when she does, it all starts to unravel. And to lose so meekly and not even push it to a third set? MIND BOGGLING.

But in the end I give kudos to the ladies who stood up to the big stars of the tour on a huge occasion and earned the win. Seriously, who wants this thing?

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HE SAID/SHE SAID: Wimbledon Day 5

Q. Do you realize your nickname here is actually Deliciano. What do you say to that nickname?

FELICIANO LOPEZ: It's coming from Andy's mother. She's so funny. It's just something that everybody knows now because somebody post it on Twitter.

Q. Do you like that nickname?

FELICIANO LOPEZ: I have to like it. It's kind of funny. I mean, it's okay.

Q. Do you get a lot of attention from female fans when you're walking around?

FELICIANO LOPEZ: Not really. Like another place, I think.

Q. You talked about learning. Could you talk about how your mental toughness has evolved over the years since you were a younger player? Is that something you've worked on?

MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I think, you know, experience is a big thing. I think it's really priceless. But I don't think, you know, that calmness and that mental toughness is something that you can just go to someone and someone can teach you about it.

I think it's just how you see certain situations instead of just being too negative, even though it's something that you want to do. And of course it's so easy to get down on yourself, want to throw your racquet, complain about things. But I think positive thoughts and things just lead you to much better results.

I mean, it's something that you can definitely work on, absolutely. Yeah, it's challenging. But I think experience has really helped me.

Q. As the years go by, do you let thoughts creep in that it might never happen for you here?

ANDY RODDICK: Well, sure. You're human. I mean, of course it does. You know, you may never get your favourite job either. No offence to your current employer.

Q. I'm quite happy.

ANDY RODDICK: That's good. Me, too.

Q. My question was, it must be harder as the year goes on to think of this dream of yours.

ANDY RODDICK: It's similar to the question just asked. What do you do? You keep moving forward until you decide to stop. At this point I've not decided to stop so I'll keep moving forward.

Q. When did you first dream of being a Wimbledon champion and what were those images, if you can remember?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Well, I remember when I was a little girl, maybe nine years old, I said that I want to be No. 1 in the world and I want to win the Grand Slams. That's always been my goal since then.

You know, to reach one of my goals, it's incredible, especially in such a young age that I have, that it came so quickly. It's just a positive thing for me.

Q. Did you grow up watching this tournament on the TV at home?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: Yes. I think this is actually the first tournament I watched on TV. Definitely a special tournament for me. I enjoy playing here and being here.

Q. Do you remember which players you watched then?

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: I remember I watched Martina Hingis. She was my idol growing up. I watched so many of her matches.

Q. Do you still have ambitions of winning Grand Slams yourself?

RICHARD GASQUET: It's tough. It's tough, because when I was second week in Roland Garros I had to win Djokovic, then Federer, then Nadal. Even here in 2007 I won in semi-final I had to win the same: Federer and Nadal.

So even if I'm not far, you are far because you need to win the best after. So I don't know if I can, but I'll try to go farther as I can.

Q. Why don't you use Hawk Eye more? Do you forget to use it?

VENUS WILLIAMS: No, I only use it if I think I need it. If I feel like I hit the ball out, most times you can feel on your racquet. I think usually when I'm challenging, I'm pretty right on.

Q. You use it a lot less than a lot of players.

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I don't think Hawk Eye is there for like a chance kind of thing. I think you have to use it strategically.

If it's like the second point in a match, possibly maybe not a good time to use it. Hopefully the confidence is there that you can get the next point, some kind of thing like that.

Hawk Eye, for me, I'm confident I can win the next point. I don't need that call, per se.

Q. Unless you think it's way, way out, definitively the wrong call is made, you're going to move on?

VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah. I think it's important to have the Hawk Eye when it really counts. If it's 5 All and you have no challenges left, that's a problem. So it's just I think important to use it more strategically than I need it and it's there.

Q. If you get through on Monday and López keeps winning, I'm curious who you think your mum might be supporting if you meet Deliciano?

ANDY MURRAY: I think it's about time she stopped with that nonsense. Makes me want to throw up. It's disgusting. Yeah, it's disgusting.

I was practising with him before the tournament. It's quite funny because she'd been writing about it on, you know, Twitter like all the time. And I was practising with him before the tournament and my mom was on the side.

I said, when we were warming up, I shouted across the net, I said, Feli, if we sit down for a drink, if you could take a picture with my mom, because she thinks you're beautiful.

She went bright red. I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it. Refused to take the picture. Quite funny. Not like her.

Yeah, I hope she'll still be supporting me.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Imagess]

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