Google Down the Line!: 2011-08-28


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sharapova's new normal


Back in the day you knew what you'd get with Maria Sharapova. These days you still do, but what you're getting these days ain't always purty. The former champ was sent home in the US Open third round by a revived Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 hitting 60, yes 60, UEs against only 30 winners and 12 double faults.

This erratic play has become the norm for Shrieka as we saw at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and now here. When the going gets tough the nerves get going. As the match gets tighter and the points get bigger you just know a double fault or three are likely on their way. Before the shoulder surgery it was quite the opposite. She was a big match lady baller whose game got bigger and more effective when it mattered most.

You can see it in her eyes and body language as she steps to the line to serve on a set point, match point or break point - and that 'it' is called fear. She seems afraid of these big moments, afraid her serve and game will desert her. And, sadly, she's right.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Friday, September 2, 2011

HE SAID/SHE SAID: US Open Day 4


Q. Caroline Wozniacki has a high profile relationship with a golfer. You've kind of been there. Any advice for her on how to deal in the public eye in that way in that kind of a relationship?

ANA IVANOVIC: I think it's different for every person, because some people like to be in the middle of attention or public eye and others don't. It's just very personal how you like to deal with it. I think, you know, once you decide how you want to handle it you should go about it. Of course if you want to be more private, that's harder. If you want to be out there it's a little bit easier. It's, you know, about to find the balance and to accept these things.

Check out more 'HE SAID/SHE SAID' from the US Open Day 4 after the jump - click the header!

FASHION FIX: Is Kuznetsova getting the good vibes?


Have you seen this Fila outfit before? Yes, no, maybe so? It's the outfit Kim Clijsters was supposed to wear to defend her US Open title. As we all know she was forced to pull out due to ANOTHER injury, this time to her abdominal area. Svetlana Kuznetsova was given the go ahead to wear it by the Italian sportswear brand.

I'm thinking it has some of Kimmie's lucky US Open vibes. Why? Because Sveta's actually playing well in Flushing Meadows. So far. I was hesitant to mention it because we all know the rollercoaster ride she puts us on when she hits the court these days. She can be playing well and then, out of nowhere, start spraying groundies everywhere but where they need to go. I suppose at some level we love the drama but it would be great to see someone of her talent (HELLO, she won two Slams somehow) play up to her ability. Plus, we still have JJ.

We should start a prayer circle for Sveta and hope she keeps this going. Then, maybe she won't have to wear Kimmie's hand-me-downs again, nice as they are. So there's that.

Pierluigi V-neck Top, $58

Pierluigi Skort, $60

Available at: Fila.com

[Photo(s) credit: Fila]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

HE SAID/SHE SAID: US Open Day 3


Q. What were your emotions when you stepped onto the grounds here for the first time since having won the championship?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: It's very, very strong, you know, see the fans, the crowds. After the match the guy who was with the microphone, he say the only player who beat No. 1 No. 2 of player of the world in the Grand Slam. You know, it's an honor. And I want to say thank you to the fans, to the Argentinian people who come to see me play here. I know who was behind me in the right moments and I know who are in this moment, too.

Q. Is it hard to believe it was two years ago, or does it seem like it was two years ago?

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, to be honest, I feel like the final was yesterday, because when I was walking around the street or when I talk with the fans, they say, I remember your final; you can repeat; you can win again. It's every, every day, every time say or talk about this tournament.

More 'HE SAID/SHE SAID' from US Open Day 3 after the jump - click the header y'all.

PHOTO OP: From leap to launch

"5...4...3...2...1...I've got lift off!"

You know, I'll take this reaction from Irina Falconi, who upset 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova in the second round today, over the usual "It's a good win...I didn't play my best but I got through...I'm just happy to be here..." any day of the week.

Let us know how you really feel, girl. It's the US Open damn it!

[Photo(s) credit: Michael Heiman/Getty Images]

More struggles facing Venus Williams

The troublesome 2011 for Venus Williams took an even more unfortunate turn today when she withdrew from the US Open after revealing she has been suffering with Sjögren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease where the bodies' white blood cells attack the glands that produce moisture. There is no cure.

She released the following statement:

"I'm really disappointed to have to withdraw from this year's US Open. I have been recently diagnosed with Sjögren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain. I enjoyed playing my first match and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to. I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon."

The 7-time Grand Slammer was asked about the illness after winning her opening round match and described it as "energy sapping" but didn't give a name to it. Her next opponent, Sabine Lisicki, was told about the withdrawal 30 minutes before their second round match was to begin today. "I saw Venus and heard she practiced as usual. I saw her in match clothes so was fully prepared and really looking forward to the match. I love those big matches and playing against Venus - we had two amazing matches the last two meetings. But that's tennis. It's unfortunate and I hope she will be fine quick."

The Williams sisters have been notoriously private about injuries and illness over the years but have opened up lately, most notably with Serena's recent health scares. And while this news comes as a surprise to us (and some in her close knit circle) it has been an issue according to her mom and coach, Oracene Price, who told SI.com, "It's been something that's been worrisome for a long time."

At this point, no one knows when V will come back. Some are even questioning whether she will at all considering her age, litany of injuries and the unknowns surrounding the management of this disease. There's no doubt that if she tries, and my gut tells me she will, it'll be a tough road back. But as we've seen over the years, when it comes to the Williams sisters they love a good comeback.

[Photo(s) credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images]

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HE SAID/SHE SAID: US Open Days 1 + 2


Yeah, Mardy. I feel the same way. A few of these questions are head-in-the-hand BAD. Who writes their stuff anyway? Oh wait. THEY DO.

P.S. I love you already, Ms. Keys. Not in a creepy, stalkeratti kinda way but in a "You get fashion and therefore you're awesome"  way. You knows what's up.

Check out 'HE SAID/SHE SAID' from Days 1 + 2 at the US Open after the jump!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A postscript postcard to Petra Kvitova and Li Na


It's okay, ladies. Really. You both entered the tennis history books this year in huge ways: You, Petra Kvitova, by winning Wimbledon and, according to Straight Sets, becoming the first Grand Slam ladies' champ EVAH not to win even a set in her next major tourney and you, Li Na, for becoming the first baller from Asia to hoist a Grand Slam trophy and coming in second to Maria Sharapova in the top earning female athlete ranking thingy.

I think your first round losses at the US Open were almost meant to be. Why? Well, you both showed up wearing pretty much the same Nike duds (one is a cap tee while the other a tank) and you both lost to young, up-and-coming Romanians. Pretty obvious signs if you ask me.

You both must be mentally tired, too, after your efforts earlier in the season and especially now that you're wearing big ass targets on your backs. Those other lady ballers will be gunning for you every chance they get and preparing to step into your Nike kicks at the first strike. They want to be where you are (if they're not there already, that is).

While it's never good to lose reigning major champs in the first round I think you deserve (read = desperately need) a break. And now you have one. So enjoy it. And make sure to return the favor and send a postcard from your vacay. Through snail mail. Not that e-card shit.

xoxo,
RiCH

[Photo(s) credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images]

Grisha + La Monf post-match MOMA

Photobucket

At least he went for it. You gotta give Grisha some props.

[Via: nidssserz]

Monday, August 29, 2011

FASHION FIX: What exactly is this dress, Venus Williams?


So Venus Williams looked good today. LOOOOL. And you thought I was talking about her EleVen "mullet" dress. No, you didn't? My bad. Uh, more like her bad.

At least V's tennis was stand out. She beat Vesna Dolonts 6-4, 6-3 in the first round at the US Open hitting 28 winners to 27 errors - pretty impressive after not having played much this year. Granted, the Russian had literally spent the previous 10 hours on a flight from Russia after having visa issues and may have had moments of delirium, but hey, that's the luck of the draw!


But seriously, it's great to see the 7-time Grand Slammer back on the court in whatever insane (or inane?) design her mind can come up with. Aside from the first few games when V was launching shots into the sea of green, she played pretty solid. We'll see her true form, of course, as the lady ballers get more experienced and the matches get tougher. So what am I saying? Let's not get too excited about her tennis just yet. As for the dress, I'll let it speak for itself.

[Photo(s): Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

PHOTO OP: Isner 1, Wozniacki 0


We get it Tree. You win, she doesn't

Your degree of difficulty is higher. But you need more audience.

[Photo(s) credit: @MICAHMANN]

RICHARD'S RANKINGS: A whole lotta points for the US Open


Here we are. We have finally arrived to the lights of New York City! We have had a change in the leadership at the top of the men's rankings since we began the year and the women remain steady at the top. But at the end of this fortnight, we could see some dramatic changes in both top tens.

Mr. Two Losses the Entire Year - Novak Djokovic - could lose in the first round of the US Open and No. 2 Rafael Nadal could not catch him, a familiar story for the top man pretty much the past few years. Unlike Djokovic, Nadal could slip in the rankings if he falls in the quarterfinals and current No. 3 Roger Federer reclaims the title. Some pundits believe Federer has it in him to win the title again, but his draw is definitely tough.

We are more likely to see some dramatic changes in the No. 5 through No. 10 positions. For starters, who knows how well No. 6 Robin Soderling will perform after missing time with a wrist injury? He’s defending quarterfinal points and could have a tough tournament with a likely drop to at least No. 7, if not No. 10. How is that possible you ask? There are four men behind him with nothing to lose and everything to gain: David Ferrer (5) is only defending 180 points, Gael Monfils (7) 360 points, Mardy Fish (8) 180 points, Tomas Berdych (9) 10 points and Nicolas Almagro (10) 90 points. Each one of those guys can reach as high as No. 5.

Without a Grand Slam title and with early exits of late, Caroline Wozniaki still has a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot somehow and could skip Flushing Meadows and remain No. 1. Last year's finalist Vera Zvonareva still has work to do to keep her No. 2 spot among the women. And, sadly for our favorite (well, my favorite), the defending champ Kim Clijsters will likely fall to No. 9 at the end of the tournament.

But the fun for the women comes from the No. 4 through No. 7 positions – Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Li Na, respectively. Lately, Sharapova has shown she deserves to be on the short list of contenders here in New York; with 280 points to defend she has the potential to leap as high as No. 2 because of the points Zvonareva has to defend. Likewise, Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Marion Bartoli are adding more points this week in New Haven which will likely bring all three of them within 800 points of each other coming into their first matches. And aside from Schiavone's quarterfinal points, the women No. 4 through No. 9 don't have many points to defend at all.

With the race so close, there is only one certainty as this tournament begins: be prepared for some New York magic.

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 http://richarddedor.com.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

TASTE OF TENNIS: I asked, they answered


So, yeah. I made it to this year's Taste of Tennis albeit a little late. I had to work so my friend, Erin, covered the Rafael Nadal/Armani event at Macy's earlier in the day for me, where he unveiled his ginormous ballboard to the world, before heading over to the W Hotel in Midtown where we were meeting up.


When I got there I ran into Karen from Tennis Panorama, my annual US Open Party Patrol buddy, who is always up for a good time. I also hung out with Nick from Tennis Served Fresh, @MariyaKTennis and finally got to meet Rachel from OntheGoTennis and Elena from The Slice. The one thing I noticed immediately was the fewer number of media in attendance - it didn't have the same INSANE feel it had last year. But, here was the worst part: no complimentary bottled water. HOW COULD THEY LET US GET THIRSTY??? I wondered if it was on downhill from there. Luckily, I had gum.

The green carpet arrivals began to, er, arrive. Rafa, surprisingly or maybe not so surprisingly, came through first. I compared his appearance to having "the dessert before the main course" over Twitter. It was also like a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am moment- a quickie but without the guilt. He was literally there for less than a minute before Benito moved him onto the VIP area. For him to do all this publicity for his book and ad campaign must be draining for him - it's soooo not his thing. I guess I'm not surprised he flew through the line.

There were also less lady ballers at this event than last year which meant less opportunity to ask, "Who are you wearing, guuurl???" So I asked the guys. Well, one guy: Marin Cilic. He had on this cool shirt jacket but no idea who designed it. I suppose it wasn't a question he was prepared to answer. Hopefully he will be next time, and in that small way I've helped prepare him for future green carpet questions - or not. Probably not.

A few of us made it upstairs to the big party (we have our ways) where we ate some fabulous food and drank, um, a lot. A fucking blast. But as they say, it's not how you start but how you end and THIS end was awesome. Just awesome. Even an obviously fanatical and possibly drunk person accosting him on the street for a picture couldn't scare him away. HE BE THE BEST.

Thanks to E, who's an amazing graphic designer BTW, for helping me out and DKC for the great event and invite. Until next year Taste of Tennis!!!

Check out my full Q & A with Tommy Haas, Tamira Paszek, Fernando Verdasco, Janko Tipsarevic, Marin Cilic, Gilles Simon, James Blake and Vera Zvonareva from Taste of Tennis after the jump.

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