Google Down the Line!: 2014-07-06

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SIGHTING: Tennis ballers by the water!

Even though there are some smaller tourneys going on, a bunch of ballers are taking this down time between Wimbledon and the start of the North American hard-court season to hit the beach, the pool, or both. Now, none of them went full-on Beyonce/Drunk in Love because that would be weird (good effort, JJ).

After a tough Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal stole some time away in Ibiza and brought along some questionable fashion decisions. Monochromatic pink was very hit or miss with the Rafanatics. I'm not even sure what to call this look.

Ana Ivanovic has been looking relaxed on vacation even though she's currently without a coach. Good sign I guess. It's funny she's trying to be demure here; but there's only so much demureness you can give when you're working a popsicle.

Grigor Dimitrov earned his vacation after his best Grand Slam result at Wimbledon. Not only was he was spotted with Maria Sharapova, but he was also seen coming close to hitting the edge of a pool with his noggin. Coach Rasheed was none too pleased:

Safety first, Grish!

Jelena Jankovic probably needed a long vacay after her first-round loss at SW19. She, of course, brought along her bestie, Lefty. She never goes far without her. Because biology.

Fernando Verdasco, also a first-round loser at Wimbeldon, is in Bastad preparing for next week's Swedish Open. On his downtime, he's soaking in the views and the beach with his doubles partner David Marri.

[Photo(s) credit: Fernando Verdasco FB, JJelicious Instagram, Grigor Dimitrov FB, Ana Ivanovic FB,]

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ivanovic and Kontic end coaching partnership after a year

Today Ana Ivanovic announced on her website that she and her coach of a year, Nemanja Kontic, are ending their partnership:
Ana and Nemanja Kontic have ended their coaching partnership by mutual agreement. Kontic’s contract expired after Wimbledon and, after amicable discussions, the pair decided not to renew it.
This announcement came as a big surprise today because, by all accounts, it was a success. The Serb was having her best year since 2008 when she won Roland Garros and grabbed the keys to the WTA Penthouse. She won titles in Auckland, Monterrey, and Birmingham. At the Australian Open in January, she upset Serena Williams in the fourth round, and beat Maria Sharapova in Rome, ending her seven-match losing streak to the Russian.

In an interview with The New York Times back in May, the 26-year old expressed how her new team had brought a calming influence to her life off-court.
“This is the thing that many people don’t understand. It’s actually very hard because we are a lot of times on our own, and with my previous coaches I didn’t have that kind of feelings that we would have dinners together, or lunch. It would be more like a work relationship. But since my team now is Serbian and very young, I actually enjoy hanging out with them. I enjoy having dinners, having chats, and they’re able to not talk about tennis. This is what I enjoy — because I think there is so much more to life than just sports.” 
The team's influence seemed to be effecting her positively on-court as well, which is why this news is so surprising. There are still many questions about the decision (was it financial? too much travel?), and Ana will surely be asked about it in the coming weeks. Before Kontic, she worked with a long list of well-regarded coaches, including David Taylor, Craig Kardon, Sven Groeneveld, Heinz Günthardt, Antonio van Grichen, and Nigel Sears. She plans to appoint a new coach soon.

This announcement follows on the heels of the surprising Li Na-Carlos Rodriguez split that happened during Wimbledon. More coaching changes are likely to come. Stay tuned.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

Federer the "Betterer" and his new Wilson Pro Staff

Tennis fanatics and the media have been speculating about Roger Federer's switch to a larger, black matte Wilson frame ever since he tested it out at the end of last year. The former number one made the change permanent this year and almost swung his way to a record eighth Wimbledon Championship over the weekend. Wilson in partnership with the 17-time Grand Slammer recently announced the release of the full Pro Staff line.

The new Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph delivers the precise feel Federer demands with a larger sweet spot and more power in comparison to the Wilson rackets he has used throughout his storied career. The Wilson Pro Staff line will feature rackets suited for a variety of attack-style players: from avid players to youth striving to improve their game. The Wilson Pro Staff rackets provide more power without compromising the classic feel long associated with the Pro Staff line. The final graphics package will be unveiled closer to the projected October 1, 2014 in-store date.

Click on the image for a closer view of the specs

“I grew up idolizing the legends of the game, so it was natural for me to play with Wilson Pro Staff 85-inch rackets,” said Federer. “I love the feel a smaller head provides, and larger rackets couldn’t deliver the feedback I needed to be successful. This new Wilson Pro Staff racket has been a long time coming, but I finally have the feel I need in a 97-inch head.”

Wilson is releasing a series of videos explaining the "creative process" behind the development of the new Pro Staff line starring the Swiss. Check out the first episode:

[Photo(s) credit: Wilson]

Monday, July 7, 2014

21 lessons from this year’s Wimbledon

"What does victory taste like? Ummm, like chicken."

The imminent arrival of the new generation has been a constant drum beat this year, and rightfully so. Eugenie Bouchard, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Simona Halep and Co. have taken big steps towards unseating their older, more experienced foes. But as we learned at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and now Wimbledon, try as they might the “olds” aren’t ready to be wheeled off into the great tennis afterlife. I mean, there's no Hawk-Eye, Kader Nouni, or ball kids. IT'S COMPLETELY SELF-SERVE.

I learned a few more things over the last two weeks. Twenty-one to be exact:

1. Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova believe in their games – and themselves - again.

2. “Mental” was the buzzword this fortnight. And in the good way.

3. Roger Federer wasn’t too far off from winning another major, but it may have been his best chance.

4. Bouchard's lack of a Plan B was exposed by someone who played first-strike tennis better.

5. Maria Sharapova in the baller box – more tense than intense.

6. Rafael Nadal played better on the grass this year, but still far away from his best.

7. Serena Williams’ game is officially in free fall.

8. Venus Williams’ game is officially on the rise.

9. Andy Murray seems to be confused about his game. His final matches at the French Open and Wimbledon were pretty dodgy to say the least.

10. Grigor Dimitrov isn’t quite ready to win a major. He impressed for five matches but then stumbled when he had a nervy Nole in his sights.

11. Nick Kyrgios loves the big stage and he owned the best shot of the tourney.

12. Sara Errani loves a grass court only when she has to cover half of it.

13. A shot clock is in order.

14. Li Na lost her coach and most likely what was left of her confidence.


16. The AELTC is determined to keep Wimbledon white. How white does it need to be?

17. Boris Becker needs an upgrade on his SPF. Stat.

18. Time and again, when a baller is dealing with a serious, life-threatening illness, the tennis community comes together quickly with an outpouring of support. So it was for Vicky Duval.

19. At Roland Garros, the women’s game offered more quality matches than the men’s. Ditto for Wimbledon.

20. The addition of Boris Becker to Team Djokovic and Stefan Edberg to Team Federer were smart ones. The jury’s still out on Amelie Mauresmo and Team Murray (they're expected to make a decision on whether to continue the partnership past the grass-court season).

21. There’s no dominant lady baller on the WTA tour at the moment. Any takers?

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

PHOTO OP: Before...and after. See?

Winning hasn't aged them a bit.

[Photo(s) credit: @NoleUnbeatable]

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Djokovic edges Federer in five sets, wins second Wimbledon title

Novak Djokovic is not known as a man of few words. But on Sunday, after his exhilarating 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 win over Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, he kept it short and sweet.

“I need this win a lot.”

No kidding. With this win, he broke the three-match losing streak in major finals dating back exactly one year ago when he fell on Centre Court to Andy Murray in straight sets. He followed that defeat with a loss to Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open, and another tough defeat at the hands of the Spaniard at Roland Garros last month.

In those matches, he let leads and momentum slip and was never able to recover mentally. Today, the 27-year old lost a tense first set in a tiebreak, won the second and third, and led 5-2 and had a match point on Fed’s serve in the fourth set. But he allowed the Swiss to come back and win five straight games to force a fifth. The momentum was clearly in Fed’s corner at that point. But the top seed regrouped (apparently giving himself a positive pep talk during the bathroom break between sets), held his serve throughout the set, and was able to break Fed in the tenth game to win the match. It was an absolute classic with both ballers striking the ball with authority, covering the court with seemingly inhuman ability, and fighting until the end. As he did in 2011 when he won his first Wimbledon crown, he knelt on the ground and ate a piece of grass to commemorate the win.

It was an emotional victory for both Nole and Fed, and it showed during the trophy ceremony. While tears of happiness and relief seemed to flow from the Serb, a single tear from the seven-time champ etched the disappointment of not making good on a golden opportunity. History, per the usual when talking about the Swiss, was on the line. Fed was looking to capture his record eight title at the All England Club, passing Pete Sampras and William Renshaw. The grass courts have been the 32-year old's sanctuary over the years. Who knows when an opportunity like this one will come again.

Nole, who regained the number one ranking from Rafa with the victory, has now reestablished himself as a champion at the majors. He tied John McEnroe and Mats Wilander with eight majors each. And his confidence will be high as the tour moves to the hard courts – his favorite surface – of North America.

In this final, Nole needed few words. For the first time in a while, he let his tennis do the talking.

[Photo(s) credit: Getty Images]

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