Video: Williams sisters team up with Manning brothers in Double Stuf commercials

August 30th, 2008

They’ve conquered England, were a dynamic duo in Beijing this August and are preparing for the U.S. Open…but that’s not enough for tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams! The power pair announced today that they’re taking on a “second sport” and putting their “twisting, licking and dunking” skills to the test, as the newest members of the Double Stuf Racing League (DSRL).

The sisters join famous quarterback brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, the league’s first “two sport” athletes, who launched the DSRL earlier this year. The DSRL puts a new spin on the classic Oreo and milk ritual by bringing friends and families together to “lick race” — a friendly competition where racers see who can twist, lick and dunk a single Oreo Double Stuf cookie and drink a glass of milk the fastest.




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No repeat chance for Kuznetsova at US Open

August 30th, 2008

Not only has Svetlana Kuznetsova lost her chance to salvage a somewhat tough year for her, she is also out of the running to be #1 in the world in the near future.

Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova became the latest upset victim at the U.S. Open, beaten by 28th-seeded Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-3, 6-7 (1-7), 6-3 in the third round Friday.

A day after No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia lost to 188th-ranked Julie Coin of France, the third-seeded Kuznetsova was eliminated. The Russian won the tournament in 2004 and finished second last year. Seattle Times

Now it is being reported that Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva are the only women who still currently have a shot at the top spot.


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Harkleroad is Pregnant

August 30th, 2008

John McEnroe seemed to break this story on air at the US Open a few days ago, but now the confirmations seem to be coming in that she is expecting her first child with coach and future husband Chuck Adams.

American player and playmate Ashley Harkleroad didn’t pull out of the US Open with a back injury, but because she is pregnant, the Fed Cup heroine confirmed to the WTA on Friday.

Harkleroad, who lives with her boyfriend and coach former ATP pro Chuck Adams in L.A., is believed to be at least six weeks pregnant. Her last event was Los Angeles at the end of the July, around the same time that she became the first tennis player to appear on the cover of Playboy, for which she was paid an estimated $250,000. The 23-year-old, who had to undergo emergency surgery to remove one of her ovaries back in April, is said to be thrilled. tennisreporters.net



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Ashley Harkleroad’s August 2008 Playboy Magazine cover

August 30th, 2008

Outside of the Williams sisters, American women are not making news for their tennis - but one is getting a lot of attention by posing nude on the August 2008 cover of Playboy.

Here’s the cover - if you want to see more, you’ll have to go buy the magazine.



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Video: Sharapova’s new Canon commercial

August 30th, 2008

Here’s the Canon commercial that is airing currently - it features Dolce and Maria Sharapova.




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US Open Interview: Ana Ivanovic, after 2nd round loss

August 30th, 2008

Q. Julie said that she felt out there today that she felt you almost seemed nervous. Some errors on the forehand, the double faults. She doesn’t know what’s in your head, but she said from her perspective it seemed that you were nervous. Maybe playing with the No. 1 ranking might have been a lot of pressure for you. Is that a fair assessment of the way you felt today?

ANA IVANOVIC: Maybe a little bit. I was nervous going onto the court because I never saw her play before so I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I can slowly, get into the match, and she played completely different than I expected. She was serving extremely well and hitting very powerful shots.

So I really struggled and made too many unforced errors and my serve was not working really well. Obviously, it’s very frustrating, because I know I can play so much better. This was very, very disappointing loss for me, but it’s something that I have to accept, you know, especially with everything that has happened in the past probably month or two months. I couldn’t expect myself to, you know, to maybe even play better.

Q. Since winning Roland Garros you had a tough Wimbledon and a tough tournament here, both at No. 1. I just wonder, do you feel the pressure of No. 1, or does that make you play a little different?

ANA IVANOVIC: No. I see that as reward because, you know, I think I deserve that position. You know, I won a Grand Slam and I was playing really well.

Obviously if you would ask me at the moment if I’m playing like No. 1 probably not, but I can’t judge too much on that because I really haven’t had chance to practice. This kind of loss I had today is just incentive to work harder, to go back on the court and to keep working hard and practicing and improving.

Because I think I have possibility to maintain No. 1 for a long time and to win a Grand Slam. So I just had a little, you know, unfortunate with injury, and I just have to go back on the court and keep working hard.

Q. You mentioned the thumb. How badly did the thumb bother you today?

ANA IVANOVIC: Today I didn’t feel it, and also last match was good. So, you know, I’m just happy to be back on track without pain. Now all I have to do is put some hard yards on the court and go back out there and work hard.

Because also today I had lots of misshits on my forehand. I think it’s also, you know, shows a little bit lack of practice and lack of maybe confidence in that area.

Q. I think you said the other day you went from Beijing to Australia for physio.

ANA IVANOVIC: Yes.

Q. And then obviously playing in the States prior. I mean, that’s a lot of travel. How much do you think that that factored in, having all that travel?

ANA IVANOVIC: Like I said, I had very tough last couple of months. It’s now behind me and, you know, I have to look at the positives. We struggled a lot to find what was wrong with my hand. I couldn’t actually practice, so that was obviously frustrating.

Obviously now we found solution for it and I feel better. For me, that’s really, really good, and that’s incentive to now go back on the court and keep working hard, and hopefully with a little bit less traveling.

Q. What about Julie’s game surprised you the most? Like you said earlier, you didn’t know what to expect.

ANA IVANOVIC: Her serve was very consistent and very, very strong. She’s not such a tall girl, and she was serving really strong and powerful serves. Yeah, had a lot of first serves in as well.

It was very hard to get rhythm because I tried couple times, you know, to make longer rally, to slowly get into the match, but she didn’t give me options. She was going for her shots and she was playing really well today.

And still, I think in the third set I created a lot of opportunities for myself. Just, yeah, didn’t quite use them. That was very, very frustrating.

Q. How hard was that for you? Because, I mean, obviously you’re used to being able to execute shots. You’re out there, No. 1 player in the world, and you can’t do what you want to do.

ANA IVANOVIC: It was very, very hard, probably the hardest thing about today’s match. Okay, if I didn’t create those opportunities she was just better. But I think I had lot of chances, and just not being able to use them was very frustrating. Maybe I was a little bit also too hard on myself at some moments.

But, you know, I just have to look positive, that I’m pain‑free and able to play, and to now go back on court and work hard.

Q. Which one has been your biggest opportunity you think you missed in the match?

ANA IVANOVIC: In the third set I had couple. At 2‑All, 40‑Love, three breakpoints. And also first game of the third set, I think I had breakpoint in that game, too. I had opportunity to step up and put pressure on her straight from the beginning in the third set but couldn’t quite use it.

Q. I know it’s not quite easy to ask because it’s just after the game, but do you have any specific plans to go back home and regroup and maybe get back to regain the No. 1 position, because you may lose it?

ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I have to speak with my team and make a plan. We didn’t have a chance to do that yet. Obviously, I’m very, very motivated to go straight back on the court. Honestly, I don’t need any time off, because I had plenty of it without tennis.

I’m ready to get back on the court and keep practicing. I don’t know, maybe even leave tomorrow already and get straight back into it.

Q. Who do you think will win this tournament, and why?

ANA IVANOVIC: It’s very hard. I think Williams sisters, I think they have a pretty good chance. Yeah, I think the top half of the draw, it’s quite strong.

Q. Julie said that happened when she was out there she didn’t feel nervous. It was just another game until it got to the match points. Were you surprised with the poise that she showed out there?

ANA IVANOVIC: Well, I think what I experienced so far is girls, when they play against higher‑ranked players, they have nothing to lose so they go for their shots. Many times they play matches of their life. Not only in women’s tennis, also in men’s.

When I watch Rafa or Roger or Nole, the players that come up with shots against them is just amazing. They feel no pressure and they’re so relaxed to play these kind of shots.

She managed, like she said, to stay calm and to play the same until the end.

Q. How do you see the chances for Caroline Wozniacki to win this tournament, or at least get into the final?

ANA IVANOVIC: I know she’s very good player and she’s very talented girl. But to tell you the truth, I don’t know much about the draw or any opponents or who she’s playing.

Yeah, she’s very young, and I’m sure she has good possibility.



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Check out Djokovic’s new girlfriend

August 30th, 2008

Leryn Franco, a track and field athlete from Paraguay, had a less than impressive showing at the Olympics, but managed to snag herself a new boyfriend - Novak Djokovic.

theimproper.com
Franco, 26, and Djokovic, 21, have been seen walking around hand in hand in the Olympic village, leaving no doubt the athletic duo are in love.

“Djokovic looks to his new partner as if she were a trophy,” an Argentine athlete told La Nacion newspaper. “Is it official? Yes, of course. They go hand in hand everywhere,” he added.

Leryn, a part-time model and bikini contestant, and Djokovic, who was seeded No. 3 in tennis at the 2008 Olympics, have also been seen in a restaurant near the Olympic village where athletes reside during the Games. The Improper

Now she’s at the US Open, watching Novak’s matches. People are starting to wonder if she’s about to become a big distraction, but so far Novak is coming through in his matches.



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Video: Mad Dog Minute Prediction - Nadal won’t win US Open

August 26th, 2008

Predicting that Nadal won’t win the US Open is the total safe bet. Heck, I don’t think he’ll win it - but our usual winner, Federer, has really blown it this year in smaller competitions and been unable to pull through a final in major competitions. I see an opportunity here as Nadal may burn out (note that he proved otherwise several times this year) and Federer may not have gotten his game together yet, even for an incredibly easy draw to the semis.

I also don’t think Nadal needs to win the US Open this year to be able to build on his success, and certainly wouldn’t view it as a setback.



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Nadal rejects Nike’s wardrobe change for now

August 26th, 2008

Hours before his first U.S. Open match Monday, Rafael Nadal decided that his game was more important than his wardrobe, telling his advisers and corporate sponsor Nike Inc. that he wasn’t ready for an image makeover after all.

Over three days the exuberant Spanish star known as Rafa had practiced in a new wardrobe that included such radical adjustments as shirts with short sleeves and pants that stopped above the knee instead of a few inches below.

But Mr. Nadal ultimately decided that his first match at the final Grand Slam event of the year wasn’t the right setting for his planned sartorial reinvention — particularly after he had captured two Grand Slams, Olympic gold and the top spot in the world rankings in his old garb.

“Frankly, Nadal is on a roll,” said Kilee Hughes, a spokesman for Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike, which designs Mr. Nadal’s clothes. “We listen to the voice of the athlete.”

Nike had unveiled Mr. Nadal’s new look after months of careful planning that began with a trip by Nike’s design team to the star’s home in Majorca, Spain. The company put its new lightweight shirt through “numerous discussions and wear-testings” to ensure that it wouldn’t hinder his performance, and it created shorts designed to “move with him — from baseline to net — without chafing or bunching up.” It praised the final ensemble as a look that “balances his casual off-court personality with the technical precision and passion he brings to the game.”

Nike’s Ms. Hughes said Mr. Nadal’s change of mind was “not a setback at all” for Nike but rather the byproduct of a “highly unusual” schedule. She said Mr. Nadal is still committed to switching to the new gear, perhaps at one of the smaller tournaments after the U.S. Open.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that after months of consultation with designers at Nike and his management team, Mr. Nadal had decided to shift his image. Now that he was the top player on the planet, Mr. Nadal was ready to bid farewell to the adolescent muscle T-shirts and Capri-style pants that had garnered nearly as much renown as his lightning strokes and adopt a more traditional tennis look. WSJ

Good for Nadal! Right now he should avoid the mistakes that players of the past have made - getting too caught up in their sponsorship. Ultimately, he should focus on practice and not on doing interviews on the new clothes, etc. Yes, that was a cheap shot at Federer, who finally is blaming lack of practice on his inability to fend off Nadal and others this year.

I suspect Nike just wants to put a stop to the wedgie picking, which I am convinced is now just a habit of Nadal’s game and won’t be going anywhere. They know they aren’t selling any man-capris with the wedgie pick being mentioned in any article about them.

Leave the traditional tennis wear to Federer. He seems to like the ridiculous cardigans.



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Roddick’s wedding plans

August 26th, 2008
It appears as if it is an “all systems go” report for Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker’s wedding, a report from Life & Style Weekly details this week. “It might be next spring,” Andy, 26, told Life & Style at the BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis event in NYC on Aug. 21. “It’ll probably be down in Texas; that’s where we spend most of our time.” National Ledger



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