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Archive for June, 2008

Wimbledon LIVE Online Video by MediaZone

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Today marks the first day that I am watching Wimbledon LIVE online through the MediaZone service. The service lets you watch live streams online of the Wimbledon matches, and control which ones you want to watch.

I’m going to write some initial impressions and then update them as the tournament continues:

Positive points:

  • Video quality is good, no delay or flicker in video
  • Love the ability to switch between current matches with the links on the left
  • Negatives:

  • Video is not DVD or HD resolution. Video can be made full screen, but it’s just stretching default video size (which is around 385 X 286, a 4:3 aspect ratio)
  • Background audio is “tinny” (such as the clapping of the crowd), although the commentator voices come in very clearly
  • Suggestions:

  • Put the current scores in a single line under each of the matches on the left side (so I know if I want to click over because the set / match might be ending, or the match is very close)
  • Hopefully they’ll develop or license a video codec to produce an HD stream in the future (see streaming, it’s amazing)
  • Firefox is a much better browser than Internet Explorer, it would nice if it worked with Firefox.
  • Make the Help link be a popup like all the other links! On top of that, there’s no way to get back to the video after click the Help link unless you use the keyboard command “Alt + Left”
  • New Suggestion: See if it’s possible to keep the volume level the same when switching between the different live match streams. I realize this can be a limitation of using Windows Media Player, but if it were possible, that’d be nice. UPDATE: I just noticed that if a match ends, the stream automatically closes and switches to another one. The volume did not change in this case though, which makes me believe that my suggestion about the volume is technically possible.
  • Summary:

    So far, quite a good experience for watching Tennis online, definitely worth it if you don’t get it on local TV, or just want the convenience, control and all access viewing of live broadcasts.

    Top Spin 3 for Wii fails to meet expectations

    Saturday, June 28th, 2008

    I’ll be honest here - I’m not a console gamer normally. I play a lot of Wii Fit, which is hardly a game, and some occasional Super Mario Galaxy. I own an Xbox and a PS2, so I am not on the cutting edge of anything console gaming.

    When I got my Wii, I was very excited about the idea of a tennis game. Wii Tennis (packaged in Wii Sports) was okay for a concept, but had no real gameplay. When I saw that Top Spin 3 was coming out, I was probably the only person on the planet to pre-order it. Well, today it arrived, and I was excited - I had the game out of the box almost immediately. I took a quick glance through the manual, but decided to start learning by playing.

    There are three possible play modes on the Wii: Exhibitions, Road to Glory, and Party Games - all require the Wiimote and Nunchuk. I stuck with Exhibitions, because it is the easiest way to start playing right away. I started selecting players (Blake versus some guy I’ve never heard of before), a venue (Paris), and got to work.

    Or so I tried. The Wiimote is used to execute a serve, requiring you to raise it to get the ball in the air. My Wiimote was detected about 10% of the time, so Blake sat there dumbly until some bit of magic finally got it to work and a meter would appear to show me when the ball would go in and I could swing the Wiimote down. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to control the meter, a problem that is partly a result of the fact that I have no idea when my raised Wiimote will be detected and partly because this meter is never mentioned in the manual. I ended up only ever getting one serve in out of many, many games because the meter would swing too fast to the “out” positions and the player would serve. More double faults for me than Elena Dementieva. Luckily, the Z button on the nunchuk does an easy, automatic serve.

    The gameplay itself isn’t terrible, although my playing is - I really did get into swinging, to the point of actual exertion - a big bonus for me, as I really like to immerse myself into action games. I suspect it is similar to past Top Spins, although I think some of the camera angle issues in Top Spin 2 have been addressed. The players all looked decent, but I was getting wrapped up in trying to just play so I didn’t notice them getting fatigued, one of the features of the game.

    To sum up my first experiences:

    Pro: I actually did get some exercise playing.

    Pro: Winning points was actually fun.

    Con: The manual is complete crap.

    Con: There are no action based tutorials - you must learn in the game, and it is a bit much for us new folks to learn at the speed of a game.

    Con: There seems to be some problems with detecting to Wii Remote being raised on my system that couldn’t be fixed by repositioning any of the hardware components.

    Con: I needed to shut off the game due to frustration. I’m now staring at the manual.

    My next plan is to invite some of my more game savvy friends over. Maybe they can help me figure this out.

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    Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Ana Ivanovic, after third round loss

    Friday, June 27th, 2008

    Jie Zheng def. Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-4

    Q. What has gone wrong this Wimbledon?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, it’s tough, you know. I didn’t play many tournaments before, so had a little bit of time to adjust. But I think she played really well today. It was tough match for me.

    You know, I’m definitely disappointed with my loss. But, you know, still I look at it as a learning experience. And, like I said, she played very well today.

    Q. She was hitting some very good shots. Was it very difficult for you to retrieve?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, obviously, you know, she’s a good player and she plays well on grass. She has very powerful shot. She stays very low, so the balls are coming much faster through the air.

    I had a little bit, you know, tough time to adjust to the balls with the timing. It was also a little bit windy. I think grass suits very well with her.

    Q. Anything waist high you were hitting the winners. Anything lower than that was difficult for you to retrieve.

    ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, it was tough. I tried to play balls higher, to try to get under the ball and play with lot of spin.

    But, like I said, I found it hard to get good timing. So, you know, I was a little bit holding back. I made too many miss hits, I think, as well.

    She played well. She served also very good. I found it hard to mix my serve. She was reading my serves very well. Even when I tried to kick it and bounce the ball high, she was still there on the ball.

    Q. Have you felt any extra pressure being No. 1?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Obviously a little bit in the beginning, yes. But I think I adjusted little bit to that. I just tried to go out there and enjoy. Today I wasn’t, you know, nervous or anything like I was maybe for the first match.

    But it was just she played well, and I think I didn’t perform as well as I hoped for. But, you know, like I said, it’s still learning experience for me. It was all new situations. But, you know, obviously it’s tough. It’s never easy to lose.

    Q. You had the reprieve two days ago. After that match, did you feel confident that you were going to be able to take advantage of that and do well here, or did you have concerns about the way you were playing?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Obviously it was tough because from the first match on, I tried to find my game, you know. I felt like I was struggling a little bit. It was very, very emotional past couple of weeks for me. It also took a little bit toll on me.

    You know, I didn’t have as good preparation as I hope for because I had to have some time off, as well. It took some time to adjust to the grass.

    But, like I said, she played well.

    Q. It seems like you still haven’t found the right way to play on grass for your game yet, that you’re still looking for answers.

    ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, I think it takes time. Because especially after clay, it’s completely different game. I had some time off, so I didn’t have too much time to practice and to do all these little specific movements and things you need to in order to adjust to the grass.

    Especially you have to accept that not every shot you’re going to hit it’s going to be, you know, perfect. There’s going to be quite a few, you know, bad bounces.

    That’s something I found, you know, a little bit hard to deal with. And also coming from clay, it’s completely different mentality you have to have going on court. Because on clay, if you struggling a little bit, you still have time to get into the game.

    But here everything is happening so fast. You really have to be there from the first point on, and that’s something, you know, that I found it hard. You know, especially today. She was hitting ball fast and flat. I didn’t have enough time to, you know, get into my game.

    Q. What is the one thing that you think you’ve learned about being No. 1?

    ANA IVANOVIC: It’s everyone’s going to be so pumped against you and they’re going to try, you know, to perform the best they can. I think, you know, in my previous matches, as well as today, you know, they had nothing to lose. Really I think they played some of their best tennis. It’s something you have to accept.

    Also, you know, with the time, learn to deal with it.

    Q. We’ve seen people come in here after shock defeats and be really down, really miserable. You’re really still quite bubbly and upbeat. Are you a good actress, or are you philosophical?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Trust me, it’s not easy to lose. Obviously, no, I had some time to calm down also after the match. Because I think every loss is disappointing, especially you work hard over achieving some things and then you go out there.

    But you also have to realize that the world won’t end. You know, I’m still so young and have many tournaments in front of me. You know, these things make you learn that you still have room to improve, and, you know, areas can you improve on.

    So, you know, sometimes you need a punch to realize what you have to work on.

    Q. What do you feel you need specifically to improve your game enough to do well on grass?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Well, like I was saying, this year was quite hard because I had really a little amount of time that I spent on grass. So maybe in the future we’re going to try to change that and try to spend more time on court, you know.

    Obviously, like I was saying, it was very emotional time past couple of weeks. So with my coaches, we try to, you know, cut the practices on minimum just to have time to recover little bit, you know, and have some time for myself.

    So that’s something that we thought, you know, would be good. But, you know, we gonna change that maybe next time and spend more time on court and trying to adjust to grass.

    Q. Tipsarevic said, in explaining Novak’s loss the other day, that everything is happening so fast to Novak at such an early age. How does that compare to your situation?

    ANA IVANOVIC: I think it’s kind of similar. Novak, I think he’s a great player, and he already achieved so much. He has a potential, you know, to become No. 1. He has a great game, you know. So sometimes it’s hard to realize you have to stop and take some time and realize, Hey, you know, I’m actually doing good and give yourself pat on the back and appreciate that.

    Sometimes you get lost in that and you just go and try, you know, to play as many matches as you can. You know, sometimes you’re tired, emotional tired, but you don’t realize, you know, why.

    So it’s important also to take time and let it sink in a little bit and set your goals again. For sure, he had goal to win in a Grand Slam. So once you achieve that, you’re like, Okay, so you have to set some other goal again. That’s similar for me. You know, it’s something I learned.

    Q. Early in the year you gave us such wonderful insights into your thinking about psychology. Have you thought about the psychology of being a champion, of realizing that you’re the French Open winner, No. 1? Have you done any reading in that?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Obviously, you know, I like psychology. I really like to read about it. But, you know, lately we took it easy a little bit because I was too much into it. It was, you know, taking some time. Because I also was thinking about, you know, studying probably that. But it’s just too much to combine both things.

    But it’s something very interesting. You know, as a professional athlete and also having opportunity to deal with different people in different countries, you learn lot about, you know, other people, you know, the way the human mind works and the way people are. I think it’s really interesting.

    Q. And has it sunken in to you that you are the Roland Garros champion and No. 1?

    ANA IVANOVIC: I think now it has. It took me a while, I think. But, yeah, I think it’s normal. And, you know, all these experiences you go through, and actually every match you can play you can learn something from it. I’m lucky I have a great team around me that also make me see some little things that, you know, you forget or you can’t see.

    Q. What does Scott Byrnes bring to your game?

    ANA IVANOVIC: Since I started working with him on my fitness, I improve so much. You know, I lost some weight. I worked hard on my upper body strength because it was always, you know, little weaker point for me. It gave me so much confidence on the court because I had feeling I could play more matches in a row and I could play for a longer time and compete on a high level.

    You know, that was a huge step for me. That’s I think when first I start doing well because, yeah, I just felt, you know, so good, you know, being able to compete against top players.

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    Does everyone hate Maria?

    Friday, June 27th, 2008

    This article was spawned off of the comments that Alla Kudryavtseva made in her post-Maria-match interview - Kudryavtseva stated a few times that she wasn’t a fan of Sharapova’s outfit (was anyone? really???) and wanted to beat her in part because of that outfit. Now the interpretation of those comments begins:

    What Kudryavtseva probably meant, of course, is that she doesn’t like Sharapova — or at least Sharapova Inc. The Tiffany’s earrings, the talking point dresses, the endorsements, the money, the attention … Sharapova’s commercial success would make it tough for her to be one of the girls even if she wanted to be, but she shows no sign that she does. It’s not too surprising that Sharapova’s level of comfort around fellow players isn’t great, given some unfriendly experiences at Bollettieri’s and the silent resentment that greets any attractive young player on tour who receives a lot of hype.

    “I don’t know her well,” said Kudryavtseva. “I’m quite sure no one on the tour knows her well, because she’s not a very talkative girl and not very outgoing. We were in the same team for Fed Cup and I was there for the finals [last year] … she was pretty nice when she was on the team.”

    She gave a sly grin. “After that she started saying hello.”

    This saying hello business is clearly a big deal in the locker room, with Anna Kournikova (the original unloved Russian) and the Williams sisters all infamous for a tendency not to greet players. Ahead of the French Open, Alize Cornet listed Anna Chakvetadze as her least liked player — Chakvetadze’s failure to say hello factoring heavily in the explanation.

    Of course, Kudryavtseva’s little twist of the knife wouldn’t be anything more than an offbeat aside to the day’s happenings if it wasn’t that swipes have been taken at Sharapova in the past by fellow Russians Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova. Even Nikolay Davydenko once called her a “passport Russian” (the same Davydenko who now lives in Austria, incidentally.)

    So why does everyone hate Maria?

    Even among tennis fans as a whole, it’s been clear for some time that Sharapova is not a beloved champion. There’s a lot of interest in her, but not a lot of affection. She was booed off the court by the finicky French fans after losing to Dinara Safina at the French Open. It inspired an interesting discussion in the IHT’s pre-Wimbledon forum, and the range of possibilities given was wide — her entourage, her grunting, her uninspiring game, her toughness on court, her looks.

    The thing is, what’s she to do? Sharapova isn’t by nature warm or sweet, nor is she pleasantly dumb, either of which would make her less threatening. She’s sharp and assertive, presenting a steely edge to the world (though perhaps a softer quality to those close to her).

    Maybe it’s just a case of being philosophical and following Machiavelli’s dictum: It’s better to be feared than loved, if you can’t be both.

    Trouble is, it doesn’t quite work that way in tennis. Not liking someone is always a source of motivation. MSNBC

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    Serena eliminates Mauresmo

    Friday, June 27th, 2008

    Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 Wimbledon winner, will again be on the sidelines during this year’s Wimbledon final. Serena Williams defeated her today in the third round, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. Mauresmo and Svetlana Kuznetsova had withdrawn already from doubles due to injury, as she suffered a muscle tear during the Eastbourne Wimbledon warm-up event.

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    Ivanovic eliminated from Wimbledon

    Friday, June 27th, 2008

    And the seed elimination continues…

    Ana Ivanovic, ranked #1, just lost to China’s Jie Zheng, 6-1 6-4. Looks like the third round is going to be one to talk about also…

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    Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Andy Roddick, after second round loss

    Friday, June 27th, 2008

    Janko Tipsarevic def. Andy Roddick 6-7 (5-7), 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)

    Q. Last year when you talked to us here in this room after your last match you were pretty distraught. What is your feeling right now?

    ANDY RODDICK: Uhm, you know, pretty distraught. But, I mean, you know, probably I don’t know what I am. Uhm, probably just disappointed.

    You know, I literally I mean, you know, any chance I got I pretty much just choked it. So, you know, that’s tough to deal with, and that’s not something that you really want to do, you know.

    So that’s probably that’s disappointing, you know. It’s not an easy thing to say, but it’s pretty much what happened.

    I could sit here and try to dance around it all night, but, I mean, you guys watched it. It was what it was. It’s like you want something so bad you almost squeeze too tight.

    Q. Did you feel you had clean shots at those three set points in the fourth?

    ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. The guy hit average serves in the middle of the box at about 90 miles an hour. There’s no excuse. You know, if I consider myself, you know, a top player or whatever, you make those. You make those in your sleep.

    And I just you know, I not only didn’t make them, there was nothing even positive in the misses.

    Q. What were you trying to do with the flat footed shot you tapped back into the net?

    ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, obviously I think you’re looking backhand there. I don’t know if you go forehand at all. That was probably a good play by him.

    Once I was fooled. I was literally trying to make him play. I thought he was pretty tight also. That’s not the way you just got to reverse the mentality of putting it in and hoping he’s going to miss. I just didn’t make anything happen out there tonight. Zero, zero, zero.

    Q. The kind of surplus of emotion you talking about something you learned how to handle in Davis Cup. Is this the one spot where it’s still hard for you to overcome?

    ANDY RODDICK: No, I don’t know. I don’t know. You know, different scenario. Possibly. I mean, it’s twice in a row here that I’ve completely blanked. ‘06, I was just playing like crap. But the last two years, I feel like I’ve actually been hitting the ball decent.

    Obviously I didn’t have great preparation, but that doesn’t have anything to do with dumping the balls that I did tonight.

    Q. Do you feel like you played like crap the whole match or just like crap on the big points?

    ANDY RODDICK: I don’t know the stats. I probably won more total points, or I was winning more total points up until the last one or two. I mean, you know, when you feel like you’re playing bad and you’re still winning more points, I mean, it comes down to the big points.

    I played just horrific shots on breakpoints both ways. He was a hundred percent on breakpoints, I was O for 58. I put myself in position to win that match in straight sets, you know. I served huge tonight. You know, I actually returned well in spots.

    I don’t feel like it’s not like it’s not the same as ‘06 where I couldn’t have hit the ball into an ocean from the beach. It was just the big moments. I blinked. You know, there’s no way of getting around that.

    Q. After the match, was it more right away anger at yourself, disappointment, shock?

    ANDY RODDICK: No, I don’t think it’s shock. I mean, you know if you do that you should lose. No one’s going to give you anything. Especially he’s played well before. I mean, he’s capable of playing well, especially when you give him opportunity after opportunity and kind of let him off the hook. I mean, that’s not shocking.

    Angry and disappointed in myself? Absolutely, yeah.

    Q. How do you correct the tightness?

    ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, it’s I think it’s tougher when you’re not match tough. I kind of came in hoping, you know, hoping it was going to be okay. Obviously, I’ve won big matches before, you know, so, that probably has something to do with it.

    Just letting it go. I think it’s a mentality, and I just didn’t have it tonight. I was just it was just bad.

    Q. What within the match did you try to do to correct it?

    ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, you know, in the fourth set it was a little better. I started to hit I probably hit the ball better in the fourth set than I did the rest of the match. I just started trying to compete and forget about everything else. You know, it wasn’t enough, but it felt a little bit better.

    Q. Outside of the breakpoints, you get into the breaker there, it’s a whole different match. Take us through the tiebreak there.

    ANDY RODDICK: The last one?

    Q. Yes.

    ANDY RODDICK: Yeah. I mean, it pretty much comes down to, you know, I missed a forehand. I hit the top of the tape. I missed a backhand. Hit the top of the tape.

    You know, that’s not the tiebreaker’s not what angers me the most. You know, that wasn’t horrendous. He actually won that. He hit some good shots up the line. He played a good tiebreaker.

    Q. On the third set point, did he surprise you with the serve and volley? Did that have any affect on the return?

    ANDY RODDICK: No. I mean, I think you’re set in on your return. If he hasn’t serve and volleyed the whole match and then he hits 130 and comes in behind it, you’re not noticing until, you know, he’s already up there. I mean, you’re looking to hit a firm return either way.

    That makes me upset, because, you know, if someone doesn’t do something the whole match, all of a sudden does it on breakpoint, they’re panicking, too, and don’t want to hit a shot. So I’m noticing all these things and not able to capitalize. It’s just frustrating and it’s, you know yeah, it’s just frustrating.

    Q. You said before about just wanting this so much. Can you try to explain to us how much you want this? When you come into this tournament, what are you feeling?

    ANDY RODDICK: Well, I mean, it’s a weird situation ’cause, you know, by no means am I going to complain about anything that I’ve been blessed with, but it’s almost at this point win another slam or what. You know, that’s also a tough you know, it’s a tough thing to kind of deal with.

    Either you win a slam or what, you’re disappointing? You kind of have to deal with that every day. And I think I was trying to press so much, even from practice, just trying to get to a level where I thought I could compete for this title.

    You know, kind of try to squeeze it in and play catch up. You know, maybe that even came through tonight, ’cause I was trying to press so much and get ready. You know, it’s unfortunate timing for not being prepared. You know, I think I did pretty much everything in my power to be here and to give it a go and to try.

    I hope that has something to do with it. I’ll probably have a better read on it in a couple days. Right now, you know, you kind of have to try to give it time to settle.

    Q. Given that you have set up your whole summer to give yourself the best chance at the US Open, that’s putting a lot of eggs in the basket. Will it be hard to not put too much pressure on yourself?

    ANDY RODDICK: What’s the other option, not to play at all? Then I’m in the same position I was here. I’m gonna have pressure on myself regardless. And it’s not from anybody else, it’s from within. You know, I want to win another slam and I want to, you know I could probably coast and not train and be a top 10 player and kind of have a cushy lifestyle and be set for as long as I need to be set for. I’m happy as I can be away from losing tennis matches.

    But I don’t know if I’ll be I don’t know if that appeals to me. I don’t know if I’m satisfied with that. So, you know, you do what you can and you kind of try to put yourself in that position.

    Historically I’ve played well when I’ve had a lot of matches going into a slam.

    Q. So you think that is a fair question we should be asking you? Win another slam or what? Or that is your feeling inside?

    ANDY RODDICK: Well, I put the analogy to John and Doug. We were just talking in there. I said, You know, when you’ve seen the Rolling Stones from the front row, and then all of a sudden you’re like, you know, seven or eight rows back and there’s a really tall guy in front of you waving his hands and screaming, you can’t see much, it’s not going to be as good as the other show.

    That’s kind of what you’re going to remember. Maybe you got to kind of get some baby steps to get back there. I know I was in that position in ‘06. Kind of almost started enjoying every single match I won again because it was void. It’s a little bit of a different situation.

    I mean, you can ask whatever you want. I’m telling you, you know, that’s where my head’s at. I want to win another slam. You know, if I’m being honest with you guys, and if you guys are being honest with me, if I go and win a tour event, what are you guys going to say? Who cares?

    Q. You’ve been on top before, so right.

    ANDY RODDICK: I’m aware of that. I’m aware of the situation I’m in.

    Q. Taking the Rolling Stones analogy a step further, is it sometimes better to get that seat in the front row when you’re a little bit older than getting it when you’re younger?

    ANDY RODDICK: I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve been through. I know you guys probably aren’t going to believe any of that, but I wish you would, because I’ve been pretty much brutally honest throughout my entire career.

    Tennis is hugely important because it’s what I do and it’s what I take pride in. If I’m going to sit here and tell you, you know, would I have liked to have struggled, you know, early on and then come through in this moment of glory later on?

    I don’t know. Is that even worth talking about? It’s not a realistic situation. You know, we’re not Peter Pan, the Sta Puff Marshmallow Man or whatever. We’re not living in a fantasy world. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished so far in my career. I wouldn’t trade it.

    Q. Have you seen the Stones?

    ANDY RODDICK: I saw them in Austin one time.

    Q. What row were you in?

    ANDY RODDICK: I was at the bar bunny. No, I don’t know. I wasn’t in the front row.

    Q. If you do get to the front row, how do you think that will change things?

    ANDY RODDICK: As far as what?

    Q. As far as wanting to win another Grand Slam, how do you think that would feel?

    ANDY RODDICK: Oh, I mean, it would be it would probably be I don’t know. You know, tennis is different, too. It’s ups and downs. I think a couple days removed I’ll have a little bit more perspective.

    You know, playing well in Dubai, winning those matches, the feeling you have for that 10 seconds after I beat Roger for the first time in however long, you know, those are the good moments that should counteract ones like this.

    It probably would be better than anything I’ve felt in tennis before. Maybe Davis Cup along those lines. That was like a couple days of euphoria after that. But it would probably feel better than the US Open just because, you know, kind of took a lot more to get to that point if it does happen.

    Q. It was kind of a bizarre day. Davenport pulls out, Blake loses, Maria gets upset, you. Do you ever get a sense of that, or are you within your own world, all these other things are happening around me?

    ANDY RODDICK: I don’t think they have an effect on each other, if that’s what you’re asking. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes you have favorites through to the semis. It’s the way sports is. It’s not going to be the first day of upsets. It’s certainly not going to be the last time it’s happened.

    Q. You’ve given up the Olympics to get ready for the US Open and hard court season. Is it going to be easy to stay loose playing the Open with that kind of a decision behind you, to go in there and feel like you can play?

    ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, let’s not get nuts. I mean, I’ve played plenty of US Opens and have done just fine. No, I mean, I want to be prepared, and I want to be you know, physically and mentally.

    You know, when I’ve done well at the Open in the past, I’ve played a pretty heavy schedule and a lot of matches going in.

    I think if you run the track record, when I’ve done well leading up, I’ve normally done well in a slam. It’s kind of like, you know, I don’t know, something you do every day. If you don’t do it for six weeks it’s gonna take you a second.

    Unfortunately, my second takes place out there on Centre Court at Wimbledon. But playing a lot of matches going into a slam and playing weeks has worked before, so that’s the best way I know how to go about it.

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    Sharapova not allowed to carry flag for Olympics

    Friday, June 27th, 2008
    Officials have rejected Maria Sharapova’s request to carry the Russian flag at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

    “She wanted to be a flag-bearer (on August 8) but I advised against it,” Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev told reporters on Wednesday.

    “I don’t want her to spend three or four hours in hot weather waiting to march in the opening ceremony. We want her to be fresh, not tired, during her matches.” MSNBC

    But all that rest before Wimbledon didn’t do her any good…

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    Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Alla Kudryavtseva, after defeating Maria Sharapova

    Thursday, June 26th, 2008

    Read on for the type of interview that Maria Sharapova would never give…

    A. KUDRYAVTSEVA defeated M. Sharapova 6-2, 6-4

    THE MODERATOR: First question for Alla, please.

    Q. Best day of your life?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Tennis life, yes. Tennis‑wise probably.

    Q. What did you expect when you went out to play today?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, maybe it will sound a little too much for me, but I did expect to win. I did think about winning, not just going and playing.

    And the way I warmed up I was, like, trying my best shots. Actually, everything worked. So I was like, Well, I’m in a good shape, and she doesn’t play her best tennis at the moment, so, yeah, I was thinking about winning.

    Q. How much did you learn from your match at the French Open last year, up 4‑1 in the second set? How much did that help you today?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Uhm, well, definitely it helps, you know, when you know the player, when you know how she plays, you know what to expect.

    Of course I watch Maria a lot on the TV, but it’s different when you’re on the other side of the court.

    For sure that helped. But I think what helped more is my last year’s match with Venus Williams.

    Q. How did that help?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, I was so close to winning, and then just, you know, played a little too passive in the end. So today I was like, There’s no way I’m going to do the same mistake again, so I went for my shots.

    Q. Was it just two points from beating Venus?


    Q. What was going through your mind at that point?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, actually, I still remember it quite good, ’cause before today it was the biggest match of my career probably. I was up in the second set and I had some easy shots. I just decided, you know, to put them in, not risk, make a high‑percentage shot.

    I ended up losing those games, that set. Then it got so close and she was playing so good. I didn’t have that much chances to win the match. I had chances to stay in the match, but not to win the match.

    So, yeah, today, again, just went for my shots.

    Q. Coming into the match today you said to yourself, I’m not going to do this again?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: The first couple balls I missed, and I missed a couple very long and very ugly. Then I thought, Okay, at least I go for it. Sooner or later it has to go in. It happens pretty soon, so I’m happy about it.

    Q. Based on your record this year, how could you be confident you could win today? You haven’t been successful in too many tournaments.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Thank you. It’s so nice of you to remind me about it right now (laughter).

    Q. It’s reality.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: I didn’t say I was confident I’m going to win. I said I’m going into the match thinking I have a chance to win, thinking that’s one I want to win. But obviously I wasn’t confident ‑ not even close to confident.

    But I just thought, Well, I have to put myself in that frame of mind that if I have a chance I have to take it.

    Q. Is there a reason you haven’t been very successful this year?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Of course. Everything happens for a reason. Yeah, I had some issues in personal life, issues with injuries. Thankfully I overcome them all. I hope, I pray I overcome them all. Yeah, hope I will come back even stronger. I mean, hope I am coming back even stronger.

    Q. How significant was it, especially to beat Sharapova?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: It’s very pleasant to beat your ‑‑ you know, Maria.

    Q. Why?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Why? Well, I don’t like her outfit. Can I put it this way?

    Q. Sure. Do you think there’s too much made of the fashion thing with her?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, I liked her outfit at the French Open, so probably that’s why.

    But, yeah, it’s a little too much of everything, of the same thing.

    Q. What especially didn’t you like about the outfit?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Oh, c’mon. Now you’re going to take me to the fashion discussion. I’m not very good in fashion. I don’t know the trends.

    Q. You just don’t like the way it looks or you don’t like the idea of all the fashion stuff?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Kind of both, yeah. Well, I mean, she experiments, and I give her credit for that. She’s brave enough to experiment. Sometimes she has good ones, sometimes not. That’s my personal opinion, again. Maybe someone will tell me I dress terribly.

    Q. Did that give you motivation to beat her?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: It was one of the motivations to beat her.

    Q. Do you live in Miami or in Boca? How long have you been there? Where do you train?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: I train there. I don’t have my own place in Boca. My coach lives in Boca Raton. I have a new coach, yeah. He’s, again, American.

    Q. Who is the coach?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Christian Zahalka.

    Q. How long have you been with him?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Since December last year. He helped me to get through a lot of things. He had a belief in me.

    Q. You train in Boca at the Evert Academy, or where?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: No, at the ITA, International Tennis Academy. They’ve been very nice to me.

    Q. What stage did you realize today that Maria was really off her game and she was there for the taking?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Which stage of the match?

    Q. Yes.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, I realized Maria is not playing that great when she double‑faulted three times. I don’t know what score that was. That was the first time I broke her, and she double‑faulted three times in the same game.

    I was trying, you know, not to keep the score in my head so much ’cause it puts a lot of pressure. So, yeah, I think then I realized that she’s not at her best.

    But she picked it up towards the end of the match and she started playing some really good, aggressive tennis, put more balls in the court, not overplay the shots. I think I did a good job dealing with that. I knew she gonna pick it up at some point. She always does it.

    Q. The No. 1 player in the world gets pushed to two match points in the second round, and you knocked off the No. 3 seed. What does that say about the women’s game?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, Ana Ivanovic probably doesn’t know yet ‑‑ sorry. Let me start over.

    I think Ana got a tough draw. I mean, Dechy is good on grass. You know, she was two match points down. She picked it up. She played some good tennis in the end. It’s difficult for her. You know, she never was No. 1. It’s her first tournament at being No. 1 in the world, being a Grand Slam, you know, champion.

    Come on, she’s only 20 years old. I think it was difficult for her. That’s not a very easy second round.

    And then, okay, I’m taking down Sharapova is a big deal for me, and I think big deal for Maria. So Russians, you know. We are Russians. We are coming up more and more.

    Q. Does it speak about the depth in the game that this can happen? People say the women’s game is predictable. It hasn’t been predictable for the last two days.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: It’s guys. They always say the women’s game is predictable. They always say you women can’t serve, you don’t go to the net, you can’t slice. No, we can do it all. We’re strong. Don’t listen to them.

    Q. How well do you know Maria?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: How well? Like personally?

    Q. Personally.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Or game‑wise?

    Q. Personally.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Personally, no, I don’t know her well. I think I’m quite sure no one on the tour knows her well, because she’s not a very talkative girl and not very outgoing.

    But we were ‑‑ you know, we were in the same team for Fed Cup, and I was there for the finals. I wasn’t playing, but I was there for the finals. She was pretty nice when she was on the team, but after that she started saying hello. That’s nice.

    Q. What do you think she’ll make of your comments about her outfit? Will you seek her out afterwards?


    Q. Do you think she might take personally a bit your comments about her outfit?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: If I’m not afraid to go play her and she’s world No. 3, I’m not afraid she’s going to catch me in the dressing room and say, You know what, you said you don’t like my outfit. You were wrong. I will say, Sorry. That’s just my opinion.

    Q. Your father was a champion in wrestling. Were you ever tempted to go into that instead?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: To wrestling?

    Q. Yes.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: No. I never thought about going into wrestling. In fact, me coming to tennis, I wasn’t very interested in the beginning. I actually quit when I was five, and then I came back when I was eight.

    I just thought, Okay, I don’t want to sit at home. That was the motivation at first, but then I really got into the game.

    No, I never thought about any other sports. I never did any other sports but tennis.

    Q. What level did your father reach in wrestling?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: My father was the world champion. My father was the world champion, World Cup holder, a couple times European champion. He was good. He was great.

    Q. When was that?


    Q. Have you ever pinned your father?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: What is “pinned”?

    Q. Pinned.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: No. I hit him once.

    Q. Why did you hit him?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: You know how some bad parents, they are being abusive on the kids? Well, we are the other way around: I was very abusive on my father. He would be like on the match, watching the match, and he would be like all afraid and scared.

    After the match I would cry. After the match he would come and say, Alla, it’s okay. I would go, Go away.

    Q. You seemed like a pretty happy girl after you beat Maria Sharapova.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: I was very happy. C’mon, I was like very, very happy.

    Q. What did you say to yourself?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: I said, Thanks God that last forehand went in. That’s about what I said to myself.

    Q. Maria said beating her probably will make your tournament. What’s your reaction to that?

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Beating her?

    Q. You might not win the tournament, but beating her will make your tournament.

    ALLA KUDRYAVTSEVA: Well, I would definitely love to win the tournament. But, yeah, well, for sure beating her is a big deal for me. It’s a big match.

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    Wimbledon 2008 Interview: Maria Sharapova, after loss to Kudryavtseva

    Thursday, June 26th, 2008

    A. KUDRYAVTSEVA bt M. Sharapova

    6-2, 6-4

    THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Maria Sharapova. Take the first question.

    Q. Have you got any explanation for what went on out there today?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: I guess it wasn’t my day. She just did everything better than I did. You know, she played much better. She hit the ball harder. She, uhm, you know, served and returned better.

    On grass, you know those are two important elements. You know, once you don’t have a lot on the ball then your opponent can take advantage of that. Obviously she had nothing to lose. She went for her shots. I was just pretty tentative.

    Q. Is there any part of your game today you were happy with?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: I can’t be really happy about anything today.

    Q. Why were you tentative?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Not sure. Very good question. A question I’ll be asking myself later today.

    Q. You suggested the other day that taking the time off between would be better, would be beneficial to you.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Hey, now I have more time off. Better be careful what I wish for.

    Q. It seemed serving-wise you were a bit tentative. Going down the middle some. Didn’t seem like backhand-wise you were feeling the stroke very well, just missing a couple inches on the cross-court.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I think I just got to look at the tape of it to really see what went on, ’cause it just went a little too fast to analyze it right now.

    But from my first thoughts when I went off court, I just thought that, you know, I wasn’t playing my game. I was letting her take control of the majority of the points, yeah.

    Q. With the time you took off after the French, did you see this coming at all? Did you have an inkling you might have a performance like this in you?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: You never know what you’re going to have in you. I thought I played a really solid first round, felt pretty comfortable.

    But, like I said, you just never know what’s going to happen on a given day. You might go out there, not feel great, or your game’s not quite there. Your opponent can take advantage of that, especially somebody that is playing a top player that has not much to lose. Sometimes those opponents are the most dangerous ones.

    Q. Would you rate this defeat, given the fact it’s at Wimbledon, as the most disappointing in recent years for you?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Losses are all disappointing, obviously. I try to sort of find a way to get back in the match, to sort of dig anywhere I could. But, you know, like I said, a loss is a loss. There’s only one winner in the tournament and everybody else is disappointed, so I’m one of them.

    Q. Are you fully fit?


    Q. The talk about what you were wearing, the fashion, did that play a distraction for you?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: It’s not the first time we’ve talked about what I was wearing. I’ve won plenty of tournaments with a lot of talk going on.

    Q. Did you know much about her before? Had you seen her play? I know she played Venus tight last year in the first round.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Did she? I practiced with her a little bit at Fed Cup last year. I think I played her a couple of years ago on clay, and I won that match. You know, that was a couple of years ago and on a different surface, so…

    Q. Will you reconsider your grass court preparation now for next season?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think it really had anything to do with it. Just wasn’t my day.

    Q. Will you head straight home now, or will you have a few days in London?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t know. It’s been 25 minutes since my match. I haven’t really thought about it.

    Q. Grass is one of the surfaces, if you’re not playing that well, where things can go almost too quickly.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Absolutely.

    Q. Especially it looked like on the court around the center stripes. The balls were just bouncing all over the place, on the lines, huh?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, I guess so. Some days they don’t bounce where you want them to bounce or they don’t land where you want them to land.

    Q. What are your thoughts about replay at this point?


    Q. There was a key overrule there at the end, eighth game, was it, in the second set?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think it had anything to do with the match.

    Q. Did you think at that point maybe you were going to get a foothold and turn it around?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: What point are you talking about?

    Q. Where the replay kept the game going.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: It was deuce. I think I won that game though, right?

    Q. You wound up winning the game.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: That’s one game I didn’t lose.

    Q. Pro players have so many hassles in their career, all the travel and the injuries, moments like this. What’s the toughest part of being a pro tennis player? Is it losses like this or something else?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: Uhm, I mean, look, over my career, even though it’s been pretty young, I still have many years ahead of me. I’ve had to deal with a lot of ups and a lot of downs on and off the court, and I have the experience behind me.

    But I think the number one thing is not be discouraged by that, not be discouraged by losses or by negative things, things here and there.

    You have to find a way to keep your head up even though it’s pretty tough, because you put the effort in and you work hard and you dedicate yourself every single day to be a better player and a better professional.

    Sometimes, you know, the work doesn’t pay off till you never know when. I don’t know when that work’s gonna pay off.

    I had a great off-season, came into Australia, and played really great tennis. Match in, match out, I felt great, was playing better and better. Things just worked out. Sometimes, you know, I’ve had experiences where I’ve done the same thing.

    I’ve come into a tournament and results don’t just come. It’s not just for me. It’s for everybody. Everybody goes through it. Everybody, you know, has those moments.

    But, you know, I’m experienced enough to know that life goes on and that there are a lot worse things in life that can happen than losing a tennis match, even if it’s at Wimbledon and even if it means a lot to me. There are a lot worse things.

    I still have the desire, even 30 minutes after the match, to go back on court and to get better, ’cause that’s the only thing that’s gonna get me to hold that plate again.

    Q. You seem a little bit bemused now. Underneath that are you hurting? You must be hurting.

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: What do you think? I know you’re not hurting for me, but…

    I mean, look, a loss is a loss. It’s part of my job. It’s part of my job to lose and talk about it, you know.

    Q. Ivanovic almost loses yesterday. You lose today. Does it say that people who think it’s a cliché that there really is depth on the women’s tour are wrong, that some of these younger players or even veterans can actually really play and pull off big wins on the day?

    MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’ve always said there’s depth on the tour. I’m always asked about who’s the bigger threat, who’s your toughest opponent, who’s your rivalry.

    But at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is on any given day you have to go out there, and whoever your opponent is, you have to beat them.

    Absolutely, I mean, everybody can present a challenge. Everybody has a lot of strength. Everybody is hungry. This girl that beat me today, she might not win the tournament, but she beat me, and it probably made her tournament.

    That’s the way things go, yeah.

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