Rafael Nadal suffers back injury during Australian Open final

Rafael Nadal back pain

Rafael Nadal suffered a back injury at about the worst time possible.

The Spaniard was getting rolled by Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the Australian Open and was down a set when he appeared to hurt his back. After hitting a forehand in the third game of the second set, Rafa seemed to strain his lower back. Nadal hung on to win the game so that he was only down 2-1 in the second, but the back injury was bad enough for him to leave the court at the side change.

Nadal left the court to receive treatment in the locker room and did not return for about seven minutes. He was actually booed by the fans when he returned from the locker room, likely because the break in action figured to disrupt Wawrinka’s momentum.

Though there may have been questions about the legitimacy of Nadal’s injury, the lefty appeared to be in serious pain and on the verge of tears in his first game after returning from his injury. He lost the next game to fall behind 3-1, and he could hardly hit his serve with any velocity, leading him to double fault multiple times and fall behind 4-1. Nadal continued to receive treatment at the next changeover and remained in pain, but he refused to retire from the match.

It wasn’t until he was down 1-5 that he held serve to win another game, though he lost the second set 6-2. Nadal continued to receive treatment and massages during changeovers, but he just was not the same player. He would not quit, and the announcers speculated that he took some painkillers during his trip to the locker room and was waiting for those to kick in.

Li Na gives hysterical speech after winning Australian Open (Video)

Li Na Australian OpenLi Na remains perhaps the funniest player on tour. After winning the Australian Open on Saturday for her second career grand slam, the Chinese superstar gave a hilarious acceptance speech.

Li thanked her agent for making her rich, her husband for making her drinks and then she congratulated her husband for being “lucky” for finding her.

Li brought down the house with her speech, leaving the next speaker to admit that was a tough act to follow. It sure as heck was.

Dominika Cibulkova got naked for this Adam photoshoot (Video)

Dominika Cibulkova was the biggest surprise of the 2014 Australian Open. The Slovakian tennis player defeated Maria Sharapova and Agi Radwanska to reach her first grand slam final, where she faced a tougher and more experienced Li Na.

Prior to the Australian Open, Cibulkova’s most notable accomplishment was reaching the semifinals of the 2009 French Open. Thanks to her strong showing in Melbourne this year, she has now reached the quarterfinals of every major.

One thing you’ll notice immediately about Cibulkova is her size. She is only 5-foot-3, so she compensates for her small stature with an incredible work ethic. She puts in about 10-hour days when she practices, about half of which is done working on her fitness. She has built her lower body into an incredibly powerful base that helps supply her power on the court. Though she is nearly a foot shorter than Li Na, for instance, she averages a higher speed on her ground strokes because she is so strong. Cibulkova really is a model for undersized athletes who aspire to be professional tennis players.

Now that we’ve gotten some of the background on her out of the way, let’s get into the fun stuff. Cibulkova has a great personality off the court.

In this video taken at the 2012 French Open, Cibulkova answers a handful of questions in a get-to-know-you type of way. She reveals some of her idiosyncrasies on the court, and she also shares that she has a boyfriend:

[Read more...]

Rafael Nadal wearing pink Nike shoes at Australian Open

Rafael Nadal shoes

Rafael Nadal turned heads with the pink shoes he wore during his semifinal match with Roger Federer at the Australian Open on Friday. Both Nadal and Federer are Nike players, so the swoosh received received double the camera time in their match.

Rafa’s outfit included a black and pink shirt and matching pink sneakers, which are the Nike Lunar Ballistec model. Rafa wore the white version of the shoe for his quarterfinal match against Grigor Dimitrov, his fourth-round match with Kei Nishikori, and his second-round match. He wore the pink version in his third-round match with Gael Monfils and his first-round match with Bernard Tomic, in addition to his semifinal clash with Roger.

What’s cool about the shoes is that they are personalized. They have his name on the front and the back, along with “09″ for when he won the Aussie Open:

Rafael Nadal Australian Open shoes

Rafael Nadal Australian Open shoes pink

Bright colors are in with Nike tennis. Roger’s outfit involved a lot of bright red as its primary color. His sneaker was the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour Lt Crimson/Night shoe which is a similar shade to Rafa’s, though not quite as bright.

[Read more...]

Agent thinks Genie Bouchard can become most marketable female athlete on planet

Genie BouchardIf there’s one thing Genie Bouchard’s management team isn’t lacking, it’s confidence. The agent for the 19-year-old Canadian tennis player believes his client can become the most marketable female athlete on the planet.

Bouchard’s agent, Sam Duvall, believes Maria Sharapova is the standard for marketable female athletes, but he thinks Genie can surpass the four-time major winner.

“Marketability-wise, I think she can be the most famous tennis player in the world,” Duvall told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“She’s got the personality, she’s got the game, she’s got the looks. She speaks two languages [French and English] and the crossover appeal is great. Aussie fans love her, French fans love her … I think she is very rare, let’s put it that way.”

Bouchard is from Montreal, where most residents are bilingual, which explains why she can speak English and French.

Bouchard has won just over $500,000 in career prize money and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, which has been her best performance at a major thus far. Unfortunately, facing Li Na was a tough draw, but the advancement is a great sign about her future prospects.

“I really think she has the ability to be more marketable than Maria [Sharapova]. She speaks the two languages where the four grand slams are played. Maria was Genie’s idol when she was younger but now they’re competitors.

“But if Maria is the bar, Genie has the ability to exceed that bar. She has to perform on the court to do that, and Genie knows that. Maria has won four slams. Her marketability, if she [Bouchard] performs, I have to say is better than anyone on tour. She is the total package. It’s unbelievable how focused this girl is.”

Genie Bouchard wombat

Bouchard definitely has the potential to be marketable, she just has to take care of her end on the court by winning. You probably noticed how much Ana Ivanovic dropped off the map when she struggled after reaching the finals of the Australian Open and winning the French Open in 2008. It took her a few years to become relevant again. Caroline Wozniacki has also dropped off because of her play, but she’s had a boost thanks to her relationship with Rory McIlroy.

What does that tell us? I guess if Bouchard’s development as a player doesn’t go as planned, she can always date Justin Bieber to get her name out there.

Hey Genie Bouchard, Justin Bieber may want to date you back

Genie-BouchardGenie Bouchard has been one of the biggest stories at this year’s Australian Open. The 19-year-old women’s tennis star beat Ana Ivanovic in three sets on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. After the match, she fielded a question from a reporter about which celebrity she’d like to date. Bouchard confessed that it was Justin Bieber.

The crowd gave a collective grumble and moan that Bouchard is interesting in going on a date with this guy, but she should be glad she said something. According to TMZ, Bieber has watched the video and is flattered. He supposedly told his friends that he wants to get in touch with Genie as soon as possible.

Of course, Bieber could simply be being a nice guy. Although given some of the ridiculous trouble he has gotten into lately, we’re pretty confident saying the Biebs spends most of his time looking out for himself. Maybe he really does want to date Genie. We still think she can do better.

Rafael Nadal dealing with nasty blisters on his hand

Rafael Nadal blisters

Rafael Nadal has been battling some nasty blisters on his hand during the Australian Open. That sort of thing will happen when you’re playing best-of-five matches in temperatures that frequently exceed 100 degrees.

Nadal had to be bandaged during his fourth-round win over Kei Nishikori. He had a huge reddish/pink mark on the palm of his left hand that was treated and needed to be taped:

Rafael Nadal blister hand

After the trainer got done bandaging him, Nadal’s left hand was mummified:

[Read more...]