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Ana Ivanovic Was Right, She Is in Excellent Shape for Australian Open

Ana Ivanovic has gone from French Open champion to wild card qualifier, and now she’s trying to work her way back up the tennis rankings. The 23-year-old Serbian is seeded 19th in this year’s Australian Open and said prior to the tournament “I’m in really good shape compared to previous years.” She wasn’t joking.

Ivanovic, who was 20 and 21 years old when she was at the peak of her game between 2007 and 2008, has dropped a little over 10 pounds recently. Watching her first-round match against Ekaterina Makarova, Ana was moving about the court with ease and reaching balls she never used to. She was extending rallies with her footwork, and making her opponent earn every point.

Ana won’t be confused for Michael Chang anytime soon, but she managed plenty of winners and few unforced errors. Best part of all, she seems to have fixed one of the biggest weaknesses in her game — her toss. Instead of hitting erratic serves off bad tosses, she’s now catching her tosses to avoid the bad shot.

Ivanovic’s draw isn’t the easiest — she should win her first three matches before facing Kim Clijsters in the 4th round, but the good news is she appears to be in the kind of shape to get back in the Top 10.

UPDATE: After taking the first set 6-3, Ivanovic lost the next two sets 6-4 and 10-8. She fought back from down 0-40 in two service games in the final set, and fought off five match points altogether. Though she’s in shape, Ivanovic still needs to work on the mental part of her game so she can finish off opponents.

Maria Sharapova Complains About Reporter James McOnie Stalking Her

A goofball TV show host from New Zealand has been hijacking Maria Sharapova press conferences lately with off-beat questions, and apparently the tennis star has had enough. Sharapova was in New Zealand for the ASB Classic as a tuneup for the Australian Open. While at the tournament, she kept getting annoyed by host James McOnie who did the “late night TV thing at the Super Bowl” to her all week. The video below is an example of what went on:

Fast forward to Sunday where Sharapova won her opening round match of the Australian Open. After her match, McOnie was there to interrupt the press conference once again, but this time Maria made her uncomfortable feelings known. When asked, Sharapova said she considered him a stalker.

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Andy Murray Hurt His Hand on PlayStation

Here I was thinking that baseball players were the only ones who sustained weird injuries in sports, but now I’m starting to find out that tennis players are right up there. Now tennis players are underrated as far as toughness goes, and because it doesn’t involve contact people don’t realize how physically taxing the sport is. It’s a one-man game and players have to be in peak physical condition to compete for five sets. Take a play off and you’re bounced in the first round of a tourney (not traded to Minnesota). But if tennis players train hard enough to go five sets, then why are we seeing Robby Ginepri get taken out by a squirrel and Andy Murray get knocked out by PlayStation?

SI Hot Clicks tipped us off to the story about Murray’s injury that occurred before he was supposed to serve as the best man in his brother’s wedding. A British paper informs us that Murray “was playing Pro Evolution Soccer against doubles partner Dani Vallverdu when he was felt a twinge in his hand.” The twinge was nothing wimpy either — he strained a tendon and had to wrap his hand in ice. You can’t make this stuff up.

Look, I’ve had a bad case of Nintendo thumb just like everybody else (and I’m pretty sure I’m starting to develop carpal tunnel from all the blogging), but tough it out Andy! You really telling me you had to go get an ice pack for it? Be a man next time and just rub some dirt on it!

Roger Federer Pulls Off Yet Another Between-the-Legs Shot (Video)

If you see it once, you can feel free to call it lucky.  When you see it for a second time, you’d have to be a real skeptic to think Roger Federer hasn’t practiced and perfected the between-the-legs shot.  Federer pulled off a between-the-legs shot at the U.S. Open this summer and in case you thought that was a one time thing, he went with it again on Wednesday at the Shanghai Masters.  Here’s another Roger Federer between the legs shot video, courtesy of SI Hot Clicks:

I love how he completely took the guy by surprise.  Did you not watch the film?  Maybe the next opponent will expect this to happen when he sees Federer chasing down a ball.

Video Credit: YouTube user RFmeastro

Robby Ginepri Taken Out by a Squirrel

Robby Ginepri is a tennis player of whom you’ve probably never heard. He’s ranked 75th in the world and his best showing this year was reaching the 4th round of the French Open before losing to Novak Djokovic. Now that you’ve heard of him, you’ll remember him for a distinct reason.

Ginepri is out 4-6 weeks because he broke his left elbow falling off a mountain bike. How did he fall off the bike? Was he going too fast through a dangerous downhill curve? Was he on his 99th mile out of 100 when he collapsed because of exhaustion? Did he black out because of dehydration? How about d) none of the above.

From FOX Sports who got the story from the ATP Tour’s site, “Ginepri was riding near his Georgia hometown when a squirrel ran into his path. He swerved to avoid the critter and rolled about 50 yards, breaking his ulna.”

We’re big fans of weird sports injuries on the site, but I think that may be the first one attributed to a rodent. I’m guessing Ginepri would have preferred if most people only knew him for his tennis at this point. At the least maybe PETA can hook him up with an endorsement deal to ease the pain.

Rafael Nadal Gets Career Slam with U.S. Open Win over Novak Djokovic

As if we didn’t already know how good Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal is, he reached true all-time great status on Monday night. Nadal beat Novak Djokovic in four sets to win his first U.S. Open, giving him a Career Grand Slam. Nadal joins Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Don Budge, and Fred Perry as the only male tennis players to win all four majors in a career.

Nadal won the U.S. by mowing through his competition. Taking advantage of a weakened draw due to Juan Martin del Potro’s injury and an early loss by Andy Murray, Nadal won the tournament dropping only one set — the second set of the finals against Djokovic.

The U.S. Open win gives Nadal nine Grand Slams in his career — five French Opens, two Wimbledons, one Australian, and now one U.S. Open. On top of the nine majors at the young age of 24, Nadal won the Gold Medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

Thought to be a clay court specialist after winning the French Open in ’05, ’06, and ’07, without winning a major at another event, Nadal his since shown his versatility. Rafa is now 9-2 in Grand Slam finals. Knee injuries have bothered the Spaniard in the past, but they were not enough to prevent him from putting his impressive stamp on the game of tennis. After winning this tournament, Rafael Nadal will go down as one of the best players in history.

Photo Credit: AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Andy Roddick Freaks Out After Foot Fault

A freak out over a foot fault? Hmm, where have we seen that before. It seems like a common thing in tennis: things aren’t going well for a player so he or she starts taking it out on the judges. Yeah, like that’s really going to help keep you from double faulting on your serve or whacking your ground strokes into the net. Such was the case for Andy Roddick who was down 5-2 in the third set against Janko Tipsarevic on Wednesday night and about to go down two sets to one. Roddick was called for a foot fault, freaked out, and started berating the line judge who made the call. Here’s the Andy Roddick foot fault video to see everything that was going on:

Okay Andy we get it, the ref should have said that your left foot was on the line, not the right, but is that really a reason for berating the ref like that? Not at all. Roddick knows that and will realize he was out of line. As for losing in the second round, well, his only excuse is having mono, because that’s a brutal result for someone with high expectations.

Video Credit: YouTube user FormulaXimanX