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Shirtless + Tattoo Watch: Horacio Zeballos

Argentine Horacio Zeballos and doubles partner Eduardo Schwank couldn’t overcome the team of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement at the Davis Cup semifinals in Lyon. Their decisive rubber, which Llodra and Clement won 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, sends France to their first Fed Cup final since 2002. We didn’t include it in our Fila Davis Cup post, but Zeballos wore a country-appropriate white polo with blue and yellow trim. (More: Read up on the tie details here.)

Meanwhile, we caught a little bit of Zeballos’ shirtless practice time on the Sunday before the 2010 US Open. He lost in the first round to Igor Andreev.

Tattoo watch: Looks like he has the Eye of Horus on his right shoulder.

Roger Federer Makes Shocking Wimbledon Exit

Roger Federer has failed to advance past the quarter-finals for a second consecutive Grand Slam tournament. The defending champion and top-seeded Federer was beaten by Tomas Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday.

The shocking upset improves Berdych to 3-8 against Federer all-time, including a recent victory in Miami in March.
The growing trend of Roger losing to players he had previously dominated is continuing and the fact that it is happening on the grass of Wimbledon must be particularly alarming.

Talk of Federer’s decline has been present since 2008 when he failed to win a Grand Slam until late in the year at the U.S. Open. Then in 2009 after losing the Aussie Open final to Nadal, people really started to wonder if his dominance was wavering. Just when it seemed like that might be the case, Federer rebounded by winning his first French Open and then regaining his Wimbledon crown a year ago. He then lost the U.S. Open final to Del Potro but again bounced back in Australia earlier this year. It seemed liked Federer still had a lot of gas left in the tank.

With back-to-back quarter-final exits from the last two Slams however, the situation is starting to look dire for the world number-two player. He has not won a tournament since his lone Slam down-under and continues to get beat by players like Berdych, Lleyton Hewitt and others that he had owned until the past year.

In his post-match press conference, Federer spoke respectfully towards his opponent but revealed there were some injury issues that affected his play today.

“I think he was a bit more consistent than in the past. I lost to him in Miami this year, where it was a really tight match as well. But from my end, obviously, you know, I’m unhappy with the way I’m playing. I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play. You know, I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue. That just doesn’t quite allow me to play the way I would like to play. So it’s frustrating, to say the least. Looking forward to some rest anyway.”

Whether the injury aspect was real or imagined we’ll never know for sure. It could be Federer’s way of avoiding questions of his declining stranglehold on the men’s game.

Either way, Wimbledon will have a different champion this year and for the first time since 2002 the finals will not include Roger Federer.

CELEBS WATCH AS VENUS WILLIAMS TAKES HOME BILLIE JEAN KING CUP

Venus Williams won the Billie Jean King (BJK) cup last night beating Belgian Kim Clijsters  6-4, 3-6, 7-5 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

Sister Serena was unable to attend the BJK cup due to a leg injury, missing the opportunity to avenge the loss of last year’s controversial match at the US Open.

“On the way here, I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to see Serena in New York,”’ Venus said. “We talked today, but we didn’t talk about tennis at all.”

Kim Clijsters was given a tough time in front of a Venus-friendly crowd of 11,702 and struggled especially in the beginning.

“In the beginning it took some time to find an aggressive game,” Clijsters said. “If you’re not feeling the ball 100 percent, it’s very hard. I kind of just had to look for my game a little bit, really look for my position on court. I got better as my match went on.”

Among the 11,702 people who attended in Madison Square Garden, New York,  were David Duchovny, Star Jones and Herb Wilson and Nancy Kerrigan.

SEX AT THE ZOO WITH ANDY RODDICK AND BROOKLYN DECKER

Andy Roddick and his Sports Illustrated swimsuit model actress Brooklyn Decker made a promotional visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane Wednesday and were upstaged by a pair of Koala’s having sex during an on-camera interview. Roddick’s back turned, television cameras caught the public spectacle happening as Roddick discussed handling the cuddly creatures.

“I heard they can get after you a little bit, but mine was very calm,” he said.

To view the video, click here, http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=990858

To learn more about Brisbane Tourism and what to do in the city, click here,  http://www.worldtennismagazine.com/archives/1319

Roddick, ranked No. 7 in the ATP World Tour Rankings, is playing in his first event on the 2010 season and his first since Shanghai in early October.

Safina Breezes Past Pennetta In Cincinnati; Jankovic Saves Four Match Points

World No. 1 Dinara Safina cruised into her eighth final of 2009 with a convincing win over No. 14 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, 6-2, 6-0, in 56 minutes on Saturday afternoon at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati. With the victory, Safina snapped Pennetta’s career-best 15 match winning streak that started several weeks ago during her title run in Palermo, followed by winning the championship last week in Los Angeles.

“I think she was playing very great, very good,” said Pennetta following her defeat.

From start to finish, Safina showed she was in complete control, placing her shots perfectly and being very steady on serve.

“I was feeling very good and confident,” said Safina, who has won titles this season in Rome, Madrid and Portoroz. “I think it was a good performance by my side.”

Pennetta, who knocked Venus Williams earlier in the week, looked exhausted and not at 100 percent with her fitness due to the fact that she has played 11 matches in the last two weeks and the Cincinnati temperatures were in the 90 degree range.

“I was a little bit tired, of course, but I didn’t lose for that,” said Pennetta, who will crack the Top 10 on Monday, becoming the first Italian to accomplish that feat.

Safina hit three aces and five double faults, while winning 23 of 29 first serve points. The Italian had a bad serving performance, hitting three doubles faults and winning just 10 of 22 first serve points and 4 of 21 second serve points. Safina broke Pennetta’s serve on six of seven opportunities, while Pennetta only broke serve once.

In a thrilling night session match that determined Safina’s opponent for the championship match, No. 5 seed Jelena Jankovic edged past No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(6), in two hours and 46 minutes.

The match was filled with drama throughout, as Jankovic pulled out the opening set by winning in a tiebreak before having a slight hiccup, as Dementieva won the set at love in convincing fashion.

“Second set I got so tired,” said Jankovic, who will be trying to win her second title of the year, having already won in Marbella, Spain.

The third set kept fans on the edge of their seats, as Jankovic jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. After Dementieva broke serve in the sixth game of the final set to level the match at 3-all, no player would hold their serve the rest of the match.

“There was so many ups and down throughout the match,” said Jankovic, who reached No. 1 in the rankings in 2008.

The Serbian held three match points on her serve at 5-4, 40-love, allowing Dementieva to even the match at 5-all. Dementieva immediately had her serve broken before she would break Jankovic’s serve for a second straight time, as the Serbian tried to win the match out on her serve.

Dementieva quickly got ahead 6-2 in the final set tiebreak but could not convert on any of the four match points. Jankovic tensely closed out the match on her serve and jumped up in excitement.

“I just gave everything I had,” said Jankovic, who improves to 7-3 lifetime against Dementieva.

Jankovic hit three aces and eight double faults compared to four aces and 17 double faults by Dementieva. Jankovic broke serve on six occasions, while Dementieva broke Jankovic’s serve nine times.

The championship match between Safina and Jankovic will begin at 4pm and will be televised on ESPN2. Safina leads the series 3-2, winning the last two times on hard courts last summer in Los Angeles and at the Beijing Olympics.

Maria Sharapova Makes Triumphant Return to the Courts

Maria Sharapova is back on the courts. And it shows. There is much more media attention after she made a triumphant return. Well it’s not really triumphant just yet. She hasn’t won a tournament yet and watching her play, you notice that she still lacks rythm and routine in her game. However the talent is still there and I am sure she will be back in the top 10 where she belongs.

Though things aren’t going as smoothly as I wish judging by her performance versus Nadia Petrova. In a three set match she eventually managed to beat the Russian in the third set with 8-6.

“Obviously I am spending a little bit more time out there than I want to, but I think I’m learning so many new things, as well,” Sharapova said. “I think this was a great match where I had to fight my way through many, many challenges. And I did.”

“I got off to a really good start,” Sharapova said. “I kind of started stumbling away. Things went in the wrong direction. I was just glad I could pick myself up and keep fighting and do the right things, and end the match with a win.”

And I hope she will keep winning. My prediction however is that she will make it through the first week but will not win the French Open this year. I think that the title this year will go to Dinara Safina.

In the meantime enjoy the photos of her French Open 2009 campaign and let’s see if she makes it through the first week.