Nike sticks with Maria Sharapova

Tennis start Maria Sharapova was recently hit with a two-year ban by the International Tennis Federation, but Nike is sticking with the sexy Russian player even as other brands have distanced themselves from her. It’s an interesting move by Nike as it’s showing loyalty that might help them with other athletes.

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Take Sasha Vujacic…please!

Brian Windhorst is reporting that the Lakers are trying to move Sasha Vujacic:

Sources said Lakers are trying to trade Sasha Vujacic wfirst round pick to get his salary off books. They tried to do it for Delonte West.

IMO, Vujacic is hands down the most annoying player in the league. If I were running a team, the Lakers would have to include Pau Gasol or his girlfriend, Maria Sharapova, in the deal to get me to take on his contract/personality.

After a reasonably decent 2007-08 — 8.8 ppg, 44% 3PT — Sasha averaged 2.8 ppg and 31% from 3PT last season. The only productive thing he did all year was get under Goran Dragic’s skin in the Suns series, and even that almost backfired.

Obligatory pics (of Maria) after the jump, of course.

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Kirilenko upsets Sharapova at Austalian Open

We already have an upset at the 2010 Australian Open. It took three achingly long hours, but Maria Kirilenko defeated countrywoman Maria Sharapova 7-6, 3-6, 5-4 in the first round. Dressed for late-night dancing in Hawaii rather than competitive tennis, Maria Sharapova never got comfortable as she struggled with her serve and stumbled around the court. After overcoming a shoulder injury, we expected Sharapova to arrive reinvigorated and close to top form. During her loss against Kirilenko, however, it’s obvious that something is simply wrong with her game.

As for Kirilenko, this is one of the biggest victories of her career. The women’s draw at this tournament is loaded with decorated players, but that shouldn’t frighten Kirilenko. Given her performance in this match, she should give any of them a run for their money.

Pic of Sharapova (and her night club outfit) after the jump.

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Finally, Maria Sharapova wins a tournament


Maria Sharapova, who’s been mired in a horrific slump since returning from an injury 10 months ago, won the Toray Pan Pacific championship earlier today in Japan.

Sharapova was leading 5-2 in Saturday’s final at Ariake Colosseum when the seventh-seeded Jankovic took a timeout to have her right arm examined by the trainer.

The Serbian player returned to the court and lost the first two points of the eighth game before retiring.

“It’s disappointing,” Sharapova said. “It’s toward the end of the year and there are a lot of injuries so I wish Jelena a speedy recovery.”

It was Sharapova’s first title since Amelia Island in April, 2008, although she has spent long periods of the tour in the interim.

Even if Jelena Jankovic did have to retire in the first set, everyone on the WTA Tour is so broken down by the end of the year that nagging injuries are expected. I wasn’t able to catch this match for obvious reasons, but I would’ve liked to see how Sharapova looked coming out strong. She hasn’t been atrocious, but lately she’s tended to lose her rhythm rather quickly. With her performance today, Sharpova proved she’s down but not out. Anything is possible. Just look at Kim Clijsters, who won this past U.S. Open after taking two years off to start a family. Sharapova is only 22, so she has plenty of time to regain her authority.

U.S. Open Update: Roddick, Sharapova, and Safina eliminated


Competition just got interesting at the U.S. Open as Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, and Dinara Safina have all been eliminated.

Melanie Oudin’s face was flushed from a mix of exertion and excitement and maybe even a bit of bewilderment — “Yes, I DID beat Maria Sharapova!” running through her mind — when she stepped out of the U.S. Open locker room and saw Mom.

Several hours later, on the same court, another unheralded American who has lived in Georgia pulled off another upset of a past U.S. Open champion: 55th-ranked John Isner pounded 38 aces and eliminated No. 5 Andy Roddick 7-6 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (5) to reach the fourth round at a major tournament for the first time.

Keeping with the day’s theme, No. 1-seeded Dinara Safina exited, too, a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) loser against 72nd-ranked Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. After escaping the first two rounds with poorly played three-set victories, Safina wasted three match points Saturday night and finished with nine double-faults and 39 total unforced errors. Her departure means the Williams sisters are the only members of the top five women left in the field

On the plus side, at least Roddick was ousted by a fellow American. While I wanted to see Roddick take on Nadal in the final, I’m now completely rooting for this Isner character. The Georgia Bulldogs alum has yet to make his mark during his time on the ATP Tour. This looks like his chance.

Oudin’s story is even more exciting. Not only did she eliminate Maria Sharapova, but she upset Elena Dementieva, a two-time Grand Slam finalist and the Beijing Olympics gold medalist, in the second round. For the sake of diversity, I hope she makes it to the finals.

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