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Nadal reaches US Open quarterfinals, will face Thiem

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he won't face a rematch of the 2017 final. Instead, it's a rematch of this year's French Open final. Nadal beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4 on Sunday at Flushing Meadows. Next up is No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem. Thiem beat Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), denying the fifth-seeded South African a second shot at Nadal. Nadal beat Anderson last year for his third U.S. Open title. The top-ranked Spaniard captured his 11th title in Paris by beating Thiem in straight sets in June. That was part of what's now a 26-1 run since Thiem beat him in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in May. "He's a very powerful player, and, yeah, he knows how to play these kinds of matches," Nadal said. "Yeah, I need to play my best match of the tournament if I want to keep having chances to stay in the tournament." Nadal leads the series 7-3, with all the meetings on clay. On Sunday, he responded to losing the third-set tiebreaker by breaking Basilashvili twice in the fourth set. Anderson was hoping to be waiting for Nadal. His run to last year's final was a surprise; At No. 32, he was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open finalist in the history of the ATP rankings. But he backed that up with a strong season, reaching the Wimbledon final and earning the No. 5 seed in this tournament. "Of course it's disappointing," Anderson said. "I wanted to be here right until the end and put myself in contention of winning my first major. It wasn't meant to be." He had won six of seven meetings against Thiem, including all six on hard courts. Thiem's only victory had come on clay, his best surface. But Anderson couldn't get anything going in this matchup with Thiem, who won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) and never faced a break point. "First of all, I served really, really well today," Thiem said. "Not the best percentage, but I almost made every point in the first serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games." Thiem reached his first quarterfinal at any Grand Slam besides the French Open. He was agonizingly close to getting there last year at the U.S. Open, leading by two sets against Juan Martin del Potro in the round of 16 before the 2009 champion roared back to win. "It was not on my mind, but I was pretty close last year," Thiem said. "It was very painful." Del Potro was on Sunday's night schedule, facing Borna Coric. John Isner or Milos Raonic would meet the winner of that match. Serena Williams was in action later Sunday after routing her sister on Friday in what she felt was her best match since her return to tennis. She'll need to be sharp again, with Kaia Kanepi looking to knock out another women's star. Serena, seeded 17th, routed Venus 6-1, 6-2 in matching the most-lopsided victory in the Williams sisters' series. That put her into the match against Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who upset top-ranked Simona Halep in the first round and is seeking her second consecutive quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnSep 2nd, 2018

Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches Toronto final

TORONTO (AP) — Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas became the youngest player to beat four straight top-10 players in an event since the ATP World Tour was established in 1990, outlasting Kevin Anderson 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (7) on Saturday to reach the Rogers Cup final. Tsitsipas, who will be 20 on Sunday, will face the winner of the late match between top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Karen Khachanov. "Playing in a Masters 1000 final is the best thing that can happen on your birthday," Tsitsipas said. "I cannot believe it." Tsitsipas beat the fourth-seeded Anderson after topping seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem, ninth-seeded Novak Djokovic and second-seeded defending champion Alexander Zverev to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semifinal. Tsitsipas fired an ace at 7-7 before converting his third match point of the deciding tiebreaker when Anderson's return sailed long. The South African had a match point of his own at 7-6, but Tsitsipas came through with a brilliant backhand crosscourt winner to pull even. The 32-year-old Anderson reached the Wimbledon final last month. He also lost his only other match against Tsitsipas, falling this year on clay in Portugal. Tsitsipas is attempting to become the first player since Albert Portas at Hamburg in 2001 to win his first ATP World Tour title at a Masters 1000 event. Ranked 27th, Tsitsipas would jump 12th with a victory Sunday and to 15th with a loss when the new rankings are released Monday. Nadal beat Tsitsipas in April in the Barcelona Open final......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 12th, 2018

Rafael Nadal reaches Barcelona Open semifinals

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Rafael Nadal defeated Martin Klizan 6-0, 7-5 to extend his winning streak on clay and reach the Barcelona Open semifinals on Friday. Nadal started well but needed to save three set points to close out the match for his 17th straight victory on the surface. The top-ranked Spaniard has won 42 consecutive sets on clay. "It was a good start for me, a quick one, but then in the second set everything changed," said Nadal, who had to come back from a break down. "I feel a little bit luck today to be through in straight sets again." The 140th-ranked Klizan had eliminated Novak Djokovic in the second round. Nadal will next face David Goffin, who defeated Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-2. The 10th-ranked Belgian Goffin had to come back from a set down in all of his three victories in Barcelona. In the other semifinal, Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain — who defeated second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3, 7-6 (4) — will play against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 63rd-ranked Greek who got past third-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 6-2. Nadal needs to win his 11th Barcelona title to retain his No. 1 ranking......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Osaka vs. Kvitova for Australian Open title, No. 1 ranking

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Naomi Osaka never made it past the fourth round at any of the first 10 Grand Slam tournaments of her career. Now, still just 21, she's suddenly on the verge of a second consecutive major championship. And the No. 1 ranking, too. Osaka moved one victory away from adding the Australian Open trophy to the one she collected 4½ months ago at the U.S. Open, using her smooth power to produce 15 aces and groundstroke winners at will while beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals Thursday. "I just told myself to regroup in the third set and just try as hard as I can," said Osaka, who saved four break points in the last set and finished the match with an ace at 115 mph (185 kph). "I was so scared serving second serves. I was like, 'Oh, my God. Please!" Osaka said. "Somehow, I made it. I guess that's experience." A day after erasing four match points and a 5-1 deficit in the third set to stun Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, Pliskova could not produce the same kind of comeback. Instead it is Osaka, the only Japanese woman to win a major singles title, who will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Saturday. The winner will rise to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time; Osaka is currently No. 4, Kvitova is No. 6. In the men's semifinals, Rafael Nadal continued his relentless roll through the draw by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 at night. Nadal has not dropped a set as he bids for a second Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall. Osaka's fourth-round finish at Melbourne Park a year ago was her best showing at a major until last year's U.S. Open, where she outplayed Williams in the final. A victory over Kvitova would make Osaka the first woman to win two Slams in a row since Williams claimed four straight across the 2014-15 seasons. Two years ago, Kvitova missed the Australian Open, just weeks after her left hand was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic. Back at her best during what she calls her "second career," Kvitova surged to a 7-6 (2), 6-0 victory against 35th-ranked American Danielle Collins after Rod Laver Arena's retractable roof was closed as the temperature soared toward 105 degrees (40 Celsius). Kvitova reached her first major final since the December 2016 knife attack that led to hours of surgery on the hand she holds her racket with — and first since winning Wimbledon for the second time in 2014. "I didn't know even if I (was) going to play tennis again," Kvitova said. "It's been a long journey." Against Collins, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Virginia who was 0-5 at Slams until this one, Kvitova was more aggressive throughout, mixing big lefty forehands and well-timed pushes forward to the tune of a 30-9 edge in total winners. But the key to the outcome might very well have been what happened at 4-all after 35 minutes of action: That's when the decision finally was made to close the 15,000-seat stadium's cover, drawing cheers of approval from broiling spectators. Kvitova probably wanted to applaud, too. "I was happier than the fans that the roof closed," she said afterward. "I like to play indoors. It helped me a little bit." She's made clear over the years she is not a huge fan of playing in stifling heat. Not too many people truly are, of course, but Collins is OK with it and thought the roof should have stayed open. "I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well," Collins said. "Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect." When play resumed after a five-minute delay, it went from being completely even to tilted in Kvitova's favor. She dominated the tiebreaker and the second set to stretch her winning streak to 11 matches. Osaka, meanwhile, extended her Slam run to 13 matches while putting a stop to Pliskova's 10-0 start to the season. Osaka accumulated a 56-20 advantage in winners — and held on when it all could have slipped away. She began the day having won 58 matches in a row after taking the first set, but that seemed in danger when Pliskova broke to end the second and had three break points to go up 2-0 in the third. But Osaka steeled herself there, erasing the first break chance with a huge forehand, the second with a down-the-line backhand winner. On the third, another terrific backhand forced a forehand error into the net by Pliskova, who cracked her racket against the blue court. When Pliskova netted a return of an 83 mph (133 kph) second serve to make it 1-all, Osaka tugged at the brim of her pink visor and let out a big exhale. The match would continue for another 28 minutes, but it basically was done, then and there. That stretch began a nine-point, three-game run for Osaka, and she was on her way. She would face one last break point at 4-3, but saved it with a 108 mph (174 kph) ace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

Tsitsipas follows up Federer upset by reaching 1st Slam semi

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Lest anyone get the idea that Stefanos Tsitsipas' upset of Roger Federer was a fluke, the 20-year-old from Greece followed it up by beating No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open on Tuesday to become the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007. "That was a great win. It got people's attention," Tsitsipas said about his fourth-round stunner against two-time defending champion Federer on Sunday. "My biggest challenge was to stay concentrated, stay focused," in order to show that the previous victory "didn't happen accidentally." Cheered on by a loud, flag-waving contingent of Greek fans inside and outside Rod Laver Arena, Tsitsipas again displayed his varied skill set, with 22 aces, 30 more winners than unforced errors (68-38) and a nose for getting to the net. He was down a break in both the first and third sets before turning them around against Bautista Agut, whose run to the quarterfinals included victories over Andy Murray, a three-time major champion, and Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and the runner-up to Federer at Melbourne Park a year ago. "Well, he's a good player, no? He's very complete. He has a good forehand and backhand. He's serving well," Bautista Agut said about Tsitsipas. "I think he knows the game. He knows how to play." Now the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas gets to continue the best showing of his career, one that marks him as perhaps the sport's next big thing. And make no mistake about it: He is a millennial, through and through, even promoting his 27,000-follower YouTube channel during his on-court interview. "Guys," he told the crowd, "if you haven't subscribed, please subscribe." No man as young as Tsitsipas had been this far at any Grand Slam tournament since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open or at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003. "It all feels like a fairy tale, almost. I'm just living the dream, living what I've been working hard for," said Tsitsipas, who dropped his racket, fell on his back and covered his face with his hands at match's end. "I mean, I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know I worked hard to get here." Seated in his courtside guest box were his parents and two siblings, along with Patrick Mouratoglou, who is Serena Williams' coach and serves as a mentor to Tsitsipas. Now they'll turn their attention to his next opponent, either 17-time major champion Rafael Nadal or another up-and-coming member of the sport's new generation, 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe. Nadal and Tiafoe were scheduled to play their quarterfinal Tuesday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2019

Gasquet will face Sock after beating Shapovalov in Paris

PARIS (AP) — In a battle of different generations, home favorite Richard Gasquet beat Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to reach the second round of the Paris Masters, where he will face American defending champion Jack Sock. The 32-year-old Gasquet was 3-0 down in the opening set but rallied to win 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Monday. Another Frenchman was safely through after Adrian Mannarino beat compatriot Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-2. He next plays 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan. Nicolas Mahut is out of his home tournament, however, after losing to Frances Tiafoe of the United States 7-6 (1), 6-2. The 20-year-old Tiafoe will face fourth-seeded Alex Zverev of Germany. Novak Djokovic, who is aiming to wrestle back the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal, will be relieved to be facing Joao Sousa of Portugal in the second round and not Marco Cecchinato of Italy. Cecchinato, who upset Djokovic in the French Open quarterfinals, lost to Sousa 7-5, 6-3. Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany will play fifth-seeded Marin Cilic in the next round after recovering to beat Robin Haase 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2. Steve Johnson's miserable run against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain continued. Bautista Agut improved to 6-0 against Johnson after winning 6-4, 7-6 (2) on Monday to set up a second-round meeting against ninth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Elsewhere, Karen Khachanov beat last year's runner-up, Filip Krajinovic, 7-5, 6-2, and Damir Dzumhur and Feliciano Lopez also advanced. Nikoloz Basilashvili won when opponent John Millman retired with a back injury after losing their first set 6-4......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 30th, 2018

Nadal vs del Potro, Djokovic vs Nishikori in US Open semis

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, celebrates after defeating Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, early Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Ada.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsSep 7th, 2018

So tough not to sweat the small stuff at hot, humid US Open

NEW YORK--- Roger Federer positioned a tiny black fan so it would blow air right at his face during changeovers in a bid to cool off during what became a stunning loss at the U.S. Open. Rafael Nadal piled up so many soaked white towels next to his sideline bench the following night that it looked like laundry day. The man he beat after five sets and nearly five hours, Dominic Thiem, found it impossible to run in shoes he called "completely wet." And a day later, Novak Djokovic's quarterfinal opponent made an unusual plea to leave the court at 2-all, right in the middle of a set, so he could change out of his drenched clothes and sneakers --- and Djokovic was OK with it, becau...Keep on reading: So tough not to sweat the small stuff at hot, humid US Open.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 7th, 2018

Nadal on epic US Open match: I suffered, that s the right word

    NEW YORK, United States – Rafael Nadal, trapped in a nightmare first set against Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the US Open, knew where to look for answers. He didn't cast his eyes toward the support team in his box, or send his racquets out to be restrung. "When these things ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 5th, 2018

US OPEN 18: From Sloane & Serena to new roof, what to know

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A little more than a year ago, Sloane Stephens was ranked outside of the top 950 as she tried to work her way back toward the top of tennis after foot surgery. By the time the U.S. Open was over, she was a Grand Slam champion for the first time and soaring up the rankings. On Monday, the No. 3-seeded Stephens will begin the defense of a major title for the first time, facing 80th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. "Going back again and knowing that you held the trophy there once before is super-cool. I think that it'll be fun. There will be a lot of different pressure and a lot of excitement and a lot of stress," Stephens said. "Whether I lose first round or win the tournament again, I know I'm going to do my absolute best and that's all I can ask myself." Her success at Flushing Meadows in 2017 is emblematic of the wide-open nature of women's tennis ever since 23-time major champion Serena Williams left the tour for a hiatus while she was pregnant. At four of the past six majors, the titlist was a first-time Grand Slam champ: Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Stephens in New York in 2017; Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open and Simona Halep in Paris in 2018. Consistency at the majors hasn't exactly been that quartet's hallmark. Current No. 1 Halep lost in the first round at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Ostapenko did the same at Roland Garros this year. Wozniacki exited in the second round at two of the past four Slams. Stephens has been boom or bust lately, too, collecting a pair of runs to finals and a trio of opening-round defeats at the five major tournaments she's entered since the foot operation. "You can't let the lows get you too low," the 25-year-old American said, "and you can't let the highs get you too high." Here is what else to know before play starts on the blue hard courts of the year's last Grand Slam tournament: DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK Six-time champion Williams returns to the U.S. Open on Monday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium against 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland. Williams missed the tournament a year ago because she gave birth on Sept. 1. "I feel like everything is just different, in terms of: I'm living a different life. I'm playing the U.S. Open as a mom," Williams said. "It's just new and it's fresh." She is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon but has lost three of her past four matches. Williams could face her older sister, Venus, in the third round. BIG 4 REUNION For the first time since Wimbledon in June 2017, a tournament will have the entire Big Four in the field: five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer , defending champ Rafael Nadal , two-time winner Novak Djokovic and 2012 champion Andy Murray. They have won 49 of the past 54 Slam titles and the last three Olympic singles golds and have been ranked No. 1 every week for the last 14½ years. Djokovic — who could face Federer in the quarterfinals — and Murray sat out the U.S. Open last year because of injuries. Also back is 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who couldn't defend his title because of a bad knee. WHOSE TURN IS IT? It's been a question asked for years, yet it still remains without an answer: Which youngster will assert himself and break up the dominance at the top of men's tennis? Alexander Zverev, a 21-year-old German who recently began working with Ivan Lendl, hopes he'll be the one, but there is a crop of up-and-comers worth watching. A SECOND ROOF For so many years, and through so much rain, the U.S. Open operated without any possibility of playing despite bad weather, resulting in a series of Monday men's finals pushed back from Sunday. Now there are two retractable roofs: the one added to Arthur Ashe Stadium that's been in use for the past two years, and the one at the rebuilt 14,069-seat Armstrong arena, which will host night sessions, too. It's the culmination of a five-year, $600 million project that remade the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. SERVE CLOCKS Serve clocks make their debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, allowing everyone to see the countdown on courtside digital readouts as players get 25 seconds to start a point. Clocks also will time the 7-minute pre-match period, from the players' walk-on through the coin toss and the warmup. Also new at the 2018 U.S. Open: electronic line-calling on every court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Nadal aims for 2nd title in a row in New York

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Men to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday: ___ RAFAEL NADAL Seeded: 1 Ranked: 1 Age: 32 Country: Spain 2018 Match Record: 40-3 2018 Singles Titles: 5 Career Singles Titles: 80 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — U.S. Open ('10, '13, '17), Wimbledon ('08, '10), French Open ('05, '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '17, '18), Australian Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Won Championship,'16-Lost in 4th Round,'15-3rd,'14-Did Not Play,'13-W Aces: Won the U.S. Open as No. 1 seed in 2010, 2017. ... Trying to become first man to repeat as champion in New York since Roger Federer won his fifth in a row in 2008. Topspin: Beat two past U.S. Open champions and two future stars en route to tuneup title at Toronto Masters this month. ___ ROGER FEDERER Seeded: 2 Ranked: 2 Age: 37 Country: Switzerland 2018 Match Record: 33-5 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 98 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — U.S. Open ('04, '05, '06, '07, '08), Wimbledon ('03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '12, '17), Australian Open ('04, '06, '07, '10, '17, '18), French Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-QF,'16-DNP,'15-RU,'14-SF,'13-4th Aces: Only made it to the final at Flushing Meadows once in the decade since his last title. ... Could face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Topspin: Still has never played Nadal at the U.S. Open. If they meet this year, it would be for the title. ___ JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Seeded: 3 Ranked: 3 Age: 29 Country: Argentina 2018 Match Record: 37-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-SF, '16-QF, '15-DNP, '14-DNP, '13-2nd Aces: Playing in his 22nd major tournament since his lone such title. If he gets a second, he would set an Open era record for most Slam appearances before No. 2. Topspin: Biggest forehand in the game makes him ever-dangerous on hard courts. Just needs his oft-repaired left wrist to hold up on backhands. ___ ALEXANDER ZVEREV Ranked: 4 Seeded: 4 Age: 21 Country: Germany 2018 Match Record: 43-13 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 9 Major Titles: 0 — Best: QF, French Open ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-2nd,'16-2nd,'15-1st,'14-DNP,'13-DNP Aces: Recently started working with Ivan Lendl, saying: "He's a smart man, a great guy. Done it as a player, done it as a coach, so he knows what it takes." Topspin: Has won three Masters titles. Now it's time to step up at a Grand Slam tournament and get to his first semifinal. ___ KEVIN ANDERSON Seeded: 5 Ranked: 5 Age: 32 Country: South Africa 2018 Match Record: 33-1 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open ('17) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-RU, '16-3rd, '15-QF, '14-3rd, '13-2nd Aces: Runner-up at two of the past four majors, including in New York last year, then again at Wimbledon last month. Topspin: Coming into his own late in his career, he's shown that with a big serve and consistent groundstrokes, he is a contender on fast surfaces. ___ NOVAK DJOKOVIC Seeded: 6 Ranked: 6 Age: 31 Country: Serbia 2018 Match Record: 33-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 70 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 13 — U.S. Open ('11, '15), Wimbledon ('11, '14, '15, '18), Australian Open ('08, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16), French Open ('16) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-DNP, '16-RU, '15-W, '14-SF, '13-RU Aces: Since starting the year 6-6, has gone 27-4. ... Titles at Wimbledon and Cincinnati Masters (beating Federer in the final) make him a popular pick. Topspin: Sure seems very close to being right back at his best after a lull caused at least in part by an injured right elbow. ___ JOHN ISNER Seeded: 11 Ranked: 11 Age: 33 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 26-5 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, U.S. Open ('11) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-3rd, '16-3rd, '15-4th, '14-3rd, '13-3rd Aces: 12 of 14 titles have come in the U.S. ... Just one quarterfinal appearance in New York, way back in 2011. Topspin: Says playing with calm and not fretting over results helped him have his best season, including first Slam semifinal at Wimbledon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Federer, Djokovic, Halep win rain-delayed matches, reach QFs

By Joe Kay, Associated Press MASON, Ohio (AP) — Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep made quick work of their rain-delayed matches Friday afternoon and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open, facing the daunting challenge of playing a few hours later in extremely humid conditions. Several days of rain turned the quarterfinals into an endurance test. Six men's and three women's singles matches were held over from Thursday because of rain. Federer — the top player left in the men's bracket after No. 1 Rafael Nadal withdrew to get some rest — needed only 72 minutes to beat Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 7-6 (6), leaving him on course for yet another Cincinnati title. He's won a record seven despite missing the tournament the last two years because of injury. Then, it was off for a little rest before an evening match against fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka, who advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Marton Fucsovics. "Waiting around all day and hardly seeing any tennis obviously is never fun for the tournament and the fans," Federer said. "So we're happy that the tournament is back underway. Today I tried to really focus on just the one match, not thinking that there is possibly going to be two." Djokovic's match against Grigor Dimitrov was suspended at the start of the third set on Thursday night. He finished off the defending champion 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, maintaining his hopes of a first Cincinnati title. Dimitrov didn't drop a set last year while winning his first Masters title in Cincinnati. He also won his first two matches this week in straight sets, a streak that was broken by Djokovic on Thursday night before the rains came and the match was suspended with Djokovic up 2-1. "I wish it didn't rain, for sure, last night," Dimitrov said. "I just thought that even though I lost that second set, I was feeling well on the court. "Today is a completely different day. The conditions are a little bit different. So yeah, everything came into play." With each win, Djokovic gets closer to the chance he covets — another appearance in the title match. He's never won at Cincinnati, going 0-5 in title matches. It's the only ATP Masters 1000 event that has eluded him. Djokovic acknowledges he would especially enjoy winning the title, which would make him the only player to win all nine ATP Masters events. Also Friday, Juan Martin del Potro and Nick Kyrgios split two tiebreakers before Del Potro prevailed in the third set for a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 6-2 win. Del Potro will face David Goffin, who upset Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Cincinnati quarterfinals for the first time in three tries. On the women's side, No. 1 Simona Halep beat Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals. Halep has faced the most challenges from the rain, with one match suspended overnight Wednesday in the third set and then her third-round match held over for a day as well. Barty, who lost to Halep in last week's Rogers Cup semifinals in Montreal, committed 32 unforced errors to Halep's 17. Halep is seeking her first Cincinnati championship after losing in the finals last year and 2015. ___ AP freelance writer Mark Schmetzer in Cincinnati contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 18th, 2018

Defending champion Alexander Zverev reaches Citi Open final

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defending champion Alexander Zverev has reached the final at the Citi Open. The No. 1-seeded Zverev defeated 10th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals Saturday. Sixteenth-seeded Andrey Rublev beat unseeded Denis Kudla 6-1, 6-4 in one quarterfinal and will face Alex de Minaur in the other semifinal Saturday night. De Minaur reached the semis when former No. 1 Andy Murray withdrew from the hard-court U.S. Open tuneup, citing fatigue. Zheng Saisai beat Allie Kick 6-3, 6-1 in the women's quarterfinals, advancing to face seventh-seeded Donna Vekic in one semifinal Saturday night. Svetlana Kuznetsova faces Andrea Petkovic in the other semifinal Saturday. Rain throughout the week forced de Minaur and Saisai to play two matches Saturday. Murray, a three-time major champion coming back from hip surgery, finished his most recent match at 3 a.m. Friday and decided to withdraw rather than play again so soon afterward......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2018

Del Potro, Fognini advances to Mifel Open final

LOS CABOS, Mexico (AP) — Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina advanced to the Mifel Open final Friday night, beating third-seeded Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-3, 7-6 (6). Del Potro will face second-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over British left-hander Cameron Norrie in the first semifinal. Del Potro won for the third straight night in the hard-court event after a rest break following a five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. The 2009 U.S. champion has 22 career victories, winning this year on hard courts at Indian Wells and Acapulco. Fognini, ranked 15th in the world, is seeking his third victory of the year after winning clay-court tournaments in Bastad and Sao Paolo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 4th, 2018

Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway. They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last. So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us." He continued: "John's such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short." Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner's 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating it. Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish. Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal's backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange. Because Nadal and Djokovic didn't begin playing until after 8 p.m., the retractable roof above the main stadium was shut between the matches and the arena's artificial lights were turned on. Now they'll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final, resuming at 1 p.m. local time, under the roof. The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow. That creates an unusual situation: Instead of a standard 2 p.m. start, Williams and Kerber won't know exactly when their match will begin. Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday's final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more. Anderson's fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill. "He stayed the course incredibly well," said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. "Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen." Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty. "That definitely brings a smile to my face," said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open. "At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, 'Just get up!'" The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it's hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final. Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Both Isner and Anderson said they'd like to see that change. At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be. There wasn't a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson. "The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of," said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches. Both failed to seize early opportunities. Isner wasted a set point in the opener. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, and then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away. By the latter stages, with break chances so rare, murmurs would spread through the Centre Court stands whenever a game's returner got to love-15 or love-30. Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds? Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No," even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all. The 10-all game ended with Isner hitting a forehand passing winner on the run to hold, then letting his momentum carry him directly to his sideline chair, where he plopped himself down. By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points. "I feel pretty terrible," Isner said afterward. "My left heel is killing me and I have an awful blister on my right foot." He never got a break point in the fifth set. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net. Then Anderson served out the victory, with Isner sailing a forehand wide on match point. Soon, they were meeting for an embrace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Zverev beats Thiem to win Madrid Open

MADRID (AP) — Second-seeded Alexander Zverev eased past fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4 to win the Madrid Open on Sunday, claiming his second title in a week. The German broke Thiem's opening service games in each set and didn't give his Austrian rival a single break chance to win in 1 hour, 19 minutes. Zverev won his eighth career title and second of the season after also winning the Munich Open last weekend. "It is unbelievable," Zverev said. "This is my third Masters 1000 and I am only 21 years old. It has been an amazing journey." Zverev dominated the entire week in the Spanish capital, not losing a single set en route to victory. Thiem lost his second consecutive final at the Caja Magica. He avenged last year's final loss to Rafael Nadal by beating him in Friday's quarterfinals for the Spaniard's first clay-court loss in a year. Zverev started strongly when Thiem conceded his first service game with a costly double fault. Serving to close out the first set, Zverev trailed 0-30 but used his big serve to force deuce and finally closed out the point when Thiem's return sailed long. Zverev started the second set in similar fashion, hitting a deep forehand that Thiem could only send into the net on the final point of his service game to fall behind a break. It was Zverev's second win in six meetings with Thiem. On Saturday, Petra Kvitova beat Kiki Bertens in three sets to win the women's title......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

Nadal’s magical clay court streak ended by Thiem in Madrid

Rafael Nadal suffered his first clay-court defeat in almost a year when the world number one was shocked 7-5, 6-3 by Austria's Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Masters quarterfinals on Friday. Defending champion Nadal, who came into the tournament having won both Monte Carlo and Barcelona for an 11th time, also saw his record 50-set winning streak on clay ended by the fifth-seeded Thiem. Thiem, the runner-up to the great Spaniard in the 2017 Madrid final, had been the last player to defeat Nadal on clay at the 2017 Italian Open in Rome -- 357 days ago. The shock result also means that Roger Federer will reclaim the world number one ranking on Monday. "A player like Dominic has a lot of ...Keep on reading: Nadal’s magical clay court streak ended by Thiem in Madrid.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 12th, 2018

Nadal, Dimitrov advance to Australian Open quarterfinals

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If Rafael Nadal wanted a fitness test in the first week of the Australian Open, he got one in his almost four-hour, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman. No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov did it tough, too, before advancing to the quarterfinals at the expense of the last Aussie in the draw. Dimitrov avenged a loss two weeks ago to Nick Kyrgios with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4) win over Nick Kyrgios on Sunday night. He'll next face Kyle Edmund, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win over Andreas Seppi earlier in the afternoon and could relax and watch the night-time entertainment. Nadal, with his spot in a 10th Australian Open quarterfinal secure, draped an arm around his Argentine friend Schwartzman and patted him on top of the head after they met at the net. "A great battle ... he's a good friend of mine," Nadal said. "This is the first big match that I played in 2018. That's confidence for myself ... confidence I can resist for four hours on court at a good intensity." Nadal lost last year's Australian Open final to Roger Federer, but went on to regain the No. 1 ranking and win the French and U.S. Open titles before bringing his season to a premature end because of an injured right knee. He didn't play a competitive match before the season-opening major, and advanced through three rounds without dropping a set. That streak finished when Schwartzman took the second set, rebounding three times after dropping serve to break back against Nadal and level the match. Nadal lifted to win the third, but Schwatzman didn't relent. The second game of the fourth set lasted almost 13 minutes and 20 points, with Nadal finally holding after saving five break points. The 16-time major winner broke again in the next game and withstood more break points — seven in all in the last set and 15 of 18 in the match — before clinching it in 3 hours, 51 minutes. "It was a good test for me. It was a lot of hours on court. Moments under pressure," Nadal said. "So, yeah, a lot of positive things that I managed well." Nadal will next play 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who collected his 100th Grand Slam match win with a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (0), 7-6 (3) victory over No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta. "I had the 300th win of my career at the U.S. Open in 2014, so this is also beautiful one," Cilic said of his latest major milestone. "I hope I'm going to continue and gather three more here." Caroline Wozniacki continued to cash in on her second chance, reaching the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova. After saving match points and coming back from 5-1 down in the third set of her second-round win, No. 2-ranked Wozniacki said she was "playing with the house money" and had nothing to lose. "I played really well from being down 5-1 ... since then I've just kept that going," she said. After a tight tussle in the opening four games against No. 19-seeded Rybarikova, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, Wozniacki dominated the fourth-round match and conceded only six points in the second set. She tried a between-the-legs shot for the first time in a tour-level match. "I think you can tell my confidence is high," Wozniacki said in an on-court TV interview. "I tried a tweener today and it went in." Wozniacki next plays Carla Suarez Navarro, who came back from a set and 4-1 down to beat No. 32 Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 6-4, 8-6. Elise Mertens reached the quarterfinals in her Australian Open debut, beating Petra Martic 7-6 (5), 7-5 to extend her winning streak to nine matches including a title run at the Hobart International. _____ More AP coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/AustralianOpen.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2018

Nadal, Federer advance to Shanghai final for 38th encounter

em>By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press /em> SHANGHAI (AP) — Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will face each for the 38th time after advancing Saturday to the Shanghai Masters final. Top-seeded Nadal defeated Marin Cilic of Croatia 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the first semifinal, and second-seeded Federer was stretched to three sets before posting a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina. Nadal, who won a tour-best sixth title of the season at the China Open last week, improved his current winning streak to 16 matches. The Spaniard, who has 16 Grand Slam men's singles trophies, won the French and U.S. Open titles this season. Federer, looking for his sixth title this year, won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year to increase his Grand Slam men's singles record to 19 titles. Nadal holds a 23-14 winning record over Federer, but Federer has won their last four meetings, including all three this season. Nadal has won 14 of 23 finals against Federer. 'I'm not sure what the stat is because most of them, half of them, maybe, were in finals and that's why the rivalry is so special,' Federer said. 'I enjoy playing against him even if the head-to-head is not in my favor. He's one of the guys who's made me a better player. I don't want to thank him for that, but it made me go back and rework my game.' Del Potro went for an MRI on Friday night after falling and hurting his left wrist but showed little sign of the injury bothering him against Federer. The Argentine said his wrist was hurting after the match. Federer, who lost in the quarterfinals to del Potro at the U.S. Open this year, looked shaky in the opener but found his form for the final two sets. He broke 16th-seeded del Potro on a fifth break point in a contentious sixth game of the second set. When Federer missed out on the fourth break point, the Swiss hit a ball in anger across the court. During the changeover after the seventh game, an annoyed del Potro asked why Federer wasn't given a warning for the outburst. 'Getting that break and then holding is always key ... especially with all the twists and turns in tennis,' Federer said. 'If you blink at the right time your back can be against the wall.' Nadal, who was a finalist here in 2009, has now beaten Cilic in five of their six matches. Nadal hadn't lost his serve in 32 service games but fourth-seeded Cilic broke him twice, in the sixth and 10th games of the second set. At 30-40 in the sixth game, Nadal netted a forehand volley to surrender his serve for the first time, and responded by twice angrily banging his racket on his leg, just above the knee. 'Is true, sometimes I get frustrated too,' Nadal said. Nadal failed to take advantage of his first match point when he made a forehand error at 40-30 in the 10th game, and went on to have his serve broken. Leading 6-3 in the second-set tiebreaker, Nadal prevailed on his second match point when Cilic netted a service return. Nadal said there were 'mistakes with my serve in the second, that's the only thing. For the rest, I am happy.' Nadal saved three set points on his own serve when 5-4 down. The Shanghai Masters wants to expand to a 10 or 11 day event, increase its draw size from 64 to 96, and raise prize money to more than $10 million, starting in 2019. The ATP board is expected to discuss Shanghai's request next month. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 15th, 2017

Rafael Nadal advances to quarterfinals of China Open

em>By Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press /em> BEIJING (AP) — Rafael Nadal earned his season-leading 58th victory on Thursday by beating Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the China Open. The top-ranked Spaniard, who won the French Open and U.S. Open this year, saved all six break points he faced and increased his lead over Roger Federer at the top of the rankings. Nadal will next face John Isner. The big-serving American defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-0, 6-3. 'Tomorrow will be a tough one against Isner,' Nadal said. 'John is a very good player from the baseline, too. I saw him today. He played so aggressive, having a lot of success, hitting a lot of winners, returning very well.' Second-seeded Alexander Zverev also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-2. The German will next play Andrey Rublev, who defeated seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych 1-6, 6-4, 6-1. In the women's tournament, Jelena Ostapenko advanced after Peng Shuai, the last Chinese player in the competition, retired from the match while trailing 3-0. Also, third-seeded Sorana Cirstea defeated fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 7-5, Caroline Garcia beat Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-1, and Petra Kvitova beat former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-4. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 6th, 2017

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. 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Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019