Hall of Famer Roddick asked more about '09 loss than '03 win

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> More people want to ask Andy Roddick about a Grand Slam final he lost than the one he won. Yes, that 16-14 defeat in the fifth set against Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2009 seems to spark more conversations than Roddick's straight-set victory at the 2003 U.S. Open, the last time any American man won a major championship. 'For better or worse, it's going to be the '09 Wimbledon final. It's the match people want to talk about. I'll be in a coffee shop and people want to talk about it. People will tell me where they were and where they were watching it,' Roddick said in a telephone interview Friday, the day before he is inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. 'It's a proud moment for me. To go on the biggest stage and — I know I didn't come up on the right end of it, but I don't know that I could have played or executed a game plan better than I did for 4½ hours,' he said. 'It's definitely the one I hear about the most and talk about the most and kind of think about the most.' On Saturday, Roddick and another former No. 1 player, four-time major champion Kim Clijsters, will headline the Hall's Class of 2017. Also being enshrined this year: Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch, a four-time Paralympic medalist in wheelchair tennis; journalist and historian Steve Flink; and tennis instructor Vic Braden. Roddick and Clijsters were moved by the opportunity to tour the hall with family and friends on Friday. 'When I walk through there and I see the history of our sport from when I was a little girl — Steffi Graf and Monica Seles and Arantxa Sanchez — and just a few meters over, there's my picture or my trophy, it feels very special,' Clijsters said. 'But it's also very hard to understand and have it sink in.' Both played their last singles matches in 2012 at the U.S. Open, an important site for their careers. Clijsters won titles in New York in 2005, 2009 — with her daughter, Jada, prancing around the trophy in Arthur Ashe Stadium — and 2010, along with the Australian Open in 2011. In addition to winning his Grand Slam trophy at Flushing Meadows, Roddick was the runner-up there in 2006 to — yes, that's right — Federer. Roddick's trio of runner-up finishes at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005 and 2009 all came against Federer. 'I gave myself a lot peace of mind when I decided I wasn't going to compare myself to Roger,' Roddick said with a chuckle. The key to Roddick's success was his big serve — he once held the record for fastest at 155 mph (250 kph) — and big forehand. But he worked to improve other aspects of his game, including his fitness, backhand and volleys. 'A great competitor. Always getting the most out of himself,' said Lleyton Hewitt, a two-time major champion whose career overlapped Roddick's. 'Left it all out on the court every time he stepped out there. Looked like he did all the hard work, as well, to try and prepare himself as well as possible.' Roddick spent much of his career dealing with questions why his generation wasn't as successful as previous groups of American men, such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the 1990s, or John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors before that. Now it's Roddick whose name comes up in that sort of context: When Sam Querrey reached the Wimbledon semifinals this month, it was noted he was the first man from the U.S. to get that far at a major since Roddick's tight-as-can-be loss to Federer in 2009 at the All England Club. After that match, fans at Centre Court chanted Roddick's name, an unusual homage to someone who didn't win. 'That's obviously the one that haunts him,' said Patrick McEnroe, Roddick's former U.S. Davis Cup captain. 'He was so close. It was arguably the best match he ever played.' Roddick helped the United States end a 12-year David Cup drought by winning the 2007 title. 'He was one of those guys that got the most out of his ability,' McEnroe said. 'I would say he overachieved. He was a great server, one of the greatest servers ever. But he wasn't a great tennis player. And I think he would tell you that. He wasn't a natural player, where he could just hit shots. He had to work extremely hard. So because of that, to me, he overachieved (by) getting to No. 1 in the world and winning a major.'   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 22nd, 2017Related News

Ron Howard teases Han Solo film on Twitter, Instagram

Ron Howard teases Han Solo film on Twitter, Instagram.....»»

Source: Cnnphilippines CnnphilippinesCategory: EntertainmentJul 20th, 2017Related News

BLOGTABLE: Best free agent signing of 2017?

em> blogtable /em> The best free-agent signing this summer was ... ? * * * strong>David Aldridge: /strong> Paul Millsap with Denver (technically, a sign-and-trade with Atlanta and the Clippers). Just love what I think is going to be a perfect fit between a four-time All-Star who still should have two or three top seasons left in him -- which dovetails perfectly with his contract. Millsap remains one of the most underrated guys in the game, able to impact the game as a scorer, rebounder, defender and passer. I just think he should be a great complement playing off of Nikola Jokic with his ability to space the floor and pass. And the Nuggets needed another veteran voice in what is still a pretty young locker room. strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> Paul Millsap to Denver struck me as a nice acquisition, one that addresses needs for the Nuggets both on the floor and in the seams. Millsap is a grown-up and repeat All-Star who brings leadership, which only matters if he can play his solid, versatile, ball-optional game up front. His deal -- three years, $90 million -- protects the Nuggets with that final year as a team option. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong>Kevin Durant. The MVP of The Finals took less than the max so the Warriors could keep the core together with Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and make the defending champs the solid favorites for 2018. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong>The best was the Warriors' package deal of retaining Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. That's a decent outcome for Golden State. But if the conversation is free agents who were in play, then it's Gordon Hayward to Boston. To add a young All-Star without giving up anything in return, to a roster that already has a large window of opportunity, when the player and coach already have a very good relationship, would be tough to top most summers. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong>Easy answer: Gordon Hayward with the Celtics. He wasn't the most economical signing (Jonathon Simmons to Orlando) but in terms of an impact signing, he's right at the top. I look for Hayward to mesh easily with Brad Stevens, his former college coach; and mentally because he's not the savior of the franchise; and have a seamless relationship with Isaiah Thomas because Hayward isn't bringing a massive ego. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong>There's nothing better than re-signing the Finals MVP (and the second best player in the world) for less than 75 percent of the max, even if Kevin Durant's return to Golden State was a foregone conclusion. Gordon Hayward was the best player to change teams via free agency, gives the Celtics a much-needed, secondary playmaker, and makes what was a top-10 offense last season tougher to defend. And my personal favorite was the Clippers bringing the brilliant passing of Milos Teodosic from Europe. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong>In a summer when there were trades (Chris Paul to Houston, Paul George to Oklahoma City) that could have more impact than any free agent signing, I have to go with Gordon Hayward to Boston as the best signing of this summer. Hayward chose a path East while it seemed every other star of significance was relocating West. Boston has a well-stocked roster, one ready to challenge Cleveland for the top spot and the chance to represent the Eastern Conference in The Finals next year. While Hayward is not necessarily a 'superstar,' he is in that tier below and more than capable of helping push the Celtics to a higher level. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong>Kevin Durant. By re-signing him to $9.5 million less than the max, the Warriors were able to max-out Steph Curry, retain their key bench players and add Nick Young. No other offseason move will have a greater influence on the championship race. strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong>One of the biggest signings this summer was Gordon Hayward to Boston, and certainly the Celtics will once again be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. But I really like the way Hayward's former team, the Utah Jazz, navigated free agency. First they re-signed Joe Ingles, one of the NBA's best glue guys and an ace outside shooter, then following Hayward's departure they signed two terrific, active wing players in Thabo Sefolosha and Jonas Jerebko. Add in the trade for Ricky Rubio, and the Jazz may not be as good as they were a season ago, but I don't think they're going to be appreciably worse, either. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 20th, 2017Related News

US survives biting incident, beats El Salvador 2-0, advances

em>By Ronaldo Blum, Associated Press /em> PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj scored late in the first half and the United States beat El Salvador 2-0 on Wednesday night in an ugly CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal during which defender Henry Romero appeared to first bite Jozy Altidore on the back of a shoulder and then pull the American forward's nipple. Canadian referee Drew Fischer, a Major League Soccer regular, did not penalize the incident, which occurred during a skirmish on the goal line in the 57th minute ahead of a U.S. corner kick. A furious Altidore shoved down Romero after the apparent bite in his left shoulder area, then grimaced and fell to the ground after having his nipple twisted, but remained in the game. Romero still could face discipline later, CONCACAF said. The Americans, who started five veterans added for the tournament's knockout phase, overcame shaky defensive play and poor passing, advancing to a semifinal against Costa Rica on Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Bruce Arena changed all 11 starters for the second straight game and at 7-0-5 set a record for longest unbeaten streak at the start of a U.S. coaching tenure, topping Bob Bradley's 10-0-1 in 2007. The U.S. improved to 6-0 against El Salvador in the Gold Cup, also winning quarterfinals 4-0 in 2002 and 5-1 in 2013. The Americans are 17-1-5 overall against the Salvadorians, the only loss an exhibition at San Salvador in 1992. Altidore, forward Clint Dempsey, midfielders Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe, and goalkeeper Tim Howard were all added to the lineup. A crowd of 31,615 at half-filled Lincoln Financial Field was evenly split with supporters of both teams. Howard was called on to save the U.S. in the third minute. Rodolfo Zelaya ran onto a terrible, lightly struck backpass by Lichaj and instead of striking the ball with his first touch appeared to want to round Howard. The goalkeeper sprinted out, slid and batted away the ball with his left hand. Zardes was fed by Dempsey, broke in alone in the 17th and put the ball in the net, but he was ruled offside by linesman Ainsley Rochard of Trinidad and Tobago — replays showed Zardes was even with the last defender when Dempsey made the pass. Nagbe, moved from a flank to a central midfield role on his 27th birthday, started to stabilize the match for the U.S. with possession and passes, but the Americans did not break through until late in the first half. Bradley took a free kick on a flank from about 35 yards and sent it on a low liner into the middle of the penalty area. The 6-foot-5 defender outjumped Darwin Cerin about 8 yards from the goal and directed the ball with a glance of his head through the upstretched arms of goalkeeper Derby Carrillo. After scoring once in his first 40 international appearances, Gonzalez has two goals in his last three. Lichaj, trying to play his way into the top part of the U.S. depth chart, was played in by Dempsey and beat sliding defender Ivan Mancia to score on an angled shot from 6 yards. Mistakes nearly got the U.S. in trouble early in the second half. Pineda took advantage of Nagbe's giveaway and got around Lichaj for an open shot from just outside the penalty area but slid the ball wide. Dempsey made his 135th appearance, moving past Jeff Agoos into sole possession of third on the U.S. list, trailing only Cobi Jones (164) and Landon Donovan (157). Dempsey needs one goal to equal Landon Donovan's American record of 57 national team goals. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 20th, 2017Related News

BLOGTABLE: Early picks for Rookie of the Year?

em> blogtable /em> Name your top three, ridiculously early Kia Rookie of the Year candidates. * * * strong>David Aldridge: /strong>Good Lord. Okay, for purposes of this ridiculously early exercise, I think you have to go Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr. No particular order. strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> 1. Lonzo Ball br /> 2. Ben Simmons br /> 3. Dennis Smith Jr. Ball grabbed an early lead with his strong showing at the Las Vegas Summer League, and if he’s able to meet or exceed the lofty expectations his team, Lakers fans and the NBA overall have for him, he could win the ROY running away. Ben Simmons figures to be Philadelphia’s latest second-year Rookie candidate, owing to his injury-zapped 2016-17, but like the Sixers’ Joel Embiid and Dario Saric last season, Simmons could wind up splitting votes with teammate Markelle Fultz. Smith Jr. strikes me as a perfect blend of talent, opportunity, drive and need, in that Dallas might basically flip the new point guard the franchise keys and let him drive serious minutes all season long. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong> 1. Lonzo Ball br /> 2. De'Aaron Fox br /> 3. Dennis Smith Jr. And that will likely change week to week. Unlike last season, we'll have a real rookie race. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong> 1. Ben Simmons br /> 2. Lonzo Ball br /> 3. Dennis Smith Jr. But this could be such a great season for rookies that we could go five names and still be leaving out legit candidates. The draft alone was good enough to get excited about the first-year class of 2017-18. And it also includes the guy who would have been the favorite entering last season, Simmons, before getting hurt. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong> 1. Ben Simmons br /> 2. De'Aaron Fox br /> 3. Dennis Smith Jr. They're the three players who are most likely to have the combination of playing time and responsibility, which should translate into statistics. Will they be the three best players five years from now? Perhaps not. But it's hard to see a first-year player being in better situations than Simmons in Philly, Fox on the rebuilding Kings (where there's little competition at point guard) and Smith (ditto). strong>John Schuhmann: /strong> 1. Lonzo Ball br /> 2. Ben Simmons br /> 3. Dennis Smith Jr. All three of those guys will have the ball in their hands for teams looking to build for the future around their skill sets. So the opportunities are there for them to put up strong boxscore numbers. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong> 1. Lonzo Ball br /> 2. Dennis Smith Jr. br /> 3. Josh Jackson It is ridiculously early for Rookie of the Year candidates, but this is the silly season. So why not? Lonzo Ball has to headline anyone's short list. The Lakers' face of the franchise showed us exactly what he can do during summer league. He's joined on my short list by fellow top lottery picks Dennis Smith Jr., who will have the ball in his hands from the first day of training camp in Dallas, and Josh Jackson, who slides into a comfortable role at small forward for the Phoenix Suns. Jayson Tatum would have normally been in my top three, but the competition for playing time at his position in Boston is going to be fierce. It remains to be seen just how many quality minutes are available for the talented wing player in Brad Stevens' rotation. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong> 1. Lonzo Ball br /> 2. Markelle Fultz br /> 3. Dennis Smith Jr. Lonzo Ball enters the year with unmatched hype, the opportunity to make all of the plays for his team, and low expectations for his team -- a ROY perfect storm. Markelle Fultz is sure to put up big numbers for the 76ers, though the success of his team may hinge largely on the health of Joel Embiid. Dennis Smith Jr. will benefit from quarterbacking Rick Carlisle’s offense and Dirk Nowitzki’s leadership. strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong> 1. Lonzo Ball br /> 2. Josh Jackson br /> 3. John Collins At the tip top of my list is Lonzo Ball. I didn't see much of him at UCLA but had questions about how his game would translate to the next level. But after seeing Ball last week in Vegas, I'm sold. The word I kept coming back to when watching him play was 'connectability,' as in Ball somehow manages to act as a link between whoever he is on the court alongside. His shooting is still inconsistent, but his touch and feel and timing were, to me, off the charts. I also really liked Josh Jackson, who has the tools to be a terrific athletic big for the Suns. And if you want a darkhorse pick, how about John Collins of the Hawks? John the Baptist made first team all-tournament in Vegas and is going to dunk on a lot of people this season. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 20th, 2017Related News

Semis-bound Volley Bolt disconnects HD Spikers from top spot

Only one team remains perfect in the 2017 Premier Volleyball League Open Conference. Mega Builders now finds itself alone atop the leaderboard after dislodging erstwhile undefeated Cignal in a shocking sweep, 26-24, 26-24, and 25-17, on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre. Bryan Bagunas fired 17 points to lead three other teammates in double-digits in the Volley Bolt’s fifth win in as many games. With a 5-0 record, they have booked the first ticket into the semifinals of the tournament. Entering the matchup, the two teams stood on even ground at first-place. That was clearly the case in the first couple of frames as they were going toe-to-toe until Bagunas and Fauzi Ismail took the sets for Mega Builders. Those hard-earned decisions in the first two sets only uplifted the Volley Bolt into greater heights while also deflating their opponents. Unable to keep pace in the third set, the HD Spikers suffered their first setback in five games. Not much separated the two teams aside from spikes won which Mega Builders clearly claimed, 48-38. In the end, Fauzi and Kim Malabunga each contributed 12 points for the semis-bound Volley Bolt. On the other hand, only Mark Alfafara was the consistent force for Cignal with 11 points. He had no other teammates in double-digits. In the day’s other game, Philippine Air Force recovered just in time to register a five-set thriller of a triumph over Instituto Estetico Manila, 13-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-22, and 16-14 The Jet Spikers drew big-time contributions from Alnakran Abdilla who had 21 points as well as Reuben Inaudito, Nino Jeruz, and Howard Mojica who all had 12 points for their own to help their team rise to 4-1. Playing listless for the first two sets, Air Force finally took flight in the third set behind Jeruz and Mojica. Mark Christian Enciso paced IEM with 20 points which still proved far from enough from preventing their fall to 2-3. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 19th, 2017Related News

Federer tells AP he 'can't think too far ahead' nowadays

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer has learned not to take anything for granted. That's why he said what he did during the trophy presentation after his record-breaking eighth Wimbledon championship: 'I hope this wasn't my last match. And I hope I can come back next year and try to defend the title.' Some wondered whether that meant Federer was considering retirement. Hardly. What he meant, Federer explained Monday, was simply: 'I can't think too far ahead.' 'I didn't think about what I was going to say. It just came out that way, to show the people that, yes, of course I hope to defend my title and, of course, I wish to be back here next year. But we just don't know if it's really going to actually happen,' he said in an interview with The Associated Press at the All England Club the morning after beating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in the final. 'We have to wait and see.' He didn't always take that approach, back when he was in his 20s and reached a record 10 Grand Slam finals in a row. Things are different these days. 'At 25, when you win, you're like, 'All right, I'll see you next year!' because it's normal. You're going to be playing, for sure. The body's going to be fine, most likely. And if not next year, well, then the year after that, you know?' Federer said as he walked through the hallways of Centre Court in gray pants and a white zippered warmup jacket. 'But I can't really think two years ahead now. Let's be honest.' First of all, there's the no-way-around-it matter of his age: Federer turns 36 on Aug. 8; he is the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open era, which began in 1968. And then there's what happened about 18 months ago: A father of four, he was preparing a bath for his twin daughters when he turned and felt a 'click' in his left knee. In February 2016, he had the first operation of his career, arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage. Federer returned to the tour that March, then missed the French Open because of lingering back problems, ending his record streak of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournament appearances. After a semifinal loss at Wimbledon a year ago, he took the rest of the season off to let his body heal, missing the U.S. Open, Rio Olympics and every other event. 'I've seen how quickly things can change,' Federer said. 'Filling a bathtub for my girls changed the whole next 1½ years of my tennis life, really.' These past six months turned out OK, though. Federer is 31-2 with a tour-leading five titles in 2017. That includes his 18th Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open — ending a 4½-year drought without a major title — followed by his 19th at Wimbledon, where he became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win the tournament without dropping a set. 'Everything he does is exceptional,' said Jonas Bjorkman, Cilic's coach. 'Obviously, he's unique in many ways.' Federer himself is surprised at how well this year has gone so far. He says he certainly didn't expect to win both majors he's entered (he sat out the French Open again, using another break during the clay-court circuit to recharge before the brief grass portion of the season). Now he moves on to the hard courts, including the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 28. 'I have a hard time thinking I could win three Slams in one year. It just sounds totally surreal to me,' said Federer, who did collect trios of major titles in 2004, 2006 and 2007. 'But I'll prepare myself the best way possible, so that I will have the best chance to really excel there in New York.' His voice sounded deeper than usual, a bit of after-effect from celebrations into the wee hours that included the Wimbledon champions' dinner and drinks with a group of more than 30 friends at a bar. Federer said he didn't get to sleep until 5 a.m. Here he was, about 6½ hours later, returning to the arena to pose for group photos with 200 members of the tournament's staff — groundskeepers and others who sat in a corner of the stands while he took a spot on a courtside ledge, Wimbledon's gold trophy beside him. 'Everybody say, 'Swiss cheese!'' Federer said, drawing laughter. Then he posed on the court for a few last pictures, steps from a small green sign with white letters instructing, 'Keep off the grass.' So, yes, expect him back on that turf in 2018. Just remember not to take his excellence for granted. He won't. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 18th, 2017Related News

Federer up to ATP No. 3 after Wimbledon; Muguruza WTA No. 5

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer's eighth Wimbledon title pushed him back up to No. 3 in the ATP rankings on Monday after he ended last season at No. 16. And, because he sat out the last half of 2016, his points will only continue to accumulate, making a return to No. 1 a real possibility. 'I'm playing for titles at this stage of my career. Rankings, not so much, unless I'm as close as I am right now,' said the 35-year-old Federer, who also clinched a berth in the season-ending ATP Finals, held in London on Nov. 12-19. So I just have to check the situation, if it's worth it to run after it or not.' Garbine Muguruza's first championship at the All England Club returned her to the WTA's top 10 at No. 5, a rise of 10 spots, while runner-up Venus Williams goes from No. 11 to No. 9. Karolina Pliskova became the 23rd woman to be ranked No. 1, a debut for her that was guaranteed last week, based on results at Wimbledon. She had been No. 3, and swaps positions with former No. 1 Angelique Kerber. Serena Williams has not competed since January because she is pregnant. By losing rankings points she earned last year, including a title at Wimbledon and runner-up finish at the French Open, she went from No. 4 to No. 15 on Monday — leaving her out of the top 10 for the first time since April 1, 2012. The rankings count points from the preceding 52 weeks, which is why Pliskova is able to take over at No. 1 despite losing in the second round at the All England Club. Pliskova, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic, has never won a Grand Slam title — she's not the first player to top the rankings without that achievement on her resume — although she was the runner-up to Kerber at last year's U.S. Open and a semifinalist at Roland Garros last month. Kerber lost in the first round at the French Open, then the fourth round of Wimbledon. Simona Halep had a chance to be No. 1 this week but lost to Johanna Konta in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. So Halep continues at No. 2, with Konta going from No. 7 to No. 4. Federer's placement is his highest since he was No. 3 in August 2016, at the start of his half-year hiatus from the tour. He has spent a total of 302 weeks as the ATP's No. 1 player in his career, a record. One of Federer's coaches, Severin Luthi, was asked about aiming to return to the top spot. 'If it comes, for sure, it's amazing,' Luthi said. 'But for him, (winning majors is) more important.' Andy Murray held onto No. 1 despite losing in the quarterfinals of his title defense at the All England Club, ahead of No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon after winning the French Open. Novak Djokovic remained at No. 4, while Stan Wawrinka dropped two spots to No. 5 after a first-round exit. Wimbledon runner-up Marin Cilic stayed at No. 6.   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 18th, 2017Related News

Revered Wimbledon is to tennis what the Masters is to golf

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — When Masters champion Sergio Garcia sat in the Royal Box at Wimbledon last week, he showed up in his green jacket from Augusta National. Seemed fitting. The tennis and golf tournaments seem to be each other's counterparts in many ways, starting with the reverence in which they're held — and the steps the private clubs that run them take to cultivate the events' images. There's a reason kids grow up pretending they're serving for the match on Centre Court at the All England Club or attempting a putt on the 18th green at Augusta National. 'This tournament has a special place in players' careers. In this sport, there's so much weight behind it and significance about it. The aura of Wimbledon has probably always been the strongest of any ... tournament,' three-time champion Novak Djokovic said. 'I'm sure that most of the players on the tour, if not all, feel that.' Sam Querrey certainly does. The 29-year-old Californian, who will play Marin Cilic of Croatia in the men's semifinals on Friday, made a point of noting that he was thrilled to have the best Grand Slam performance of his career at Wimbledon. There's no other place he'd rather have that sort of success. 'In my opinion, it's the best tournament. It's like the Masters for golf. Everything about it is unique and fun. The grounds are immaculate. ... It feels like a 'bucket list' thing, not only to players but to fans, more so than the other three Slams,' Querrey said. 'It's had that aura around it for a long time. Hopefully that will continue on.' So what is it about Wimbledon that earned that status? 'I can't name one thing. It's just nicer. Attention to detail in the locker rooms, in the food area, the practice courts,' Querrey said. 'Everything is just perfect, in a way.' As Francesca Schiavone, an Italian who won the 2010 French Open and says her appreciation for Wimbledon has grown in recent years, put it: 'Who wouldn't want to play at this tournament?' Part of the appeal of Wimbledon — a tournament now known simply as The Championships, it first was contested in 1877, when Spencer Gore beat William Marshall 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 for the title — and the Masters, which 'only' dates to 1934, is a sense of stepping back in time. The All England Club is the only major tennis tournament that still uses grass courts, which in itself is anachronistic: That once was also the surface for the U.S. Open and Australian Open, but decades ago. It's the only one with rules mandating all-white attire for players. The only one with no play planned for the fortnight's middle Sunday (last year was only the fourth time in the tournament's lengthy history that rain in Week 1 necessitated scheduling matches on that day). The only one without advertising signs at the courts. Instead, the tournament's 13 official 'partners,' as they're called — 'They're very much partners, not sponsors,' said Mick Desmond, the All England Club's commercial director — are made a part of the event's fabric more naturally. The bottled water players drink, for example. Or a particular alcoholic beverage similar to a wine cooler that's sold to spectators. 'We're not going to change our strategy on that. Wimbledon wouldn't be Wimbledon,' Desmond said. 'The fans here and the fans around the world know who our partners are. You don't have to knock somebody on the head and put banners in their face every 5 seconds. ... It's not in our DNA.' There's a similar philosophy at Augusta National, and the two clubs trade notes on best practices. 'We share the same kind of view — that we are big annual tournaments that are hosted in the same venue each year and have clarity in terms of what our brand is. And I repsect what they do, too,' Desmond said. 'I think it's probably the reasons we are the premium brands in both our sports.' At the Masters, there is no running on the golf course. No cell phones are allowed on property during the tournament's four rounds. Caddies are required to wear white coveralls with a green number on the front that corresponds with when their player checked in; the defending champion's caddie always wears '1.' There are only 4 minutes of TV commercials per hour. Each event also is proud of its idiosyncrasies. Wimbledon has its strawberries and cream, and the 'pop' of Champagne corks in the stands. The Masters has its Pimiento cheese and egg salad sandwiches. And yet, for all that remains the same around the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (its full, formal name), Wimbledon does manage to move along with the times in some respects. There is now a video replay challenge system on the principal courts, for example. Centre Court, first opened in 1922, had a retractable roof added in 2009. No. 1 Court is due to have its own roof in 2019. 'A lot of changes. I'm happy they invested a lot. I think there's more to come,' seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer said. 'I think it's going to be really interesting, the next 20 years, what they're going to be doing.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 14th, 2017Related News

BLOGTABLE: Did Celtics add enough to challenge Cavs?

em> blogtable /em> The Celtics have word that Gordon Hayward is coming, but they lost a lot of depth in players like Avery Bradley, Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. Are the Celtics, as constructed today, good enough to overthrow the Cavaliers? * * * strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong>No. I’m not even sure the Celtics as constructed today are good enough to overthrow the 2016-17 Celtics. The players to whom they’ve bid adieu represent several steps backward, with the strides forward from landing Hayward still to be determined. Avery Bradley in particular was a valuable, three-way player for Boston. Three-way? Yes, toting up his offensive, defensive and chemistry contributions. And say what you want about Kelly Olynyk, but he gave the Celtics a combination of size and shooting range that it will miss. All that gnashing of teeth we hear coming out of Cleveland is about the Cavs’ apparent difficulty in narrowing The Finals gap with Golden State, not about Boston or anyone else closing the gap in the East. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong> Gordon Hayward is a very good player and gives the Celtics an upgrade in their starting lineup, but not the same kind of boost they’d have received at both ends of the court from Paul George. The loss of depth should not be underestimated, especially Avery Bradley as a defender and locker room presence. They’re going to need Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown to step up in a big way. The bigger difference in terms of catching the Cavaliers just might be the loss of general manager David Griffin in Cleveland. He’s the one that kept LeBron James happy and nursed the salary cap with shrewd additions to the roster. Still advantage Cavs. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong>Yes. I would still give the Cavaliers an edge unless LeBron James recently sold the time machine that last season turned him into a 28-year-old, and I think having so many people talk about the Boston is an extra dose of motivation for Cleveland. The Cs winning the East, though, would hardly be a surprise. They will be better and I don't know that we can say the same about Cleveland. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong>They're probably not ready to beat the Cavs right now, barring some circumstance that is, but I'm not sure that was the primary goal. Danny Ainge wants this team to be ready for a five-to six-year run and particularly if/when LeBron James has had enough of Cleveland, which could be after this season. In order to stay ahead of the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and whomever else becomes a contender in the East, Ange must soon address the big man issue. The Celtics need a rim protector. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong> The answer to that question is more about the Cavs than the Celtics. It promises to be another drama-filled season in Cleveland, with the fear of LeBron James leaving (again) next summer and with Kevin Love remaining in trade rumors. If the Cavs can stay focused in between the lines and build better defensive habits through the season than they did last year, they should remain the favorites in the East. But if the wheels start to come off in Cleveland, the Celtics are capable of taking advantage. With improved shooting and playmaking, Boston could have a top-five offense for the first time in 26 years (since 1990-91, the last time Larry Bird played more than 50 games). I am curious to see how they hold up defensively after taking a step backward on that end of the floor last season and losing both Bradley and Johnson. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong>No, they're not quite there yet. The loss of Avery Bradley directly impacts the (theoretical) matchup with the Cavaliers in that the best possible defender of Kyrie Irving is no longer in green and white. The loss of Bradley is devastating enough, given his abilities on both ends of the floor and fit alongside Isaiah Thomas. But not having him to at least try and slow Kyrie down would be a game changer in that series. I know you have to give something (or someone) of quality up to get something of quality in return this time of year in the NBA, but Bradley was a piece I felt was too valuable to part with in this instance. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong>On paper, which is all we have today, the Celtics don’t have the star power to bring down LeBron James. But the outlook may be different nine months from now. James is seeking his eighth straight NBA Finals, and even more relevant is that his teammates are trying to get there for the fourth year in a row. Miami looked like a tired team while reaching its fourth straight Finals in 2014, as did Kobe’s Lakers when they fell short of a fourth successive Finals in 2011. In this threshold year, conditioning, teamwork and humility could carry the Celtics a long way. No one should be predicting an NBA Finals appearance for them, but no one should be counting them out either. strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong>Didn't the Celtics finish with the Eastern Conference's best regular-season mark in 2016-17? That tends to get overlooked in the aftermath of their thrashing by the Cavaliers in the conference finals, but the Celtics were the best team in the Eastern Conference last season, at least by record. Olynyk had his moments, and Johnson was mostly a contributor off the floor, but the guy I really don't like them losing is Avery Bradley. Not only is Bradley one of the NBA's best perimeter defenders, but he also provided important defensive cover for Isaiah Thomas, and knocked down spot-up jumpers. The only way it makes sense to me is if you zoom out and look bigger picture: If you're losing Bradley, Olynyk and Johnson and adding Hayward, Tatum and Marcus Morris, I feel like it's mostly a net-plus. Especially if someone else (Marcus Smart?) accepts that defensive stopper role. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 13th, 2017Related News

BLOGTABLE: How much did Thunder improve this offseason?

em> blogtable /em> The Oklahoma City Thunder made a big splash by trading for Paul George. Are you convinced OKC will be significantly better next season? * * * strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> I’ll skip any quibbling over what we mean by “significant” and just say yes. For this season, sure, adding a Paul George who’s ready for his close-up is a big, impact-y move because he’ll be eager to show how well he can play with his MVP peer Russell Westbrook and because he’ll have a brighter spotlight on him than he ever did in Indy. Also, the players the Thunder gave up won’t nag at that team in their absence -- George covers whatever Victor Oladipo did and Domantas Sabonis wasn’t ready to change the front line’s dynamic in a pace-and-space league. I’d still rather see George with the Lakers right now, rather than having player and team moon over each other from afar for a year. But this will be entertaining, and OKC should see a nice bump in victories. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong>You have to define significantly better. The combination of Russell Westbrook and Paul George does not let OKC crack top three in West of Golden State, San Antonio, Houston. I can see them going from last year’s 47 wins to the 50-51 range that puts them in the 4-5 holes that were occupied by the Clippers and Jazz. Where the effect could be felt is in the playoffs were the new 1-2 punch makes them a much tougher out. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong> The Thunder will be better. It's tough to attach a subjective term because improving by, say, five games, could be considered significant to some but not to others. But reaching the 50s in wins and at the very least playing a competitive first-round series after a 4-1 elimination last time, maybe even winning, would be a step forward. All of which sets OKC up for the truly significant moment: Paul George's decision. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong> I think we should define 'significantly' first. Will they have a cleaner look and an additional weapon besides Westbrook? Or course. Will this put them in the mix with the Spurs and Rockets? Perhaps. Do they have a shot at the Warriors? (Cue the James Harden side-eye video clip.) strong>John Schuhmann: /strong> They will be better, and it's not just about Paul George, because Patrick Patterson is another addition that can make an impact on both ends of the floor. With the two teams in front of them in the '16-17 standings -- the LA Clippers and Utah Jazz -- both losing their best players this summer, the Thunder can move up in the standings. But it remains to be seen if OKC can climb into Tier 2 (Houston and San Antonio) in the West. Even with the additions of George and Patterson, their ability to improve on offense (where they were below average last season) will depend on Russell Westbrook's willingness to cede some of the playmaking burden. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong>If by 'significantly' you mean better than the sixth seed in a rugged Western Conference, I believe that to be a reasonable expectation. The addition of Paul George (and some of the other moves Thunder GM Sam Presti has made this summer) put reigning Kia MVP Russell Westbrook in a position to have much more fuel in his tank heading into a postseason. I don't care that acquiring George could amount to nothing more than a one-season rental -- I love that Presti made his play and snagged him before someone else did. It sends a strong message around the league about the way the franchise is approaching things going forward. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong>They are significantly better, as are the Rockets. But neither team has enough firepower to knock off the Warriors (and maybe not the Spurs either). What OKC has done is to create an opportunity to take advantage if Golden State is weakened by injuries or other issues next year. As always, the question for the Thunder is whether the stars can share the ball, elevate their teammates and get away from the isolation offense that isn’t likely to hold up against the ball movement of Golden State (or San Antonio, if the Spurs are healthy). strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong> Yes. And it's not only because of George, although to me George gets underrated a bit. His Indiana Pacers teams may not have been wildly successful the last few seasons, but at his best PG-13 is an elite two-way wing player, able to score, create and defend at a level few of his peers can reach. I also love the Thunder adding Patrick Patterson, who will provide an ability to stretch the floor that Sabonis never possessed and will help make up for Andre Roberson's inability to shoot. I also like the signing of Raymond Felton as a solid veteran backup. The Thunder last season were held together mostly by Russell Westbrook's attitude and grit. This season, he will have some much-needed help. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 13th, 2017Related News

BLOGTABLE: Should Playoffs be seeded 1-16 by record?

em> blogtable /em> A couple of outspoken NBA owners have proposed seeding playoff teams 1-16 by record, regardless of conference. What say you? * * * strong>Steve Aschburner: /strong> I say, calm down. The problem isn’t having weak clubs sneaking into the playoffs because of a lopsidedness in conferences. The problem is having 16 teams qualify from a 30-team league. The first round is going to reflect the difference between excellence and mediocrity no matter what. Besides, we’re supposed to get all bent out of shape and throw tradition overboard because of a couple of seasons of stronger low seeds in the West? Look, we’re still getting a Western Conference tournament. The order of the competition is a little off, from a traditional bracket standpoint. But if Kawhi Leonard hadn’t gotten hurt and Warriors-Spurs had been more thrilling than the Finals, big deal. Rivalries within the conferences still matter, and we’re only guessing how the potentially longer flights and travel time – think Boston vs. Portland on the tighter, early-round schedule -- might affect the quality of play. strong>Fran Blinebury: /strong>If I were Mark Cuban, I’d still be kicking myself for breaking up the 2011 championship team and wasting the end of Dirk Nowitzki’s career rather than pushing for a drastic realignment. Truth is, even if the playoffs went 1-20, the Mavericks still wouldn’t get in. As for the members of the media pushing the idea, I have listened to so many of my cohorts whine and complain about the grueling travel during the 2-2-1-1-1 format of The Finals the past several years. I really don’t want to start hearing their crying in April when they have to go Miami to Portland in the first round. Everybody should just relax and get back to trying to figure out how to beat the Warriors. strong>Scott Howard-Cooper: /strong> I say let's ask the outspoken owners what they're thinking when teams are flying coast-to-coast multiple times in the first round and then maybe again in the semifinals, greatly harming the product on the floor. It's an interesting idea to debate from a competition standpoint, but flawed and impractical in many ways. strong>Shaun Powell: /strong>Please, no! I understand the West is stacked right now and that LeBron could tilt the scales even further next season. But let it go. This is cyclical, and besides, the complications of such a realignment are several. You're only hearing this noise from owners and coaches of teams in the West who are fighting for the last few playoff crumbs. Nobody else cares. strong>John Schuhmann: /strong> If travel wasn't a factor, I'd be all for it. But the travel for a 2-2-1-1-1 series within the conference is difficult enough. The Finals is back to 2-2-1-1-1, but with extra off days when the series goes from one city to another. Doing that in every round when East played West would be difficult. It also could create a later-round advantage for a team that played a neighbor in the previous round against a team that went coast-to-coast in the previous round. strong>Sekou Smith: /strong> I say get outta here! (And this isn't exactly a novel approach. It's been discussed for years by people at all levels around the league.) I'm not a fan of the idea. Not at all. I love how people always want to the rules to change to accommodate their own interests and pursuits. How about you do a better job of putting together a competitive team? Don't blame the system, gentlemen, especially since you're a part of the body that put it together and benefit from it tremendously when you are among the playoff outfits. I wonder how those same 'outspoken' owners would feel if they were on the outside looking in of their proposed 1-16 ... I guarantee you they'd be singing a different song. strong>Ian Thomsen: /strong>It is shortsighted. The meeting of East vs. West in the NBA Finals is a big deal -- especially now that the divisions have lost significance and rivalries are so hard to find. By keeping the brackets separate until the very end, The Finals benefits from the cultural differences that so often emerge when East meets West. For those owners who are demanding change of some kind, I would suggest they focus on re-seeding after each round to account for upsets. But don’t mix the conferences. It would be heresy for the Celtics and Lakers (or Cavaliers and Warriors) to meet anytime other than the championship round. strong>Lang Whitaker: /strong> I guess I am something of a traditionalist, because I do not like this idea. Teams went into the offseason knowing there were two Conferences, and they had to build a team good enough to get out of their Conference, if they wanted to get to The Finals. If the goalposts as going to move, at least give the teams a year or two to let them change their plans. But if you're going to do away with Conferences, then do away with them altogether in favor of one big table of all thirty teams. And let's also do away with the All-Star Game, since there won't be East versus West to play against each other. For now, sure, the West is mighty. But at some point someone will come along and make the East great again.   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 13th, 2017Related News

Querrey tops Murray at Wimbledon; Djokovic out; Federer wins

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — The first portentous sign of trouble for Andy Murray, surprisingly enough, came right as the two-time Wimbledon champion constructed an ample lead over Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The top-seeded Murray flicked a cross-court backhand passing shot so forcefully, placed it so perfectly, that Querrey barely got his racket on the ball, sending a volley well wide. With that, Murray was up by a set plus a break in the second. As he headed to the sideline for the changeover, though, Murray limped, bothered by a sore left hip. As the match wore on, the hitch in Murray's step became more pronounced, his shots less effective. And Querrey, an American seeded 24th, took full advantage, hitting 27 aces and dominating down the stretch to stun Murray, and a partisan Centre Court crowd, with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1 victory, earning a spot in the initial Grand Slam semifinal of his career. 'I am still in a little bit of shock myself,' said Querrey, the first U.S. man to reach a major semifinal since Andy Roddick was the 2009 Wimbledon runner-up. Another quarterfinal surprise arrived later Wednesday, taking out yet another member of the sport's Big 4 and owner of multiple Wimbledon titles: Novak Djokovic stopped playing because of a right elbow injury while trailing 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6 (2), 2-0. Djokovic's elbow was massaged by a trainer during a medical timeout after the opening set. A day earlier, during his fourth-round match, Djokovic also took a medical timeout. 'It was only getting worse,' said Djokovic, explaining his elbow was in the most pain when he hit serves and forehands. 'Unfortunately today was the worst day. Probably the fact that I played yesterday, kind of days adding up, as I've said before, it wasn't helping at all.' The owner of three championships at the All England Club, and 12 major trophies overall, said his elbow has been bothering him for more than a year, that he opted against surgery and that he will consider taking a break from the tour. Time off has paid dividends for Roger Federer, who missed the last half of 2016 to allow his surgically repaired left knee heal, then skipped the clay-court season this year. He, Djokovic, Murray and Rafael Nadal combined to win the past 14 Wimbledon titles, but only Federer now remains in the field. The 35-year-old Federer, who has won seven of his record 18 Grand Slam championships at the All England Club, is the grass-court tournament's oldest semifinalist since Ken Rosewall in 1974 at age 39. Federer produced a straightforward 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over Milos Raonic, the man who beat him in last year's semifinals. On Friday, Federer will face Berdych for a berth in the final. Querrey meets 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, who got past 16th-seeded Gilles Muller 3-6, 7-6 (6), 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 with the help of 33 aces. Muller eliminated Nadal in the fourth round. Querrey hit 27 aces against Murray and was impeccable for portions of the match, finishing with 70 winners and only 30 unforced errors. He also managed to move past one really bad mistake in the third-set tiebreaker: an overhead that he dumped into the bottom of the net. 'He was dictating all of the points,' Murray said. And Murray was fading. From 1-all in the fourth, Querrey grabbed eight games in a row to take that set and lead 3-0 in the last. 'I didn't start my best, but I just kept with it. Kept swinging away and then really found a groove in the fourth and fifth set,' Querrey said. 'And everything kind of seemed to be falling my way then.' It's the second year in a row the 29-year-old Californian upset the defending champion and No. 1 seed at the All England Club. In 2016, he ended Djokovic's 30-match Grand Slam winning streak by beating him in the third round. This is Querrey's 42nd Grand Slam tournament, the most ever played by a man in the Open era before getting to his first semifinal. And there were moments along the way when Querrey himself doubted he'd ever accomplish this. 'Last year definitely kind of gave me a new boost that I could do it. But there have been times in my career,' he said, 'where I definitely thought: If had to bet — 'Am I going to make a semi?' — I probably would have gone, 'No.'' But he's won three straight five-setters. Murray, meanwhile, has been dealing with that hip. Before Wimbledon, he skipped some practice sessions and pulled out of two exhibition matches. His serve speeds slowed in the latter stages Wednesday. His backhands didn't have their usual verve. He couldn't play his usual court-covering defense. 'I was pretty close today. It wasn't like I was, like, a million miles away from winning the match,' Murray said. 'Obviously, the end was a bit of a struggle.'   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 13th, 2017Related News

At 37, Venus Williams into 10th Wimbledon semi; Konta next

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Venus Williams' mother could not stop smiling and laughing. She had just watched her 37-year-old daughter reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the 10th time and, well, the whole thing was just a bit hard to believe. 'She says, 'I love my job!' and she means it. I guess she's kind of like a boxer: People think it's time for her to quit because she's too old,' Oracene Price said after leaving Centre Court, where the roof was shut because of rain Tuesday. 'But she keeps getting back in the ring — and she seems to be doing pretty well. This is really amazing.' Enjoying a career renaissance deep into her 30s, despite dealing with an energy-sapping disease, Williams rode a strong serve that produced eight aces, imposing returns and her court coverage of old to a 6-3, 7-5 victory over French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, edging closer to a sixth singles title at the All England Club. 'The competition keeps you growing,' Williams said. 'You have to get better if you want to stay relevant.' Somehow, at age 37, she's done that. This was her 100th Wimbledon match, coming in her 20th appearance. The first of her trophies at the grass-court tournament came in 2000. And now, for the third match in a row, Williams beat a player who was born in 1997 — after she made her Grand Slam debut that year. 'The first one was 20 years ago? Lord,' Price said, her eyes wide, her chuckle loud. 'Well, you know, that's a long time.' This is not exactly new, though. Williams is the only woman to have made the fourth round at each of the past six majors, and now she's into her third semifinal in that span. She made it that far at Wimbledon last year, too, before losing, and got to the final at the Australian Open in January, when she was beaten by her younger sister, Serena. 'Who knows if she's lost a step?' said Williams' coach, David Witt. 'She looks pretty good to me.' Williams revealed in 2011 that she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, which can sap energy and cause joint pain. As time went on, there were questions about whether she might retire, especially after a half-dozen first-round losses at majors. But she kept going, and with her recent successes, a championship this week would return the American to the top five in the rankings for the first time in six years. 'I just always felt like I have to keep trying,' said Williams, who repeatedly took advantage of Ostapenko's second serves at around 70 mph (110 kph). 'That's all I felt like.' To get to what would be her ninth final at the All England Club, the 10th-seeded Williams will need to win Thursday against No. 6 Johanna Konta, the first British woman in the Wimbledon semifinals since Virginia Wade was the runner-up in 1978. 'I definitely feel that age is not a factor with her,' Konta said about Williams. 'She's just a tremendous champion, and I feel very, very humbled, and I'm very excited to share the court with her again.' With Wade, the 1977 champion, sitting in the Royal Box, Konta prevented Halep from rising to No. 1 by beating her 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4. The result means that Karolina Pliskova, who lost in the second round, will replace Angelique Kerber, who departed in the fourth, atop the rankings next week. The other semifinal will be Garbine Muguruza of Spain against 87th-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia. Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up and 2016 French Open champion, defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-4. Rybarikova, the lowest-ranked Wimbledon semifinalist since 2008, got past 24th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe of the U.S. 6-3, 6-3 in a match suspended at 2-all in the second set because of showers and moved from Court No. 1 to Centre Court so it could be finished indoors. Rybarikova had never been past the third round in her 35 previous career majors, including seven opening-round exits in a row at Wimbledon from 2008-14. She missed the second half of last season after wrist and knee operations, and her ranking fell out of the top 400. 'I had a really tough time,' Rybarikova said, 'and right now, I'm here, and everything paid off.' In the last men's fourth-round match, Novak Djokovic took a medical timeout to have his right shoulder massaged, and he declared himself disappointed with the condition of the turf in the main stadium. Otherwise, Djokovic had little trouble eliminating 51st-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a match postponed Monday night because of darkness. 'It's been something that I've been dragging back and forth for a while now,' Djokovic said about his shoulder. 'But I'm still managing to play, which is the most important thing.' The men's quarterfinals Wednesday: Djokovic against Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer against Milos Raonic, defending champion Andy Murray against Sam Querrey, and Marin Cilic against Gilles Muller, who stunned Rafael Nadal in a marathon that ended 15-13 in the fifth set Monday.   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 12th, 2017Related News

Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Murray head to Week 2 at Wimbledon

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — As usual, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are playing well at Wimbledon, leading the way into Week 2. 'It's their turf,' said Ernests Gulbis, who stood in Djokovic's way in the third round but failed to present too much of an obstacle. 'It's their home court.' Indeed, it is. Not since Lleyton Hewitt won the championship 15 years ago has someone other than Federer (a record-equaling seven titles in that span), Djokovic (three), Nadal (two) or Murray (two) left Wimbledon with the men's singles title. In addition, that so-called Big 4 accounts for eight runner-up finishes during that stretch. Count Federer among those shrugging at the quartet's success so far this fortnight, with only one set dropped among the lot. 'I thought that everybody this week was going to find their form, especially speaking about Andy and Novak. ... With me, I hoped I was going to be there. Whereas with Rafa's confidence, I thought he was also going to be there,' said Federer, who has a cold. 'So I'm not that surprised. But it's great.' This Grand Slam season has been just like old times. Following a period in which Djokovic, then current No. 1 Murray overtook Federer and Nadal in the rankings, and started regularly appearing in — and winning — major finals, the latter two have reasserted themselves. First, Federer returned from missing the last half of 2016 while letting his surgically repaired left knee heal and has been as impressive as he's been in quite some time. He won his first Grand Slam title in 4½ years at the Australian Open, beating long-time rival Nadal in the final. If that was the first indication that Nadal, too, was truly back after his own health issues, another one came at the French Open, where he won his record 10th trophy in fantastic fashion, not dropping a set. He's now run his consecutive sets streak at majors to 28, tying his personal best and, in the Open era, sitting behind only Federer's run of 36 from 2006-07, and John McEnroe's of 35 in 1984. 'Against Rafa,' said the man he defeated in the third round, 30th-seeded Karen Khachanov, 'if you give him time, he can destroy you.' As Federer alluded to, it's been Djokovic and Murray who arrived at the All England Club having been less than their best this season. But with Andre Agassi and Mario Ancic in his coaching corner, Djokovic seems rejuvenated. Defending champion Murray is the only member of the foursome who hasn't won every set he's played in the tournament: Against Fabio Fognini in the third round, he ceded one and saved five set points to barely avoid losing another. The men's fourth-round matchups on the top half of the draw Monday are Murray vs. Benoit Paire, Nadal vs. No. 16 Gilles Muller, No. 7 Marin Cilic vs. No. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut, and No. 24 Sam Querrey vs. Kevin Anderson. On the bottom half, it's Djokovic vs. Adrian Mannarino, Federer vs. No. 13 Grigor Dimitrov, 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic vs. No. 10 Alexander Zverev; and 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych vs. No. 8 Dominic Thiem. Wimbledon is the lone Grand Slam tournament that schedules all 16 remaining singles matches on the same day. The top-half women's fourth-rounders: No. 1 Angelique Kerber vs. No. 14 Garbine Muguruza in a meeting of the past two runners-up, two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki vs. No. 24 CoCo Vandeweghe, and Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Petra Martic. In the bottom half, it's five-time champion Venus Williams vs. No. 27 Ana Konjuh, No. 2 Simona Halep vs. two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko vs. No. 4 Elina Svitolina, and No. 6 Johanna Konta vs. No. 21 Caroline Garcia. At 37, Williams is the oldest woman left. At 19, Konjuh is the youngest. There is an interesting age dynamic in the men's event, too: The seven players 30 or older in the round of 16 represent the most to get that far in the 50 Wimbledons of the Open era. Federer turns 36 in a month, Nadal is 31, and Djokovic and Murray are both 30. They're joined by Muller (34), Anderson (31) and Berdych (31). 'I came through the juniors with all these guys. It's nice to see them still hanging on, still enjoying the tour, still being tough out there, making it difficult for the youngsters to break through,' Federer said. 'There is a bit of that clash right now — the young ones trying to push out, especially, the 35-plus guys. But then there's a strong, strong team, as well, around the generation of Rafa and Murray and Djokovic, obviously.' .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 10th, 2017Related News

Harden signs extension, giving him richest NBA deal ever

em>By Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press /em> LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Beard has the richest contract in NBA history. The Houston Rockets signed guard James Harden to a four-year contract extension for about $160 million Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), giving him a total six-year deal with $228 million guaranteed. With Harden under contract on his existing deal for another two seasons, the extension will not affect Houston’s aggressive pursuit of free agents this summer as the Rockets try to make a run at the Golden State Warriors. “Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement issued by the team. “Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the city of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship.” Harden is coming off of his finest season. Moving to point guard for new coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden averaged 29.1 points, an NBA-leading 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds and finished second in the MVP race to former Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook. Harden’s do-it-all season helped the Rockets bounce back from a massively disappointing 2015-16 season that collapsed under the weight of chemistry issues with the All-Star guard and big man Dwight Howard. With Howard gone, the Rockets put Harden at the center of everything they do on offense, and it paid off in a major way. Houston went 55-27 in the regular season and beat Westbrook and the Thunder in the first round of the Western Conference semifinals. “Houston is home for me,” Harden said. “Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.” ESPN first reported the contract details. Harden seemed to run out of gas a bit in their semifinals loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and GM Daryl Morey has worked quickly to get him some help this summer. Morey traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul, a bold move that gives the Rockets as talented a backcourt as any team in the league. Morey also signed rugged forward P.J. Tucker to boost the defense and brought Nene back as well. And he’s not done yet. This mechanics for this extension are new to the NBA in the latest version of the collective bargaining agreement. Harden was named first team All-NBA, making him eligible for a lucrative, four-year “supermax” extension that gives him long-term security and also sends a message to the rest of the league that the Rockets are committed to stability as they try to challenge the Warriors in the West.   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 8th, 2017Related News

To appreciate Nadal, watch what Murray endured at Wimbledon

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — To appreciate fully just how outstanding Rafael Nadal is at the moment — 28 consecutive completed sets won in Grand Slam play — consider what Andy Murray went through at Wimbledon on Friday. Murray's title defense appeared to be on shaky ground in the third round, particularly through a stressful stretch at Centre Court against Fabio Fognini, the 28th-seeded Italian who won their most recent encounter and had five set points to force this one to a fifth. No telling whether the No. 1-ranked Murray, or his vocal backers, could have handled that test. Didn't need to find out, because Murray was steady enough to grab the last five games and beat Fognini 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 as the sunlight faded. 'The end of the match was tense,' Murray said, in his typically understated way. 'It was a very up-and-down match. I didn't feel like it was the best tennis at times.' The set he did drop was the first ceded so far this week by the Big 4: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Murray. That all-conquering quartet combined to win the past 14 Wimbledon championships — half by Federer, three by Djokovic, two apiece by Murray and Nadal. Ah, yes, Nadal. He is coming off a record 10th French Open title, claiming all 19 full sets he contested in Paris with as overpowering a performance as can be (one opponent quit because of injury in the middle of the second set). Tack on the nine collected at the All England Club, including a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over 30th-seeded Karen Khachanov on Friday, and Nadal's set streak in majors equals the third-longest of the Open era. 'I mean, if you don't hit hard and fast, he's going to destroy you,' the 21-year-old Khachanov said. 'If he has time, he's dominating with his forehand. And he can play all the angles.' With his friend Sergio Garcia seated in the Royal Box, wearing the green jacket earned as Masters champion, Nadal put on quite a show. He whipped that big forehand of his; managed to dull serves that topped 130 mph (210 kph) enough to earn 15 break points, converting four; and played skillfully at the net, winning the point on 17 of 21 approaches, 4 for 4 when he decided to serve-and-volley. The closest Nadal has come to conceding a set over his past 10 matches came in the third. Facing a set point while down 6-5 and serving at 30-40, Nadal produced a brilliant power-and-touch combination, hitting a 122 mph (197 kph) serve followed by a well-disguised drop shot winner. In Monday's fourth round, Nadal faces No. 16 Gilles Muller, who beat Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-4, while Murray meets unseeded Benoit Paire, a 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-3 winner against Jerzy Janowicz. Other matchups: 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic against No. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut, and unseeded Kevin Anderson vs. No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or No. 24 Sam Querrey, whose match was suspended Friday night in the fifth set because of darkness. Women's fourth-rounders: Venus Williams vs. No. 27 Ana Konjuh, No. 2 Simona Halep vs. two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka; French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko vs. No. 4 Elina Svitolina; No. 6 Johanna Konta vs. No. 21 Caroline Garcia. Against the sometimes-volatile Fognini, who beat him on clay at Rome in May, Murray fell behind 5-2 in the fourth set as dusk approached. Murray figured that if the match went to a fifth, play would be interrupted so the retractable roof could be closed and the tournament's only artificial lights switched on. 'You're thinking a little bit about that, as well — a change of conditions and a 20-minute break to think about things before playing a fifth set,' said Murray, whose 2013 title was the first at Wimbledon for a British man in 77 years. 'So, obviously, pleased to get off in four.' He barely did that against Fognini, who mixed in effective drop shots and lobs with pounded groundstrokes. 'I felt superior,' Fognini said. 'He didn't have many options. I had more.' Fognini, who drew a warning for throwing his racket earlier in the match, was docked a point for sticking a finger in his mouth — chair umpire Damien Dumusois termed it a 'visible obscenity' — and that gave Murray a game for 2-all. Rather than discourage Fognini, or distract him, it seemed to provide fuel. Roughly 15 minutes later, he'd won three games in a row, aided by Murray's double-fault on a break point, and soon held five set points. Couldn't convert any, though. And so Murray will play on at the All England Club, much to the delight of the locals. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 8th, 2017Related News

At 37, Venus Williams tops 1 teen at Wimbledon, faces a 2nd

em>By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press /em> LONDON (AP) — Venus Williams beat one 19-year-old opponent at Wimbledon on Friday. She'll face another on Monday. Both of those players were born months after Williams made her debut at the All England Club. Think about that for a minute. Williams' 7-6 (3), 6-4 victory over Naomi Osaka of Japan made the 37-year-old American the oldest woman to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon since Martina Navratilova was that age when she was the tournament's runner-up in 1994. 'I've had to step it up. I imagine that's going to continue,' Williams said. 'All I can do is try to be my best.' This is the 20th appearance at the grass-court major for Williams, who has won the championship five times since her first match at the All England Club in 1997. Next up for Williams on Monday, with a quarterfinal berth at stake, is another foe not yet 20: Ana Konjuh of Croatia. Osaka spoke about growing up admiring Williams and her younger sister, Serena. She also acknowledged that these sorts of important rounds at important tournaments are much newer to her. That sort of thing can make a difference at crucial moments, such as the opening tiebreaker Friday. Osaka led it 3-0, before Williams claimed the next seven points. 'I actually feel like it's better that she beat me, because I can learn more from her, and there's something more I can look forward to,' the 59th-ranked Osaka said. 'There's more of a goal for me to practice every day and stuff.' As for all of the chatter about gaps in, um, experience? Williams said she didn't focus on that at all when it came to Friday's match. 'It's interesting, for sure. But I guess when you walk on the court, I don't think either of us is thinking about the age,' she said. 'You're thinking about: How do I win?' The 10th-seeded Williams is playing in her first tournament since a two-car crash in Florida on June 9. A 78-year-old man in the other vehicle died about two weeks later and his estate has sued filed a lawsuit against Williams. On Friday, police said video shows that Williams legally entered an intersection seconds before she drove into the path of the other car. When asked about the accident after her first-round match this week, Williams teared up during her news conference and was given time by the moderator to leave the room and compose herself. The topic was not raised Friday after the victory over Osaka. With Serena off the tour because she is pregnant, and Maria Sharapova recovering from a leg injury, Williams was one of only two past Wimbledon winners in the women's field when the tournament began. After a second-round loss by Petra Kvitova, Williams is the lone champ standing. The 27th-seeded Konjuh had never been past the third round until upsetting 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 on Friday. Also advancing were French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, No. 2-seeded Simona Halep, No. 4 Elina Svitolina, No. 6 Johanna Konta, No. 21 Caroline Garcia and two-time Australian Open champion and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. The matchups Monday: Halep vs. Azarenka, Ostapenko vs. Svitolina, Konta vs. Garcia. Azarenka has played only five matches since returning to the tour after a hiatus to have her first baby. But don't think she's just happy to have made it to the fourth round. 'I'm still very ambitious and focused. I'm not on cloud nine for making it to the second week, but I do appreciate everything that I have been able to achieve right now, and I don't take anything for granted,' said Azarenka, who beat Heather Watson 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Centre Court. 'I can't be too happy. I'm never really satisfied until it's done.'   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 8th, 2017Related News

Villa, Bradley highlight MLS All-Star picks by fans

em>By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press /em> NYCFC's David Villa, Toronto's Michael Bradley and Chicago's Bastian Schweinsteiger are among the fan selections for next month's Major League Soccer All-Star Game. Schweinsteiger was on Germany's 2014 World Cup team. He is joined on the MLS squad by Chicago Fire teammate Nemanja Nikolic as first-time All-Stars. The MLS team will face Real Madrid and possibly star Cristiano Ronaldo on Aug. 2 at Chicago's Soldier Field. Nikolic, who joined the Fire this season, leads MLS with 16 goals through 19 games. 'It's really a fantastic feeling that I will be part of this team and we can represent the league. We will play against the best team in the world with the best player in the world, and I hope everybody will enjoy this,' Nikolic said. 'We can be proud.' Atlanta United defender Greg Garza and teammate Miguel Almiron are also first-time All-Stars. Goalkeeper Tim Howard of the Chicago Rapids will anchor a back line that includes fellow U.S. national players DaMarcus Beasley of the Houston Dynamo and Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City. Orlando's Kaka completes the 10 fan selections. The 11th starter is Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco, who was picked in a vote tied to EA Sports' FIFA 17 video game. strong>The All-Star XI along with MLS team affiliation: /strong> em> strong>Goalkeeper: /strong> /em> Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids). em> strong>Defenders: /strong> /em> Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo). em> strong>Midfielders: /strong> /em> Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire), Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United), Kaka (Orlando City SC), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC). em> strong>Forwards: /strong> /em>David Villa (New York City FC), Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago Fire), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC).   .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 8th, 2017Related News

Walker played a big role in Hornets landing Carter-Williams

em>By Steve Reed, Associated Press /em> CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When All-Star Kemba Walker approached Hornets general manager Rich Cho about signing free agent Michael Carter-Williams, Cho said he couldn’t help but lend an ear. “Anytime your best player is endorsing another player and is excited about acquiring another player you have to listen,” Cho said. The Hornets officially signed Carter-Williams to a one-year, $2.7 million contract on Friday (Saturday, PHL time), filling a need at backup point guard behind Walker, who’s coming off his best season. The Hornets also envision the 6’6” Carter-Williams playing alongside Walker at times as an off guard in certain situations, similar to how they used Jeremy Lin and Walker together two seasons ago during a run to the playoffs. Carter-Williams’ upside remains a bit of an unknown. He was named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 2014, but has been traded twice since and has struggled at times with injuries. He hasn’t come close to matching the 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists he averaged as a rookie for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers traded Carter-Williams to Milwaukee midway through his second season. The Bucks later traded him to Chicago where he averaged just 6.6 points last season while starting a career-low 19 games. Now Carter-Williams is eager to get his career back on track and said Walker is a “big part of the reason” why he chose to sign with Charlotte. “I can learn a lot from him,” Carter-Williams said of Walker. “He was eager to play with me as much as I am to play with him.” Added Cho: “Kemba’s got a great eye for the game, really follows the game closely and he really felt that Michael was a great fit here. I think he will be a great fit here with his size and playing [ability] and I know the coaches will do a great job getting the best out of him.” Carter-Williams said he isn’t worried about putting up the numbers he did as a rookie. “I’m just trying to come here and do the little things and just be positive,” Carter-Williams said. “Those things will take me a long way. If I can positively affect the team, then it also works for myself. That’s really my mindset.” This is the first time Carter-Williams has had the option of choosing his NBA team, which has him excited about playing for the Hornets. He likes the idea of being where he’s wanted. “Kemba just told me, ’we really want you and you’d be a big help to the team,’” Carter-Williams said. “I trust him. I’ve worked out with him my rookie year before I got to the NBA. I knew him previously, so I trust his word and this seemed like a good place and [it all] kind of seemed like a perfect storm. (Him recruiting me) put the icing on the cake.” The Hornets haven’t been big players in free agency, in part because they took up so much cap space with landing eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard in a trade. Don’t expect too many more moves from Cho this summer. Cho said the Hornets are approaching the luxury tax threshold, although they still hope to land one big man and possibly a third point guard before the season. .....»»

Source: Abscbn AbscbnCategory: SportsJul 7th, 2017Related News