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  1. #31


    ESPN: Inside Djoker: Making the case for GOAT

    When we look back on the Australian Open of 2019 in years to come, the thing we most remember may be that it marked the time and place at which Novak Djokovic rekindled the GOAT debate and launched his own campaign to be included in the conversation.

    Djokovic's demolition of lifelong rival Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final earned the 31-year-old Serb his 15th Grand Slam title, putting him ahead of Pete Sampras and just two behind Nadal, five short of all-time male leader Roger Federer.

    Considering his age, excellent health, a near obsession with clean living and hearty appetite for domination (Djokovic has won three straight majors in his zero-to-hero resurgence), it's hard to escape the idea that it's game on for GOAT honors.

    "I am truly speechless," Djokovic told the Melbourne crowd after he won. Pundits and fans, most of whom expected something like the 5-hour, 53-minute epic the two men produced the last time they met on the blue floor of Rod Laver Arena (in the 2012 final), might have echoed his words.

    Nadal, who basically didn't compete (due to injury and surgery) for five months preceding this tournament, had just one caveat to cling to while giving Djokovic full credit for playing a "fantastic" match: "Having that big challenge [of Djokovic] in front of me, I needed something else to compete at this super-high level. That something else probably today, I don't have it yet."

    It's a reasonable point. But it's more likely that Djokovic, after a mid-career crisis triggered by private issues and an elbow injury, is better than ever. He's recovered his focus as well as his game. He's putting an increasing amount of daylight between himself and his rivals, partly because age and fitness are increasingly affecting his matches with them -- presumably to their detriment.

    At 32, Nadal is just a year older than Djokovic. That's not much, but Nadal's game is much more effortful. He has many more hard miles on his odometer, and his body requires more than routine maintenance. Federer, the current leader among active players in the GOAT sweepstakes, is in the full bloom of health. But he's already 37.

    This win boosted Djokovic's series record against Nadal to 28-25. That record has some remarkable aspects that must be sobering for his rivals. This 28th win over Nadal is the most ever by any pro over another. Djokovic also is 13-3 against Nadal on all surfaces since Nadal beat him in the US Open final of 2013.

    Djokovic was gracious in victory on Sunday. Speaking about Nadal, he told reporters, "I'm sure we're still going to have a lot of matches against each other on different surfaces. I really hope we will, because this rivalry has been the most significant rivalry, the one that impacted me on a personal and professional level the most in my life."

    It's a telling comment, less for what it says about Djokovic's feelings toward Nadal than Djokovic's attitude toward Federer. Their series records are comparable: Djokovic is 25-22 against Federer, 5-1 in their last six Grand Slam meetings. But Djokovic seems to feel that he's neutralized the Federer threat. Besides, Federer has faltered in the quarterfinals or before in four of his last five majors.

    Go USA!!

  2. #32


    ESPN: John Isner not worried about his slow start to the season ... yet

    John Isner entered this week's New York Open tournament without a win this season, which, as recent history suggests, isn't all that surprising.

    The top-ranked player from the U.S. had a horrible start in 2018 as well, recording one measly singles tournament match-win in the first 2½ months of the year. He was only 1-6 when he made his way to the Miami Open in mid-March.

    That's when his fortunes changed. Isner won the event, the biggest title of his career. That performance propelled him to his finest year. Isner qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals, hit a career-high ranking of No. 8 and ended the year at No. 10.

    Despite his slow start, the 6-foot-10 Isner, who plays Aussie Bernard Tomic on Wednesday night in New York, is in a position he couldn't have anticipated a decade ago, when he was a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. He's rapidly closing in on 34, yet says he's as healthy as he's ever been. He's been inspired by 37-year-old Roger Federer ("What he's doing is remarkable," Isner said). The stability provided by his relatively new role as husband and father has helped Isner overcome the tendency to lose focus and to obsess about unsatisfactory results.

    And while Isner, who last year lost in the first round of the New York Open to No. 91 Radu Albot, will certainly face a certain amount of pressure to turn his season around, he isn't letting it get to him. "Maybe if I were younger, it would be different," he said. "But I know everyone will gain and lose points. There's a good chance I'll lose points come Miami unless I win it again. But everyone's ranking fluctuates, even Novak Djokovic's -- last year he was No. 18 at one point. It will happen to me certainly as well this year."

    Isner said he can't put his finger on exactly why he can't get off to a better start in the past few years, but was philosophical about fluctuations in his rankings. He's learned that with his quick-strike, shutdown game, frustration can turn to triumph as quickly as his monstrous serve. A shrewd judge of his own strengths and weaknesses, Isner knows he'll have plenty of opportunity to beef up his ranking if he can improve his tournament-to-tournament consistency.

    This season has been anything but auspicious so far. Isner lost consecutive first-round matches to young Americans. He lost to No. 50 Taylor Fritz in Auckland and No. 97 Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open. The Grand Slam loss seemed particularly trenchant, because Isner fell to a player who is an inch taller, is armed with an equally explosive serve, and, at 21, is a dozen years younger. Unsurprisingly, it was a match decided by tiebreakers, Opelka winning three of four.

    "This is, unfortunately, the third year in a row where I started off poorly down in Australia," Isner said.

    Go USA!!

  3. #33


    A changing of the guard is taking place. After beating Isner at the Aussie Open, Reilly Opelka just beat him again in the semis of the New York Open. He plays Brayden Schnur in the finals tomorrow after Schnur knocked off Sam Querrey.

    Go USA!!

  4. #34


    ESPN: Serena Williams back in top 10 for first time since becoming a mother

    Serena Williams has returned to the top 10 in the tennis rankings for the first time since taking a break to have her first child.

    Williams dropped as low as 491st upon her return to competition in March 2018 but is up to No. 10 after reaching two Grand Slam finals since, losing to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon and Naomi Osaka at the US Open.

    Go Serena!!

  5. #35


    AP: Reilly Opelka beats Brayden Schnur in 3 sets to win New York Open

    Reilly Opelka had climbed out of trouble all week, though this time his big serve alone couldn't save him.

    Technology did first.

    Moments after an electronic review overturned what appeared to give his opponent a match point, Opelka pounded his 43rd ace to win his first ATP Tour title Sunday with a 6-1, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (7) victory over qualifier Brayden Schnur in the New York Open.

    "I put myself in a good position throughout the whole match and third-set breaker could have went either way,'' Opelka said. "That challenge honestly is probably the difference.''

    A night after overcoming six match points to beat top-seeded John Isner in the semifinals, Opelka needed six of his own to finish off Schnur in the matchup of first-time finalists.

    The 6-foot-11 Opelka hit 43 aces for the second straight match, making him the first player to hit 40 or more in consecutive best-of-three-set matches since the tour began tracking aces in 1991.

    Go USA!!

  6. #36


    ESPN: Tennis world reacts to Roger Federer's 100th singles title

    Roger Federer reached a momentous milestone on Saturday, becoming just the second male player to win 100 singles titles after American Jimmy Connors, who won 109. Federer reached title No. 100 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas at the at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

    The numbers behind Federer's milestone accomplishment are staggering, as was the reaction on Twitter -- from Connors to Rod Laver and Billie Jean King to James Blake and Lindsey Vonn. Here are some of the best stats and social reaction to Fed's big moment:

    Federer's 100 titles by the numbers

    Here are some of the best numbers behind Federer's 100 singles titles (courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info):

    20: Grand Slam titles (most by any man all time)

    69: Hard-court titles (most by a man in the Open era)

    18: Grass court titles (most by man in Open era)

    15: Consecutive seasons with a singles title, from 2001-15. That's tied for the longest streak by a man in the Open era. (Rafael Nadal has an active straight of 15 straight seasons with at least one singles title.)

    33: Tour-level titles since 30th birthday (second-most in Open era behind Rod Laver's 44)

    4: Major titles since 30th birthday (tied for most in Open era)

    Go Federer!!

  7. #37


    per Axios Sports:

    18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu stunned three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, yesterday to win the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and capture her first career title.

    The big picture: At the start of the year, Andreescu was ranked No. 178 in the world and virtually unknown to casual tennis fans. Less than three months and three impressive tournament runs later, she's ranked No. 25 and the talk of the sport.

    Fun fact: Entering yesterday, Kerber had played in 28 finals on tour and won more than $27 million in career prize money. Andreescu had played in zero and won just $350,000. She tripled that in a matter of hours, earning $1.35 million for her victory.

    Go Gophers!!

  8. #38


    A nice win by Tiafoe tonight over Goffin.

    My son and I will be at the Miami Open tomorrow and we lucked out with a heck of a lineup on the Stadium Court: Halep, Federer (!!) and Isner in three consecutive matches.

    Go Federer!!

  9. #39


    Quote Originally Posted by BleedGopher View Post
    A nice win by Tiafoe tonight over Goffin.

    My son and I will be at the Miami Open tomorrow and we lucked out with a heck of a lineup on the Stadium Court: Halep, Federer (!!) and Isner in three consecutive matches.

    Go Federer!!
    That sounds like a blast. How was it? Now that I live out west, I'm tempted to spend a few days at Indian Wells watching some time.

  10. #40


    Quote Originally Posted by mplarson7 View Post
    That sounds like a blast. How was it? Now that I live out west, I'm tempted to spend a few days at Indian Wells watching some time.
    It was an incredible venue. James Blake was the Tournament Director and this was the first year the tournament wasn't in Key Biscayne and it will never go back. I've been to all 4 Grand Slam Tournaments, Indian Wells and a couple of smaller tournaments and this was by far the best fan experience of them all. I was really impressed with how thoughtful the amenities and fan environment were designed.

    Isner has an opportunity to defend his title though he faces Federer in the finals. In 5 matches this tournament, Isner hasn't dropped a set. 9 of his 10 sets have finished 7-6 and the only that didn't finished 7-5. Tiafoe had a good showing, he's definitely separating himself from the other young American's.

    This is Federer's 50th Masters 1,000 Final, that's incredible.

    mplarson7, I highly recommend going to Indian Wells if the timing works. It's a great tournament and always a loaded draw for both men and women.

    Go USA!!

  11. #41


    Pretty slow week in tennis, but first WTA tournament on clay is finishing up in Charleston.

    Keys got the better of Stephens in the quarterfinals, 76 46 62. She followed that up with a dominating semi-final performance today over Monica Puig, 64 60. She takes on Wozniacki tomorrow in the final.

  12. #42


    Great to see Keys pull out the title. I can't believe it's been a year and a half since her last title. Hopefully this is a springboard for a great summer for her.

    Go USA!!

  13. #43


    Great win, on clay even. Hopefully she can make some splashes in the European clay court season.

  14. #44


    One of the top young American women, 17 year old Amanda Anisimova, won her first WTA tournament this weekend:

    Go USA!!

  15. #45


    ESPN: After three years away, Roger Federer returns to clay

    When Roger Federer steps on court Tuesday night in Madrid for his first match on clay in three years, he will do so with hope and unburdened by expectation. Limited by injury to five clay matches in 2016 and having avoided the surface entirely in 2017 and 2018 to focus on Wimbledon, the 37-year-old is back -- and everyone, including his fellow players, is excited.

    Madrid has been rolling out the red carpet for the 20-time Grand Slam champion the past few days. In a country that has enjoyed Rafael Nadal's success for well over a decade, it is Federer's face that adorns most of the advertising posters around Spain's capital. When it was announced Federer would be playing at the Madrid Open, ticket sales went through the roof.

    "I'm happy that the decision I took last, I guess around December, when I started feeling like I definitely want to do the clay, that it was the right decision," Federer said in Madrid on Sunday. "I haven't looked back at the clay-court buildup yet or [at] everything that I have been doing [and thought] maybe I shouldn't have [done something or not]. I'm happy I'm here, and I'm happy I'm on the surface.

    "I have not high expectations in some ways, but at the same time, I also know that things are possible. Madrid always plays fast with the altitude, so [I am] intrigued to find out myself. But it's been good so far."

    Go Federer!!

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