Tag Archives: Australian Open

Djokovic and Osaka consolidate their dominance with beautiful Aussie Open wins. The man who does rock stars’ laundry on tour. And “SNL” brings back the legend, Steve Martin, for a funny sketch

We have come to the end of the Australian Open, and as always at the end of Grand Slam tournaments, I am a little thrilled and I am a little sad.

I am thrilled because for two weeks I got to immerse myself in tennis as much as I possibly can, and while that’s certainly not as much as it used to be before I got into the human-making business (well, I’m a co-creator at least), it’s still way more than normal. And once again over the past two weeks we were treated to some fantastic tennis and drama on the men’s and women’s sides.

But of course, also a little sad because it’s over, and I delete the tournament app on my phone, and don’t wake up checking scores to see what I missed overnight from Melbourne.

Still, I’m mostly happy, because this Australian Open was great, punctuated by two very worthy champions, in Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.

— Novak Djokovic’s performance in victory Sunday… I mean, what can you say? Maybe the most dominant performance in a final I’ve seen since Rafael Nadal destroyed Federer at the French Open in 2008, losing only four games total.  From the opening five minutes, the Serb was dominant. He lost only ONE point on serve in the first set, he never let Nadal have time to hit his deep groundstrokes, and never left the Spanish lefty have a chance. Djokovic has now won three straight Slams, and could hold all four majors at the same time, for the second time in his career, if he wins in Paris in a few months.

I thought he couldn’t possibly ever be better than he was in 2016. But Djokovic has gone to a whole new, scary level. Wonderful to see tennis played that well.

— Meanwhile, I’ve never seen Rafael Nadal look so… helpless as he did Sunday morning in the final. He couldn’t do anything on Djokovic’s serve, and the Spaniard saw his own massive serves fired right back at him like they came from a ball machine. Nothing Nadal did in the final worked, and he looked so much like … 99 percent of the world’s other tennis players do against Nadal.

— My good friend Dave, who is a tennis fan that parachutes into the sport during the Grand Slams, texted me a great point in Djokovic’s favor, as he grows inexorably closer to Roger Federer’s record of 20 Slam titles (he’s now only 5 away) and the Greatest of All Time debate:

A good chunk of Federer’s Slam titles have come against finals opponents who are, shall we say, less than legendary. Among those Fed has vanquished to win the trophy include Mark Philippoussis, Marcos Baghdatis, Lleyton Hewitt, and Marat Safin.

For Djokovic, in 12 of his 15 title wins, he’s had to defeat either Federer, Nadal or Andy Murray, the other three members of this “Big Four” in the Golden Age of the sport. That’s mighty freaking impressive.

— Can’t say enough how impressed I am that Osaka, all of 21 years old, can have the life-changing win she had at the U.S. Open last September, with all the attendant controversy and drama that that win entailed, then come back four months later at the next Slam and win the trophy again, in a thrilling three-set final over Petra Kvitova.

That’s really, really hard to do. She’s humble, she’s shy, she’s funny… everything about her screams “star.” Hard not to be happy for, and root for, this young champion.

**Next up today, gotta hand it to “Saturday Night Live” for responding to breaking news events with a major guest appearance, within 24 hours. This cold open spoofing Tucker Carlson’s show on the day Trump consigliere Roger Stone was arrested is funny enough (again, Kate McKinnon is a national treasure!), but then comedy legend Steve Martin comes on as Stone and it goes to another level.

Please tell me some of you in the younger generation catch the throwback reference Martin tosses in at the 6:33 mark.

**Finally today, sometimes you just read a really cool profile of someone that isn’t particularly timely or newsworthy, it’s just a fascinating feature on an idea I wish I’d thought of.

The New York Times’ Thomas Rogers introduces us to Hans-Jurgen Toph, the German man who has become legendary as the proprietor of Rock N’ Roll Laundry, a company that tours with countless music acts and cleans their clothes, expertly, and for decades.

Go behind the scenes and learn great details like how Toph and his company shrunk a pair of David Hasselhoff’s gold pants, how he calls himself “Der Toph” un-ironically, and what some of the challenges of the job are.

I enjoyed this story so much more than I thought I would, thanks to quotes like “I know every disabled bathroom in every German football stadium,” and “Thanks for taking the rocks out of my pants.”.

Really fun story here.

“Parenthood” roars to the finish line with tears and joy. Tie Domi’s kid with an incredible hockey goal. And the U.S. women come alive at the Aussie Open


As we await Snowpocalypse 2015 here in NYC, I must of course give a major tip of the cap to Mike Krzyzewski for his 1,000th win Sunday over St. John’s. Obviously I’m biased as a huge Duke fan, but 1,000 wins is an incredible number. He’s the greatest coach in the history of the sport, and it’s an amazing accomplishment. Now, if he can just teach this current group a little defense, national title No. 5 could be coming to Durham in April…

“Parenthood” is down to its final episode this Thursday night, and man, is this show going out with a bang.

I have loved it from the beginning, occasionally hated it and gotten mad at it for some unrealistic decisions involving characters and money, but mostly been way too fascinated with it to stop watching.

And as it comes down to the finish, man, the tissues have been out at my house. This wonderful ensemble keeps giving us beautiful “farewell”-type emotions, manipulating us into feeling joy and sadness all at the same time.


Last week’s was one of the show’s best episodes ever: Amber giving birth (and of course, naming her baby after her apparently soon-to-die Grandpa Zeke, which even though you knew she would do that, it was still emotional), the great scene with Amber and Sarah singing Joni Mitchell, the Joel/Julia relationship patch-up getting rocky, and of course the totally awesome Braverman family screaming match in the hospital waiting room, when Kristina, who I never agree with, rightly calling out Jasmine for guilting Adam into staying with the recording studio. (My wife thought that was “Parenthood’s” best scene ever).

With one week to go, I’m sad to see such a show with heart go off the air. I don’t know how Zeke’s going to die, but I’m sure he will (a heart attack walking Sarah down the aisle?)

Frustrating at times but always with its heart in the right place, “Parenthood” will be sorely missed in the Lewis house. And lots of others, too, I’m sure.

**Next up, this is one of the coolest goals I’ve ever seen. Max Domi is a major prospect in the Arizona Coyotes’ organization, and he now plays for the junior London Knights of the Ontario (Can.) Hockey League.

He’s also the son of legendary NHL goon Tie Domi, and suffice to say Tie never scored any goals like this.

Just awesome…


**Finally today, we’re in Week Two of the Australian Open tennis tournament now, always one of my favorites even though I can no longer stay up late to watch the 3:30 a.m. night matches from Melbourne (Ah, my 20s, when I could do such a thing.)

And it’s been a fabulous tournament so far, even though my boy Federer was shockingly knocked out early. The best part has been the performance of the American women, the youngsters coming up behind Venus and Serena who’ve been talked about for years.

We had seven American ladies reach the final 32, and four in the final 16. Coco Vandeweghe and Varvara Lepchenko, and even Taylor Townsend, who lost in Round 1 and is probably a future Grand Slam champion, looked good.

But the biggest stories have been 24-year-old Delaware native (yeah Delaware!) Madison Brengle, who won 7 pro tour level matches in her career before 2015, and yet played Sunday night in the 4th round against Madison Keys (above), a legit Top 10 talent who’s only 19 and is making her Grand Slam breakthrough. (Fun fact: Last year at the French Open, Keys had the fastest average groundstroke speed of anyone in the event, man OR woman. Crazy.)

The American men … eh, we’re still waiting for the next generation to become major forces on the tour (Francis Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, our lonely eyes turn to you).

But it’s great to see the U.S. women finally making some noise. If we’re lucky, Venus will win Sunday night and play Keys in the quarterfinals, guaranteeing a U.S. woman into the semis.


Hockey at Yankee Stadium looked awesome. The Grammys were awesome this year. And Nadal is stunned at the Aussie Open


Pretty terrific Sunday, headlined by the New York Rangers kicking the tushies of the New Jersey Devils before a crowd of 50,000 at Yankee Stadium in the first-ever outdoor NHL game in New York.

Was asked a bunch of times leading up to Sunday if, as a die-hard Rangers fan, I was going to see this live. Each time I replied “Are you crazy? Sit in 20-degree weather, 500 yards from the ice, and pay hundreds of bucks to do it?”

Nah, I had a pretty great seat in front of my TV in my warm apartment. The visuals on TV were, of course, stunning, especially when it started snowing midway through the game.

Big win for the Rangers, and very cool that they knocked out Devils “starting pitcher” Brodeur after scoring six goals on him.

I really hope the NHL keeps these outdoor games to one or two a year, because each one this year has been special.

**Next up,  I say this every year when I blog about the Grammys: I know almost nothing about current popular music, and I’m OK with that. My wife has vastly broadened my knowledge, but still, I’m in no way qualified to comment on the music that does or doesn’t win Grammys.

I can however, happily comment on other aspects of the show, such as:

–Wow. That Macklemore/Ryan Lewis/Queen Latifah/Madonna/Mary Lambert performance near the end of the show, with the awesome “Same Love” song playing and 34 couples getting married live in the Grammy audience? Best thing I’ve seen on an awards show in many, many years. Just a chill-bump-inducing moment, about how far we’ve come in America. I may need a whole separate blog post tomorrow to talk more about this. Two quick thoughts:
A, If Archie Bunker were alive today, his head would’ve exploded at that, and 2, why did Madonna feel the need to dress up like Dolly Parton in “9 to 5?”

— Also, I’m not the only one who thought Macklemore looked a little too much like Vanilla Ice, am I? And has it ever been established which one is Ryan Lewis and which one is Macklemore?

— My mother was quite upset at the “stupid song” Mrs. Carter and her husband sang to open the show. “How can they sing about something that bad?” she hissed at me. (On the other hand, my father-in-law’s response: “Beyonce looked fabulous, who cares what she sings?” Ah, ‘Merica.)

— Must echo what so many else said on Twitter when it happened: Robin Thicke performing with Chicago may have been the whitest moment in pop music history.

— Taylor Swift really is a pretty fantastic singer, and a great talent. I just feel like she tries too hard at awards shows to seem earnest. And she looks totally ridiculous when she dances.

— I have no idea who Kendrick Lamar is, but that performance was super-intense.

— That said, Pink kicks her, and everyone else’s, ass. Another awesome performance from a woman I got to see live twice last year.

— Do you think LL Cool J wears that outfit every Saturday night, or just for the Grammys?


**And finally, the Australian Open men’s final threw me and every other tennis fan for a loop Sunday morning. Rafael Nadal, who looked so indomitable at the Open this year, and destroyed Roger Federer Friday, surely was going to beat Stan Wawrinka, a Swiss player now in the Top 10 but not nearly in Rafa’s class.

And yet… amazing things happen in sports sometimes. Like Wawrinka dominating the first set, and going up a break in the second. And then Nadal hurting his back on a serve, and being unable to move, and being down two sets.

And then Rafa, an unbelievable fighter and competitor, somehow hanging in and getting a set, and even at 2-2 in the fourth. But he just couldn’t move much at all, and Wawrinka pulled it together to win a most-unlikely Aussie Open.

Shocking, that someone other than the Big 4 in men’s tennis won a Slam. Shocking, too, that it was Wawrinka, who never before seemed to have the stones to win 7 matches at a major.

This was great for tennis to see someone else break through the Big 4 monopoly. Sure, Nadal’s practically a lock for the French, but who knows?

“Her” a dazzling and unique movie. Me and snow: no longer friends. And sexism alive and well at Australian Open


When you go see a Spike Jonze movie, you have to buy in from the start.
You have to accept the ludicrous, fantastical, out-of-the-norm premise of his films, and just go with it, and let the movie take you inside his crazy brain for a few hours.

Otherwise, you probably won’t like his films.

I let that happen for “Being John Malkovich,” one of the most twisted and hilarious films I’ve ever seen, and for “Adaptation,” another wacky Jonze flick that I loved.

So when I went into “Her,” the Oscar-nominated film about a lonely guy (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with the beautiful voice on his new operating system (Scarlett Johannson), named Samantha, and went where the movie took me.

And man oh man, what an amazing ride it was. “Her” is beautifully written, exquisitely acted by Phoenix and ScarJo (who could really have gotten an Oscar nomination herself just with her voice), and scored musically to perfection.

Take the leap of faith, and you’ll see it’s really a love story, about a lonely man finding that special connection with another, and desperate to make it real, and keep it going.

I don’t want to give too many details of the movie, because it deserves to be explored upon viewing. But in a year of fantastic movies, this one might be one of the two best I’ve seen (“12 Years A Slave” is the other).

Go see “Her” if you believe in love, and incredible movie-making.

**So, for 5 1/2 years before moving back to New York, I lived in Florida. Florida is wonderful in a lot of ways, but what it always lacks is snow. I love snow most of the time, and when you don’t have it for a while, you really do miss it.

So when I first moved back to NY in the summer of 2011, I couldn’t wait for the first snow. I love how pretty the flakes fall onto the ground, love seeing the giant snow piles on the sides of the street, and love walking in soft snow.

Yeah, I’m over that now. Been back long enough to get sick of it, and Tuesday we here in NYC got snow starting at 8 a.m. and it hasn’t stopped as I write this at 10;30 p.m.

I walked 16 blocks in it today, without my snowboots (yes, I’m a fool for not wearing them to school today), with the snow blowing sideways and coming down as hard as rain ever does.

Snow stinks. I’m with Lorelai Gilmore in the above clip from “Gilmore Girls.” Bring me spring and 65 degrees please.


**Finally today, haven’t blogged about it too much yet but this Australian Open has been fantastic. Tennis’ first major has seen Serena and Sharapova lose stunningly, Novak Djokovic, as sure a bet as there is at the Aussie Open, lose his nerve and fall 9-7 in the fifth in the quarterfinals, and the door wide open for some fresh faces to break through and win a Slam.

One of those fresh faces is a delightful 19-year-old Canadian woman, Eugenie Bouchard. She’s reached the semifinals, has a great personality and a ferocious game to match.

And yet, after her win Monday night she was treated to the same old sexist, condescending questions that young female tennis players have been forced to endure for ages.

During the post-match interview, the Australian TV host asked Bouchard who she’d most like to go on a date with.

I guarantee you Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg or John McEnroe were never asked this question, but somehow it’s OK for female athletes to still be treated like this.

Just pathetic and sad that in 2014, women athletes still get questions like this.

The Oscar nominees bring some surprises. Obama’s State of the Union leaves me uninspired. And Federer-Nadal at the Aussie Open, set your DVR.

Tuesday was almost a national holiday for me, with two of my favorite topics (movies and politics) taking center stage.
First, the Oscar nominations came out. Was a little surprised “Bridesmaids” didn’t get a Best Picture nod. Was more than a little surprised the excellent Leo DiCaprio didn’t get a nomination for Best Actor for “J. Edgar.” He was phenomenal in that.
Happy to see “Midnight in Paris,” do well for Woody Allen, though I don’t see it winning anything. Would love to see Melissa McCarthy win just so someone from “Gilmore Girls” wins an Oscar. (I bet Michel is somewhere quietly fuming).

Overall, I think the Academy did a pretty good job. I’ve got some movies to see between now and Feb. 26. First up: “Moneyball.”

**Watched the State of the Union with great anticipation Tuesday night. I was ready for some fire and brimstone out of Mr. Barack Obama.
And what I got was … meh. A so-so speech, I thought, with enough tax credit proposals to choke a horse and very few of what I thought are “do-able” this year in Congress.
A couple things I didn’t like, followed by a couple things I liked:
— Really got rubbed the wrong way by all of Obama’s “America is awesome, yeah!” rhetoric. Reminded me WAY too much of the last guy we had in office, some fella named W. Why do our presidents have to treat us like we’re high school kids at a pep rally?
— A couple of Obama’s challenges really puzzled me. Requiring states to make kids stay in high school until they’re 18? I know I’m new in the education game but I can guarantee 99 percent of high school teachers out there would groan at that proposal. Because as I saw this fall while quasi-student teaching, there are quite a few 17-year-0ld freshmen out there with no interest in doing anything but being disruptive.
And Obama threatening colleges to keep tuition low? How, exactly, is he going to get them to do that?

— I did like his proposal to have AG Eric Holder investigate illegal lending and packaging of risky mortgages that helped get us into the housing crisis. Course, I’m still pissed he didn’t let Holder investigate John Yoo and Dick Cheney, among others, for war crimes a few years ago, but hey, I’m not one to hold a grudge.
— I’m glad Obama started and ended with bin Laden and how much he’s gotten accomplished overseas. He did end the war in Iraq, as promised.
— And I really liked Obama’s combative tone toward Republicans. Enough of this stalling and delaying bullshit, he seemed to say. I’m going to keep reminding Americans for the next nine months that’s it’s you guys who are stopping my bills and ideas that could help Americans get jobs and pay lower taxes.
My man Pearlman had the line of the night, I thought:  “John Boehner: Has any man who has done less for the rights of minorities done more to intentionally darken his own skin?”
Still, I wanted more from Obama. I’m sure a lot of my liberal friends (like my Mom, who loved the speech) will disagree with me. But it felt like a lot of Obama pandering to everyone he could in the speech, and that’s not the guy I voted for.

**Finally, the greatest individual rivalry in sports resumes in the wee hours of the morning tonight, about 3:30 a.m.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the semifinals of the Australian Open.I don’t expect you to stay up and watch, even a hardcore tennis lunatic like me is going to watch it on DVR.
Like a rare delicacy or a trip to your favorite city, every Federer-Nadal match should be treasured and warmly embraced, since we may not have many of them left. These two class acts, whose primes have almost overlapped, have battled through some of the most classic matches in tennis history.
I have no idea who’ll win this one. Federer is playing outstandingly well so far this tournament, and seems completely relaxed. Rafa has had to work hard in his last couple of matches and, as usual, is battling injuries.

I of course am pulling for my man Federer, but I hope it’s a five-set classic.  When Federer and Nadal meet, that’s not usually too much to ask for.

Florida thieves get high on a man’s ashes. And an athlete totally turns the table on the media

Ah, it’s Friday and I know you want to read about some really, really unfortunate criminals.
So I take you to my beloved state of Florida, where so much craziness seems to happen.
Back in December, a quintet of teenagers robbed a house in Marion County. And while ransacking the home,  they found some white, powdery substances.
And the teens thought those substances were cocaine.  So they snorted them, quite enthusiastically.
Except … it turns out that what they snorted were the cremated remains of a man and two dogs.
Yep. Too many jokes for me to make here. Do you think they got high? People are always saying to get “high on life,” well, these guys were getting high on death!
And if doing drugs can sometimes make you hallucinate and talk to people who aren’t there, does smoking dead people have the opposite effect?
I’m sure your own jokes would be funnier.

**I love this story 11 ways from Sunday. (Sunday, there’s that word again. Jets-Steelers. Two days away. I’m having trouble concentrating on anything else this week).
Caroline Wozniacki (above) is the No.1 women’s tennis player in the world. She’d been getting a lot of the same questions at her press conferences at the Australian Open, so she decided to open her press conference Thursday with this bit of brilliance:

“Well, yesterday I got the question by the media, they said that my press conferences were kind of boring. Yeah, that I always gave the same answers.

You know, I find it quite, you know, funny because I always get the same questions. So I’m just going to start. I know what you’re going to ask me already. So I’m just going to start with the answer.

I felt great out there today on the court. You know, I think I played a pretty good match. I am happy I got the revenge since I lost to her in Sydney last week. It was not an easy match. She went out there, she was really on fire.

You know, I’m happy to be through to the next round. I don’t know who I’m playing, so maybe you can ask me that afterwards. But I’m really looking forward to playing my fourth round. It’s the second time in a row that that’s happened.

I mean, what I do need to do to win this tournament, if I feel like I played too defensively today. I actually feel like I had to do that. I had to run a lot of balls down today because, I mean, she was playing really aggressively, trying to hit from the first point.

But I felt like, you know, when I had the chance, I was really focused and tried to step it up, especially with my serve a bit. When she put the second serve in, I tried to take the advantage straightaway.

Um, if I deserve to be No. 1. If this was maybe another proof that I belong there. Again, I don’t feel any pressure to be No. 1. I really enjoy myself. I think I’ve had a great year and a great tournament so far. So I’m just happy to be in the next round, and hopefully I can pull a win through …

Hopefully this was a little bit different than usual, and now you can maybe, yeah, give me some questions that are a little bit more interesting, a little bit different than what I usually get.”

Then it goes on from there, as Wozniacki fields questions about cricket, what she looks for in a man, and other fun topics.
Bravo, Caroline. Perfect way to play us writer types. Because let’s face it, our questions usually are pretty boring.

The best mascot vs. fan fight, ever. My week crawls toward Sunday. And gay parents prefer the South

**Reminder to my fellow tennis fans out there. Check out my daily Australian Open blog here. And follow me on Twitter here. I’m trying to be better at putting new thoughts, and re-tweeting other good stuff, on my feed.

My friends, this is just priceless. I cannot put a price on it.
For reasons I can’t quite fathom, the mascot of the Utah Jazz basketball team is a bear.
And at a recent game, well, this happened. Some have suggested it was staged. I prefer to believe that sometimes, a mascot goes too far and needs a butt-whupping:

**Some weeks just drag. This week is dragging big-time, because I cannot freaking wait for Sunday at 6:30 p.m. to just get here already. Still can’t believe my New York Jets are 60 minutes from a Super Bowl. Again. Three times in my life, they’ve been this close. 1982. 1998. 2009. I can tell you in excruciating detail about all those AFC championship game losses.
This time is going to be different. I’m feeling very confident. After last week, the Jets can beat anybody.
Come on Sunday, hurry up and get here. Please.

**Finally today, a story that totally surprised me. This was in the New York Times, and it’s about new census data that shows child-rearing by same-sex couples is far more prevalent in the South than in any part of the country.
The same South that is home to some remarkably anti-gay religious leaders, and certainly has been seen as hostile toward homosexuals, gay marriage, and certainly gay adoption (Florida finally, in 2010, lifted its ban on gay adoption.)
But yep, it’s true: The South seems to be the most tolerant of same-sex couples raising kids.
Who knew?
Of course, just pointing this out will probably anger a whole lot of people who live down here.

The amazing Serena Williams, and a Lance Allred update!

It takes a lot to get me up early on a Saturday morning. A fire in the apartment, leaf-blowers from the people next door, that kind of thing.

But I was up bright and early (well, by 9, which is bright and early for me on a Saturday) to watch my

DVR’ed Australian Open women’s final, and I was totally captivated.

Serena Williams is just astonishing. I’m not a big fan of her attitude sometimes, and how she refuses to ever give credit to the opposition when she loses. But good Lord, that woman is a hell of a competitor. She’s getting to the point with me now where, like Roger Federer, LeBron James, and Peyton Manning, that I don’t so much watch them as marvel at their brilliance. How can one person be that good for that long, and just make their opponent look so, so, ordinary?

Anyway, Serena won a pretty captivating three-set match over Justine Henin. She was leading, then she couldn’t win a point, and it looked like Henin was going to snatch the title. Then Serena turned it up a notch, and just roared away for the victory. She’s getting up there with the all-time greats in women’s tennis now; that is undeniable.

I wrote more about it here at my regular tennis blog.

***So you might remember me writing about one of my new heroes, Lance Allred, a few times. Lance is the 7-foot, deaf, Mormon basketball player who wrote an amazingly honest and wonderful book called “Longshot,” about his experiences and how he finally made the NBA. I wrote about Lance here and here.

I bring him up now because while flipping the channels Saturday night I came across an NBA D-League game (basically, the minor league of pro basketball) and there Lance was, playing for the Idaho Statesmen. Which confused me, because when I met Lance last summer, he swore up and down he was done with the D-League. Well, after a few months in Italy, he came back to the States, apparently changed his mind, and now is kicking butt since he returned to the D-League a few weeks ago.

Check out his blog here; he’s truly one of the most unusual and thought-provoking athletes you’ll ever hear from.