Tag Archives: Juan Martin Del Potro

A few words about Andy Roddick’s legacy. Bill Clinton wowing us all over again. And the 5-year-old Minnesota Fats wannabe.

Some thoughts on two American originals, Andy Roddick and Bill Clinton, while still being stunned that the greatest of all time, Roger Federer, was sent packing from the U.S. Open Wednesday night…

Andy Roddick retired from tennis Wednesday. His career and lasting legacy is hard to sum up in a few hundred words, but I’ll try.
First, let’s start with the good. He was unquestionably the best American tennis player of the last 10 years. He took the torch from the greatest generation of U.S. stars, guys like Agassi and Sampras and Courier and Chang, and pretty much carried it by himself. He won one Grand Slam title (that’s him at the ’03 Open, above, and damn doesn’t he look young?), reached three Wimbledon finals, and I would say, vastly overachieved in his career.
The kid had a big serve, a big forehand, and hustle. That’s pretty much it. And he managed to stay in the top 10 for so many years on those weapons and his desire.
He also, it must be said, gave tremendous amounts of time and money to charity through his foundation. And he was often hilarious in press conferences, rarely taking himself too seriously.

Now, the bad: In big moments, he never was able to step up and finish. The ’09 Wimbledon final, one of the best matches I’ve ever seen, he just couldn’t quite do enough to put away Roger Federer.
But the bigger black mark for me, and why I wasn’t rooting for Roddick yesterday, was his deplorable on-court behavior. He was awful in yelling at umpires and linespeople, often humiliating them in front of millions. Take a look at this,  or this, or even this.   When he was a 20-year-old kid, OK, maybe you can chalk it up to immaturity. But when he was still acting like a spoiled baby on-court a few months ago, well, that speaks to character.

So I watched yesterday with mixed emotions. I thought Roddick’s opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, showed true class, and Roddick was graceful and emotional in defeat. It was a hell of a career; I just wish Roddick could’ve been more of a sportsman and a grown-up all these years.

**Keith O’Dell Jr. is 5 years old. He’s really good at playing pool. Watch this, and then watch out for this kid stealing your money at your neighborhood pool hall (do they even have those anymore?)

**Finally, Bubba Clinton’s speech last night. Man oh man was he fantastic. I’d vote for him again right now, even knowing what a sleazebag he is/was with women. Of all the wonderful turns of phrase our last two-term Democratic President used last night (and his “arithmetic” line was brilliant), what I thought was most important was him calling out the GOP for their lies about health care and about Medicare.

Ole’ Bill was in Southern Preacher mode last night (has anyone in human history loved the spotlight as much as he does?) and he connects with an audience like no politician I’ve ever seen. Great to see he and Obama on stage at the end together; going to be hard for Obama to top Clinton’s speech last night.

And MSNBC, please, can we stop with the “Hillary 2016” stuff? Let’s get this election won first. Thank you.

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The King of the Open is toppled. And I am stunned.

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One last tennis post after a truly wild final weekend at the Open …

Saw some things in a four-hour tennis match I hadn’t seen before Monday.

Saw a guy not named Rafael Nadal push Roger Federer around a tennis court. Saw a guy not named Rafael Nadal blast winners past Federer for three-plus hours and refuse to yield.

Saw a guy named Roger Federer, against an opponent not named Rafael Nadal, looked befuddled and flummoxed on a tennis court. Saw a guy named Roger Federer, against an opponent not named Rafael blow a two sets to one lead, and fall completely apart like a weekend hacker in the fifth set.

As I”m watching this match Monday evening, watching the future superstar Juan Martin Del Potro stage a shocking rally to beat Federer in five sets, I kept thinking, “Are we SURE that’s not Nadal on the other side of the net?

Because, dear readers, for the last five years, only Nadal has been Fed’s kryptonite in big matches like this. So when Del Potro, a 6-foot-6 Argentine (who looks taller) was pounding forehands past Fed in the fourth and fifth sets, I couldn’t believe this was really happening.

Oh, those of us who follow tennis closely knew Del Potro was a comer, a 20-year-old with huge shots and a great mental makeup. But Federer just doesn’t lose Slam finals to guys not named Nadal.

It was wildly disconcerting to see Federer miss so many forehands, and serve so poorly (50 percent of first serves for the match).

Even when Del Potro pushed the match to a fifth set, and the crowd at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was going nuts for the underdog, I expected Roger to come through. Again, he doesn’t lose matches like this.

But the fifth set Monday was scarily reminiscent of the one Federer played against Rafa in the Australian Open back in January. He was broken early, and he never quite was able to come back. It was shockingly one-sided at the end, just like it was in January.

Look, this is probably good for the sport right now. The list of guys who have the mental and physical ability to stand up to Federer is woefully short, and now maybe Del Potro can be the rival that threatens Federer at Slams that Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic can’t quite be yet (or may never be).

But as a Federer fan, Monday was disappointing.

So the U.S. Open ends with the two champions everyone figured we would have. Of course we all saw Kim Clijsters and Del Potro winning it when we prognosticated two weeks ago, right?

God .I love the unpredictability of sports.

Couple other Tuesday morning thoughts:

1. Not sure if I should be happy that Patriots looked so bad in their 25-24 win over Buffalo Monday night, or if I should be mad because Belichick is going to give them hell in practice all week and they’ll come into Sunday’s game at my Jets all fired up and beat my boys 62-3.

2. Kanye West, you made me feel sorry for a pop country starlet today. And that’s hard to do. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Mr. West, quite the musical performer I’m told, got up on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards the other night and interrupted pop tart Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech, taking the microphone from her hand to say Beyonce’s video was better. Truly awful behavior.  I know, you’re like me: You’re shocked to see a hip-hop guy or a rapper misbehave.

3. I see Serena Williams apologized again. Hey, third time’s the charm. Maybe by her 7th or 8th apology she’ll actually call the lineswoman and say she’s sorry.

4. And finally in honor of the late, great Patrick Swayze…

Federer and Nadal lose (on the same day!)

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So I was going to write my thoughts on Michael Vick signing with the Eagles today, but I want to wait until tomorrow after the new dog-lover’s interview airs on “60 Minutes.”

I will say, though, that I love the new T-shirts making the rounds in Philadelphia already: “Hide your beagles, Vick is an Eagle.”

Instead of Vick, I wanted to write about Friday’s pro tennis action, which saw something rarely if ever seen on the men’s tour in the last 5 years: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both losing on the same day.

Seriously, this is like Tom Brady AND Peyton Manning throwing five interceptions in the same game, or something like that. For Nadal and Federer both to lose at the Rogers Cup in Montreal was pretty stunning.

Federer’s loss was probably more shocking to me: After a close first set that he lost, the new proud papa tore through Jo-Wilifred Tsonga in the second set, winning 6-1.

Then my favorite player gets up 5-1 in the final set, and it’s over soon, and Federer can go visit with his twin daughters, and see you in the semifinals.

Then, incredibly, Tsonga started ripping winners and Federer double-faults and gets broken twice and before you could say “Hey, that Tsonga guy looks like Muhammad Ali!” Federer is shaking hands at the net with the match’s winner.

I don’t want to send out any kind of panic with this loss; Tsonga is very good, and Federer just had a bad set in his first tournament in month. But still, it’s just weird to see Fed lose a 5-1 lead in a deciding set.

As for Rafa, he doesn’t seem to be back to his old self yet, which is understandable. He dropped a first-set tiebreaker to Juan Martin Del Potro (who, by the way, is having a hell of a summer and is a legit U.S. Open threat), then Captain Vamos got rolled in the second set, 6-1.

Rafa seemed pretty calm after the match, and the good thing is that Nadal’s knees held up well through a few matches. It’s too bad he’ll only have one more tournament before the Open to get himself in shape.

Very nice win by Andy Roddick over Novak Djokovic, too. A-Rod may play Andy Murray in Sunday’s final, which would be a great rematch of their Wimbledon match.

P.S. On the Jets: Nice to see rookie QB Mark Sanchez play well in his first ever pro game, but once again the NY media goes overboard on him. All I’m reading today is that “Sanchez locked up the starting job” and “Oh boy, the kid is going to be great.” Come on folks, he had one great drive! Wish coach Rex Ryan had let Sanchez play more, and Kellen Clemens looked pretty good, too.

Gang Green’s defense looked strong, so I’m a happy Jets fan today. Mostly, I”m just wildly thrilled football is back.