Tag Archives: Rafa Nadal

U.S. soccer battles valiantly, but falls to Belgium. A fantastic commercial empowering young girls. And a stunning Wimbledon upset, as Nadal goes down.

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For just a few minutes, I started dreaming.
After Belgium had thoroughly dominated the U.S. Tuesday evening and finally, after superhuman goalkeeping by Tim Howard broken through for a couple of goals, leading 2-0 with just 15 minutes to play, it looked like it was over for America at the World Cup.

But then, a 19-year-old kid named Julian Green scored a great goal, and the U.S. was pressing, and Clint Dempsey had an incredible chance right in front of the net of a perfect set piece, and maybe, just maybe, we were going to tie Belgium and win on penalty kicks.

But nope. Belgium hung on, and they 100 percent deserved to win. They were so much better than the U.S., offensively, defensively, everywhere but in goal.
Tim Howard, the U.S. netminder, may have had the best game in goal of any American keeper, ever. He was incredible back there, a stone wall of defense.

(My favorite “Tim Howard was awesome” Tweet Tuesdsay night, and there were many fantastic ones, came from Grey Munford: “Tim Howard’s protection is so effective, Hobby Lobby has banned him from their stores.” I also heard Tommy Smyth on the ESPN Radio broadcast compare Howard to Henrik Lundqvist. Beautiful.)

And so for many American sports fans, the World Cup is over. But for millions more, like me, it goes on, because we’re hooked on this tournament now.

Couple great pieces I wanted to share about Tuesday night: Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch wrote a terrific story about why there’s reason to hope for the future of U.S. Soccer, and ESPN.com’s Chris Jones with a beautiful column about each American player in the starting lineup, and what playing for country meant to them.

**After yesterday’s awful news about the Supreme Court’s disregard for women’s health and well-being, here’s a nice palate-cleanser. A group called the Always Global Puberty Education Program has been doing excellent work all over the world for decades, and they just put out this terrific PSA on what it means to younger people about what doing something “like a girl” means to them.

Really, really encouraging stuff. In five days, this video has been viewed more than 14 million times.

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**Thrilling day at Wimbledon Tuesday, with Rafael Nadal getting upset by a much-lower ranked player for the third straight year.

Truly though, this time Rafa didn’t play poorly at all; 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios just took it to him, playing beautiful, brilliant tennis. Kyrgios showed no fear, and when the match got tight in third and fourth sets, the kid showed zero nerves.

What does this mean? Well, it could be the arrival of a new star, as Kyrgios has the serve, forehand and cojones to be a top player, it looks like (and you’ve gotta love his enthusiasm.)

And also, Rafa’s ouster is great news for Roger Federer, who, if he beats Stan Wawrinka today, won’t have to see his nemesis in the semis. Not saying my man Fed is going to win Wimbledon, but his road looks a lot easier than it did yesterday morning.

A beautiful story of a man recovering from a childhood trauma. The U.S. Open is here, whoo-hoo! And great SNL audition tapes of stars

**After watching three quarters of the Jets’ preseason game Saturday night, I’m seriously contemplating not watching all their games this year. I mean, what’s the point? If this team wins 6 games, it’ll be a greater miracle than the ending of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

How do you spend the rest of your life dealing with a tragic accident that changed your life forever when you’re 14?

It sounds like the beginning of a Hollywood movie, or a novel. But it’s the real-life story of Kemp Powers, who at 14 accidentally shot and killed his best friend while fooling around with a gun he had in his room. The next 20 years after that for Powers have been a constant reminder of what he did, even though everyone around him tried to let him forget it.

I’ve written before about how awesome “The Moth” storytelling podcast is, and have linked to a few stories.

But Powers’ story might be the most powerful one I’ve ever heard on “The Moth.” It’s Monday, take a few minutes and listen to a man struggling with demons, and eventually starting to win out. It’s a wonderfully-told tale that shows one mistake doesn’t have to ruin you forever.

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**So today starts the U.S. Open at the National Tennis Center, and to say I’m psyched would be a massive understatement.

I’ve got tickets to go to three of the first five day sessions, and I’ve been counting down the weeks (out loud) for the whole summer (which has annoyed my wife, who said “you’re making the summer go by too fast by looking ahead to the end of it!'” I s’pose she had a point.)

Love, love, LOVE the U.S. Open; went every year as a kid, missed quite a few years as an adult, what with college and then moving all over the country for newspaper jobs.
But since I moved back to N.Y. two years ago, it’s my favorite annual event. A ticket to a day session to the Open during the first week is the best bargain in sports; for about $60, you get around 10 hours of tennis on 20 courts, and much of the time you’re within 10 feet of some of the greatest players in the world.

This year I expect awesomeness as usual. Can Rafa Nadal continue his summer dominance and win the Open again? (Nope.) Will Andy Murray defend the title and keep his incredible 12 months going? (Maybe). Will Novak Djokovic win it all? (Yep.) Can anyone beat Serena? (Keep an eye on Sloane Stephens.) Does my man Federer have any shot? (A small one. But he’d have to beat Rafa in the quarters.)

If you’re a tennis nut like me, the New York Times did an awesome Open section Sunday; click here for all the goodies.

**Finally today, I got a kick out these. The website Mental Floss has gathered eight great videos of “Saturday Night Live” audition tapes; the Jimmy Fallon one I posted above, but the Dana Carvey and John Belushi ones are stellar, too.

There was also a really cool Sunday story in the N.Y. Times, an oral history about the pressure of auditioning for Lorne Michaels, the longtime head honcho of “SNL” who never, ever laughs during auditions.

Djokovic powers through to another Aussie Open title. Harry Reid disgusts me yet again. And an awesome NHL goal celebration.

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One of the many, many awesome things about being a tennis fan in 2013 is that the Golden Age we’ve been since about 2008 or so shows no signs of slowing down.
The storyline just changes a little. Where once it was Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal towering above all, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray creeped into the picture, and the four of them have raised the sport I love most to an un-Godly level.
And as the Federer-Nadal rivalry has dissipated, because of injuries and age, we’re so lucky to have two guy born within days of each other to carry us throug, and be the new pre-eminent rivalry.

Djokovic and Murray have already played some classics in the last two years, and it looked like Sunday’s Aussie Open final would be another. They traded tiebreak wins for the first two sets, but Djokovic (my 2nd favorite player behind Fed) ran away with the match in four sets.

He’s just so hard to beat when he’s defending like he did Sunday; Djokovic is truly the best defender I’ve ever seen, retrieving balls he has no business getting to. I thought Murray played pretty well, but couldn’t hit enough winners, or enough first serves, to hang in there.

As for my man Federer, no shame for him this tournament, going out in 5 sets to Murray in the semis. Roger is far from done.
It was really a great Aussie Open; I should’ve blogged about it more. We got a new American star on the women’s side (Sloane Stephens is fantastic), some great matches on the men’s side throughout the two weeks, and ESPN even gave us some good announcing with Chris Fowler and Patty McEnroe actually shutting up once in a while and letting the match breathe (Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale and Mary Joe Fernandez would not shut the hell up for even a second during the Serena-Stephens match, and it was highly annoying)

Love that the tennis year is underway. Can’t wait till the French Open in May, when Rafa will be back and healthy and ready to defend his crown.

For a really good column on Sunday’s match, check out Jason Gay’s Wall Street Journal piece here.

**Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers is 19 years old, and has major, major potential. In his third NHL game Thursday night, he scored a game-tying goal, batting the puck out of mid-air, with only five seconds left.

He then enjoyed one of the best NHL goal celebrations in years. I loved it; I wish more players would react like this when they score.

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**And finally, a few words of disgust for the Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Harry Reid, who is a Democrat that consistently continues to let down those in his party, but being a spineless, compromising, collapsing jellyfish of a man.

Late last week, without much fanfare in the press, Reid completely folded in negotiations about ending or reforming the filibuster. The filibuster, if you are not aware, is the process by which the minority party in the Senate can block legislation from coming to a vote. In the old days, Senators had to actually stand on the floor of the Senate and talk and talk and talk for as long as they wanted to filibuster (like Jimmy Stewart in the classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Now, a filibuster is incredibly simple; a minority party Senator simply and often anonymously says he wants to filibuster something, and poof! there goes the legislation.
It’s why a majority seemingly must have 60 votes now to do anything, and it’s yet another sign of dysfunction in Washington.

So last year, at the urging of some real Dems in the Senate, Reid decided that filibuster reform would be a big deal in 2013. He was in a strong negotiating position, his party just won the White House again, and the GOP was wounded.

And yet, Harry Do-Nothing Reid got just about ZERO reform done. He caved like he always does; he’s an awful, ineffective leader, and I wish he had lost re-election in 2010 so the Democrats could get a real leader at the top of the Senate.

Sigh. Harry Reid, what a disgrace.