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Monthly Archives: January 2011

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Djokovic: Clear No. 2

This time, he needed no heroics, no closing of his eyes to save two match points, no miraculous shots to extend the match.

This time, Novak Djokovic needed three sets of superb play to show the world he has surpassed Roger Federer as the No. 2 player in the world. And with Rafa reeling, maybe this is the year Novak climbs to No. 1.

What a funny start to this tennis season. Just when we all thought Federer was ready to challenge Rafa for No. 1, a new rivalry of 23-year-olds meets in the finals, one that could greet us for the next decade or so: Djokovic v. Andy Murray.

Here, we have the have done, the masterful under pressure, against the have not, the over-thinker in the big matches.

Djokovic against Murray: Two of the game’s best set to better their rivalry as we ring in the 2011 Slam Season.

Just like we predicted, right?

TLT: Sampras can still play

Tennis rules. This much you should know if you’re reading this site. It rules so much that a friend of mine and I have started a site devoted to tennis. Well, Richard created it. I just write stuff for it every now and then.

Like this: The Let Tennis: Sampras can still play

Best. Interview. Ever.

Caroline

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI: 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.

Uhm, 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.

My racquet feels really good (laughter). I feel like the racquet is really helping me out. I feel like there is no problems. I really, uhm, enjoy playing with it. So I feel like, uhm yeah, I’m just happy to be here. 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.

OWH: Millard board remembers fallen

They bowed their heads, closed their eyes and stood in silence.

After a few moments, the Millard school board did its best to resume regular business Monday night, the board’s first meeting since the Jan. 5 shooting at Millard South High School.

OWH: Millard board remembers fallen

Another Slam first round, another disappointment for Querrey

Perhaps it’s the new American plague.

Forget about the birds falling from the sky and the predictions of a biblical-esque plague that will soon end our days, I’m talking tennis here; something that has a real impact on our lives.

And in America, for gifted, tall men’s tennis players, times are bleak, plague-like bleak.

Day One of the Australian Open: America’s next great hope: 23-year-old Sam Querrey.

Australian Open photo

This is the American who’s supposed to rip the “top-ranked American” label from No. 8 Andy Roddick later this year. Don’t get me wrong, Querrey still can and might. But usually a good first step is winning the first round of majors, something Querrey has done just eight of the 18 times he has played in Grand Slam.

Eight for 18 in first-round matches. That stat alone is somewhat mind-boggling, but also consider this: As Querrey has risen in the rankings, from No. 174 in 2006 to No. 18 in 2011, his Slam performances have stayed relatively the same: In five of his last nine Major appearances, Querrey has failed to get past the entry bout.

Which brings us to this year’s Down Under Major: Querrey against Lukasz Kubot, the 28-year-old from Poland ranked No. 72 in the world. Although Kubot advanced to the fourth round of last year’s Australian Open courtesy a third-round withdraw from Mikhail Youzhny, he was hardly a formidable foe for Querrey.

Yet he was. That, and so much more, beating Querrey in five sets.

It is not so much that Querrey lost in the first round – upsets happen. But rather, how Querrey lost that is so regretful.

It was much like his fourth-round match of the 2010 U.S. Open, when Querrey had a chance to finish the match, ride the blustery winds of momentum and sail into his first-ever quarterfinals.

Instead, he lost.

Day One, Australian Open: Querrey battling Kubot. He seizes the momentum, snatches a 2-1 set advantage. The wind, however, is again a factor. And Querrey has not learned enough from this last win-aided defeat.

Rather predictably, Querrey lets Kubot back in the match and Kubot obliges, 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6.

Querrey’s U.S. Open quarterfinal loss to Stanislas Wawrinka: 6-7(9), 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4, 4-6.

The momentum was his. The match was there. But not that day. Not with the wind gusting and the pressure on.

And until Querrey can win those matches, those five-setters, those ones he usually doesn’t, we can forget about the top 10 talk. Heck, we can even forget about him passing Roddick, which would make for one lackluster 2011 for the top two American men.

Storytelling with compassion

A fantastic interview with Jacqui Banaszynski.

WUWM. Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Calls for Compassion in Reporting

OWH: School left with its own wounds

Omaha World-Herald: The gunfire at Millard South made a long-time coach there shake his head — his school was now the one on television, the one everyone was reading about and the school that would have to recover from its own shooting.

“It hurts a lot,” said Larry Ribble, 67, who retired after coaching boys track and basketball at the school for 30 years. “With time, some wounds will be healed, but it’s just really a setback.”

(Far, far better reads about the Millard South High School shooting on Omaha.com.)