Archives for posts with tag: Andy Murray

July begins with a BANG! as the “sports offseason” is rather busy on multiple fronts.  What to do as I try to get my poolside summer reading done…

 

It’s almost fitting that it took until the 82nd game (one after the midpoint) that the Nationals Opening Day Eight finally played a full nine together.  Big Red Machine, they’re not…but you need healthy components to be successful in the NL East race.  Bryce Harper’s return (1-3 with 1 run and an RBI) provided some pop and extends the lineup (Desmond hitting 7th is always nice) while providing manager Matt Williams options against tough lefties (Zim to 1st while LaRoche rests his legs), righties (Harper to CF while Span takes a seat), American League parks (Zim DH’s) and tough pitchers in general (Rendon to 2B while Espinosa slows down his 186 strikeout pace).  Hopefully Jordan Zimmermann can keep up what was an incredible June (six starts, a 1.43 ERA with opponents batting .192).  Will Harper’s attitude in wanting to play CF and bat higher than sixth hurt the club?  I’m happy to see a player of his potential want to hit higher and play a more demanding defensive position…but the key is playing his way into both spots.

 

Despite a Tigerless weekend after Mr. Woods was unable to shake three months rust and a Friday where the notables weren’t on the leaderboard but below the cut-line (Major winners Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Keegan Bradley and  Jason Dufner)…at least Sunday at Congressional Country Club began with a former US Amateur Champ atop the leaderboard.  But Ricky Barnes bogeyed consecutive holes on the front nine…and after getting back to 6 under par carded consecutive double-bogeys on the back nine.  Opening the window for Justin Rose…who somehow bounced back from a Thursday 74 (same score as Tiger) to shoot 65, 71 and 70.  That final round placed him one shot ahead of Shawn Stefani (sounds like a designer accessory, but he’s actually a 2-time winner on the web.com Tour) before Rose bogeyed 18.  Stefani’s missed birdie putt on 18 set up a playoff that was rather drama-free when Stefani’s second shot landed in the water hazard.  All in all a nice weekend in Bethesda– and it’s a shame there’s not a course inside the beltway that will embrace this tournament as much as the PGA will embrace said course.  For many in the area:  Gainesville, Virginia may as well be Gainesville, Florida.  The biggest problem for Tiger’s tournament isn’t the place but the timing:  next year the Quicken Loans National takes place during Redskins Training Camp…and the following year it moves to late May.  The bigger a tournament is…the less it moves on the calendar.

 

Americans to the Exits–so much for the US hopefuls at Wimbledon.  John Isner’s loss in the mens’ third round and Madison Keys retiring from her third round match mean that for the first time since 1911– no American man or woman is in the Round of 16.  Make that gentleman or lady.  It’s a shame there are no American elites excelling on the major tournament level…because both games are exciting in completely different ways.  The mens’ game is a full-fledged Fab Four Era where Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and Federer take turns trying to one-up each other (sorry, Stanislas Wawrinka–you’re the Pete Best of the bunch).  Federer may be the lion in winter, but grass is his surface.  Nadal may have Federer’s number, but he’s never been as good on grass as he has been on clay.  Djokovic may be the top seed, but he’s reached the finals here only twice in his storied career.  And Murray may be the only Brit in the bunch, but when he loses he becomes just a Scot.  Barring an upset, there will be compelling fireworks on July 4th.  Speaking of upsets, that’s what makes the womens’ game so interesting to follow come Grand Slam time– witness last year’s carnage at Wimbledon where most of the top seeds were gone by the end of the first week, followed by more blood-letting this year.  Where are OUR underdog women that are shocking the world?  Where’s our elite man that makes the Fab Four a Fab Five?  Sadly the absence of both drains the American rooting interest.  So much for “Breakfast at Wimbledon”;  for years its been the omelet of sports viewing…while for most Americans this year it’ll have the significance of a pop-tart.

 

Speaking of breakfast, according to Wikipedia “the Belgian waffle is identified by its larger size, lighter batter, larger squares, and a higher grid pattern that forms deep pockets.” For those eating today– beware.  As  World Cup Fever reaches a potential apex this afternoon the US National Team faces Belgium in the Knockout Stage.  While Belgium went 3-0 in Group H, let’s remind ourselves that Russia’s ranked #19, Algeria’s 22nd and South Korea currently ranks 57th.  Team USA’s Group (OF DEATH) G path that finished 1-1-1?  A 2-1 victory over #37 Ghana, a 2-2 tie with 4th ranked Portugal and a 1-0 loss to 2nd rated Germany.  So the RPI thing (to go college hoops on you) favors the Americans.  Jozy Altidore’s hamstring remains a question and a concern…and goaltender Tim Howard can only stand on his head so many times this tournament between the pipes, right?  Just like I was rooting for the US not to be subject to the casting of lots (the final tie-breaker in group play)…I’m hoping for no penalty kicks this afternoon.  I accept that penalty kicks is the way of the world…but it seems as arbitrary as free throws.  Instead, I’d rather see the two 15 minute periods followed by 15 minute “sudden victory” periods.  Recalibrate the substitutions after regulation and then if 90 more minutes are played, recalibrate them again.  The World Cup should decide the better/best team– not the better/best shooters & goaltender.

I’ve never seen you look like this without a reason, another promise fallen through, another season passes by you.

When he wins, he’s a Brit. When he loses, he’s a Scot. But after his staggering-to-the-finish straight set victory over Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s Wimbledon Final 6-4, 7-5, 6-4…Andy Murray is forever a champion at the All England Club. And a nation’s 77-year yearning ends.

I never took the smile away from anybody’s face, and that’s a desperate way to look for someone who is still a child.

Think about it. Seventy-seven years. Almost “four score”…with apologies to Old Abe. Nine years shy of the Curse of the Bambino’s longevity. Twenty-three years longer than Ranger fans had to hear “1940!”. Imagine there not being an American US Open winner until the year 2080. That’s not a drought…that’s a desert. And it’s over.

In a big country dreams stay with you, like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside…stay alive.

The fact Murray even got to Sunday was an achievement in and of itself. Wednesday the 2nd seed dropped the first two sets to Fernando Verdasco before storming back to take the fifth set 7-5. Two days later he lost the first set to Jerzy Janowicz (sadly these are actual names, although they could easily come from a screenwriter’s imagination) and trailed 4-1 in the third before catching fire–taking the last five games of the set (and more importantly, match momentum). Murray then had to wait out a 20-minute delay for the fourth set as they closed the roof–before prevailing 6-4.

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered…but you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered.

For years, it was Tim Henman who held the hopes of the UK. And although he won 75% of his matches at Wimbledon–reaching the quarterfinals in eight of nine years from 1996-2004–the Englishman just wasn’t able to put seven wins together. Each June would turn into July and the wait would extend. Henman would go from upstart to elder statesman. And a window would close on the fingers of a nation that could almost touch the prize.

So take that look out of here, it doesn’t fit you. Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded.

Meanwhile a busted women’s bracket left a final four the 1970’s Miami Dolphins defense would be proud of. Who were these people? Agnieska Radwanska (#4) was the only top 14 seed to get that far…and she was brushed aside by giant-killer Sabine Lisicki. The German had previously bounced Francesca Schiavone (2010 French Open Champ), Samantha Stosur (2011 US Open Champ) and top seed Serena Williams…but wound up losing in straight sets Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in the finals. Seven years after losing in the Finals at Wimbledon to Venus Williams, the 28-year old Bartoli has her first Grand Slam title. And the favorites regroup for next month’s US Open.

Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming…cry out for everything you ever might have wanted.

Scotland began as the land beyond Hadrian’s Wall during the days of the Roman Empire. It gave us the blueprint for one of Shakespeare’s most memorable plays. It gave the English throne an heir after Queen Elizabeth I’s death…and by extension gave Western Civilization an English-language bible. Scotland contributed the best James Bond (I know there are George Lazenby die-hards out there, but just go with me here), as well as everybody’s favorite starship engineer who somehow avoided the “red shirt equals death” axiom that defined the USS Enterprise. Scotland even gave the music world a band titled Big Country…that in a fit of originality released a song “In a Big Country”. Scotland might technically not be an independent country, but after one fantastic fortnight by its favorite son…has reason to feel pretty big right now.

In a big country dreams stay with you, like a lover’s voice Read the rest of this entry »