Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2 Weeks Until #ElectionDay: Clinton 0.861, Trump 0.138

There are only 2 weeks left (14 days!) before the 2016 Presidential Election will be determined on November 8. This week, the 538.com forecast has Clinton-Kaine ticket has an 86.1% chance of winning, with Trump-Pence having a 13.8% chance of winning. This is slightly changed from last week's probabilities (88.2% Clinton-Trump, 11.8% Trump-Pence).

Monday, October 24, 2016

2016 WTA TOUR FINALS: Kerber, Kuznetsova, Pliskova Win 3-Set Thrillers; Halep Rolls Over Keys

The WTA Tour finals in Singapore have kicked off with a bang, with three of the four completed matches in the first two days absolutely thrilling 3-set slugfests. First came the encounter between Angie Kerber and Dominka Cibulkova. The two played an absolutely epic, hour=long first set, which was won by Kerber on her one and only set point at 6-5 in tiebreaker after both players had won and lost momentum in the games played earlier, Cibulkova responded by continuing to crush the ball into the corners and won the second set 6-2 but then lost the decider 6-3. The match was nearly 3 hours long with final score 7-6(5) 2-6 6-3. This was in sharp contrast to yet another meeting between Madison Keys and Simona Halep, where again, Halep was too steady for the young American power player, and improves her head-to-head to 5-1.

On Monday, the matches got even better with both eventual winners having to save a match point on their way to victory. First Sveta Kuznetsova came back from a 1-4 deficit in the first set to squeeze out the first set 7-5 but Radwanska roared back with a 6-1 beat down. As Ian DW noted on twitter: Radwanska had won 21 of 22 matches when she won one of the sets 6-1. The only loss was to Kuznetsova (who had won 8 of their 9 previous encounters). Kuznetsova went down an early break 0-2 in the third set and eventually Radwanska served for the match at 5-4 (after losing and regaining the break) but was broken again to even the 3rd set at 5-all. Kuznetsova held  to go up 6-5 and this time when Radwanska was serving to stay in the match, she saved 2 match points (1 with an ace!) but still succumbed, losing 7-5, 6-1, 7-5. Probably the match of the year (although Cibulkova-Radwanska at Wimbledon 2016 was pretty amazing as well.)

But wait, there's more! Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova had an even more compelling match (although probably not as entertaining or high-quality) as Kuznetsova-Radwanska. Pliskova easily won the first set 6-2 and was up 3-1 in the second when the wheels came off and Muguriza fought back went up a break and served for the set at 5-3 but eventually won the second set in a 7-4 tiebreak. In the third set Muguruza extended her momentum and quickly went up 4-0 and 5-2 (double break). Amazingly Pliskova never gave up, broke back (saving a match poiint in the process), and then held her serve and when Muguruza served for the match a second time at 5-4 Pliskova broke at love to even the match at 5-all and again easily held her serve to go ahead 6-5. But then Muguruza lost her serve and the match when she was serving a must-hold 12th games, and lost 6-2 6-7(4) 7-5.

EYE CANDY: Fabrice Lemonnier

Fabrice Lemonnier is a bodybuilder from France. He is active on Instagram (@fabricelemonnier)and Snapchat (fabcherry78) has an official Facebook page. Frankly I am surprised more people do not know follow him on these platforms. Just look at him! He is this week's Eye Candy, and will surely make many more appearances in the future.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

2016 WTA TOUR FINALS: Kuznetsova Grabs Last Spot In Elite 8, Displacing Konta

Svetlana Kuznetsova upended the script at the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore by waiting until the very last possible moment to quality for the prestigious year-ending championship. Because Serena Williams withdrew, the Top 9 players in the world will be eligible to play. As of this week Johanna Konta of Great Britain was in the #9 position but she could have been surpassed by either Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain or Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia if either won the Moscow Open (Konta didn't play). Kuznetsova was the defending champion in Moscow and despite having numerous tension-filled matches all week, the 2-time major champion was able to win the title and qualify for the year-ending championship for the first time since 2009 (which is when Sveta won her 2nd major at the French Open that year).

The Elite Eight qualifiers are Angelique Kerber (#1), Dominika Cibulkova (#8) Simona Halep (#4) and Madison Keys (#7) in the Red group and Agnieska Radwanska (#3), Garbine Muguruza (#6), Karolina Pliskova (#5) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (#9) in the White group. The draw is made so that the two groups play a round-robin and the top 2 finishers n each group play semifinals against a player from the other group to reach the final. Last year's final four was Maria Sharapova, Muguruza, Radwanska and Petra Kvitova. Kvitova and Radwanska reached the final, which, amazingly, was won by Radwanska. This year Kvitova did not even qualify for the Top 8 and is just outside the Top 10.

Interestingly, despite qualifying late, Kuznetsova has a very good record against the rest of the players in her half of the draw (13-6, mostly because of a 12-4 head-to-head against Radwanska!). Kerber has a 12-9 advantage and Halep has a 10-7 advantage against the rest of the players in the Red group. My prediction would be a Kuznetsova-Kerber semifinal and a Radwanska-Halep semifinal

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Mormons Trying To Influence Ballot Measures in Western States (AZ,CO,CA,NV)

The Mormon Church notoriously (and somewhat disastrously) got involved with a California ballot measure in 2008 called Proposition 8 that purported to amend the United States California Constitution to ban same-sex marriage that was eventually struck down in a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2013. has decided that it didn't learn its lesson 8 years ago and is getting involved in opposing a series of ballot measures involving social issues in various West Coast states.

The Deseret News reports:
The LDS Church's First Presidency is asking the faith's members in four western states to oppose bills that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide and recreational marijuana use.
Church President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors sent a letter Wednesday to Mormons in Colorado, where Proposition 106 would legalize physician-assisted suicide. 
"We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to measures that would legalize physician-assisted suicide," said the letter signed by President Monson, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who make up the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
They sent a similar letter Wednesday to Mormons in Arizona, California and Nevada about marijuana legislation.
"We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana use," the letter said.
The Mormon Church does not get involved in political issues very often (which is one reason their involvement in the Proposition 8 fight over same-sex marriage was so striking) so it is noteworthy that they are urging their adherents in California, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada to follow the Church's leadership instead of voting their conscience in these particular matters. It's also interesting that the LDS Church did not weigh in on Proposition 62 (abolish death penalty) and Proposition 66 (maintain death penalty) in California.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TENNIS TUESDAY: Serena Ends 2016 Season; Murray Closing In On #1; Cibulkova,Keys Qualify For WTA YEC, Kyrgios Sanctioned

For the second consecutive year, World #2 Serena Williams ended her annual tennis season without hitting a ball after falling in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, the last major of the year. WTA released figures today which indicate how much Serena is concentrating on the majors as she gets older:
2013: 82 matches, 78-4 record, won 11 titles.2014: 60 matches, 52-8 record, won 7 titles.2015: 56 matches, 53-3 record, won 5 titles.2016: 44 matches, 38-6 record, won 2 titles.
What's amazing is that since she played so few matches in 2016, Serena should not have much trouble reclaiming the #1 ranking in 2017, a year in which I am convinced that she will win her 23rd major title, cementing her status as the greatest player of all time.

After World #1 Novak Djokovic self-destructed in his semifinal at the 2016 Shanghai Masters against Roberto Bautista Agut, losing his first match in China in nearly three years, World #2 Andy Murray seized the opportunity to win another Masters Shield, the 13th of his career, his 41st ATP tour title and 6th of 2016. Although Murray is now merely 915 points behind Djokovic for the race to #1 for the calendar year, he is still 2415 points behind the World #1 but intends to play 3 more tournaments this year. It's unclear how many tournaments Djokovic will play this year, but there are two big ones remaining: 2016 Paris Masters and the 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Australian phenom Nick Kyrgios received an unprecedented 8 week-long ban from the tour (until January 15, 2017) today from the ATP in response to an execrable performance in the 2nd round of the Shanghai Masters against Mischa Zverev. They also gave the Australian an option to reduce the ban to just 3 weeks if he agrees to see a Psychologist, which he agreed to do. This means that Kyrgios will just be banned for the rest of the 2016 season, but his 2017 season will be unaffected.

The WTA year-end championship in Singapore is the most prestigious tournament of the year (apart from the Grand Slams). Last year the tournament was won by Agnieska Radwanska. This year there are several first-time qualifiers: 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and American phenom Madison Keys. With Serena's withdrawal, #9 Johanna Konta shuld get the 8th slot, but she withdrew from playing this week due to an injury, so if either Svetlana Kuznetsova and Carla Suarez Navarro are able to win the title in Moscow this week, they would get the final slot.

3 Weeks Until #ElectionDay: Clinton 0.882, Trump 0.118

The probabilities in the 2016 presidential race have moved sharply in favor of the Clinton-Kaine ticket in the last week. With just 21 days (3 weeks) before election day, the latest numbers from FiveThirtyEight.com show a 0.882 probability America will elect its first female president, with just a 0.112 chance Donald Trump will win his first elected office on November 8th. Last week, the probabilities were 0.84 Clinton, 0.16 Trump. Since i began blogging about the data, the probabilities have been as close as Clinton 0.546, Trump 0.454 just 3 weeks ago so the numbers can change rather rapidly. 

Will they change again? We'll know more in 21 days!

Monday, October 17, 2016

EYE CANDY: Joshua Benoit

Joshua Benoit is a Haitian-American model and body-builder. According to a post he made on Instagram about  a year ago, Mr. Benoit said he was 26 years old, 6-feet tall, 215 pounds with 20" arms and 8% body fat!

That's why he's this week's Eye Candy!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

2016 SHANGHAI: Djokovic Loses Temper and Semifinal; Murray Faces Bautista Agut In Final

Something is clearly affecting Novak Djokovic's play. The current #1 lost his first ATP Master series semifinal in years to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-4. During the match, Djokovic's play was off-track but his loss of compusure was even more startling. He destroyed a racquet, argued with the chair umpire and ripped off his own shirt after losing a rally. Bautista Agut has 37 hard-court victories, 3rd most on tour this year (behind Djokovic and Gael Monfils).

The Spaniard will face Andy Murray who had his own anger issues in his semifinal but was able to defeat Gilles Simon 6-4 6-3 to reach his 10th final of 2016, 1 more than Djokovic. The race for the year-end #1 is getting more exciting as the year-end championships (held in London in November) approaches.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin