Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TENNIS TUESDAY: Cilic Wins Cincy; Serena Will Tie Graf's #1 Record; Stevie Is A Top; #Santina Splits

2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic became only the fifth player since 2010 other than the Big Four (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal) to win an ATP Masters shield event by beating Murray 7-5 6-4. The other four are Robin Soderling (Paris 2010),  David Ferrer (Paris 2012), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Toronto 2014), Stan Wawrinka (Monte-Carlo 2014). Murray was hoping to continue his 22-match winning streak after triumphing at the 2016 Wimbledon championships and 2016  Rio Olympics this summer. Not only was this Cilic's first Masters 1000 win, it was the first time he had even reached the semifinal of a masters in 8 previous tries.

By Angelique Kerber losing in straight sets to Karolina Pliskova in the Cincinnati Final, World #1 Serena Williams will remain at #1 for three more weeks and tie Steffi Graf's record of 186 consecutive weeks at #1. However, to break the record Serena will probably need to win the 2016 US Open (which would also simultaneously surpass Graf's major singles title haul of 22) because she is defending semifinal points from the 2015 US Open and none of her rivals: Garbine Muguruza, Agnieska Radwanska or Kerber have very many points to defend. Theoretically any of these four could conceivably be #1 on Monday September 12th. The most exciting scenario would have Serena and Kerber facing off for the #1 ranking in the final.

Fresh off of winning the Men's Doubles Bronze medal with partner Jack Sock (who also won the Mixed Doubles Gold with Bethanie Mattek-Sands) Stevie Johnson is now the highest ranked male American player by reaching the #21 spot on the ATP rankings while John Isner (who had been the top-ranked American since July 2013) fell to #22 with Sock at #28 and Giant-Killer Sam Querrey at #31.  This also means that there i no American male in the Top 20 of the ATP World rankings while on the women's side there are three American women in the Top 10: Serena (#1), Venus Williams (#6), Madison Keys (#9).

During the Rio Olympics it was confirmed that despite winning 3 grand slam titles, the 2015 Year-end championships and a 41-match winning streak in the last 18 month, the doubles team of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza have decided to split up. (They have agreed to play the 2016 year-end championships together, having already qualified!) Awkwardly, the two former partners faced each other in the very first tournament after the Olympics in the Cincinnati finals, and the team of Mirza and Coco Vandeweghe defeated Hingis with Barbora Strycova.

The seeds for the U.S. OPEN have been revealed, and the only notable absences are 2015 Champion Flavia Pennetta who retired soon afterwards, Victoria Azarenka who is pregnant and Tomas Berdych who has appendicitis.

Monday, August 22, 2016

EYE CANDY: Daniel Tamayo Zapata

Daniel Tamayo Zapata is another hottie I found on Instagram (@danieltamayozapata). According to his Facebook page, he is from Medellin, Colombia. Unfortunately, I don't have any other information about him. If you do, let me know in the comments!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 CINCY: Pliskova Denies Kerber's Bid For #1 Ranking

Angelique Kerber is having an amazing year. She has reached two major finals (2016 Australian Open and 2016 Wimbledon and won one of them). She also reached the Gold medal match of the 2016 Rio Olympics, losing to Monica Puig.

However, today was not one of them. She was two sets away from ending Serena Williams near-record 183-weeks-long hold on the #1 ranking on the WTA tour but was blown off the court in the finals of the 2016 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati  by Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova, who has a surprisingly tepid 5-9 record in tour finals, was able to play calm, powerful tennis to win in straight sets, 6-3 6-1.

With her loss Kerber will remain #2 and guarantees that Serena Williams will be #1 for 3 more weeksm thus tying Steffi Graf's record of 186 consecutive weeks at #1. Analysis shows that if both Kerber and Serena reach the women's final on Saturday September 10th, the winner will be the new #1.

N.K. Jemisin Becomes First Black Woman To Win Hugo Award for Best Novel

Wow! Defying the predictions of most prognosticators, Nora Jemisin was the surprise winner of the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel for The Fifth Season. (See my A-/B+ review.) By my reckoning, Jemisin win is historic for multiple reasons: she's the first Black woman (and first Black person) to win science fiction's most prestigious award. And she did it after two years of intense debate (most of it online) in the speculative fiction community about the meaning, necessity and importance of diversity in the speculative fiction community. She also did it despite being nominated for (and losing) the Nebula award to Naomi Novik's Uprooted.

This is how The Guardian placed this year's awards in context with the ongoing Puppy fracas:
As in previous years, there had been attempts by two separate groups, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies, to “game” the awards in favour of their preferred slates of works. Both groups claimed that science fiction has become dominated by a liberal, left-wing bias. 
The Hugos are voted on by those who purchase an attending or supporting membership to either the current or previous Worldcon events. Eligible voters can tick the “No Award” box if they don’t agree with any of the shortlisted works, a tool which has been used to block out Puppies recommendations previously. In 2015, five No Awards were given, including for the prestigious best novella and best short story categories; an unprecedented number, as No Award had only been presented as many times in the entire history of the prize, which began in 1953. 
In contrast, this year there were only two No Awards, in the smaller best related work and best fan-cast categories.
However one of the key ironies (also noted by The Guardian) in Jemisin's win is that the primary rabble-rouser of the rabid puppies, Theodore Beale (a.k.a. Vox Day) had previously been expelled from the Science Fiction Writers Association after he called Jemisin an "educated but ignorant savage." The group of Rabid Puppies has been trying to destroy the Hugo awards, by exerting undue influence over the nominations and winners but Jemisin becoming the first Black woman to win the top prize is the clearest repudiation of the recent actions of Beale's Puppies to "make science fiction great again."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016 RIO OLYMPICS: Usain Bolt Completes Triple-Triple (9 Gold Medals In 3 Olympics)

Usain Bolt of Jamaica proved (again) that he is one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time by winning his 9th Gold medal on Friday, anchoring his country's 4x100m Olympics relay team to a 3rd consecutive win. Bolt earlier won the Olympics 100m for the 3rd time (in a time of 9.81s) and the Olympics 200m for the 3rd time (in a time of 19.78s).

Bolt is tied with American Carl Lewis and Finland's Paavo Nurmi for the most gold medals in track and field. Of course, American swimmer Michael Phelps has the most Gold medals (23!) of any Olympic athlete (plus 2 silver and 3 bronze).

Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 RIO OYLYMPICS: Murray Outlasts Del Potro For 2nd Gold; Nishikori Beats Nadal For Bronze

The tennis is complete at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Great Britain Andy Murray became the first player to defend his singles Gold medal (from the 2012 London Olympics) by outlasting a spirited challenge from 2012 Bronze medalist Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in a four-hour 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5 victory. Del Potro had beaten 2008 Gold medalist Rafael Nadal and World #1 Novak Djokovic in two very high quality matches (featuring three tiebreaks all won by the Argentine) to reach this point. Nadal captured the Rio Olympics Gold medal in men's doubles with his longtime friend Marc Lopez. But Nadal was unable to win a medal in singles when Kei Nishikori of Japan defeated him in 3 sets in the Bronze medal match 6-2 6-7(1) 6-3.

Venus Williams became the first tennis player to win 5 Olympic medals when she earned a silver medal in the Mixed Doubles with partner Rajeev Ram as they lost to another American duo: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock. Sock won a Bronze medal in men;s doubles by partnering with Stevie Johnson, defeating his usual doubles partnerVasek Pospisil of Canada (partnering with Daniel Nestor) along the way. Both Venus and Serena have four Gold medals (3 doubles together and 1 singles each).

EYE CANDY: Toyin Koyejo

Toyin Koyejo is a model of Nigerian descent who lives in Los Angeles and New York City (according to PopGlitz). Toyin has social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram (@shirtlesssinger) and Twitter (@shirtlesssinger). However, even with all this information I don't know Toyin's age, height or weight (although he is referred to as 26 in articles published on the web in 2011).

Sunday, August 14, 2016

2016 RIO OLYMPICS: Puig Wins Singles Gold Over Kerber; Kvitova Beats Keys For Bronze

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico pulled off one of the incredible upsets in sports by defeating not one or two major champions but three on her way to winning the women's singles Gold Medal in Rio. Puig, rated in the mid 90s at the beginning of the year defeated 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2016 Australian Open champ Angie Kerber.

By winning the Gold medal match 6-4 4-6 6-2, Puig won the very first Gold medal for Puerto Rico. Kvitova won the Bronze medal match by outlasting American Madison Keys 7-5 2-6 6-2.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

2016 RIO OLYMPICS: Murray Faces Del Potro(!) In Gold Medal Match

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion and 2012 bronze medalist, is playing some of his best tennis in years. After dismissing World #1 Novak Djokovic in the very first round, the tall, gentle Argentine outlasted 2008 Gold medalist Rafael Nadal iof Spain n the semifinals, winning a 3rd set tiebreaker. He becomes the first player in the last five years to defeat Djokovic and Nadal in the same tournament.

Del Potro will face 2012 Gold medalist Andy Murray who defeated Kei Nishikori in the other semifinal. Nishikori escaped a 2-6 3rd set tiebreak deficit (4 match points!) to beat Gael Monfils in the previous round. Murray will be vying to be the first man to defend the singles Gold medal while Del Potro is trying to win his 3rd match against a member of the Big Four in the same tournament.


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