Tuesday, August 23, 2016
TENNIS TUESDAY: Cilic Wins Cincy; Serena Will Tie Graf's #1 Record; Stevie Is A Top; #Santina Splits
MARIN CILIC WINS FIRST MASTERS SHIELD BY BEATING ANDY MURRAY IN CINCINNATI
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.
SERENA WILLIAMS WILL TIE STEFFI GRAF'S RECORD OF 186 CONSECUTIVE WEEKS AT #1 BUT FOUR PLAYERS WILL VIE FOR #1 IN NEW YORK
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.
STEVIE JOHNSON IS THE NEW #1 AMERICAN MALE PLAYER
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).
MARTINA HINGIS AND SANIA MIRZA SPLIT UP, FACED EACH OTHER IN CINCY
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.
US OPEN SEEDS REVEALED: WILLIAMS, DJOKOVIC SEEDED #1
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
Sunday, August 21, 2016
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.
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
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
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).
Sunday, August 14, 2016
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
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.