Tag Archives: French Open

Food for Thought 9-11-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Robert Griffin III (pictured above) made things look very easy in the Big Easy on Sunday. Will he continue to play this way all season?

By Josh Kramer

Sports played a prominent role in helping our country cope with the unthinkable terrorist acts that occurred 11 years ago to the day.  Our nation holds sports near and dear to their hearts on a daily basis.  The USA has grown stronger as a nation since the horrific terrorist acts of 9/11 and sports are still doing their part.

RGIII was made for DC

Maybe Robert Griffin III is football’s version of Superman.  The reigning Heisman Trophy winner put on a debut performance for the ages on Sunday, leading the Redskins to an opening day victory over the Saints.  Now sure, one could argue that Matt Ryan put up slightly better numbers on Sunday.  Or that Cam Newton threw for 422 yards in his rookie debut last September.

Let’s focus on reality though.  Matt Ryan has far more experience and an outstanding supporting cast.  Also, exactly one year ago, Cam Newton passed for an astonishing 422 yards, but he also tossed an interception, and his team lost the game.  With five rookie quarterbacks starting on Sunday, I think much of America forgot just how hard it is to be a rookie quarterback in the NFL.  By Sunday evening, everyone remembered after four of the quarterbacks went home losers and tossed a combined 11 interceptions (and just two touchdowns).

RGIII on the other hand made things look easy as he outplayed future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in front of a hostile Saints crowd. Continue reading

Food for Thought 7-10-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Andy Murray (pictured above) was brought to tears on Sunday. Just call him the “Heartbreak Kid.”

By Josh Kramer

Since the beginning of time, sports have been filled with loveable losers.  Sports are generally a zero-sum game.  There are winners and losers (occasional ties such as the 2002 All-Star Game ten years ago).  It is a part of life.  On Sunday, watching the tears stream down Andy Murray’s face and the heartbreak of an entire country got me thinking about some of the loveable losers in sports.

No I am not going to talk about the 86-year Curse of the Bambino and the rebels out of Beantown.  Also, don’t hold your breath in regards to Wrigleyville’s finest (the 105-year streak isn’t ending any time soon).  Today, is Andy Murray’s day.  God knows if this guy will ever take home a Grand Slam title.  As I have stated many times before, Andy Murray is quickly becoming the “Greatest Of All Time (GOAT)” to never win a Grand Slam.

Andy Murray has won over 375 professional matches.  He has won 22 tournaments.  Murray has been ranked in the top ten in the world for over five years and spent the majority of that time ranked in the top four.  And he has made four appearances in the finals of a Grand Slam tournament (Australian Open twice, Wimbledon, US Open).  If Murray can somehow get over the hump and avoid Rafael Nadal until the finals at Roland Garros next May, he will complete the career Grand Slam.  The career Grand Slam of finishing second that is.  Not exactly as good as the real thing I guess. Continue reading

The Switch

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Serena Williams (pictured above) put on a vintage performance yesterday in dismantling Petra Kvitova.

By Josh Kramer

Yesterday, tennis fans across the globe felt like it was 2002 again.  At least for a couple of hours.  It was a vintage Serena Williams performance on Centre Court as she dismantled the defending Wimbledon champ, Petra Kvitova in straight sets.  I know that a few days ago, I mentioned a “major changing of the guard” in regards to the tennis world we once knew.  I still fully believe that the times are changing.  But yesterday demonstrated to me something I have known all along but never pieced together.

No athlete in our generation has the ability to flip on the “Switch” the way that Serena Williams can.  It is truly a fascinating phenomenon.  She also has the ability to turn off the “Switch” at any time as well unfortunately. Continue reading

A major changing of the guard

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Serena Williams (pictured above) was pushed to the brink of elimination by Jie Zheng earlier today.

By Josh Kramer

First there was Venus in Round 1.  Then Rafa in Round 2.  Nearly Federer in Round 3.  And then Serena was pushed to the brink of elimination in Round 3 as well.  What is going to happen in Round 4?  These four players are all former number ones that have a combined 47 Grand Slam titles (including 17 singles championships at Wimbledon) between them and unparalleled popularity.  In a span of a mere 24 hours during Week 1, three of them almost bit the dust, while one (Venus) had already crumbled a few days earlier.

At a time not so long ago, guys like Sampras and Agassi dominated Men’s tennis, while Graf and Seles were doing similar things in Women’s tennis.  Then following short-lived reigns of a few others in between, Federer took over Men’s tennis, while the Williams sisters took over Women’s tennis.  Since, Nadal and Djokovic have had their turns on Federer’s throne, while the injury-prone Williams’ sisters have shared the wealth in recent memory as well.  Now these four superstars and former number ones are a mean age of 29.5 (30 is considered dinosaur age in tennis).

Despite the ripe age, I never thought I would see the day where all four superstars were nearly eliminated during Week 1 of a major.  Luckily, Federer once again demonstrated that he may be old, but he isn’t dead yet, in coming back from two sets down against Benneteau.  He still has the heart of a champion.  Serena also demonstrated outstanding mental fortitude in serving her way past Zheng.

So two of this fantastic four are still left standing as we head towards the Round of 16.  But how much longer are they really going to last (both here and in general)?  Venus has not won a major in over four years since handling business at the All England Club in 2008.  Serena has gone winless in the major tourneys since nabbing the title at Wimbledon in 2010.  Plus, Serena exited in the first-round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her illustrious career at Roland Garros a few weeks ago.  After winning at least one Grand Slam for eight consecutive years, Federer went Slam-less in 2011 and has not come out victorious at a major since the 2010 Australian Open.  Lastly, Nadal had participated in the finals of five consecutive Grand Slams before having his dreams of a third Wimbledon Championship dashed by little-known Lukas Rosol.

Though none of these four superstars have hinted much at retirement yet (especially not Nadal), times are changing.  Outside of Rafa at Roland Garros, none of these players are a sure bet to take home any of the major championships these days.  We have been blind to it, but this week has highlighted for us all that there is a major changing of the guard occurring right before our eyes in the tennis world.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

Food for Thought 6-26-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Kevin Youkilis (pictured above) received a nice curtain call from Red Sox Nation on Sunday. Now he will take the field for baseball’s other Sox (Chicago).

By Josh Kramer

From one Sox to another Sox.  Kevin Youkilis is now a member of the Chicago White Sox.  This is a great transaction for both Sox involved.  Boston rids themselves of a potential ongoing locker room problem (Youkilis/Valentine feud), and gives rising star Will Middlebrooks a chance to spread his wings.  Chicago on the other hand gets a proven All-Star who can provide the team with a 3rd baseman who can indeed bat above the Mendoza line ( Orlando Hudson batting .194 and Brent Morel batting .177).   Youkilis could even potentially bat over .300 (he has done this three times).

After a very successful 8.5 year stint in Boston, where Youkilis helped end the curse and bring Beantown two World Series, it was time to move on.  The great thing  is Boston has a solution in young stud Will Middlebrooks, while Chicago gets a guy who is only 33-years-old.  The White Sox are looking to make a deep playoff run in the present.  As much as Boston would like to be a playoff contender, they currently find themselves near the cellar of the AL East.  It is hard to believe, but with the departure of Youkilis, Big Papi is the only member of the 2004 championship team still left in Beantown.

Chicago’s hitting has been good this year, but not great.  Youkilis has the ability to provide the production out of the 3rd base position needed to help this team reach the next level.  It is no secret that the AL Central is perhaps baseball’s weakest division.  The White Sox have a golden opportunity to make postseason baseball this year.  As we all know, anything can happen in October.  Just ask Youkilis. Continue reading

Wimbledon 2012 Preview

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Novak Djokovic (left) and Maria Sharapova (right) are the favorites to take home the third Grand Slam of the year.

By Josh Kramer

We are less than a day away from the best tournament in all of tennis.  London is the place to be in sports these days.  First there is Wimbledon.  Then there is the Olympics.  Out of the four major tennis tournaments, Wimbledon holds the most historical significance and is widelyy considered the most prestigious tournament of them all.

Men:

The last nine Grand Slams have been won by one of two men.  They also happen to be the current number one and number two ranked players in the world.  Ironically, the last player not named Nadal or Djokovic to take home a Grand Slam championship has won at the All England Club on six different occasions (Federer).  Lastly, 28 of the last 29 Grand Slam titles have been captured by Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer.

Champion:  Novak Djokovic Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-18-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Wimbledon is just a week away. Will Roger Federer (pictured above) capture his 7th title at the All England Club this year?

By Josh Kramer

Great golf, basketball, and baseball defined yesterday’s Father’s Day.  I hope you all enjoyed.  Last week started out with a bang when Rafael Nadal captured his record 7th French Open title and the week continued to pick up steam.  Last week was great, but this week will be fun its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  The Dale Earnhardt Jr. winless streak finally ends after 143 races. Next stop Sonoma.  The NASCAR Sprint for the Cup continues next Sunday at Infineon Raceway as Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., Biffle, Hamlin, and Johnson all fight for that number one spot.  There is still plenty of season left, but the competition continues to heat up.

4.  Tommy Haas may be old, but he isn’t dead yet.  Yesterday, at the ripe age of 34, he knocked off Roger Federer in the finals of the Gerry Weber Open.  The most prestigious tournament of them all is just a week away.  Will Novak Djokovic defend his title at the All England Club?  Or could Roger Federer capture his 7th championship at Wimbledon and his 17th Grand Slam title?  Can Andy Murray finally breakthrough at a major in front of his crazed-fan base?  A tune-up is occurring in Eastbourne.  Get ready for the best tournament in all of tennis.  It is just around the corner. Continue reading

Food for Thought 6-12-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. It is finally time for LeBron James (pictured above) to win his first ring.

By Josh Kramer

Mark it down.  The third time will be the charm for the King.  Call this the championship of threes.  It is LeBron’s third appearance in the NBA Finals.  James is coming off of his third MVP award.  While Kevin Durant is coming off his third consecutive scoring title.  Each team is led by an outstanding “Big Three.” Plus the pressure seems to be three times what it was in the conference finals on the King.  As much as I and the rest of the world hate to admit it, it is time for LeBron to acquire a ring.  Oklahoma City is a great team.  They have proved that since December.  The Thunder are young, exciting, and have outstanding overall team chemistry.  But Miami won’t be denied this time.  Besides, if OKC somehow pulls off the impossible, there may be a nuclear like explosion in South Beach.

On paper, this matchup is about as even as it gets.  That is why I have been calling it a dream matchup for months now. Both teams finished second in their respective conference.  The Heat won 46 games and had an average scoring margin of six points per game.  OKC won 47 games and won by an average of 6.1 points per game.  Both teams are led by an outstanding “Big Three.”  And they split in their regular season battles.  It is safe to say that on paper, not too much is revealed.

One key in OKC’s favor is the fact that they have home-court advantage.  The Heat were nearly unbeatable at home this year, but showed their fair share of flaws when traveling.  Next, the last time an MVP faced off with an NBA scoring champion in the finals was 1997.  The scoring champ (Jordan) led his team to a victory over the MVP (Malone).  But Miami also played in the NBA finals last year, while OKC did not.  In addition, the Heat did better than the Thunder overall this year when their “Big Three” were healthy.  OKC’s “Big Three” is not quite at the level of Miami’s outstanding trifecta, though they are very close.   The agony of last year’s defeat will be a major driving force for the Heat.  Expectations in Miami are so high, that if the Heat lose, it will be as if they had a worse year than the Charlotte Bobcats did.  If the Thunder are to lose, there will be disappointment, but also a ton of pride in a very successful season.  Losing is not an option for Miami.

Finally, Durant is playing great, but nobody is even on the same stratosphere as LeBron James right now.  The guy is playing like a hybrid of Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and Magic Johnson.  As his teammates said after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron has that look in his eyes.  He won’t be denied.  He can’t be denied.  It is time for the King to finally take his seat on the throne. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-11-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Rafael Nadal (pictured above) make history today and break Bjorn Borg’s record with a 7th French Open Championship?

By Josh Kramer

Thank you, may I have another?  So I’ll Have another was unable to compete in the Belmont Saturday.  As usual, the race did not disappoint nor did the entire week in sports.  The playoffs are all about the finals now as there are only two teams remaining in both the NBA and NHL playoffs.  Plus the French Open is not quite done yet.  Last week was great, but this one will be good in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Rain, rain, go away.  Or keep the French Open going another day.  Maria Sharapova became the tenth woman to complete the career Grand Slam on Saturday.  Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all looking to further stamp their imprint on history as the fourth set of the Men’s final continues this morning.  I would highly recommend waking up and checking this out now on NBC. Continue reading

A final for the ages?

Photo courtesy of tennistournaments4u.com. Above was the site following the Australian Open finals in January. Expect the roles to be reversed on Sunday.

By Josh Kramer

Two weeks ago, the French Open could not have wished for a better final matchup than the one that is set to transpire on Sunday.  Not only are the two best players in the world participating, but they are both playing for history.  Novak Djokovic is going for the “Djoker Slam,” otherwise known has four consecutive Grand Slam championships.  This outrageous feat has not occurred since Rod Laver accomplished the unthinkable feat 43 years ago.  On the other hand, Rafael Nadal is looking to lay his claim to clay-court immortality (if he hasn’t already) in capturing a record 7th French Open title.  Also, Sunday will mark the fourth consecutive Grand Slam featuring the world’s number one and number two ranked players.

Oddly enough, the number one ranked Djokovic is a heavy underdog in my humble opinion.  Despite taking down Roger Federer in straight sets yesterday, the Serbian star is not even playing on the same stratosphere as the pride and joy of Majorca (Nadal).  Not only has Nadal failed to drop a set during the course of his first six matches in Paris, he has won an astonishing 71 of 72 service games.  In addition, he has dropped a stunningly low total of 35 games.  For my mathematicians and statisticians out there, that is a whopping 5.833 games per match or 1.944 games per set.  Djokovic on the other hand has won in straight sets just three times thus far.  He also has been pushed to five sets twice, and saved an unthinkable four match points against French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Novak Djokovic may be the number one ranked player in the world, but on clay-courts, Rafael Nadal is without question the king. Continue reading