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Post End-of-Summer Sports Updates: No Grand Slam for Djokovic
Created by John Eipper on 09/14/21 3:35 AM

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End-of-Summer Sports Updates: No Grand Slam for Djokovic (David Duggan, USA, 09/14/21 3:35 am)

The United States is out of Afghanistan, football season, both college and pro, has started, and the golf and tennis seasons are functionally over. Conflict is never resolved, but for a time there is a hiatus in the human condition: trying to beat the $#!+ out of the other guy.

Thirty-eight years ago I worked in 2 World Trade Center, then principally occupied by New York State agencies (part of the deal that then Gov. Nelson Rockefeller worked out with his Chase Manhattan Bank brother David to save the Twin Towers complex from economic oblivion: state agencies around the City would be clustered in a single building; the other tower would be let to private sector tenants). My agency left well before either of the attacks on the WTC, and I left NYC 16 years before 9/11. But the memories remain: two-tiered elevators, minutes-long trips up and down every day, and at noon for lunch, the crush of humanity on the concourse, the easy access to the many subway stations dotting the underground matrix of MTA tunnels. Other cities have layers of subway lines; NYC has a marbled wedding cake.

The 9/11 remembrances were somewhat occluded by the end of the summer sports season. Last week Patrick Cantlay won some golf trophy called the FedEx Cup. An end-of-the-season money grab launched by the advertising moguls and corporate pashas who control the game, the FedEx Cup is designed to sustain fan interest before the equally meretricious Ryder Cup where teams from the United States and Europe "compete" to fuel their respective PGAs and their outreach programs (what? with golf participation and interest way down from its Tiger-amped years, this is like throwing money out of the Titanic's porthole). Cantlay started with a 3-shot overall lead based on his performance in two earlier weekend tournaments; he won by one stroke. Huh? Sounds like he really lost by two. No wonder no serious-minded person thinks that golf is a sport. Name me one other athletic contest where the score doesn't start 0-0, where there's a carry-over benefit from some prior event. Time's up. Imagine spotting the New England Patriots a touchdown advantage at the opening kickoff. What a joke.

The real sports story of the 9/11 weekend was of course the US Open. Two teenage girls, both of mixed-race (and continent-of-origin) ancestry banged it around Saturday afternoon, with Emma Raducanu (Canadian born of Romanian and Chinese parents; she emigrated to London at 2) beating Leylah Fernandez (also Canadian born of Ecuadorean and Filipino parents) in straight sets. It was Britain's first women's GS victory in 44 years: Virginia Wade at the centennial Wimbledon 1977, and first at the US Open since 1968 (also our ‘Ginny, in the stands), but not the Commonwealth's (Canada's Bianca Andreescu at the 2019 US Open--what's with these Canadians of Romanian ancestry?).

Sunday afternoon brought not only the NFL's season openers but the most anticipated sporting event of the year: Novak Djokovic's quest for the tennis grand slam (that morning the minister even mentioned it in his sermon). Since I don't have cable, I had to frequent one of my local watering holes and asked a waitress whether they could change one of the 30 TVs surrounding the place to Flushing Meadows. Three Stellas, a plate of fries and two sets later, I couldn't watch this slow-mo train wreck and went home. A friend texted me that it was over. Gumby-jointed Daniil Medvedev (related to former Russkie president Dmitri?) proved to be too strong, quick and dominant for the Djoker. The last men's GS winner Rod Laver (1969) was in the stands (along with Brad Pitt and Hugh Jackman sporting quahog-sized watches) to award the trophy.

Some sports "experts" have said that horseracing's Triple Crown is the hardest feat in sports. They're wrong. The three horse races take place in a 5-week span over three different tracks of moderately different lengths (1-3/16 mile to 1-½ mile) all running counterclockwise in the late afternoon in the same time-zone on the same continent. Thoroughbreds are raised to do just one thing: race around a track against another horse. And there's a jockey atop. How can this compare to an 8-or 9-month campaign (this year's Oz began several weeks after its normal start) on 3 different surfaces, 3 different continents across 12 time zones and the equator playing anywhere from noon til after midnight, having to beat 7 opponents in each of the 4 tournaments? That's going 28-zip against people who are striving for immortality by being the guy who killed his opponent's GS aspirations. Put it this way: since Laver's feat (then, there were only 2 surfaces: grass and clay, and no lights), there have been 5 Triple Crown winners (Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, American Pharoah, and Justify). There has been no men's GS winner, and only one who was in contention, Novak Djokovic. After a tearful awards presentation, Nole showed why he is the GOAT, gracious in defeat which is of course part of life, reprising Lou Gehrig's "luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech given 82 years earlier 5 miles away in Yankee Stadium (Nole said "happiest"). Hail Daniil, hail Emma. Huzzah Patrick.

And the Bears are 0-1, the Cubs are living up to their acronym Completely Useless By September, the White Sox in 1st place in baseball's weakest division en route to being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, and Northwestern at 1-1 having lost to some college in E. Lansing, Michigan, then beating the land-grant ag school to its south (that's Indiana State, alma mater of Larry Bird, who knew they also played football?).

JE comments:  Excellent update, David.  My Detroit Lions achieved something extraordinary in their first game Sunday:  They rallied from behind in the closing minutes against the San Francisco 49ers--not to win of course, but to cover the betting spread.  The "Lie-Downs" managed to lose, yet ensured that the 49er bettors lost, too.  Lose-lose:  it's the Detroit Way!

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  • Fatigue, Anyone? Looking at the Stats of the US Open (from Ric Mauricio) (John Eipper, USA 09/15/21 2:28 AM)

    Ric Mauricio writes:

    Ah, I was just wondering when David Duggan was going to file his latest sports report. And yes, I was mesmerized by the the Women's US Open tournament, rooting for both Emma and Leylah. I was not disappointed. Emma (who was born in Canada, but represents the UK) and Leylah are what we call HAPAs. HAPAs are those who are partially Asian or Pacific Islander. Being a HAPA myself (Filipino, European Spanish, Portuguese, and French), we as HAPAs celebrate our mixed heritages. My children are even more HAPA, since my wife is Chinese-American. My grandkids are even more HAPA, since they are also mixed Euro-Americans.

    But let us analyze the game. Coming into the finals, Emma had played 18 sets of tennis, not losing any, and only 1 tiebreaker. The highest ranking players she defeated were #11 Bencic and #17 Sakkari. Leylah, coming into the finals, had played 24 sets of tennis (includes 7 sets in doubles matches). She endured 4 tiebreakers and defeated #3 Osaka, #16 Kerber, #5 Svitolina, and #2 Sabalenka before meeting Emma. So Leylah played 33% more sets than Emma and 4 times more tiebreakers, and met and beat 3 top 5 players. This is not to take anything away from Emma, who played a solid game throughout.

    But what about the Men's? Djokovic played 24 sets before the finals, with 2 tiebreakers. He met and beat 2 top 10 players, #4 Zverev (5 grueling sets) and #6 Berrettini. Medvedev played 19 sets before the finals. No tiebreakers. The highest ranking players he beat were #12 Felix Auger-Aliassiame and #24 Evans. So by the time Djokovic reached the finals, he had played 26% more sets than Medvedev. Fatigue anyone? Plus, the broadcasters kept talking about the calendar Grand Slam. Jinx, anyone?

    Ah, Monza. The Italian Formula One Grand Prix. And the championship leader Max Verstappen of Red Bull ended up on top of his main rival Lewis Hamilton. Literally. A touch of the rear tires sent Max flying onto the top of the #44 Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and just like that, their race was over. Congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo of Australia, who won the race in his McLaren. I'm a little partial to Ricciardo since in the race rankings, the first three letters of their last name is utilized, thus Ricciardo becomes RIC. Plus, he's just a likeable guy.

    The Formula One GP broadcast started at 6:30 am PST, followed by the 49ers game (a nail-biter as the Detroit Lions scored 16 unanswered points after the Niners lost their #1 cornerback), then the US Open Men's Finals, then the Chiefs and Mahomes coming from behind. By the end of the day, I was totally burnt out.

    But what a crazy game on Monday Night football between the Ravens and the Raiders. Unbelievable.

    Well, a well deserved rest before next weekend.

    JE comments:  We never pity spectator fatigue, but maybe we should!  Ric, you've dissected the US Open as only a financial adviser/CPA could--by the numbers.  We tend to view these mega-athletes as immune to fatigue, but they are human, too.  It would be instructive to do a historical "technical" analysis on the number of sets each player in the finals has endured prior to the final match.  Does the Mauricio Hypothesis hold true--that the finals player with fewer sets under his/her belt tends to emerge victorious?

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