- Danielle Elliot at Shutdown Corner3 days ago
Roger Goodell attempted to atone for his latest mistakes on Monday morning. Facing calls for him to be fired over the gross mishandling of Ray Rice's attack on his then-fiancé, now-wife Janay Rice, the NFL commissioner announced in a letter to teams and staff members that four women will shape the league's new domestic violence and sexual assault policy. The group consists of a current NFL vice president and three new advisers who have decades of experience in the field.
Some criticized the move as a public relations stunt, a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. The NFL intended it to be a step in the right direction, an acknowledgment that the league needs to do a better job of addressing these issues and supporting survivors.
Instead, by selecting four white women to shape a policy for a league in which more than two-thirds of players are African-American men, Goodell has created the latest controversy.
- Danielle Elliot at Fourth-Place Medal4 days ago
Team USA defeated Canada 76-51 Monday night in its first exhibition game of the pre-world championship circuit. Leading by four at the half, the U.S. scored 13 points to open the third quarter. Veterans Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen sparked the go-ahead run, and Tina Charles contributed seven points.
Newcomers Skylar Diggins and Odyssey Sims showed that they're ready to contribute in Turkey, if they make the final cut. Sims hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, giving the U.S. a 57-41 advantage.
"I thought the young guys, when they came in, gave us a lot of energy. They really changed the tempo of the game and we were able to extend our defense a little bit," coach Geno Auriemma told ESPN.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet10 days ago
NEW YORK – Moments after Serena WIlliams secured her 18th Grand Slam title on Sunday, her opponent, Caroline Wozniacki, was asked to say a few words. The ever-gracious Wozniacki, 24, took the microphone and congratulated her friend.
“You’re an unbelievable friend,” Wozniacki added, “and you definitely owe drinks later.” Everyone in the stadium laughed, and Williams, 32, later confirmed that they'd be celebrating together that night. Just after midnight, she posted photo proof of her and Caro out in Manhattan.
No word on who bought the drinks, but Page Six reports that the group of more than 30, which included Joe Jonas, was at VIP Room drinking Champagne and vodka and dancing until about 3a.m.
The next morning, Williams was back on Instagram to let fans know that she'd be skipping a different celebration: the annual visit to CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman." "Passed on this...lol," she wrote.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet12 days ago
NEW YORK – On the men's side, the first half of the U.S. Open was fairly routine. The Americans lost, the top seeds advanced. Only two top 20 seeds were knocked out before the fourth round, while the women's draw was overflowing with upsets.
The second week, however, was quite the opposite. The women's top seed, Serena Williams, won her 18th Grand Slam title. And when the men's tournament ended on Monday night, it was 14th seed Marin Cilic taking home the trophy with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 upset over No. 10 Kei Nishikori.
As his dream became reality, Cilic, 25, fell to the ground and held his hands together, looking up to the sky. Moments later, he looked to the stands, seemingly stunned. He shook Nishikori's hand at the net, then ran up to his player's box to hug family and friends. Compared to the veteran champions, he seemed unsure what to do once he sat back in his chair. There, he picked up his phone and tried to call his family in Croatia. Only his younger brother, who recently started college in the United States, was at the match.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet13 days ago
NEW YORK – For the third year in a row, Serena Williams is the U.S. Open champion. Her 6-3, 6-3 win over 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki makes her the second woman to win this title six times, and the second to complete a three-peat. She also moves into second place on the all-time wins list, joining Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert with 18 Slam titles. Only one woman, Steffi Graf, has more.
Wearing a black and white leopard print outfit with a hot pink headband, Williams didn't seem bothered by the pressure of winning title No. 18. "Whatever happens, I'm just gonna have fun," she said in the tunnel, just before making her way onto the court. At match point, she threw her racket aside and collapsed on the court, looking as grateful as the first time she accomplished this feat.
"I have been trying to reach it for so long, since last year," she said after the match. "I didn't really think would I get there."
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet14 days ago
NEW YORK – As the ball sailed over the baseline, Kei Nishikori dropped his racket to the side, raised his arms and pumped both of his fists in the air. Though typically reserved, he seemed to be letting the pressure of the past two weeks, and the last 20 or so years, finally lift from his shoulders.
At 24, Nishikori became the first Japanese man to advance to a Grand Slam final in the Open Era. To get there, he pulled off a thrilling 6-4, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3 upset over top-seeded Novak Djokovic.
"Very happy to make another history," Nishikori said.
Djokovic brought all his tricks Saturday, making Nishikori cover every inch of the court in stifling heat. Nishikori, though, showed no sign he was intimidated by Djokovic's credentials, his serve or his drop shot. They traded the first two sets, with Nishikori taking the first 6-4, then Djokovic coming alive to take the second 6-1. It looked like he'd take over from there, but Nishikori stuck with him, forcing a third-set tiebreak.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet15 days ago
NEW YORK – It was a strange Friday at the U.S. Open, but in the end the result is one many expected: Serena Williams will face Caroline Wozniacki in the womens finals.
Wozniacki was the first to advance, reaching her second U.S. Open final by way of an early retirement from her opponent, Peng Shuai. Peng battled heat illness in the second set, coming back on the court after medical treatment, only to go down again minutes later.
As reporters rushed back to the media room, waiting to hear Peng's condition, 17-time Grand Slam champion Serena WIlliams and first-time Grand Slam semifinalist Ekaterina Makarova took the court. By the time Wozniacki made her way into her news conference, Williams had already taken the first set, 6-1. It took all of 26 minutes.
In the news conference, Wozniacki answered a slew of questions about Peng's illness, about her thoughts when Peng went down, about her own battle with the heat. Outside, Williams marched to a 3-1 second-set advantage.
"Assuming it is Serena in the final," a reporter asked Wozniacki, "how would you describe the opportunity and the challenge?"
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet15 days ago
NEW YORK – Caroline Wozniacki advanced to her second U.S. Open final, but the circumstances of the win were less than celebratory: Peng Shuai of China, playing in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time in her career, was forced to retire midway through the second set.
Up to that point, it had been a battle against each other and the heat. At 5-5 in the first set, Peng broke Wozniacki, only to give it back immediately to force the tie-break. One hour and six minutes into the match, the 24-year-old from Denmark took the first set. Both walked to their chairs, then straight off the court for a bathroom break and a chance to escape the heavy heat of midday. It was 84 degrees in the stadium, but the heat fell on you like a blanket you couldn't shake off.
Coming back out for the second set, the players again started to trade breaks. Peng held, then broke Woznicaki for the 2-0 advantage. Wozniacki came right back, surviving the latest in a series of marathon rallies to break Peng and reach 2-1. They were covering every inch of the court, lunging at backhands and somehow recovering to win at the net.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet16 days ago
NEW YORK – Roger Federer needed exactly one minute to win the first game. It seemed an indication of how the night would go: Surely, he'd march through this quarterfinal meeting with the ever-athletic but spacey Gael Monfils.
The crowd expected this narrative. Many journalists had been predicting it all day. With a 7-2 advantage in previous meetings, Federer seemed confident. But if that was how it was supposed to go, no one told Monfils.
Monfils brought everything he could muster, pushing Federer to the brink before losing in a thrilling five-set match. Monfils won five points on five chances at the net in the first set and his serve hit 132 mph en route to taking the set 6-4. In the second, he only improved.
But then, on the brink of holding serve to go up 2-0, as he balanced his weight after a backhand return, the lanky Frenchman came down funny on his right ankle. It twisted at an angle uncomfortable even to watch, and pain spread across his face as he fell to the ground. Sitting along the baseline, he massaged his ankle and flexed his foot.
- Danielle Elliot at Busted Racquet16 days ago
NEW YORK – With Rafael Nadal missing the final Grand Slam of the season, the door was wide open for someone ouside of the Big 4 to make it to the semi-finals. Many expected it to be Stan Wawrinka, the surprise winner of this year's Australian Open.
Kei Nishikori had another idea. To get to the quarterfinal, he had knocked out 5th-seed Milos Raonic in a five-setter that lasted until 2:26 a.m. Tuesday morning. It's a wonder he was still standing after the four-hour, 19-minute marathon. But less than 36 hours later, Nishikori took the court to face Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinal.
Wawrinka owned both wins in their two previous meetings. He took the first set 6-3, and looked to be in control of the match. But Nishikori took the second set 7-5, then forced, and won, a third-set tiebreak to go up 3-6, 7-5, 7-6. At that point, they'd been on the court for more than two and a half hours.
Wawrinka fought back, taking a fourth-set tiebreak after another hour; but in the fifth set, 24-year-old Nishikori punched his ticket to his first Grand Slam semifinal. He is the first Japanese player to reach this stage in any Grand Slam in the Open Era, which started in 1968.