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Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic at French Open for record tying 20th major

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Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic at French Open for record tying 20th major

Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic at French Open for record tying 20th major

In this unusual, surreal 2020, Rafael Nadal carved out a remarkable piece of history by reaching a landmark 20 in tennis terms.

More specifically, winning a 20th grand slam title to equal pal and fellow “Big Three” member Roger Federer’s men’s all-time record.

He did so by beating the other member of the elite group, Novak Djokovic, 6-0 6-2 7-5, under the roof on Philippe Chatrier Court amid Paris’ late afternoon autumnal chill.

Rafael Nadal bites the winning trophy after claiming the French Open title for the 13th time with a straight sets victory over Novak Djokovic.

Nadal sunk to his knees after an ace on championship point in what was a surprisingly lopsided finale to the fortnight.

But this is indeed Nadal on clay. He said the tournament’s new balls and cool weather don’t favor his spin heavy game — the coronavirus pandemic prompted organizers to move the event from its usual late May start — but the 34-year-old Spaniard overcame the conditions to tally a 13th French Open crown without dropping a set and 100th Roland Garros match victory.

He elevated his game to oust his conqueror in his lone warmup tournament, Diego Schwartzman, in the semifinals before stepping it up another notch Sunday.

Nadal compiled 31 winners to only 14 unforced errors to hand the 17-time grand slam winner the worst loss in any of his 27 grand slam finals. Nadal has never lost a French Open final but Djokovic certainly seemed to present danger for him in the finale.

He had won their last three grand slam matches and they were huge blows to Nadal — including in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros five years ago.

 

Novak Djokovic plays through pain to reach French Open semifinals

The Serb had only suffered defeat in one match in 2020 — that default at the US Open last month against Pablo Carreno Busta — and benefited from more buildup matches in the past two months than his rival.

https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/1315330172221116418

Djokovic suffered neck and shoulder issues in his rematch with Carreno Busta on Wednesday, when he donned long sleeves, and one couldn’t help but wonder if something was bothering the world No. 1 again.

The long sleeves were back, two days after he sported short sleeves in his semifinal against Stefanos Tsitsipas that started in the evening and ended around 10:30 p.m. local time. He reverted to the short sleeves after he fell behind by two sets.

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He lost a set 6-0 at a major for only the fourth time in his grand slam career according to website Tennis Abstract and even though Djokovic has used the drop shot extensively on the clay, he attempted an eye-catching four in the first game.

His unforced error tally soared to 52.

Nadal was dominant throughout the final at Roland Garros.

He was broken from 40-15 in the opening game to give Nadal the best possible start in front of the limited number of fans in attendance. They were capped at 1,000 amid the pandemic.

The duo exchanged several extended rallies that saw both players well outside the doubles lines, Nadal habitually coming out on top.

Djokovic was given a small glimmer of hope by saving a trio of break points to begin the second yet the respite didn’t linger.

In his next service game, Nadal did break through for a 2-1 advantage.

With Djokovic unable to put away a shot near the net, Nadal crushed a forehand down the line to rub salt in the wounds.

Djokovic’s play was a clear marker that he wouldn’t be the first man in 83 tries to rally from two sets down against Nadal at Roland Garros and an inevitable break came at 2-2 in the third after Nadal continued to knock on the door.

However, it wasn’t straight forward from there.

Nadal was broken for the first time and Djokovic got the crowd going with his emphatic celebration.

It kickstarted a brief renaissance as he went ahead 4-3 in the third.

Djokovic was now moving better and launching himself into shots but Nadal met the challenge and yelled “come on” to hold for 4-4. Finally it was a contest.

Djokovic fended off a break point thanks a gutsy second serve, backhand combination, but cracked at 5-5 on a double fault wide.

Nadal then served it out to love, capping the historic contest with the ace out wide to seal another French Open victory.

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Former Leicester and Swansea boss, Paulo Sousa named new Poland coach

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Former Leicester, Swansea, and Queens Park Rangers boss, Paulo Sousa has been named Poland’s new head coach.

The 50-year-old, who has been out of work since he left Bordeaux in August, replaces Jerzy Brzeczek after he was fired this week despite helping the team qualify for Euro 2020, which was postponed to this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brzeczek had been in charge since July 2018 and had extended his contract in November. But the country FA said there was “discouragement” in the team under the 49-year-old Brzeczek, adding: “With this format, the team could not move forward”.

Announcing the appointment of Paulo Sousa, President of the Polish Football Association, Zbigniew Boniek said: “I am convinced that the new coach of the Polish national team, thanks to his coaching class, experience, and international knowledge, will give our national team a new impulse.”

Former Leicester and Swansea boss, Paulo Sousa named new Poland coach

“I am honoured and proud to be the coach of the Polish national team” Sousa said. “Poland is a country of football and I am convinced that your enthusiasm will give us strength, support, and faith in the representation.

“Together, we will be able to fight for victories at the European Championships.

“With the right mentality, discipline, organization, and approach, together with me, my staff, federation employees, and the support of the entire nation, we will be strong. I am sure that all of Poland will be proud of its national team.”

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Two-time Champions League winner Sousa was a regular for Portugal during his playing career and has coached in Hungary, Israel, Switzerland, Italy, and China in the last decade. He won the Champions League as a player with Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

 

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Rafer Johnson, Winner of a Memorable Decathlon Is Dead

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Rafer Johnson

Rafer Johnson, Winner of a Memorable Decathlon Is Dead

His triumphant performance at the 1960 Olympics was his farewell to track and field. He went on to become a good-will ambassador for the United States and a close associate of the Kennedy family.

Rafer Johnson, who carried the American flag into Rome’s Olympic Stadium in August 1960 as the first Black captain of a United States Olympic team and went on to win gold in a memorable decathlon duel, bringing him acclaim as the world’s greatest all-around athlete, died on Wednesday at his home in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. He was 86.

Michael Roth, a family friend and spokesman, confirmed the death.

Johnson never competed after that decathlon triumph. He became a good-will ambassador for the United States and a close associate of the Kennedy family, taking a leadership role in the Special Olympics, which were championed by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and joining Robert F. Kennedy’s entourage during Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968. He was remembered especially for helping to wrestle the senator’s assassin to the ground in Los Angeles in 1968.

Johnson’s national profile was largely molded at the 1960 Olympics, one of the most celebrated in the history of the Games, a moment when a host of African-American athletes burst triumphantly onto the world stage. Muhammad Ali, known then as Cassius Clay, captured boxing gold in the light-heavyweight division.

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Wilma Rudolph swept to victory in the women’s 100- and 200-meter dashes and combined with her Tennessee State teammates for gold in the 4-x-100 relay. Oscar Robertson helped take the United States basketball team to a gold medal.

Johnson’s narrow decathlon victory over C.K. Yang of Taiwan and U.C.L.A., a good friend, provided a thrilling moment in its own right.

Johnson, a 25-year-old graduate of U.C.L.A. and a chiseled 6 feet 3 inches and 200 pounds, was the favorite going into the two-day decathlon, a 10-event test of versatility, strength, speed and endurance that included sprints, high hurdles, pole-vaulting, the high jump and broad jump, the javelin and discus throws, and the 1,500-meter run.

He had won silver in the decathlon at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, finishing behind Milt Campbell of the U.S., who turned to pro football afterward. He had bested Vasily Kuznetsov of the Soviet Union at a meet at Lenin Stadium in Moscow in 1958, inspiring spectators to put aside Cold War issues and cheer his achievement. And he scored a world-record 8,683 points in the decathlon at the 1960 Olympic track and field trials in Oregon.

But he faced a stiff challenge in Rome from the 27-year-old Yang, who was representing Formosa, the Olympic designation at the time for Taiwanese athletes. Both were trained by Elvin Drake, known as Ducky, the U.C.L.A. track and field coach.

The decathlon duel was decided in its final event, the 1,500 meters, in which Yang was especially strong. Johnson, leading on points, didn’t have to win the event to capture the gold medal, but he did need to finish within 10 seconds of Yang.

“I planned to stick with him like a buddy in combat,” Johnson told The Los Angeles Times in 1990. “I had one other advantage, and I don’t think C.K. knew this at the time. This was my last decathlon. I was prepared to run as fast as I had to in this last race of my life.”

Yang, who died in 2007, recalled, “I knew he would never let go of me unless he collapsed.” Johnson finished 1.2 seconds behind Yang, good enough to capture gold, with Yang getting silver and Kuznetsov capturing bronze.

Credit…Keystone/Getty Images

Johnson later received the 1960 Sullivan Award as America’s leading amateur athlete. After that, he embarked on new chapters in his life.

He met Robert Kennedy at an awards ceremony soon after the Rome Games and became part of the senator’s campaign for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination.

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Vanderbilt kicker ‘Sarah Fuller’ makes history, becoming first woman to play in ‘Power 5’ football game

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Sarah Fuller

Sarah Fuller, the first woman to play in a “Power 5” football game.

Sarah Fuller, a senior goalie for the Vanderbilt soccer team, became the first woman to play in a Power Five college football game on Saturday at Missouri, handling the kickoff for the Commodores to start the second half.

Vanderbilt soccer player Sarah Fuller could make history as the first woman to play in a power 5 football game

Sarah’s story on the soccer field has no shortage of fascinating details since 1994. Now, she finally earned her first start in “Power 5” football game. Sarah is  a talented kicker which could be the reason she was chosen for this role in 2020.

According to a report by Simon Gibbs in Vanderbilt’s student newspaper, Fuller’s call-up wasn’t a “performance-related decision.” (Given that Vanderbilt’s football team is currently 0-7 on the season – and 3-7 in field goals – perhaps it should have been performance-related.) Instead, with many specialists in COVID-19 related quarantines – and graduate transfer kicker Oren Milstein opting out of the season – there was a roster spot to fill. And given Fuller’s recent success on the soccer pitch, she got the call.

However, Fuller’s fast ascent – and the news articles documenting it – are representative of a larger problem that female athletes face in the fight for better treatment. For male athletes to receive media coverage, the bar is not particularly high. But for female athletes to receive the same spotlight, it isn’t as easy as just playing their sport.

Fuller was asked to join the Commodores’ football team this week after COVID-19 contact tracing depleted the roster of specialists. Last Sunday, she led the Vanderbilt soccer team to an SEC tournament title.

She follows New Mexico’s Katie Hnida (2003) and Kent State’s April Goss (2015), who both scored points as kickers in FBS games, though in Group of Five conferences.

Fuller had “Play Like a Girl” written on the back of her helmet.

Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller

Women have made a few appearances in college football games since 1997, when Liz Heaston kicked two extra points for Willamette, then an NAIA program.

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