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Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month before facing Carlos Alcaraz in Sunday’s Wimb

Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month before facing Carlos Alcaraz in Sunday’s Wimb

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863153

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Not surprisingly, Novak Djokovic was far from convinced he could win Wimbledon when the tournament began less than a month after his surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“I was just thinking about moving well [and] not injuring myself,” he said.

After getting through his first few matches at the All England Club, though, Djokovic thought: “OK, I’m actually playing close to my best, and I can have a shot at the title.”

Now he’s just one victory away from what would be an eighth championship at Wimbledon — equaling Roger Federer for the most by a man — and a 25th Grand Slam trophy overall, more than any tennis player ever. Won’t be easy: On Sunday, Djokovic will face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final; Kate, the Princess of Wales, is set to be there in a rare public appearance after her cancer diagnosis.

“History is on the line,” Djokovic said about the milestones at stake for him. “Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations. Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches. And people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.”

It’s doubtful that many counted on him to win enough to make his way to the last day of this fortnight — at least they probably didn’t on June 3, the day he hurt his knee at the French Open. Or on June 4, the day he withdrew from his quarterfinal at that tournament, where he was the defending champion. Or on June 5, the day he had the operation in Paris.

Even Djokovic was uncertain until a few days before the Wimbledon draw in late June that he would compete at all.

Still, during Roland Garros, it was Alcaraz who noted Djokovic’s past history of returning from injuries: “He comes back stronger and he comes back quickly.” And, on the eve of Wimbledon, it was Alcaraz who called Djokovic superhuman for managing to return to action.

Djokovic said he derived some optimism from texting with Taylor Fritz, the American who injured his meniscus at the 2021 French Open and competed at Wimbledon three weeks later.

Fritz was on a flight home from Paris this year when he received a message from Djokovic with questions about the procedure and recovery, then got a later note seeking more input after the surgery.

“If there’s anything he probably took from what I said, it was just confidence that it’s doable. I said, ‘Actually, you’ll be surprised how good you feel, so quickly. You wouldn’t expect it,’” Fritz said. “I told him: ‘It’s painful. It’s really uncomfortable. But you can play through it.’”

So that’s what Djokovic did.

And by the time he was defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the semifinals Friday, Djokovic was pain-free and moving fine while wearing a gray sleeve on his knee.

All in all, this has been a subpar season for the second-seeded Djokovic. Not only hasn’t he won a title, but he hadn’t even reached a final at any tournament until now.

None of that matters on Sunday, when he will try to stop the third-seeded Alcaraz from collecting his fourth Slam title.

“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. … I know what I have to do,” said Alcaraz, who got past Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. “I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me.”

Alcaraz, still only 21, is 3-0 in major finals.

That includes beating Djokovic in five sets 12 months ago at Wimbledon, plus triumphs at the U.S. Open in 2022 and at the French Open last month.

“He’s a very all-around player, very complete player. Impressive what he has done for such a young age. … Probably all of us share the same opinion — that he’s going to win many Slams in his career,” Djokovic said Friday night. “Hope he’s going to give me this one in two days, and let’s see. After that, I’ll cheer for him.”



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/novak-djokovic-carlos-alcaraz-wimbledon-final-tennis-2/
Rays lose to Guardians on 2-run pinch-hit homer in 8th

Rays lose to Guardians on 2-run pinch-hit homer in 8th

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863239

By MARK DIDTLER

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG — Jhonkensy Noel hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning as the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 to stop a three-game skid on Saturday.

Noel connected on his fourth homer in 35 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Columbus last month off Garrett Cleavinger (5-2) to put the Guardians ahead 4-2.

After Nick Sandlin (6-0) had a scoreless seventh, Emmauel Clase worked the ninth to get his 29th save in 32 chances.

Cleveland’s Steven Kwan went 0 for 4, and had his batting average fall to .354 from .359.

Yandy Díaz drove in a run for the Rays, who fell under .500 at 47-48.

The Guardians took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Angel Martinez hit a solo hammer and Andrés Giménez had an RBI single off Zack Littell.

Díaz had a third-inning run-scoring double against Gavin Williams before the Rays tied it at 2 when Richie Palacios tripled and scored on a throwing error by shortstop Daniel Schneemann on Jonny DeLuca’s grounder in the fifth.

Williams allowed two runs, one earned, and three hits over five innings in his third start of the season. He began the season on the injured list after hurting his right elbow throwing a weighted ball on March 7 during spring training.

Littell went six innings, giving up two runs (one earned), and six hits.

Up next …

Cleveland at Tampa Bay

When: Sunday at Tropicana Field, 1:30

TV: Bally Sports Sun



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/noel-hits-2-run-pinch-hit-homer-in-the-8th-as-guardians-beat-rays-4-2-2/
McLaughlin stays fast, wins first race of IndyCar weekend doubleheader at Iowa

McLaughlin stays fast, wins first race of IndyCar weekend doubleheader at Iowa

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863442

By JOHN BOHNENKAMP

Associated Press

NEWTON, Iowa — Scott McLaughlin said he didn’t feel like he was an IndyCar driver until he got a win on an oval track.

He reached that goal on Saturday night

McLaughlin continued his fast weekend at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night, winning the first race of the IndyCar Series weekend doubleheader for his first victory on an oval track.

McLaughlin led 164 of the 250 laps, winning by nearly a half-second over second-place driver Pato O’Ward at the 0.875-mile oval.

“I just checked off one of the biggest goals I had this year, personally,” McLaughlin said.

In his fourth full IndyCar season, McLaughlin came into this weekend with five wins on road courses and street courses in the series.

“I felt like an open-wheel driver, but an IndyCar driver is someone who can win on all three race tracks,” McLaughlin said. “Thankfully, I’m very proud to say I’ve won an oval now as well as a road and a street course. Yeah, proud moment for me.”

McLaughlin had the strongest car all weekend. He had the fastest time in Friday’s practice, set the track single-lap record in qualifying Saturday afternoon on his second lap to earn the pole for Sunday’s race, and started on the outside of the first row of this race after posting the second-fastest first lap during qualifying.

And he was the fastest out of the pits when it counted during two caution-flag stops.

Colton Herta, the pole-sitter for the race, led the first 86 laps but lost the lead by a narrow margin when McLaughlin beat him out of the pits during a caution-flag round of pit stops. Herta tried to get by on the restart, but McLaughlin was able to hold him off.

“I was saying, ‘I think I got him,’” McLaughlin said of taking the lead coming out of the pits. “I believed I was in front of him. It must have been by a whisker. I don’t know what it was.”

McLaughlin was leading by more than three seconds when series points leader Alex Palou crashed on Lap 177. Herta, who had just pitted before the Palou crash, went a lap down, and McLaughlin kept his lead after the pit stops during the caution flag.

“At the end of the day, I knew I did the job from my perspective, but it was a team win,” McLaughlin said. “They got me the lead, and I was able to show how good that car was, just controlling the pace from the front.”

McLaughlin gave Team Penske its eighth IndyCar win at Iowa Speedway. It was the second win for a Penske car at the track this season — Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR Cup Series race in June.

“Blaney texted me and he said, ‘We’re corn brothers now,’” McLaughlin said.

Josef Newgarden, McLaughlin’s teammate who swept last year’s doubleheader, finished third after starting 22nd. Scott Dixon was fourth, and Rinus VeeKay was fifth.

“You can’t start 22nd,” Newgarden said. “In other years, I would have been OK starting 22nd. This was almost the kiss of death starting that far back.”

The concern, after the partial repaving of the track in May, that there would only be one racing groove proved to be true until late in the race. The only change in the top 10 through the first 80 laps of the race came when Santino Ferrucci, running fifth at the time, had to serve a stop-and-go penalty for being out of line on a restart.

“I’d be lying if I would say I wasn’t bummed with how we raced,” O’Ward said. “It was really tough getting that second lane working. We had a very strong car, a car that was capable of winning. There was just no way to go to get around a car.”

“It was just calculated risk tonight,” Newgarden said. “You were flirting with disaster. It wasn’t a given, there wasn’t the real estate to use. You were just risking the car every time you would move offline to get around somebody. I did it a couple of times, but I had to. We had to take some risks to move forward.”

Palou finished 23rd. He has a 37-point lead over O’Ward, 43 points over Will Power and 44 over Dixon. McLaughlin moved up to fifth place, 59 points back.



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/mclaughlin-stays-fast-wins-first-race-of-indycar-doubleheader-at-iowa/
Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month but faces Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final

Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month but faces Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863154

By Howard Fendrich

Not surprisingly, Novak Djokovic was far from convinced he could win Wimbledon when the tournament began less than a month after his surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“I was just thinking about moving well [and] not injuring myself,” he said.

After getting through his first few matches at the All England Club, though, Djokovic thought: “OK, I’m actually playing close to my best, and I can have a shot at the title.”

Now he’s just one victory away from what would be an eighth championship at Wimbledon — equaling Roger Federer for the most by a man — and a 25th Grand Slam trophy overall, more than any tennis player ever. Won’t be easy: On Sunday, Djokovic will face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final; Kate, the Princess of Wales, is set to be there in a rare public appearance after her cancer diagnosis.

“History is on the line,” Djokovic said about the milestones at stake for him. “Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations. Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches. And people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.”

It’s doubtful that many counted on him to win enough to make his way to the last day of this fortnight — at least they probably didn’t on June 3, the day he hurt his knee at the French Open. Or on June 4, the day he withdrew from his quarterfinal at that tournament, where he was the defending champion. Or on June 5, the day he had the operation in Paris.

Even Djokovic was uncertain until a few days before the Wimbledon draw in late June that he would compete at all.

Still, during Roland Garros, it was Alcaraz who noted Djokovic’s past history of returning from injuries: “He comes back stronger and he comes back quickly.” And, on the eve of Wimbledon, it was Alcaraz who called Djokovic superhuman for managing to return to action.

Djokovic said he derived some optimism from texting with Taylor Fritz, the American who injured his meniscus at the 2021 French Open and competed at Wimbledon three weeks later.

Fritz was on a flight home from Paris this year when he received a message from Djokovic with questions about the procedure and recovery, then got a later note seeking more input after the surgery.

“If there’s anything he probably took from what I said, it was just confidence that it’s doable. I said, ‘Actually, you’ll be surprised how good you feel, so quickly. You wouldn’t expect it,’” Fritz said. “I told him: ‘It’s painful. It’s really uncomfortable. But you can play through it.’”

So that’s what Djokovic did.

And by the time he was defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the semifinals Friday, Djokovic was pain-free and moving fine while wearing a gray sleeve on his knee.

All in all, this has been a subpar season for the second-seeded Djokovic. Not only hasn’t he won a title, but he hadn’t even reached a final at any tournament until now.

None of that matters on Sunday, when he will try to stop the third-seeded Alcaraz from collecting his fourth Slam title.

“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. … I know what I have to do,” said Alcaraz, who got past Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. “I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me.”

Alcaraz, still only 21, is 3-0 in major finals.

That includes beating Djokovic in five sets 12 months ago at Wimbledon, plus triumphs at the U.S. Open in 2022 and at the French Open last month.

“He’s a very all-around player, very complete player. Impressive what he has done for such a young age. … Probably all of us share the same opinion — that he’s going to win many Slams in his career,” Djokovic said Friday night. “Hope he’s going to give me this one in two days, and let’s see. After that, I’ll cheer for him.”



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/novak-djokovic-carlos-alcaraz-wimbledon-final-tennis/
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