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Indian Wells Dispatch: Raonic v. Monfils

Indian Wells Dispatch: Raonic v. Monfils

Jun 7, 2016

Embed from Getty Images It’s hard to picture two tennis players more different than Milos Raonic and Gael Monfils. Where Raonic is sensible and serious, Monfils is whimsical and entertaining. Raonic has methodically built a game around his big serve, and in spite of his relatively limited mobility and lack of fluid groundstrokes. Monfils, by contrast, oozes shotmaking talent, and still is among the best movers on the tour. But the difference that matters the most is this — where Monfils has not frequently maximized his prodigious athletic abilities on the tennis court, Raonic is in the process of wringing every last bit of results out of the talent he has. In spite of their differences, Monfils and Raonic find themselves virtually in a dead heat in the ATP rankings, with the Canadian seeded 12th and the Frenchman one place lower. While Raonic’s dogged efforts to improve are well documented, this year, Gael Monfils has reportedly also rededicated himself to improving his results, rather than being content to entertain the crowds. But, what does a conservative Monfils look like? For the better part of a set and a half, a conservative Monfils is what we got. He played smart tennis much of the time — keeping returns low, and making Raonic volley up where he could. Moreover, after falling behind a break early in the first set, Monfils stayed the course and managed to break Raonic to level off the set. But, with Raonic’s improved return and movement, the match-up favors the tall Canadian, and Raonic played solid groundstrokes to stay even with Monfils late in the first set. It was only after continued pressure from Raonic that Monfils finally was broken to lose the first set 7-5. Embed from Getty Images Falling behind early in the second set, Monfils began to pull out the stops — sliding around the court, and eventually taking a leap to try to return a shot that was out of reach, which resulted in a gory hand wound, as he scraped himself on the court. While the effort is commendable, it’s these types of shots that have left Monfils injured and unable to compete for weeks and months...

Game 2: Hawks Look To Defeat Cavs, History

Game 2: Hawks Look To Defeat Cavs, History

Jun 4, 2016

  5.4.2016 Atlanta – Feel free to take your pick of favorite clichés to describe Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Final matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks: must win, win or go home, pivotal game 2, all of them would apply for Atlanta in this case.  However, Game 2 could mean much more not just for the Hawks and the city of Atlanta, but for both these franchises dealing with unfortunate circumstances on a historical level.  Game 1 of the series was an exhibition of a variety of emotions as Cleveland cruised to an 18-point lead and what seemed like an easy victory until the Hawks promptly erased the deficit and took a lead of their own midway through the 4th quarter.  However, the Hawks comeback was not enough as Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and LeBron James were key in leading a late charge to secure a victory for the Cavs.  Game 2 of the series will certainly provide the usual drama of an NBA playoff game: home team looks to take a commanding lead in the series while the visitors try to “steal” a game and regain home court advantage for the remainder of the series.  Or perhaps this Game 2 is different; perhaps the history between these two franchises will provide the most unusual result and change the course of a team moving forward.  Perhaps. Conference foes set to battle in Game 2. Cleveland’s Game 1 win was the 9th straight win over the Hawks dating back to the teams’ Eastern Conference Finals series a year ago.  The 2015 Hawks were the Eastern Conference’s #1 seed and had no answer for a Cavs team playing without Irving and Kevin Love: the result? Cavs win in 4.  The 2016 Hawks entered this season with its core still intact (minus DeMarre Carroll) looking to show that they can compete with the Cavs in the regular season: the result? Cavs: 3 wins, Hawks: 0.  Game 1 of the 2016 playoffs seemed like the optimal time for the Hawks franchise to finally produce a dent in the “King’s” throne by taking game 1 in Cleveland.  With 4:28 left in Game 1 this...

Roland Garros Day 11: Murray Through To Face Stan In Semis

Roland Garros Day 11: Murray Through To Face Stan In Semis

Jun 3, 2016

Andy Murray will face Stan Wawrinka in the Roland Garros semi-finals – but his victory over Richard Gasquet came at what price? The Brit adopted an expensive drop-shot strategy to exhaust his opponent. In doing so he cost himself the first set and almost the second too. The Scot admitted: ‘I was using a lot of drop shots. They were working early and maybe I played a few too many in the second. It was very, very important to win the second set. It would have been tough to come back if I’d lost that one.’ Murray had been playing for more than two hours even before the second set was completed on a tie break. It wasn’t as easy as the 7-3 score line might suggest. The match effectively turned on a Murray drop shot that Gasquet reached with ease and should have dispatched, clipping the ribbon instead to allow Murray to stay in the tie-break fight. In contrast Novak Djokovic had already wrapped up his victory over Roberto Bautista Agut relatively quickly, despite late resistance from the Spaniard. The world number one was delighted to beat Bautista Agut 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 in the end – and why not? Novak was already 4-1 up in the third when play resumed. ‘Today I came out on court with very good concentration and I’m glad I saved some energy for tomorrow,’ Djokovic said simply. Stan Wawrinka must have felt similar sentiments as he polished off Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) to keep himself fresh for his semi-final against Murray. Murray had the tougher match against Gasquet and yet he could have been equally ruthless after he commanded 5-2 leads in both of the first sets. Instead he threw that first set away and risked the second with his drop shot obsession. True, it drained Gasquet eventually and Murray won 5-7, 7-6 (7-3) 6-0, 6-2. But in the long run it has probably drained Murray too – because the match lasted three hours and 23 minutes and at Roland Garros 2016 Murray has already been on court for about fifteen hours in total. Looking ahead to his clash with Stan the Man, Murray...

NHL Round Three Playoffs Preview: Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh

NHL Round Three Playoffs Preview: Tampa Bay vs. Pittsburgh

May 24, 2016

It’s hard to believe but the Stanley Cup feels within reach as Round Three of the Stanley Cup Finals begins tomorrow night in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The two teams that will face off have a very similar style of play, they are both fast and highly offensively teams that know how to break away and score. So the question will be, who has the upper hand, the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Tampa Bay Lightning? The Tampa Bay Lightning so far has had what may seem like an easier road to get to the 2016 Eastern Conference Final, but no matter how easy it might look repeating an appearance in the Stanley Cup final, is another story. They will be hoping to repeat last year’s successful experience, but to this time actually raise the cup. But before they start dreaming of that they will have to win an opening game when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday’s series opener. They will have to remember that they are the defending Eastern Conference champions and that they have been to this show before. maybe because they lost so badly to the Chicago Blackhawks last year, this year the Lightning are finding themselves listed at plus-150 betting underdogs, that means if you bet $100 you’ll win $150 for Game 1 at most sportsbooks which are up kept by Odds Shark. But on the bigger picture Tampa Bay is listed at plus-160 to win the series compared to minus-180, so you have to bet $180 to win $100 for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are being statistically favored to win the Stanley Cup after they blew up the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in 11 fantastic games. The Lightning were great too, since they needed only 10 games to knock out the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders despite not having their All-Star forward Steven Stamkos, who has been out due to surgery to treat a blood clot in his arm. Stamkos has had to be out five weeks but it could even be up to three months, though there are reports circling among hockey experts that he will return to the ice sooner than expected. The Penguins...

MHSAA tennis championships at Leslie courts deemed a success

MHSAA tennis championships at Leslie courts deemed a success

May 22, 2016

Tennis fans from all parts of the state visited Oxford and the courts at the FNC/John Leslie complex during the MHSAA state championships. Photo by John Davis By John Davis, Oxford Citizen Tennis and Oxford have always gone together, and last week at the MHSAA championships, tennis was on full display at the FNC John Leslie Tennis Courts. Mike Young of the Oxford Park Commission was one of the many who helped organize the event that featured the state’s best tennis players from Class 1-4A. The three-day tournament was deemed a big success by Young, who also credited the hard work and help of Lafayette tennis coach Debbie Swindoll and Oxford’s Louis Nash for the event to be located in Oxford after years being in and around metro Jackson. “It went very well. With all the departments that helped us work to get this to Oxford, Coach Swindoll and Coach Nash, we had a great weather and a great tournament,” Young said. “Outside of a 30-minute delay, everything went really well. The feedback I got was that everybody really enjoyed coming to Oxford. One thing that we will definitely have to work on is our parking. “There’s not much we can do on that other than educate the people on where they can go to park,” Young said. “That will help some of the headaches. We feel like we got people across the street fine and we took care of our schools, making sure they had great parking right here on the facility.” The estimates for the turnout was well into the thousands. Young said the MSHAA was pleased with them being the host site. “They basically gave us the draws and took them and did everything else,” Young said. “There were three classes, with one and two being together, and that Monday (May 9), we probably had close to 1,500 people here. We made it work and we look forward to hosting it many more years. We will hear back from them more in November, but we feel good about getting it again. What might happen is we switch out and us get the 5A and 6A site.” No money came from the OPC...

Sixers Get The 1st Pick In 2016 NBA Draft

Sixers Get The 1st Pick In 2016 NBA Draft

May 20, 2016

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, left, poses for a photo with Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown during the NBA basketball draft lottery, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, in New York. The 76ers won the top pick in this year’s draft. It seems that the Philadelphia 76ers may have finally gotten the stroke of luck that this rebuild has needed. After the lottery balls finally fell their way, the Sixers will hold the first pick in June 23rd’s NBA draft. The Sixers drafted 3rd in each of the previous two drafts under former general manager Sam Hinkie. The Sixers, by virtue of holding the worst record in the league, as well as the right to swap picks with the Sacramento Kings, came into the day with a 26.9 percent chance at the top overall pick and a virtual coin flip – 49.5 percent chance – of landing a top-2 pick. This is the first time the Sixers have selected first overall since drafting Allen Iverson back in 1996, 20 years ago this year. The Sixers will now have a decision to make, being in the envious position to select between Ben Simmons of LSU or Brandon Ingram of Duke, the presumptive top 2 selections in the draft. Simmons would provide the Sixers with a match-up nightmare, having elite athleticism and point guard skills at the power forward position. Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals as a freshman, shooting 56 percent from the field. Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game at Duke, shooting 41 percent from three-point range. Either Ingram or Simmons would provide the Sixers with another blue-chip prospect, following the selections of Nerlens Noel (6th overall in 2013), Joel Embiid (3rd overall in 2014), and Jahlil Okafor (3rd overall in 2015). The Sixers are also likely to get Dario Saric, who was drafted 12th overall in the 2014 draft and the Sixers acquired in a draft day deal. Saric has played the last two seasons for Anadolu Efes in the Turkish Basketball League, under a contract he signed before the draft. The Sixers did receive some bad news with regards to the Lakers pick, as...