With Plenty of Practice, Teenager Advances to Face Djokovic

The practice sessions, presumably, are over for now between Novak Djokovic, the player who is already a major champion, and Bernard Tomic, the 18-year-old who is hoping to become one.

Novak Djokovic On Wednesday, Djokovic and Tomic will play for real in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.

“You know, I think he has a respect for me; I’ve got a much bigger respect for him,” Tomic said in his low-key baritone drone that bears a certain sonic resemblance to Andy Murray’s.

But like Djokovic (and Murray) before him, Tomic, the young Australian with the unconventional game, is making his mark at the highest level and has now gone further at Wimbledon than either of them at age 18. Continue reading

Cuban Makes the Most Noise With a Title

For years David Stern, the commissioner of the N.B.A., had collected fines from Mark Cuban, the Marck Cuban Mavericks’ owner. On Sunday night, the 2011 N.B.A. finals served up one last irresistible subplot when Stern was called upon to present Cuban with the Larry O’Brien championship trophy.

The intrigue was enough to keep some dejected Heat fans rooted to their American Airlines Arena seats after the Mavericks’ title-clinching 105-95 victory in Game 6. Would the congratulatory moment contain all the warmth of a Bill Belichick midfield handshake with Eric Mangini?

In one final series twist, Cuban moved aside to let Don Carter, the Mavericks’ original owner, accept the trophy from Stern. Those few steps back by Cuban represented one giant leap forward for his public image.

The Mavericks’ star player, Dirk Nowitzki, used this postseason to shine and buff his reputation and legacy and, so, too, did Cuban. Gone were the petulant outbursts that cost him $250,000 in fines for acts of misconduct during the 2006 finals between the Mavericks and the Heat. Continue reading

Woods to Miss U.S. Open

Tiger WoodsTiger Woods announced Tuesday that he would not play in the United States Open next week at the Congressional Country Club near Washington.

Woods, who has been trying to rehabilitate his left knee and Achilles’ tendon, both of which were injured when he hit a shot during the third round of the Masters, said the injuries have not sufficiently improved.

“I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be playing in the U.S. Open,” Woods said in a statement posted on his Web site. “But it’s time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future. I was hopeful that I could play, but if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. Continue reading

Collins Picks His Spots to Rant, but Doesn’t Hold Back

Terry Collins Terry Collins burst into the Mets’ clubhouse after a dreary loss and ripped into his players. He told them they needed to perform better and could not become deflated and give up when they fell behind in a game, as they just had. Minutes later, he repeated the message to reporters and said the team needed to go 9-2 over its next 11 games.

But this wasn’t Wednesday night, when Collins did something similar, berating his team, after a 9-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and then barely controlling his anger as he answered questions from the news media.

This happened April 13, after a tough loss to the Colorado Rockies that left the Mets with a three-game losing streak. He was hoping his fiery words would inspire his players, but they did not. Instead, the Mets were swept in a doubleheader the next day, making a mockery of everything Collins intended.

The Mets also lost another doubleheader two days later, leaving them with seven losses in a row and a 4-11 record. Who knows how often during those two doubleheaders Collins wanted to storm back into the clubhouse and blow his stack again? But he couldn’t because his players might start tuning him out the way some did in Houston and Anaheim in his previous incarnations as a major league manager.

But the 62-year-old Collins cannot completely suppress the characteristics that make him who he is: an intense, combative, sometimes hot-headed and always hypercompetitive baseball man. Continue reading