Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Djokovic has a shot to make history

PARIS — As daylight disappeared, Novak Djokovic watched one last ace fly off Roger Federer's racket and end their semi­final at the 2011 French Open.

It has been nearly a year since that evening, and Djokovic hasn't lost a Grand Slam match since.

He has won 21 in a row, earning titles at Wimbledon in July, the U.S. Open in September, and the Australian Open in January. If Djokovic can prolong that run on the red clay of Roland Garros over the next two weeks, he will become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive majors (though Laver's four came in one calendar year).

The Serb, 25, is trying not to expend too much energy pondering the milestone before the French Open, which starts today.

"It would definitely mean the world to me," Djokovic said. "But I do not want to put too much pressure on myself."

Djokovic insists he wants to view this tournament the way he would any other year.

Federer's take? Good luck.

"The hard part is the same for everyone: every point you play, every game you play, the pressure you face and just answering the questions time and time again," said Federer, who twice fell one match shy of four Grand Slam titles in a row, losing in the French Open final to Rafael Nadal in 2006 and 2007.

"It's fun because you're talking about the highest of accomplishments. But at the end of the day, you just like to play the matches and not talk about it that much."

Nadal also went on a three-major win streak — the French, Wimbledon and U.S. in 2010 — before losing in the Australian Open quarterfinals while hampered by a left leg muscle injury.

He dismissed the notion that he came close to equaling Laver, noting he was three matches away.

"Life continues," Nadal said. "And you keep working hard to try to be fit and be competitive for the next (match)."

On the women's side, the most surprising story this spring has been the emergence of Maria Sharapova as a favorite.

Never known for her movement, sliding or patience on the dirt, the Russian, 25, has improved her clay game. Four of her past five titles have come on clay, and she is 11-1 on it this year. That includes beating defending French Open champion Li Na in the final at Rome last weekend.

Li raced to a 6-4, 4-0 lead, then made 24 unforced errors, which allowed Sharapova to win the next six games. After two rain delays, Sharapova won the third-set tiebreaker 7-5 after staving off a match point.

"I'm much more comfortable on this surface," Sharapova said. "Even though I don't play too many tournaments on it throughout the year, with every year that has come and the clay season that arrives, I feel physically stronger.

"That's definitely helped me in the recovery process as well. I'm enjoying it a bit more."

Comments
Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

With Jon Gruden becoming the 11th member of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor tonight, what about current members of the Bucs?Bucs roundtable question: What current Bucs player not named Gerald McCoy is most likely to wind up in the Ring of Honor. Member...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Atlanta and Matt Ryan are in town to face the Bucs on Monday Night Football, so it's a chance to revisit a quarterback Tampa Bay knows well, with 19 meetings over the past 10 seasons. A couple of talking points for tonight's game and the challenge ah...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Know the foe: Texas Tech

Know the foe: Texas Tech

A look at Texas Tech, which faces USF in the Birmingham Bowl on SaturdayNickame: Red RaidersRecord: 6-6 (3-6 Big 12)Wins: vs. Eastern Washington, 56-10; vs. Arizona State, 52-45; at Houston, 27-24; at Kansas, 65-19; vs. Baylor, 38-24; at Texas, 27-23...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Will Jon Gruden be the Bucs’ coach next year?

Rick and Tom podcast: Will Jon Gruden be the Bucs’ coach next year?

Jon Gruden will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor tonight, but could it be more than just that as the Glazers may be looking for a new head coach come January? In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Gruden would coac...
Updated: 2 hours ago
LeBron wears one black shoe and one white shoe, speaks about Trump

LeBron wears one black shoe and one white shoe, speaks about Trump

WASHINGTON — LeBron James made a statement during an NBA game with his shoes — one black, one white, with the word "equality" in capital gold letters on the back of each.Then, after the game, James made a statement about President Donald Trump, sayin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jets turn tables on Blues at home

Jets turn tables on Blues at home

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Connor Hellebuyck was happy to have a hand in helping the Jets get some payback. Less that 24 hours after Winnipeg was shut out in St. Louis, Hellebuyck made 24 saves as the Jets returned the favor with a 4-0 victory over the Blu...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballHouston Baptist at Michigan State6 p.m.Big TenNorthern Arizona at USF7 p.m.820-AMNebraska-Omaha at Kansas7 p.m.ESPN2Charleston Southern at FSU7 p.m.ESPNU; 1010-AMNorthern Illinois at Marquette7 p.m.FS1Purdue-Fort Wayne at India...
Updated: 11 hours ago

PITTSBURGH — The Patriots have built a dynasty on second chances. Miss an opportunity to bury the Super Bowl champions and they will find a way to find a way, usually behind a mix of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and defensive playmaking at just the r...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

TAMPA — The Bucs and Falcons have each won three straight games on Monday nights as they face each other on a national platform tonight at Raymond James Stadium.How can Tampa Bay continue its streak and stop Atlanta’s? It won’t be easy, but given the...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA — The beers and the "love ya, bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonight’s home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frie...
Published: 12/17/17