Sunday, November 19, 2017
Sports

Djokovic will rest— a lot

RECOMMENDED READING


MELBOURNE, Australia — If anyone knows how Novak Djokovic feels after sweating and scrapping for almost five hours in an Australian Open semifinal, it's his next opponent, Rafael Nadal.

A day after Nadal beat Roger Federer in four sets in their semifinal, Djokovic overcame Andy Murray 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 7-5 on Friday in 4 hours, 50 minutes.

Djokovic, the defending champion who is ranked No. 1 in the world, faces No. 2 Nadal for a third straight time in a Grand Slam final Sunday.

Three years ago, Nadal had to regroup after a lengthy semifinal. He needed 5 hours, 14 minutes to get past Fernando Verdasco in the longest men's singles match in tournament history. He was so exhausted, he didn't lift a racket the next day.

Yet in the final, he beat Federer, who had an extra day of rest, in five sets.

Djokovic has less than 48 hours to prepare to face Nadal, one of the most fit players in the game.

"I know that I, maybe, have a mental edge because I had lots of success against him … in 2011," Djokovic said of Nadal. Djokovic won 10 titles in 2011, six by beating Nadal in finals.

"That's going to be my main priority and concern the next day and a half, to physically be able to perform my best and be ready to play five sets," Djokovic said.

Djokovic has shown chinks in his armor in this tournament. Against David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, he struggled to breathe through most of a straight-sets win and at one point clutched his leg in agony. Against Murray he looked spent when he hobbled gingerly back to his chair after dropping serve to go down 2-1 in the third set.

Djokovic can win his fifth major title and become the fifth man in the Open era (since 1968) to win three consecutive Grand Slam titles. He also can make Nadal, a 10-time Grand Slam winner, the first man in the Open era to lose three consecutive major finals.

After losing the past two Australian Open finals, Murray , though he went out a round earlier, left more encouraged than ever that he can break through and become the first British man to win a Grand Slam singles title since 1936.

"(Friday's) match was important for many reasons," he said. "Obviously I wanted to win, first and foremost. But also sort of after last year, the year that Novak's had, I think there's a very fine line between being No. 1 in the world and being 3 or 4. I think that gap, I feel (Friday) I closed it."

Murray was annoyed after the match that drug testers wanted him to do urine and blood tests.

"I've just done … the urine test," he said. "They just told me I need to sit down for 30 minutes before I can give blood. I want to get out of here. … On top of losing a match like that, it's really a frustrating thing to have to go through at 1 in the morning."

At the 2009 U.S. Open, Murray complained when testers visited his hotel room at 7:15 a.m. on a day off to test him.

Comments
USF, UCF contribute to a first in football poll

USF, UCF contribute to a first in football poll

The new Associated Press football poll produced some Florida history Sunday.For the first time, UCF and USF are both ranked — and Florida State and Florida are both unranked — entering their respective season-ending grudge matches this weekend.The No...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Pistons win again, top Wolves in close battle

MINNEAPOLIS — Andre Drummond had 20 points and 16 rebounds, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley added 18 points each and the Pistons outlasted the Timberwolves 100-97 on Sunday night. Harris hit two free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining, and Jimmy Butle...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Islanders falter a day after topping Lightning

RALEIGH, N.C. — Sebastian Aho’s scoring surge seems to be rubbing off on his teammates. Aho had a goal and two assists, Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and the Hurricanes beat the Islanders 4-2 on Sunday. Aho has scored in four straight games after fai...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballMarquette vs. VCU2:30 p.m.ESPN2Wichita State vs. California4:30 p.m.ESPN2Molloy at St. John’s6:30 p.m.FS1UCLA vs. Creighton7 p.m.ESPNUTexas A&M vs. Oklahoma State7 p.m.ESPN2Jackson State at Maryland7 p.m.Big TenWomen: Butler at...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ariya Jutanugarn rallies past Lexi Thompson to win LPGA’s Tour Championship

Ariya Jutanugarn rallies past Lexi Thompson to win LPGA’s Tour Championship

NAPLES — Lexi Thompson never had a putt so short that was potentially worth so much. She had a one-shot lead when she settled over a 2-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday at the Tour Championship. A victory would be worth $500,000 in prize money ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
NFL Week 11: What we learned

NFL Week 11: What we learned

Is Jerry Jones the next Al Davis? Is he really going to let his anger for commissioner Roger Goodell ruin his relationship with the other owners? Should we have seen this coming? I think the answers are: Yes, probably and yes. Jones is the modern-day...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Auto racing: Martin Truex captures Cup championship

Auto racing: Martin Truex captures Cup championship

HOMESTEAD — Martin Truex capped the most successful season of his journeyman career as NASCAR’s champion. Truex wrapped up his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup title Sunday by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400, where he beat Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sports in brief

Sports in brief

TENNISDIMITROV WINS ATP FINALSLONDON — Grigor Dimitrov’s talent took him to the brink of his biggest career win — but he needed more than that to get over the line. The sixth-seeded Bulgarian claimed the title at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunda...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning’s rare loss produces reality check

Lightning’s rare loss produces reality check

TAMPA — Jon Cooper stood at the podium late Saturday night to address the media after a regulation loss for only the third time this season."Let’s be honest," he said, "we’ve had one hell of a start."The loss, he added, was frustrating, even when you...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Resilient Saints rally, win eighth straight

Resilient Saints rally, win eighth straight

NEW ORLEANS — Alvin Kamara climbed into the Superdome stands, stood in the first row with his arms folded and soaked in the adulation of fans who had stuck around after all had looked lost. Kamara’s celebration of his 18-yard touchdown reception had ...
Updated: 4 hours ago