U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones, on the brink of tears, called “heartbreaking” criticism she has received after failing to win a medal in the London Olympics.Jones appeared on NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday and was asked about a recent story in The New York Times that said her stardom had more to do with marketing than her accomplishments on the track.“They just ripped me to shreds, and I just thought that that was crazy,” Jones said.She finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles Tuesday, 0.10 seconds behind bronze medalist Kellie Wells. Jones was leading the final when in Beijing four years ago when she hit the ninth of 10 hurdles and wound up seventh.“Putting your heart out there, obviously, it opens you up to a lot of negativity,” Jones said.The Times article said Jones has “received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign.”Jones is backed by big-name sponsors and has appeared on magazine covers, including a recent issue of “Time.” Her charisma and childhood narrative — her family once lived in a church basement in Iowa — only add to her story.She has no Olympic or world outdoor championship medals, but in her interview Wednesday she defended her record and her dedication to her sport.“I work six days a week every day for four years for a 12-second race, and the fact that they just tore me apart, it was just heartbreaking,” Jones said. “I am the American record holder indoors. I have two world indoor titles and just because I don’t boast about these things, I don’t think I should be ripped apart by media.“So, I mean, I laid it out there, I fought hard for my country, and I think it’s just a shame that I have to deal with so much backlash when I’m already so brokenhearted as it is.”
Donald Sterling’s attempt to rehabilitate his image during an exclusive CNN interview on Monday took a venomous turn when the disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner slammed basketball legend Magic Johnson, who was mentioned in Sterling’s recorded racist rant that led to his expulsion from the NBA.Sterling blamed Johnson for delaying his apology and questioned the former NBA star’s contributions to the Black community and status as a role model.“Here is a man who -I don’t know if I should say this–he acts so holy,” Sterling said. “I mean, he made love to every girl in every city and he has AIDS. And when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him. I hoped he would be well.”Viewers were taken aback by Sterling’s comments during his opportunity to explain himself and gain support. Rather, he seemed to only add to the discord.“What has he done, can you tell me?” Sterling asked CNN interviewer Anderson Cooper. “Big Magic Johnson, what has he done? He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in South LA.?”Cooper interjected: “Well, I think he has HIV. He doesn’t actually have full-blown AIDS, but…”“Well, what kind of a guy goes to every city, he has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV and — is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background,” Sterling continued. “But what does he do for the Black people? Doesn’t do anything.”Cooper was quick to point out that Johnson has opened a number of businesses and charitable organizations around Los Angeles.Sterling also accused Johnson of scheming to buy the Clippers by advising him to stay quiet as Sterling’s racist recordings made the rounds across the media. He said they spoke twice after TMZ released audio recordings of Sterling imploring his girlfriend to not post pictures on social media of herself with Black people and to not bring Black people to Clippers games.“He lulled me into waiting a week, do you know what I mean? He says, ‘Don’t do anything.’” Sterling said. “‘Don’t do anything. I know the girl. Don’t do anything. I will help you.’ I’m waiting and I’m waiting and I’m waiting.“I think he wanted me just to do nothing, so he could buy the team,” Sterling added.Sterling insisted that he doesn’t believe he’s hated in the NBA, and even accused Cooper of being more racist than he is. When Cooper questioned Sterling about basketball great Elgin Baylor’s claims that Sterling had a “plantation mentality” when he ran the Clippers, Sterling deflected.“I’m not a racist,” Sterling said. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I have hurt. And I have hurt so many people, so many innocent people.”NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was not happy with Sterling’s latest comments. Silver issued a statement that read: “I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper and while Magic Johnson doesn’t need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack. The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.”Clippers coach Doc Rivers was equally miffed. “Obviously I know who Magic is,” Rivers said. “I’ll stand by Magic every day of the year because I’ve known him for a long time. Having said that, I don’t know what’s going on out there. I tried not to get involved in that part of it right now. Whatever it is, that doesn’t sound like much of an apology to me.”Johnson would not address Sterling, preferring to focus of the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, which he is a minority owner, and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.Johnson will, however, be a guest on CNN Tuesday.
vs. Rush611 Like looking in the mirror?Expected points added per game among Power 5 teams in 2017, by category vs. Pass18 Sp. Teams3130 Total12 Power 5 Ranks Defense14 EPA numbers were adjusted for strength of schedule.Source: ESPN Stats & Information EPA/G categoryAlabamaGeorgia Alabama and Georgia set up the first all-SEC College Football Playoff final with a pair of very different victories. The Bulldogs prevailed in a thrilling offensive shootout against Oklahoma while the Crimson Tide ground out a dominating defensive win over Clemson.But these teams are much more alike than their semifinal wins would indicate.This isn’t a coincidence, either. In his two seasons as UGA’s coach, Kirby Smart has deliberately built a team that looks like a carbon copy of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide squads. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, each ranks among the nation’s top five teams in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they also have similar strengths in terms of how they achieved those efficiency marks. Passing1916 Rushing45 Given how close a profile these teams share, a few of these mirror-image matchups could prove decisive. So let’s take a look at the most important battle on each side of the ball, and what the numbers say to watch for.When Georgia has the ballThe biggest matchup in this game might be the clash between the Bulldogs’ explosive ballcarriers and the Tide’s front seven. With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, Georgia was the only Power Five conference team this season to boast not one but two 1,100-yard rushers on the same roster. The duo carved up Oklahoma’s defense in the Rose Bowl for an absurd 326 rushing yards, including seven runs of at least 20 yards. Slowing down the Bulldogs’ running game will be a major challenge for Nick Saban’s defense.It could certainly be up to the task. Alabama had one of the nation’s top run defenses during the season, yielding just 88.5 rushing yards per game — second-best among Power 5 teams — and 2.6 yards per carry — also second-best — against Power 5 opponents. The Tide defense completely stuffed opponents at the line1Meaning rushes of zero or negative yards. just as often as it gave up runs of 5 or more yards (roughly 30 percent of opposing carries falling into each category), and it almost never gave up the kind of long runs UGA managed against the Sooners.2Only seven runs went for 20 or more yards against Alabama’s defense all season. In Power 5 competition, only Michigan State and Ohio State allowed fewer runs per game of 10 or more yards.Only three teams really gave Bama trouble on the ground this year: LSU (who racked up 151 rushing yards against the Tide), Mississippi State (172) and Auburn (168). Not coincidentally, that trio limited their negative runs (22 percent) and had a higher rate of 5-plus yard carries (34 percent) than Alabama usually allows. Those kinds of runs help keep an offense “on schedule,” in turn producing the favorable down-and-distance situations that are essential to beating a team as good as the Crimson Tide. (Just ask Clemson, who found themselves in third-and-7 or worse 11 times during the Sugar Bowl, nearly double their per-game average for the season.)Georgia can take heart in how those teams pushed Alabama’s run D. LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn found particular success running the ball on the perimeter against Alabama. Together, they torched the Tide for 93 yards per game outside the tackles, helping contribute to Alabama’s worst defensive performance against outside runs in a season since 2013. That style of running happens to be a forté for Georgia, too: According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Bulldog running backs led the nation in rushing yards outside the tackles and were third in touchdowns to the outside (one of which was Michel’s game-winning touchdown run against Oklahoma). If the Dawgs can consistently turn the corner against the Tide’s defense, it will give their championship odds a big boost.Of course, Georgia’s dynamic backs can be stopped with the right game plan. In the Bulldogs’ sole loss of the season, Auburn bottled up the UGA running game, holding Chubb and Michel to 48 combined rushing yards and 2.4 yards per carry. They made freshman QB Jake Fromm throw while trailing and put him in unfavorable down-and-distance situations.3He went 6-for-14 for only 73 yards (plus two sacks) on second, third or fourth down with 7 or more yards to go against Auburn. Fromm improved in those scenarios against Oklahoma’s porous defense, but Georgia’s best title ticket still involves running the ball effectively enough to give Fromm comfortable throwing opportunities downfield, where he was one of the most efficient passers in college football this season. That means Chubb and Michel have to keep the chains moving, break off a few huge gains and generally make sure Bama is preoccupied with defending the run.When Alabama has the ballAlabama’s offense operates in a similar fashion to Georgia’s, using success on the ground to open up chances to throw downfield. But the Tide have also matured during quarterback Jalen Hurts’ second year as starter. After ranking 24th in offensive efficiency last year, Alabama ascended to fourth this season, nearly offsetting the slight — and inevitable — decline of its all-time great defense from a year ago.At the center of it all was, as usual, a powerful running attack. The Crimson Tide ranked fifth among Power 5 teams with 256 rushing yards per game, and they had five players (including Hurts) gain 275 or more yards on the ground. Alabama doesn’t have a scary RB duo to compete with Chubb and Michel; in fact, it didn’t have a single 1,000-yard rusher on the roster. But the Tide ran the ball effectively anyway, picking up 5 or more yards on 45 percent of their rushes (second-most among Power 5 teams) and dominating especially between the tackles, to the tune of 116 yards per game.Nobody personifies that approach more than running back Damian Harris, Alabama’s leading rusher during the season. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Harris averaged 7.0 yards per carry between the tackles this year (sixth-most in the Power 5), and he’s hoping to replicate the success Oklahoma enjoyed on inside runs against Georgia a week ago. With so much attention paid to the Sooners’ passing game, Oklahoma was able to pick up 242 yards on the ground — including 114 right up the gut.4Excluding sacks, which are considered in a college team’s rushing stats. Sooner RB Rodney Anderson might serve as Harris’s role model; 105 of his 201 total rushing yards came on inside runs alone.Alabama’s offense isn’t as prolific as Oklahoma’s, and Hurts certainly isn’t going to be confused with Baker Mayfield. But the Alabama QB does present defenses with his own unique challenges, starting with his ability as a runner. Although Hurts was slightly less productive on the ground this season than he was as a freshman, he averaged more yards and picked up more first downs per run5Excluding sacks. in 2017. Among Power 5 QBs, only three gained more yards with his legs than Hurts, who also ranked as the No. 2 cog in the Crimson Tide’s rushing machine.Perhaps more importantly, Hurts continued his development as a passing threat this season. A year after placing 25th among Power 5 quarterbacks in passing efficiency rating, he ranked eighth this season, averaging more yards per attempt and posting a nearly mistake-free 17-1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.Hurts has often been slapped with the dreaded “game manager” label, and it’s true that he doesn’t throw often. Among top-20 FPI teams, only Fromm threw fewer passes per game. But when he does pass the ball, Hurts can deliver lethal strikes when the defense least expects it. He tossed 10 touchdown passes and zero interceptions on play-action throws, and led all Power 5 QBs in passing efficiency on rollouts, going 18-for-23 for 222 yards, 6 touchdowns and zero picks.In a game plan based around effective rushing and opportunistic passing, Hurts — with his ability to limit mistakes, pick up yards on the ground and make big plays in the air — isn’t as far from the ideal field general as he seems. There’s a reason Alabama was a perfect 8-0 in games where Hurts completed passes of at least 40 yards. Offense78 Despite the teams’ seemingly identical strengths, most power ratings and Las Vegas books give Alabama a slight edge over the Dawgs Monday night. And certainly Saban is no stranger to winning on the game’s most important stage; a win would tie him with his Alabama predecessor, Bear Bryant, for the most national championships by a coach in college football history (with six apiece). But as Clemson proved last season, even the greatest coach — leading the greatest team — can still be beaten. Soon enough, we’ll see whether the matchups are right for Georgia to pull the upset, or if Bama avenges last year’s title-game defeat. It may be an all-SEC affair, but the chess match should be enough to pull in football fans from across the country.
Starting Saturday, only 16 of World Cup’s qualifying 32 teams will continue to play in the tournament. After just two matches, Spain — the defending champion — was the first country to be eliminated during the group stage. Notable squads like Italy, the 2006 champion, and England are also heading home.Because the World Cup is the most anticipated sporting event on the planet, many fans are unlikely to tune it out after their country is booted. But which team will they root for now?Answering this question isn’t easy. Once patriotism is out of the equation, a preference for another country’s side could be based on all sorts of factors: Do you love one team’s style of play? Are you influenced by politics, religion or race? Did you have fond memories of travel to a particular place? Perhaps the most confounding factor is whether you’re motivated by love or hate. That is, will you root for your next favorite country or against a loathsome rival?The ideal data to help answer this question would be recent, statistically-sound, cross-country polling of all 32 nations participating in the World Cup. Unfortunately, as is often the case in data analysis, our wishes have not been granted.The best polling we’ve got is the Pew Global Attitudes Survey, which provides cross-country favorability measures for nine of the countries participating in this year’s tournament: the U.S., the U.K. (which we’ll take to approximate England’s team), France, Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, Iran and Russia. The survey tries to gauge Greeks’ opinions of Spaniards, Russians’ of Americans, and so on. The specific question that Pew poses is, “Please tell me if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable opinion of [country name].” The acceptable responses are, “Very favorable,” “Somewhat favorable,” “Somewhat unfavorable,” “Very unfavorable” and “Don’t know/Refused.” To condense this information into one value, I’ve weighted the responses +2, +1, -1, -2 and 0, respectively.Based on the favorability polling, it appears the English might prefer Germany over France of the teams left in the World Cup. But you probably won’t catch an Italian cheering on the Greek national side. No, fans in Rome might instead be rooting for the United States. (In fact, the Italians view the U.S. more favorably than they view their own country.) The defending World Cup champions, Spain, ranked Germany in the most favorable terms, followed by England and then France. So with no more matches of their own in Brazil, the Spanish might be inclined to root for Germany.But if you look closely, yes, that’s right: The country that has the lowest opinion of Spain is … Spain. It’s worth noting that Pew conducted this survey in March and April of 2012, at the height of the European economic crisis.Greeks, for example, have an extremely unfavorable opinion of Germany. That’s no surprise given the intra-Eurozone disputes over bailouts, austerity measures and dire economic circumstances. (So, if Greece were to be eliminated in the knockout round and Germany played on, it’s a safe bet that Greek fans wouldn’t be cheering for Die Mannschaft.) But outside of Greece, Germany appears to be rather highly regarded. On the flip side, Russia is viewed unfavorably throughout Europe, except by Greece. (Russia exited the tournament after drawing with Algeria on Thursday, but the Greeks will have at least one more opportunity to cheer on their national side in the Round of 16.)Still, no matter whom the eliminated countries’ fans go on to root for — if they root for any country at all — that new team won’t match the fans’ true wish: for their original favorite to have won the Cup.CORRECTION (June 27, 10:45 a.m.): An earlier version of this post misstated the result of Thursday’s Algeria-Russia match. It ended in a draw, not a loss for Russia.
YEARTEAMOPPONENTROUNDGAMEQTRODDS 22000KnicksHeat2621.8 32000LakersTrail Blazers3732.0 82001BucksHornets2624.7 Greatest best-of-seven NBA playoff series comebacks As the Oklahoma City Thunder learned Monday night, it’s really tough to eliminate a defending NBA champion. After opening up a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals, the Thunder were poised to knock the Golden State Warriors out for good — they led for almost the entirety of Game 6 before collapsing down the stretch, and they took a 6-point lead into the second half of Game 7. None of that mattered; the finishing blow was always just outside of OKC’s reach.But, man, did the Thunder come close. In fact, according to our quarter-by-quarter analysis of seven-game playoff series since 1984,1The year the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams. the Thunder — with a peak win probability of 95.8 percent going into the fourth quarter of Game 6 — came the seventh-closest to a series victory of any modern team that went on to lose. And in the conference finals, only the Portland Trail Blazers’ infamous collapse against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000 was more unlikely.(The least likely comeback overall? Last year’s Houston Rockets, who went down three games to one against the Clippers before storming back to win three straight games — just like this year’s Warriors team.) 41994RocketsSuns2312.4 102005MavericksRockets1337.5 Win probability calculated at the end of each quarter or overtime, based on FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratingsSource: basketball-reference.com 12015RocketsClippers2630.3% 91997HeatKnicks2616.6 62013HeatSpurs4634.2 72016WarriorsThunder3634.2 LOWEST WIN PROBABILITY MOMENT But the Dubs pulled out a dramatic win in Game 6. Their reward: a Game 7 at home that had them as 66 percent favorites to win the series.2It’s worth noting that the betting markets (as measured by Inpredictable’s in-game odds) were never quite as bullish on OKC’s upset chances as the statistical models were. Perhaps the markets were factoring in the invisible aura of Golden State’s championship experience?The rest is history. The defending champions are returning to the Finals, in a rematch against LeBron and the Cavs.Check out our NBA Finals predictions. 51995RocketsSuns2513.5 Here’s how we crunched those numbers: First, we gathered quarter-by-quarter line score data for every NBA playoff game since ’84 and used Wayne Winston’s method of converting point margins to win probabilities to generate a win expectancy number for each team after every quarter. (Given the data we were working with, we couldn’t go deeper to, say, the play-by-play level to find the most dire circumstances within a quarter.) We then plugged those game-level probabilities into the formulae for winning a series, which allowed us to incorporate both the results of games already played and the expected outcomes of future games based on Elo.In terms of series win probability, the Warriors rode a wild roller coaster against the Thunder. At the start, our Elo-based projections gave them a 70 percent chance to win the series. However, by the end of Game 4, that had dropped to just 17.5 percent. A solid Game 5 win helped their odds, but by Game 6 the Thunder had them on the ropes. Entering the fourth quarter of that game, the Warriors stood only a 4.3 percent chance of winning the series.
3+0.5 2+6.4 1-7.3 PERIODNET PTS. PER 100 POSSESSIONS 4+22.0 “Clutch” is any time in the last five minutes of regulation or in overtime when the score is within 5 points.Source: NBA.com How the Rockets have performed in the postseason with Harden on the floor When James Harden left the game with 30 seconds to play in the first quarter, his Houston Rockets trailed the San Antonio Spurs by 3 points. When Harden was blocked from behind at the final buzzer by the ghost of Manu Ginobili, the Rockets were down by 3 points. This brings us back around to one of the oldest maxims in the basketball-nerd universe: The points count the same in the first quarter as they do in the fourth.Harden’s breakdown late in Game 5, when he went 1-for-6 with one assist and four turnovers, is the top-line takeaway after the Rockets’ Tuesday-night loss. Houston’s MVP candidate doing his best Toney Douglas impersonation at the worst possible time is concerning, both for its immediate effect on the series and for what it portends about how the injury-depleted rotation will fare in the remaining games. But Houston’s problems at the moment run deeper than that.They are starting too slowWhile performance in the biggest moments is undeniably important in the NBA, it isn’t all that matters. Generating good, reliable shots when the clock is winding down and the defense is moving at a devil-may-care clip you don’t see in other periods is an important skill. So is building a lead early in the game, and so is holding onto a lead once you have it. And in the playoffs, the Rockets have been losing first quarters. Clutch+13.9 Harden’s first-half numbers were excellent in Game 5, but the deficit by the end of his first-quarter run was no outlier in the Rockets’ postseason. Harden’s net rating in the first quarter is far worse than in any other period, at -7.3 points per 100 possessions. As a team, the Rockets are being outscored by 7.4 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter of playoff games. During the regular season, they won that period by 8.9 points per 100.The postseason number is weighed down significantly by Houston’s first-round series with Oklahoma City, in which the Thunder beat the Rockets’ brains in during a few early quarters, only to surrender much or all of those leads later on. But just because a team can punch its way off the mat doesn’t erase the fact that it got its brains beaten in to begin with.The bench is thin and it’s affecting everyoneNot helping matters: Houston’s best playoff lineups are no longer available. The numbers on the baseline starting five haven’t been great — which makes sense, given that the starters are, by definition, a big part of the reason that those first quarters have been so miserable — but shaking things up will be tough. The season-ending thigh injury to backup center Nene leaves the Rockets without an anchor for the alternative lineups Houston might be forced to try out.In Game 5, Houston designated Ryan Anderson as their backup center, moving him out of the potent starting lineup, and instead started sixth man Eric Gordon. As the coaches like to tell you, how a team adapts to an injury usually has less to do with the backup than it does with the backup’s backup. In this case, the regular-season starting power forward, Anderson, served as the backup to the backup center, meaning that not only is there no backup power forward, but the starting power forward spot is now an open question as well. That left Houston playing a lot of four-out lineups even though it’s missing Nene, its best four-out center.Harden is trying to do everything and it showsThe lineup shuffle in Game 5 added to Harden’s overall workload and muted the advantages of the lineups that theoretically remained intact, such as the group of regular starters.Harden filled in the nominal power forward role when necessary on Tuesday, and the position does play to Harden’s strengths (he’s powerful, and big for his position) while minimizing his weaknesses (lateral quickness that would barely keep him in front of Nate Silver, let alone Manu Ginobili). But in Game 5, at least, the bargain seemed to be a bad one.Harden’s late-game numbers suggest that he got worn down, but anyone looking at him could have told you that. The real question was whether the Rockets got enough out of their four-perimeter-player lineups to offset the toll those lineups took on the players involved, especially Harden. They didn’t. The only Rockets’ five-man lineups to finish with a positive net rating were ones featuring both Anderson and center Clint Capela. Every lineup that didn’t include both of those guys had a negative net rating or, at best, played San Antonio to a draw.(The Rockets had a positive standard plus-minus with two other lineups, but they were worse on a per-possession basis due to an imbalance in the number of possessions, which is common when you’re only looking at a single game.)So what’s to be done?It’s possible that there’s an obvious answer on the bench. Second-year forward Montrezl Harrell provided good minutes off the bench throughout the season, but he has hardly seen the court in the playoffs. Mike D’Antoni has always been known for shortening rotations in the playoffs, but if the four-out lineups keep on tanking, it probably makes more sense to put the season in the hands of an unknown than to keep relying on a known weakness. At the very least, playing Harrell would allow D’Antoni to see more of the starting lineup that’s still outplaying the Spurs, which might help him avoid those first-quarter deficits.
Anyone looking to knock off Roger Federer at Wimbledon will first need to break his serve. And if they have any hope of breaking his serve, it may die with the first point.Simply stated: Federer loves being up 15-0.When Federer wins the opening point of his service game, that pretty much means it’s already over. In his matches this year up to the start of Wimbledon, Federer won the first point in 278 games while serving, according to data from ATP. And in those matches where he served and scored first, he went on to win the game an overwhelming 270 times. That’s a success rate of 97.1 percent. Through the first three rounds of this year’s Wimbledon, the 36-year-old Federer did even better, winning 100 percent of the 33 games in which he served and won the first point.Although scoring first naturally increases a player’s odds of winning because it means that they held a lead at least once, for Federer, something about that first point on his serve seems to give him an outsize advantage. It’s possible that for Federer, winning the first point helps establish his service rhythm.How does he compare with the other top men in tennis? Favorably, of course. He’s Roger Federer, the winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, including eight at Wimbledon. He’s also one of the greatest servers in the history of the sport. Dominic Thiem38734990.2 Rafael Nadal24222593.0 John Isner25224296.0 Alexander Zverev34230589.2 Juan Martin del Potro30928592.2 Kevin Anderson32830693.3 In the 52 weeks heading into Wimbledon, Federer has been a maestro at holding serve — winning 92.1 percent of his service games, good for third best on the ATP Tour.For reference, Rafael Nadal, the world’s top-ranked tennis player, has won his service games 89.1 percent of the time, which is stellar but not on Federer’s level.The two players ahead of Federer in percentage of service games won are serving powerhouses John Isner and Ivo Karlovic.However, Isner, Karlovic and Kevin Anderson, who ranks just behind Federer in service games won, are all flamethrowers. They regularly serve at speeds in excess of 135 mph. Federer’s serves aren’t slow, but he’s a different kind of server than the other guys at the top of this list, whose height gives them a superior trajectory on that stroke. Rather than blasting his serve past opponents who can’t catch up, Federer hits his spots. He uses a variety of spins and placements to hang with the ATP Tour’s most successful servers.Through Week 1 at Wimbledon, Milos Raonic had recorded the tournament’s fastest serve, at 147 mph, according to statistics from IBM. Isner was second at 144 mph. Federer was way down the list, tied for 39th, with a max speed of 128 mph.Even without otherworldly speed, when it comes to holding serve after taking a 15-0 lead, Federer is outperforming even dominating servers like Isner.Still, critics will point out that Federer’s recent success rate in games where he leads 15-0 while serving has been made possible by his skipping the clay court season entirely this year and sticking to his favored surfaces. Rallies are longer on clay, which reduces the importance of the serve. In fact, anyone surprised to see Nadal and his sterling service stats hanging back in fifth place on the table above would do well to remember that he plays many of his matches on clay.But Federer has always done well on Wimbledon’s grass. During the first week of the tournament this year, Federer won the first point of his service game 80 percent of the time. Between 2004, when he first ascended to No. 1 in the world, and 2017, Federer was winning the first point of his service games 75 percent of the time at Wimbledon. And while he’s topping himself this year, he’s also crushing the field: Last week, all the men in the competition won the first point of their service games only 66 percent of the time, on average.This is not to imply that there’s only one way Federer can win — he also holds serve plenty of times when he loses the first point of his service game. In 2018, up to the start of Wimbledon, he lost that first point 80 times. In 62 of those games, he went on to win anyway. That’s 77.5 percent to the good for Federer. Not bad, considering he started the game behind, but still nearly 20 points worse than when he wins that point.That gap may offer his opponents an opportunity. Knowing that, statistically speaking, they have a much better shot at breaking Federer’s serve if they can steal the first point, they might choose to be more aggressive on the opening point of his service games, particularly if they see a second serve. It’s worth a try.But if an ambitious opponent looking to break Federer does lose the first point, that opponent better make sure he wins the next point or he’ll be left with only the barest sliver of hope. When Federer has won the first two points on his serve this year, up to Wimbledon, he went on to win the game 99.5 percent of the time.So what happened when he won the first three points? Federer went up 40-0 while serving 151 times, and he won every one of those games. Up 15-0 On Serve Grigor Dimitrov29626489.2 David Goffin21718886.6 PlayerGamesWinsWin rate Roger Federer27827097.1% Source: ATP Marin Cilic33431995.5 When the first point decides the gameRate of holding serve when taking a 15-0 lead in 2018, entering Wimbledon, for the ATP’s top 10 men’s tennis players
then-OSU junior forward Nichelle Prince (7) during a game against Butler on Nov. 14 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won 2-1. Credit: Courtesy of OSUWhen the Ohio State women’s soccer team kicks off its season against in-state rival Kent State on Aug. 19 in Columbus, it will be without one of its top players, senior forward Nichelle Prince. But it’s for good reason.Prince will be busy representing her country in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as the Ajax, Ontario, native has made the Canadian National Women’s Soccer team. The final 19-person Olympic roster was announced Monday.“It’s an exciting moment and something I’ve always dreamt of,” Prince said in a release from the university. “After a long eight months of preparation and hard work, it’s great to see it has paid off by being named to the team.”Prince has earned 16 caps for the Canadian national team, including four during the team’s Olympic qualifying in February. In Canada’s 3-1 victory over Costa Rica to clinch a trip to Rio, Prince assisted on the team’s final goal.In total, including appearances for Canada’s U-15, U-17 and U-20 teams, Prince has scored six goals and dished out four assists.Last season, Prince helped guide the Buckeyes to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. She tied for the team lead in goals and assists, with six and seven, respectively.Prince missed substantial time with a leg injury during her sophomore season, but she was named to both the Big Ten all-freshman team and the conference’s second team after her first season in Columbus.Canada enters the Olympic games as the reigning bronze medalists from the 2012 London games. It was the country’s first medal in a team sport since the 1936 Olympics.The Rio 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament is scheduled to begin on Aug. 3. The bronze- and gold-medal matches are set for Aug. 19, which is OSU’s opener against Kent State.Canada is in Group F alongside Australia, Zimbabwe and Germany. As of FIFA’s Mar. 27 rankings, Canada is ranked No. 10 in the world. Both Australia and Germany are ranked ahead of Canada, leaving Prince and her teammates with an uphill battle to advance out of group play.“I look forward to representing my country and Ohio State in Rio,” Prince said.Prince joins Kyle Snyder and Dustin Tynes as active Buckeyes who will be in Brazil. Snyder will wrestle for Team USA at 97 kg, while Tynes will be swimming for the Bahamas.There could be more Buckeyes heading to Rio, as a total of 34 members from the men’s and women’s swimming teams qualifying for U.S. Olympic Trials, which are set to begin in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 26. It’s the fifth most out of any team.The Olympics in Rio, which are officially set to begin Aug. 5, have been marred in controversy in recent months. There are numerous concerns over safety for visitors, namely over the Zika virus, a disease spread through mosquitoes that is roiling the country. Brazil’s government is also grappling with its longest recession since the 1930s.Despite calls from more than 100 doctors and professors, as well as an article from the Harvard Public Health Review to suspend, or move, the Olympics over public-health concerns, the games are still set to take place.
Ohio State men’s tennis continued to roll after a dominant weekend that featured a Buckeye cementing himself among the all-time greats. Justin Kronauge became the Buckeyes’ all-time wins leader after winning his doubles and singles matches on Sunday to help lead Ohio State 6-1 past No. 26 Michigan. Kronauge, a senior from Dayton, Ohio, claimed his 255th career victory (117 doubles, 138 singles) at the Stickney Tennis Center, winning 8-3 in doubles with Balazs Novak and 6-3, 6-3 in singles. “It’s a great accomplishment because we have had so many great players,” Kronauge said. “More importantly, we beat a good Michigan team which made it even better.” Ohio State, ranked second in the nation, extended its undefeated winning streak at home to 106 consecutive matches dating back to 2003. The Buckeyes also have 59 consecutive Big Ten wins. After the victory, coach Ty Tucker acknowledged Kronauge’s accomplishments while addressing the fans in attendance. “He’s certainly one of the best three players to ever play for Ohio State and could possibly end up being the best all-time,” said Tucker. “He’s a stud.” Kronauge’s parents were proud of their son for everything he has accomplished at Ohio State. “Everyone talks about his tennis but we’re more impressed with his school work,” said his father, Bob Kronauge. Pleased with his feat, Kronauge looks ahead to finishing the season strong. “I have to thank my teammates as well,” Kronauge said. “I want to help the team as much as I can to win the Big Ten and making a run in the NCAA again.” The win over Michigan capped off a dominant weekend for the Buckeyes. On Friday, they defeated Michigan State 7-0 and Toledo 5-0 in a double-header. The Buckeyes head to the University of Mississippi on Wednesday before returning home for matches against Indiana and Illinois on Friday and Sunday.
There sits in Cleveland, Ohio, a high school by the name of Glenville Academy, a school that’s become a veritable pipeline filled with talented football players ready to don scarlet and gray. Jermale Hines, who is currently the Buckeyes starter at free safety, knew coming into college that a spotlight would be shining on him. After all, he was a former Tarblooder. “Anytime a player comes in from Glenville, it puts added pressure on you. Everyone expects you to do great things,” Hines said. “So it definitely put some added pressure on me, but I knew coming in that I had to work hard, and everything would take care of itself.” Before transferring to Glenville in his junior year, Hines played both basketball and football at Berrien County High School in Nashville, Ga. “I actually liked basketball better, but being my size, I always felt like I had a better chance at succeeding in football,” Hines said. After transferring to Glenville, the head coach of the football program, Ted Ginn Sr., wondered when Hines would start to open up and become a vocal leader. In an interview with The Plain Dealer in 2006, Ginn was quoted saying, “Jermale’s a quiet kid who we’re trying to make a leader out of with some kind, any kind of emotion.” Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes implied that even today, Hines doesn’t speak much. “He doesn’t say a whole lot but when he does talk, people listen, and when says to do something, people do it,” Haynes said. After his high school career ended, Hines chose to play for the Buckeyes. But a few academic issues made it appear as if Hines would never see the field of play. Due to the fact that he transferred from a Georgia school to an Ohio school, Hines had to take the Ohio Graduation Test before he could receive academic certification. The academic issues didn’t end there. As a freshman at OSU, Hines was ruled ineligible for the first half of the season. “Basically something didn’t go through with my Clearinghouse, so it held me back a little bit,” Hines said. “I was just a regular student at one point. But they got it together half way through the season and I was able to get back on the team.” Now a senior, Hines is stepping up and growing more mature with every game. While he’s not a team captain, he has become a coach on the field for the defense. Recently, he’s had the task of instructing freshman and former Glenville player Christian Bryant on where to be on the field during certain defensive sets. “The thing about Jermale is, he’s a great leader,” Haynes said. “He’s a very instinctive and aggressive football player, and his maturity has grown a great deal.” Hines is being projected as potential third- or fourth-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. And while the draft isn’t for another seven months, he admits there are some parts of his game he’d like to improve upon before the end of the season. “I’d say the strongest parts of my game are my physicality and tackling ability,” Hines said. “But I’d like to work on my one-on-one coverage, and just understanding the game of football more.” Haynes added, “There’s a lot of things that he has to improve on, starting with just getting better every day. I could for sure see him playing at the next level, but it’s not a perfect science. But with his work ethic, and his love and passion for football, I could see him playing at the next level.” And while it may be true that Hines doesn’t talk very much, he isn’t opposed to talking a little smack and challenging the offense during practice. “I just pick on them, basically call out their plays and try to punk them as much as I can,” Hines said while laughing. “I try to make it hard on them because when it’s game time, it’s definitely going to be hard on them.” Even Heisman Trophy candidate Terrelle Pryor isn’t safe from a verbal lashing. “Yeah I talk stuff to Terrelle, a few words that might get bleeped out,” Hines said, laughing again. “I know I’m going to need those guys so I might make it tough on them, but in the end I know they’ll come through for me.”