Serena Williams

Hi friends. How are you? It’s been a while. Luckily for you, online the SDI family was never too far from my heart. Every time I saw some asinine sports atrocity, nurse I kept it in my mental rolodex (i.e. my Twitter favorites) just in case I was able to share it with you guys. And now the opportunity has finally come to share my thoughts on random sports stories with you.

So here we are. It’s football season. Baseball season. I’m sure hockey might be on (???). Or table tennis. Maybe curling is happening…in Canada or Russia or wherever they watch that. The Cubs are good (right?). The Bears have a two-time-Super Bowl-appearing coach (he lost, cialis but still….he was in the building). Everyone’s favorite Bull may or may not have been involved in a gang rape (I. Can’t. Even.) And the Blackhawks dismantled their championship team and have deflated the hopes of another ticker tape parade in Chicago for like a decade.

Eesh.

So what have I been up to sports-wise? Well, I learned to golf. Ok, well not like actually learned to golf. I got golf clubs, try hopelessly to hit the ball with either my driver or my nine iron, and give up at around the third hole to focus on keeping score and getting drunk. You have no idea how difficult it is to count when you’re six mimosas in. I am a great humanitarian.

I also moved to Pittsburgh and have spent the past five months devising a plan to bribe bartenders to play Bears games when the Steelers are on. In addition to that, I am trying desperately to become the best amateur binge-watcher in America: I devoured four seasons of Game of Thrones in two weeks. If I keep this up, I’ll surely qualify for the Olympics. Because America.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about other people. So pop the cork on the Cabernet, light your pumpkin-scented candle and let’s talk proper sports.

The NFL

I really don’t want to talk about Deflategate but since I have a column with thousands of readers (right? RIGHT?!), I’ll throw in my two cents. Here’s the thing: the Patriots are known simultaneously as champions and cheaters. So it’s very difficult to believe that Belichick and Brady wouldn’t do this. That’s the thing about lying; get caught doing it once and everything else you say comes into question. Do I think they did this on purpose? I sure hope not. I would like to believe that what we are witnessing is a great team headed up by a brilliant coach and a seemingly terrific owner in Bob Kraft who are playing a brutal, unforgiving game as fairly as possible. But I will say this: it wouldn’t exactly surprise me if this ended up to be true.

In other news, Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson is dating singer Ciara. And that makes sense for both parties. Russell probably never got any action with chicks as ridiculously gorgeous as Ciara. And now, because she’s on his arm, Ciara is introduced as an R&B star (which – name three unaccompanied Ciara tracks not called “Goodies”… exactly.)

The NCAA:

So, two things:

  1. Kansas has a football team! WHO KNEW?!
  2. Students at the University of Kansas cannot name the head coach of said football team.

Yep. Moving on.

Golf

I am very confident in my relationship, but if some heifer EVER asks my man out on a date with me standing right there?! {link: http://thebiglead.com/2015/08/21/miss-texas-jordan-spieth-girlfriend-rangers-game/} No ma’am. In the illustrious words of Tupac, ‘you betta back the duck up before you get smacked the duck up.’ Because no rapper rant will ever beat the one at the end of Hit ‘em Up. {link: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=41qC3w3UUkU}

Aside: can someone tell the people in charge of autocorrect over at Apple that I literally never mean duck? Thanks.

Tennis

Drake and Serena Williams have been a thing for a while, so this is not news{link: http://m.bleacherreport.com/articles/2554239-report-drake-and-serena-williams-seen-making-out-at-cincinnati-restaurant?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=programming-national?is_shared=true). I compare this to having a real boyfriend, breaking up with him occasionally and hooking up with the side piece. Who is Drake in this scenario? Side piece.

One last thing…

Im currently drinking my way through Italy so I feel it would be remiss not to talk about soccer. JUST KIDDING! Thanks for reading. Until next time!

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Stan

It was a victorious weekend in Melbourne for the long shot underdogs when 28-year-old Swiss player Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Rafael Nadal to win the Men’s Singles Championship and 32-year-old Chinese player Li Na defeated Slovak Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday to win the Women’s Singles.

It was expected to be a Nadal vs defending Aussie Open champion Djokovic in the Men’s Final and Serena vs defending champion Azarenka in the Women’s final.  However, sovaldi sale world No. 1 Nadal was the only top-seeded player to even make the semi-finals. No. 2 Djokovic lost to eight seed Wawrinka in an epic five-set quarter final 6-2 4-6 2-6 6-3 9-7.

Nadal defeated Roger Federer in straight sets to reach the Australian Open tennis final and Wawrinka defeated Tomas Berdych in 4 sets in the semi-finals.

No. 1 Serena Williams  lost to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round and Agnieszka Radwanska upsets No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in quarterfinals.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland won his first Grand Slam title with victory over an injured Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final Sunday. Wawrinka defeated the world number one, help who was struggling with a back problem, 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3.

He becomes the second Swiss man to win a Grand Slam singles title after 17-time champion Roger Federer.

“I still think that I’m dreaming,” said Wawrinka after the match. “It’s a strange feeling. I saw so many finals. I always try to watch the finals of Grand Slams because that’s where the best players are playing. Before today, for me it wasn’t a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it.”

Stanislas Wawrinka consoles Rafael Nadal after Wawrinka’s win. (Photo ABC.net)

Nadal, always the class act, revealed he felt the back problem during the warm-up. Rafa said: “It is a tournament that I really had some troubles physically in my career and is something that is painful for me. But that’s part of life. That’s part of sport. It’s not the end of the world. Is just another tough moment. The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final. It’s not the moment to talk about that. It’s the moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserved to win that title.”

Before this Championship, Wawrinka had never won a set, let alone a match, in 12 previous attempts against Nadal, and was making his Grand Slam final debut against Nadal who was in his 19th.

Despite Nadal’s loss, he will retain his world No.1 ranking.

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Li Na wins 2014 Australian Open (Getty Images)

Li Na erased memories of previous final losses in 2011 and last year to defeat 24th ranked Slovak Dominika Cibulkova 7-6, 6-0 Saturday in 97 minutes.

“This is my favorite grand slam (championship) and I’m so happy I’ve won the title here”, an exuberant Na said after the final.  However most memorable is her hilarious victory speech.

After paying respects to her opponent, Li thanked her agent Max Eisenbud for “making me rich” and her husband and former coach Jiang Shan, long the butt of his wife’s jokes, for special praise. “Now, of course, my husband … famous in China. Thanks for him for giving up everything, just travelling with me to be my hitting partner, fix the drinks and fix the racquets, so, he did a lot of jobs,” she grinned as Jiang was ribbed in the players’ box.

“So, thanks a lot, you’re a nice guy. And … also you are so lucky, you found me.”

Watch Li Na’s Australian Open victory speech here:

Have a Smashing week and the long wait until the next tennis Grand Slam – The French Open 2014 begins on Sunday, May 25  and ends on Sunday, June 8.

Smashing Golf & Tennis – Made in Chicago

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Event-AustralianOpenofTennis-landscape

Temperatures reached 108 degrees during the second day of the tennis season’s first Grand Slam event of the year.  The Australian Open began Monday, capsule January 13th in Melbourne and this hard-court slam lasts two weeks – culminating with the Women’s final on Saturday, drugstore January 25th and the Men’s final on Sunday, January 26th.

Juan Martn Del Potro of Argentina feels the heat. Michael Dodge Getty Images

Forecasts call for more 100-plus degree heat for the next two to three days. Although not all due to the extreme heat, nine players retired in the first round after the second day, which ties the 2011 U.S. Open for most retirements in a single round at a Grand Slam tournament.

It was so hot that a ball boy required medical attention after collapsing during an early-day match. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France said the under soles of his sneakers became soft.

China’s Peng Shuai threw up in a bucket and then cramped near the end of a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 loss to Japan’s Kurumi Nara. Peng limped off the court barely able to finish. Others described the court surface as a frying pan and the wind like “when I open the oven and the potatoes are done,” said American John Isner.  (Isner, seeded 13th, had to retire during his match again Slovakia’s Martin Klizan with an ankle injury. Isner had just won the title last weekend at Auckland.)

However many players took the scorching heat in stride, including Roger Federer, who often trains in the hot desert of Dubai and had little sympathy for his peers, calling it “just a mental thing”.

Aussie Open Outlook

Djokovic  def. Murray 2013 Australian Open final. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

In the spotlight are whether last years’ Aussie Open champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka can both defend their 2013 singles titles.  It was Djokovic’s third straight victory at Melbourne Park, making him the first man to win three straight Australian titles in the Open era.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

The men’s side is dominated by the Big Three—Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Many tennis enthusiast predict that Djokovic will break the record for most titles by anyone in the Open Era – or after 1968 when professionals were allowed to join the tournament. He is currently tied with Federer and Andre Agassi with four Aussie titles.

Roger Federer plays a forehand in his first-round match against James Duckworth. Scott Barbour, Getty Images

Novak Djokovic improved his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 22 matches as he began his bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title defeating Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.

World No 1 Rafael Nadal easily advances to the second round after one set after Bernard Tomic is forced to retire with a groin injury after losing opening set.

Andy Murray has reached the final of the last five Slams. In his opening match, Murray hit 32 winners, 12 aces and only 13 unforced errors on his way to an easy victory against Go Soeda of Japan 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

However, Roger Federer is looking to re-enter fray and won in his first match with former world no. 1 Stefan Edberg as a coach, by defeating James Duckworth, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Not surprisingly, Serena Williams will head into the Australian Open as the player to beat. On opening day, Williams easily defeated Ashleigh Barty, 6-2, 6-1 a 17-year-old Australian wild-card entry. The World No.1 has an incredible 78-4 win/loss record for the season including The French Open and the US Open slams.  Serena ended the season with the WTA Championships and will arrive in Melbourne with an 18 match winning streak. Serena will be competing for her sixth Aussie Open and 18th Grand Slam crown.

Azarenka celebrates defeating Na Li in 2013 Julian Finney/Getty Images

The second-ranked Victoria Azarenka had a difficult match Monday against Larsson, ranked 91st, who twice had chances to serve for the first set but lost in a tiebreaker. However, Azarenka still seems to be the only player who has both the talent and attitude to have a chance of defeating Serena Williams. Azarenka beat her twice in 2013 at Doha and Cincinnati and challenged Serena by taking her to three sets of the US Open final in September.  However, Azarenka has yet to beat Williams in a Slam final – losing out to the 17 times Major winner in back-to-back finals at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and 2013.

However, it’s not impossible for Azarenka.  She just beat Williams in straight sets in an exhibition match between the world’s top two women’s players in Thailand the end of December. Azarenka defeated Williams 7-5, 6-3 in front of about 3,000 fans at the Hua Hin World Tennis Invitation in a match both players used as a warm-up ahead of the Australian Open.

Australian Open TV Coverage

Melbourne is 17 hours ahead of Chicago. As far as TV coverage goes, ESPN and the Tennis Channel have you covered throughout the whole tournament. ESPN’s early round coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on their ESPN2 network, and will run through 7 a.m. The Tennis Channel will carry coverage from 7 p.m. through 9 p.m.  For complete listing see link ESPN.

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Pink's Pulse

Missed a few headlines this week? Worry not, pilule I’ve got my finger on the sports pulse for you. Below is my weekly round-up of what’s trending or what’s coming up in sports: perfect for sports bars, online cocktail parties, board rooms, and well…just knowing your week in sports.

HOT

  • Hockey’s back and so much more: With the quickest turnaround in sports, the Chicago Blackhawks will return to the ice starting Tuesday, October 1st. Will the Blackhawks start off on another hot streak? Will this team gel like the last? So many things to look forward to…how’s this for a historic Chicago sporting event:  Soldier Field is set to host it’s first NHL game on March 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins. A great match that we didn’t get to see in the previous playoffs.
  • Bears vs. Lions:With the Bears 3-0, every game is a must watch. With the new

    From prideofdetroit.com

    addition of Reggie Bush, the Lions offense looks way more dynamic and will prove to be the biggest challenge for the Bears. How long can this winning madness (yes I said madness) go? The Lions are out for revenge as the Bears smashed them both times last season. It’s a huge game with big NFC North implications. The Bears could be sitting really pretty at the top of the NFC North with a win on Sunday.

  • Serena Williams is No. 1: Serena Williams has clinched the year-end women’s world number one ranking for the third time in her career. The 32-year-old became the oldest women’s player to take the top spot in February. This season Williams compiled a 67-4 record including the US Open and the French Open.

COLD

  • Nobody knows about Konerko: As a White Sox fan, I hate the mere talks of Paul Konerko retiring. The Chicago White Sox play their last three games of the season in Kansas City. But Konerko has remained it under raps as to whether he will return or retire. Of course his contract is up after the season, but who wants to see a legend go?
  • Lions’ Nate Burleson brakes arm over pizza: Last week, Detroit Lions wide

    From usatoday.com

    receiver Nate Burleson had 116 receiving yards in conjunction with Calvin Johnson getting over 100+ receiving yards. Just as the Lions offense was starting to become fully balanced, Burleson will spend the rest of the season on the sidelines with a broken arm. Burleson broke his arm in a car accident this week because he was saving a pizza in the front seat. Really? It’s probably the most ridiculous reason I’ve heard, outside of any injury involving guns, for someone to be sidelined for the season. It may cost the Lions dearly, as they’re in need of a second, reliable wide receiver.

  • WNBA’s Diana Taurasi with the most unusual foul of sports: Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi picked up probably the most unusual foul in all of sports on Thursday as she kissed Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus. Taurasi kissed Augustus on the cheek after the two exchanged some shoves. Needless to say, I don’t think we will be seeing this foul happen in another sport any time soon.

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Andy Murray US Open 2012 Champ (USA Today Sports)

The tennis season’s final Grand Slam event, remedy the US Open, cialis begins today in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.  This hard-court slam lasts two weeks and culminates with the Women’s final on Sunday, September 8th and the Men’s final on Monday, September 9th.

This has been a crazy tennis season, with three different men and three different women winning singles titles in the year’s first three Grand Slam events.  Not to mention the big name players that crashed and burned at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

In the spotlight are last years’ champions #3 Andy Murray and #1 Serena Williams with the question of whether they can both defend their 2012 US Open singles titles.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Murray has reached the final of the last four Slams he’s played and most recently won the title at Wimbledon.  Unfortunately, he’s on the same side of the draw as #1 Djokovic, so a repeat final of 2012 is impossible this year.  I’d look forward to a Murray vs Djokovic semi-final on Saturday, September 7th, assuming that Murray isn’t upset by Tomas Berdych earlier in the quarters.

Djokovic is always a favorite to win and has six consecutive semis-or-better at the US Open.  Djokovic and 2009 US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro could see each other in the quarterfinals, if everything holds true to seed.

This could be a not-to-be-missed quarter final, as del Potro is the only man outside of the “Big Four” (Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer), that can upset the status quo.  At 24 years old, del Potro is the youngest player in the ATP top 10.

Juan Martin del Potro (Getty Images)

Due to the draw, Djokovic will likely need to also beat Murray and Nadal in successive matches to win the tournament.  This will probably prove too much for even Djokovic.

#2 Rafael Nadal has had a roller-coaster year winning the French Open, but getting knocked out of Wimbledon in the first-round.  But Nadal is 15-0 on hard-court this year, including wins at Indian Wells, Montreal and most recently Cincinnati, and thus has proven his ability on a surface other than clay this year.

Nadal winning the Western & Southern Open final in Cincinnati 8/18/2013 (AP Photos)

Nadal is on the same side of the draw as #7 Federer, so we could see a fantastic quarterfinal between Nadal and Federer.

My Prediction:  If his knee holds up, Nadal is my pick to win the U.S. Open. Nadal has the much favorable draw, his early exit at Wimbledon appears to have been a fluke, and he is undefeated on hard-courts this year. Since Murray is in the other half of the draw from Nadal, Nadal will need to beat only Murray or Djokovic, but not both, to win the tournament.

 

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

US Open 2012 Champion Serena Williams (Reuters)

On the women’s side, clear-cut favorite #1 Serena Williams will be looking for her fifth career U.S. Open crown and third since 2008.

#2 Victoria Azarenka has proven she can beat Serena Williams on hard courts. She is 2-0 against Williams on the surface this year, including a three-set victory over Williams in Cincinnati, their last tournament before the U.S. Open. Azarenka reached the finals of the past two Grand Slam events on hard courts: a victory in the 2013 Australian Open and a tough fought loss to Williams in the 2012 U.S. Open finals.

Maria Sharapova surprisingly withdrew last week from the US Open because of bursitis in her right shoulder. Even more surprising: Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli isn’t entered in the U.S. Open because she suddenly announced her retirement this month at age 28.

Due to the lack of any real competition, a Williams vs. Azarenka Final seems likely, but with Azarenka’s 0-7 record against Williams in Grand Slam events, this should be Serena’s event.

My Prediction: Serena Williams will repeat her 2012 US Open championship, as long as she isn’t bothered by her persistent abdominal issues of late.

All right Sports Divas, who do you think will win the US Open this year?

US OPEN TV Coverage

TV Coverage is spread over a number of networks: CBS, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, plus you can catch the live stream on WatchESPN.  See US Open TV Coverage for complete listings.

Fashion that Performs SmashingOnline.com (Photo Mike Caplan)

 

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murraytrophy_2611149k

Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon

For the first time in 77 years a Briton has won the Men’s Singles Champion at Wimbledon. No. 2 Andy Murray won a hard-fought victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in three thrilling sets 6-4, advice 7-5, site 6-4 on Sunday. The last Brit to win at Wimbledon was Fred Perry, who won three in a row in 1936.

The final game was a nail-biting battle in itself, with Murray seeing three match points slip by from 40-0 lead and fending off three break points before Djokovic netted a backhand to end the contest.

Djokovic Congratulates Murray (Images: BBC News)

“I have played in a lot of Slam finals, all against Roger or Novak. Roger is probably the greatest player ever, Novak is one of the mentally strongest ever. I never had experience on my side, to beat him was so tough, it was such a tough match.”

“Winning Wimbledon is the pinnacle of tennis,” Murray said afterwards. “I worked so hard in that last game. It’s the hardest few points I’ve had to play in my life. I don’t know how it will change my life. I hope not. I hope not too much. But the atmosphere today was different to what I’ve experienced in the past.”

Don’t Forget Mom

Andy Murray Hugging his Mom (Image: Telegraph.co.uk)

During the celebrations after winning the title, Andy Murray forgot to kiss his mom. Murray made the traditional climb into his player’s box to celebrate winning Wimbledon with his team. He hugged coach Ivan Lendl, kissed his girlfriend, and hugged trainers and hitting partners and high-fived anyone who extended an arm. Murray began his descent from the stands, but fortunately reversed course and realized he had forgotten to hug and kiss his mom, Judy.

Marion Bartoli Wins First Major Title

Marion Bartoli def Sabine Lisicki (Photo: dailyfinance.co.uk)

In an error-filled, one-sided final that was far from a match destined for the highlight reel, Marion Bartoli, the 15th-seeded Frenchwoman won her first Grand Slam title by beating 23rd-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 6-4 Saturday.

At the outset, Bartoli looked jittery and double-faulted twice in a row to drop the opening game. But then on Lisicki’s first chance to serve, she double-faulted on break point, to tie the first set 1-1. They combined for 39 unforced errors and 11 double-faults .  But Bartoli prevailed, winning 11 of 12 games.

Bartoli became the first woman in the Open era to win Wimbledon without facing anyone seeded in the top 10 – her highest-rated opponent was No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the United States in the quarterfinals. That was due to of all of the injuries and surprises, including exits for No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Sara Errani, No. 7 Angelique Kerber, No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 10 Maria Kirilenko by the end of the second round.

Lisicki, meanwhile, had to face and defeat defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams – ending her 34-match winning streak in the fourth round. Lisicki also defeated major champions Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, along with No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, last year’s runner-up.

“Just hearing `Wimbledon champion,’ that kind of sounds good to me,” Bartoli said afterwards. “I wanted that so badly. … It was like: Dare to dream. I kept dreaming. I kept my head up. I kept working hard. And it just happened.”

BBC Apologizes for Comments

Marion Bartoli (Photo: Huffington Post)

The BBC faced mounting pressure on Sunday when John Inverdale, one of their high profile announcers criticized the appearance of Marion Bartoli.  Inverdale provoked listeners when he asked the audience if they thought Bartoli’s father told Bartoli when she was little that she would never be “a looker” like Maria Sharapova so she would have to fight harder for success.

The BBC did apologize for the comments after a storm of protests on Twitter, admitting the remark was “insensitive”.

Men’s Doubles – The “Golden Bryan Slam”

2013 Wimbledon Men’s Doubles (USA Today)

Bob and Mike Bryan beat Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to capture their third Wimbledon title and fourth Grand Slam championship in a row.

The Bryan brothers are the first men’s team in the Open era to hold all four majors at once, plus an Olympic gold medal from last year’s London Games – the so-called “Golden Slam.” If they win the U.S. Open in September, they’ll join Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman as the second men’s team to complete a calendar Grand Slam.

 

Smashing Golf & Tennis – Made in Chicago (Photo: Mike Caplan)

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