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XF Sep 8 '19
Five months ago, Novak Djokovic finally closed the deal on his career Grand Slam. Ainsley Maitland-Niles Jersey . After going 0-for-11 at Roland Garros, he defeated Andy Murray in an emphatic four-set final.That gave Djokovic the years first two major titles -- and a seemingly insurmountable lead as the ATP World Tours No. 1-ranked player. He found himself 8,035-points ahead of the No. 2 Murray, the equivalent of four Slam championships.In retrospect, that grand flourish in Paris was the beginning of the end of Djokovics 2016 season.I think after the French Open, the majority of us felt that Novak had a lock on the No. 1 ranking because of how dominant he had been, said Darren Cahill, former coach of No. 1-ranked Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt. When he wins the French, when he finally gets there, it has to be a letdown.Hes only human.Mary Carillo, who will be a commentator during this weekends Fed Cup final for Tennis Channel, was also among that majority.When Novak won the French Open, I thought, This guys capable of running the table. Who the hells going to stop him from being the king? Carillo said. Ive got to say its a big surprise whats happened to Novak, the way he lost his way.In my mind, its a bigger surprise than what happened this year with Serena, Roger and Rafa.Thus, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, for the first time since points were first awarded at the year-end event in 1990, could feature a frenetic winner-take-all championship match Sunday Nov. 20. Its a potential matchup of two friends and rivals who first met as 11-year-olds at a juniors tournament in France. (Murray won 6-0, 6-1.)Its hardly an unreasonable scenario. Murray has won 19 straight matches and is a sparkling 47-3 since the French Open. Djokovic? The four-time Barclays defending champion is a combined 23-0 against the other three players in his group, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem.Lets crunch the numbers: Murray currently leads Djokovic by 405 points, but with 275 coming off his total from last years Davis Cup final, the lead is effectively 130 points. Because the three round-robin matches are worth 200 points for each win, with 400 for a semifinals victory and another 500 for winning the title, whoever goes one round further will be the top-ranked player. As long as Djokovic wins two round-robin matches, their meeting in the final would produce the year-end No. 1 -- the best possible punctuation for mens tennis.For the first time, Murray is the favorite to win this tournament, said Brad Gilbert, Murrays former coach and part of ESPNs coverage team in London. I would definitely say the Muzzard is playing the best tennis Ive seen him play.While Djokovic won the French Open, Murray very quietly was having his best clay season. He was also a finalist in Madrid and won the title in Rome. And then his season took off, with the title at Wimbledon and a gold medal at the Rio Olympics. He finished with a flurry, winning the last four events he played, in Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris.That title ended 122 consecutive weeks at the top for Djokovic. Murray, at 29, is the ATPs oldest first-time No. 1 since John Newcombe in 1974.Murray, according to Cahill, has learned to win when hes not playing his best.His average level has improved considerably, Cahill said. Hes had to struggle and survive. Hes gutting his way through matches now.Andys never shied away from the fact that hes always wanted the No. 1 ranking. To do that you have to be incredibly consistent. In the past, he dropped too many second- and third-round matches. Hes managed to eliminate that.Some of that mental toughness, according to ESPN analyst Pam Shriver, came from his time away from coach Ivan Lendl, who abruptly quit after a three-year stint, only to return two years later this past June.This made him more resilient, Shriver said. Hes been relentless and aggressive in his pursuit of Djokovic. I think its great for mens tennis. Murray has been constantly trying to overcome this extraordinary trifecta of Fed, Rafa and Djokovic.Beyond Murrays beefed-up grit, Gilbert identifies two other areas of dramatic improvement.The second serve and the forehand are better than ever, Gilbert said. Against the Big Three, maybe they didnt hold up. Now hes dictating play way more than he ever has. Usually a coaching change comes when things arent going to plan. Andy added Lendl after a terrific clay court season.That put everything together.Djokovic, meanwhile, looked spent after the French Open. He lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey, the Serbs worst effort at the All England Club in eight years. And while he won the title in Toronto, Djokovic lost his first match in Rio de Janeiro to Juan Martin del Potro and fell in the US Open final to Stan Wawrinka. Shanghai (a semifinals loss to Roberto Bautista Agut) and the Paris Masters (a quarterfinals defeat by Marin Cilic) didnt go much better.Paris was not good, Carillo said. There was nothing declarative in his game.Gilbert wonders whether injury might be a factor in Djokovics recent performances.If you think about it, hes been incredibly healthy, then all of a sudden hes a little nicked up, Gilbert said. The arm, the wrist, its been different things all summer. Maybe thats affected practice and how he does things.The great thing about tennis, though, is that whoever finishes No. 1, the race for next year starts really soon. Theres no one else in equation for 2017 other than Murray and Djokovic.Cahill laughed when he was asked whether Djokovic, who like Murray is 29, would ever regain the No. 1 ranking.Nah, Cahill said. Everyones reading into this way too much. Hes been so dominant the past three, four years. Its tough to get to No. 1 -- tougher to stay there.I think hell recharge his batteries for 2017. What hes gone through speaks volumes about what hes been able to maintain. Hes been so dominant you forget to appreciate. It doesnt come easy, even to the great players.Whatever happens in London, Murray -- the once-scowling, ranting, on-court tyrant -- is in a better place. When John Isner forced the Paris final to a third set, Murray did not sulk. Rather, he bounced around the court, sprinting to get in position to return the next serve, even after getting aced. It was a refreshing (and telling) display of positive energy.Everythings all right with Andy, Carillo said. Hes married and has a little girl. Hes taken the happy mantle that went from Roger the Rafa to Novak. Happy helps on the court. Its nice to see him smiling. Konstantinos Mavropanos Arsenal Jersey .C. -- When North Carolina freshman Ryan Switzer reported to training camp in August he was a little miffed to learn he was third on the depth chart at punt returner. Alexandre Lacazette Jersey . Manuel was offered a position the day he was fired. He accepted earlier this week and the team made the announcement Friday. http:///...yang-Arsenal-Jersey/ . -- The Bishops Gaiters are showing they belong among the countrys top varsity football teams. CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored a season-high 30 points and the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers stayed undefeated, beating the Boston Celtics 128-122 on Thursday night.James moved within two points of passing Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th place on the NBAs all-time scoring list. Olajuwon had 26,946 points, a total James will likely surpass Saturday night in Philadelphia.The Cavaliers are 5-0 for the first time since 1976-77 when they started 8-0.Kevin Love scored 26 points, also a season high, while Kyrie Irving added 23 for the Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson recorded a double-double in the first half, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points and Avery Bradley had 26 for the Celtics, who played without two starters, center Al Horford (concussion) and forward Jae Crowder (sprained left ankle).BUCKS 125, PACERS 106MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker each had 27 points to lead the Bucks past the Pacers.Paul George scored 23 points, reserve C.J. Miles added 19, Jeff Teague had 16 and Myles Turner 15, but it wasnt enough as the Pacers slipped to 0-3 on the road.When Parker hit from in close and then from beyond the arc to open the fourth quarter, it looked like the Bucks would coast to their third win of the season.Indiana had other ideas and closed with a flurry led by George who hit a 3-pointer with 9:28 to go, cutting the deficit to 95-82. When Turner made two free throws and Thaddeus Young hit a basket, the Buckss lead was nine. Alex Iwobi Jersey. MAGIC 102, KINGS 94ORLANDO, Fla. -- Evan Fournier scored 29 points and Serge Ibaka added 17 to lead the Magic to a victory over the Kings.In one of their better offensive games this season, the Magic had five players score in double figures with Aaron Gordon contributing a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while reserve Jeff Green scored 15 points. The Magic (2-3) won back-to-back games for the first time this season as they returned home from a three-game trip.DeMarcus Cousins led all scorers with 33 points, while Rudy Gay added 16 for the Kings (2-4), who have lost three straight on their current five-game road swing.NUGGETS 102, TIMBERWOLVESMINNEAPOLIS -- Danilo Gallinari scored 19 points and Jusuf Nurkic added 18 to help the Nuggets outlast the Timberwolves.Wilson Chandler added 19 points to lead an impressive performance by Denvers second unit to erase a 15-point second-quarter deficit. The Nuggets outscored Minnesota 45-23 off the bench and shot 48 percent for their second win of the season.Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Andrew Wiggins scored 25 for the Timberwolves, who gave away a lead of at least 15 points for the third time in four games this season. Nemanja Bjelica scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, but his 3-pointer at the buzzer went in and out. ' ' '