Bad news for tennis fans

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Bad news for tennis fans

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam count will stay stuck at 11 for now, sidetracked by another knee problem. The third-ranked Spaniard withdrew from the U.S. Open on Wednesday. Tendinitis has kept him out of action since his stunning loss at Wimbledon in late June. The injury already forced him out of the London Olympics, where he was supposed to defend his title and carry Spain's flag in the opening ceremony. "I am very sad to announce that I am not ready to play the US Open in NY. Thanks to my fans for their support and specially, the new yorkers," Nadal wrote on his Twitter account. Nadal is still only 26, but the withdrawals raise questions about the future of a player who has had recurring knee problems in the past. His 11 Grand Slam titles include a record seven on the red clay of the French Open, yet his hard-charging, hard-hitting style of play takes a toll on his body, particularly his knees. Roger Federer, in contrast, has played in every Grand Slam tournament since the start of 2000, a streak of 51 in a row. In 2009, Nadal missed Wimbledon because of aching knees shortly after falling in the round of 16 at the French Open -- the only time in eight appearances he hasn't won at Roland Garros. He was just the second men's champion in 35 years to decline to defend his title at the All England Club. But Nadal eventually came back stronger than ever from that layoff. After failing to reach the final at the 2009 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open, he won the French to start a run of three straight major titles, capped by completing the career Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows. Nadal's absence immediately leaves a trio of heavy favorites at the last Grand Slam event of the year: defending champion Novak Djokovic; five-time U.S. Open winner and currently top-ranked Federer; and 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Andy Murray, who won the gold medal in singles at the London Games by beating Federer in the final. Nadal lost in the U.S. Open final to Djokovic last year, part of a stretch of three straight defeats to the Serb in championship matches at major tournaments. But he seemed to be closing the gap, and at Roland Garros in June, he beat Djokovic in the final for his record seventh title there. Then came the stunning loss at Wimbledon, and Nadal hasn't played since. On June 28, 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol upset him in the second round at the All England Club. Shortly after that defeat, Nadal canceled a scheduled charity match against Djokovic in Spain, citing tendon problems in his left knee. The two-week U.S. Open starts Aug. 27. "Rafa has informed us that he will not be ready to compete at the U.S. Open this year and has withdrawn from the tournament," tournament director David Brewer said in a statement on Wednesday. "We hope to see him back on the court soon and look forward to his return to New York next year."

Brown: 'An honor' to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

Brown: 'An honor' to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

BOSTON – Although he’s only been with the Boston Celtics a short period of time, rookie forward Jaylen Brown is no stranger to making strong statements on the basketball court.

But for all the highlight-quality dunks and acrobatic lay-ups many of us have been a witness to, his most powerful moment may have come Monday night when he addressed the TD Garden crowd in delivering a speech in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day.

“We can talk all day about how Martin Luther King (Jr.) impacted us,” Brown said after Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte. “It still wouldn’t do justice. I just wanted to do my part and express how me and my teammates feel about the great Martin Luther King and everything him and that generation did for us.”

His speech moved many, including head coach Brad Stevens.

“I thought that was great; I thought it was great,” Stevens said. “And he went a little bit over his allotted time, I think, but I wish he would have kept going because I thought he did a terrific job of capturing what I think we all feel, and I thought it was extremely eloquently done.”

The only hiccup Brown felt he had during the speech was losing his train of thought briefly due to the echo he heard when talking into the microphone.

But that didn’t take away from the powerful message Brown delivered that he said he did not practice too hard for.

“It was all off the top of my head,” he said.

However, he said some of the message he delivered came from what he learned in a student activism class at Cal last year which is a reminder to us all just how young Brown is.

But as we saw in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,624, Brown is comfortable being the center of attention for important moments.

“It was an honor to be chosen to commemorate somebody like Martin Luther King, and represent my team and represent the NBA and the Celtics organization,” Brown said. “I’ve been celebrating this day for a long time. I’ve been studying and appreciating Martin Luther King and everything he’s done for a while. When they asked me, I was excited.”

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.