Which sport did Rafa Nadal nearly switch to in 2005?

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Which sport did Rafa Nadal nearly switch to in 2005?

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 22, 2011MADRID (AP) -- Devastated and "without appetite for life," Rafael Nadal contemplated a move into professional golf after a career-threatening injury sidelined him, the 10-time Grand Slam champion has written in his autobiography. The Spanish player writes in "Rafa" that doctors discovered a rare foot injury in 2005 that had the potential to sideline him for good, prompting thoughts of a future in golf. In the book, provided to The Associated Press and to be released in the United States on Tuesday, the 25-year-old Nadal describes his toughest on-court battles with Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon final and subsequent Australian Open. But his off-court problems play a large part in the former top-ranked player's career. The mental toll of his parents' separation hindered his recovery from injuries in 2009, when pride led him to try to defend his French Open title despite his physical problems. Still, his lowest point seems to have been when doctors discovered a congenital bone problem in the bridge of his left foot soon after a five-set victory over Ivan Ljubicic in Madrid on his toughest indoor surface. Nadal said that joy was soon replaced by "a state of deepest gloom." "(The) diagnosis had initially been like a shot to the head," Nadal writes. "The bone still hurts me. It remains under control, just, but we can never drop our guard." Nadal wept then just as he did after losing the 2007 Wimbledon final to Federer. But he did not cry on the flight from Melbourne in 2009 when his father Sebastian revealed to the recently crowned Australian Open champion that his parents had separated. "My attitude was bad. I was depressed, lacking in enthusiasm. (My team) knew something had to give," writes Nadal, with the weight of those problems leading to his only defeat in seven appearances at Roland Garros and his subsequent withdrawal from Wimbledon. "My knees were the immediate reason, but I knew the root cause was my state of mind." Mental toughness -- instilled by coach and uncle Toni -- is a key theme, especially in his ability to bounce back, including trying for his first victory in three Wimbledon finals against Federer. Nadal was "gripped with fear," the warrior figure he'd cultivated had "lost his courage" after failing to clinch victory on several match point opportunities against Federer. Nadal credits moments like these for improving his mental stamina, with one chapter even titled "Fear of Winning." "What I battle hardest to do in a tennis match is to quiet the voices in my head, to shut everything out of my mind ... should a thought of victory suggest itself, crush it," Nadal writes on the opening page before later adding: "I think I have the capacity to accept difficulties and overcome them that is superior to many of my rivals." Toni's "cruel to be kind" coaching strategy was key in developing him into the "tennis machine" he is, comparing his uncle to a figure descended from 16th-century conquistador Hernan Cortes with a Spartan philosophy of life uncommon to his home island of Mallorca. "There was no let up from Toni. No mercy," the second-ranked player writes. "I look back at that teenage Rafael and I am proud of him. He set a benchmark of endurance that has served me as an example and as a reminder ... if you want something badly enough, no sacrifice is too great." Nadal offers interesting insight into his regimen and his family offers some surprising details about the Manacor native in the 250-page memoir, which was written by John Carlin who authored the book that director Clint Eastwood turned into the film Invictus. Nadal's mother Ana Maria Parera labels him a "scaredy cat" who sleeps with a light on; an obedient and docile child who became the "family mascot" inside a close-knit family that Carlin describes as "something Sicilian ... without the malice or guns." Perhaps the strangest revelation is Nadal's dislike of animals, especially dogs: "I doubt their intentions." Of Federer there is mostly respectful reflections of a rival and friend that he calls "a blessed freak of nature" for his talent. The closest Nadal comes to criticism is when he says Federer mis-hit a shot "the way an ordinary club player might" while recounting the epic All-England final that delivered the first of his two Wimbledon wins. Of current top-ranked player Novak Djokovic, who has beaten Nadal in five straight finals this year, there is trepidation of a "formidable opponent" who is "one hell of a player, temperamental but hugely talented."

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

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Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.