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Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month before facing Carlos Alcaraz in Sunday’s Wimb

Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month before facing Carlos Alcaraz in Sunday’s Wimb

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863153

By Howard Fendrich

Associated Press

Not surprisingly, Novak Djokovic was far from convinced he could win Wimbledon when the tournament began less than a month after his surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“I was just thinking about moving well [and] not injuring myself,” he said.

After getting through his first few matches at the All England Club, though, Djokovic thought: “OK, I’m actually playing close to my best, and I can have a shot at the title.”

Now he’s just one victory away from what would be an eighth championship at Wimbledon — equaling Roger Federer for the most by a man — and a 25th Grand Slam trophy overall, more than any tennis player ever. Won’t be easy: On Sunday, Djokovic will face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final; Kate, the Princess of Wales, is set to be there in a rare public appearance after her cancer diagnosis.

“History is on the line,” Djokovic said about the milestones at stake for him. “Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations. Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches. And people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.”

It’s doubtful that many counted on him to win enough to make his way to the last day of this fortnight — at least they probably didn’t on June 3, the day he hurt his knee at the French Open. Or on June 4, the day he withdrew from his quarterfinal at that tournament, where he was the defending champion. Or on June 5, the day he had the operation in Paris.

Even Djokovic was uncertain until a few days before the Wimbledon draw in late June that he would compete at all.

Still, during Roland Garros, it was Alcaraz who noted Djokovic’s past history of returning from injuries: “He comes back stronger and he comes back quickly.” And, on the eve of Wimbledon, it was Alcaraz who called Djokovic superhuman for managing to return to action.

Djokovic said he derived some optimism from texting with Taylor Fritz, the American who injured his meniscus at the 2021 French Open and competed at Wimbledon three weeks later.

Fritz was on a flight home from Paris this year when he received a message from Djokovic with questions about the procedure and recovery, then got a later note seeking more input after the surgery.

“If there’s anything he probably took from what I said, it was just confidence that it’s doable. I said, ‘Actually, you’ll be surprised how good you feel, so quickly. You wouldn’t expect it,’” Fritz said. “I told him: ‘It’s painful. It’s really uncomfortable. But you can play through it.’”

So that’s what Djokovic did.

And by the time he was defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the semifinals Friday, Djokovic was pain-free and moving fine while wearing a gray sleeve on his knee.

All in all, this has been a subpar season for the second-seeded Djokovic. Not only hasn’t he won a title, but he hadn’t even reached a final at any tournament until now.

None of that matters on Sunday, when he will try to stop the third-seeded Alcaraz from collecting his fourth Slam title.

“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. … I know what I have to do,” said Alcaraz, who got past Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. “I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me.”

Alcaraz, still only 21, is 3-0 in major finals.

That includes beating Djokovic in five sets 12 months ago at Wimbledon, plus triumphs at the U.S. Open in 2022 and at the French Open last month.

“He’s a very all-around player, very complete player. Impressive what he has done for such a young age. … Probably all of us share the same opinion — that he’s going to win many Slams in his career,” Djokovic said Friday night. “Hope he’s going to give me this one in two days, and let’s see. After that, I’ll cheer for him.”



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/novak-djokovic-carlos-alcaraz-wimbledon-final-tennis-2/
Rays lose to Guardians on 2-run pinch-hit homer in 8th

Rays lose to Guardians on 2-run pinch-hit homer in 8th

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863239

By MARK DIDTLER

Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG — Jhonkensy Noel hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning as the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 to stop a three-game skid on Saturday.

Noel connected on his fourth homer in 35 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Columbus last month off Garrett Cleavinger (5-2) to put the Guardians ahead 4-2.

After Nick Sandlin (6-0) had a scoreless seventh, Emmauel Clase worked the ninth to get his 29th save in 32 chances.

Cleveland’s Steven Kwan went 0 for 4, and had his batting average fall to .354 from .359.

Yandy Díaz drove in a run for the Rays, who fell under .500 at 47-48.

The Guardians took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Angel Martinez hit a solo hammer and Andrés Giménez had an RBI single off Zack Littell.

Díaz had a third-inning run-scoring double against Gavin Williams before the Rays tied it at 2 when Richie Palacios tripled and scored on a throwing error by shortstop Daniel Schneemann on Jonny DeLuca’s grounder in the fifth.

Williams allowed two runs, one earned, and three hits over five innings in his third start of the season. He began the season on the injured list after hurting his right elbow throwing a weighted ball on March 7 during spring training.

Littell went six innings, giving up two runs (one earned), and six hits.

Up next …

Cleveland at Tampa Bay

When: Sunday at Tropicana Field, 1:30

TV: Bally Sports Sun



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/noel-hits-2-run-pinch-hit-homer-in-the-8th-as-guardians-beat-rays-4-2-2/
Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month but faces Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final

Novak Djokovic is 37 and had knee surgery last month but faces Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31863154

By Howard Fendrich

Not surprisingly, Novak Djokovic was far from convinced he could win Wimbledon when the tournament began less than a month after his surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

“I was just thinking about moving well [and] not injuring myself,” he said.

After getting through his first few matches at the All England Club, though, Djokovic thought: “OK, I’m actually playing close to my best, and I can have a shot at the title.”

Now he’s just one victory away from what would be an eighth championship at Wimbledon — equaling Roger Federer for the most by a man — and a 25th Grand Slam trophy overall, more than any tennis player ever. Won’t be easy: On Sunday, Djokovic will face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final; Kate, the Princess of Wales, is set to be there in a rare public appearance after her cancer diagnosis.

“History is on the line,” Djokovic said about the milestones at stake for him. “Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time, it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations. Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches. And people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.”

It’s doubtful that many counted on him to win enough to make his way to the last day of this fortnight — at least they probably didn’t on June 3, the day he hurt his knee at the French Open. Or on June 4, the day he withdrew from his quarterfinal at that tournament, where he was the defending champion. Or on June 5, the day he had the operation in Paris.

Even Djokovic was uncertain until a few days before the Wimbledon draw in late June that he would compete at all.

Still, during Roland Garros, it was Alcaraz who noted Djokovic’s past history of returning from injuries: “He comes back stronger and he comes back quickly.” And, on the eve of Wimbledon, it was Alcaraz who called Djokovic superhuman for managing to return to action.

Djokovic said he derived some optimism from texting with Taylor Fritz, the American who injured his meniscus at the 2021 French Open and competed at Wimbledon three weeks later.

Fritz was on a flight home from Paris this year when he received a message from Djokovic with questions about the procedure and recovery, then got a later note seeking more input after the surgery.

“If there’s anything he probably took from what I said, it was just confidence that it’s doable. I said, ‘Actually, you’ll be surprised how good you feel, so quickly. You wouldn’t expect it,’” Fritz said. “I told him: ‘It’s painful. It’s really uncomfortable. But you can play through it.’”

So that’s what Djokovic did.

And by the time he was defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the semifinals Friday, Djokovic was pain-free and moving fine while wearing a gray sleeve on his knee.

All in all, this has been a subpar season for the second-seeded Djokovic. Not only hasn’t he won a title, but he hadn’t even reached a final at any tournament until now.

None of that matters on Sunday, when he will try to stop the third-seeded Alcaraz from collecting his fourth Slam title.

“I know how it’s going to feel playing against Djokovic. … I know what I have to do,” said Alcaraz, who got past Daniil Medvedev 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. “I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me.”

Alcaraz, still only 21, is 3-0 in major finals.

That includes beating Djokovic in five sets 12 months ago at Wimbledon, plus triumphs at the U.S. Open in 2022 and at the French Open last month.

“He’s a very all-around player, very complete player. Impressive what he has done for such a young age. … Probably all of us share the same opinion — that he’s going to win many Slams in his career,” Djokovic said Friday night. “Hope he’s going to give me this one in two days, and let’s see. After that, I’ll cheer for him.”



https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/07/13/novak-djokovic-carlos-alcaraz-wimbledon-final-tennis/
Rockies Journal: Why Colorado should draft Jac Caglianone, the power-hitting Florida Gator

Rockies Journal: Why Colorado should draft Jac Caglianone, the power-hitting Florida Gator

14/07/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31862987

Power pitcher or power hitter? The Rockies desperately need both, which is what makes this week’s major league draft so intriguing.

And the most intriguing player on the board, at least for Colorado, is 6-foot-5, 250-pound Florida first baseman/lefty pitcher Jac Caglianone, of whom Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said, “I had no idea he was going to become a Greek god.”

More on “Jactani” in a moment.

The Rockies have the third overall pick in Sunday night’s first round, the highest they’ve drafted since selecting infielder Brendan Rodgers with the third overall pick in 2015. As I noted recently, Colorado’s success rate with its high-profile draft picks is decidedly mixed.

Case in point: fireball, high school right-hander Riley Pint, the fourth overall pick in 2016, who has made two big-league appearances worth two innings and a 27.00 ERA.

There’s a lot of college talent at the top of the board this year and the Rockies have a golden opportunity to draft a franchise-changing player. Who they pick at No. 3 depends on their scouting, analysis and intuition. However, the two teams drafting ahead of them will also determine their choice.

The resurgent Guardians, owners of the best record in the American League, have the first pick. Cincinnati has the second. In the plethora of mock drafts, I’ve counted seven players who could go one or two. In all likelihood, the first two picks in the draft will be position players, not pitchers.

Some draft gurus have Travis Bazzana, Oregon State’s power-hitting second baseman, going to the Guardians, while others think West Virginia shortstop JJ Wetherholt is the best fit. Others predict that Georgia third baseman Charlie Condon, perhaps the most polished position player in the draft, will go No. 1 overall.

According to MLB.com draftniks Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Kenny Van Doren, the top position players are Bazzana, Condon, Wetherholt, and Caglianone. The Rockies have also reportedly heavily scouted Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz.

Because of the volatility at the top of the draft, Colorado has spent a lot of time scouting Bazzana, who has uncommon power for a second baseman.

The safe pick for the Rockies would be right-handed pitcher Chase Burns from Wake Forest. He throws a triple-digit fastball and an elite slider.

Because the Rockies, of course, always need pitching.

They have gone heavily in that direction over the last few years. But Colorado’s reconstruction project took a hit last year when prospects Gabriel Hughes (first round, 2022), Jackson Cox (second round, ‘22), Jordy Vargas (international signing) and McCade Brown (third round, ‘21) all underwent Tommy John surgeries.

Last year’s top two pitching picks, Chase Dollander (rated as Colorado’s top prospect) and Sean Sullivan (No. 13 prospect), are thriving at High-A Spokane and 2022 fourth-rounder Carson Palmquist is pitching well at Double-A Hartford and could make his big-league debut this season.

Still, despite some promise in the minors the Rockies struggle to develop pitching, no matter how many arms they throw into the mix.

That’s another reason why they should draft Caglianone at No. 3. They need a dynamic, dangerous slugger — someone who will make a big impact in a hurry. There’s a lot of hype about Caglianone being a two-way player, a la Shohei Ohtani. I don’t see that happening, especially if he lands in Colorado.

What I do see happening is a player who could reach the majors as soon as 2025 and be a 40-homer guy in two or three seasons. The fans in the right-field seats at Coors Field would have plenty of souvenirs.

This season at Florida, Caglianone belted 35 homers, the second-most in Division I behind Condon. Caglianone put up an incredible .419/.544/.875 slash line. He tied an NCAA record by hitting a homer in nine consecutive games. He launched a 516-foot homer as a junior.

Caglianone has been criticized for having too many holes in his swing despite his incredible power, which some scouts see as a red flag. However, he dramatically reduced his strikeout rate this season (18.2% down to 8.2%) and recorded twice as many walks (58) as strikeouts (26).

As he does every year, general manager Bill Schmidt has said that the Rockies “will take the best player available.”

Sunday night, that would be Caglianone, if he’s still on the board. The Rockies need a Blake Street Bomber.

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https://www.denverpost.com/2024/07/13/jac-caglianone-mlb-draft-rockies-journal/
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