Monday, September 12, 2016

Sports Update for September 12, 2016

US Open Finals

Well, the Men's and Women's Finals in the last Grand Slam event of this calendar year took place this past weekend, with both matches involving the world number ones.

On the women's side, Angelique Kerber of Germany had just overtaken Serena Williams for the top spot, and was trying to solidify it with another Grand Slam title, having already won the Australian Open title earlier this year.

Showing that hard German work ethic, Kerber had to endure, and capitalized on numerous mistakes from her opponent, Czech Karolina Pliskova, to earn the 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win.

Pliskova had managed to defeat both Williams sisters in this US Open to reach her first ever Grand Slam Final, although it proved to be riddled with mistakes and missed opportunities, which Kerber generally managed to capitalize on. 

Kerber now holds the number one ranking in women's tennis, and has a good chance to finish out the year as the top rated woman. Already, some are comparing her to the legendary German tennis star Steffi Graf, although such comparisons still seem a little premature. That said, Kerber had an incredible year, and many felt that her rise to become the number one ranked woman was unlikely. But she definitely earned it!

For the men, Stan "The Man" Wawrinka met the world number one in Novak Djokovic, in a match that strongly resembled the other Grand Slam Final that these two men played in at last year's French Open Final. Much like that match, Djokovic took the first set, before Wawrinka seemed to physically wear him down and out, taking the next three sets to take the title.

Wawrinka played some very sharp tennis, and was able to win some incredible, spectacular points along the way, although he was laying extremely sloppily in a mistake-filled first set. He was down 4-1, and on the verge of being broken for what appeared at that point to be an easy set for Djokovic, before Wawrinka finally started to get in gear, holding his service game to make it 4-2. Novak was able to win the next service game for a 5-2 lead, but Wawrinka once again held serve, and then managed to pull off a stunner by breaking Djokovic to put the set back on serve. Both men held service the rest of the way, and it went to a first set tie-break, where Djokovich won all but one point. However, the one point that Wawrinka had in that tie-break was probably the most spectacular point of the match, if not perhaps even of the tournament, as both men pulled off some incredible shots to stay in the point, before Wawrinka finally put the point away. He then jumped in excitement, and urged the crowd to get on it's feet. The very next point, Djokovic himself hit a spectacular winner, and yelled out and did a fist pump. The match looked like it was going to be an exciting affair, at that point, although Djokovic took the tie-break surprisingly easily at 7-1.

Considering how hard Wawrinka fought to get back into the set and force the tie-break, there were questions about the psychological effect of then losing so quickly and easily in the all-important tie-break.

But we need not have worried, as Wawrinka immediately took control in the second, set, breaking Djokovic's serve and holding the momentum. In fact, the rest of the match belonged to Wawrinka, who eventually took the match 6-7 (7-1),  6-4, 7-5, 6-3.

This was Wawrinka's third career Grand Slam title, as he also won the 2014 Australian Open and the 2015 French Open title. He is already three quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam, and would complete it if he manages to win the Wimbledon title someday.


There were no really huge surprises or upsets thus far in the first week of regular season play in the NFL, and there seemed to be an unusually high amount of close games. 

NY Giants 20, Dallas 19 - Eli Manning drove the Giants to a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to bring the Giants ahead and, eventually, to earn a come-from-behind victory in this back and forth affair. Victor Cruz caught his first pass in nearly two years and, eventually, he was able to catch that all-important fourth quarter touchdown that essentially won the game for New York, and he managed to perform his first salsa dance since the 2014 season with the touchdown in yesterday's showdown between the G-Men and the 'Boys. Dallas still had a chance late in the game, but after catching a pass, Terrance Williams stayed inbounds instead of going out of bounds, thus running out the clock on the chances for a last-minute Cowboys comeback. The Giants finally managed to beat the Cowboys in Dallas for the first time in years, and also managed to avoid losing on the opening weekend, which they have done now for quite a few years in a row.

I believe that the last time the Giants won a game with the score of 20-19 was in Super Bowl XXV, when they just held on to beat the Buffalo Bills for their second Super Bowl championship ever, back in the 1990-91 season.

Cincinnati 23, NY Jets 22 - In the other NFL game involving a New York/New Jersey franchise, the Jets were the team that fell just short in a last-minute attempt to steal the game. In truth, the Jets had played well against the perennial playoff contending Bengals, but not quite well enough in the end. 

Green Bay 27, Jacksonville 23 - The Packers were able to produce the points to hold off a tough challenge from the up and coming Jaguars, who may yet have a surprisingly successful season. 

Oakland 35, New Orleans 34 - The Raiders called a risky two-point conversion, but when it was converted successfully, it can now be seen as a brilliant call that essentially earned the road victory for Oakland.

Kansas City 33, San Diego 27 (OT) - San Diego provided a surprisingly tough challenge, and the game had to be decided in overtime, although in the end, the Chiefs did manage to hold on for the win. 

Houston 23, Chicago 14 - This one pretty much went down the way that most people would have expected. Not a ton of points, and a relatively convincing home win for the Texans, who are already alone atop their division. 

Philadelphia 29, Cleveland 10 - I had predicted a Cleveland victory, but the Browns really came up flat. The rebuilding Eagles at least started the season off right with a home victory against the Browns, who already look like they will suffer through yet another long season.

Minnesota 26, Tennessee 16 - The Vikings may have some question marks still at quarterback, but they took advantage of a weak opponent to earn their first victory on opening weekend against Tennessee. 

Baltimore 13, Buffalo 7 - As expected, both defenses played hard and tough, in what indeed proved to be a low scoring contest. The Ravens hold service at home, as they really contain Buffalo's offense to just one touchdown in total points production, earning a victory in opening weekend to avoid the fate that Baltimore suffered last season, when they remained winless for quite some time. 

Detroit 39, Indianapolis 35 - This one was a real shootout! But it was Detroit that managed to hold off the Colts and earn a solid away win to start the season off right, in what seemed like a mildly surprising outcome. The Colts, by virtue of this loss, already find themselves one game behind Houston in the AFC South. 

Seattle 12, Miami 10 - Admittedly, I thought Seattle was going to blow Miami away, but they basically just hung on here at home to earn the victory and get off to the right kind of start, avoiding the poor start that they endured last season, which made it an uphill battle the rest of the way. For Miami, a solid showing on the road. 

New England 23, Arizona 21 - Despite the absence of their usual starting quarterback, Tom Brady, the Patriots still managed to pull off a huge win by beating the Cardinals in Arizona! New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo started his first NFL game and had himself a spectacular one, completing 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown. The Patriots seemed to have the Cardinals off-balance throughout, earning the narrow victory to get past their first of four games without Brady at the helm, and managed to get themselves a victory, already putting them alone in first place in the AFC East. A disappointing opener for Arizona, without a doubt, as they fail to capitalize on Brady's absence.

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