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7:30PM

Palm Springs Life: Novak Djokovic Is the Whole Package

By Art Spander
Palm Springs Life

He is the best in the game right now, No. 1 in men’s tennis, a ranking earned, not bestowed, which perhaps is the reason Novak Djokovic seems less intimidated by the position — you know the adage, nowhere to go but down — than invigorated by it.

“My thinking, my approach,” he said in response to a question of what should we expect, “is not that I have to win this, I’m supposed to win this, but I’m going to believe in myself, and I carry the confidence that has brought me to where I am at this moment.”

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Desert Publications. All rights reserved.

12:11PM

Bleacher Report: No End in Sight to Novak Djokovic's Dominance After Career Year, US Open Title

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

NEW YORK — He’s a man in full flight, at the top of his game, athletic, resolute, a champion whose future is no less beautiful than his present. Novak Djokovic had a rare year in tennis, a winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, a runner-up in the fourth.

But it’s not so much what Djokovic has done—adding another U.S. Open championship to his collection of titles with his win Sunday over the man who was the gold standard of the sport, Roger Federer.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

9:03PM

Bleacher Report: Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer Battle a Dream Finale for 2015 US Open

By Art Spander
Featured Columnist

NEW YORK — This is what tennis wanted, and the sport will have it on Sunday in the U.S. Open men's final: the best against the best, No. 1 against No. 2, the great server against the great returner.

It’s the dream match — the latest version of a recurring dream.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

4:27PM

New York: Federer, Serena, Pinsanity and the Pope

By Art Spander

NEW YORK — Roger Federer and Serena Williams are here (and still winning), the Pope’s en route and the heat won’t leave. Late summer humidity clings to this place like the vagrants the police commissioner is trying to chase out of the city, in what the New York Post headlined as a "BUMS’ RUSH."

Everything’s here. The tennis open, the traffic, the heat, the misery, the delight. Everyone’s here, or was here. Or will be here. Or is just down the road. “The party’s 15 minutes away,” says the billboard to the right of the Long Island Expressway just out of the Midtown Tunnel. Right around the bend at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

It’s what the Post said about the Yankees' win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night: “Pinsanity,” a play on pinstripes, which along with “Bombers,” as in Bronx Bombers, is how the tabloids refer to the Yanks. New York is a big city, the biggest, the wildest, masquerading as a small town.

In California, seasons are judged by the weather. If it’s foggy along the coast, it must be summer, right? Back east, they adhere to the calendar. Swimming pools open Memorial Day and are drained on or about Labor Day.

It says September, so unpack the winter clothes. The New York Giants (“Big Blue”) and Jets (“Gang Green”) are ready to begin the NFL season. Fortunately, unlike Levi’s Stadium, their shared home, MetLife Stadium, has an overhang.

They’re in the process of building a roof at the tennis complex. The superstructure has been erected, like some enormous spider web. The idea after so many washouts was to play matches during rain, which was something that might have been welcome when the temperature hit the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday.

It was only in the mid-80s Thursday, but oppressive enough. Jack Sock, the 22-year-old from Nebraska, collapsed during the fourth set of his match against Ruben Bemelmans and was carried out. His was the 13thth early retirement in four days of this U.S. Open.

On Wednesday night, around midnight, defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic became so sweaty he planted his hand in a small pile of sawdust — and still couldn’t grip his racquet tightly enough to keep from double-faulting on a serve. He did win his match.

So, Thursday, did Stan Wawrinka, who’s won a French and Australian Open. Wawrinka was a 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 winner over Hyeon Chung, a 19-year-old Korean. The match lasted 3 hours 2 minutes, and Wawrinka, 30, said the conditions “were really tough.”

But he followed with that eternal comment regarding weather, good or bad, to wit, “I don’t know what we can do about it.”

There’s not much we can do about the New York tabs except enjoy them. As someone said long ago, they don’t have stories in New York, they have incidents.

Whether it’s the poor manner in which Jets GM John Idzik drafted in 2014 (“DIRTY DOZEN,” according to the Post) or the refusal by U.S. Tennis Association president Katrina Adams to keep the guest of a big tournament supporter from her private box because the guest wasn’t dressed properly (“Open warfare over jeans”).

You know the line from the Kander-Ebb song, the one linked to Sinatra: “If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere.” The Open has made it in New York because it’s so much a part of the city — noisy, dramatic, newsworthy. There are stars on the court. There are celebrities in the seats. Derek Jeter, who used to spend his days fielding grounders at Yankee Stadium, spent Tuesday in a private box at Ashe Stadium.

If Wimbledon is the example of English restraint and subtlety, the Open is a boisterous adventure into American free expression. There’s nothing subtle about it, but how could there be when it wants to get noticed and admired in New York?

The other night, after Djokovic’s ridiculously easy victory, a man was brought out of the stands onto the court and began to dance as music poured of the loudspeakers. He waved a towel at Djokovic, who grabbed it and, in good nature, danced along.

Then the guy pulled out an “I Love New York” T-shirt and pulled it over Djokovic’s tennis shirt.  Great theater. The Pope, who’s scheduled to be here in late September, will have a difficult act to top.

9:44AM

Newsday (N.Y.): Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer to become new king of Wimbledon

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic understood whom he was playing and where he was playing Sunday. He also understood what he had to do against Roger Federer, a seven-time Wimbledon champion.

"You know he's not going to lose," Djokovic said. "I'm going to have to win it if I want to lift that trophy."

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2015 Newsday. All rights reserved.