National Sports Briefs
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2011
PARIS ó Quickly and rather quietly, Roger Federer is back in the French Open semifinals.
There will be absolutely nothing low-key ó or, it seems safe to say, easy ó about what comes next for the 16-time Grand Slam champion: a showdown against Novak Djokovic, who is 41-0 this year and unbeaten in his last 43 matches overall.
With attention focused elsewhere, perhaps in part because some assume his best days are behind him, the no-fuss, no-muss Federer simply has won all 15 sets he’s played so far, capped Tuesday by a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (3) quarterfinal victory over No. 9-seeded Gael Monfils of France.
Their semifinal is sure to be the talk of the tennis world until it’s played Friday.
For Djokovic, a victory over Federer would guarantee a rise to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time. It also would make the second-seeded Serb 42-0 in 2011, tying John McEnroe in 1984 for the best start to a season in the Open era, which began in 1968.
For Federer, a victory would put him into his first Grand Slam final in more than 16 months, his longest drought since he won his first major title at Wimbledon in 2003. It would allow Federer to make clear to everyone that he’s still at the top of the game as his 30th birthday approaches in August. Plus, it would serve as something of a rebuke to Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semifinals at the U.S. Open in September and Australian Open in January.
“There’s less at stake for me than for him,” said Federer, who is 13-9 against Djokovic over their careers but 0-3 this year.
CHARLOTTE ó With the NBA looking at a potential lockout that would wipe out July’s summer leagues, the Charlotte Bobcats thought they found a way to still get a look at young players and free agents.
The league had other ideas.
Coach Paul Silas said Tuesday night the NBA turned down Charlotte’s plans to host a multi-team, free-agent camp after this month’s draft and before the collective bargaining agreement expires July 1.
The Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks were scheduled to bring free agents and possibly draft picks to Time Warner Cable Arena. The teams had even reserved hotel rooms for the series of workouts and scrimmages on two courts at the facility before plans changed.
“The league wouldn’t let us do it,” Silas said.
MINNEAPOLIS ó While Ricky Rubio mulls coming to the NBA next season, a deadline of sorts came and went on Tuesday without any word on whether the Spanish point guard will be joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010-11.
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, it was the last day Rubio could sign a contract with the Timberwolves and ensure that his deal will fall under the existing rookie wage scale.
BALTIMORE ó Colin Briggs scored five goals and seventh-seeded Virginia edged Maryland 9-7 in the NCAA men’s lacrosse championship.
Briggs, who did not play in the semifinals after being suspended due to a violation of team rules, scored three times on uncontested shots and twice beat defenders 1-on-1, earning the most outstanding player award.
Matt White scored three times and Nick O’Reilly had a goal and four assists for the Cavaliers.
Grant Catalino had two goals and an assist for unseeded Maryland. Goalie Niko Amato made eight saves.
INDIANAPOLIS ó JR Hildebrand lost $1.5 million in the last mile of the Indianapolis 500.
He was leading the race heading into the final turn on the final lap when he went high to pass a slower car and slammed into the safety wall, allowing Dan Wheldon to win the 100-year anniversary race.
Wheldon received $2,567,255 for the victory while Hildebrand earned $1,064,895 for his second-place finish. The total purse was $13,509,485.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. ó Penn State athletic director Tim Curley says he hopes to get a new men’s basketball coach “very soon.”
BOILING SPRINGS ó Point guard Jarvis Davis is transferring from Central Florida to Gardner-Webb.
The 6-foot-1, Columbia, S.C., native played little at UCF, averaging 1.4 points and six minutes in 16 games as a freshman last season. After sitting out next season, Davis will have three years of eligibility with the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
ATLANTA ó Slumping Braves second baseman Dan Uggla was given an unexpected day off.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez made the announcement Tuesday before Atlanta played the San Diego Padres. Uggla and Gonzalez had a conversation before the game.
“Anytime I’m out of the lineup,” Uggla said, “it’s not my idea.”
Uggla, who signed a five-year, $62 million contract after the Braves acquired him in a November trade with Florida, has just four hits in his last 47 at-bats ó dropping his season batting average to .178.
BANNED FOR LIFE
LONDON ó Austria’s Daniel Koellerer became the first tennis player Tuesday to be banned for life for attempting to fix matches.
Koellerer, a former Davis Cup player who once reached No. 55 in the world rankings, was found guilty of three violations of the sport’s anti-corruption rules, including “contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event.”
The violations occurred between October 2009 and July 2010.