Tag Archives: Wimbledon

10 Most Memorable Sports Moments of 2013

By: Prad

What a year it’s been for the sports community. 2013 has included a myriad of emotions surrounding various events from terrorist attacks to retirements. Unfortunately, I have compiled solely the top 10 moments of the year, so many deserving moments did not make the cut.

10) Superdome Lighting Failure

Half of the Superdome in darkness Courtesy of NY Times
Half of the Superdome in darkness
Courtesy of NY Times

Normally this should not be classified under “most memorable”, but the magnitude of the lighting failure is of note. New Orleans spent an estimated $471 million on this year’s Super Bowl. With almost half a billion dollars, you’d expect for at least all the lights to work, something that should have been a top priority for the Superdome maintenance staff. With 13:22 minutes left in the third quarter, half of the stadium plunged into darkness leaving TV viewers, players, and especially the audience confused. The partial blackout remained for a whopping 34 minutes. Apparently, Beyonce’s extravagant halftime show is somewhat responsible for the outage because of the amount of lighting used during her performance, forcing the device that detects electrical load to open a breaker and cut the lights.

9) Dunk City, USA

FGCU had a lot of fun during their ride to the Sweet Sixteen Courtesy of Naples News
FGCU had a lot of fun during its ride to the Sweet Sixteen
Courtesy of Naples News

Florida Gulf Coast University had quite the emergence on the national stage in 2013 by taking down #2 Georgetown in March. And then #7 San Diego St. went down for an encore performance. FGCU became the first #15 seed in NCAA history to reach the Sweet Sixteen. The wins were definitely impressive, but what made it even better was the excitement that the players on that team brought to the court in those two games. Dunk after dunk brought the city of Fort Meyers the fitting name of “Dunk City, USA.” The alley-oops were great, but the Cinderella story was even better. FGCU, a college that was founded in 1991, defeated the mighty Georgetown Hoyas, a team that has been playing for over a century. Plus, the 2012 – 2013 season was their first Division 1 season and first appearance in the NCAA tournament.

8) Mile High Miracle

Joe Flacco's pass lands perfectly past CB Rahim Moore's outstretched arm Courtesy of Bleacher Report
Joe Flacco’s pass lands perfectly past CB Rahim Moore’s outstretched arm
Courtesy of Bleacher Report

This AFC divisional – round game between the Ravens and Broncos came down to a final Baltimore drive with under a minute remaining. A true playoff classic was sent into overtime after a 70 yard heave from QB Joe Flacco to WR Jacoby Jones resulted in a touchdown with 31 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter. This TD brought the score to 35-35, a score that remained for the next 15 minutes resulting in a second overtime period. It ended up being the fourth longest game in NFL playoff history. Sadly for Denver fans, the game ended with a Manning interception and a Justin Tucker 47 yard field goal. Final score: 38-35. The Ravens were thankful for a birth in the AFC Championship game en route to a Super Bowl win. And undoubtedly,  the 70 yard TD grab was the highlight of an unforgettable season for Baltimore.

7) Louisville’s Inspiration

Kevin Ware wanted nothing but a championship Courtesy of Examiner.com
Kevin Ware wanted nothing but a championship
Courtesy of Examiner.com

Essentially every single sports fan in the nation has seen Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury suffered in the win against Duke in the Elite Eight. Everyone on the court was able to see the actual white of Ware’s tibia sticking out of his skin. People who witnessed it agree that it was definitely the most graphic injury they have ever seen and that’s saying something in an internet age where every injury is seen by everybody. More importantly, the words uttered from Kevin Ware’s mouth immediately following his horrific injury stayed with Louisville for the rest of the tourney. “Just win the game. I’m OK. Just win the game.” The boys on that team did every thing they did for Ware. That inspiration and team bond led them to victory over Wichita St. in the Final Four and Michigan in the National Championship game.

6) A British Savior

Andy Murray ended the 77 year Wimbledon drought for England Courtesy of USA Today
Andy Murray ended the 77 year Wimbledon drought for England
Courtesy of USA Today

It appeared that Andy Murray had wasted his best chance of winning Wimbledon when he succumbed to Roger Federer in 2012’s Wimbledon Final. But, the best was yet to come. On July 7, 2013 Murray defeated #1 Novak Djokovic, a former Wimbledon champion, to make Wimbledon history. A player from Great Britain had not won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, which was 77 years ago. He was deemed a “choker” on the biggest of stages before his 2012 US Open title, his first Grand Slam. Prior to winning that US Open, he had lost in four Grand Slam finals and six Grand Slam semi-finals. The entire United Kingdom had placed the burden of winning a Grand Slam for years on Andy Murray and he answered the call by capturing Wimbledon this year. This was a truly momentous occasion for a country that dominated the sport decades ago.

5) The First Openly Gay Athlete in North American Professional Sports

Jason Collins is still vying for an NBA contract Courtesy of Sports Illustrated
Jason Collins is still vying for an NBA contract
Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

In SI’s May 6 issue this year, Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in the four major North American Professional sports. The support he received the following days and months was unexpected. The social media circus immediately following the announcement was shocking as he received more complimentary remarks than derogatory.  He started, in his words, a “conversation” that will lead to more athletes coming out openly with their sexual preference. The Stanford product has played 12 seasons in the NBA as a center, but is not currently under contract with any team. Despite his announcement, he is still attempting to sign another contract with an NBA franchise. This barrier needed to be broken at some point and it did in 2013.

4) The Greatest Closer Says Goodbye

Longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter gave Rivera the ball for one last time in Yankees Stadium Courtesy of NY Daily News
Longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter took the ball from Rivera one last time
Courtesy of NY Daily News

On September 16, Mariano Rivera pitched his final game in front of the home crowd at Yankee Stadium. After almost two decades, all with the New York Yankees, Rivera tallied 652 saves and 42 postseason saves, both of which are records. Fans and analysts identify Rivera as arguably the greatest closer in baseball history. He is also the last player in MLB history to wear #42, because on the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut, MLB commissioner Bud Selig retired #42 for all teams. However, there were 13 players in the league who already wore the #42 uniform, so Selig allowed them to wear it until they retired. And Rivera was the last of the 13 still playing.  He certainly did #42 justice by pitching his best when it mattered most and doing so with grace and dignity. It will be very difficult to find another player who carries himself with such respect for his peers and the game. Sandman will be eternally missed by baseball fans.

3) Auburn’s Magical Iron Bowl

Chris Davis crushed Alabama's hopes Courtesy of The Washington Post
Chris Davis crushed Alabama’s hopes
Courtesy of The Washington Post

Many consider the ending to the Iron Bowl on November 30 the greatest finish in football history. The ending was not only immensely exciting, but the implications involved made for a moment that will be difficult to ever replicate. The moment Chris Davis ran past the last diving Alabama player at the 45 yard line, every single viewer was in disbelief of what they had just witnessed. Davis returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown as time expired, giving Auburn the victory and signaling an end to Alabama’s dream of winning a third consecutive BCS National Championship and a fourth in a five year span. The win gave Auburn the chance to play in the SEC Championship game against Missouri too. The victory against Missouri gives them the #2 ranking and a trip to Pasadena for the BCS Championship game on January 6, 2014. This was quite the turnaround from a season ago when Auburn football went 3-9 and 0-8 against SEC opponents. Currently, the Tigers stand at 12-1 and have had one of the best improvements in terms of record in NCAA football history. Even if Auburn loses to #1 Florida St. in the final BCS National Championship game, their season will still be considered a remarkable one that will not be forgotten for a long time.

2) Ray Allen and Miami’s Miraculous Comeback

The Larry O'brein trophy was being reeled in with 5.2 seconds left and an all but sure Spurs victory Courtesy of The Boston Globe
The Spurs had an almost guaranteed victory with 5.2 second left in Game 6
Courtesy of The Boston Globe

The staff at American Airlines Arena was reeling in the Larry O’Brien Trophy with around 20 seconds remaining in regulation. The score was 95-92 and the Heat didn’t have any timeouts left, an inevitable Spurs victory. On the following Heat possession, LeBron James missed a three but Chris Bosh was able to secure the rebound and pass it back to a backpedaling Ray Allen in the corner, yes the corner three, it’s where Allen has made his living for the last 17 seasons. And Allen drills it with 5.2 seconds left in the game. Score: 95-95. Miami then outscored San Antonio in the ensuing overtime period for a final score of 103-100. Allen made some big shots in overtime as well accounting for four of the eight points in an NBA Finals thriller that will remain a classic for decades to come. With this much momentum heading into Game 7, Miami couldn’t lose and they didn’t disappoint. A stellar 37-point performance from LeBron gave the Heat a 95-88 Game 7 victory and a second consecutive Larry O’Brien Trophy. LeBron’s triple-double in Game 6 and aforementioned 37-point outburst in Game 7 of the Finals were certainly great spectacles, but Ray Allen’s shot with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 is one of the greatest moments in NBA Finals history. Period.

1) Boston Strong

 Courtesy of ESPN
Boston’s resiliency captured the hearts of many
Courtesy of ESPN

On April 15, Boston witnessed a horrific terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon resulting in 3 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The 117th running of the race was marred by two bombs near the finish line on the famous Boylston St. Five days after the bombings, David Ortiz gave a pre-game speech at Fenway and said that “this is our (expletive) city.” Boston has always been known for its uncompromising dedication to its sports teams, but support was at an all time high throughout 2013 after the bombings. Its teams played with greater determination and will than ever before as a result and it was evident in the successful seasons for the Bruins and Red Sox. The Boston Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals eventually losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. And four months later, the Red Sox had an opportunity to accomplish something great in the wake of the disaster and they delivered. The Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the World Series. The unwavering support from Boston fans definitely helped them clinch a third title in nine seasons. Although, the success of the Sox can’t completely eradicate the painful memories of the bombings, the Boston Red Sox certainly lifted the spirits of many who were affected by the tragedy.

A British Savior

By: Prad

Andy Murray's Wimbledon Trophy Courtesy of ESPN
Andy Murray’s Wimbledon Trophy
Courtesy of ESPN

A long 77 years ended for the British when a much anticipated match ended in victory for Andy Murray. Perhaps Sir Andrew Barron Murray is in store for the world. Prepare for the potential beginning of knighthood for Murray since there is speculation from sources including Prime Minister David Cameron that Queen Elizabeth might perform the ceremony soon. But, an era that saw Great Britain’s worst showing in the sport they created has ended. Andy Murray’s quest for the most prestigious major in tennis came to an end on Sunday. Even on the women’s side, the last Wimbledon Champion was Virginia Wade in 1977. Murray has had a chip on his shoulder since the moment he became a prominent tennis player. This victory is more of a relief than anything else. The British can only hope that after Andy Murray’s career is finished, more British men erupt on to the world stage.

The British media placed much pressure on Andy Murray throughout his career from the time he turned professional. Murray has appeared in 3 of the last 4 grand slam finals and the one he didn’t was this year’s French Open, which he didn’t participate in. He has a 2-5 career record in the finals of the four majors. Surprisingly, he has met only two opponents in all of his seven grand slam finals appearances, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. He disappointed all of Britain when he began his career with 4 consecutive losses in grand slam finals. Murray made his first Wimbledon finals last year, but had an emotional defeat at the hands of Roger Federer in four sets. Yet, his career turned around in last year’s Summer Olympics, coincidentally on the same Wimbledon Centre Court, when he defeated Roger Federer to capture the gold medal. His breakthrough came in last year’s US Open, winning his first grand slam. Not Wimbledon but even a grand slam hadn’t been won in 76 years by a British man, the last being Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray's quest ended with Djokovic's ball hitting the net Courtesy of Daily Mail UK
Murray’s quest ended with Djokovic’s ball hitting the net
Courtesy of Daily Mail UK

17.3 million people in Britain alone watched the competitive three setter between Murray and Djokovic. Although I was expecting a long fierce five setter, the match that played out had more riveting points and sets that I could’ve hoped for. The last game of the 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 match forced the hair on the spectator’s backs to stand up. Murray had THREE match points when the score was 40-0. Djokovic miraculously pulled off a deuce in suspenseful 20-something shot rallies. Djokovic miraculously held advantage three different times in three separate deuces. Murray forced a fourth deuce and won another point to attain an advantage and then his lifetime ambition came to fruition when Novak Djokovic’s ball hit the top of the net. Essentially, every single newspaper or media publication in Great Britain had Andy Murray on the front page or cover with the word “Champion” somewhere in big and bold letters. Being a champion is something that Murray has worked tirelessly for, but being a “Wimbledon Champion” means infinitely more to him and all of Britain.

Strange Wimbledon?

By: Prad

Both the Women’s and Men’s draw offer interesting insight into the complexity of sports. Not necessarily tennis, but all sports.  We have seen the greatest tennis players of this generation being eliminated before the quarterfinals of the 2013 Wimbledon. The list has just been growing, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, and yesterday Serena Williams. This tournament has been a testament to the idea that any athlete can beat any other athlete on any given day.

During this wild tournament, players outside the top 100 have been able to defeat Nadal and Federer, definitively the two greatest players of the 21st century. We have seen upsets in the world of sports, but quite frankly this might just outdo all of them. Some consider the greatest moment in sports, the epic dethroning of the Soviet Union Hockey Team by Team U.S.A. during the gold medal round of the 1980 Olympics, dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” But, I believe these Wimbledon upsets when “combined” equal a far greater total upset. Now a “combination” is defined on my own terms as simply an amalgamation of all of these upsets, which equals the overall upset of the tournament.

Rafael Nadal Courtesy of ESPN
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has never lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament. What was particularly shocking about this loss was that Steve Darcis disposed of Nadal in straight sets. Obviously, there was an issue with a lingering injury that Nadal had to deal with, but still. Defeating Nadal will be the pinnacle of Darcis’ career, who is ranked 135 in the world and came into Wimbledon unseeded. He is the lowest ranked player to ever eliminate Nadal from any tournament ever.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova was eliminated in straight sets by a 131st ranked 20 year old player named Michelle Larcher de Brito. Sharapova attributed this loss to a hip injury. Last year, she was highly successful on the tour, attaining the #1 ranking in the world. Just last Grand Slam, this year’s French Open, she reached the finals but lost to her biggest rival, Serena Williams. I don’t consider this to be a terrible defeat for Sharapova considering she had consistency issues in the past. She didn’t win a Grand Slam for four years between 2008 and 2012. Nevertheless, one of the most respected women on the tour fell to the hands of a barely 20 year old from Portugal.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

In my opinion, Federer’s second round exit is the biggest upset of the tournament. He had the longest consecutive appearances in Grand Slam quarterfinals in tennis history with 36. This consistency that Federer is noted for evaporated in hours when 116th ranked Serhiy Stakhovsky eliminated Federer from Wimbledon, Federer’s most successful tournament, in four sets. To put this in perspective, Federer hadn’t lost a match in a Grand Slam before the quarterfinals since the 2003 French Open. But a player ended that streak, a player 113 ranks below him.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

Serena Williams, the current #1, reigning French Open champ, reigning Wimbledon champ, and the reigning US Open champ lost to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki. She lost in three sets to a 24th ranked player. Though, Lisicki is more respectable and established within the sport than the victors in the other matches I’ve mentioned, she ended one of the most dominant displays of tennis in WTA history. This ended the best winning streak of Serena’s career, 34 consecutive matches. It is one shy of her sister’s streak of 35, which she set in 2000 and is a record since the turn of the 21st century.

Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens

In both the Men’s and Women’s draws, there remains a sole American left in the quarterfinals. Sloane Stephens, a 20 year old who has elevated her game to new heights in the last year, has reached the quarters. She reached the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open as a 19 year old. Stephens has had some trouble getting into the quarters of Wimbledon though. She had to endure three set matches in the last three rounds. I don’t believe that she can beat a higher ranked Marion Bartoli in the quarters to advance to the semi’s because of the length of her previous three matches. But, tennis critics call her America’s future in the sport after Serena Williams dominance comes to an end.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Only two of the Big Four in Men’s tennis remain. The original two members have been eliminated before the third round. And the one who’s usually thought of as the last leg, Andy Murray looks the strongest in the tournament thus far. He has had a chip on his shoulder from the time he turned professional. He was supposed to be British tennis’ savior. A British man has not won Wimbledon in 77 years, when Fred Perry won it back in 1936. Although he has finally broke through at a Grand Slam with last year’s US Open, a Wimbledon title has been at the front of his mind for the last five years. Nadal, Federer, and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, ranked #6, were all on Murray’s side of the bracket. With all of them gone, this is his best chance to win the elusive Wimbledon. Since Murray is seeded #2, he’ll likely go to the finals and face Novak Djokovic, which will make for an exciting Wimbledon finals match.

From 2004-2010, Nadal and Federer won 24 of the 28 Grand Slams. This is sheer domination in the sport. Nadal will easily go down as a top 10 player in tennis history, maybe even better, and the greatest of all time on clay. Federer will go down as the greatest ever in the sport. Are all of these upsets a coincidence or signaling an end of an era that was dominated completely by these great players? If it is a coincidence, then the idea that any given athlete can beat any other athlete on any given day is true. If it is the end of an era, then it will be one that will go down as arguably the greatest in the history of the sport and one that will surely be missed by all tennis fans including myself.

All Statistics and Pictures courtesy of ESPN