Great Britain ends 76 years of tennis pain


Great Britain ends 76 years of tennis pain

From Comcast SportsNetLONDON (AP) -- After reveling in a rousing Olympic summer of sporting success, Britain awoke Tuesday to another major milestone: Finally, after 76 years of waiting, the country has a male Grand Slam tennis champion.Andy Murray's five-set victory over Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final Monday provided the perfect bookend to a summer in which a British rider won the Tour de France and British athletes scooped heaps of medals at the hugely successful London Olympics and Paralympics.After losing in four previous Grand Slam finals, Murray outlasted defending champion Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after nearly five hours to become the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry captured the Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships in 1936.At last, for Britain, the "Fred Perry curse" has been broken -- although until Murray wins Wimbledon, it won't be fully put to rest."Thank God that's over. Thank God we can let Fred Perry lie easy. Thank God for Andy Murray," wrote the Guardian newspaper website.Fittingly, Murray's breakthrough came in a year when Britain has enjoyed its greatest sports summer of a generation -- coinciding with national celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's "Diamond Jubilee" of 60 years on the throne.In a message posted on Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "delighted Andy Murray is continuing a golden summer of sport by winning the U.S. Open. A truly great victory."The summer began with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Then came the Olympics, where Britain recorded its best showing in 104 years with 29 gold medals (including Murray winning the men's singles) and 65 medals in all. Britain celebrated the close of the Paralympics on Sunday after winning 120 medals, including 34 gold.More than 1 million people lined the streets of London on Monday to cheer the nation's Olympians and Paralympians in a two-hour parade to mark the end of the 2012 Games.A few hours later, with most of the country asleep, Murray became the first man to win the U.S. Open and Olympic gold in the same year."The forecast of course was made yesterday that the great summer of British sport was over, but he's given us another immense prize to wake up to," said Cameron, speaking outside his Downing Street residence.The victory came on the exact day -- Sept. 10 -- that Perry won the U.S. title in 1936. It also came in Murray's fifth Grand Slam final, following in the footsteps of his coach, Ivan Lendl, who lost his first four Grand Slam finals before winning eight major titles.Nowhere was the impact of Murray's win felt more deeply than in his Scottish hometown of Dunblane, a cathedral town made infamous for a mass shooting in 1996, when a gunman killed 16 children and their teacher in an elementary school.A noisy crowd of about 80 people packed into the bar at the Dunblane Hotel to watch the match that ended shortly after 2 a.m. British time, cheering wildly when Djokovic hit a forehand service return long on the final point.Murray did most of his tennis training as a youth in Barcelona but remains fiercely loyal to his Scottish roots. Two other famous Scots -- actor Sean Connery and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson -- were among those in the stands cheering him on at Flushing Meadows."Now Olympic and U.S. Open champion, Andy truly is a Scottish sporting legend and I'm certain that more Grand Slam titles will follow," Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said.The end of the match came too late for many British newspapers, but Murray's triumph made some late editions."History Boy!" blared the tabloid Daily Mirror on the front page. On the sports pages, the Mirror launched a campaign for a Murray knighthood: "Arise Sir Andy: Grand Slam Glory at Last. Oh What a Knight."British TV stations camped out early Tuesday at the modest tennis courts where Murray got his start as a young boy, interviewing youngsters who said they were inspired by his triumph.It's been a long time coming.Murray is one of only two men in the Open era, which began in 1968, to have lost his first four Grand Slam finals -- against Djokovic in the 2011 Australian Open, and against Roger Federer at the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and this year's Wimbledon.It was Murray's decisive, straight-sets victory over Federer in the Olympic final in August on Centre Court at Wimbledon -- less than a month after the Wimbledon defeat -- that lifted his self-belief and provided the platform for his Grand Slam success."Ever since he won the Olympics, he has walked around with a lot more confidence," said Murray's former coach, Leon Smith. "After winning yesterday, it's going to do even more so now. For a great summer of British tennis, this is the icing on the cake."Former British player Greg Rusedski said Murray can only go higher."Having won this, he can go on to win many majors and maybe end the year as ... No. 1," he said.Murray is ranked No. 4 but is close behind No. 3 Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is No. 1 in this week's rankings, with Federer dropping to No. 2.Also crucial to Murray's success has been the influence of Lendl, the no-nonsense Czech-born coach who won two French Opens, two Australian Opens and three U.S. Opens."So much confidence has come from Andy's Olympics win and Lendl has added a great presence," said former British player Roger Taylor, a four-time Grand Slam semifinalist. "There is such a similarity (between the two). It will have given Andy more belief to see Ivan go on to win many Grand Slams and it took him five. He (Lendl) has made a great difference."For years, Murray has been considered just a rung below the "Big Three" of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, who had shared 29 of the previous 30 major titles. Now he's joined the club and Britain is rejoicing."We are all delighted for Andy," Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said. "Winning your first Grand Slam has to be a very special moment in a player's career and it was a fantastic performance in an epic final to cap a truly memorable summer of tennis for him personally and for British tennis."Even more special would be lifting the Wimbledon trophy. In July, Murray became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon final in 74 years.The pursuit of Fred Perry is not quite over.

Iguodala relives LeBron's Game 7 block: JR Smith 'made the play'

Iguodala relives LeBron's Game 7 block: JR Smith 'made the play'

With a little less than two minutes remaining in Game 7 of last year's NBA Finals, Andre Iguodala thought he had a dunk or a layup.

But LeBron James sprinted back in transition and delivered an iconic blocked shot.

Iguodala recently spoke with ESPN's Chris Haynes about the play.

"If J.R. (Smith) is not there, I'm dunking it," Iguodala declared. "Well, I don't know if I'm dunking, though, because I was about to die out there. But I give him all respect. When he blocked it, I thought somebody got shot. I laugh about it all the time. People try to joke on me. I still get mentions all day from fans always talking about the block.

"I'm like, 'Man, that s--- was so dope to me, too.' I was a fan. That s--- was amazing. When he blocked it, I was like, 'Damn, somebody got shot.' I thought it was funny. Somebody just made a good play. What you want me to do? If you enjoy the game of basketball, you should just be like, 'Dude made a great play. F--- it.'"

In a new commercial, LeBron calls the block the "defining moment" of his career.

According to Iguodala, LeBron needs to thank J.R. Smith.

"I looked back at it too, and had I came in from a different angle, I could have [dunked it]," Iguodala explained to Haynes. "But you know who made the play? J.R. made the play. Because I came in thinking dunk and then I took off and he swiped and I had to move the ball. If you look, I moved the ball. I just tried to finish the play.

"People don't realize, somebody just made a great play. There's nothing to change about somebody making a great play because I even thought I could have went off to the other side [of the rim], but [LeBron] was so high over the rim, he would have had both sides covered. I mean, I wouldn't have changed anything about it. If somebody just makes a great play, you just give them respect for making a great play."

Steve Kerr doesn't really care that much about blowout loss to Spurs

Steve Kerr doesn't really care that much about blowout loss to Spurs

The Warriors will play their second game of the season on Friday night in New Orleans.

But that doesn't mean they are done talking about the 29-point loss to the Spurs on Opening Night.

"We played a team that just came in and beat the crap out of us, frankly," Kerr told 95.7 The Game's Damon Bruce on Thursday. "They're the one team I would say, when you're adding a lot of new parts and pieces like we are, you either don't want to play the Spurs on Opening Night or you do. The reason you don't want to play them is because of what happened the other night -- they're gonna execute, they know who they are, they got all that continuity from the roster that they've had for years.

"The reason you do want to play them is because they'll expose your weaknesses right away. I don't really care that much about the loss to be honest with you. I felt bad for the fans, who had to suffer through that. But as far as our team goes, even though it was embarrassing and humiliating and nobody slept very well that night, it really opened up every weakness that we had. And it'll sharpen our focus, and we'll be able to work on a lot of things based on that game."

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In the game's aftermath, a lot of the focus was centered around the idea that the Warriors missed Andrew Bogut's presence on the defensive end.

The Warriors surrendered 21 offensive rebounds and acknowledged they miscommunicated many times within their scheme.

"Every team that you put together is gonna be different," Kerr explained. "Obviously, we had to move Andrew (Bogut) in order to get Kevin Durant. Even Boges himself said, 'Hey, if I'm the GM, I'd do that, too' ... we were really lucky to get Zaza (Pachulia) and David West, and they're gonna play huge roles on our team, but they're different players.

"It's our job as coaches to figure out what works best and the players have to get to know one another. And they'll get more comfortable as they go. We should be a very good defensive team. We won't have that shot blocking at the rim but we'll have a lot of other really good components to work with and we'll figure it out."

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Kerr also discussed the team's mentality in regards to the regular season. Is 74 wins possible?

"I think that record is impossible to break. I don't care who we have on our team. What we did last year to break the 72-win record was incredible. I don't think that record will ever be broken, but of course, we're gonna be asked about it because we've got Kevin Durant.

"It's unfathomable for any team to win 74 games ... anybody who predicted that we were gonna win 74 games, doesn't get the NBA. It doesn't work that way ... it's not even something that enters our mind.

"The most important thing for us is to win when it matters in June. We didn't do that last year, so that's the focus."