For Years The Road To Grand Slam Greatness Ran Through Mario Ancic

Mario Ancic never won a Grand Slam tournament; he never even reached a final. He peaked at No. 7 in the world, with a Davis Cup win and an Olympic bronze medal, before illness and injury cut his tennis career short. This week, the 30-year-old Croatian started his final year at Columbia Law School, where he’s preparing for his next career — even as his old friends and rivals gather elsewhere in New York City to compete for the U.S. Open title.But Ancic earned one distinction that ranks him among only a few boldface names in tennis history: On the sport’s biggest stages, he almost always lost to the very best.In his seven years of Grand Slam play, Ancic lost 21 matches. The list of players who eliminated him is a partial who’s who of tennis greats over the last two decades, with just a few interlopers. Of the 25 men who have been No. 1 in the world in the 41 years of ATP World Tour rankings, seven beat Ancic at a Grand Slam. Andy Roddick beat Ancic twice at Grand Slams. Roger Federer did it four times in a little over two years.Even the 10 non-No. 1s who knocked off Ancic were a pretty impressive bunch. They include four other Grand Slam finalists, plus two others who were ranked in the Top 10 when they knocked him out of a major.The quality of a player’s conquerors is a product both of luck and of the player’s own abilities. Some players are so consistently good that they either win the big tournaments they enter or beat all but the very best. Others suffer from poor luck of the draw — like Ryan Harrison of the U.S., or Amer Delic of Bosnia, who faced one-time No. 1s in five of his 10 Grand Slam losses despite never advancing past the third round. Every time the guy thought he was going to get to kick the football, a Lucy — or Novak — yanked it away. Unlike, say, the orderly NCAA tournament bracket, tennis tournaments distribute their entrants randomly, within the constraints of rules preventing the best players from facing each other too early.A handful of other players have lost mostly to the very best, but for slightly different reasons than Ancic did. Only four men with more than 10 Grand Slam losses were facing former, current or future No. 1s in at least half of the losses, according to data provided by Jeff Sackmann, proprietor of the website Tennis Abstract: Ancic, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Andre Agassi.Djokovic and del Potro are recent Grand Slam champions who have had the misfortune of playing during the reign of Federer and Rafael Nadal, one-time No. 1s who consistently reach the later stages of majors. Neither Djokovic nor del Potro has lost to as many different No. 1s as Ancic did, despite already having longer careers. Agassi is one of the all-time greats and usually was ranked in the Top 10 when he headed into Grand Slam events, so it’s not surprising that it usually took a top player to knock him out of big tournaments.Ancic’s story is quirkier. He was never ranked above 10th in the world heading into any Grand Slam tournament. But he often rolled in the early rounds, as his aggressive serve-and-volley style overwhelmed opponents. He combined that with a knack for drawing tough opponents in later rounds, and usually losing to them; he was 3-11 at Grand Slams against players who at one point were ranked No. 1. Sometimes he had to play them before their prime: As teenagers ranked outside the Top 75, both Nadal and Djokovic beat Ancic at Grand Slam tournaments. Sometimes he had to play them earlier in the tournament than he could have expected to: Ancic had a 25 percent chance of ending up in Federer’s quarter at any given event, yet he did so in four of five Grand Slams he played between 2006 and 2008. Federer was ranked No. 1 in the world each time. Ancic didn’t win a set in any of the matches.Ancic, who has a law degree from the University of Split in Croatia, sees no injustice in his tough Grand Slam record. He just wishes he could have reaped the benefits of his early losses by reversing some of those results once he reached what should have been his prime.“I saw those losses as a challenge — to improve my game, to improve the things I needed to do,” he said in a telephone interview. “That’s part of the fun of being an athlete: challenging yourself against the best of the world. I was never in despair — ‘Oh my God, if I didn’t play Roger in the quarters, if I had a better draw, maybe I’d play in the final of a Slam.’”Ancic felt he was learning from his losses. But then, when he was 22 years old, he battled mononucleosis and other health problems. He came back, several times, but other than one six-month stretch and a later five-month stretch in which he appeared in at least one event each month, his career was stop-and-go. Right when he thought he should be peaking, he was watching his career end. A back injury that would have kept him sidelined for a year convinced him to retire in 2011. Now he occasionally hits with the Columbia team and feels much better physically.Ancic is glad to be at Columbia and creating a new life, but he regrets not realizing his potential. “I’m sure I never achieved my top,” he said. “I still felt my peak was coming later.” He added, “I don’t like to think what would have happened if things were different.”If Ancic really had kept getting better, even more of his losses would have come against top players. And there’s lots of evidence that he was on pace to be one of the best of his generation. He led the under-20 rankings at the end of 2002 and the under-21s in 2004, and was second to Nadal among under-23s in 2006. And more tennis players stay competitive into their late 20s and early 30s these days. Six of the eight U.S. Open men’s quarterfinalists this week were 27 or older; Ancic is 30. Ancic faced each of those quarterfinalists during his career, beating six of them at least once — four at Wimbledon, his best tournament.Ancic remains close to the sport. At his invitation, Djokovic spoke to Columbia law students when in town for an exhibition in March. Ancic attended the U.S. Open on Monday as the tournament’s guest, where he caught up with some old friends who remain on tour. He also continues to follow the game keenly. He predicts Djokovic and Federer will meet in the final this year. If that matchup materializes and Federer wins, Djokovic will have the booby prize of increasing his percentage of Slam losses to one-time No. 1s.Ancic lost to both men at Grand Slams but also beat them both, at Wimbledon — no easy accomplishment against two all-time greats who together have won nine of the last 12 Wimbledons. “We are talking here about a couple of guys who are among the best ever,” Ancic said of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. “It’s an honor to compete with them.” read more

LeBron And The Cavs Could Make Dwyane Wade Young Again

So depending on how quickly the duo jells (or re-jells), Wade may get far easier shots than he got last season in Chicago, when he generated just 3 percent of his offense from cuts to the basket and took his average shot attempt from more than 12 feet away, tied for the longest average shot distance of his 14-year career.Some will question whether Wade — and to a greater extent, Derrick Rose — is a good enough jump shooter to keep defenses honest while James is running the show and probing for driving lanes. But a closer evaluation of Wade’s game suggests that he can more than hold his own as an off-ball threat if used properly.Wade has shown himself to be a competent 3-point shooter when stationed in the corner, shooting almost 38 percent138 of 101. from the corner in the seven seasons since James signed with Miami in 2010 — considerably better than his 27 percent2147 of 550. on all other 3-point tries over that same span. That’s particularly meaningful for Cleveland, which led the NBA in corner 3-point makes and attempts by a huge margin, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cavs launch far more corner triples when James — one of the best passers in the sport — is on the court compared to when he’s on the bench.) Miami Heat27769040.1 2008-09Miami3.1– 2015-16Miami5.0– Cleveland Cavaliers35385041.5% The Cavs take (and make) more corner 3s than anyone elseFor the 2016-17 regular season Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 2013-14Miami9.4– 2012-13Miami11.4– 2011-12Miami8.6– After being bought out by the Chicago Bulls, 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade had a handful of solid options to consider when deciding which team to sign with.There was the fairy-tale possibility of rejoining the Heat, the franchise he was drafted by and where he won three titles. The suddenly fortified Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs — the team that effectively ended Miami’s Big Three era back in 2014 by winning the title that year — were also suitors. But as enticing as those teams might have been, none of them have LeBron James.So it isn’t surprising that Wade is choosing to sign in Cleveland, where he not only has a great chance at reaching the NBA Finals again but also gets to reunite with one of his closest friends. But if we only examine those two factors, we might be overlooking the biggest incentive Wade has in all this: LeBron and the Cavs may be a fountain of youth for the 35-year-old.James makes life easier for everyone he plays with (well, Mario Chalmers might disagree), and Wade was no exception while the two were in Miami. Wade logged career bests in effective field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage during that four-year run, from his age-29 to age-32 seasons. His stark improvement as an off-ball threat — specifically as a cutter who would make his break toward the basket while defenses were preoccupied with James — helped take the Heat’s offense to another level. 2007-08Miami3.0– Utah Jazz23461238.2 2016-17Chicago3.1%– The years in bold highlight seasons in which Dwyane Wade was teammates with LeBron James.Source: Synergy Sports Technology 2009-10Miami4.6– Wade cut to the basket far more when playing with LeBron CORNER 3S The percentage of Wade’s offense that came from cuts to the basket basically doubled during the years he teamed with LeBron and then dropped back to its original level as soon as James went back to Cleveland. 2010-11Miami6.5– Boston Celtics25362340.6 SEASONTEAMSHARE OF OFFENSE THAT STEMS FROM CUTTING TO THE BASKET 2014-15Miami4.3– Houston Rockets26769038.7 TEAMMAKESATTEMPTSSHARE One variable that figures to be vital is how much Wade is being asked to do; especially in an offense that already features LeBron, Rose, the oft-forgotten Kevin Love and, at some point after the new year, Isaiah Thomas, who was acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal. It’s not hard to imagine Wade frequently handling the ball to give James a rest, though his game and Rose’s are similar in that both can develop tunnel vision when they’re driving to the basket.It would be wise for Cleveland to take a conservative approach that helps maintain Wade’s aging body for the postseason. J.R. Smith is seemingly a better fit for the Cavs’ starting lineup, thanks to both his size and his superior outside shooting.None of this is meant to suggest that Wade will be a perfect fit with the Cavs, as there are a handful of things that James and Wade simply won’t be able to replicate this many years after their first partnership. Chief among them: The swarming, blitzing defense the Heat used to trap pick-and-rolls. (Chris Bosh was truly special defensively with those teams.) In fact, a defense featuring the two of them might be a half-step slow now.However, even if Wade performs more fluidly during the regular season, it’s possible that, given his age, he and his body may not be totally dependable come playoff time, no matter how the Cavs manage his minutes. The 2014 Finals, in which the Heat got blasted by San Antonio four games to one, were a prime example.But if there’s one thing we’ve seen with Wade’s game in the past, it’s that James’s presence — as it has done for many others — will lessen the physical toll on Wade and possibly help offset the effects of Father Time. And that means the Cavaliers have little to lose with this signing. read more

BNP submits memo to DCs for Khaledas release treatment

first_imgThe Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) submitted memorandums to deputy commissioners (DCs) across the country, including Dhaka, on Thursday, demanding its chairperson Khaleda Zia’s proper medical treatment and her release from jail before Eid-ul-Fitr.In Dhaka, several hundred BNP leaders and activists gathered near the Dhaka DC’s office around 10:30am and chanted various slogans, demanding Khaleda’s release.Later, a delegation of BNP, led by Dhaka district BNP assistant organising secretary Abdus Salam Azad, submitted a memorandum to Dhaka DC Abu Saleh Mohammad Ferdous Khan.Talking to reporters, Salam said the government has kept their ailing chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail without providing her proper treatment.”We submitted a memorandum to the DC demanding her release and proper treatment at the United Hospital,” he said.Salam warned that the government will have to shoulder all the responsibilities if anything bad happens to Khaleda.He said all other district units of the party also submitted memorandums to their respective DC offices to push for the same demand.On 8 February, Khaleda was sent to jail after a special court sentenced her to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.last_img read more

Line Up and Line Dance for Lupus

first_imgIn recognition of May Lupus Awareness Month, Marva’s Grand Hands of Love, Inc. will host “A Line Dance for Lupus Party” to raise funds to fight lupus and to help amplify the voice of the lupus community, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., May 18, at Diamondz Events Hall, 9980 Liberty Road in Randallstown, Md. Local radio personality and line dance instructor Randy Dennis will teach supporters new line dance moves and call out traditional line dances. “Not only will supporters benefit a wonderful cause, but they also benefit themselves because line dancing is a healthy and fun way to get in some exercise,” said Marva Williams, event organizer. Proceeds support the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) DC-Maryland-Virginia Chapter. A LFA representative will be present to accept the donation. LFA estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have the autoimmune disease. “I recently lost a 27 year old cousin to complications from lupus and my best friend has it. I’m determined to help the women, men and children living with lupus,” Williams said. Catering will be provided by Chef Mookie Hicks. Tanya’s Bling Tees has created a custom lupus awareness t-shirt for the event. Informational materials will be available. Tickets are $30 in advance. For more information, contact Marva Williams at 410-599-9159.last_img read more

Tollywood actor found dead in Siliguri hotel

first_imgKolkata: Payel Chakraborty, an aspiring television actress, was found hanging in a hotel room in Siliguri on Wednesday morning.Police have already started a thorough probe into the death, though prima facie investigation has revealed that she had committed suicide.According to police sources, Payel had checked into a hotel on Church Road in Siliguri on Tuesday evening and claimed to have come there from Kolkata.She was carrying two bags and informed the hotel staff that she had come there for the purpose of visiting Gangtok. She was staying in room number 213 of the hotel. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeOn conditions of anonymity, a hotel staff said Payel told them that she was carrying her dinner and so they should not call her unless there is any emergency.She further informed that she would leave for Gangtok on Wednesday morning. At around 11 am on Wednesday, when it was time for room cleaning service, the hotel staff knocked repeatedly on her door but it went answered.The hotel manager then informed Siliguri police. A team rushed to the hotel and at around 12 noon, the door that was bolted from inside was broke open. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedShe was found hanging from the ceiling fan with the help of a piece of cloth. The body was taken to Siliguri District Hospital where she was declared brought dead. The police immediately contacted her family members on the basis of the address and contact number provided for the hotel register. However, no suicide note was found from her room.Payel, who had acted in a number of television serials, made a special appearance in Dev starrer film ‘Cockpit’. Her film ‘Kelo’ is supposed to release this month where she played the role of a doctor. Her next film ‘Chaturtha Ripu’ is also scheduled for release by the end of this year.Preliminary investigations revealed that Payel was suffering from severe mental stress.She got divorced recently and is survived by a son. “She always acted with absolute dedication and professionalism and didn’t give the slightest inkling of any problem. I still cannot believe that she is no more. Within a few months, we had become very good friends,” one of her co-actress in the film — ‘Kelo’ said.last_img read more