SPORTS / DEPORTES: Gold Cup Final USA vs. México

USA vs. México…who will be the 2011 Gold Cup Champion? / Estados Unidos vs México…¿quién será campeón de la Copa Oro?

2011 GOLD CUP FINAL: Mexico vs USA Saturday, June 25 @9PM


It may not be Argentina-Brazil, or even England-Germany, but in CONCACAF, Mexico vs. USA is the biggest show in soccer. Saturday, in Pasadena, Calif., the region’s two best teams will meet to renew an old rivalry and to lay claim to the title of the best CONCACAF offers.

Since the inception of the Gold Cup in 1991, the United States and Mexico have met four times in the final, with the first coming in 1993. This weekend’s showdown will push the total to five in only the 11th edition of the tournament.

“I think everybody is looking forward to Mexico-U.S. in the final,” USA defender Carlos Bocanegra said. “I think when you look out you see the two favorites and you say ‘Okay, it could be us and Mexico in the final.’ It’s 90,000, 100,000 in the Rose Bowl. So, sweet game.”

Despite a slow start for the USA, with an endlessly talked about loss to Panama, and Mexico’s impressive walk through the group stage, both teams managed to slide through the quarter.

The past history shows that Mexico has been dominant head-to-head on CONCACAF’s biggest stage, with three wins in four meetings between the two teams in the final. But this will be third time in a row the two teams have played for yhe crown, with the last two being split.

Here’s a look at the history of Gold Cup finals between Mexico and the USA.
Year Host Winner Result Loser Goalscorers
1993 USA/Mexico Mexico 4-0 USA Ambriz, Armstrong (own goal), Zague, Cantú
1998 USA Mexico 1-0 USA Hernández
2007 USA USA 2-1 Mexico Guardado (MEX); Feilhaber, Donovan (USA)
2009 USA Mexico 5-0 USA Torrado, Dos Santos, Vela, Franco, Castro

Mexico has won a total of eight CONCACAF titles, with five from the Gold Cup, while the USA has won only four overall with all of them coming since the CONCACAF Championship tournament was re-branded.

Only once, in the 2000 tournament when Canada came out on top, has a team other than Mexico or the USA won the Gold Cup.

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I don’t know about you, but I will be cheering for México & am believing that México will win 2-1! 🙂Enjoy watching the 2011 Gold Cup Final on Saturday & have a great weekend!!


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SPORTS / DEPORTES: Dallas MAVS are the 2011 NBA Champions!

A Texas size CONGRATULATIONS to the Dallas Mavericks for defeating the Miami Heat & for being the 2011 NBA Champions!🙂

2011 NBA CHAMPIONS: Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks celebrate with the trophy after winning game six of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, June 12, 2011. The Mavericks won 105-95 to take the title

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Enjoy the day & I hope you’re having a good summer!

SPORTS / DEPORTES: 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Schedule

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2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Schedule / 2011 CONCAF Horario para la Copa de Oro

Sunday, June 5, 2011 @ 6:00 PM ET
Costa Rica vs Cuba
Group A
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX

8:00 PM ET
Mexico vs El Salvador
Group A
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX

Monday, June 6, 2011 @ 9:00 PM ET
Jamaica vs Grenada
Group B
The Home Depot Center Carson, CA

11:00 PM ET
Honduras vs Guatemala
Group B
The Home Depot Center Carson, CA

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 @ 6PM ET
Panama vs Guadeloupe
Group C
Ford Field Detroit, MI

8:00 PM ET
United States vs Canada
Group C
FSC
Ford Field Detroit, MI

Thursday, June 9, 2011 @ 7PM ET
Costa Rica vs El Salvador
Group A
Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC

9:00 PM ET
Cuba vs Mexico
Group A
Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, NC

Friday, June 10, 2011 @ 7:00 PM ET
Jamaica vs Guatemala
Group B
FIU Stadium

9:00 PM ET
Grenada vs Honduras
Group B
FIU Stadium

Saturday, June 11, 2011 @ 6:00 PM ET
Canada vs Guadeloupe
Group C
Raymond James Stadium Tampa, FL

8:00 PM ET
United States vs Panama
Group C
FSC
Raymond James Stadium Tampa, FL

Sunday, June 12, 2011 @ 6:00 PM ET
El Salvador vs Cuba
Group A
Soldier Field Chicago, IL

8:00 PM ET
Mexico
vs
Costa Rica
Group A
Soldier Field Chicago, IL

Monday, June 13, 2011 @ 7:00 PM ET
Guatemala vs Grenada
Group B
Red Bull Arena

9:00 PM ET
Honduras vs Jamaica
Group B
Red Bull Arena

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 @ 7:00 PM ET
Canada vs Panama
Group C
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park Kansas City, KS

9:00 PM ET
Guadeloupe
vs
United States
Group C
FSC
LIVESTRONG Sporting Park Kansas City, KS

Saturday, June 18, 2011 @ 5:00 PM ET
vs
Group
New Meadowlands Stadium Rutherfod, NJ
8:00 PM ET
vs
Group
New Meadowlands Stadium Rutherford, NJ

Sunday, June 19, 2011 – Quarterfinal @ 3:00 PM ET
vs
Group
RFK Memorial Stadium Washington, DC
6:00 PM ET
vs
Group
FSC
RFK Memorial Stadium Washington, DC

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 – Semifinal @ 7:00 PM ET
vs
Group
Reliant Stadium Houston, TX
10:00 PM ET
vs
Group
FSC
Reliant Stadium Houston, TX

Saturday, June 25, 2011 – Final @ 9:00 PM ET
vs
Group
FSC
Rose Bowl Pasadena, CA

SPORTS / DEPORTES: Soccer International Friendlies

REMAINING FRIENDLIES:
Fri., Jun. 3
Bolivia vs. Paraguay
S. Korea vs. Serbia

Sat., Jun. 4
Brazil vs. Netherlands
Peru vs. Czech Rep.
USA vs. Spain

Sun., Jun. 5
Australia vs. New Zealand
Poland vs. Argentina

Mon., Jun. 6
Ukraine vs. France
………………………………………………………………………..
INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES ALREADY PLAYED:
Sat., May 28
Mexico 1-1 Ecuador

Sun., May 29
Ireland 1-0 Scotland
Germany 2-1 Uruguay
El Salvador 2-2 Honduras

Wed., Jun. 1
Japan 0-0 Peru
Nigeria 4-1 Argentina
Canada 2-2 Ecuador
Mexico 3-0 New Zealand
Guatemala 0-2 Venezuela

SPORTS / DEPORTES: México cerró su preparación para la Copa Oro goleando a Nueva Zelanda 3-0

Español:
DENVER, Colorado–Con una victoria llena de interrogantes, por 3-0 sobre un equipo de Nueva Zelanda que ofreció muy poco, la selección mexicana de futbol cerró esta noche su preparación hacia la Copa de Oro de la Concacaf.

MEXICO vs. NUEVA ZELANDA / MEXICO vs. NEW ZEALAND


El técnico José Manuel de la Torre puso de inicio en la cancha del Invesco Field a su cuadro titular y le bastaron los primeros 45 minutos para sacar el triunfo con una buena actuación de Giovani Dos Santos, quien anotó en los minutos 22 y 30, y uno más de Aldo de Nigris, al 43.

El “Tricolor” comenzará su lucha por revalidar el título de la Copa de Oro a partir de este domingo, ante la representación de El Salvador en Arlington, Texas.

Giovani Dos Santos inició por el ausente Antonio Naelson “Sinha” y conforme transcurrieron los minutos se pudo familiarizar con la posición de creativo y con el balón hasta inaugurar el marcador y aportar más en el triunfo.

Parece extraño que Pablo Barrera no sea titular en el club inglés West Ham, porque hoy desbordó cuantas veces quiso por su banda natural derecha y por la izquierda en las pocas veces que intercambió con Andrés Guardado, aunque es obvio que se deben guardar las proporciones por las relativas facilidades que dieron los oceánicos.

Lo negativo de Barrera es que mandó centros elevados que facilitaron la labor de los larguiruchos defensas contrarios, mientras el centrocampista Israel Castro desaprovechó al minuto dos una devolución de Pablo, al enviar su remate a la derecha.

Barrera se cambió a la izquierda y prolongó el avance con Carlos Salcido, quien envió fortísimo centro por abajo que rechazó el guardameta a favor de Gio y éste empalmó para anidar la de gajos, al minuto 22.

Barrera hizo el regate por derecha y ante tres defensas prefirió tocar al capitán Gerardo Torrado, quien envió centro por abajo que no pudo cortar Ivan Vicelich, Gio controló el esférico prolongándolo un poco a la derecha para superar la llegada de un zaguero y la salida del portero para luego marcar el 2-0, al minuto 30.

Andrés Guardado también tuvo su asistencia, en el minuto 43, al desbordar por su banda y mandar un servicio preciso a la llegada de Aldo de Nigris, quien empujó el esférico para el 3-0.

Los de Oceanía terminaron el primer tiempo desfigurados como equipo y con el inicio del segundo periodo pusieron orden a la defensiva, además de que el técnico José Manuel de la Torre hizo cuatro cambios y el equipo perdió mucha presencia en una cancha muy desgastada.

Tanto perdió el equipo mexicano que los de Nueva Zelanda tuvieron oportunidad para cruzar la línea de medio campo y hasta amenazaron con anotar, pero su falta de técnica y bagaje futbolístico se los impidieron.

El cuarto tanto de la noche, para decepción de los miles de aficionados mexicanos, se esfumó como un suspiro en el minuto 90, en el cobro de Christian Bermúdez de un tiro de esquina por derecha.

El balón llegó por segundo poste y el defensa central Francisco Javier Rodríguez remató de derecha a placer, pero el esférico se estrelló en el palo y el zaguero sólo sonrió ante su suerte.

El árbitro Therry Vaughn condujo el encuentro sin dificultades y su único error fue no haber expulsado a Dave Mulligan por artera entrada sobre Salcido. El colegiado amonestó al mexicano Gerardo Torrado (al minuto 51) y al neozelandés Dave Mulligan (51).

ENGLISH:
DENVER, Colorado–Giovani dos Santos scored twice to lead Mexico to a 3-0 friendly win over New Zealand on Wednesday in its final tuneup game before defending its CONCACAF Gold Cup title.

Aldo de Nigris also scored as Mexico went three goals up in the first half against an inexperienced New Zealand defense, then made wholesale changes to its lineup for the second half.

This was Mexico’s last game before the Gold Cup, where it will play in Group A against Costa Rica, Cuba and El Salvador. The team starts with El Salvador on Sunday and Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez is expected to be with the squad.

Hernandez missed the game against New Zealand, still recovering after playing in last weekend’s European Champions League final.

Dos Santos, who spent the second half of the just-completed European season on loan from Tottenham at Racing Santander, put Mexico on the board first when he scored off a rebound in the 23rd minute. Carlos Salcido took a shot that bounced off the hands of New Zealand keeper Glen Moss and straight to the foot of dos Santos, who drilled the ball into the net.

Just 7 minutes later, dos Santos scored again by controlling a deflected ball in the box, rounding Moss and all but walking it into the net.

In the 43rd minute, de Nigris – having earlier had a goal ruled out for offside and having two close-range shots saved – finally got on the score sheet when he tapped in a pass from Andres Guardado.

Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa had an easy evening for Mexico, making only two saves for the game.
(AP)

SPORTS / DEPORTES: NBA Finals Game 1 Mavericks 84 Heat 92

2011 NBA FINALS: Dallas Mavs vs. Miami Heat

No explanation necessary. The Miami Heat are three wins from the reason why the Big Three came together in the first place.

James scored 24 points for his first win in five NBA Finals games, Wade scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 in Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday night — holding the Western Conference champions to their lowest point total of the playoffs after a dominant defensive showing down the stretch.

“Feels good because it’s the first game and we played well as a team,” James said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. … That’s one in the books. We’re excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better.”

Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points — tearing a tendon in the middle finger on his left, non-shooting, hand during the game and revealing afterward that he’ll likely wear a splint throughout the remainder of the series — and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Shawn Marion and 12 points from Jason Terry, most of those coming in an early flurry. It was Dallas’ fifth straight loss to Miami in Finals games, dating to the Heat rally for the 2006 crown.

Dallas held the Heat to 39 percent shooting, Miami’s second-worst showing of the playoffs.

Problem was, the Mavericks shot 37 percent — by far, their worst night of the postseason offensively.
“You hold a team to 38 percent shooting and 92 points, for us, that’s usually a victory,” Marion said.

Sure enough, Dallas had been 7-2 when holding teams to those kind of numbers this season. Game 2 is Thursday in Miami.

“We’re a veteran team,” said Nowitzki, who had a postgame X-ray on the finger that was injured when he was stripping the ball from Bosh. “You can’t get down with a loss. You’ve got to come back strong on Thursday. I’ve said it a couple times in this playoff run, if you’re the road team, you’re happy with a split. So we’ve got another opportunity on Thursday to get one. Obviously, we don’t want to go home down 0-2.”

Wade’s 3-pointer with 3:06 left put the Heat up 82-73, then the largest lead of the game for either team. The Mavs shaved two points off it on the next possession when Nowitzki hit two free throws, but James gave the Heat their first double-digit lead of the Finals a few seconds later.

He dribbled upcourt against Marion, crossed his dribble over and got clear for a dunk while being fouled. The free throw made it 85-75, and most in the sellout, white-clad crowd began standing in anticipation.

Even then, it wasn’t over.

Nowitzki made two more free throws — he was 12 for 12 from the line for the game — with 1:36 left, cutting the Miami lead to six.

A momentary blip.

“They have two very good closers,” Nowitzki said, “two of the best in the game.”

Wade grabbed a key defensive rebound, dribbled away from three Dallas pursuers and found Bosh for a dunk with 1:08 left that restored the 10-point lead. Another dunk by James came with 38.6 seconds left, sealing the outcome.

“For me, going into the fourth quarter, it’s winning time,” James said.

Sure was, and the Heat fans knew it, breaking into their now-traditional tossing of their white seat covers.

“By and large, we’ve got to play better, just overall,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, especially noting Miami’s 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds.

Miami outrebounded Dallas 46-36, got a gritty effort on both ends from reserve Mike Miller — who left with his left arm in a sling, but insisted he would be fine — and reaped rewards again from another strong fourth-quarter finish by Wade and James.

“That’s who they’ve been their entire careers,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Bosh scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers added 12 for the Heat. The Heat trailed by eight points early in the third quarter before pulling away, remaining unbeaten — now 9-0 — at home in these playoffs and snapping Dallas’ five-game road postseason winning streak.

Dallas had 51 points after 26 minutes. The Mavericks scored 18 points in the next 18 minutes and 33 over the remainder of the game, as Miami’s defense found another gear.

“That’s kind of the way we’ve been winning games, of late,” Wade said. “You’ve got stay with it. You can’t get frustrated because the ball’s not going in. There’s other ways you can dominate the game and we was able to do that tonight. I thought we did a great job in the second half of rebounding the ball, limiting them to one shot as much as possible.”

Take away the 2006 NBA Finals, and Dallas came into Game 1 having beaten Miami 14 straight times. The only team that has lost to any team more times consecutively is Minnesota, which finished with the NBA’s worst record this season. The Timberwolves have lost 16 straight to San Antonio and Portland, and 15 straight to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the Finals, it simply doesn’t seem to matter.
“We’ll play better. I’m very certain of that,” Carlisle said. “We had some opportunities. Shots we normally make, they didn’t go down. Look, it’s a long series. We’ll adjust.”

Wade — the hero of that 2006 championship — found himself with a couple extra minutes before tipoff because of an unusually long delay after the starters were introduced. So he went looking for inspiration. He screamed at his teammates, “Don’t say, ‘I wish I woulda,’ ” in the huddle before they took the court, his way of telling them not to leave anything in the proverbial tank during this series.

And then he slowly trotted to the other end of the court, pointed to his mother Jolinda in a baseline seat and gave her a hug as many in the crowd roared. He usually blows her a pregame kiss. On Tuesday, that wouldn’t suffice.

“We both said, ‘Here we go. We’re here again. We’re back,’ ” Wade said.

Both teams expect to ride defense in this series, and that was made perfectly evident in the opening 12 minutes. The teams combined to take 35 shots in the first quarter — and made 10.

Dallas led 17-16 after the first quarter, which was the lowest two-team output in the first quarter of Game 1 of a Finals in the shot clock era, according to STATS LLC. It tied the fourth-lowest total for any Finals quarter since 1955, bettering only the 30 points by the Magic and Lakers in Game 2 in 2009, and the 31 posted by the Jazz and Bulls in 1998’s Game 3 along with the Lakers and Celtics in 1969’s Game 4.

Everyone was struggling, maybe a little because of nerves, and mostly to do with the defensive intensity on both ends. James was 3 for 6 in the first quarter, while the rest of the Heat were 3 for 15. Half of Dallas’ four first-quarter baskets were 3-pointers by Jason Kidd, the team’s 38-year-old point guard searching for his first NBA title.

And the Mavericks had one — that’s right, one — 2-point basket in the game’s first 15:49, with 10 of their first 18 field goal attempts coming from 3-point range.

“We really didn’t play well at all tonight,” Terry said. “First quarter, 17 points and third quarter, 17 — that’s not our style of basketball. Give them credit. They disrupted our tempo and they finished at the end.”

Dallas opened the third quarter by scoring seven quick points, all on jumpers, the burst ending with DeShawn Stevenson’s 3-pointer with 10:03 remaining in the period — pushing the Mavericks’ lead to 51-43 and silencing a building that was still refilling after halftime.

“He had three days to shoot that and we didn’t get anybody near him,” Spoelstra said.

That was quickly fixed, and the rest of the third was largely all Miami.

“For the most part, we think we had chances to get a hold of this game,” Marion said. “And we let it get out of our hands.”

The Heat outscored Dallas 22-10 in the remainder of the quarter. Wade started the rally — just as he did in a series-saving effort for Miami in Game 3 of the ’06 Finals, giving the memorable “Nah, I ain’t going out like this” quote afterward — with two layups. And James beat the clock at the end of the period with an off-balance 3-pointer from near the Dallas bench for a 65-61 Miami lead.

“It’s one game, and that’s it,” Spoelstra said. “We’re already moving on.”
(via the AP)

SPORTS / DEPORTES: MAVS vs. HEAT in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

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MATCHUPS: MAVS favored over HEAT at more positions

A position-by-position look at the matchups in the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks:

CENTER: Joel Anthony vs. Tyson Chandler. Chandler receives plenty of credit for giving the Mavericks an interior defensive presence they long lacked, and he can score some, too: He had 14 points and 17 rebounds in a Nov. 27 victory over Miami. Anthony can give the Heat a boost with a timely offensive rebound or blocked shot, but he provides next to nothing offensively. Miami’s best lineup probably has Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem playing together up front. Edge: Mavericks.

POWER FORWARD: Chris Bosh vs. Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki is having as good a postseason as anyone, scoring 28.4 points per game and shooting nearly 52 percent from the field. He had two 40-point games in the Western Conference finals and now has the chance to make amends for a low point in his career, when he shot only 39 percent in the Mavs’ six-game loss to Miami in 2006. Bosh occasionally found it tough understanding his role as the No. 3 behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade but has it figured out now. He’s coming off an excellent East finals, averaging 23.2 points to earn a shot against his hometown team. Edge: Mavericks.

SMALL FORWARD: LeBron James vs. Shawn Marion. Quickly swept aside in his lone finals appearance, James has done everything it takes to give himself another shot, from clutch 3-pointers to timely defensive stops against the opponents’ top offensive player. The Heat know that if they keep it close, James can win it for him. The versatile Marion’s insertion into the starting lineup allowed the Mavericks to overcome the season-ending loss of Caron Butler in January, and he even delivered 26 points in the series-clinching victory over Oklahoma City in the last round. Edge: Heat.

SHOOTING GUARD: Dwyane Wade vs. DeShawn Stevenson. Wade wrecked Dallas’ first finals appearance, averaging 34.7 points and winning MVP honors as the Heat rallied from 2-0 down to win the series. He scored 42, 36, 43 and 36 points in the final four games. As unpopular as “The Decision” might have made James, Wade could hear the loudest boos when the series shifts to Texas. Stevenson is a good defender and will hit an occasional 3-pointer, but the Mavericks will have one of their reserves in here when they need to get anything done offensively. Edge: Heat.

POINT GUARD: Mike Bibby vs. Jason Kidd. Nearly was the point guard matchup in the 2002 finals, but Bibby’s Sacramento Kings lost Game 7 of the West finals to a Lakers team that went on to sweep Kidd’s New Jersey Nets. Bibby rarely has been a factor since joining the Heat during the season and lacks the speed to take advantage of the 38-year-old Kidd, who has perhaps lost a step on offense but has played terrific defense to give himself a third attempt at a ring. He has guarded Kobe Bryant and the much-taller Kevin Durant at times, and might get a crack at Wade in big spots in this series. Edge: Mavericks.

RESERVES: Mario Chalmers , Mike Miller , Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard vs. Jason Terry , J.J. Barea, Peja Stojakovic and Brendan Haywood. With Miller and Haslem healthy after battling injuries most of the season, the Heat can put their best possible lineup on the floor at the most important time. Haslem defended Nowitzki well in 2006 and will get opportunities again. But the Mavericks can surround their All-Star with plenty of perimeter shooting off their bench by going to Terry or Stojakovic, and Barea’s penetration is a good change of pace from Kidd. Haywood provides a solid backup in the middle to Chandler. Edge: Mavericks.

COACHES: Erik Spoelstra vs. Rick Carlisle. Few coaches had tougher jobs than Spoelstra, who many thought wouldn’t be around at the finish even if the Heat were. But team president Pat Riley believes in him and so do the Heat’s superstars, whom Spoelstra built into one of the league’s best defensive squads. Carlisle brought a similar defensive-minded approach to a team that was previously offense first, and his calm demeanor here will be an upgrade over Avery Johnson, who lost his cool while the Mavs were losing control of the series five years ago. Edge: Even.
(By BRIAN MAHONEY,AP Basketball Writer)

If you’re a basketball fan, I hope you enjoy watching the NBA Finals! 🙂

SPORTS / DEPORTES: 2011 French Open Quaterfinals

2011 FRENCH OPEN: Paris, France

PARIS: After the third round of the women’s single’s division of the French Open, there are only a handful of familiar players, but there are a lot of new players that are advancing to the finals.

QUARTERFINALS: Women’s Single’s Division

(4) Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) — will play
(6) Li Na (China)

(5) Francesca Schiavone (Italy) — will play
(11) Marion Bartoli (France)

(7) Maria Sharapova (Russia) — will play
(15) Andrea Petkovic (Germany)

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QUARTERFINALS: Mens Singles Division
After ending the third round of the men’s singles division of the French Open there are what I call the “usuals,” those familiar players who have advanced to the finals in numerous tennis tournaments.

(1) Rafael Nadal (Spain) — will play
(5) Robin Soderling (Sweden)

(2) Novak Djokovic (Serbia) — will play
(3) Roger Federer (Switzerland)

(4) Andy Murray (Great Britain) –will play
Juan Ignacio Chela (Argentina)

PARIS — Rafael Nadal improved his record at Roland Garros to 42-1, beating Ivan Ljubicic 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 on Monday to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open.

The five-time champion was not troubled on Court Philippe Chatrier, and the win kept him on course to equal Bjorn Borg’s record of six titles on the Parisian clay.

“I have improved since the tournament started,” said Nadal, who was pushed to five sets in the first round. “I’m able to play better and I’m going to continue on this path.”

Novak Djokovic also had a successful day, even though he wasn’t scheduled to play. The second-seeded Serb reached the semifinals of the tournament — where he will meet Roger Federer.

Fourth-seeded Andy Murray defeated Viktor Troicki of Serbia 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

Nadal won four straight titles at the French Open before losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round in 2009. He will face Soderling in the quarterfinals this year.

“For me it will be a tough match,” Nadal said minutes before Soderling completed his victory. “He’s played two finals here at Roland Garros, so he knows what this means. He’s got to play his best tennis.”

In an on-court interview after he eliminated Simon, Soderling was told that some people — including, as it happens, Nadal himself — are saying the five-time champion isn’t at his best.

That drew a comment of “I hope not,” and an accompanying chortle from Soderling.

“No, seriously, he’s a great player. I think everybody knows what he can do. He won here so many times,” continued the Swede, who lost to Federer in the 2009 French Open final. “Every match is different. It doesn’t matter how you got to the quarters, as long as you’re there.”

Federer won the 2009 Open to complete a career Grand Slam, but Nadal returned to win his fifth title in 2010.

Djokovic, who will not be credited with a victory because Fognini withdrew, is after his own records. If he wins his semifinal match, he would equal John McEnroe’s Open era record of 42-0 for the best start to a tennis season and clinch the No. 1 ranking. With three more victories, the second-seeded Serb will match the record of 46 straight wins set by Guillermo Vilas in 1977. The two-time Australian Open champion has never won the title at Roland Garros, but he beat Nadal in two clay-court finals leading up to the French Open.

“It’s better for him,” Nadal said of Djokovic’s advancement. “He is going to really rest ahead of his semifinal.”

Juan Ignacio Chela also reached the quarterfinals. The unseeded Argentine, the only non-European left in the men’s draw, beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

“I wouldn’t have believed it,” the 31-year-old Chela said, “if you had told me, seven years later, I would still be here.”
(via The Associated Press & espn.com)

I hope you’re able to watch the quarterfinals of the French Open! The matches are fun and exciting to watch especially since the remaining players are all hungry for the win and will certainly give their best efforts in order to be the French Open champ! 🙂 — My prediction for the French Open finals are either Nadal vs. Federer or Nadal vs. Djokovic…

DALLAS: Mavericks win West title, but mission not yet complete

A big CONGRATULATIONS goes out to the Dallas Mavs for winning the Western Conference Championship and for advancing to the NBA playoffs – hoping the best for them @ the NBA playoffs!🙂

Dallas owner Mark Cuban, left, hoists the trophy, as Dirk Nowitzki and other Mavericks cheer after the final buzzer in Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals

The Western Conference Finals ended the only way that was fitting on Wednesday Night. With Dirk putting the Mavericks in the lead. Again.

If sports fairy tales came true, then that would mean that we would be assured a happy ending in the Dirk Nowitzki trip around the basketball world in a few weeks’ time. In the same category in the fairy tale section as the John Elway Super Bowl victory, everybody had assumed the window had shut on his chance. His greatness as a whole had been pushed down a spot or two when discussions were had after playoff disappointments. Surely, he was not of “championship quality”. Surely, he is to blame for his team falling short in the playoffs. In a star-driven sport, the Dallas Mavericks have a real nice player, but not one of those great ones that win trophies.

We don’t know how this sports story will end when basketball season is over. But, we know about last night’s chapter. The one where the team was down almost 47 minutes into a 48 minute game. The Mavericks were trailing 94-92 with 90 seconds to play when they reacquired the ball on a steal by Dirk. Russell Westbrook thought he saw an open Nick Collison down low, but Dirk stepped in the path of the ball and was able to get his right hand on the pass and the Mavericks had the ball back.

The first priority as they crossed half court was for Jason Kidd to find Nowitzki on the left wing against Collison on another isolation sequence that we have seen over and over in this series. This time, Dirk gets the edge on Collison and heads to the hoop where the Thunder defense collapse on the star. He sees Jason Terry in the corner for a go-ahead 3, but his pass is deflected out of bounds as the Thunder are trying to cover everything.

Inbounds play with 1:24. Jason Kidd will pass it in as all 4 Mavericks start the play at the free throw line. As Kidd looks for options, first Terry and then Tyson Chandler screen Collison as Dirk drops back behind the 3-point line. Because of the double screen, Dirk is free for a split second. Kidd puts the ball in the German’s hands and the arena gasps with excitement as the shot leaves his hands and a swish is forthcoming.

But, it doesn’t go in. It rims out. And Westbrook grabs the carom as he battles Chandler down low. But, in the scramble, Westbrook loses his balance and as he is falling to the ground (with Chandler’s foot helping to knock him over) he tosses the ball back in play and what he hopes is to his teammates. However, in another stroke of fortune, he basically rolls the ball to Jason Terry. Terry goes cross court to Marion. At the point Terry gets the ball, Dirk had already dropped back on defense and was actually on the time-line. He reversed his direction back into the front-court.

Marion sees Dirk rushing back to the play and finds him right as the Mavericks leader was back in position for another try. This time, there is no screen and Collison challenges the shot. But, this time, there is no mistake. The ball rips through the cords and the Mavericks have a 95-94 lead. The 20,000+ expresses their extreme gratitude in a massive sound explosion.

Like the 3-pointer he hit on Monday night in the historic Game 4 rally, his 3-point shot in Game 5 was the moment the tides finally turned all of the way.

On the next possession, the Mavericks buckled down hard on defense and forced an airball from Eric Maynor from the paint and Nick Collison collected the rebound as he was falling out of bounds. With no other option, he also attempted to send the ball in the general direction of his teammates and hope for the best. And like Westbrook’s attempted blind pass, the results for the Thunder were not what they had hoped. Like so many moments in this series, when the Mavericks needed a 50/50 play to go their way, it did. Terry and James Harden both leaped for the ball and somehow it tipped over to Shawn Marion – a player that always seems ready to go get the loose ball when they are needed the most.

Marion had nothing but open court ahead of him and was about to make a 1-point lead bigger. As he is heading down the court with 52 seconds to play, you can see Durant trying to chase him down. For a split second, Jason Terry pulls another veteran move and blocks Durant’s path for a step. This gives Marion all the space he needs and not only does he get the dunk, but he also is fouled as Durant still tried a desperation block that was called for contact. The place again explodes. The end is near.

It took one more offensive rebound to salt the game away, but in the end it was a familiar theme in this series against the Oklahoma City crew that appears so promising in the years to come. It was the grit and know-how to make the plays in the games final moments that won it for Dallas. They appeared superior in very few ways, honestly, for most of these 5 games. But, in the last 5 minutes of the 5 4th Quarters, the Mavericks outscored the Thunder by 24 points. And that, quite simply was the only difference there was.

Dallas knew how to make shots. How to get stops. How to make free throws. How to get a loose ball. Not all of them, just the ones that really mattered and determined the winners of these games.

It was veteran know-how versus youthful confusion. All of that extra energy did not help them deal with the composed execution of the guys who have been on this road before. There is a ton of resolve on the Mavericks roster. The other 3 teams in the Conference Finals could all discuss their bright futures and the ideas that they could be in a position to be back at this point of the playoffs many, many more times before it is said and done.

But, Dallas knows that they have an urgency that the others don’t have. They know that their window is open right now. In a few weeks, it may slam shut for them forever. Many of these players know that they have been in thousands of practices and flights and hotels and games and the only thing they are missing is the right to be NBA Champions.

And how was that best demonstrated last night? You could certainly argue the game’s final moments. But, I prefer to dwell on the Western Conference trophy presentation. Sure, there were a few moments of jubilation allowed as Dirk showed the trophy to the fans.

But, as Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle were being interviewed, the cameras caught Dirk first getting a blank stare on his face, and then saw him turn around, and leave the arena. Nobody understood where he was going when it happened. But, then it clicked. And it gave chills to anyone who has every pulled for that guy to get that title that drives him.

He was done with this moment. He was happy, but he wasn’t interested in giving anyone the impression that his mission was accomplished. He was ready to move on. And he wasn’t even going to wait for his coach to end his interview with ESPN.

Instead, he left. And his teammates didn’t need anyone to instruct them what to do. They do what they have done this entire playoff. They followed their leader. In moments, the entire team had exited the stage. Even though they have days before they engage in the final battle of the war, they were heading back to the room to symbolically move on, too. It was a moment in time that will not be forgotten. It was the moment that best demonstrates how much Dirk has changed over the years. The unassuming fellow who just loves the sport has grown into the leader who is driven by victory and for the moment to personally vanquish his enemies. He has grown into that William Wallace figure that his detractors said he could never be.

Dirk said it last night. He has been this far before.

“We talked about it after the game. This is a great moment and we can enjoy it for a day. But, we got one of those trophies already and it didn’t mean anything at the end. I think once you get to the Finals, there is no 2nd place finish. I was already thinking about the Finals. I’m going to stay in the moment, obviously. Like I said, this is nice for a day, but we said our goal in October was to win it all so we haven’t done that yet.”

The story has unfolded. 3 rounds of basketball have been completed. The Mavericks have won 12 of 15 games. They have won the series in a fashion that has allowed for rest between each round. They have taken all challengers. And they await their final opponent.

They are so close. They are so determined.
Their time is now.
Will the fairy tale have a happy ending? We will know very soon.
(By Bob Sturm / Special Contributor dallasmorningnews.com)

HELP TORNADO VICTIMS: In Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas & Oklahoma

WHETHER IT’S BY GIVING MONETARY DONATIONS, PROVIDING VOLUNTEER SERVICES, OR KEEPING THE VICTIMS OF THE DEVASTATING TORNADO IN PRAYER – LET’S DO OUR PART TO HELP!

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HOW TO HELP:
The American Red Cross has opened shelters in Missouri and Minnesota. The shelter in Joplin is located at Missouri Southern State University, and the Red Cross is working to provide transportation to the shelter for those in need. The Red Cross is also distributing food, cleanup supplies and comfort kits, and sending health workers to provide immediate care.
Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or visit the website to donate, give blood or volunteer.

AmeriCares has sent disaster-relief personnel to Joplin, and it’s working with Access Family Care Clinic to help victims. This expands AmeriCares’ tornado relief operation, which has been assisting various Southern states as they recover from their own recent tornado outbreak.
Donations to AmeriCares can be made online or by phone at 1-800-486-HELP.

The disaster-response team with Convoy of Hope is heading to Joplin with a truckload of water, snacks and ready-to-eat meals. It is coordinating with local officials to determine what additional supplies should follow and at what locations they can provide essential supplies.
Those wanting to help can text the word “CONVOY” to 50555 to make a $10 donation. You can also donate online or by calling 1-417-823-8998.

The Heart of Missouri United Way has established the Tornado Relief Fund to help victims.
Text “JOPLIN” to 864833 to make a $10 donation, or call 1-573-443-4523.

Heart to Heart International has sent volunteer medical professionals and their mobile medical clinic to the devastated communities in Kansas and Missouri.
Heart to Heart also sends hygiene kits for people displaced by the storms, and their care kit assembly instructions can be found here.
You can donate or sign up to be a volunteer online or by phone at 1-913-764-5200.

The Salvation Army has mobilized four feeding kitchens in impacted areas of Joplin. It is also providing relief to other cities that were hit by the weekend tornadoes in Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The Salvation Army’s disaster-relief efforts in Joplin can be supported by texting “JOPLIN” to 80888 to make a $10 donation. You can also donate through their website or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

Samaritan’s Purse is providing assistance to survivors in Joplin. Its first volunteer team is on the ground, and it is asking for more volunteers to join their effort to remove trees and fallen debris and help make repairs on damaged homes.
Details to volunteer and donate can be found online and by calling 1-828-262-1980.

World Vision is now expanding its tornado relief to include the Joplin area. It has sent a team there to determine the most urgent needs.
Text”‘TORNADO” to 20222 to give a $10 donation. You can also donate online or call 1-888-511-6443 to support World Vision’s effort.

Disasters serve as a reminder to be thankful for all the things that we have, like family, close friends, good health, food, and other things that we value. Have a good day & let’s do our part to help!! 🙂

“If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.” Arabian Proverb
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” William James

“Let me do all the good I can, to all the people I can, as often as I can.” John Wesley