Novak Djokovic wins 9th Australian Open, closes on Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal

Novak Djokovic Australian Open
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Novak Djokovic won a record-extending ninth Australian Open, sweeping Daniil Medvedev to move within two Grand Slam singles titles of the male record shared by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Top-ranked Djokovic routed the fourth-seeded Russian 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 for an 18th major title. Half of them have come in Melbourne.

“I love you more and more each year,” Djokovic said inside Rod Laver Arena after the quickest of his 28 major finals — 1 hour, 53 minutes. “The love affair keeps growing.”

Djokovic is 33 years, 8 months old. Nadal won his 18th of 20 at age 33. Federer won his 18th at 35 years, 5 months. The chase is on going back to Nadal’s domain — the French Open in late May.

“Whether I think about winning more Slams and breaking records, of course. Of course, I do,” Djokovic said. “Most of my attention and my energy from this day forward, until I retire from tennis, is going to be directed in majors, trying to win more major trophies.”

Djokovic, who first won the Australian Open at age 20 in 2008, improved to 18-0 in semifinals and finals in Melbourne.

Over the last two weeks, he overcame what he called an oblique muscle tear to outlast American Taylor Fritz in five sets in the third round. Djokovic said in his post-match on-court interview that night — after midnight — that he may have to withdraw from the tournament.

“It has been definitely emotionally the most challenging Grand Slams that I ever had,” he said Sunday.

The Serbian endured, taking out Milos Raonic and Alexander Zverev in four sets. Then he swept 114th-ranked Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the semifinals to reach a meeting with a player he called “the man to beat.” Djokovic’s five dropped sets were his highest ever going into a major final.

Medvedev entered the final on a 20-match win streak dating to October, including 12 wins over top-10 foes, most notably Djokovic at the ATP Finals in November.

“It’s [Djokovic] who has all the pressure,” Medvedev said before the final, “getting to Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slams.”

But it was Medvedev who played with the weight on his wiry shoulders. He is the highest-ranked man without a major title, having lost a 2019 U.S. Open final epic to Nadal that lasted five sets and nearly five hours.

Many believed after that match in New York that Medvedev, now 25, was ticketed for major success. That may still come, but Djokovic held him off a little bit longer.

“U.S. Open hurt more because I had more chances finally to win it than I had today,” said Medvedev, who called Djokovic, Nadal and Federer “cyborgs.” “For me it felt like 30 minutes [match time against Djokovic], and I was there holding the finalist trophy.”

Djokovic, after winning the 2020 Australian Open for his 17th Slam, had hoped last year to catch Federer and Nadal.

But then Wimbledon, which he’s won five times and on the last two occasions, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He was the favorite at the U.S. Open — with Nadal and Federer absent — but was defaulted for striking a ball in anger that inadvertently hit a lineswoman in the throat.

Then at rescheduled Roland Garros in October, he won seven total games off Nadal in a one-way final.

Now, Djokovic is closer to the record than ever. If he can topple Nadal in Paris, it’s likely he will catch Federer and Nadal by the end of this year.

If Nadal wins a 14th French Open in June, the earliest Djokovic can possibly tie the record would be next January.

That’s when the King of Melbourne Park — as Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka called him during Sunday’s trophy ceremony — can move one shy of Margaret Court‘s overall record for Australian Open titles. Court won 11 when including pre-Open Era conquests when it was known as the Australian Championships.

“The longer the time passes, the more difficult it’s going to become for me to get my hands on the major trophy because you have, of course, new young players coming up,” Djokovic said, before turning attention back to his contemporaries. “Roger and Rafa inspire me. That’s something that I’ve said before. I’ll say it again, I think as long as they go, I’ll go.”

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final