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Wayne Gretzky & Steve Nash Dish On Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic – ATP Tour

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Wayne Gretzky and Steve Nash are legends in the hockey and basketball worlds, respectively. Besides both of them being Canadian, they share something else in common: a love for tennis.

Gretzky, 59, and Nash, 46, both followed the sport closely before this era, but both stars are in awe of the Big Three: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“If you could see a Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal final, and Djokovic is pretty good, but there’s something [special] about Nadal and Federer playing and competing for a championship,” Gretzky said on Tennis United. “For me, that gets my blood flowing and I can’t wait to watch it.”

Gretzky’s favourite match of all-time is the 1981 Wimbledon final, when John McEnroe — who is now the hockey legend’s good friend — won The Championships for the first time by defeating Bjorn Borg.

“McEnroe-Borg was a unique rivalry because it was more of my era, so I’m probably a little more comfortable with that,” Gretzky said. “As you know, the athletes of today are so much better and so much more conditioned… it’s a different sport now, and every sport is like that.”

Watch This Week’s Tennis United:

Nash’s love of tennis began with McEnroe, too. The American intrigued the Canadian with his personality, and reeled him in with his talent.

“You couldn’t take your eyes off him because you never knew what was going to happen. He wore his emotions on his sleeve,” Nash said. “But I just think the touch, the creativity, the feel at the net, those things were just so beautiful. He was an artist out there in many respects. It was this crazy mix of this big personality, you never knew where his emotions were going to go. At the same time, he’d hit a drop volley… he was mesmerising with his play, his competitive fire.”

But like Gretzky, Nash is consistently in awe of the Big Three. The basketball star is perhaps most impressed that they all have different styles, yet each has enjoyed tremendous success.

“I never really felt like I had to choose between Federer and Nadal. I felt like I could really appreciate both of them to reach their limit, their max, their potential, and may the best man win,” Nash said. “It’s just amazing to see the modern game with Djoker, Roger and Rafa, how they’re all so different. They all get it done in different ways. But if you individually looked at their resumés, you can make a case that each of them is the best player to ever play the game.

“Roger started out being so mesmerising. He was a great athlete, but he also has so much variety, beautiful strokes. He slices the backhand, he comes over the top of it hard, he finds angles. The forehand is obviously mastery, but then he has the serve, the volleys and all the variety in between.

“Rafa, when he started playing you thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s just a beast of an athlete and he’s mentally as tough as anyone we’ve seen maybe in any sport.’ But as the years go by you realise, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Rafa miss a volley. He’s an artist, too.

“Then you look at Djokovic, the way he moves, his flexibility, his consistency. If he’s playing at his best, to beat him is almost impossible. He makes you hit so many extra balls and then he puts so much pressure on you to hit the lines. He’s in his own right as good as anyone we’ve ever seen.”

Gretzky and Nash are both proud of the recent success of Canadians. Gretzky was in attendance at a memorable match three years ago, when Canadian star Denis Shapovalov stunned Rafael Nadal in Montreal at the Coupe Rogers.

“We were lucky enough to be at the [Coupe Rogers] when Denis had his run. We were at the Nadal match, which was so exciting,” Gretzky said. “My wife kept hitting me a little bit saying, ‘Every time you cheer for Denis, Nadal is watching you.’ So I had to back down a little bit out of respect for the opponent.”

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'Djokovic will overtake Roger Federer and become the GOAT', says former World No. 1 – Tennis World USA

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Former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic was the protagonist of a long interview on Eurosport, where he commented on all the news that gravitates around the world of tennis. The former World number 1, who retired from the circuit at the end of 2016, has won 15 singles titles during his career, including Roland Garros in 2008.

She also reached a final in Paris in 2007 and one at the Australian Open in 2008. She was at the top of the world ranking from 9th June to 10th August 2008 and then from 18th August to 7th September of the same year (for a total of 12 weeks).

Ivanovic: ‘Djokovic will break Federer’s Slam record’

Ana had a recent talk with former world no.10 Barbara Schett-Eagle. She talked about Kim Clijsters: “I have been watching some of her matches and she has been striking the ball amazingly well, but I really hope she can get back to that level to play like she used to,” Serbia’s 2008 French Open champion Ivanovic, talking to Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi, said on Wednesday.

“Personally, I don’t think it’ll be easy after being out for so many years. It’s amazing what she achieved. I still respect her so much, it’s just difficult to imagine now after having three kids and being out for so long to make a comeback,” Ivanovic, who retired in 2016, aged 29, said.

“Not because she’s not fit, but because your body just reacts differently. When you are out of competition you realise how much fine-tuning is necessary and she’s been out a while”. When asked about her opinion about Novak Djokovic and the opportunity for him to break Federer’s slam record, Ana sounded rather positive.

“In tour we were very close friends, but then later over the years he had his own path and I had my own path, but what he achieved is really amazing,” Ivanovic said. “Yeah. Probably. He has time working for him.

He still has a few years left and he definitely has a big chance of doing it and that’s one of his goals probably,” she added.

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A spy and an armbar: The night ‘India’ welcomed Amanda Nunes to MMA – MMA Fighting

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“Let me rewind the tape here… There’s a drawer we open and memories come back.”

The first and only woman to win multiple UFC belts, Amanda Nunes, returns to the octagon Saturday night at UFC 250 to once again defend her throne when she takes on Felicia Spencer in Las Vegas. Like many other MMA stars, however, her career actually started with a defeat — and the woman responsible for it had a few tricks up her sleeve.

A mixed martial arts pioneer in Brazil, Ana Maria “India” received a call from Prime MMA promoter Luiz Fernando Menezes with an offer to be part of the company’s second show on March 8, 2008. It was scheduled for International Women’s Day, and he wanted women competing on it.

India was training under experienced boxing coach Luiz Carlos Dorea in Salvador and had previous experience in MMA, while Nunes, a 19-year-old protege under Edson Carvalho, was looking to make her debut in a cage. India was coming off a long layoff due to a knee injury and decided to collect as much as information as possible about her upcoming foe.

“I had six knee surgeries throughout my career and I was coming off one of them, just five months before the fight, and I never heard of Amanda before,” Ana Maria says. “A friend of mine trained at Edson Carvalho’s gym and I asked him if he could to the gym and film her a little bit so I could check her out [laughs].”

The experienced fighter received some inside information about Nunes, and only heard great things about her.

“Ana, this girl trains really hard,” the “spy” allegedly told Nunes’ opponent. “She sleeps in the gym and watches fights on computer all day everyday.”

“He told me she was really tough on the feet, with her background in karate, and very good on the ground,” Ana Maria says. “Since I was coming off the knee surgery and one leg was two inches shorter than the other one, I didn’t want to waste any time on the feet. I shouldn’t even be fighting, but I’m a fighter and we always think we can pull it off.”

India’s strategy was to take Nunes to the ground as quick as possible, but “The Lioness” started off with a leg kick followed by a combo of punches. Nunes was “fiery, she wanted to take your head off, but often got too emotional,” Ana Maria recalls.

She took advantage of Nunes’s aggression, pulling guard and snapping a tight armbar that forced the tap.

“35 seconds,” Ana Maria recalls. “A kick, three punches, I shot for a takedown, she sprawled, I pulled guard and got the armbar. We could see how hungry she was back then, her will to fight… You could see she was good.”

Nunes eventually joined Academia Champion in Salvador and trained with India, but saw a chance to move overseas as a way to improve as a mixed martial artist.

Amanda Nunes
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

“She always told me she would go to the United States and only come back with the belt in her hands,” Ana Maria says. “She was the one to beat Ronda (Rousey). She said she would beat Cris (Cyborg) one day. She slept with a computer by her bed to watch videos of their fights. She was always very focused and determined.”

Their careers went different directions. Nunes eventually signed with Strikeforce and then joined the UFC, where she climbed to the top in two different weight classes — and beat both Rousey and Cyborg by first-round knockout.

Ana Maria became a popular name in Brazil after being on the cast of a Survivor-esque reality TV competition in 2009, but never made it to the big leagues in the sport. India often wonders if she was just born in the wrong era, where women simply didn’t get the same opportunity as men.

“I’ve asked myself a lot,” she says. “People didn’t understand why I was fighting, they said there was no event for women. I said it would be big one day and they called me crazy. PRIDE was the biggest promotion in the world, then Dana White said there would never be women fighting in the UFC, and I’ve always said they had nowhere to run.

“I wanted to fight, and I believed it would be big. I didn’t have someone to look up to, but I was doing it because I thought it was cool. If it wasn’t for me, Vanessa Porto, Michelle Tavares and others, these girls wouldn’t have the space they have today. That’s why I won’t complain. Someone has to be first, someone has to open the way for others.”

At 41 with a record of seven wins and five defeats (she says two victories are missing from online databases), India is open to the idea of taking a farewell bout if the terms are good. In 2018, back when she was training at Demian Maia’s team in Sao Paulo, Ana Maria says she received a “laughable” offer to fight for the first time since 2014.

“If there’s someone out there willing to pay, I’ll fight,” Ana Maria says. “I’ve had arguments with promoters for treating us like clowns. They set the circus up with a bunch of clowns. Everyone gets paid except for the fighters. It’s absurd. What’s the point of being part of a show if I’m getting paid nothing?”

Even if she doesn’t get her shot at a proper goodbye to the sport she helped build, Ana Maria India knows she was one of the pillars to get it where it is today.

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Donald Trump says Drew Brees shouldn't have backed off flag comments – CBC.ca

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President Donald Trump on Friday criticized Drew Brees’ decision to publicly apologize and walk back his comments about “disrespecting the flag.”

The New Orleans Saints quarterback apologized Thursday for comments he made one day earlier that he described as “insensitive and completely missed the mark.” He said Wednesday that he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country” while reiterating his objection to NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

Numerous black athletes, including NBA star LeBron James, expressed outrage at Brees. Several of Brees’ New Orleans teammates were among the NFL players who were irate.

Trump, though, said on his Twitter account that he doesn’t think Brees needed to issue an apology.

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high. …

“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!”

Brees posted an open-letter reply to Trump on his Instagram account on Friday night.

“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag,” Brees wrote. “It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.

“We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform.

“We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when?

“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”

Trump’s comments came hours before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized and said that the league was wrong for not listening to players and their concerns about social justice and racism.

Social injustice has been a major source of tension in the NFL since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling before games during the 2016 season to bring attention to police brutality. Kaepernick hasn’t played in an NFL game since that year.

The NFL’s relationship with black players is under scrutiny in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A group of players requested the NFL take strong action on Thursday in a video directed at Goodell and other NFL officials.

Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes in an incident caught on cell phones. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Three other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting both a second-degree murder and a second-degree manslaughter.

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