USA avoids relegation in Davis Cup … did you hear?

Fresh off their record-setting U.S. Open win, the Bryan brothers clinched the USA’s spot in the 2015 World Group (top tier) of the Davis Cup, beating Slovakia.

We hope the crowd was a little better for the Bryans than it was for singles.

Busted Racquet throws much of the blame at the USTA and local folks for underpromoting and overpricing the event. Maybe the media deserve a bit of the blame, too, for failing to pay attention to such a terrific tournament.

Or blame the ITF for shoving aside reform ideas ranging from forcing top players into the event or playing more than one round at a time.

The USA hasn’t won the Cup since 2007, when Andy Roddick and James Blake combined with the Bryans to win the trophy, but it hasn’t been relegated out of the 16-team World Group since 1987.

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Bryan brothers win 100th title in style, aside from celebration

A major accomplishment that shouldn’t be lost in the NFL’s opening frenzy: Mike and Bob Bryan won their 100th doubles title, 16th Grand Slam and fifth U.S. Open. We can forgive them for botching the chest bump and accidentally scaring a toddler.

Bryan brothers win 5th US Open title, 16th major – Yahoo Sports.

Surely their new ad was well-timed:

Congratulations on your … oh … sorry

A few thoughts on the viral video of a reporter congratulating Nicolas Mahut, not realizing he had lost.

1. We’ve all had to go into interviews without realizing what happened. At one of the 2008 Olympic biathlon events, one with a staggered start and athletes racing against the clock, I was down in the mixed zone interviewing one American athlete. We finished, and then Jay Hakkinen came right up for his turn. No one had given the handful of reporters any results, and we couldn’t see the course from the mixed zone. The other reporters deferred to me. “So … um … Jay — how’d you do?”

2. That said, if you’re in a press conference room, and you’re pretty sure other people watched the match, you might want to defer to them.

3. When you realize you’ve been given faulty information, apologize … then bow out.

Bottom line: It’s OK to let other people ask questions. Particularly if you have nothing to ask.

Woly Award: Bryan brothers, tennis

Two remarkable careers, one in tennis and one in cycling, are worth celebrating this week.

Bob and Mike Bryan have been the top doubles team in the world for nearly a decade. Rewind to 2003, when they first claimed the top spot in the year-end doubles rankings, and see how the other names in men’s tennis have changed: Andre Agassi won the Australian Open, Juan Carlos Ferrero won the French, and Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open and finished first in the season rankings.

After all that, the Bryans are somehow getting better. With their win at Wimbledon over the weekend, they’ve become only the second men’s doubles team to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once. And they won the Olympics along the way.

So the Bryans are a rather convincing winner of the Woly Award, given for the top U.S. performance in Olympic sports this week.

But there’s another career that also deserves our attention this week.

Mara Abbott was a fast-rising U.S. cyclist. She won a U.S. title in 2007, when she was fresh out of college. In 2009, she won the King of the Mountains title at the Giro d’Italia Femminile, the biggest stage race in women’s road racing. In 2010, she did even better, winning the overall Giro title.

Why didn’t you hear about Abbott in the 2012 Olympics? Because she had quit. More than that — she had literally starved herself out of the sport, miserable with what her life had become.

Velo magazine published a gripping story on her downfall and comeback a couple of weeks ago. It’s now available on their site. Why put it out on the Web now? Because she just won the Giro again.

And now that she has climbed back to the top, she could be around for a while.

Elsewhere in Olympic sports: Aries Merritt won a Diamond League 110-meter hurdles race in the fifth-best time in the world this year (13.09), U.S. volleyballers had a rough weekend, and shooter Corey Cogdell took World Cup bronze.

Monday Myriad: Feb. 4

Yes, this will be more of an evening thing from now on.

The week’s headlines:

– Jose Aldo defended his UFC featherweight title as Frankie Edgar suffered yet another close decision loss. The rest of the UFC 156 card scrambled the title chases in ways I’m still working out. Rashad Evans was supposed to fight for the middleweight title, but he lost a dreary light heavyweight fight to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In the heavyweight division, Alistair Overeem was supposed to fight for the title, but Antonio Silva knocked him out. And now lightweight contender Anthony Pettis says he wants to drop down to featherweight and fight Aldo.

– Steve Holcomb’s four-man sled set a track record in the fourth and final heat to take bronze in the World Championships.

– Noelle Pikus-Pace took silver in the skeleton World Championships.

– Erin Hamlin and Chris Mazdzer each placed sixth in their events at the luge World Championships. They, along with doubles team Matthew Mortensen/Preston Griffall, placed fifth in the team event.

– The U.S. men struggled past Brazil in the Davis Cup. Turned out to be a great first round for North America, with Canada upsetting Spain.

– Katie Compton was second in the elite women’s race at the cyclocross World Championships.

– Helen Maroulis was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Dave Schultz Invitational.

– U.S. sailors at the World Cup stop in Miami: Five golds, three silvers, three bronzes.

– Upcoming: Biathlon and Alpine skiing world championships, some of which will be televised. Also the U.S. men vs. Honduras as World Cup qualifying’s Hexagonal starts.

http://storify.com/duresport/monday-myriad-feb-4-features

Monday Myriad: Here comes the soccer deluge

The Monday Myriad is a little delayed this week for a few reasons. Today was a big day for parenting and youth soccer stuff. Also — there’s not a whole heck of a lot going on.

If you have any interest whatsoever in soccer, though, that’s about to change.

Here’s a quick look at what has happened and what’s about to happen:

Tennis: The USA was simply overwhelmed against Spain in the Davis Cup finals. Spain is so good in soccer and tennis … how about soccer tennis?

Meanwhile, Venus Williams led the Washington Kastles to the World Team Tennis title.

Women’s soccer: You surely know the U.S. women came back to beat Australia 2-1 over the weekend. The U.S. players take a few minutes to get the competitive fire burning in these friendlies, so nothing about the game was surprising except for Lisa de Vanna’s marvelous goal.

To give something unique here, check out the Australian perspective.

And something from August that may not have gotten much attention: Shannon Boxx, who scored the game-winner Sunday, wrote an opinion piece for Politico about living with lupus — and what Congress can do about the disease.

Olympic sports: Mostly lower-level stuff this week, with some U.S. prospects looking sharp in figure skating and field hockey. The toughest competition was probably the women’s wrestling team selection for the upcoming World Championships.

COMING UP

Champions League: As the league kicks off, FoxSoccer’s Leander Schaerlaeckens examines the upheaval among Europe’s power clubs, mostly a function of clubs that are shaky economic ground and those that have owners with bottomless wallets.

And if you’re used to buying Four Four Two or World Soccer for your Champions League capsules, you might want to check ESPNFC first. It’s a lot cheaper.

Cycling: The road World Championships will surely favor whichever cyclists can find anything left in their legs after the Grand Tours and the Olympics.

Archery: Olympians Brady Ellison and Jennifer Nichols have qualified for the eight-archer fields at the Archery World Cup final.

MMA: UFC 152 in Toronto, with Jon Jones defending his title against Vitor Belfort. Or Chael Sonnen. Or whoever. The co-main event might be better — the first UFC flyweight title bout, with Joseph Benavidez against Demetrious Johnson.

Cricket: Twenty20 World Championship! Afghanistan qualified for the tournament. England is the defending world champion. Yes, England.

2012 medal projection update: Tennis and table tennis

Table tennis always seems like one of those sports the average out-of-shape guy could play. Until you watch them play. They may not be triathletes, but you’ll see more fat baseball players than fat table tennis Olympians.

For tennis, we’ll once again rely a good bit on Wimbledon results. Basically, we’re not betting against Serena right now, and neither should you.

Away we go …

Continue reading 2012 medal projection update: Tennis and table tennis

Midweek Myriad: Marta, Nadal, handball, 1260s, etc.

One of the joys of following a hundred sports or so is that you’re not stuck dissecting the Super Bowl to the point that it becomes joyless. Instead, we have all this:

Marta signs with Western New York. A WPS shocker. Good news from a media point of view because it means more of us will be paying attention to veteran Rochester reporter Jeff DiVeronica, who jokes on Twitter that Marta will push him up to 1,000 followers.

The conventional wisdom would be that Marta would sign with The Club Formerly And Still Partially Known As The Washington Freedom But Also With Magic Jack In The Name (TCFASPKATWFBAWMJITN) so that Dan Borislow would have a marquee player to market in South Florida and perhaps somewhere in Washington once the team hires marketing and sales staffs and finds venues in which to play. Instead, Borislow has given us the best WPS smack talk in the league’s brief history, via Our Game: “This came as a total surprise. I am glad she will be playing in the league. She will discover we are the team to beat, so I hope she is at the top of her game when she plays us.”

For all the talk in MLS about “Rivalry Week,” maybe we should be circling the calendar for TCFASPKATWFBAWMJITN’s visit to Rochester.

Nadal loses. And it’s a pity. Tennis could use a Grand Slam charge from the charismatic, humble Spaniard, but an injury has derailed his Australian Open campaign. Nadal didn’t want to use the injury as an excuse, but he wasn’t fooling opponent David Ferrer. Class acts all around. (NYT)

– Winter X Games time. And the NYT notes that several more X sports may be joining the Winter Olympic program. No word on women’s ski jumping, though that sport has a better-defined set of rules and so forth.

The Summer Olympics might be too big. The Winter Olympics aren’t, and it’s hard to begrudge slopestyle its place. But if the IOC adds the X sports without women’s ski jumping, the excuses will ring hollow.

Handball heaven. It’s only $20 away. At least the highlights are free, so I was able to scout semifinalist France in their win over my buddies from Iceland in a rematch of the 2008 Olympic final. (Dan Steinberg also enjoyed covering that team in Beijing and linked to my highest-read blog post ever.)

Iceland plays Croatia for fifth place on Friday. The semifinals the same day: France-Sweden, Denmark-Spain.

Also this weekend:

  • Cyclocross World Championships. The muddier, the better.
  • U.S. Figure Skating Championships, in my former hometown of Greensboro.
  • Luge World Championships. U.S. sliders not having a particularly good year.
  • Paralympic Athletics World Championships.
  • Millrose Games.
  • Strikeforce: Middleweight and welterweight title fights, plus Herschel Walker.
  • Final weekend of Tata Steel chess classic, where U.S. player Hikaru Nakamura shares the lead in an elite group.

Friday Myriad: Not out of our league

To be perfectly honest, we’re in a lull. No Tour, no huge world championships (no disrespect to the folks with rifles and pistols), etc. Plenty of league games, though. Through the weekend, eight Mexican league games are on various networks. On Saturday, seven MLS games are on Direct Kick / MLSSoccer.com. See Soccer America listings below.

And it’s X Games weekend — see TV schedule and ESPN3 schedule.

FRIDAY

2 p.m.: X Games. ESPN

3 p.m.: Tennis, ATP Los Angeles quarterfinals. ESPN2

7 p.m.: X Games. ESPN

11 p.m.: Tennis, WTA Stanford quarterfinals. ESPN2

SATURDAY

9:30 a.m.: Soccer, Emirates Cup, Celtic-Lyon. GolTV

11:30 a.m.: Soccer, Emirates Cup, Arsenal-AC Milan. GolTV

2 p.m.: X Games. ESPN

3 p.m.: Tennis, WTA Stanford semifinals. ESPN2

5 p.m.: Tennis, ATP Los Angeles semifinal. ESPN2

7 p.m.: X Games. ESPN

9 p.m.: Boxing, Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz II, pay-per-view

10 p.m.: Soccer, W-League championship. One of the two major U.S./Canada amateur women’s leagues finishes its season absurdly early so that many players can get back to college. Fox Soccer Channel

10:30 p.m.: Tennis, ATP Los Angeles semifinal. ESPN2

SUNDAY

6 a.m.: Soccer, U-20 Women’s World Cup final, Germany-Nigeria. ESPNU / ESPN3.com

9 a.m.: Soccer, U-20 Women’s World Cup third-place game, South Korea-Colombia. ESPNU / ESPN3.com

9:30 a.m.: Soccer, Emirates Cup, AC Milan-Lyon. GolTV

11:30 a.m.: Soccer, Emirates Cup, Arsenal-Celtic. GolTV

1 p.m.: X Games. ESPN2

3 p.m.: Tennis, WTA Stanford final. ESPN2

5 p.m.: Tennis, ATP Los Angeles final. ESPN2

5 p.m.: Soccer, WPS, Atlanta-Gold Pride. Fox Soccer Channel

7 p.m.: X Games. ESPN2

7:30 p.m.: Soccer, MLS, Los Angeles-Chicago. Fox Soccer Channel

9 p.m.: MMA, UFC on Versus: Jon Jones-Vladimir Matyushenko, Mark Munoz-Yushin Okami, Tyson Griffin-Takanori Gomi. See my main event preview at USA TODAY. Versus

MORE MYRIAD

  • Full soccer listings at Soccer America: MLS, international friendlies, Mexico.
  • Selected weekend listings at USA TODAY
  • ESPN3: U-20 Women’s World Cup, Australian Rules football, CFL, cricket, fishing, lacrosse, extra X Games.
  • Tennis Channel: Delayed coverage of ATP Los Angeles, ATP Gstaad, WTA Stanford.
  • Universal Sports: FIVB beach volleyball, European and African track and field.
  • More Olympic sports: FIVB beach volleyball, water polo World Cup, shooting World Championships (live TV).

Upcoming: USA Swimming championships, starting Tuesday.

Friday Myriad: Up all night for Aussie Rules, MMA, Le Tour

No, I didn’t forget. Today was a last-ditch effort to get some progress on two nagging free-lance assignments.

Which reminds me — if you or someone you know is a male caregiver for a spouse or loved one who has breast cancer AND you’ve done the Komen 3-day walk, could you please, please get in touch with me?

On to the weekend (all times ET):

SATURDAY

12:01 a.m.: Australian football, Geelong-Hawthorn. Nice to see this sport making a comeback on U.S. airwaves. Still have no idea how anyone has the stamina to run for two hours while being pummeled every time the ball is nearby. ESPN2

3 a.m.: MMA, Dream 15, lightweight title fight, Shinya Aoki-Tatsuya Kawajiri. Also in action: Gegard Mousasi, Melvin Manhoef, Gesias Cavalcante. If you can’t watch live, check recaps from my colleague Sergio Non. HDNet

7:30 a.m.: Tour de France, Stage 7. To the mountains we go! Well, sort of. Just a couple of category-2 climbs today. The Alpine stages this year aren’t quite as torturous as usual, with most of the massive climbs coming in the Pyrenees in the third week. Versus

8 a.m.: Davis-Cup, quarterfinals, France-Spain, doubles. France leads 2-0. They’re playing without Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but Spain is playing without someone named Nadal. Gael Monfils outlasted David Ferrer in a five-setter Friday. Tennis Channel

Noon: MLS, Toronto-Colorado. In case you need a warm-up for the big one. Some of CONCACAF’s best attacking talent is on display in this one, even if one of the defenses tends to play with what Bob Dylan called “a little too much force.” Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com

2:30 p.m.: World Cup third-place game, Uruguay-Germany. These games are often entertaining. Near the end of a World Cup that has brought some excellent games but quite a few dreary efforts, can that be so bad? ABC/Univision

3:30 p.m.: Women’s basketball, WNBA All-Stars vs. U.S. National Team. Really? You couldn’t have waited another hour, when the Cup final would likely be over? ESPN

6 p.m.: MLS, Philadelphia-San Jose. The Earthquakes could be interesting this season. Fox Soccer Channel

7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: MLS, the rest of the Saturday games (four), with the New York-D.C. United rivalry among the highlights. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com

SUNDAY

7 a.m.: Davis-Cup, quarterfinals, France-Spain, singles. Tennis Channel

7:30 a.m.: Tour de France, Stage 8. Two category-1 climbs, including one at the finish. That’s more like it. Will we see the virtual end of Lance Armstrong’s career here? Versus

2:30 p.m.: World Cup, final, Netherlands-Spain. I picked Spain over Brazil in the final, and I’m sticking with the team that never loses possession of the ball. ABC/Univision

6 p.m.: WPS, Gold Pride-Washington. Wonder how the Freedom will adjust after practicing all week in 100-degree temperatures. I went out to practice today, and the artificial turf field felt like a frying pan. FSC

10:30 p.m.: MLS, Seattle-Dallas. I don’t usually list all the Direct Kick games, but if you’re going into withdrawal just six hours after the end of the Cup, here you go. Direct Kick/MLSSoccer.com

MORE MYRIAD

  • World Series of Poker: Main Event runs all weekend.
  • Full soccer listings at Soccer America.
  • Selected weekend listings at USA TODAY
  • ESPN3: Australian Rules football, CFL, NBA Summer League and lacrosse.
  • Tennis Channel: A few re-runs and the France-Spain Davis Cup match.
  • Universal Sports: Beach volleyball (FIVB Grand Slam), track and field (Diamond League, British Grand Prix) live online, delayed on TV. Swimming (Grand Prix season finale, Los Angeles) online-only. In beach volleyball, the top U.S. teams were upset in pool play, which doesn’t happen often, but still advanced.
  • More Olympic sports: Why is no one Webcasting the last weekend of World League volleyball pool play? U.S. men hosting Russia in Wichita. Wait a few weeks, and you can watch (see PDF).
  • Rugby: Tri-Nations (Southern Hemisphere) gets underway this weekend, just in case South African sports attention can be diverted for a moment.

HEADLINES

Chess/poker: Chessboxing just seems strange, but chesspoker has possibilities. Jennifer Shahade takes us through a matchup.

Soccer: 3rd Degree is basically the grandfather of independent MLS sites, so it’s nice to see Buzz Carrick take the operation into ESPNDallas.com. Could also bode well for ESPN’s MLS Draft coverage? Maybe?