Rafael Nadal hopes to be ready for ‘special’ Roger Federer clash

first_imgRafael Nadal, of Spain, celebrates his victory against Karen Khachanov, of Russia, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Friday, March 15, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)A hurting Rafael Nadal is “hopeful” he’ll be ready Saturday to renew his rivalry with Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the ATP Indian Wells Masters.The longtime foes have amassed 37 Grand Slam titles between them — Federer with 20 and Nadal with 17 — and built a unique relationship over 15 years and 38 prior matches, not to mention countless promotional and charitable activities off the court together.ADVERTISEMENT “If I don’t see this match as special it’s because I don’t love this sport and I don’t appreciate the story of this sport,” Nadal said after reaching the semi-final showdown with a 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2) victory over Karen Khachanov.“It’s not my case,” he said. “Of course it’s a special match.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsFederer, who defeated Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals, feels the same, saying the contrast in styles and personality between himself and Nadal lend spice to their history.“The way we go about it is very different, yet we both find a way to excel,” Federer said. “The way he came up was very clay-court based, and I was apparently very grass-court based, and we both found our ways also on the other surface,” Federer said. “It’s been quite a journey with Rafa side by side.” LATEST STORIES View comments Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Wintry storm delivers US travel woes before Thanksgiving Colombia protesters vow new strike after talks hit snag Bloomberg: US would benefit from more, not fewer, immigrantscenter_img Google Philippines names new country director SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Just hours earlier Federer had looked forward to the chance to take on a healthy Nadal, after similar knee trouble spelled the end of the Spaniard’s US Open campaign last year, and his US Open campaign last year.He didn’t play again until the Australian Open, where he fell in the championship match to Novak Djokovic.Nadal said he hoped to be ready to battle again with Federer, but with a pragmatism born of hard experience he couldn’t help but hedge.“Of course my goal and my idea is to be ready for tomorrow,” Nadal said. “I cannot guarantee how I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trump tells impeachment jokes at annual turkey pardon event MOST READ Miguel Romero Polo: Bamboo technology like no other UAAP men’s volleyball: FEU sweeps first round; NU comes in 2nd After 38 career meetings, Nadal leads the series 23-15, but Federer holds a slight 11-9 advantage on hardcourts.The Swiss great has won the last five in the series, but says that’s of little significance now that it has been almost a year and a half since their last meeting in the Shanghai Masters final in October 2017.Nadal, too, says the contrast in styles, coupled with the pair’s sheer longevity, makes every meeting something to treasure.“Different styles, different ways to understand the sport. And at the same time, two players with a good relationship after all the things that we went through in our careers, competing for the most important things,” he said.There was a shadow hanging over the blockbuster showdown however, after oft-injured Nadal needed treatment to have supportive tape applied to his right knee in his victory over Khachanov.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

Kickers Are Forever

In football, there are constant power struggles, both on and off the field: players battling players, offenses battling defenses, the passing game battling the running game, coaches battling coaches, and new ways of thinking battling old ways of thinking. And then there are kickers. Battling no one but themselves and the goalposts, they come on the field in moments most mundane and most decisive. They take all the blame when they fail, and little of the credit when they succeed. Year in and year out, just a little bit at a time, they get better. And better. And better. Until the game is completely different, and no one even noticed that kickers were one of the main reasons why.If you’ve been reading my NFL column Skeptical Football this season, you may have noticed that I write a lot about kickers. This interest has been building for a few years as I’ve watched field goals drained from long range at an ever-increasing rate, culminating in 2013, when NFL kickers made more than 67 percent of the kicks they took from 50-plus yards, giving them a record 96 such makes. There has been a lot of speculation about how kickers suddenly became so good at the long kick, ranging from performance-enhancing drugs (there have been a few possible cases) to the kickers’ special “k-balls” to more kick-friendly stadiums.So prior to the 2014 season, I set out to try to see how recently this improvement had taken place, whether it had been gradual or sudden, and whether it was specific to very long kicks or reflected improvement in kicking accuracy as a whole.What I found fundamentally changed my understanding of the game of football.1And possibly offered insight into how competitive sports can conceal remarkable changes in human capability.The complete(ish) history of NFL kickingPro Football Reference has kicking data broken down by categories (0-19 yards, 20-29, 30-39, 40-59 and 50+ yards) back to 1961. With this we can see how field goal percentage has changed through the years for each range of distances:It doesn’t matter the distance; kicking has been on a steady upward climb. If we look back even further, we can see indicators that kicking has been on a similar trajectory for the entire history of the league.The oldest data that Pro Football Reference has available is from 1932, when the eight teams in the NFL made just six field goals (it’s unknown how many they attempted). That year, kickers missed 37 of 113 extra-point attempts, for a conversion rate of 67.3 percent. The following year, the league moved the goal posts up to the front of the end zone — which led to a whopping 36 made field goals, and a skyrocketing extra-point conversion rate of 79.3 percent. With the uprights at the front of the end zone, kickers missed only 30 of 145 extra points.For comparison, those 30 missed extra-point attempts (all with the goalposts at the front of the end zone) are more than the league’s 28 missed extra-point attempts (all coming from 10 yards further out) from 2011 to 2014 — on 4,939 attempts.In 1938-39, the first year we know the number of regular field goals attempted, NFL kickers made 93 of 235 field-goal tries (39.6 percent) to go with 347 of 422 extra points (82.2 percent). In the ’40s, teams made 40.0 percent of their field goal tries (we don’t know what distances they attempted) and 91.3 percent of their XPs. In the ’50s, those numbers rose to 48.2 percent of all field goals and 94.8 percent of XPs. The ’60s must have seemed like a golden era: Kickers made 56 percent of all field goals (breaking the 50 percent barrier for the first time) and 96.8 percent of their extra points.For comparison, since 2010, NFL kickers have made 61.9 percent of their field goal attempts — from more than 50 yards.In the 1960s, we start to get data on field goal attempts broken down by distance, allowing for the more complete picture above. In 1972, the NFL narrowed the hash marks from 18.5 yards from 40, which improved field goal percentages overall by reducing the number of attempts taken from awkward angles. And then in 1974, the league moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone — but as kick distances are recorded relative to the posts, the main effect of this move was a small (and temporary) decline in the extra-point conversion rate (which you can see in the top line of the chart above). Then we have data on the kicks’ exact distance, plus field and stadium type, after 1993.2This info is likely out there for older kicks as well, but it wasn’t in my data.So let’s combine everything we know: Extra-point attempts and distances prior to 1961, kicks by category from 1961 to 1993, the kicks’ exact distance after 1993, and the changing placement of goal posts and hash marks. Using this data, we can model the likely success of any kick.With those factors held constant, here’s a look at how good NFL kickers have been relative to their set of kicks in any given year3This is done using a binomial probit regression with all the variables, using “year taken” as a categorical variable (meaning it’s not treated like a number, so 1961, 1962 and 1963 may as well be “Joe,” “Bob” and “Nancy”). This is similar to how SRS determines how strong each team is relative to its competition.:When I showed this chart to a friend of mine who’s a philosophy Ph.D.,4Hi, Nate! he said: “It’s like the Hacker Gods got lazy and just set a constant Kicker Improvement parameter throughout the universe.” The great thing about this is that since the improvement in kicking has been almost perfectly linear, we can treat “year” as just another continuous variable, allowing us to generalize the model to any kick in any situation at any point in NFL history.Applying this year-based model to our kicking distance data, we can see just how predictable the improvement in kicking has actually been:The model may give teams too much credit in the early ’60s — an era for which we have a lot less data — but over the course of NFL history it does extremely well (it also predicts back to 1932, not shown). What’s amazing is that, while the model incorporates things like hashmark location and (more recently) field type, virtually all the work is handled by distance and year alone. Ultimately, it’s an extremely (virtually impossibly) accurate model considering how few variables it relies on.5So how accurate is this thing? To be honest, in all my years of building models, I’ve never seen anything like it. The model misses a typical year/distance group prediction by an average of just 2.5 percent. Note that a majority of those predictions involve only a couple hundred observations — at most. For comparison, the standard deviation for 250 observations of a 75 percent event is 2.7 percent. In other words, the model pretty much couldn’t have done any better even if it knew the exact probability of each kick!While there is possibly a smidge of overfitting (there usually is), the risk here is lower than usual, since the vast majority of each prediction is driven solely by year and distance. Here’s the regression output:I wish I could take credit for this, but it really just fell into place. Nerds, perk up: The z-value on “season” is 46.2! If every predictive relationship I looked for were that easy to find, life would be sweet.This isn’t just trivia, it has real-world implications, from tactical (how should you manage the clock knowing your opponent needs only moderate yardage to get into field goal range?) to organizational (maybe a good kicker is worth more than league minimum). And then there’s the big one.Fourth downIf you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you scream at your television a lot when coaches sheepishly kick or punt instead of going for it on fourth down. This is particularly true in the “dead zone” between roughly the 25- and 40-yard lines, where punts accomplish little and field goals are supposedly too long to be good gambles.I’ve been a card-carrying member of Team Go-For-It since the ’90s. And we were right, back then. With ’90s-quality kickers, settling for field goals in the dead zone was practically criminal. As of 10 years ago — around when these should-we-go-for-it models rose to prominence — we were still right. But a lot has changed in 10 years. Field-goal kicking is now good enough that many previous calculations are outdated. Here’s a comparison between a field-goal kicking curve from 2004 vs. 2014:There’s no one universally agreed-upon system for when you should go for it on fourth down. But a very popular one is The New York Times’ 4th Down Bot, which is powered by models built by Brian Burke — founder of Advanced Football Analytics and a pioneer in the quantitative analysis of football. It calculates the expected value (either in points or win percentages) for every fourth-down play in the NFL, and tweets live results during games. Its 19,000-plus followers are treated to the bot’s particular emphasis on the many, many times coaches fail to go for it on fourth down when they should.A very helpful feature of the 4th Down Bot is that its game logs break down each fourth-down decision into its component parts. This means that we can see exactly what assumptions the bot is making about the success rate of each kick. Comparing those to my model, it looks to me like the bot’s kickers are approximately 2004-quality. (I asked Burke about this, and he agrees that the bot is probably at least a few years behind,6I don’t blame Burke or others for not updating their models based on the last few years. It’s good to be prudent and not assume that temporary shifts one way or the other will hold. Normally it is better to go with the weight of history rather than with recent trends. But in this case, the recent trends are backed by the weight of history. and says that its kicking assumptions are based on a fitted model of the most recent eight years of kicking data.7Here’s his full statement: “The bot is about 3-4 years behind the trends in FG accuracy, which have been improving at longer distances. It uses a kicking model fitted to the average of the recent 8-year period of data. AFA’s more advanced model for team clients is on the current ‘frontier’ of kick probabilities, and can be tuned for specific variables like kicker range, conditions, etc. Please keep in mind the bot is intended to be a good first-cut on the analysis and a demonstration of what is possible with real-time analytics. It’s not intended as the final analysis.”)But more importantly, these breakdowns allow us to essentially recalculate the bot’s recommendations given a different set of assumptions. And the improvement in kicking dramatically changes the calculus of whether to go for it on fourth down in the dead zone. The following table compares “Go or No” charts from the 4th Down Bot as it stands right now, versus how it would look with projected 2015 kickers8The exact values in the chart may differ slightly from the reports on the Times’ website because I had to reverse-engineer the bot’s decision-making process. But basically I’m assuming the model gets everything exactly right as far as expected value from various field locations, chances of converting a fourth-down attempt, etc., then recalculating the final expected value comparison using 2015 kickers.:Having better kickers makes a big difference, as you can see from the blue sea on the left versus the red sea on the right. (The 4th Down Bot’s complete “Go or No” table is on the Times’ website.)Getting these fourth-down calls wrong is potentially a big problem for the model. As a test case, I tried applying the 4th Down Bot’s model to a selection of the most relevant kicks from between 25 and 55 yards in 2013, then looked at what coaches actually did in those scenarios. I graded both against my kicking-adjusted results for 2013. While the updated version still concluded that coaches were too conservative (particularly on fourth-and-short), it found that coaches were (very slightly) making more correct decisions than the 4th Down Bot.The differences were small (coaches beat the bot by only a few points over the entire season), but even being just as successful as the bot would be a drastic result considering how absolutely terrible coaches’ go-for-it strategy has been for decades. In other words, maybe it’s not that NFL coaches were wrong, they were just ahead of their time!Time-traveling kickersHaving such an accurate model also allows us to see the overall impact kicking improvement has had on football. For example, we can calculate how kickers from different eras would have performed on a common set of attempts. In the following chart, we can see how many more or fewer points per game the typical team would have scored if kickers from a different era had taken its kicks (the red line is the actual points per game from field goals that year):The last time kickers were as big a part of the game as they are today, the league had to move the posts back! Since the rule change, the amount of scoring from field goals has increased by more than 2 points per game. A small part of the overall increase (the overall movement of the red line) is a result of taking more field goals, but most of it comes from the improvement in accuracy alone (the width of the “ribbon”).How does this compare to broader scoring trends? As a baseline for comparison, I’ve taken the average points scored in every NFL game since 1961, and then seen how much league scoring deviated from that at any given point in time (the “scoring anomaly”). Then I looked at how much of that anomaly was a result of kicking accuracy.9The scoring deviation on this chart is calculated relative to the average game over the period. The kicking accuracy is relative to the median kicker of the period.:Amid wild fluctuations in scoring, kicking has remained a steady, driving force.For all the talk of West Coast offenses, the invention of the pro formation, the wildcat, 5-wide sets, the rise of the pass-catching tight-end, Bill Walsh, the Greatest Show On Turf, and the general recognition that passing, passing and more passing is the best way to score in football, half the improvement in scoring in the past 50-plus years of NFL history has come solely from field-goal kickers kicking more accurately.10Side note, I’ve also looked at whether kicking improvement has been a result of kickers who are new to the league being better than older kickers, or of older kickers getting better themselves. The answer is both.The past half-century has seen an era of defensive innovation — running roughly from the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s — a chaotic scoring epoch with wild swings until the early ’90s, and then an era of offensive improvement. But the era of kickers is forever.Reuben Fischer-Baum contributed graphics.CORRECTION (Jan. 28, 2:22 p.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave the distances from which extra-point kicks were taken in 1933 and in recent years. Actual extra-point distances aren’t recorded. read more

Commentary Buzz about Ohio State basketball not the same

The Ohio State men’s basketball team is coming off arguably its biggest win of the season, taking down archrival Michigan, 56-53, but I still don’t care. OK, it’s not that I don’t care, but I just am not nearly as interested as I have been in previous years. Teams led by Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner and Greg Oden were the things my life revolved around. School, work, even relationships took a back seat to watching these teams play. Whatever the record, although they were typically fantastic, I would find the Buckeyes on television and shut out all else. But this season I have found it harder and harder to get really into OSU basketball games. Although the turnout at Woody’s for those students who couldn’t attend the Michigan game might tell you otherwise, there are many students who are dealing with the same indifference. The passion and pure unadulterated joy that came to campus last year after home victories against Duke and Indiana just has not been matched this season. But what is it that is keeping this talented team from garnering the following that previous Thad Matta-led squads have had? It is hard to pinpoint an exact reason as to what has changed from such a short time ago since there are so many factors contributing to the decline in interest. Potentially most clear of all is the inflated expectations this team has suffered from. Ranked No. 4 overall in the preseason AP poll, OSU hasn’t quite lived up to these lofty beginnings, dropping three games to some very talented teams in Duke and Illinois and at home against Kansas. But the drop-off from where they began to where they are now has been a rude awakening for fans who have become accustomed to a consistent top-10 team. Add the lack of new recruits this year, a perfect football season stealing the spotlight from basketball and what I am terming as the Jared Sullinger hangover, it is no wonder fans are showing a lack of enthusiasm this year. With the depth of the conference this year, every game is going to matter and home-court advantage will play into the Buckeyes’ chances at competing for the Big Ten Championship. The fans could by key down the stretch for OSU. Looking ahead, the Buckeyes will travel to Michigan State for another tough test against the Spartans Saturday at 6 p.m. before returning to Columbus to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. read more

Ohio State wrestlers Logan Steiber Nick Heflin Big Ten champions

Ohio State redshirt-junior Logan Stieber takes down Notre Dame College sophomore Maurice Miller in the 141-pound match Nov. 15 at St. John Arena. OSU won, 29-11.Credit: Ethan Day / Lantern photographerA pair of Ohio State wrestlers are the Big Ten’s best in their respective weight classes.Senior Nick Heflin and redshirt-junior Logan Stieber joined exclusive company Sunday, taking home the Big Ten Championship in the 197-pound and 141-pound weight classes at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., according to an OSU press release.Steiber defeated Penn State freshman Zain Retherford, 7-3, in the 141-pound championship match to capture his third-straight conference crown. He became just the second OSU wrestler in program history to do so, joining Kevin Randleman, who wrestled for the Buckeyes from 1991-93.Steiber’s victory against Retherford comes as a bit of payback, as Retherford defeated the three-time conference champion in Dec. 15 in what was his first loss in just more than a year.Steiber is now 25-1 on the season, having won 16 consecutive matches since falling to Zetherford in December.Heflin was the conference runner up at 174 pounds in 2011, but took down Penn State sophomore Morgan McIntosh, 5-3, to capture the title Sunday.The senior has now won 14 straight matches, and the victory against McIntosh was the 95th of his career.With their victories, Steiber and Heflin automatically qualify for the 2014 NCAA Championships, set to take place March 20-22 in Oklahoma City.A total of five other Buckeyes also qualified for the NCAAs with their respective performances Sunday — 184-pound redshirt-sophomore Kenny Courts, 125-pound redshirt-freshman Nick Roberts, 133-pound Johnni DiJulius, 174-pound sophomore Mark Martin and heavyweight redshirt-freshman Nick Tavanello. Redshirt-senior Ian Paddock is set to wrestle in the 149-pound weight class as well after earning an at-large bid Wednesday.The Buckeyes finished fourth as a team with 86.5 points. Penn State took home the team championship with 140.5 points. read more

West Hams vicechairman compares Sterling to Best

first_imgDue to his great level with Manchester City, Raheem Sterling has even gotten comparisons to George Best from West Ham’s vice-chairman.The level of performance that Raheem Sterling has been showing off in the last couple of months is on the level of legendary Irishman George Best, at least that’s what West Ham United’s vice-chairman wrote on her weekend column for The Sun.Karren Brady has been writing for The Sun for some time now, but she wasn’t even at a proper age to remember Best playing at his best during his golden era at Manchester United.Based on the assumption that she watched countless videos of the former winger, we can assume that her comparisons are a tad weak because Best is considered one of the most talented players in Manchester United’s history.The player who gets compared with him has been Cristiano Ronaldo, Sterling still has a lot to work in order to reach that same level of performance but he does share a few characteristics with the former Red Devil.Both are wingers, both have a slippery dribbling style that drives defenders crazy, and both of them are incredibly fast when they accelerate in reduced spaces.Brady wanted to praise Sterling’s capabilities by doing this comparison, but she did no favors to the player with this added pressure.“Sterling had a bad start in life. His father was murdered when he was two and he became a father himself in his early teens,” wrote Brady for The Sun.“He was picked up from QPR and by 17 he was making his debut for Liverpool. There, he was often perceived as a greedy, precocious brat and one always quick to fall over an opponent’s knee.”“Outrage built when Sterling, no doubt advised by his agent, rejected a reputed £100,000-a-week wage at Liverpool.”“He’d already committed several of those wild things that kids do, like buying expensive cars, when their pockets bulge with money and the leeches gather round. He stubbornly persisted with his desire to move to City,” Brady added.“And while I am unaware of the full reasons why, I’m sure a player who trains so steadfastly and prides himself on having gifts enjoyed by only the best footballers — super-quick feet, the balance of a tightrope walker and speed — isn’t driven purely by monetary rewards.”Jadon SanchoMerson believes Arsenal should sign Sancho Manuel R. Medina – September 14, 2019 Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho might be the perfect player to play for the Gunners, according to former England international Paul Merson.“As a footballer, he’s reaching towards the level of George Best. And the comparison shouldn’t embarrass a player who still has untapped potential,” she concluded.2️⃣0️⃣ and [email protected] have now gone 20 games unbeaten in the #PL (W17 D3), since a 2-3 defeat against Man Utd in April#MCIBOU pic.twitter.com/6R9ZRta9TB— Premier League (@premierleague) December 2, 2018What we can say about Raheem Sterling, is that he is one of the most important offensive players that Pep Guardiola has at his disposal.The Citizens just completed a 20-match unbeaten run with their latest victory against Bournemouth this Saturday and Sterling was right in the middle of it, but Manchester City does have quite a few players to choose from when you want to pick a single one who can be considered the leader of this group.Raheem still hasn’t proved that he can perform at a top level during a match against one of the biggest clubs in the world, he needs to score one or two goals against Barcelona or Real Madrid in order to earn that comparison with ‘Georgie’.It’s not that we don’t believe the kid can pull it off, it’s just that we won’t believe any of these claims until we can actually see some proof that he is capable of such massive achievement.We are barely getting to the half of the season, the real challenge will come after March when the titles will start getting decided in all competitions and Sterling will want to stay in form during that period of time. Let’s see if he can pull it off.Man City ace Raheem Sterling only outdone by Eden Hazard this season…he is reaching towards George Best level | @karren_brady https://t.co/JcQGIhtbOj pic.twitter.com/z7XVNKQvBg— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) December 1, 2018What do you think about Brady’s bold comparison of Raheem Sterling with legendary Georgie Best? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.last_img read more

US Coast Guard joins search for missing cruise passenger

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 06 Nov 2015 – The US Coast Guard was summoned from its base in The Bahamas to assist in the search for a Brazilian tourist who reportedly fell from a Royal Caribbean Cruise liner around 1am Friday. The 35 year old man was said, by ABC News, to have jumped from the seventh story of the Oasis of the Seas. He first landed in a life raft and then fell into the waters about 17 miles off Turks and Caicos, in nearby Bahamas. Recommended for you Illegal boat voyage to TCI deadly for 60 Haitians Related Items:cruise ship, oasis of the sea, US coast guardlast_img read more