In a profession as physically and psychologically arduous as boxing, participants tend to peak later in life than they do in many other sports. The toll exacted by a prizefighting career is one that unseasoned fighters are rarely equipped to handle—boxers spend years inside the ring taking punches before they ever get a shot to earn a living at it, if they ever get a shot at all.
The New York Yankees had a slightly altered lineup for the last game of their series against Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. Coming back from a fractured ankle that took him out of the playoffs last October and a strained quad that put him back on the DL in his return on July 11, Derek Jeter jogged out onto the field at Yankee Stadium and dug into position at shortstop.
With the leaderboard in flux on the back nine at Muirfield, Phil Mickelson settled into his stance for an eight-foot birdie putt. It was the final hole of the Open Championship, and the field had come unglued more or less as expected at a tournament that prides itself on reminding the world’s best golfers of their inherent fallibility.
The oldest of golf’s four major championships gets underway tomorrow in Scotland, with Muirfield set to host the Open Championship for the first time since 2002. The British Open is the most idiosyncratic of the majors; it’s the only one contested outside of the United States and the only one that takes place on a links course, which offers its own set of topographical challenges for those who make it to Gullane.
Andy Murray walked onto Centre Court as the statistical underdog in the Wimbledon final on Sunday. His opponent for the afternoon was Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player by a reasonable margin and winner of six major titles to Murray’s one. Djokovic had taken 11 of their 18 matches overall, including their most recent meeting, a four-set victory in the final of the Australian Open in January.
Nine years. When Roger Federer lost in the second round at Wimbledon last week, it marked the first time in 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments that he failed to make it to the quarterfinals. At four majors per year, that’s nine years—nine years of arriving fit and hungry at the sport’s most important tournaments, sometimes coasting and sometimes struggling, working through the awkward matchups, drops in form, and illogical upsets that inevitably crop up over the course of a yearlong season. Federer came in as the defending champion at the All England Club, a venue where he has won seven titles during his career, including five in a row from 2003–07. He was seeded third, fresh off his sixth title at the grass court warm-up at Halle.
Kawhi Leonard catches the inbounds pass with 20 seconds remaining in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and is fouled. He’s 21 years old and in his second season as a professional. The rangy swingman out of San Diego State has found a home with the San Antonio Spurs, coming into his own on a team that knows just what to do with his particular skill set. The Spurs have won four championships since Tim Duncan arrived in 1997; they have done so partly because Duncan is on the roster and mostly because head coach Gregg Popovich has spent the last 15 years collecting pieces like Leonard and figuring out exactly how they fit together to offer the best possible chance at success.
By this time next week, the 2012–13 NBA season will have officially come to an end. After a lockout-reduced schedule last year, the association doled out a full 82-game helping to 30 different fan bases over the past six months, complete with all the requisite stare-downs, petty feuds, confounding press conferences and damn-near-physically-impossible aerial highlights. This latest campaign comes to an end in Portland much as it did last year, with the Blazers exceeding expectations over the first half of the season before methodically confirming them in the weeks following the All-Star break.
Rafael Nadal lost in the final of a clay court event on Sunday, a minor tournament result more notable for its sheer novelty than any implications it might have for tennis’ current power structure. To date, Nadal has participated in 277 matches on the dirt during his tenure on the ATP Tour—Sunday’s loss was his 20th.
Tiger Woods was in the news for more than a decade for laying waste to a field of hapless adversaries on the PGA Tour. Four years ago, after crashing his car near his home in Florida in the early-morning hours after Thanksgiving, Woods hit the tabloids as the public focus suddenly shifted toward revelations about the deteriorating home life and infidelity of one of the world’s most bankable professional athletes.
After two weeks of unusually crisp weather in the heart of the Australian summer, the first major of 2013 came down to the two most likely candidates in the draw. Novak Djokovic, the top seed and two-time defending champion in Melbourne, had come through his half as expected, with a five-set thriller against Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round marking the only real trouble on his way to the final.