WHEN ROGER FEDERERloses a tennis match these days, it doesn't merely constitute a seismic upset.It takes on the dimensions of an inconceivable occurrence. When Federer fell toGuillermo Canas in the second round of the Pacific Life Open on Sunday night,at least one news service reported the score as Federer def. Canas 7--5, 6--2,rather than vice versa. But forgive them the error. Federer's name hadn't beenon the right-hand side of the ledger since last August, the loss snapping hisstreak of 41 consecutive wins, five away from the ATP record.
The toppling ofThe Mighty Federer was all the more stunning given the man who beat him. A29-year-old Argentine, Canas was a Top 10 player earlier this decade, hissuccess predicated on a grinding, indefatigable game. In 2005, however, Canastested positive for a banned masking agent and served a 15-month suspension. Inaddition to spending $700,000 on lawyers' fees fighting the ban, Canasforfeited his rankings points. He began the year quarantined outside the Top100 and only made the main draw of the Pacific Life when another playerunexpectedly withdrew.
If he's stillembittered by the suspension—he maintains he was given mislabeled coldmedicine—in a perverse way, this mid-career break may have helped him. Freefrom the wear and tear of the circuit, Canas rehabilitated his body andtinkered with his game. Against Federer, he was the decidedly fresher player,motoring to all corners of the court and making the world's top player hitextra balls. With his ranking gaining altitude, Canas already has to beconsidered a contender at the French Open, the next major. "I try to do myjob and try to think and to be good inside of the court," says Canas, whoclaims he's been drug-tested twice this year. "Nothing else."
For all thedropped jaws at the Indian Wells (Calif.) Tennis Garden, Federer was remarkablyphilosophical in defeat. "Sooner or later it had to happen," he says."I think he played very well and I didn't think I was playing poorly atall. So it's O.K." Less than an hour after the loss, he was back on thecourt playing doubles. He and his partner won in straight sets.
At age 68 of cancer, Ernie Ladd, who was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame aswell as the WWE Hall of Fame. Ladd was a 6‚Ä≤9‚Ä≥ defensive lineman for the Chiefs,Oilers and Chargers before being lured to the world of pro wrestling by"Classy" Freddie Blassie. In the early 1960s Blassie was trying toboost attendance in San Diego, so he cast Ladd (above), who was then with theChargers, as a bad guy. Ladd gave up football for good in '69 and became one ofpro wrestling's biggest stars in the '70s. "Comparing the two, I would haveto say I enjoyed professional wrestling more," he said in 2000. "Itallowed me to show my gift for gab."
At age 59 after a battle with brain cancer, John Vukovich, the Phillies'longtime third base coach. Vukovich was a coach from 1988 through 2004, when hebecame an assistant to the G.M. During his 10 year career as a utilityinfielder, Vukovich hit .161. He was a member of World Series winners in '75with the Reds and '80 with the Phillies.
Without indictments, the blood-doping investigation that rocked cycling lastsummer. The case, known as Operation Puerto, began last May in Spain when eightpeople, including a prominent coach and trainer, were arrested. Ultimately, twoteams had to dissolve when their sponsors left them, and two riders, includingformer champion Jan Ullrich, were banned from the Tour de France because theywere implicated. But last week a judge in Madrid ruled that under the Spanishlaw in effect at the time, blood doping was not a crime. Spain has sinceenacted a much tougher statute.
By a man with a knife at a bowling alley in suburban Nashville, troubled Titanscornerback Pacman Jones. A 33-year-old man was arrested for allegedlybrandishing a small knife and threatening to beat up Jones. According topolice, Jones was "just trying to be a normal customer, trying tobowl." Also last week, the NFL announced it was looking into 10 incidentsin which Jones has been questioned by police since he was drafted in 2005.Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said that he doesn't expect Jones to report withthe rest of the Titans when minicamp begins on March 19 because the team willlikely still be gathering information about Jones's off-field problems.
By Wladimir Klitschko, his IBF heavyweight title. The champ (below, right)pummeled Ray Austin, knocking him out at 1:27 of the second round. Klitschko(48--3), who was called "heartless" by Austin (24 4-4) and promoter DonKing before the fight, hardly used his vaunted right hand, relying instead on aseries of left hooks that floored the challenger. Austin got to his feet, butreferee Eddie Cotton stopped the fight. Said Klitschko, "I was surprised hegot back up, but he wasn't clear in the head. I was motivated by the talk fromAustin and his promoter, Don King, before the fight."
For misdemeanor possession of marijuana, high school basketball star O.J. Mayo.The 19-year-old was in a car that was pulled over last Friday night inHuntington, W.Va. Police found a small amount of marijuana in the car, and whenno one claimed ownership, all four males in the car were cited. Mayo, whotransferred to Huntington High for his senior year after a troubled stint atCincinnati's North College Hill, was not taken into custody but will have toappear in court.
As women's basketball coach at LSU, Pokey Chatman (right) . On March 7 the37-year-old former LSU star, who led the team to two Final Fours after takingover as coach midway through the 2003--04 season, announced that she wasleaving after the NCAA tournament to "pursue other opportunities." Butthe following day allegations emerged that she had had a sexual relationshipwith a former player, and Chatman said she was leaving her $400,000-a-year jobimmediately, due to "speculation and rumors." On Monday it was reportedthat assistant coach Carla Berry had blown the whistle on Chatman in Februaryand that Chatman was not allowed to be alone with her players after that. TheLady Tigers will be coached by assistant Bob Starkey in the tournament, wherethey are a No. 3 seed.
By the Knicks, the contract of Isiah Thomas, the team's president and coach.Thomas, who has run the team since 2003, took over as coach last summer afterLarry Brown was fired following one year on the job. It was widely speculatedthat Thomas had one season to turn around a team that was 23--59 last year. TheKnicks are currently 29--34 and in the hunt for a playoff spot. In a statement,owner James L. Dolan said, "While we clearly remain in a rebuilding processand have significant work ahead of us to become an elite team in the NBA, Ifeel strongly that this is a much better team, with a very brightfuture."
After a 14-season career in which he hit 315 home runs, Jeromy Burnitz, 37.Unable to crack the lineup regularly with the Mets and the Indians, Burnitz gothis big break in 1996, when Cleveland traded him to the Brewers for KevinSeitzer. Over the next five seasons Burnitz averaged 33 homers and 102 RBIs,and he made the All Star team in '99.
They Said It
Lastings Milledge, Mets 21 year-old outfielder, on hisdecision to shave off his cornrows:
"I've got to get my grown man on."
350 million The number of China's 1.3 billion residentswho smoke; nonetheless, the Beijing Organizing Committee is considering makingthe 2008 Olympics smoke-free.
36 Margin of victory for Dallas in Sunday's 108--72 winat Los Angeles, the worst home loss for the Lakers since they moved fromMinneapolis in 1960.
59 Points scored by Guilford's Ben Strong in a 129--128win over Lincoln (Pa.), an NCAA Division III playoff record.
18 Consecutive games in which Paul Stastny of theAvalanche has scored a point, an NHL rookie record.
104 Basketball teams with at least 20 wins this season,an NCAA Division I record.
2:31 Ice time, in minutes and seconds, for David Kociof the Blackhawks in his NHL debut last Saturday against the Coyotes.
42 Penalty minutes amassed by Koci, who received threefighting majors and two game misconducts.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
In formal complaints to the FCC, a man said Prince'sSuper Bowl halftime performance left him with erectile dysfunction, while awoman complained it might turn her son gay.