By Serbia's Novak Djokovic (above), the Madrid Masters, over Rafael Nadal, Djokovic's 34th straight victory and first on clay, in 10 tries, over Nadal. The straight-set win (7--5, 6--4) was Djokovic's third over the top-ranked Spaniard this season, and his 32 wins to open the year ranks second behind John McEnroe's record 42 in 1984. To pass McEnroe, Djokovic will have to win the French Open (starting May 17), something McEnroe never accomplished. "I'm probably one of the favorites [at the French Open]," said Djokovic, 23, following his victory on Nadal's home soil. "I'm playing the best tennis of my career." Nadal, 24, winner of five of the last six titles at Roland Garros, said his No. 1 ranking was "finished" if the second-ranked Djokovic continued his domination. The loss was only Nadal's seventh on clay in 196 matches.
As a spokesman by Champion athletic apparel, Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, after the company decided his comments on Twitter following the death of Osama bin Laden were inconsistent with its values. The 23-year-old recently had signed a four-year extension to endorse Champion through 2015, but the company announced last Friday that, while it respected Mendenhall's right to express his opinions, it no longer believed he could "appropriately represent" the brand. The Pittsburgh back had questioned the public's reaction to bin Laden's demise, tweeting, "What kind of person celebrates death? It's amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak... ." Later, Mendenhall wondered whether planes could have taken down the twin towers on 9/11. He has since deleted that post but has continued to offer his feelings on the topic.
May 15, 2011
At age 26 of injuries caused from a high-speed downhill crash, Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt, the first rider killed during a major cycling race in 16 years. The wreck occurred during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia in Rapallo, Italy, where Weylandt, a rider for the Luxembourg-based Leopard-Trek team, was pedaling down a steep descent, 12.4 miles from the finish. Race officials said Weylandt's left pedal got stuck in a wall causing him to be thrown over the front of the bike and land on his face. He suffered a fracture to the base of his skull and died at the scene after medics were unable to resuscitate him. Front-running cyclist David Millar said he would wear the race leader's pink jersey in memory of Weylandt, adding, "There is no celebration or glory, only sadness." A professional since 2006, Weylandt was expecting his first child with his girlfriend.
To make his MMA debut, former NHL enforcer Donald Brashear (above, in white), who announced his heavyweight bout against Martin Trempe (0--2) at a news conference on May 5. Brashear, 39, will step inside the cage for Ringside 11 on June 4 in Quebec City. The 6'3", 237-pound winger tallied 2,634 penalty minutes (15th alltime) for five teams during his 16-year NHL career and currently skates alongside his opponent, Trempe, in the Ligue Nord-Americane de Hockey, a Quebec senior circuit. Brashear signed a one-year contract with Ringside MMA president Eric Champoux, who said he was impressed by Brashear's technical skills.
With misdemeanor harassment stemming from an October dispute with two security guards, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. The charges, filed last Thursday, allege that Mayweather threatened the guards in the boxer's gated Las Vegas community after several of his cars were cited for violating on-street parking rules. "My homeboys have guns, and I'll call them to come over and take care of you guys," said Mayweather, according to one guard's account. Mayweather, 34, is facing unrelated charges that include a separate parking ticket argument last November and felony charges for a domestic dispute with his ex-girlfriend last year. Added to that is the public scrutiny Mayweather faces for avoiding a match with Manny Pacquiao, who defeated Mayweather's previous opponent, Shane Mosely, last Saturday. Hours before the fight Mayweather used Twitter to taunt the fighters, writing, "Everyone watch Lady Gaga tonight on the best network in the world, HBO."
By police at gunpoint last Thursday during a North Hollywood traffic stop, Steelers receiver Hines Ward, after he and a female friend were pulled over on suspicion of driving a stolen car. The Super Bowl XL MVP is in Los Angeles taping Dancing with the Stars and told TMZ that he thought the mix-up was part of an elaborate prank. "I actually thought I was on Punk'd," Ward said of being pulled out of the car and handcuffed. The vehicle, a Honda Civic belonging to the friend, was mistakenly reported stolen on April 19. She failed to cancel the report once the missing car was found. Officers apologized after the woman proved the car was hers. Ward, who police said cooperated fully, was not arrested.
Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano's ERA before he threw a no-hitter against the White Sox on May 3, the highest ever entering a no-no (minimum five starts).
Consecutive batters struck out by 12-year-old Tanner Brakken. The Bridgewater, Mass., pitcher had 18 in a row during one perfect game, then started his next outing, on May 2, with 11 more.
First-place votes, out of 118, received by NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin of the Clippers, making him the first unanimous winner since David Robinson in 1990 and the third overall (with Ralph Sampson in '84).
Thickness of new video-capable Panini basketball cards (inserted randomly in Totally Certified packs beginning in June) that play up to 20 minutes of content with sound.
American men or women in tennis's top 10 as of Monday, a first in the history of the ATP and WTA rankings.
Playoff series coached by Phil Jackson without being swept, before his Lakers lost their fourth straight game to Dallas on Sunday.
THEY SAID IT
Potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, turning to sports to explain his opposition to same-sex marriage:
"It's like in golf. A lot of people ... are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive. It's weird. You see these great players with these really long putters because they can't sink three-footers anymore. And I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist."