Patriots

Which sport did Rafa Nadal nearly switch to in 2005?

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Which sport did Rafa Nadal nearly switch to in 2005?

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 22, 2011MADRID (AP) -- Devastated and "without appetite for life," Rafael Nadal contemplated a move into professional golf after a career-threatening injury sidelined him, the 10-time Grand Slam champion has written in his autobiography. The Spanish player writes in "Rafa" that doctors discovered a rare foot injury in 2005 that had the potential to sideline him for good, prompting thoughts of a future in golf. In the book, provided to The Associated Press and to be released in the United States on Tuesday, the 25-year-old Nadal describes his toughest on-court battles with Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon final and subsequent Australian Open. But his off-court problems play a large part in the former top-ranked player's career. The mental toll of his parents' separation hindered his recovery from injuries in 2009, when pride led him to try to defend his French Open title despite his physical problems. Still, his lowest point seems to have been when doctors discovered a congenital bone problem in the bridge of his left foot soon after a five-set victory over Ivan Ljubicic in Madrid on his toughest indoor surface. Nadal said that joy was soon replaced by "a state of deepest gloom." "(The) diagnosis had initially been like a shot to the head," Nadal writes. "The bone still hurts me. It remains under control, just, but we can never drop our guard." Nadal wept then just as he did after losing the 2007 Wimbledon final to Federer. But he did not cry on the flight from Melbourne in 2009 when his father Sebastian revealed to the recently crowned Australian Open champion that his parents had separated. "My attitude was bad. I was depressed, lacking in enthusiasm. (My team) knew something had to give," writes Nadal, with the weight of those problems leading to his only defeat in seven appearances at Roland Garros and his subsequent withdrawal from Wimbledon. "My knees were the immediate reason, but I knew the root cause was my state of mind." Mental toughness -- instilled by coach and uncle Toni -- is a key theme, especially in his ability to bounce back, including trying for his first victory in three Wimbledon finals against Federer. Nadal was "gripped with fear," the warrior figure he'd cultivated had "lost his courage" after failing to clinch victory on several match point opportunities against Federer. Nadal credits moments like these for improving his mental stamina, with one chapter even titled "Fear of Winning." "What I battle hardest to do in a tennis match is to quiet the voices in my head, to shut everything out of my mind ... should a thought of victory suggest itself, crush it," Nadal writes on the opening page before later adding: "I think I have the capacity to accept difficulties and overcome them that is superior to many of my rivals." Toni's "cruel to be kind" coaching strategy was key in developing him into the "tennis machine" he is, comparing his uncle to a figure descended from 16th-century conquistador Hernan Cortes with a Spartan philosophy of life uncommon to his home island of Mallorca. "There was no let up from Toni. No mercy," the second-ranked player writes. "I look back at that teenage Rafael and I am proud of him. He set a benchmark of endurance that has served me as an example and as a reminder ... if you want something badly enough, no sacrifice is too great." Nadal offers interesting insight into his regimen and his family offers some surprising details about the Manacor native in the 250-page memoir, which was written by John Carlin who authored the book that director Clint Eastwood turned into the film Invictus. Nadal's mother Ana Maria Parera labels him a "scaredy cat" who sleeps with a light on; an obedient and docile child who became the "family mascot" inside a close-knit family that Carlin describes as "something Sicilian ... without the malice or guns." Perhaps the strangest revelation is Nadal's dislike of animals, especially dogs: "I doubt their intentions." Of Federer there is mostly respectful reflections of a rival and friend that he calls "a blessed freak of nature" for his talent. The closest Nadal comes to criticism is when he says Federer mis-hit a shot "the way an ordinary club player might" while recounting the epic All-England final that delivered the first of his two Wimbledon wins. Of current top-ranked player Novak Djokovic, who has beaten Nadal in five straight finals this year, there is trepidation of a "formidable opponent" who is "one hell of a player, temperamental but hugely talented."

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

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Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

NEW YORK - Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch was suspended for one game without pay by the NFL on Friday for shoving a game official during the Raiders' victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.

Lynch was ejected from the game after he shoved line judge Julian Mapp.

The scuffle started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City's Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters, and Lynch sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Mapp tried to break up the fight, but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey. Lynch also got a personal foul.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Lynch, saying:

"You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey. ... You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved."

Lynch will be eligible to return to Oakland's active roster on Oct. 30, the day after the Raiders' game against the Buffalo Bills.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

The Raiders rallied to win 31-30 on a touchdown pass by Carr on the final play, and Lynch was in the locker room after the game congratulating his teammates.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

PHILADELPHIA – Despite playing its second straight game without a key rotation player, the Boston Celtics did just enough to get their first win of the season, 102-92, over Philadelphia.

Boston (1-2) was led by Kyrie Irving’s game-high 21 points, but it was Shane Larkin's floor game down the stretch that truly catapulted Boston to its first win of the season.

Larkin, who was seeing action in large part because Marcus Smart was out with a left ankle injury, provided a huge spark in the fourth before finishing with 10 points and four assists.

He drained a 3-pointer that tied the game at 75-all, which was part of an 18-9 Celtics run.

The Sixers (0-2) were led by J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless who had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start, but finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Boston played with a lead for most of the first half, but Philadelphia took over with a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and had the Celtics playing catch-up for all of the third and some of the fourth quarter.

Boston was once again short-handed, with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle injury. He replaced Gordon Hayward, whose left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

But with players out, that opens up opportunities for others to step up.

Larkin, who walked away from a contract overseas that would have paid about $5 million more than he’s making with the Celtics, was one of those players.

Aron Baynes, who got the start with Smart out, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Boston also got another strong game off the bench from Terry Rozier who had 14 points and seven rebounds

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE