Bulls

Federer makes history at the French Open

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Federer makes history at the French Open

From Comcast SportsNet
PARIS (AP) -- On the occasion of his record-tying 233rd victory in a Grand Slam match, Roger Federer was asked Monday whether he recalls which player he beat for his first win at a major tournament. "Well, I should, shouldn't I? Um, let me see," Federer said, then hesitated and rubbed his eyes before conceding: "OK. I can't remember." A reporter reminded him it was Michael Chang at the 2000 Australian Open. "Was it? Well, that was a beautiful victory, then," the 16-time major champion replied with a grin. Federer equaled Jimmy Connors' Open era mark and improved to 233-35 at tennis' top four tournaments by beating Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the French Open. "You step back, you realize you have been playing for quite a long time. ... When I started, I loved playing against those famous players I used to see on TV. Now I'm playing against younger players, a new generation," he said. "It's great I didn't suffer that many injuries over these years. And I always had fun playing tennis." Connors won eight Grand Slam titles while going 233-49 from 1970-92, an .826 winning percentage bettered by Federer's .869. "Jimmy Connors was a huge champion. Still is," Federer said. He improved to 50-12 at Roland Garros, where his 2009 championship completed a career Grand Slam. Now Federer is the only man with at least 50 Open era match wins each at all four. And here's one more stat: Federer is playing in his 50th consecutive major tournament, the longest active streak and third-longest in the Open era, which began in 1968, when professionals were allowed into the Grand Slam events. "Look, I obviously love the big tournaments," he said. "I have been so successful for such a long time, and to already tie that record (at) 30 years old is pretty incredible, so I'm very happy." His 30th birthday was Aug. 8, and Federer is trying to become the oldest man to win a Grand Slam tournament since Andre Agassi was 32 at the 2003 Australian Open. Federer has gone more than two years without a major title -- his longest drought since winning his first at Wimbledon in 2003. On Monday, Federer was not quite perfect against the 78th-ranked Kamke, who fell to 6-10 at Grand Slams and has never advanced past the third round at any. There were hiccups, particularly with the Swiss star's serving. He was broken once in each set, including while trying to serve for the match at 5-2 in the third. He also piled up 47 unforced errors, 16 more than Kamke. "They're never easy, those first rounds, you know. Last thing you want is to go down a set or getting in a tough situation, but I was able to stay ahead in the first set. Had bits of ups and downs on my serve," Federer said. "But overall, I'm happy I'm through. That's what I look at in the end." And now no one in the Open era has managed to get through at Grand Slams more often than Federer.

Lauri Markkanen is focused on team, not individual, goals for Bulls

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USA Today

Lauri Markkanen is focused on team, not individual, goals for Bulls

You can’t put Lauri Markkanen in a box.

Just as you can’t pigeonhole one of the faces of the Bulls’ franchise offensively, you won’t get him to bite on any statistical goals for himself. As the outside world clamors for him and Zach LaVine to represent the Bulls at All-Star weekend in Chicago, Markkanen is focused on team goals.

“We haven’t made it to the playoffs and haven’t won many games since we’ve been here,” Markkanen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago following Saturday’s practice, alluding to himself, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. “That really bothers us. So we want to win first.”

In fact, as Markkanen fielded questions about a preseason that featured him playing more as a spot-up shooter than the dynamic, double-double machine that defined his February 2019, he shifted the focus to defense and rebounding.

Ho and hum, indeed.

“You’re trying to get me to say 22 (points) and 12 (rebounds) and 3 assists,” Markkanen said, smiling. “I don’t have those kinds of goals. I want to get our wins from 22 to whatever. And I want to get our home wins from nine to whatever. I’m not putting a number on those either. But I think guys are doing a good job of making unselfish plays and making the extra pass. We’re coming together as a team.”

In fact, Markkanen said, at least for now, his only individual goals are to “stay healthy and be consistent.” He reiterated his stance from media day that his goal is to play all 82 games after averaging 60 games his first two seasons.

“I wanted to focus on defense more this preseason and I was a little disappointed in myself in that regard early in preseason. But I watched a lot of film and I think I had my learning moments and I think I got better as preseason moved on,” Markkanen said. “I’ve talked to Coach. We both expect rebounding from me. I think we’re going to be really good offensively. It’s at a high level now, and we’re deeper. If we rebound and can limit their possessions, we have a chance to be really good.”

Don’t mistake Markkanen’s aversion to setting statistical goals for submissiveness. Early in the interview, he called his preseason “maybe not as great as I wanted to play” and acknowledged he needs to increase his free-throw attempts by getting to the rim more.

Of Markkanen’s 42 shots, 24 came from beyond the arc and he attempted just seven free throws in close to 91 preseason minutes. That average of 1.8 free-throw attempts in his four preseason games pales in comparison to the 3.8 he averaged last season.

“I haven’t got to the rim as much. I’m conscious of that. Those are easy points for us,” Markkanen said. “(Driving) is still available to me. But defenses are loading up on me more and trying not to let me get downhill. And we’re not in the post as much (offensively) as we used to be. We’re shooting a lot of 3s.”

Markkanen smiled again as he said this, so it’s clear he likes the Bulls’ approach. He also remains confident his varied offensive game will be on display at some point.

“I don’t always talk to him about his offense to be honest with you,” coach Jim Boylen said. “I talk to him about defending and rebounding and handling the ball. I’ve shown him some of his decisions in transition where he’s handled the ball.

“I want him to compete at the defensive end, rebound, handle the ball and everything else to me takes care of itself. I know he’s going to make shots. Historically, he’s been better when the lights come on.”

Those lights get flipped on for real Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C. You can’t put Markkanen in a box. But he can put pressure on himself to help the Bulls make the playoffs.

“I have really high expectations of myself,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going. I want to win."

Puppy Pick 'Em Puppy Walter makes his Week 7 picks for Bears-Saints

Puppy Pick 'Em Puppy Walter makes his Week 7 picks for Bears-Saints

When the Bears announced their 2019 schedule, we decided to have some puppies reveal the opponents. Now, we have taken it a step further. We have a puppy that will make weekly picks for the Bears games.

It is Week 7!

Walter's choices in Week 7 are a chance to go to Mardi Gras or a celebration of St. Patrick's day in Chicago. Bears fans should be excited about his decision in Week 7... and now we're all looking forward to St. Patrick's Day again!

The 12-week old dachshund was hand-selected by the scouts at NBC Sports Chicago and hails from One Tail at a Time rescue. He came from a shelter in Alabama and was transported to Chicago.  At just 7 weeks old and without his mom, he beat a deadly virus and spent some time in the doggie ER, where he healed and became strong again. 

Now, Walter is ready to rumble between the well-manicured lines of Sweetness Field. He is NOW adoptable via onetail.org and has two adorable sisters named Martha and Millie, who are already adopted. 

Walter will pick the games throughout the NFL season, including the playoffs and we hope that his nose follows the scent to the Bears every week, all the way to that magical game in Miami in February. Narrated by Jason Benetti, play-by-play announcer for the White Sox.  

It is time for Puppy Pick ‘Em presented by Nissan.

To learn more: www.onetail.org