Soccer

US has 2-0 lead over Brazil

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US has 2-0 lead over Brazil

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) John Isner and Sam Querrey each won their matches on Friday to give the United States a 2-0 lead over Brazil in the first round of the Davis Cup.

Isner earned a straight-set win over Brazil's Thiago Alves 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Isner's win came two hours after Querrey earned a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Thomaz Bellucci.

The United States is one win away from advancing. Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's No. 1 ranked doubles team, will take on Brazil's Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares on Saturday, followed by Sunday's reverse singles.

Taking 2-0 leads in other first-round series were: Serbia (over Belgium), France (over Israel), Kazakhstan (over Austria) and Argentina (over Germany). Tied 1-1 were Switzerland-Czech Republic and Croatia-Italy. The other series is Canada vs. Spain.

Novak Djokovic swept past Oliver Rochus 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in Serbia's second victory in Charleroi, Belgium. Djokovic was coming off his third straight Australian Open title. Despite the switch from hard courts to slow, indoor clay, the world's No. 1 player dismissed the 127th-ranked Rochus. Djokovic had complained about the court being wet and dangerous.

Isner had to overcome a four-week layoff from competitive tennis in winning his match, his seventh Davis Cup competition but the first on American courts. It was Isner's big serve that carried him past the quicker Alves.

Isner finished with 32 aces and had 29 other serves that Alves could not return.

``I always rely on my serve. I wouldn't have such a pretty good ranking if it wasn't for my serve,'' Isner said. ``Going in every match I have to rely on my serve heavily. I wasn't as sharp in other facets of my game. I knew I was going to have to rely on my serve a lot and I did.

``Maybe it wasn't the prettiest, but I'm happy to get through. I littered up the stat sheet for sure. I know I had a lot of aces, but I had a lot of souvenirs into the crowd as well on my forehand.''

Isner had a bone bruise on his right knee a month ago at the Hopman Cup in Australia and hadn't played a competitive match since pulling out of his first-round match at the APIA International Sydney in early January.

The lengthy layoff caused some erratic shots, but Isner said the knee was not a concern during the match.

``The knee felt fine. It didn't bother me today,'' Isner said. ``I wasn't thinking about it. That's really crucial. It could be sore tomorrow morning possibly. I don't expect it to be. I'm ready to play on Sunday whether or not it's live.''

His best stretch of tennis came near the end of the second set. He trailed Alves 5-4 and had to fight off a pair of set points. Both times he responded with aces before eventually pulling even at 5-5.

In the tiebreaker, Alves jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but Isner won the next four points before closing out the set with successive aces.

He broke Alves in the fourth game of the third set to take a 4-2 lead and held on his final two service games, closing out the match by winning four consecutive points in the ninth game.

Querrey was impressive in his straight-set win over Brazil's top-rated player. He didn't finish with as many aces as Isner, but dominated all 15 of the games he served. He won 45 of the 47 first-serve points that went in and never faced a service break on his serve, winning all but 12 points on his serve in the three sets.

Querrey said he couldn't recall the last time he served as well.

``There's probably been a few, but not many,'' he said. ``The court really helps my serve. When it hits, it really skids away. I mean I couldn't have served much better out there.''

Querrey broke Bellucci in the eighth game of the first set and after holding his serve to close out the set, jumped to an early lead in the second set with a break in the first game. Both players then held serve the rest of the set, resulting in a 6-4 win for Querrey.

Querrey matched that feat in the final set, breaking Bellucci in the first game and then holding his serve the rest of the match. He clinched the victory when Bellucci hit a weak backhand into the net at match point.

The wins left team captain Jim Courier happy with his team's position in the best-of-five matchup.

``We're certainly pleased to be in this position,'' Courier said. ``We have a lot of confidence in Bob and Mike. They're going to go out and lay it on the line. It will take a really special effort to beat them.''

Australian Taste Test: Washington Spirit Aussies serve up Vegemite

Australian Taste Test: Washington Spirit Aussies serve up Vegemite

Washington Spirit Aussies Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison have NBC Sports Washington’s Anna Witte try Australian staples Vegemite and Bundaberg ginger beer.

According to Logarzo, before each game with the Australian National team, all of the players would eat vegemite on toast with poached eggs and avocado. 

Witte rated the Vegemite a four out of ten, her immediate response was that it tastes "Super salty."

"Not awful, but I don't think I would buy it for myself....it's awful."

Both Logarzo and Harrison joined the Spirit this season. Harrison has appeared in ten games for the Australian national team and Logarzo has appeared in 37. 

After two straight wins the Washington Spirit are looking to continue their winning streak this weekend against the Chicago Red Stars.

Washington will face off against Chicago at the SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois on Sunday, March 26 at 6 p.m.

In the NWSL standings, the Red Stars are in first place with a 3-1-2 record and the Spirit are in fourth with a 3-1-1 record. In 2018, Chicago took the series over Washington with two wins and a draw.

Despite missing U.S. National players Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh, the Spirit defeated Portland Thorns FC last weekend 3-1. 

Amy Harrison scored the first goal during the 16th minute followed by Portland scoring on their own goal in the 47th minute to put Washington ahead 2-0. Finally, in the 71st minute, Jordan Diabasi scored an olimpico. 

Spirit Midfielder Jordan DiBiasi won the NWSL Goal of the Week for her goal against the Portland Thorns last weekend. 

Spirit Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe continues to lead the NWSL with 19 saves. 

 

 

 

Beyond the Scoreboard: WNBA names new commissioner

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USA TODAY Sports

Beyond the Scoreboard: WNBA names new commissioner

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

 

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE

 

  • Ted Leonsis is the owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics, and Capital One Arena and has a plan to get the D.C. punk band Fugazi back and playing together. Leonsis said that he would compensate the band, and make a major donation to local charities around Washington D.C. in their names. Fugazi hasn’t been playing together since 2003, however the four members were recently reunited due to a museum exhibition called “Action. Reaction. Action: Visualizing Fugazi” at the Lost Origins Gallery in D.C. According to WTOP, the exhibit fittingly explored the impact of the band, both as musicians and activists. Whether or not the punk band reunites, their activism has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to their fame and keenness for charity.
  • The WNBA officially has a new commissioner. Last week, the league named Cathy Engelbert, current CEO of Deloitte and the first woman ever to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S., to the role with a start on July 17. Engelbert, who played college basketball at Lehigh, becomes the fifth top WNBA exec in the league’s history, following Val Ackerman, Donna Orender, Laurel Richie, and Lisa Borders. One thing Engelbert “will have to deal with relatively quickly,” according to SportsBusiness Journal, is the current CBA, which expired after this season. “Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.” The WNBA took seven months to name its new leader, but it was worth the wait.
  • It’s graduation season, and we’d like to suggest a gift. Our Sport Business Handbook recognizes the last 50 years as the formative era of the modern sport business industry. As colleges and universities graduate their 2019 classes of aspiring career professionals, this is a rare opportunity to hear from some of the industry’s most influential players. Consider that according to Forbes and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the U.S. Sports Industry will be an $80 billion annual category by 2022. Job growth across all sports-related industries is expanding at over 12 percent annually — more than double the national job market. In markets like Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Miami, Dallas, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, sports-related job growth is increasing at or above 20% annually. The global sports industry is estimated to be a $1.3 trillion category. Sports media is the fastest-growing segment of the industry. As a subset of that, legalized sports gambling represents a multi-billion-dollar category poised to grow exponentially, as evidenced by casino and mobile sports betting legalized in Iowa last Monday. So if you have a child poised to join the workforce post college, they could do a lot worse than a career in sports.