A Weekend Full Of Football, Tennis & Basketball
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
This could be a big day for Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, weather permitting. If Nadal beats Serbia's Novak Djokovic in the men's final at the U.S. Open, he'll become just the seventh man to have won all four major tennis championships during his career. The two were scheduled to play yesterday, but the match was rained out.
Still, there was plenty for a sports fan to do. Here to help us sift through some of the highlights is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Linda.
WERTHEIMER: Now, I mentioned the U.S. Open final - which is very significant, of course, for Nadal. But it's also notable for the player who is not there.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, that would be Roger Federer, the man who's dominated the game since 2003. He had two match points Saturday, in the semifinal match against Djokovic. He was this close to playing Nadal in another classic between those two. Instead, he loses. Tennis experts start to write his tennis obituary.
But Djokovic won those match points with gutty, kind of swinging-for-the-line shots. He really belongs in the final. And it could be a very good one - power and speed versus power and speed, youth versus youth. Djokovic has won seven of his 10 matches versus Nadal on hard courts, like the one at Flushing Meadows.
And Linda, we should get used to this pairing. Djokovic could very well replace Roger Federer as Nadal's main rival for the next five years or more.
GOLDMAN: So pro-football, the NFL's first full day of action yesterday. We're just now catching our breath in the nation's capital after the Redskins won, right at the wire, against our total enemy, the Cowboys.
GOLDMAN: What a strange contest. It basically boiled down to good Washington defense, and two bonehead plays by the Cowboys. At the end of the first half, instead of letting the clock run out, Dallas runs a play. They fumble the ball, and Washington returns it for a touchdown, which ends up to be the winning score.
And then the last play of the game, the Dallas offensive lineman just bear- hugged an onrushing Washington defender. He was called for holding, obviously - and nullified what appeared to be a winning Dallas touchdown. So the Redskins escaped.
Dallas, which is hosting this season's Super Bowl, looked a very long way from playing in that big game in their hometown.
WERTHEIMER: Peyton Manning and the Colts lost their opener. Are they in trouble?
GOLDMAN: Yeah, that was a stunner. The Houston Texans beat Indianapolis 34-24. It was Houston's only second win in 17 games against the Colts. You ask if they're in trouble. If their defense gives up yards like they did yesterday - 231 yards and three touchdowns to an undrafted running back named Arian Foster - yes, they're in big trouble. But they're a savvy veteran team. And certainly, their season isn't over after just the first weekend.
WERTHEIMER: Right. Going abroad: the finals of the World Basketball Championship, played yesterday in Turkey. What happened?
GOLDMAN: Well, the United States won its first World Championship gold medal since 1984. It's a nice bookend to the 2008 Olympic redeem team victory. The team that won in Turkey was dubbed the B team, because the biggest NBA stars weren't there - Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and so on. And there were questions about whether this team was too undersized and inexperienced. But they answered all those questions with a gold medal.
WERTHEIMER: And the big star for the U.S. team was Kevin Durant. He plays for a small-market NBA team: Oklahoma City.
GOLDMAN: Yeah. But he was the star - and at the tender age of 21. He set a record for the most points in the tournament by a U.S. player, and that's quite a list of players. He was the anchor of this World Championship team, and it's hard not to believe he will anchor some NBA championship teams as well.
WERTHEIMER: Thanks very much, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
WERTHEIMER: NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
This is NPR News.
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