World Cup a breath of fresh air in siz­zling heat

The NFL can wait while the world takes in fút­bol’s grand fi­nale

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - CEDRIC GOLDEN

A s the sum­mer heat beats down upon Austin, noth­ing would be bet­ter than a cold glass of pur­ple, uh, Kool-Aid.

I al­most spoke with a pseudo codeine-coated tongue, but that was a nice save if I say so my­self.

But more on the pur­ple stuff later …

This sum­mer hasn’t been half bad, has it?

Usu­ally the end of the NBA Fi­nals ush­ers in a dreary cou­ple of months where you hope to get through the long part of the ma­jor league base­ball sea­son, with an eye turned to­ward the start of foot­ball. But not this year. We’ve ac­tu­ally had quite a few sport­ing choices at our dis­posal, in­clud­ing the World Cup, which held my grow­ing in­ter­est over the past month. I ad­mit it hurt to see Ghana hit the cross­bar with a kick that would have beaten Uruguay and turned the West African coun­try into the po­ten­tial story of the sum­mer.

The only sur­prise big­ger than me tun­ing in daily to check out the ac­tion was Brazil bow­ing out in the quar­ter­fi­nals, cour­tesy of the Nether­lands. And no World Cup con­ver­sa­tion would be com­plete with­out a vu­vuzela men­tion. Ac­tu­ally

Con­tin­ued from C1 those once an­noy­ing horns don’t even bother me any­more. They blend in nicely with the crowd noise.

The Nether­lands will play Spain in Sun­day’s Cup fi­nale. As for a pick, I’m rid­ing with the Nether­lands, aka, the Dou­ble Dutch Bus.

* * * As is the case at this time of year, I spent the past two weeks watch­ing as much of Wim­ble­don as hu­manly pos­si­ble, and this year’s tour­ney brought with it the sad re­al­iza­tion of two primes com­ing to an end.

Roger Fed­erer will win a cou­ple of more Grand Slam tour­na­ments be­fore he hangs them up, but it’s ap­par­ent that his days of dom­i­nat­ing this sport are fin­ished. Af­ter watch­ing Rafael Nadal rout To­mas Berdych in the fi­nal, it’s easy to en­vi­sion the Spa­niard win­ning as many ma­jors as Fed­erer by the time he’s fin­ished. He al­ready has eight at age 24 and even with his gimpy knees, is it out of the ques­tion to imag­ine Rafa win­ning 10 or more slams dur­ing the next four years?

As for Fed­erer, as classy a cham­pion as we’ve seen, I wish he wouldn’t have made ex­cuses for his semi­fi­nal per­for­mance against Berdych. Frus­trated as he was, to blame the loss on back and leg prob­lems was be­neath his sta­tion. It was sur­pris­ing to hear him re­duced to the role of ex­cuse-maker. Roger Fed­erer’s days of dom­i­nance may be over, but don’t be shocked if he claims a cou­ple more ma­jor ten­nis crowns.

Fed­erer is ranked No. 3 now, his low­est rank­ing since 2003, but his de­cline won’t be as steady as that of Venus Wil­liams, who has been on the down­turn for a while. She could al­ways hang her hat on Wim­ble­don ev­ery sum­mer, but now that’s not even a given.

Venus is ranked fourth — be­hind baby sis Ser­ena — but she just doesn’t play con­sis­tently enough to go two weeks of a Grand Slam with­out get­ting beaten. That shaky serve and a re­luc­tance to serve and vol­ley cost her four or five slams over the past few years. She may squeak out an­other Wim­ble­don ti­tle, but don’t bet on it.

* * * You read in this space in pre­vi­ous weeks that we’ve wit­nessed the end of Tiger Woods’ dom­i­nance, and that opin­ion could be as wrong as two left shoes, but we may have fur­ther proof of Tiger’s less-than-steel men­tal­ity with the news that he’s leav­ing Scot­land to go back to Florida as the Bri­tish Open fast ap­proaches.

The guy we’re see­ing these days seems to be a soli­tary fig­ure in search of him­self. His wife? She’s re­port­edly di­vorc­ing him. His swing coach? Gone. The en­dorse­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties? Rare.

Golf is bet­ter when Tiger is win­ning, and if he re­turns to form, maybe the smile will re­turn as well. Life was much sim­pler only two years ago, when a gimpy knee was his biggest prob­lem.

* * * The sad case of Ja­mar­cus Rus­sell just got sad­der.

As if be­ing the biggest draft bust this side of Ryan Leaf weren’t enough, Rus­sell is now in trou­ble with the fuzz af­ter be­ing busted for hav­ing codeine cough syrup at his house, with­out a pre­scrip­tion.

Rus­sell’s ques­tion­able work ethic dogged him dur­ing his three sea­sons with the Raiders, but as re­ports cir­cu­lated that the New York Jets were in­ter­ested in sign­ing him to back up Mark Sanchez, it ap­peared he was on his way to sal­vaging what was left of his ca­reer. Now this. It’s dif­fi­cult to feel bad for some­one who was handed $32 mil­lion in guar­an­teed money, only to show up for camp out of shape and not give the max­i­mum ef­fort.

Maybe the kid will bounce back, but it would be hard to imag­ine some­one tak­ing a chance on a player who makes Ryan Leaf look good.

Alastair Grant

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