Nadal beats Djokovic in 4 sets for his 13th Grand Slam title
Hard to believe this is the same Rafael Nadal who was home during the U.S. Open a year ago, nursing a bad left knee.
Hard to believe this is the guy sent packing in the first round of Wimbledon in June, losing against someone ranked 135th.
Looking fit as can be and maybe even better than ever, the No. 2-ranked Nadal pulled away from No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Monday in a taut, tense U.S. Open finals in New York for his 13th Grand Slam title.
"Very, very emotional, no?" Nadal said during the on-court trophy presentation. "Probably only my team knows how much (this) means for me."
They started in sunlight and finished at night, a 3-hour, 21-minute miniseries of cliffhangers and plot twists and a pair of protagonists who inspired standing ovations in the middle of games.
There was no quit in either of them, during points that lasted 15, 25, even more than 50 strokes.
"Probably nobody brings my game to the limit like Novak," Nadal said.
This was their 37th match against each other, the most between any two men in the Open era, and Nadal has won 22. It also was their third head-to-head U.S. Open finals in the last four years. Nadal beat Djokovic for the 2010 title, and Djokovic won their rematch in 2011. They know each other's games so well, and play such similar hustle-to-every-ball styles, but in the end, it was Nadal who was superior.
"He was too good. He definitely deserved to win this match today and this trophy," Djokovic said. "Obviously disappointing to lose a match like this."
Brown says firing not a sign of panic
A day after firing his defensive coordinator just two games into the season, Texas Coach Mack Brown spent Monday trying to calm fan fears the program is in panic mode and teetering on the brink of a repeat of the losing season of 2010.
"You can look at it as panic," Brown said. "I'm trying to fix it."
Brown also insisted that the 40-21 loss to BYU — in which Texas gave up an astounding 550 yards rushing — didn't raise any pressure on his own job.
"When you lose at Texas, you're going to be bashed. I accept it," Brown said.
Texas is 24-17 since losing to Alabama in the national championship game after the 2009 season, but Brown had talked openly in before this season about high expectations, that this year's team could return the program to national prominence.
But an embarrassing road loss on national television exposed a defense that is still seriously flawed, and sent Texas tumbling from No. 15 out of the top 25. Texas (1-1) hosts No. 25 Mississippi (2-0) on Saturday.
Brown, who had never before fired an assistant in mid-season, seethed over the loss and declared immediately after the game he would evaluate Manny Diaz's job when he watched game film. Brown watched it twice overnight and fired Diaz on Sunday.
Brown has turned the defense over to Greg Robinson, who spent one season as the defensive coordinator in 2004 before leaving to become the head coach at Syracuse. Robinson also spent 14 seasons in the NFL and coached Michigan's defense for two years.
■ Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, Tennessee defensive back Brian Randolph and LSU return man Odell Beckham Jr. were named Southeastern Conference players of the week.
Murray was 17-for-23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns, including an 85-yarder, in a win over South Carolina. Randolph had two interceptions and eight tackles in Tennessee's win over Western Kentucky. Beckham had 331 all-purpose yards in LSU's win over UAB, tied for eighth-most in SEC history. He's the first LSU player to return a missed field goal for a TD and also had 136 receiving yards.
■ Louisville safety Calvin Pryor was named the American Athletic Conference's defensive player of the week. The junior posted eight tackles in the seventh-ranked Cardinals' 44-7 victory against Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, including one for loss. He also had a forced fumble and a 26-yard interception.
Johnson owns up to dropped pass
Stevie Johnson accepted the blame Monday after the Buffalo Bills receiver's hands failed to back up his big boasts. A week after claiming New England had no one capable of defending him, Johnson wound up dropping the ball himself in a season-opening 23-21 loss to the Patriots on Sunday.
"When you don't win a game, at the end of the day, that's when you get negative attention," the former Kentucky star said. "And I deserve it."
The ever-colorful player became the focus of criticism midway through the fourth quarter with Buffalo clinging to a 21-20 lead. Facing third-and-1 at the Bills 49, Johnson was wide open in the left flat when EJ Manuel's pass bounced off his fingers to end the drive.
The Bills punted, then went three-and-out on their next possession to give Tom Brady enough time to orchestrate a 49-yard drive to set up Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining.
"The reaction is as expected. Everybody is placing the blame on me," said Johnson, who avoided speaking to reporters following the game. "It's OK. I felt like I put myself in that position."
Johnson did finish with three catches for 39 yards, including a third-quarter touchdown that put Buffalo ahead 21-17.
"I have the utmost confidence in Stevie. He takes those things hard," Coach Doug Marrone said. "What he has to do, and he knows this, is he has to shake it off, come back and make a play. He will."
Knee injury ends season for Williams
The Carolina Panthers announced that starting right guard Garry Williams has torn the ACL and MCL in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season. The former Kentucky star's injury occurred in the first half of Carolina's 12-7 loss to Seattle after a Seahawks defensive lineman rolled up on Williams' leg.
Patriots: New England could be without third-year running back Shane Vereen. He rushed for 101 yards and caught seven passes. Fox Sports reported that he will miss a few weeks with a small broken bone in his left wrist. He missed practice on Monday, but the Patriots did not announce the extent of the injury.
Jaguars: Jacksonville will be without quarterback Blaine Gabbert against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Gabbert sliced open the back of his throwing hand on a defender's facemask in the final minutes of Sunday's 28-2 loss to Kansas City. He needed 15 stitches after the game. Chad Henne will get the start.
UK and U of L volleyball face off tonight
The 19th-ranked Kentucky volleyball team will host Louisville at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Memorial Coliseum. It'll be the 51st meeting between the programs with the all-time series knotted at 25-25.
■ Kentucky women's tennis team has three players in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's pre-season rankings — sophomore Nadia Ravita (26th), junior Kelsey Dieters (55th) and senior Caitlin McGraw (32nd in doubles with Dieters). Ravita, who won 20 matches as a freshman, also earned one of 23 spots in the ITA Women's All-American Championship's main draw. She has UK's highest pre-season ranking since Kim Coventry opened the 2006 season 15th.
The last word
Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper insisted that Saturday's game against Texas A&M is not about revenge:
"Yeah, it's the only game we lost last year. To me, it's not a revenge thing because if we wanted to get revenge, we'd have to play that same team last year with the same team we had last year. ... If you lose a fight with someone, you don't get revenge from fighting someone else."