WHEN ROGER FEDERER
loses a tennis match these days, it doesn't merely constitute a seismic upset.
It takes on the dimensions of an inconceivable occurrence. When Federer fell to
Guillermo Canas in the second round of the Pacific Life Open on Sunday night,
at least one news service reported the score as Federer def. Canas 7--5, 6--2,
rather than vice versa. But forgive them the error. Federer's name hadn't been
on the right-hand side of the ledger since last August, the loss snapping his
streak of 41 consecutive wins, five away from the ATP record.
The toppling of
The Mighty Federer was all the more stunning given the man who beat him. A
29-year-old Argentine, Canas was a Top 10 player earlier this decade, his
success predicated on a grinding, indefatigable game. In 2005, however, Canas
tested positive for a banned masking agent and served a 15-month suspension. In
addition to spending $700,000 on lawyers' fees fighting the ban, Canas
forfeited his rankings points. He began the year quarantined outside the Top
100 and only made the main draw of the Pacific Life when another player
If he's still
embittered by the suspension—he maintains he was given mislabeled cold
medicine—in a perverse way, this mid-career break may have helped him. Free
from the wear and tear of the circuit, Canas rehabilitated his body and
tinkered with his game. Against Federer, he was the decidedly fresher player,
motoring to all corners of the court and making the world's top player hit
extra balls. With his ranking gaining altitude, Canas already has to be
considered a contender at the French Open, the next major. "I try to do my
job and try to think and to be good inside of the court," says Canas, who
claims he's been drug-tested twice this year. "Nothing else."
For all the
dropped jaws at the Indian Wells ( Calif.) Tennis Garden, Federer was remarkably
philosophical in defeat. "Sooner or later it had to happen," he says.
"I think he played very well and I didn't think I was playing poorly at
all. So it's O.K." Less than an hour after the loss, he was back on the
court playing doubles. He and his partner won in straight sets.
At age 68 of cancer, Ernie Ladd, who was elected to the AFL Hall of Fame as
well as the WWE Hall of Fame. Ladd was a 6?9? defensive lineman for the Chiefs,
Oilers and Chargers before being lured to the world of pro wrestling by
"Classy" Freddie Blassie. In the early 1960s Blassie was trying to
boost attendance in San Diego, so he cast Ladd (above), who was then with the
Chargers, as a bad guy. Ladd gave up football for good in '69 and became one of
pro wrestling's biggest stars in the '70s. "Comparing the two, I would have
to say I enjoyed professional wrestling more," he said in 2000. "It
allowed me to show my gift for gab."
At age 59 after a battle with brain cancer, John Vukovich, the Phillies'
longtime third base coach. Vukovich was a coach from 1988 through 2004, when he
became an assistant to the G.M. During his 10 year career as a utility
infielder, Vukovich hit .161. He was a member of World Series winners in '75
with the Reds and '80 with the Phillies.
Without indictments, the blood-doping investigation that rocked cycling last
summer. The case, known as Operation Puerto, began last May in Spain when eight
people, including a prominent coach and trainer, were arrested. Ultimately, two
teams had to dissolve when their sponsors left them, and two riders, including
former champion Jan Ullrich, were banned from the Tour de France because they
were implicated. But last week a judge in Madrid ruled that under the Spanish
law in effect at the time, blood doping was not a crime. Spain has since
enacted a much tougher statute.
By a man with a knife at a bowling alley in suburban Nashville, troubled Titans
cornerback Pacman Jones. A 33-year-old man was arrested for allegedly
brandishing a small knife and threatening to beat up Jones. According to
police, Jones was "just trying to be a normal customer, trying to
bowl." Also last week, the NFL announced it was looking into 10 incidents
in which Jones has been questioned by police since he was drafted in 2005.
Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said that he doesn't expect Jones to report with
the rest of the Titans when minicamp begins on March 19 because the team will
likely still be gathering information about Jones's off-field problems.
By Wladimir Klitschko, his IBF heavyweight title. The champ (below, right)
pummeled Ray Austin, knocking him out at 1:27 of the second round. Klitschko
(48--3), who was called "heartless" by Austin (24 4-4) and promoter Don
King before the fight, hardly used his vaunted right hand, relying instead on a
series of left hooks that floored the challenger. Austin got to his feet, but
referee Eddie Cotton stopped the fight. Said Klitschko, "I was surprised he
got back up, but he wasn't clear in the head. I was motivated by the talk from
Austin and his promoter, Don King, before the fight."