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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Novak Djokovic tastes victory -- literally

By Stacy Title

Wimbledon: Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic surprised pretty much everybody by taking Maria Sharapova, who had not dropped a set coming into the Wimbledon final, in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 Saturday. Kvitova became the first Grand Slam event winner born in the 1990s. Sharapova showed her nerves early by winning the toss and electing to receive serve (she had double faulted 13 times in the semis and then six times in the championship match). Though Kvitova lost her first serve, she broke to come back -- and never looked back. Watching the tears of joy in her dad's eyes at the end of the match was truly touching.

Novak Djokovic (who rose to the No. 1 ranking with his win in the semis) took down reigning champion Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 Sunday. Djokovic has a reputation for strange celebrations (he shaved his head on center court when Serbia won the Davis Cup in December) -- and did not disappoint when he grabbed a few blades of Centre Court grass and ate it. "I felt like an animal," he said. "I wanted to see how it tastes. It tastes good." A changing of the guard is afoot in men's tennis. Djokovic is a stellar 48-1 in 2011, with a combined nine wins over Federer and Nadal, including beating Nadal five straight. Victory must have tasted especially sweet.

Side note: At the annual Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest on Monday, Joey Chestnut won his fifth straight championship, eating 62 dogs in 10 minutes. The last five-time athletic champion? Roger Federer at Wimbledon from 2003-07. And before that? Also at Wimbledon, Martina Navratilova from 1982-87. (OK, so she won six straight).

Women's World Cup: The U.S. pounded Colombia 3-0 Saturday. With a draw in the next game against Sweden it wins Group C. Both the U.S. and Sweden are already on to the quarterfinal round, so the outcome would seem less important, but a victory in Group C will help the U.S. avoid a quarterfinal matchup with Brazil, who made a strong showing against Norway on Sunday, thanks to a stunning performance from the masterful Marta. (The team looks better and better now that they're actually playing together. In Brazil, the underfunded squad gets next to no practice time as a team.)

Tour de France: American Tyler Farrar won a sprint to the finish and Stage 3 of the Tour de France on Monday -- his first stage victory. Farrar held up his hands to form a "W" with his thumbs and fingers he crossed the line, in honor of his dear friend and training partner, Wouter Weylandt, the Belgian rider who died in May during a crash at the Giro d'Italia.

MLB: The Diamondbacks scored seven unanswered runs to rally from a 6-1, fourth-inning deficit and beat the Brewers 8-6 Monday. ... The White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski scored the winning run in the ninth on a balk by Aaron Crow in a 5-4 win over the Royals on Monday. The Royals are the second team to lose by balking home the game-winner (along with the Mets on June 16, a dubious achievement). & In a 5-3 loss to the Padres on Monday, the Giants' Pablo Sandoval extended his extra-base hit streak to nine games with a double and a home run. That's the longest streak for any Giants player since Willie Mays, who had a nine-game streak in 1963. Say Hey!

Side note: Derek Jeter returned after three weeks on the DL. The bad news: The Yankees went down to the Indians 6-3 Monday, with Jeter no closer to his 3,000th hit. Just six hits shy of this watershed; he could be the 28th and fourth-youngest player to get there. Not to mention the first Yankee! An especially cool accomplishment considering all the greats who have worn pinstripes.