Novak Djokovic tops LeBron, White
While many of you were probably nestled snug in your beds early Sunday morning, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were engaged in a grueling 5-hour, 53-minute Grand Slam battle royale. In the end, iron man Djokovic won out to capture the Australian Open title and this week's top Cross-Sport Power Rankings honor.
But here's the tricky part: How do you compare what Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka accomplished to the gold-medal-worthy feats Shaun White and Heath Frisby showcased in Winter X competition? A lot of tennis players can say they won the Aussie Open, but no other athlete can lay claim to the stunts White and Frisby pulled off.
Our panel made its decision on the subject, but we want to hear from you. You can make your own ranking here and state your case in the comments section. If we like what we see, we'll ask you to join us next week as a guest ranker.
2012 Cross-Sport Power Rankings panel: Sara Walsh, John Buccigross, Robert Flores, Michael Smith, Bram Weinstein, Mike Hill, Jorge Andres, Charissa Thompson, DJ Gallo, Jim Basquil, Kevin Connors, Will Selva, Jeff MacGregor and Steve Weissman.
2012 Cross-Sport Power Rankings
|The No. 1 men's tennis player in the world picked up right where he left off in 2011, taking care of business against the Nos. 2, 4 and 5 players to win the Australian Open. Djokovic was on the ropes in the semis against Andy Murray before winning the last two sets to set up the final against Rafael Nadal. And what a final it was. After nearly six hours of tennis, Djokovic truly earned the title, along with the top spot in this week's rankings.|
|On the women's side, tennis has a new No. 1, and she has a Grand Slam trophy to go with that ranking. Victoria Azarenka absolutely demolished Maria Sharapova in the final in Melbourne after dispatching defending champion Kim Clijsters in the semis. Azarenka's first Grand Slam title likely won't be her last, as she seems poised to make some noise on the WTA circuit for years to come.|
|Despite an ankle injury that kept White out of the Slopestyle event, he dominated the Men's SuperPipe finals to win his fifth consecutive gold medal. But what's so impressive about White is that he racked up the first perfect score in the event's history on his final run. In other words, he landed a frontside double cork 1260 and got ridiculous backside air after the gold medal was already his. As LMFAO would say, "Animal print pants outta control!"|
|We can already hear the haters now. "LeBron isn't clutch. LeBron doesn't show up in the fourth quarter. LeBron's headband isn't fooling anyone." Well, we'll give you that last one, but, in wins over the Pistons, Knicks and Bulls, LeBron averaged 10.0 ppg in the fourth quarter. Then against the Hornets, he figured out an even better way to avoid a fourth-quarter meltdown -- play so well in the first three quarters you get to sit out the entire fourth.|
|Sometimes, words just aren't enough. A front flip on a snowmobile sounds crazy, but it looks even more ridiculous: See? (P.S. No one had ever landed this in competition before, and one of his fellow competitors was carried away in a stretcher just minutes before he attempted the trick. No pressure or anything.)|
|As panel member Jim Basquil put it, "It's unfortunate someone had to lose" the men's final between Nadal and Djokovic. The 10-time Grand Slam champion put on one of the greatest shows of his career late into the night at Rod Laver arena, then was gracious in defeat. Nadal reached the final by beating his chief rival, Roger Federer, marking the fifth consecutive time Rafa has bested Roger in a Grand Slam match.|
|Plumlee posted 38 pts (14-of-21 FG) and 29 rebs in wins over Maryland and St. John's this past week, a welcome boost after Duke's loss to Florida State at the buzzer in the previous week's action. At this point, things will be just dandy on the Duke sideline only if Plumlee can continue to be a force in the paint.|
|Unlike some pro sports' all-star events that took place this past week, the NHL All-Star Game had plenty of competitive storylines to buzz about. But the headliner of Sunday's All-Star Game was Gaborik, who earned MVP honors for his three goals against Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist. Gaborik's All-Star hat trick was the first since 2008; luckily, Lundqvist has a good sense of humor on Twitter.|
|Abby Wambach is now the second-leading goal scorer in international women's soccer history, but it was super-sub Alex Morgan who stole the show this past week. After scoring the game-sealing goal against Costa Rica to lock up the Americans' Olympic bid, Morgan posted two goals and two assists in a 4-0 victory over Canada in the championship game of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.|
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