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Monday Superlatives

Rejoice: Medvedev-Tsitsipas is the renewed blood feud of the week

June 07, 2021

Quinn Rooney

Things are happening in Roland-Garros as the French Open hits its second week, and the absolute best thing that's happening is the eighth match, coming Tuesday, between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. There has been much talk on this website, for good reason, about the growing feud between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, but that relationship looks positively BFFish compared to Med and Tsitsi. I've written about this rivalry before on this site, so I won't revisit all the greatest hits, but suffice it to say that it all began in a wonderful/terrible exchange after a match in Miami, when Tsitsipas called Medvedev a "bullshit Russian," and Medvedev responded by yelling, "you better shut your **** up" and calling him a "small kid who doesn't know how to fight." (I would pay good money for a Daniil Medvedev English insult tutorial.)

Medvedev started their rivalry by going 5-0, but Tsitsipas beat him at the ATP championships last year in the round robin stage, celebrated like he'd just won a slam, then told all the reporters that it meant "extra" to him and that Medvedev was in his head. They met again in the Australian Open semis earlier this year, when Med beat him again in three sets before losing to Djokovic in the final. Tuesday's match wasn't supposed to happen; Medvedev hasn't been historically strong on clay, and in fact hadn't won a single match at the French coming into this year. A week in, and he acts like he grew up on clay and eats the stuff for breakfast. Tsitsipas has been similarly excellent, and now they're in the quarterfinals on the opposite side of the draw from Djokovic and Nadal, meaning the winner has a great chance to make another slam final.

It's great theater, and probably the best drama the younger generation has to offer, in lieu of anyone who can win an actual slam against the aging big three. Tsitsipas is the clay favorite and Medvedev has the psychological edge, but no matter what happens, you can safely bet that these two very strange dudes will put together a weird, tense, entertaining match.

The Swaggering Hombre of the Week: Kawhi Leonard

Admit it: You forgot about Kawhi.

I did too, and I don't think you can blame us. The Clippers lost their first two games at home to the Mavericks, and the most anyone could offer was Tyronn Lue's lame hope that, uh, maybe the Mavs would struggle to shoot back in Dallas. Weirdly, he was right, the Clips won both games on the road, but then blew game 5 at home, meaning that they headed back to Dallas down 3-2. Game six on Friday night was tense and it was close, but two things swung the tide. First, Kawhi Leonard totally shut down Luka Doncic on defense, stifling the incredibly talented Mavs point guard for 38 minutes. Second, when it was time for a star to emerge on either team, it was Kawhi who asserted his dominance in one of the best close-outs we've seen in this year's playoffs:

Luka put it best:

Then came Game 7, back in L.A., in the weird scenario where for the first time in NBA history, the home team had lost the first four games. Once again, Leonard came up big in the clutch against Doncic (who, to be fair, did score 48 points):

He scored 28, and it was the best team performance the Clippers put forward yet. They're on to Phoenix, and it's because of the man who we thought had faded into the background for the second straight year. We forgot that the board man always gets paid.

The "Maybe We Shouldn't Have These Matches Anymore" Sport of the Week: Soccer

For the second time in the CONCACAF Nations League tournament, a match was halted in Denver (at "Empower Field," in case your life wasn't already filled to the brim with poisonous irony) due to anti-gay chanting by Mexican fans. This was the final against the U.S., and later, after Christian Pulisic scored the winning goal, Giovanni Reyna got hit in the face what looked like a full beer can hurled by a fan, and had to be taken off the field with trainers after laying on the pitch for several long minutes:

I don't want to single out Mexico, because American fans have been fairly abhorrent in isolated examples since the worst of the pandemic passed, but the anti-gay chanting, the people running on the field, and the bombardment of beer cans and water can't help but ask whether it's all worth it. Maybe if a country's fans prove over and over that they can't keep it together, that country shouldn't be allowed at international tournaments until their leadership gets its house in order.

The Harmless Baseball Fun of the Week: Ball, Meet Umpire, Meet Pocket

Here are approximately 15 seconds of amusement as a palate cleanser for the item above, and remember that no matter how poorly your day goes today, or this week, or this month or year, a baseball can always find a way into an umpire's pocket:

The runners should have been allowed to advance until the catcher tagged them with the umpire himself. Make it the law!