Wonder Year: Roger Federer

Not only is Federer not acting his tennis age; observers as astute as Rod Laver, the all-time great from Australia, Mats Wilander, the eight-time Grand Slam winner from Sweden, and Brad Gilbert, the coach, commentator and former pro, believe Federer is playing the best tennis of his life. When the U.S. Open begins next week, he will be favored, despite tweaking his back and losing in the final of a warm-up tournament in Montreal, to win his third major of the year, something he last accomplished at 26. Consider: Andre Agassi won his final major at 32, Laver and Pete Sampras won their final majors at 31 and John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg won theirs at 25. When Federer triumphed at Wimbledon in July, he became the event’s oldest champion in the Open Era (which began in 1968),

.. But after his victory over Andy Murray in the Australian Open final in 2010, his dominance in the slams skidded to a halt. Between the ages of 29 and 35, he won only a single major, beating Murray again at Wimbledon in 2012, in what were ideal conditions for his game after the roof was closed in the third set. Although he continued to reach the occasional final and semifinal, all signs indicated that he was gradually and inevitably succumbing to the forces that fell all athletic superstars: age, injuries and, in one-on-one sports, the cumulative trauma of agonizing losses.

.. In many ways, watching Federer practice exceeds the entertainment value of watching him compete. It’s pure play and even more of an improv showcase. Every ball is lathered with gratuitous action, spin for spin’s sake, spin as slapstick, and unlike Nadal, who rips violently upward on his shots to impart an ungodly number of rotations per second to the ball, Federer luxuriantly massages every shot as if to prolong the moment of impact and better feel the racket head moving over the ball, string by string. That day, every fifth shot, give or take, was a trick shot

.. Federer, Nadal, Murray and Novak Djokovic have dominated the second week of majors for a decade, but only Federer seems to take consistent and obvious pleasure in what he is doing on the court.

.. In part that may come from Federer’s not having grown up subjected to the same preadolescent all-or-nothing pressure of his major peers.

.. Two-handers are easier to hit, especially for youngsters, and dependable as diesel engines. But anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that one-handers bring more joy to a player, if only because they are beautiful, and to hit them well, you have to let them go.

Pete Sampras, whose record seven Wimbledon titles was broken by Federer in July, once told me that when he went from a two-handed to a one-handed backhand, he was transformed from a grinder to a shot maker, and the game became immensely more enjoyable for him.

How Fast Would Usain Bolt Run the Mile?

El Guerrouj weighed a hundred and twenty-eight pounds at the time and stood five feet nine inches tall in his running socks. Those few who’ve come close to running a mile as fast as El Guerrouj have been roughly the same size, and that’s not a coincidence: if you wish to run middle or long distances quickly, it helps to travel light.

.. his best two-hundred-metre (19.19), four-hundred-metre (45.28), and eight-hundred-metre (2:10) times make that clear.

.. “But those people on the site are all distance runners who have no idea what they are talking about.”

.. “He’s a total fast-twitch-muscle-fibre guy.

.. nine-time Olympic gold medalist and sprinting specialist Carl Lewis struggling to run a 2:16 half-mile in his prime

Leicester City Completes Rise by Clinching Premier League Title

One bookmaker, Sky Bet, told The Associated Press it paid out 4.6 million pounds ($6.8 million) to bettors who picked Leicester to win the title, with 128 putting money on the team at those enormous odds.

.. This year’s Premier League title is the first top-division championship for Leicester City, which was founded in 1884 and joined the Football League in 1890. Its previous high-water mark was a runner-up finish — in 1929.

The Sadness and Beauty of Watching Google’s AI Play Go

According to Google, 60 million Chinese watched the first game on Wednesday afternoon.

.. In the first game, Lee Sedol was caught off-guard. In the second, he was powerless.

.. Kwon even went so far as to say that he is now more aware of the potential for machines to break free from the control of humans, echoing words we’ve long heard from people like Elon Musk and Sam Altman. “There was an inflection point for all human beings,” he said of AlphaGo’s win. “It made us realize that AI is really near us—and realize the dangers of it too.”

.. Lee Sedol said that over the course of the four-hour match he never once felt in control. “Yesterday, I was surprised,” he said through an interpreter, referring to Game One. “But today I am speechless. If you look at the way the game was played, I admit, it was a very clear loss on my part. From the very beginning of the game, there was not a moment in time when I felt that I was leading.”

.. In the end, Lee Sedol said he felt that, unlike in Game One, AlphaGo made no real mistakes. Not one. “I really feel that AlphaGo played the near perfect game,”