Falla Ousts No. 11 Seed John Isner at Wimbledon…

Alejandro Falla has dispatched the United States’ greatest hope in the men’s draw at Wimbledon

The 28-year-old Colombian tenista—currently ranked No. 73 in the world—came back from the brink of defeat to take down the top-ranked American John Isner in the first round of the grass tournament on Monday.

Alejandro Falla

Isner, ranked No, 10 in the world, failed to convert a match point in the fourth set and lost to Falla by a final score of 6-4, 6-7 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5.

Isner— best known for winning the longest match in tennis history two years ago in the first round at the All England Club, when he edged Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set—has been eliminated in five sets in each of the past three Grand Slams.

“I’m just really down on myself right now,” he said. “I’m trying not to feel the outside pressure. There are some good things expected of me, and I’m glad I’m in that position, but I’m just not performing right now. It’s just ugly right now.”

The 6-foot-9 Isner notched 31 aces and said he has been pleased with his serve, but not the rest of his game.

Alejandro Falla

“Sometimes, and lately it has been happening quite a lot, I get out there in the match and I’m just so clouded,” he said. “I just can’t seem to figure things out. I’m my own worst enemy out there. It’s all mental for me, and it’s pretty poor on my part.”

Isner held a match point with Falla serving at 6-7 in the fourth set. The Colombian was on the ropes again serving at 5-all in the final set when he faced three break points, but Isner failed to convert them, then lost serve in the final game.

“I didn’t put my opponent away,” Isner said. “I had my chances, and I didn’t do it. It’s all on me.”

Meanwhile, this is Falla’s latest upset of a Top 10 player in a major tournament…

At the 2006 Wimbledon tournament, Falla upset 9th seed Nikolay Davydenko and at the 2007 Sony Ericsson Open he beat 9th seed Tommy Haas in straight sets.

Falla next faces Isner’s history-cohort Mahut in the second round.

Piquet: The First Brazilian to Win a NASCAR National Touring Series Race

He may be fairly new to NASCAR, but Nelson Piquet Jr. is already making racing history…

The 26-year-old stock car racing driver—the son of three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet Sr., one of Brazil’s most successful F1 drivers—held the lead on a late restart, then pulled away from the rest of the field on Saturday to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America. In the process, Piquet became the first Brazilian to win a race in NASCAR’s national touring series.

Nelson Piquet Jr.

Piquet, a former Formula One driver, became a winner in only his third career Nationwide start after starting the race from pole position. Piquet’s extensive road racing experience seemed to pay off at the 4-mile, 14-turn road course that winds through the hills of central Wisconsin.

He’s now out to prove he belongs in NASCAR.

“I’m going to be here for a long time, hopefully,” said Piquet, who’s hoping Saturday’s win will catch the eye of a team owner willing to give his stock car racing career a boost.

“I think the best thing that could come out of this was to show team owners and bosses that I’m capable of doing it, if I just get the right car and the right team,” Piquet said.

Nelson Piquet Jr.

Michael McDowell, who finished second, just couldn’t chase down Piquet at the end.

“His car was fast,” said McDowell. “I don’t know if we would have had anything for him if we could have just stayed with him on that restart.”

Following the race, Piquet got a phone call from his famous father.

“He was laughing,” Piquet said. “I don’t know if he had a beer or not. But he was very, very excited.”

Ferrer Claims His Second Unicef Open Title

David Ferrer has received a serious confidence boost with Wimbledon right around the corner…

The 30-year-old Spanish tennis star secured his fourth title of the year by beating unseeded Philipp Petzschner 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday to win the Unicef Open grass-court tournament in Den Bosch, Netherlands.

David Ferrer

It’s the second time Ferrer, who was the tournament’s top seed this year, has taken home the title.

Ferrer, the 2008 champion, broke the German twice in the opening set and once in the second, closing the match by winning a game at love to comfortably earn a victory at the Wimbledon warm-up.

David Ferrer

“Now I want to enjoy this moment and tomorrow I will focus on Wimbledon,” Ferrer said. “I played my best match of the week.”

Following a successful clay court season that included wins in Acapulco and Buenos Aires, reaching the final in Barcelona and a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros, Ferrer demonstrated few problems adapting to the quicker grass surface.

Ferrer is seeded seventh at Wimbledon, and the Spaniard faces a first-round match against Germany’s Dustin Brown.

Chávez Jr. Retains Middleweight Title

It’s a case of “like father, like son,” as Julio César Chávez Jr. continues his march toward greatness with another victory…

The 26-year-old Mexican boxer—the son of retired boxing champion Julio César Chávez—stopped Andy Lee in a late surge Saturday night at the Sun Bowl in El Paso to remain undefeated and retain his WBC middleweight title.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Chávez punished Lee in the seventh round with powerful body shots, upper cuts and left and right hands before referee Laurence Cole stepped in to stop the fight at 2:21 of the round. Most of the pro-Chavez crowd of 13,467 at the Sun Bowl roared their approval.

Chavez is now in line to fight lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez for the true WBC championship. Martinez owns the WBC diamond belt. Top Rank, which promotes Chavez, announced via Twitter that the fight would be September15 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Chavez (46-0-2, 32 KOs) started slowly and was outworked by Lee (28-2, 20 KOs) in the first two rounds. But then his powerful punches began to wear down Lee, an Irish boxer who stood two inches taller than Chavez.

Chavez actually landed fewer punches than Lee, 121-116, but connected on 46% of them, while Lee landed just 29%. Chavez connected on 113 power punches to Lee’s 87.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

“In the first round, I was a little cold,” said Chavez. “But then you saw I put my face out to see if he could hit me and he never hurt me.”

Chavez was asked by HBO‘s Larry Merchant how he could follow in the footsteps of his famous father, who is considered perhaps the greatest fighter in Mexico’s history.

“I’m happy to carry on the name,” Chavez said. “And I force myself every day to make history in the world of boxing and every day I’m doing better.”

Chavez said he was suffering from leg cramps from the start of the bout.

“From the first round my legs were bothering me, and I could’ve knocked him out earlier,” Chavez said. “No excuses, but I could’ve knocked him out earlier if it wasn’t for my legs.”

Chavez is now relishing the challenge of facing Martinez, who is No. 3 on most pound-for-pound lists and is 49-2-2 with 28 KOs. At 37, Martinez is 11 years older than Chavez.

“With my legs that night I’m going to knock him out and shut his mouth,” Chavez said.

Beltran Makes Baseball History

St. Louis CardinalsCarlos Beltran’s name will appear in baseball’s history books from now on…

The 35-year-old Puerto Rican baseball star has become the first switch-hitter in baseball to have notched 300 stolen bases and 300 home runs.

Carlos Beltran

Beltran stole second base during Friday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals, the team that drafted him as a teenager out of Puerto Rico.

It was his seventh swipe of the season and his 300th in 343 attempts.

Play was stopped and second base was pulled to celebrate.

Only eight players have reached the 300-300 club. Barry Bonds and his father Bobby Bonds, Andre Dawson, Steve Finley and the “Say Hey Kid” Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez and Reggie Sanders.

“I just have to thank God for the opportunity of being able to play this game for a long time. All the glory is for him,” the 35-year-old outfielder said according to MLB.com.

Beltran currently leads the National League with 19 homers.

Rodriguez Matches Lou Gehrig’s Grand Slam Record

He’s been playing major league baseball for less than two decades, but Alex Rodriguez has already matched the record of one of the sport’s all-time greats.

During the New York Yankees’ 6-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, the 36-year-old Dominican American baseball star hit his 23rd career grand slam, matching Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig‘s record.

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees had only been 10 for 67 (.149) with the bases loaded this season before Rodriguez hit his tying shot. Minutes later, Rodriguez paused to savor his shared place with Gehrig in baseball history.

“It means a lot,” Rodriguez said. “It’s very special. This game is very, very difficult. If you’re not going to enjoy these great moments, then it’s not any fun. Lou Gehrig is not only one of the all-time greats, but he’s one of ours.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi called it “absolutely incredible” that Rodriguez equaled Gehrig’s mark.

“It’s hard to fathom what he’s been able to do in his career,” Girardi said. “To be mentioned with Lou Gehrig, that’s special.”

Rodriguez had been 1 for 10 this season with the bases loaded before he lined the full-count pitch over the left field wall. Braves left fielder Martin Prado barely moved as he watched the homer clear the wall.

Alex Rodriguez

“I made a bad pitch and he crushed it,” said Braves pitcher Jonny Venters. “I have no excuses. I felt great mechanically. I felt great physically. I
just fell behind some hitters. … I threw a pitch right down the middle, 3-2, to one of the best hitters in the game. I feel bad I let my team down.”

Rodriguez’s homer was his 10th of the season and first grand slam.

Soler to Sign with the Chicago Cubs…

Jorge Soler is ready to play professional ball in the United States…

The 20-year-old Cuban baseball star, who defected from his native country last year, has reached a verbal agreement with the Chicago Cubs on a nine-year contract worth $30 million dollars, according to USA Today.

Jorge Soler

The 6-foot 3, 225-pound power hitter, who was declared a free agent last week, is expected to be a right fielder with five-tool potential.

The Cubs outbid several large-market teams, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs, who never bid on free agents like first basemen Albert Pujols last winter, believe Soler will be ready for the big leagues in two or three years.

Soler had previously played for the Cuba’s national baseball team in the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship, where he had a .304 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, and .522 slugging percentage. His nine walks were the second most in the tournament, where Cuba won the bronze. He also briefly played in the Cuban National Series.

The bid for Soler comes months after Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes signed with the Oakland Athletics. The 26-year-old Cuban centerfielder agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal in February.

Ochocinco Agrees to Deal with the Miami Dolphins

He may have been cut from the New England Patriots last week… But Chad Ochocinco won’t need to file for unemployment.

The 34-year-old part-Mexican football star has agreed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins that includes incentives if he makes the team, according to The Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.

Chad Ochocinco

The Dolphins announced via their Twitter account Monday night that they had signed the veteran wide receiver, and Ochocinco confirmed the news of the signing on his website, ocnnreport.com.

Ochocinco—who recently worked out for the Dolphins recently, according to the team’s coach Joe Philbin—was released last week by Patriots. He had 15 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown in 15 games last season.

“Thoroughly enjoyed the oppurtunity to play for the “Patriot” organization… fans were (expletive) wicked awesome, I wish all of you the best,” tweeted the six-time Pro Bowler about the news he wouldn’t return to the Patriots after one year with the team.

Meanwhile, at least one member of the Dolphins team likes the idea of having Ochocinco, a Miami native, as a teammate in South Florida.

“If we are able to get him on our team, I feel like he can bring a lot of wisdom and knowledge from a veteran standpoint,” running back Reggie Bush told NFL Network. “So, if we can get him, we’d love to have him. If not, then we’re just going to have to move on without him. I think he has a lot left in the tank. If we can get him on our team, I think that would be great for us.”

Ochocinco will be competing for one of five or six receiver spots on the 53-man roster, according to The Sun-Sentinel. He has 766 catches for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns in his 11 seasons in the NFL.

Nadal Wins Historic Seventh Title at the French Open

After an emotional two-day adventure, Rafael Nadal is officially in seventh heaven…

The 26-year-old Spanish tenista won a record seventh French Open title on Monday, returning to Roland Garros a day after rain postponed play to defeat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

Rafael Nadal

The victory by “The King of Clay,” as he’s been called, helped Nadal surpass the record he shared with Bjorn Borg, who claimed six titles on the red clay at Roland Garros. Nadal ties Chris Evert on the women’s side, who was the first player to win the French Open seven times.

“This is my favorite tournament of the world,” Nadal told the French crowd during his on-court interview.

It’s Nadal’s 11th Grand Slam title, moving him into a tie for fourth all time with Rod Laver and Borg. He now trails only Roger Federer (16), Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12).

Rafael Nadal

He also ends Djokovic’s streak of three consecutive Grand Slam titles, denying the 25-year-old Serbian tennis star a chance to become the first since Laver to own all four Grand Slam titles at the same time. Djokovic had defeated Nadal in the three previous Slam finals, including a nearly six-hour match at the Australian Open in January.

Nadal runs his record at Roland Garros to 52-1.

Meanwhile, this was the first French Open to not end on Sunday since 1973, when Ilie Nastase wrapped up his title on a Tuesday.

Orozco Comes From Behind to Claim U.S. Gymnastics Crown

He’s nicknamed “Silent Ninja” by his friends for his ability to sneak up on the competition… And, that’s just what John Orozco has done at the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Championships.

Competing in his final event on Saturday, the calculator in the 19-year-old Puerto Rican gymnast’s head told him he hadn’t done enough to catch his front-running teammate and fellow Latino gymnastics star, 20-year-old Cuban-American Danell Leyva.

John Orozco

“I was thinking to myself ‘I don’t think that will do it,’ ” Orozco said after ending his floor exercise routine.

But then the scoreboard flashed:15.500. Somewhere in the crowd, Orozco’s mother, Damaris, shrieked. The “Silent Ninja” had done it again, this time to claim the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics title.

John Orozco

The best floor score Orozco can remember ever seeing next to his name propelled him to a two-round total of 184.850 and the national title, just ahead of Leyva’s 184.800.

“He doesn’t know how to lose,” said two-time U.S. champion Jonathan Horton, who finished fourth. “He doesn’t have a weakness. He’s just a phenomenal gymnast. The one thing is, he gets in a zone and you can’t break it.”

 

Horton, Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton and Chris Brooks also secured automatic bids to the Olympic trials in three weeks. Brandon Wynn, Paul Ruggeri, David Sender and Alex Buscaglia were awarded trial spots based on a points system developed by USA Gymnastics officials, and Steven Legendre, Glen Ishino, Alex Naddour, Joshua Dixon and C.J. Maestas received invitations from the selection committee.

Barring any calamity, Orozco and Leyva can book their flights to London as the leaders of perhaps the strongest American team since 1984. The top four on Saturday posted more than 90 points for the second straight round — the threshold for elite Olympians — giving the Americans plenty to work with as the Olympics loom.

And that — not slipping past Leyva in the final moments — is what mattered most to Orozco.

“For me it really wasn’t about winning, but it was about putting together a good routine and a good performance and showing how we’re going to do in London,” Orozco said. “Hopefully this is going to be a preview.”

“Of course I’m upset I didn’t get first and it’ll drive me to win trials,” Leyva said. “I’m upset with myself, but I’m not mad. I’m actually happy … because everybody’s doing amazing.”

Orozco may lack Leyva’s flair, but he makes up for it with quiet elegance and precision. Both were on display as he closed on Saturday.

While Leyva labored through his pommel horse routine, Orozco — with Damaris “watching” from the stands with her eyes covered — sailed over the high bar to post a score of 15.850 and draw within less than a point.

Still, Leyva appeared to have things in hand and seemed safe after a clean run on the still rings. He and stepfather/coach, Yin Alvarez, celebrated after Leyva stuck the landing, figuring his 14.550 was enough to clinch a second straight national title. Even Horton figured the drama was over.

“I was getting ready to go, but I heard (Leyva) hit the floor and in my head I went, ‘Congrats,'” said Horton.

Only problem, Orozco wasn’t quite finished.

Moving fluidly through his 45-second floor routine, Orozco channeled a breakdancer while doing a series of flares and appeared cemented to the ground at the end of each tumbling run, with not a misstep in sight.

“It’s definitely the best floor routine I’ve ever done,” Orozco said.

Orozco knows if he and his teammates can match their scores in London, the U.S. is a threat to reach the top of the podium for the first time in 28 years. Though he didn’t win an individual gold this weekend, Orozco finished among the top eight in all six events. It’s that kind of consistency that can help guide a team to Olympic glory.

Orozco’s not ready to think about it, but Horton is. The 26-year-old helped the U.S. land a bronze in Beijing four years ago, then added a silver on high bar. He knows what will happen if the U.S. can duplicate its top scores from this weekend at the O2 Arena next month.

“We’re going to freak a lot of people out,” Horton said. “We’re going to make a lot of people go ‘Wow, Team USA is no joke.’ “