At the Australian Open Everyone Not Named Djokovic Is Ready to Star

So now we know! After back and forth by the Australian authorities, Novak Djokovic has been sent back to Serbia, having been expelled from Australia and the Australian Open tennis tournament he was favored to win for the tenth time. Not to mention the more than $2million in prize money he has forfeited and what may have been his best chance to leave chief rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in his dust by winning his 21st major(all three have won 20 majors). Now only Nadal has that opportunity, as the only one of the “Big Three” still scheduled to play (Federer is recovering from injury). 

It doesn’t mean the end for Djokovic by any stretch. He has bounced back from other setbacks! However, the hit he is taking to his reputation, may well besmirch his legacy. It is not simply his position on vaccines and the fact that he is not vaccinated, but derives from misrepresentations on his travel documents and concerns that he would become a symbol for defying vaccine rules in a closely aligned country locked in a Covid war. 

Adding further fuel were what appearsed to be attempts to finesse his way past requirements, by fudging certain information on his travel documents. For example, he said he had not travelled outside of Serbia in the period before going to Australia. But videos then emerged showing him training in Spain. He blamed his agent for the slip-up! 

In another troubling episode, it came out that one day after testing positive for covid in Serbia, Djokovic was interviewed by two journalists, without disclosing his test results to them. There was more, but that was enough for the Australian authorities to send him home. Adding to the spanking, he will be refused entry and miss the tournament for at least the next three years.

Will he gear up and bounce back at the upcoming Wimbledon tournament and win his twenty-first title there? We’ll see! Does he now realize that there IS a “Law of Cause & Effect” and he just experienced it? Others will be pointing to this and saying, “See, what goes around comes around!” What will Novak take from this episode? What will we all take from it?

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/16/sports/tennis/who-is-playing-at-the-australian-open.html?smid=em-share 

At the Australian Open, Everyone Not Named Djokovic Is Ready to Star

After Novak Djokovic’s immigration troubles, he is gone, but don’t worry: Plenty of other stars and story lines are ready for the spotlight.

The defending women’s singles champion, Naomi Osaka, during a practice session last week.
Credit…Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia — It has been an exhausting two weeks, as if a Grand Slam tennis tournament has been contested already — albeit in courts instead of on them, and with all the focus on two missed shots.

Novak Djokovic’s battle with the Australian government ended on Sunday, when a court in Melbourne denied the unvaccinated tennis star’s request to overturn the government’s decision to revoke his visa. After dominating the news cycle and even delaying release of the match schedule, Djokovic left the country, unable to compete in the Australian Open, which begins Monday.

“Australian Open is much more important than any player,” Rafael Nadal said in his pretournament news conference. “If he’s playing finally, OK. If he’s not playing, Australian Open will be great Australian Open with or without him.”

Credit…Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Djokovic’s cohort of champions, including Nadal himself, could make noise at this event. Nadal, who is also going for a record 21st Grand Slam title to break the three-way tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer, won a small tournament in Melbourne in the first week of the season and has been able to practice at full strength less than a month after contracting the coronavirus. Nadal, seeded sixth, opens against Marcos Giron of the United States on Monday.

Andy Murray, the only player consistently able to hang with the Big Three during their primes, also enters the Open with confidence after reaching the final of the ATP tournament in Sydney last week.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia is the favorite to win women’s singles.
Credit…Andy Cheung/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka ended their seasons after losses at the U.S. Open last year, and both looked rested and ready in the first week of this season. Barty, who had to complete a lengthy quarantine upon her return home, said on Saturday that she had made the decision to stop when she did last year for “the right reasons” for herself.

“Ultimately I felt like I’d had a fantastic year,” Barty said. “I was tired. I knew that for me to give myself the best chance to start well here in Australia was to go home and rest. I have absolutely no regrets.”

Barty, the top-ranked player in women’s tennis, won the singles and doubles titles in Adelaide in the first week of the season, positioning herself as a favorite to win her first Australian Open title. Barty has embraced being the home favorite and the pressure that comes with trying to be the first Australian man or woman to win a singles title here since 1978, the longest such home champion drought of any Grand Slam event.

“I just have to hope that everyone understands that I’m giving it my best crack,” she said. “It doesn’t always work out exactly how you want to. But you go about it the right way, you do the right things and try to give yourself the best chance — that’s all you can do. That goes for all the other Aussies as well.”

When the draw came out, the match that was quickly circled as Barty’s toughest test in her path to the title was a potential fourth-round encounter with the defending champion, Osaka, who is seeded 13th. After saying she was taking an indefinite break from tennis after her third-round loss at the U.S. Open, Osaka played well in her first tournament back this month, reaching the semifinals of a small event in Melbourne before withdrawing with a minor abdominal injury.

Emma Raducanu will face Sloane Stephens in her opening match.
Credit…Mike Frey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Emma Raducanu, the shock 2021 U.S. Open champion who marched through qualifying and the main draw without dropping a set, has begun this season less auspiciously. After contracting the coronavirus last month, she said, her training has been limited to “maybe six, seven” hours on court before she played her first match in Sydney last week.

It showed. Raducanu was blitzed, 6-0, 6-1, by Elena Rybakina.

Raducanu has a tough test in her opening match, facing the 2017 U.S. Open champion, Sloane Stephens. Stephens, who married her longtime boyfriend, the soccer player Jozy Altidore, on New Year’s Day, also comes to the tournament without much competitive preparation.

“Obviously you don’t win a Grand Slam without being very capable,” Raducanu said Saturday, referring to Stephens. “I think it’s going to be a tough match for sure. I’m going to go out there and enjoy the match, because just playing in this Grand Slam, I had to work so hard to be here.”

Another first-round match of particular interest features two rebounding Americans: 11th-seeded Sofia Kenin, whose 2020 Australian Open title helped her earn WTA player of the year honors that season, opens against Madison Keys.

Kenin, who struggled with injuries and family problems last season, showed promise during a run to the quarterfinals this month in Adelaide in her first tournament since Wimbledon. Keys, whose ranking had slipped to 87th, won a tournament in Adelaide the next week and rose to No. 51.

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas, left, and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini during a practice session on Saturday.
Credit…Andy Cheung/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Though the Djokovic news might make it seem otherwise, there are far fewer restrictions for vaccinated players at the tournament this year compared with the strict hotel quarantines last year that compromised preparations for many athletes.

But while the reins loosen on players, the landscape regarding the coronavirus pandemic has shifted drastically around them. At one time, there were only a handful of cases in the country each day; the rolling average is now over 100,000. Australia is heavily vaccinated, which has greatly reduced deaths and serious illness, but the tournament has still “paused” ticket sales at 50 percent for sessions that had not yet exceeded that amount in sales. All purchased tickets will be honored.

Dylan Alcott of Australia has said he will retire after the Open.
Credit…Martin Keep/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Two Australian fan favorites are calling it a career at this year’s tournament. Samantha Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, has said that this will be her last tournament in singles. Stosur, 37, has said she may continue to play doubles with Zhang Shuai; the two won last year’s U.S. Open.

Dylan Alcott, who won a “Golden Slam” last year in quad wheelchair singles, by winning all four majors and a Paralympic gold medal in the same year, will also retire. Alcott’s face is one of the most prominent in promotional posters for the tournament around the city, and the tournament plans to hold the final of his event in Rod Laver Arena.

Alcott’s odds of a happy ending seem good: He has won 15 of the 19 Grand Slam singles events he has contested in his career.

The top American, Taylor Fritz, is one of the players participating in a Netflix series about the men’s and women’s pro tours.
Credit…Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Long envious of the popularity that Formula 1 racing received as a result of its Netflix series “Drive to Survive,” tennis players have expressed excitement about the start of production on their own documentary series.

With cooperation between the tours and the four Grand Slams providing access to camera crews around the tour, filming is underway at Melbourne Park. Though the full cast of key characters from the men’s and women’s tours is not yet known, Stefanos Tsitsipas and the top American, Taylor Fritz, are known to be participating.

Novak Djokovic won’t defend his Australian Open title this year.
Credit…John Donegan/Associated Press

With a 16-hour time difference between Melbourne and the Eastern time zone, watching the year’s first Grand Slam tournament can make for its own sporting challenge, with sleep a ferocious opponent, depending on where in the world you are watching from.


Kirkus Reviews, the gold-standard for independent & accurate reviews, has this to say about

What Goes Around Comes Around:

A stable, positive, non preachy, objective voice makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

~ Kirkus Reviews

“The author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them!
Kirkus Reviews

“I’ve read a number of books that focus on sharing a similar message, including “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Answer” by John Assaraf & Murray Smith, “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I must say that I find Rob’s to be my favorite. – Sheryl Woodhouse, founder of Livelihood Matters LLC

At the Australian Open Everyone Not Named Djokovic Is Ready to Star

At the Australian Open Everyone Not Named Djokovic Is Ready to Star

So, Chapter Two of the Jeffrey Epstein saga comes almost to a close. Almost, because we won’t know the final ending until we hear the sentencing, which is likely to be a doozie!

Sure, there will be an appeal and there have been shockers in the past, think R. Kelly in 2008. But this is not likely to be one of those.

So Ghislaine, was it worth it? The ride you had with your buddy Jeff, that is? Did the two of you simply mock the concept of Karma, Cause & Effect, What Goes Around Comes Around, different ways to say the same thing? Did you just buy his line that you were  “Teflon Twins” and they’d never get you. What?

Please tell us, explain so there’s some way to think something good and worthwhile about at least you, cause its sure hard to find in this wreckage!

Colombo Family Crime Boss and 12 Others Are Arrested, Prosecutors Say

An indictment unsealed on Tuesday accuses the organization of orchestrating a two-decade scheme to extort a labor union.

Credit…Jesse Ward

 

For two decades, the leadership of the Colombo crime family extorted a Queens labor union, federal prosecutors said — an effort that continued unabated even as members of the mob clan cycled through prison, the family’s notorious longtime boss died, and as federal law enforcement closed in.

Over time, what began as a Colombo captain’s shakedown of a union leader, complete with expletive-laced threats of violence, expanded into a cottage industry, prosecutors said, as the Colombo organization assumed control of contracting and union business, with side operations in phony construction certificates, marijuana trafficking and loan-sharking.

On Tuesday, 11 reputed members and associates of the Colombo crime family, including the mob clan’s entire leadership, were charged in a labor racketeering case brought by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

All but two of the men were arrested Tuesday morning across New York and New Jersey, prosecutors said. Another was surrendered to the authorities on Tuesday; another defendant, identified as the family consigliere, remained at large, prosecutors said.

The indictment accuses the Colombo family of orchestrating a two-decade scheme to extort an unnamed labor union that represented construction workers, using threats of violence to secure payments and arrange contracts that would benefit the crime family.

The charges are an ambitious effort by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to take down one of the city’s five Mafia families. In addition to the union extortion scheme, which is the heart of the racketeering charge, the indictment charges several misdeeds often associated with the mob, including drug trafficking, money laundering, loan-sharking and falsifying federal labor safety paperwork.

Detention hearings for the defendants in Brooklyn federal court continued into the evening Tuesday, as they entered not-guilty pleas to the charges; prosecutors had asked the court to keep 10 of the defendants in custody.

“Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,” Michael J. Driscoll, F.B.I. assistant director-in-charge, said in a statement. “The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.”

Around 2001, prosecutors said, Vincent Ricciardo — a reported captain in the family, also known as “Vinny Unions” — began to demand a portion of a senior labor union official’s salary. When Mr. Ricciardo was convicted and imprisoned on federal racketeering charges in the mid-2000s, prosecutors said, his cousin continued to collect those payments.

Starting in late 2019, prosecutors said, the senior leadership of the Colombo family became directly involved in the shakedown, which extended to broader efforts to siphon money from the union: for example, manipulating the selection of union health fund vendors to contract with entities connected to the family, and diverting more than $10,000 each month from the fund to the family.

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Andrew Russo, 87, who prosecutors describe as the family boss, is accused of taking part in those efforts, as well as a money-laundering scheme to send the proceeds of the union extortion through intermediaries to Colombo associates. He was among nine defendants charged with racketeering.

Mr. Russo appeared in court virtually from the hospital Tuesday; he is set to be detained upon his release, pending a future bail hearing.

The family’s infamous longtime boss, Carmine J. Persico, died in federal custody in North Carolina in March 2019.

Federal law enforcement learned of the extortion scheme about a year ago, prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday; investigators gathered thousands of hours of wiretapped calls and conversations recorded by a confidential witness, wrote the prosecutors, who also described law-enforcement surveillance of meetings among the accused conspirators.

The authorities said they repeatedly captured Mr. Ricciardo and his associates threatening to kill the union official. “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids,” Mr. Ricciardo was recorded saying in June.

On another occasion cited by prosecutors in the memo seeking his detention, Mr. Ricciardo directed the union official to hire a consultant selected by the Colombo family, saying: “It’s my union and that’s it.” Prosecutors said his activities were overseen by a Colombo soldier and the consigliere who remains at large.

Much of the activity outlined in the indictment took place while the defendants were either in prison or on supervised release for prior federal mob-related convictions. Theodore Persico Jr., described as a family captain and soldier, was released from federal prison in 2020 and, despite a directive not to associate with members of organized crime, “directed much of the labor racketeering scheme,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Persico, 58, is set to inherit the role of boss after Mr. Russo, prosecutors wrote.

Several of the defendants were named in what prosecutors described as a fraudulent safety training scheme, in which they falsified state and federal paperwork that is required for construction workers to show they have completed safety training courses.

One of the defendants, John Ragano — whom prosecutors say is a soldier in the Bonanno crime family — is accused of setting up phony occupational safety training schools in New York, which prosecutors said were “mills” that provided fraudulent safety training certificates to hundreds of people.

In October 2020, prosecutors said, an undercover law enforcement officer visited one of the schools in Ozone Park, Queens, and received, from Mr. Ricciardo’s cousin, a blank test form and an answer sheet; weeks later, the agent returned to pick up his federal safety card and paid $500.

The purported schools were also used for meetings with members of La Cosa Nostra — the group of crime families commonly known as the Mafia — and to store illegal drugs and fireworks, according to the indictment.

Mr. Ragano wasn’t charged on the racketeering count, although prosecutors also sought his detention pending trial. In addition to the racketeering count, several defendants, including Mr. Ricciardo and his cousin, were charged with extortion, conspiracy, fraud and conspiracy to make false statements.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people identified in an indictment as members of the Colombo crime family. It is 11, not more than a dozen.