Ex-tennis star James Blake: Fire NYC officer who tackled me

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NEW YORK (AP) Former tennis star James Blake, whose caught-on-camera takedown by a plainclothes New York City police officer prompted apologies from the mayor and police commissioner, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the officer who wrongly arrested him should be fired.

“I don’t think this person should ever have a badge or a gun again,” Blake, 38, said a day after surveillance video of the arrest outside a Manhattan hotel – and details about previous complaints over the officer’s use of force – became public.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask,” he said.

Blake, who had been ranked as high as No. 4 in the world before retiring after the 2013 U.S. Open, was misidentified by a cooperating witness as being part of a scheme to sell fraudulently purchased merchandise when he was tackled, police have said.

The arresting officer, James Frascatore, who has been with the NYPD for four years, has been named in several civil rights lawsuits alleging excessive force. He has also been the subject of four civilian complaints – an above-average number for NYPD officers, according to complaint data.

“I think that that kind of police officer tarnishes the badge, which I have the utmost respect for and I believe that the majority of police officers do great work and they’re heroes,” Blake told the AP. “So this person doesn’t ever belong in the same sentence with the heroes that are doing the right kind of police work and keeping the public safe.”

A message left at a number listed for Frascatore, 38, wasn’t immediately returned. Officials have said he was exonerated of one civilian complaint, a second was unsubstantiated and he was sanctioned for not identifying himself in a third. The status of the fourth complaint was unclear.

A spokesman for his union did not return a message seeking comment Saturday. But on Friday, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Blake’s arrest was made “under fluid circumstances where the subject might have fled, and the officer did a professional job of bringing the individual to the ground.”

Frascatore has been placed on desk duty while internal affairs detectives continue their investigation. At issue is not only Blake’s takedown but whether the use-of-force wasn’t properly reported up the chain of command – leaving police brass to learn of it only after Blake spoke to the media.

But determining what discipline, if any, Frascatore could receive won’t happen any time soon.

Depending on the results of an internal investigation, he could face departmental charges. If Frascatore chooses to fight those charges, he would do so in a departmental trial where he could face potential punishments ranging from a loss of vacation days to performance monitoring or other disciplinary actions.

Commissioner William Bratton, who earlier this week apologized personally to Blake, ultimately will decide Frascatore’s fate.

A police spokesman declined to comment on Blake’s remarks, saying the internal investigation is ongoing.

Blake said Saturday he was appreciative of Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s apologies, as well as their invitations to discuss further policing issues, including the use of body cameras, training and ways to ensure more accountability.

But he also said he hoped others who have been wrongly arrested or mistreated by officers would receive the same treatment.

“I’m sure this isn’t the first time police brutality has happened and I’m sure it’s not the last time,” he said. “So I want them to apologize to the people that this happens to that don’t have the same voice that I have.”

Frances Tiafoe lifts Team World to 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest – and the three-day competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is `Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“”I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years – after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker – first to 10, win by two – Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, another 24-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.