Ending long droughts in the world of sports

Associated Press + More

By HOWARD FENDRICH, Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Andy Murray snapped one drought for Britain just by reaching the Wimbledon final, becoming the first man from the host country to get that far since Bunny Austin did it 74 years ago. Murray — and all of Britain — are hoping, of course, he can beat Roger Federer on Sunday to give the locals their first homegrown male champion since Fred Perry in 1936. The world of sports is filled with other examples of lengthy gaps between successes:

TENNIS

— U.S. men at the French Open: For more than three decades after Tony Trabert's title at Roland Garros in 1955, American men such as Stan Smith, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors failed to conquer the red clay in Paris. But in 1989, 17-year-old Michael Chang lost the first two sets of his fourth-round match against No. 1-ranked Ivan Lendl, then came all the way back to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, on his way to becoming the youngest male champion at any Grand Slam tournament (a record that still stands).

BASEBALL

— Red Sox, White Sox, Phillies ... and Cubs?: The trend began with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980; that was the franchise's first World Series title in the near-century since it was founded in 1883. Then came the Boston Red Sox, who ended the supposed "Curse of the Bambino" by winning the 2004 World Series for their first championship since 1918. After going 86 years between triumphs, Red Sox Nation only needed to hang on a few more for their next title in 2007. And in 2005, the Chicago White Sox ended their drought by winning the World Series for the first time since 1917. Their Windy City neighbors are still on the clock, though: The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, and haven't even played in one since 1945.

PRO FOOTBALL

— Buccaneers and Saints: For decades, these two teams were the laughingstocks of the NFL. Tampa Bay went 0-14 in its debut season, 1976, part of a 26-game losing streak at the start. In one 14-year stretch, the Bucs had 13 seasons with at least 10 losses. Even their creamsicle-colored uniforms drew criticism. But in January 2003, Tampa Bay put all of that aside and won its first Super Bowl. Similarly, New Orleans was a franchise that drew scorn for decades — from its own fans, in particular, some of whom took to wearing paper bags over their heads to 'Aints home games. But in February 2010, the Saints finally became Super Bowl champions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

— Navy vs. Notre Dame: It was an NCAA record for a college football rivalry, but it is difficult to imagine any other team being as dominant against another in just about any sport. From 1964 to 2006, Notre Dame beat Navy in college football 43 consecutive times. That all changed in November 2007, though, when the Midshipmen edged Notre Dame 46-44 in triple overtime. From there, Navy proceeded to beat Notre Dame three times in four years.

HOCKEY

— Rangers and Bruins: Two of the NHL's Original Six franchises endured long gaps. New York went from 1940 to 1994 without a Stanley Cup; Boston went from 1972 until 2011.

SOCCER

— Manchester City: Long overshadowed by Manchester United — its crosstown rival and perennial English Premier League contender — Manchester City finally ended a 44-year title drought in May in dramatic-as-can-be fashion. On the last day of the season, Manchester City scored two goals in injury time to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 and finish ahead of Manchester United on goal difference. City hadn't won it all since 1968; United claimed 12 titles in that span.

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