Tagged in: comeback

Ashleigh Barty edges Kristina Kucova after saving match point at Miami Open

Because of canceled flights, it took Ashleigh Barty 45 hours to travel from her native Australia to Florida for a tennis tournament.

Her stay at the Miami Open will be longer than that, thanks to an incredible comeback Thursday.

The top-ranked Barty rallied from a big third-set deficit and overcame a match point to win her opening match versus qualifier Kristina Kucova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5.

“Matches like that are extremely fulfilling, knowing you’ve done the work over an extended period to get just over the edge,” Barty said. “That was a really tough one today, and I enjoyed every single second of it.”

Barty, who won the most recent Miami Open title in 2019, trailed 5-2 in the final set. In the next game, she faced a match point, which she saved by ripping a weak serve for a winner.

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Barty fell behind 0-40 serving in the final game but again rallied against Kucova, a Slovak ranked 149th.

Barty closed out the triumph with a service winner and then tapped her temple with her index finger, a gesture of tribute to her mental fortitude.

“We never give up,” she said, “no matter what we’re feeling.”

Playing away from Australia for the first time in more than a year, Barty won despite an unreliable forehand. She whacked 40 unforced errors on that side, but she compensated somewhat with 15 aces.

Barty acknowledged that jet lag and the time difference between Miami and Australia made the match a challenge.

“You kind of forget how much it can take out of you,” she said. “But you have to accept that’s the way it is. It worked in my favor this morning — I got to watch some Aussie football back home.”

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins optimistic about playing in Super Bowl

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins stated he is optimistic about playing in Super Bowl LV on Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after missing both previous playoff games because of a calf injury.

“Feeling great,” Watkins said Tuesday. “Still working out with the training staff and [athletic trainer Rick Burkholder], just going over everything so I can have a chance and possibly go out there and feel 100% or 95% or 85%, wherever I get at by Sunday. Feeling pretty good, very optimistic. Been having good practices.”

Watkins also missed six games during the regular season. He was fifth on the Chiefs with 37 receptions, 421 yards and two touchdowns.

In the final campaign of his contract, Watkins said he would listen if the team would like to re-sign him because he values winning and playing in Super Bowls over personal stats and money.

“I would say, let’s win this Super Bowl and see where my head will be at,” Watkins said. “It would definitely be something to think about. It would definitely be something I would talk to my wife and my kids about, to think about coming back. Would I love a third ring? For sure.

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“I would definitely not say no about it. … To come back and win a third one? Yeah. I don’t mind. I would definitely have to sit and think about it, see what my future holds.”

Watkins’ return would add another dimension to a dynamic Chiefs offense, led by last year’s Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“You never see him get rattled… You just see the calm guy that’s kind of like controlling the game,” Watkins said of his quarterback. “I think that’s what has taken this offense to a whole different level… I think we have an offense that understands now, if we just do the little things right, we can’t be stopped.”

The Chiefs punched their ticket to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance with a 38-24 victory over the Bills in the AFC Championship game.

The Bills traded up to get Watkins with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.  The team traded Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, along with a 2018 sixth-round draft pick, in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines, who opted out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and was released by the Bills in January.

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Ashleigh Barty offers no guarantees beyond Melbourne Park

Sports fans should savour Ash Barty’s return to tennis because it could be fleeting.

While Barty hopes Friday night’s [AEDT] comeback match in Adelaide marks the beginning of a “long season” ahead, the world No.1 is offering no real guarantees beyond the Australian summer.

Barty hasn’t played since last February, deciding not to leave Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 24-year-old sat out the US Open in September and even opted against defending her French Open crown three weeks later in Paris.

With coronavirus still rampant around the world, the Queenslander confesses she and coach Craig Tyzzer have yet to commit to a concrete calendar beyond the Australian Open starting on Feb. 8.

“Not a lot’s changed. Obviously it’s still quite a delicate situation and we have a couple of plans,” Barty told AAP ahead of her exhibition match versus world No.2 Simona Halep on Friday night.

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“We have options A, B, C and D to kind of go through and we have to wing it a little bit, honestly, because we can’t know quite what to expect.

“But what ‘Tyzz’ and I have spoken about is that our kind of stance remains the same – the priority for us is the health and wellbeing of not only us two on the road, but also our families back home.

“So, for us, that’s a really important thing, regardless of what tournaments may be on.

“Our decisions will always be prioritized by our health and by the bigger picture for us of more than just hitting tennis balls.”

And with that approach, Barty plans on enjoying the summer – and her second Australian Open bid as top seed – rather than fretting about trying to break the country’s infamous 43-year singles title drought in Melbourne.

“It’s been a trying time for everyone down here in Victoria, in particular. So we have to be extremely grateful and understand just how lucky we are that we have an opportunity to play,” she stated.

“So I’ll go out there to try and do the best that I can to enjoy it but also go out there and try and do everyone proud knowing that we’ve got the tennis back and hopefully it’s going to be a really good month.”

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