Tagged in: comeback

Novak Djokovic rallies from 2 sets down to defeat Jannik Sinner, will face Cam Norrie in Wimbledon semifinals

It says a lot about Novak Djokovic that a two-sets-to-none hole at Wimbledon on a day he was hardly at his best never seemed insurmountable. Not to him. Not to anyone watching.

It says a lot about his history of overcoming that sort of deficit. A lot about his skill to adjust, to adapt and to right himself. A lot about his preeminence at the All England Club in recent years.

Djokovic spotted 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy the huge lead Tuesday, then worked his way back to win 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Centre Court, earning an 11th semifinal berth at Wimbledon with his 26th consecutive triumph at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

“I always believed,” said Djokovic, who faces ninth-seeded Cam Norrie of Britain next, “that I could turn the match around.”

Among men, only Roger Federer has made more semifinal appearances at Wimbledon with 13 and won more championships (eight) than the seven Djokovic could reach by lifting the trophy Sunday for what would be a fourth year in a row. “He makes you play differently — well, not differently, but in a way that he likes,” Sinner said.

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Norrie edged David Goffin of Belgium 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, earning the right to make his debut in a Grand Slam semifinal.

“Can’t enjoy it too much now,” said Norrie, 26, who was born in South Africa to British parents, grew up in New Zealand and played tennis at Texas Christian University. “Just get ready for Novak in a couple days.”

Djokovic, 35, from Serbia, managed his seventh career comeback in a match in which he trailed by two sets — he last did it in the 2021 French Open final versus Stefanos Tsitsipas — and improved to 37-10 in five-setters. That includes a 10-1 mark in matches that go the distance at Wimbledon, including nine straight victories; the lone loss came in 2006.

“He’s been in this situation many times,” Sinner, 20, said. “That definitely helps.”

Tuesday’s match brought Sinner’s major quarterfinal appearance total to three, which is exactly 50 fewer than Djokovic’s.

Sinner has shown enormous potential, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2020 French Open before losing to Rafael Nadal and the 2022 Australian Open before losing to Tsitsipas. As for grass? Sinner was 0-4 until last week. But he got win No. 1 at Wimbledon by eliminating three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka and then defeated a pair of seeded foes: No. 20 John Isner and No. 5 Carlos Alcaraz.

With his wide wingspan, and a Djokovic-style ability to slide into strokes, the 6-foot-2 Sinner gets to balls that appear out of reach and is able to reply with considerable power. That allows him to lengthen exchanges and make even a consummate baseliner like Djokovic put in extra work to earn a point.

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Judge, Stanton homer to bail out Taillon, Yanks top A’s 5-3

Giancarlo Stanton has seen trailing teams lose their fight a few times in his 13 big league seasons. Just not with these New York Yankees.

“We find a way to figure it out every night,” Stanton said. “We’re just like, pushing the envelope, boom-boom-boom, until the game’s over.”

Stanton and Aaron Judge homered to fuel New York’s major league-best 24th comeback triumph, bailing out Jameson Taillon in a 5-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.

The Yankees completed a three-game sweep of baseball’s worst team and improved to 56-20, matching the 2001 Mariners and 1998 Yankees for baseball’s best 76-game start since 1930.

Taillon gave up three runs in the first inning, but Judge countered with a two-run drive in the first and Stanton hit a three-run homer in the third against Cole Irvin.

The Yankees are 25-1 when Judge and Stanton homer in the same game, including 9-0 this season.

Taillon (9-1) grinded through five innings, and Clay Holmes pitched the ninth for his 14th save to end a seven-game homestand. Next, New York starts a season-high 11-day, 10-game trip with one game in Houston — a quirk of the sport’s reconfigured schedule after a lockout delayed opening day.

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Judge’s homer was his major league-leading 29th, and his past five have come with New York either trailing or tied.

He’s on pace for 62 this campaign, which would be most in the majors since Stanton hit 59 in 2017.

“It’d be great if it happened,” Judge said. “It’ll be something that’s pretty cool, but I think having a ring on my finger at the end of the year would be even better.”

“Definitely capable of doing it,” Stanton said about his teammate’s chances of reaching 60.

Stanton reached for Irvin’s changeup off the outside edge of the plate and swatted it over the right-field wall. It was Stanton’s 19th homer of the season, with five in his past six games.

“Hit it like only him and Judgey can kind of hit it that way,” manager Aaron Boone said.

The Yankees have 57 homers in June, surpassing the 2016 Orioles and 2019 Braves for most ever in the month.

Irvin (2-6) permitted six hits, but he covered seven innings with 103 pitches.

Taillon struggled against a lineup that didn’t include any player with a batting average higher than .234. Seth Brown’s one-out double sparked a three-run first inning, which included a two-run double by Stephen Piscotty and a run-scoring single by Elvis Andrus.

Taillon labored after that, too, but didn’t give up any more runs. He stranded six runners over his final four innings, including the bases loaded in the second. He permitted seven hits, struck out six and walked two.

“I knew that my delivery felt good today, I thought the stuff was still good,” Taillon said. “I just had to sharpen up the command a little bit.”

Taillon also drudged through his previous start, allowing six runs over 5 2/3 innings against Houston in a game New York came back to win 7-6. The past two outings have spiked Taillon’s ERA from 2.70 to 3.32.

Piscotty had two hits, his first since returning from the injured list Tuesday from a calf strain. “In his last two nights, his at-bats have looked good,” A’s manager Kotsay said.

“He’s a professional hitter, he’s got a track record and any type of success is great for any hitter, regardless of the time they’ve been off or what they’re going through offensively.”

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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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