Tagged in: court

Naomi Osaka returns to court for first time since May, wins in first round of Silicon Valley Classic

Four-time major champion Naomi Osaka collected the first match she has played since May, defeating Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on Tuesday night at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

Osaka hit 11 aces and saved 7 of 8 break points in the hard-court tournament that serves as a tuneup for the US Open.

Osaka, who had not played anywhere since a first-round loss to Amanda Anisimova at the French Open on May 23, was all smiles after the match, waving and clapping back at the crowd, which gave her a standing ovation.

“It’s really good to be back,” she said in her on-court interview after the win. “I’m just really happy.”

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The former No. 1-ranked player was bothered by her left Achilles tendon during that defeat, then cited that lingering injury when she pulled out of Wimbledon in June. Osaka won the US Open in 2018 and 2020.

Next up for Osaka is Coco Gauff, who won her match 6-0, 6-1 over Anhelina Kalinina.

Osaka leads their head-to-head series 2-1, including a triumph over Gauff at the 2019 US Open. Gauff was the runner-up at this year’s French Open.

Another past champion at Flushing Meadows, 2019 winner Bianca Andreescu, lost Tuesday in San Jose, beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Shelby Rogers.

In other first-round action, qualifier Elizabeth Mandlik won her WTA debut, defeating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-3, 6-3, and No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova beat Camila Giorgi 7-6 (2), 4-6, 7-5.

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Celtics torch Heat early, even series with 102-82 blowout

The Miami Heat left Jayson Tatum lying on the court with a pain in his neck in the closing minutes of Game 3.

The Celtics All-Star did his part to make sure the Heat were hurting after Game 4.

Tatum scored 31 points and Boston took its turn pounding Miami early, jumping out to a 26-4 lead and cruising to a 102-82 victory that evened the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.

“Obviously, we knew how important this game was,” Tatum said. “Everybody just had to come up with a different sense of urgency.”

Miami missed 15 of its first 16 shots as this bizarre series produced another game that was all but over after 12 minutes. The Heat led 39-18 after the first quarter of Game 3.

Boston improved to 5-0 this postseason following a loss. Coach Ime Udoka stated the challenge is finding more consistency.

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“Just got to muster that same energy when we came off a win as well as a loss,” Udoka said. “This is a three-game series now. Can’t always just flip the mindset when we come off a loss and get a little desperate.”

Game 5 is Wednesday in Miami.

Payton Pritchard had 14 points for the Celtics. Derrick White added 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Robert Williams concluded with 12 points and nine rebounds.

“We just wanted to up the effort all-around,” Williams said.

The Celtics led by 27 points in the second quarter and stretched their advantage to 32 in the third. Each game in this series has featured a lead of at least 20 points, and none has been close down the stretch.

Victor Oladipo led the Heat with 23 points. Miami’s starting five of All-Star Jimmy Butler (six points), Kyle Lowry (three points), P.J. Tucker (no points), Max Strus (no points) and Bam Adebayo (nine points) were a combined 7 of 36 shooting. They all sat out the fourth quarter.

“They came out and jumped us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re not making any excuses. They outplayed us tonight for sure. We never could get any kind of grip on the game.”

And the Celtics stymied the Heat without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who sat with a sprained right ankle he suffered in the second half of Game 3.

The Heat were without Tyler Herro, who suffered a groin injury late in Game 3.

Butler was in the starting lineup after missing the second half of Game 3 with swelling in his right knee. Lowry (strained left hamstring), Strus (strained hamstring) and Tucker (left knee irritation) all tested their injuries pregame before being cleared to go.

“It’s a part of playoffs. You learn to adapt,” Adebayo said. “Guys being out, guys playing half, guys playing 20 minutes in the game, just depends. You’ve just got to find a way to win.”

Boston’s Williams returned after missing a game with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.

Even with their banged-up roster, the Celtics enjoyed their fastest start of the series. Starting in place of Smart, White scored the game’s first seven points as Boston took an 8-0 lead.

It quickly grew to 18-1, with Miami misfiring on its first 14 shots. The Heat didn’t get their first points until Adebayo’s free throw at the 7:56 mark. Miami made its first field goal at 3:22, a 3-pointer by Oladipo, and ended the quarter 3 for 20.

The Celtics took a 29-11 lead into the second quarter and led 57-33 at the half.

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Kevin Durant signs 4-year, $198M extension with Brooklyn Nets, manager says

Kevin Durant has signed a multiyear extension with the Brooklyn Nets, the team announced Sunday morning.

The extension is for four years and worth the $198 million maximum, Durant’s longtime business manager and co-founder of Thirty Five Ventures and Boardroom, Rich Kleiman, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

Durant declined his 2022-23 player option and extended off his $42 million salary for the 2021-22 season. Durant, who led Team USA to its fourth consecutive Olympics gold with a win versus France on Saturday, was spectacular in his return to the court this season.

He missed his first season in Brooklyn while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals in Toronto while playing for the Golden State Warriors.

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He wound up playing only 35 regular-season games for Brooklyn last season due to a combination of COVID-19 absences and a hamstring injury, but Durant averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists and made his 11th All-Star appearance.

Durant then averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 12 playoff games for the Nets, including arguably the greatest performance of his legendary career — a 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double while playing all 48 minutes of a 114-108 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He then played all 53 minutes of Brooklyn’s overtime loss in Game 7, scoring another 48 points — which included a game-tying shot in the final second of regulation to force the extra session.

“Kevin is a transcendent talent who continues to drive and push this franchise and the game of basketball globally,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement Sunday. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with him for years to come.”

The Nets are currently projected to spend $296 million next season in payroll and luxury taxes, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

That is the second-biggest total in NBA history (trailing only next season’s Warriors), as the Nets try to win the franchise’s first NBA championship around Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

Irving joined Durant in Brooklyn as free agents two years ago, and the Nets executed a blockbuster trade with the Houston Rockets to land Harden in January.

Irving and Harden will also be eligible to sign contract extensions with Brooklyn this offseason.

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer has administrative leave extended through Aug. 13

The administrative leave for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was extended a fourth time on Thursday, this time by an extra seven days through Aug. 13, according to a league official.

A civil hearing for the temporary restraining order that was acquired against Bauer will start three days after that in L.A. Superior Court. The hearing, which was twice granted a continuance at the request of Bauer’s legal team, is scheduled for Aug. 16-19. That means Bauer’s leave might have to be extended at least once more, unless MLB or the City of Pasadena (California) Police Department wrap up their investigations before then.

MLB can unilaterally place a player on administrative leave for up to seven days under a joint domestic violence policy, but it must obtain consent by the MLB Players Association thereafter. Bauer hasn’t been with the Dodgers since initially being placed on leave July 2.

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Bauer, 30, has been accused by a woman of choking her until she lost consciousness on multiple occasions, punching her in several areas of her body and leaving her with injuries that required hospitalization over the course of two sexual encounters earlier this year, according to a domestic violence restraining order that was filed in L.A. County Superior Court on June 28, copies of which were obtained by ESPN.

The temporary restraining order was executed ex parte, which can be attained without input from the other party.

Bauer’s side has strongly denied the allegations of sexual assault, calling the interactions between him and the woman “wholly consensual” and saying in a prior statement that Bauer “vehemently denies her account of their two meetings.”

The initial hearing to decide whether the temporary restraining order would become permanent took place July 23 and was delayed an additional six business days after Bauer’s attorneys demanded more time to prepare a defense against witnesses and exhibits they claimed to not have received until the night before the hearing. A continuance was obtained once again on July 29.

Bauer attended the initial hearing, as did the woman. Bauer’s legal team told the judge that it has advised him not to testify, given the ongoing investigation, but the petitioner’s side stated that he must nonetheless take the stand, even if he invokes his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions. Both sides will call a total of up to 10 witnesses.

The Dodgers, who traded for Max Scherzer last week and signed Cole Hamels on Wednesday, have canceled Bauer’s bobblehead night and have removed all of his merchandise from the team and online stores, saying they “did not feel it was appropriate” given the investigations.

Bauer, the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, joined the Dodgers with a record-setting three-year, $102 million contract in February that incorporates two opt-out clauses.

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Nadal into semis, will face Diego Schwartzman in French Open

The 12-time champion at Roland Garros Rafael Nadal withstood an early challenge from 19-year-old Jannik Sinner and pulled away to gain their quarterfinal 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1 in a match that ended at nearly 1:30 a.m. Wednesday in Paris on a windy night with the temperature in the low 50s.

Competition can continue that deep into the night this year because it’s the first time artificial lights are being used for play at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

“Of course, it’s not ideal [to] finish a match at 1:30 in the morning,” said Nadal, 34. “But the problem is the weather. It’s too cold to play. Honestly, it’s very, very cold to play tennis, no?”

He added that it was a “little bit dangerous for the body play with these very heavy conditions.”

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Their quarterfinal initiated after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was the last match of the day’s packed schedule at Court Philippe Chatrier, which went longer than anticipated thanks to No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman’s five-hour, five-set triumph over No. 3 Dominic Thiem.

“I really don’t know why they put five matches on Chatrier today,” Nadal said. “That was a risk.”

No. 2 Nadal will take a 9-1 head-to-head edge against Schwartzman into their match in Friday’s semifinals.

“Two days to practice, to rest a little bit and to recover, and just try to be ready,” Nadal said.

Schwartzman has this going for him: He won their most recent matchup, beating Nadal last month on clay at a tuneup in Rome.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to have a lot of confidence,” Schwartzman stated, “but, yeah, I know … that I can beat him. That’s important.”

Nadal is trying to win a 13th French Open title and 20th Grand Slam trophy overall, which would equal Roger Federer’s mark for men. Among the many statistics that stand out about Nadal’s track record in Paris: He is 98-2, which includes 24-0 in semifinals and finals.

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