Tagged in: matches

Casper Ruud first man from Norway to reach Grand Slam semifinal; will face Marin Cilic for berth in French Open final

Casper Ruud has become the first man from Norway to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament, getting that far at the French Open by defeating 19-year-old Holger Rune of Denmark 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3.

The eighth-seeded Ruud’s 3-hour, 15-minute triumph at Court Philippe Chatrier began Wednesday night and ended after midnight.

Ruud, 23, leads the ATP with 65 wins in clay-court matches since the start of the 2020 season. That includes defeating 2019 French Open junior champion Rune four times.

Ruud ended up with just one more winner than the big-hitting Rune, 55-54, and that edge arrived on the very last point with a forehand that originally was called out before the chair umpire overruled and said the ball touched the line.

The big difference: Ruud made only 24 unforced errors, while Rune had 46.

Their match got a bit testy, with Ruud telling Rune he didn’t appreciate him questioning an obvious officiating call.

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“I told him, ‘What, do you need to check every mark?’ and he told me to be quiet. I asked him, ‘Maybe that’s not the greatest thing to tell your opponent to be quiet when I’m talking to you?’ And he said it once more. So that was all that happened. And I didn’t exchange any more words with him after this,” Ruud said. “So that’s what he wants to say and behave? That’s up to him.”

Rune confirmed Ruud’s account of their interaction.

Rune had never attained a Grand Slam match until last week.

“Obviously disappointed that I couldn’t do better today. But still I have to look at the two weeks — it was great,” Rune said. “I mean, I played some good matches. A lot of positives to take.”

Ruud will meet 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic on Friday for a berth in the final. The other men’s semifinal features 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, who eliminated Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, versus No. 3 Alexander Zverev.

Cilic is 33, nearly eight seasons past his one Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open — and, until Wednesday, more than four full years removed from his most recent trip to the semifinals of a major tournament.

If he keeps serving like this, there’s no reason to think about quitting tennis anytime soon.

Cilic delivered 33 aces to get to the final four at the French Open for the first time, edging No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-2) in a 4-hour, 10-minute test of strength and will.

“Andrey played incredibly well. One had to go down,” the 20th-seeded Cilic said, “and today was my day.”

The Croatian is the fifth active man to complete a full set of at least one semifinal run at all four Slam events, joining Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, each of whom has been ranked No. 1 and won multiple majors.

Cilic was the runner-up to Federer at Wimbledon in 2017 and the Australian Open in 2018; the latter had been Cilic’s most recent trip to a Slam semifinal.

He might be a decade older than his next opponent, but Cilic feels good these days.

When he had a physical exam at the end of 2021, he said, his doctor told him: “Your body’s like 25.”

Continued Cilic: “Don’t tell my wife I’m saying this, (but) I might be playing another 10 years.”

All kidding aside, he said: “How long? We’ll see. But definitely three, four years, if I can be competitive like this.”

He dropped Rublev’s career mark in major quarterfinals to 0-5. That was thanks in part to Cilic’s overwhelming ability to strike serves and groundstrokes for winners — 88 in all, more than twice as many as Rublev’s total of 35.

“It was hard emotionally, because he played some games very well,” Cilic said. “When you play this long, there’s always be some ups and down, so I had to keep my focus.”

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Spain, Poland win second consecutive matches at ATP Cup to remain perfect

Spain and Poland remained perfect at the ATP Cup, securing winning 2-0 leads in their games Monday for their second consecutive triumphs in the team event.

Roberto Bautista Agut clinched the match for Spain by beating Casper Ruud of Norway 6-4, 7-6 (4) after Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-3.

Bautista Agut improved to 9-2 in singles at the team event.

“Casper is playing unbelievable tennis, (he did) an unbelievable performance last year, and today I played very good,” Bautista Agut said in his on-court interview. “I returned very well, I made very few unforced errors and I played aggressively. “

Kamil Majchrzak gave Poland the early lead over Georgia with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Aleksandre Bakshi before Hubert Hurkacz clinched it ahead of the doubles with a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-1 win over Aleksandre Metreveli.

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“He [Metreveli] played well in the first set and things were not going my way. But I got better with each set and am happy to get the win,” Hurkacz said.

Spain and Poland later both won their doubles matches to make it 3-0 scorelines.

Poland can book a place in the semifinals if it defeats Argentina on Wednesday in its next group match.

Majchrzak needed only 53 minutes to beat Bakshi.

“I was trying to move [Bakshi] around and I think that was the key to the match,” said Majchrzak, who is coached by former world seventh-ranked Joakim Nystrom.

“He brings me a lot of confidence and a lot of calm in my tennis so I can feel that I am improving,” Majchrzak said of Nystrom on the ATP Tour’s website. “We are working on (developing an all-court game) but in a way that doesn’t interrupt my baseline game. We will take it from the practice to the matches but it takes time.”

Greece plays Argentina and Serbia takes on Chile in night matches Monday.

The four group winners in the 16-team tournament advance to the semifinals on Friday and Saturday, with the winners meeting in the final on Sunday.

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49ers win 1st home game in more than a year, 31-10 over Rams

After a nearly two-month stretch that featured one victory and far too many disappointments, the San Francisco 49ers were running out of time to establish an identity this season.

An opening 18-play touchdown drive versus the rival Los Angeles Rams was a pretty good start.

Jimmy Garoppolo capped that long drive with the first of his two touchdown passes, Jimmie Ward returned one of his two first-quarter interceptions for another score and the 49ers beat the Rams 31-10 on Monday night for their first home win in more than a year.

“It got us into a rhythm for sure,” Garoppolo said. “That’s the way we want to do it. Just running the ball, converting on third down and then score at the end. I don’t want to say it took their soul away but it definitely did something.”

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The Niners (4-5) had lost four of five matches and were in danger of falling out of the playoff race before putting together a complete performance in their fifth straight win versus the Rams (7-3).

Garoppolo threw TD passes to George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, Samuel also ran for a score and Ward delivered the big plays defensively to give San Francisco its second home win in the past two seasons. The other also came against the Rams on Oct. 18, 2020.

It all started on the ground, where coach Kyle Shanahan had set an audacious goal of 40 carries that the Niners exceeded with 44 runs for 156 yards.

“I almost regretted it because it’s tough to do,” Shanahan said. “I’m glad I set it. We came through with it. It’s a huge team goal.”

San Francisco had its most rushes in a regular-season game in nine years. The Niners used a similar formula two years ago when they made it to the Super Bowl.

Last week, San Francisco had 11 carries for 39 yards in a 31-17 loss to Arizona.

“If you want to establish any type of dominance, especially in the trenches, I think that is necessary,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “You got to run the ball and got to make your opponents respect it.”

The Niners sealed the game when Garoppolo connected on a 40-yard TD to Samuel on fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter that made it 31-7.

Garoppolo finished 15 for 19 for 182 yards and the two TDs.

The Rams lost for the second straight week with Matthew Stafford once again throwing two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

Los Angeles struggled to get into any rhythm offensively in the first game after receiver Robert Woods went down with a season-ending knee injury last week in practice.

“This was a humbling night for us as a team, and a great opportunity for us to be able to take a deep breath, step away, look at the things that we need to correct, particularly offensively over the last couple of weeks,” coach Sean McVay stated.

Odell Beckham Jr. made his Los Angeles debut after signing last week but had only two catches for 18 yards.

Recently obtained edge rusher Von Miller also played for the first time with the Rams and had three tackles but didn’t put pressure on Garoppolo. Stafford went 26 for 41 for 243 yards with one TD, two interceptions and nearly a third that K’Waun Williams trapped on his backside only to have it wiped off by a penalty.

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U.S. beats Spain to set up Billie Jean King Cup semifinal vs. Russia

The United States won both singles matches versus Spain to reach the semifinals of the Billie Jean King Cup on Wednesday.

The Americans faced a must-win situation after losing to Slovakia 2-1 in Group C on Tuesday, and Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins both earned straight-set victories to render the final doubles meaningless.

The U.S., the most successful team in the competition formerly known as the Fed Cup with 18 titles, will face Russia in the semis. The Russians eliminated defending champion France earlier in the day.

Stephens beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-4, 6-4, earning her seventh break of the match in the final game and converting her first match point with a backhand winner.

“I came out really confident, I knew that I’m ready,” said Stephens, the 2107 U.S. Open champion.

Collins secured the second point by easing past Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-0 in just under one hour to seal the victory and eliminate Spain. “I think in this format, every game, every set counts,” Collins said.

“For me, I was just on a roll. I think it’s quite hard putting to words when you have a performance like that.”

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After sweeping Canada 3-0 the previous day, Russia needed only one win from the best-of-three match versus France to advance from Group A.

It could rely on its top player, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, to deliver it.

The 12th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova rallied to beat Alize Cornet 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to earn Russia the semifinal spot.

“I’m so happy and so proud of myself,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “It was an incredible match. It was very good tennis but the more important was the amazing fighting spirit from both of us.”

After dropping the first set, the Russian broke Cornet in the opening games of the following two sets to improve her record against her 59th-ranked opponent to 7-1, hitting 34 winners on the way.

After the 2019 champion was upset by outsider Canada 2-1 in its opener on Monday, France needed to beat Russia 3-0 to advance.

Last year’s edition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 12 teams in the finals are divided into four groups of three teams in a new format of the competition. Only the group winners advance to Friday’s semifinals.

Earlier, Clara Burel kept France alive, winning the opening singles.

The 77th-ranked Burel upset Ekaterina Alexandrova, ranked 32nd, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for her first victory over a top-50 player in her singles debut in the competition.

The Russian hit 34 winners but also produced 44 unforced errors before double-faulting on Burel’s fourth match point.

“It’s very special. It was the first match for my country and I was very happy to be able to win today,” the 20-year old Burel said. The Russians also won the doubles for a 2-1 overall win.

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Chicago Bears QB Andy Dalton could miss additional time because of knee injury

Justin Fields made his first NFL start Sunday for the Chicago Bears, and there is an opportunity the rookie quarterback could get the starting nod for another game or two.

Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, who was out Sunday with a bone bruise on his left knee, could miss an additional week or two depending on how quickly he recovers, league sources told ESPN.

Dalton has a bone bruise from his femur and tibia colliding, according to a source. Dalton did not suffer damage to any cartilage or ligaments and does not need surgery, but his return will be determined by how quickly the bone bruise heals.

The Bears have not placed Dalton on injured reserve, which would mandate that the 11-year veteran miss at least three matches. There is hope within the organization that Dalton will return sooner than that three-week threshold.

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Bears coach Matt Nagy stated this past week that Dalton would remain Chicago’s starter when healthy.

The franchise entered the season planning to stick with Dalton as long as possible, allowing Fields time to grow during his rookie year.

Fields, who Chicago selected with the No. 11 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, stated Wednesday that he is ready to start Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns, emphasizing that he has been “preparing for this moment for a long time.”

Dalton, who turns 34 next month, suffered the knee injury last Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals after landing awkwardly on the Chicago sideline following a scramble.

His left knee appeared to buckle, and the three-time Pro Bowler immediately pointed to Fields to enter the game. Fields went 6-for-13 passing for 60 yards with an interception and rushed 10 times for 31 yards versus the Bengals. He threw two passes, both completions, in a Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

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Wales’ Giggs steps back from international side following arrest for alleged assault

The Wales Football Association has confirmed that Ryan Giggs will not be involved in the squad’s upcoming international camp after he was arrested by police on Sunday following a disturbance at his home relating a woman.

While Giggs has denied all allegations of assault, the Wales FA said in a statement that it was “mutually agreed” he wouldn’t be involved as the squad prepares for its international matches, which includes a clash versus the USMNT on Nov. 12.

“The Football Association of Wales and Ryan Giggs have mutually agreed that he will not be involved in the upcoming international camp,” the statement said.

“Our agreed immediate priority is preparing the team for the upcoming international matches. Robert Page, with Ryan’s support, will take charge for the next three matches against the USA, Republic of Ireland and Finland supported by Albert Stuivenberg.”

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Former Manchester United winger Giggs, 46, was due to announce his Wales squad on Tuesday ahead of the international break but the appearance was cancelled following allegations of a disturbance at his home.

“Mr Giggs denies all allegations of assault made against him,” Giggs’ representatives told ESPN. “He is cooperating with the police and will continue to assist them with their ongoing investigations.”

Giggs has been released on bail while enquiries are ongoing.

“Police were called at 10.05 p.m. GMT (6.45 p.m. ET) on Nov. 1, 2020 to reports of a disturbance at an address in Worsley,” a spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police stated.

“A woman in her 30s sustained minor injuries but did not require any treatment. “A 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of section 47 assault and section 39 common assault. He has since been bailed pending further enquiries. Enquiries are ongoing.”

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