Tagged in: open

Naomi Osaka, ‘just happy to be here,’ posts first-round victory at Australian Open; Coco Gauff upset by Wang Qiang

Defending champion Naomi Osaka posted a relatively trouble-free 6-3, 6-3 triumph on Monday over Camila Osorio in the first round of the Australian Open.

Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, won at Rod Laver Arena and did so by taking the first five games of the match, before Osorio finally scratched one out herself.

Osaka will take on Madison Brengle — the American player defeated Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-1, 0-6, 5-0, ret. — in the second round as she looks to build some momentum for what could be a lengthy tournament run.

The former No. 1 player in the world, Osaka slid down the rankings last year after taking time off following her withdrawal at the French Open.

She is seeded 13th at the Australian Open, where she won in 2019 and 2021.

“It always feels special to come back here,” she said after Sunday’s victory.

The early success seems promising for Osaka, as Osorio is ranked 50th in the world but was making her main draw debut at Melbourne Park.

“I thought she played amazing,” Osaka said of her opponent. “Overall, I’m just happy to be here, I’m happy to see everybody in the audience, and I hope we gave you a great performance.”

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After winning here last year, capturing her second Australian Open title in three years, Osaka pulled out of the 2021 French Open before the second round then sat out Wimbledon. She played at the Tokyo Olympics, where she lit the cauldron, but ended her 2021 season early after a third-round loss and a teary news conference at the US Open.

Two of her goals for 2022, she stated last week, were to stay completely composed on the court and off, and to enjoy the game.

The first test of Osaka’s new approach to tennis might have been when she completely whiffed on an overhead to give her opponent a break point. Osaka didn’t chuck her racket. She didn’t roll her eyes. She smiled.

“There are situations where I previously would get upset. But at this point in my life, like, I’m here because I want to be here and because I find that it’s fun for me,” Osaka said. “Might as well enjoy it while I still can.”

Elsewhere on the women’s side, China’s Wang Qiang secured her first victory over a top-20 player since defeating Serena Williams at Melbourne Park in 2020 after upsetting 18th-seeded Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2.

It was Wang’s first victory on tour since last year’s French Open, where she beat Su-Wei Hsieh in the first round before losing to Gauff in the second.

Gauff saved four match points from 5-0 down on Monday, but that was the only good news in a match in which the American made 38 unforced errors.

“You know I lost two times against her last year, so I just tried my best to focus on court,” Wang said.

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Emma Raducanu ‘optimistic’ to find new coach before Australian Open

U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu stated on Sunday she is “optimistic” about finding a new coach before the Australian Open starts in January and will be relying on her own instincts at this week’s Transylvania Open in Romania.

Raducanu, who stunned the sporting world when she won the Flushing Meadows title in September as a qualifier, revealed after the Grand Slam that she would no longer be working with former Davis Cup player Andrew Richardson.

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The 18-year-old confirmed reports she had a trial last week with Johanna Konta’s former coach Esteban Carril among others as she continues her search for a mentor to guide her during the next phase of her career.

Raducanu has travelled to Cluj-Napoca with physiotherapist Will Herbert, agent Chris Helliar and her father Ian, who is Romanian.

“I am feeling optimistic about trying to have something in place for the off-season and the Australian Open. No, I haven’t decided on the coach. But things are moving forward,” Raducanu stated.

“I think having a coach is great, but you are on your own on the court. I don’t think it is great to be dependent. You need to coach yourself. That is something I am learning.

“Part of the experience I am having is being able to learn to coach myself. Sometimes it won’t always work, like in Indian Wells, but in the long-term if I keep doing that then I will be better in the situations in the future.”

The Transylvania Open started on Monday and was held without spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Romanian government.

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Andy Murray battles to European Open win against Frances Tiafoe

Andy Murray applauded adversary Frances Tiafoe off the court after saving two match points before winning an epic three-set encounter lasting three hours and 45 minutes at the European Open in Antwerp on Tuesday.

Murray, who suffered a second round defeat to Tiafoe at the Winston-Salem Open in August, showed how far he has come in the last couple of months as he gained revenge with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) triumph.

The two-time Wimbledon champion will at least get a day off before returning to face second seed Diego Schwartzman on Thursday.

“I don’t think I’ve played a match like that. I think it’s the longest three-set match that I’ve ever played by quite a distance,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “I’m tired right now. It was an unbelievable battle.

“He kept coming up with brilliant serves and great shots when I was getting chances.

“My body is old now, I’ve played a lot of matches on the tour so I don’t mind playing long matches but that was taking it to another level.” Murray enjoyed a dream run in Belgium’s port city two years ago for his first title following hip surgery.

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He looked on course for a first-round victory when he came through a 78-minute first set in which he found himself 1-2, 5-6 and a set point down before prevailing in a tie-break.

The second set was even longer at one hour and 21 minutes and although the former world No 1 showed his battling qualities, saving five set points, world No 48 Tiafoe finally took his opportunity at the sixth attempt with a crushing forehand half-volley.

Murray and Tiafoe traded breaks of serve midway through the decider, which was inevitably settled in a final-set tie-break.

The American failed to take his two match points permitting world No 172 Murray to get the job done with a brilliant drop shot.

Murray added: “It’s just so nice to be back playing in front of crowds again and it’s so important for events like this to get crowd support at the beginning of the week.

“I’ll use my day off tomorrow to try and rest and hopefully be okay for Thursday.”

Jenson Brooksby continued his good form with a 6-4 6-4 victory versus fifth seed Reilly Opelka, while San Diego-native Brandon Nakashima also impressed in a 6-4 6-0 win against sixth seed Alex de Minaur.

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Novak Djokovic pulls out of BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is the latest big-name tennis player to drop out of the BNP Paribas Open set for next month in the Southern California desert.

“I am sorry I won’t get to see my fans in Indian Wells and play in the desert, my favorite place to go,” he tweeted Wednesday.

Djokovic came up one triumph short of claiming all four Grand Slam titles this year, losing in the US Open final earlier this month. He acquired the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles.

Djokovic joins women’s No. 1 Ash Barty in skipping the tournament featuring the combined men’s and women’s tours. It will be played Oct. 4-17, a switch from its usual March date on the calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Emma Raducanu, the surprise U.S. Open women’s winner, received a wild card into the event.

Also in the women’s field are teenagers Leylah Fernandez, the US Open runner-up, and Coco Gauff.

Also out of the event are former winners Naomi Osaka and Roger Federer, who is recovering from knee surgery in August.

His withdrawal means there will definitely be a first-time winner on the men’s side in this year’s BNP Paribas Open. Along with Djokovic, Federer and Nadal, the only other active players to have won in Indian Wells are Juan Martin del Potro and defending champion Dominic Thiem, both of whom are not in the field due to injuries. 

Without Djokovic, Russian Daniil Medvedev, the second-ranked player in the world, is expected to be the top seed at Indian Wells. Alexander Zverev of Germany, who collected the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, will also be among the favorites.

The two of them, along with third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas and fifth-ranked Andrey Rublev round out the likely top four seeds in the men’s draw.

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Naomi Osaka upset in second round of Western & Southern Open by No. 76 Jil Teichmann

Naomi Osaka’s first WTA tour appearance since the French Open in late May did not last long.

The second-ranked Osaka sprayed balls all over the court in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 loss to No. 76 Jil Teichmann on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open.

Osaka repeatedly punched her left thigh with her left wrist and talked loudly to herself, trying to get herself going, but she was impassive as she shook hands at the net with the exuberant Teichmann.

Meanwhile, top-ranked Ash Barty rolled through the first 10 games of her match with defending champion Victoria Azarenka in a 6-0, 6-2 victory to reach the women’s quarterfinals.

“I think sometimes the scoreline in tennis can fool you,” Barty said. “Though it seemed like a quite convincing scoreline in the match, each and every game had crucial points and I was able to win most of those.”

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Former tournament women’s champion Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Jessica Pegula. Olympic champion and third-seeded Alexander Zverev also moved on, defeating Guido Pella 6-2, 6-3, while Roland Garros-finalist and second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas was pushed by Lorenzo Sonego to three sets before prevailing, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Medvedev bounced back up after a nasty fall early in the second set and went on to close out the win.

“You can’t see this on video, but my racket got between my legs and hit the back of my calf,” Medvedev said. “I don’t know how that happens. I actually have a bruise on my calf. A bruise is a bruise. It’s nothing serious.”

The second-ranked Russian, the winner last week in Toronto, won when Dimitrov double-faulted on match point. Medvedev has been on the court for only 2 hours, 28 minutes while winning his first two matches in consecutive sets after a first-round bye.

Medvedev is the first player not named Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray to crack the top two since July 18, 2005. Injuries and other issues kept Djokovic, Federer and Nadal from competing this year.

While his matches have been short, Medvedev feels winning will go a long way. “The more matches I can win in these two tournaments that are similar to New York, the more confidence you have,” he said.

“Confidence is the big key. It’s good coming there knowing that you’re capable of playing good. Now, I know it’s possible. A Grand Slam is a Grand Slam. They’re tough. Opponents want to beat you. You hope you show your best tennis.”

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Cavaliers to open facility for workouts friday

The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to reopen their practice facility on a limited basis Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic, a team spokesman told the New York Times’ Marc Stein.

Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, who first stated the news, noted that the NBA set Friday as the date that teams in cities with softened stay-at-home orders can start to open their facilities under strict guidelines.

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and the team’s medical staff reportedly advised players during Zoom calls Wednesday that the facility will open back up for individual workouts. While the Cavs are reopening, Fedor reported that not all teams are going to follow suit even if they are located in areas in which opening their facilities would be permitted.

Everyone who has access to the practice facility will have to adhere to strict protocol upon arriving at the building.

Per Fedor, those attempting to enter will get their temperature taken and have to answer questions about how they’re feeling, where they’ve been and who they’ve been around.

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA has told teams not to test asymptomatic players for COVID-19. Instead, the league has given teams with updated information on cardiac screening for players if needed.

Under the guidelines, a maximum of four players can be in the facility at any given time, and they must be socially distant from one another. Also, everyone in the building must wear masks at all times, with the exception of the players during physical activity.

While head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his primary assistants won’t be allowed to participate in the workouts, players will be permitted to have developmental coaches present if they desire, per Fedor.

The Cavs will reportedly break down their workouts into two-hour windows from Monday through Thursday, with players able to work on the court and in the weight room.

The reopening of some practice facilities is the first of many steps toward potentially resuming the 2019-20 season, which was suspended in March after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

No specific plans are in place for when and under what circumstances the season could restart, but there were well over 200 total regular-season games left to be played plus the playoffs.

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NBA to open practice facilities

The NBA will reportedly allow teams to open their practice facilities again beginning on May 1, more than six weeks after it suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams will be allowed to re-open those facilities only if their respective local governments have eased stay-at-home orders, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There were more than 926,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and millions of Americans are still under some form of a stay-at-home order — many of which have been extended past May 1. 

Teams will not be authorized to require players to work out at their facilities, but rather will let them do so on a voluntary basis.

No organized team activities or group workouts will be allowed, either.

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While some markets will have lifted or significantly loosened stay-at-home restrictions by that date, many will still be implemented past that date — including both New York teams and the four California franchises. The NBA, per Wojnarowski, will work with teams unable to open their facilities directly in order to make sure every player has the opportunity to safely practice again.

Many players had been asking their teams about traveling to Georgia to workout, too, per the report. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed certain businesses in the state to re-open this week — a decision that has drawn criticism, even from President Donald Trump — including gyms. The league, however, made it clear it doesn’t want players working out at public fitness centers there.

Though it appears that this is the first step to resuming the season in some form, the league is “still unsure” when it will play again, if at all, per Wojnarowski.  NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that the league is “not in a position to make any decisions” about what the rest of the season may look like, but that “everything is on the table.”

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Tom Brady open to new home in free agency

Tom Brady is not likely to return to the New England Patriots, the team he has led to six Super Bowl titles over 20 seasons, according to multiple reports.

The 42-year-old can leave the Patriots as a free agent in the coming months, and ESPN and The Athletic both stated that Brady will not return to New England.

Under NFL rules Brady would not be able to enter talks with other teams until 16 March. According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, Brady is also open to talking to the Patriots about extending his career in New England, but that does not ensure he will stay.

One reason why the Patriots and Brady haven’t had any contract discussions is the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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Once that is known, Belichick and Brady can discuss everything, including how a contract could be structured.

“Without knowing about the CBA, that talk can’t happen,” one source told Schefter.

Brady endured a disappointing season by his high standards in 2019.

He threw for 24 touchdowns, his lowest total in a full campaign since 2006, although he was hampered by a lack of support from his receiving corps and offensive line. The Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the wildcard round of the playoffs.

Brady, who turns 43 in August, is a three-time NFL MVP and four-time Super Bowl MVP. He has led the league in touchdown passes four times and is one of only four quarterbacks to throw for more than 70,000 yards.

A number of teams have been linked with Brady, if he does leave the Patriots. They include the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers.

He has said in the past that he is capable of playing well into his mid-40s and beyond.

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