Tagged in: streak

No. 1 Iga Swiatek tops Ons Jabeur in women’s US Open final to win third major title

As good as she’s been this year, Iga Swiatek came to the US Open unsure of what to expect.

She complained that women use different, slightly lighter, tennis balls than men do at Flushing Meadows, where she’d never been past the fourth round. She was trying to grow accustomed to the noise and distractions, the hustle and bustle, of the Big Apple. And she arrived with a record of just 4-4 since her 37-match winning streak ended in July.

None of that matters now. Cementing her status as her sport’s new dominant figure by winning what is expected to be the last tournament of Serena Williams’ career, the No. 1-ranked Swiatek outplayed No. 5 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 7-6 (5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to claim her first championship at the US Open and third Grand Slam title overall.

“It’s something that I wasn’t expecting, for sure. It’s also like a confirmation for me that the sky’s the limit,” said Swiatek, who is 55-7 in tour-level matches with seven trophies in 2022, both best in the WTA. “I’m proud. Also surprised little bit.”

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She acknowledged harboring concerns about the US Open after a couple of shaky showings at hard-court tune-up tournaments.

It turned out OK: She is the first top-seeded woman to earn the US Open since 23-time major champion Williams in 2014.

“I feel like on court, I can just do my job,” Swiatek said, “and I’m happy about it, that I kind of can make these doubts go away.”

Swiatek, like Jabeur, travels with a sports psychologist, and it took some fortitude to finish this one off. At 6-5 in the second set, Swiatek held her first championship point. Right before Jabeur served, Swiatek jogged over to the sideline to change rackets — an unusual choice at that moment.

When action resumed, Swiatek missed a backhand. That could have been tough to recover from. Indeed, Jabeur pushed things to the tiebreaker, which she then led 5-4. But Swiatek steeled herself, took the last three points and soon was accepting the silver trophy and a $2.6 million winner’s check, joking: “I’m really glad that is not in cash.”

The 21-year-old from Poland won the French Open for the second time in June and is the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to collect two major titles in a single season.

“She’s really set the bar very high. It’s great for our sport,” said Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia who will rise to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.

She is the first African woman and first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final and was participating in her second in a row. But she is 0-2 at that stage, being the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

“Definitely, I’m not someone that’s going to give up,” said Jabeur whose support team wore black shirts with white writing that read “Yalla Habibi,” Arabic for “Let’s go, my love!” “I am sure,” she added, “I’m going to be in the final again.”

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Los Angeles Angels fire Joe Maddon; Phil Nevin named interim manager

Over the past couple of days, while his team navigated through a mystifying losing streak that still has not ceded, Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian started to think a change at manager might be necessary.

On Tuesday morning, as he drove into Angel Stadium after watching his daughter receive an award for her second-grade class, Minasian became convinced that it was time to let Joe Maddon go.

He called Angels owner Arte Moreno, received his blessing, then later drove to Maddon’s house to inform him he had been fired.

Thirty-two months ago, in October 2019, Maddon’s return to the organization he came up with was marked with celebration.

Now, on the heels of a 12-game losing streak that tarnished the Angels’ remarkable start, it’s over in swift, sudden fashion.

“It’s tough,” Minasian stated during a news conference at Angel Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. “Disappointed it’s come to this. I really like the man. It’s somebody I’m gonna talk to the rest of my life. Just the conversations daily. Who he is, what he’s about. You guys were around him — the energy he brings, how consistent he is on a daily basis. It’s tough. It’s tough. But you gotta be able to take emotion out of things and make decisions. I’ve taken the emotion out of it and taken a step back. Looking at where I’m at, as tough of a decision as it is, I felt like it was the right thing to do.”

Phil Nevin, the longtime corner infielder who joined the Angels coaching staff this year, will manage the team in the interim and will remain in that role through the end of the season, Minasian said. Mike Gallego will replace Nevin as the team’s third-base coach.

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The Angels, coming off getting shut out by Michael Wacha and the Boston Red Sox on Monday night, sit at 27-29 despite boasting a 27-17 record just two weeks earlier.

The 12-game losing streak ties the longest for a single season in franchise history and is tied for the second longest since 1900 by a team that was at least 10 games over .500 entering the streak, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. During that 12-game stretch, the Angels had a minus-43 run differential, a .596 OPS and a 6.31 ERA.

“There hasn’t been one phase of the game where we’ve been good,” said Minasian, whose team finds itself 1½ games out of a playoff spot despite an expanded field.

“We’ve struggled on the mound, we’ve struggled at the plate, we’ve struggled defensively, we’ve struggled baserunning. The one thing I will say is the effort’s been great. I believe in this group. I know we’ve gone through a tough stretch, but we have 106 games left. And I’m excited about the 106 games.”

Maddon, 68, was in his third season with the organization he previously spent four decades with as a player and as a coach, largely in the minor leagues.

Maddon was Mike Scioscia’s bench coach on the team that won the 2002 World Series, then went on to a highly successful nine-year run with the low-budget Tampa Bay Rays, with whom he won two of this three manager of the year awards. In 2016, he led the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series championship in more than 100 years.

But it never quite clicked with the Angels.

The team concluded the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season with a 26-34 record, missing the postseason in a year when 16 teams made it. The Angels enjoyed a historic two-way season by Shohei Ohtani in 2021, but prolonged absences by Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon sent them to a sixth consecutive losing season.

They started 2022 with a dominant first month and a half but are suddenly in danger of missing the postseason for the eighth consecutive season.

In an interview with The Athletic shortly after his firing was announced, Maddon expressed surprise at the decision.

“You always rely on people in charge to read the tea leaves properly. This time, they did not,” Maddon told The Athletic, adding that he wants to continue managing.

“You can ask any of the players or coaches. They’re the ones who really know. Perry was in a tough spot. I understand that. Let me put it that way. I would really rely on the sentiments of the coaches and the players.”

Maddon added that he had what he considered to be a good working relationship with Minasian and that his relationship with the players and coaches “could not have been better.”

Nevin becomes the third Angels manager since the end of Scioscia’s 19-year run in 2018. Minasian, a longtime executive for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, is the team’s fourth full-time GM since Bill Stoneman ended his nine-year run in 2007.

Since being brought in at the start of the 2021 season, Minasian has been given the freedom to make major decisions in a manner that wasn’t afforded to prior executives such as Billy Eppler and Jerry Dipoto.

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Iga Swiatek routs Daria Kasatkina to reach French Open final

Iga Swiatek continued her march toward a second French Open title in three years when she wrecked Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 to reach the final and tie Serena Williams for the second-longest winning streak of this century.

Swiatek’s 34th win in a row puts her one victory from winning her second Roland Garros title and matching Venus Williams for the longest streak on the tour since 2000.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, has not lost since February and has dropped only two sets in her past four tournaments.

“I’m just trying to treat these matches as any other matches,” Swiatek said, “because it is stressful, and I accept that. But I want to keep doing the same work.”

The world No. 1 conceded an early break Thursday, but from 2-2 in the opener, Swiatek dropped only three points the rest of the first set, using her heavy forehand, quick-strike ability and all-court excellence to seize control with a five-game run.

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She then won the last nine points and clinched the triumph with her only ace of the 64-minute match.

The 20th-seeded Kasatkina, a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist, has two career wins over reigning No. 1 players but hit 24 unforced errors to Swiatek’s 13. Swiatek concluded with 22 winners, more than twice as many as Kasatkina’s 10.

She will meet American teenager Coco Gauff, the 18th seed, who defeated Italy’s Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1, in Saturday’s final.

“From what I see on court, she’s developing every year, basically,” said Swiatek of Gauff. “And when I see her, I tend to forget that she’s 18.”

With a win, Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday, would become only the fourth woman in the Open era (since 1968) to win multiple French Open titles at age 21 or younger, joining Monica Seles (who won three), Steffi Graf and Chris Evert.

Swiatek again played with a ribbon in the colors of the Ukrainian flag pinned to her hat while facing her Russian adversary. Swiatek improved to 41-3 this season, with four of the wins coming against Kasatkina.

She has now won her past 13 contests against foes in the top 20 in the WTA rankings, conceding one set along the way.

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Torres hit in 9th, Yanks win 10th in row, beat Blue Jays 3-2

Gleyber Torres homered early, then hit a go-ahead single in the ninth inning as the New York Yankees earned their 10th consecutive game, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 Monday night.

Giancarlo Stanton singled off Yimi Garcia (0-2) to start the New York ninth, ending a streak of four perfect innings by Blue Jays relievers. Pinch-runner Tim Locastro stole second, but Josh Donaldson grounded out and Aaron Hicks struck out before Torres lined a single to center field.

Clay Holmes (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Chad Green worked a perfect ninth for his first save in three chances.

Torres opened the scoring with a two-out, two-run drive off Ross Stripling in the fourth, his third homer of the season.

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The Yankees won for the 12th time in 13 games and improved their MLB-leading record to 17-8.

The Blue Jays dropped to 9-3 in one-run games.

New York put runners at the corners with one out in the third but Stripling struck out Aaron Judge and got Anthony Rizzo to fly out. Judge had homered in his past three games, and had hit five home runs in his previous five games.

Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery faced the minimum through three innings but the Blue Jays tied it in the bottom of the fourth. George Springer singled and scored on Bo Bichette’s RBI double. Bichette advanced on a fly ball and later scored on Matt Chapman’s two-out single.

Chapman struck out against Jonathan Loáisiga to end the sixth, stranding Bichette at third.

Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk drew a leadoff walk against reliever Miguel Castro in the seventh and Tyler Heineman hit a two-out double, but Holmes came on and got Springer to ground out.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit back-to-back singles off Holmes in the eighth but Chapman grounded into an inning-ending double play, Toronto’s third of the game.

Montgomery gave up two runs and six hits in five-plus innings. He walked none and struck out five. Stripling permitted two runs and five hits in four innings. He walked none and struck out three.

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Taylor Fritz ends Rafael Nadal’s 20-match win streak with win at Indian Wells

Hours from playing in the biggest final of his young career, Taylor Fritz was in severe pain. The prospect of having to withdraw versus Rafael Nadal nearly had him in tears.

His coach urged him not to risk potentially damaging his sore ankle further. Fritz stubbornly refused to bow out.

His faith in himself paid off. Fritz upset Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (5) Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open and snap the 21-time major champion’s 20-match winning streak this year.

“It was a complete nonissue, didn’t feel it at all, didn’t hinder me at all,” said Fritz, who tweaked his ankle late in his semifinal victory over No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev.

Blue medical tape could be seen above his high sock and he had it numbed before the final. Nadal had his own health issue. He came into the match bothered by painful breathing that he first experienced in a three-set semifinal win.

He took two medical timeouts during the final. The first one came after he lost the first set. Nadal went inside with a trainer after tapping his upper left chest. He received treatment on court after falling behind 5-4 in the second set.

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“When I try to breathe, it’s painful and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s like a needle all the time inside. I get dizzy a little bit because it’s painful. It’s a kind of pain that limit me a lot,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June.

“The thing that worries me now, it’s about what’s going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long it’s going to take.”

Nadal’s 20-0 start to the year included the Australian Open, his 21st major championship that broke a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. He also won titles in Melbourne and Acapulco.

“Of course, the last two months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional,” Nadal said. “I enjoy things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.”

Fritz didn’t waste any time in attacking Nadal, racing to a 5-1 lead in the first set with two breaks. Nadal got a break back in closing to 5-3, but his backhand error gave Fritz another break and the set.

“It’s an honor to even be on the same court as this guy,” Fritz told the crowd. “I grew up watching this guy win everything.”

Nadal fought off a match point on his serve with a forehand winner to tie the second set 5-all. He had two break points on Fritz’s serve in the next game, but the American held for a 6-5 lead. Nadal held to force the tiebreaker.

Nadal sent two straight forehands well wide to set up Fritz’s second match point.

Another Nadal error sent Fritz to the biggest victory of his career not far from where he grew up near San Diego. Fritz’s parents, Guy Fritz and Kathy May, are former tour players.

“He told me that I was going to win this tournament one day when I was a little kid,” Fritz said. “It was pretty tough not being emotional with my parents, especially my dad. He was just really, really proud of me. It’s really tough to get a compliment out of him.”

Fritz dropped his racket and collapsed on his back after clinching the title on his second match point. He got up smiling with a look of disbelief on his face. He became the first American man to win Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001.

“I just kept telling myself there’s no reason why I can’t win this,” Fritz said.

Fritz is projected to rise from No. 20 to a career-high 13th in Monday’s ATP Tour rankings and will become the top-ranked American player. Nadal moves up to No. 3.

Nadal had already decided to skip next week’s tournament in Miami and head home to Spain to prepare for the French Open, which starts May 22.

Fritz is scheduled for a MRI on his ankle Monday and isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to play in Miami.

The Miami Open started on Monday. Daniil Medvedev is among the notables who are playing on the men’s side, as well as Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini. Hubert Hurkacz won the event last year.

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LeBron James, thrilled to be ‘able to play basketball,’ steers Los Angeles Lakers to victory in return

LeBron James picked things back up right where he left them, continuing his offensive surge with 29 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 122-115 overtime victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday following a five-game absence with swelling in his left knee.

“After the first quarter, the knee loosened up a lot more,” James said after accompanying the points with 13 rebounds and 10 assists to notch his 103rd career triple-double. “My mind loosened up a lot more. And I was just able to play basketball. But just excited to be back in the uniform, back on the floor with my guys. Missed them, missed the game. I was happy I was able to make a few plays and help us win a ballgame.”

Los Angeles went 1-4 without him and his return initially didn’t seem to do much to impact that trend as the Knicks led 42-29 after the first quarter. But James, who stated he “didn’t feel that great” during his pregame warmup as he attempted to play a game for the first time in a week and a half, got it going and so did his team, coming back from as many as 21 points, accounting for the franchise’s biggest comeback since December 2015.

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“It’s a hell of a return,” said Anthony Davis who put up 28 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. “He’s doing LeBron-type things. Expected nothing less from him. Efficient from the field. S—, he did what he’s supposed to do. He helped us, for sure. So, I missed him. He’s a big part of our team with his voice, his leadership, play-making ability. And he came back and showed it.”

James extended his streak of scoring 25-plus points to 19 games, the second longest streak of that nature of his 19-year career.

He played 39 minutes and 55 seconds on Saturday, which Lakers coach Frank Vogel admitted was more than he wanted to play the 37-year old in his first game back.

“He’s incredible,” Vogel said. “I guess the time off served him well. We didn’t want to play him 39 minutes and obviously the overtime impacted that, but just played a great basketball game. His defensive competitive spirit and IQ is everything to us and the way he scores the basketball in all ways and the way he sets up teammates it’s just, it’s rare and he was special tonight. Just a great performance.”

While James was out, one of his professional athlete peers, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retired after 22 seasons in the NFL.

“I personally was just so in shock when I saw it … as a guy who’s kind of been my motivation factor over the last few years, seeing what he’s able to do at his age and always kind of being a leader of a team and even at his age people still gravitate towards him and gravitate towards his energy and how he prepares and things of that nature,” James said. “So, a small piece of me definitely left when Brady decided to retire, that’s for sure.”

James has one more season on his deal with the Lakers, that will take him through 20 seasons in the NBA.

Even at this stage of his career, there’s no disputing his importance to the Lakers. He was a plus-12 in the minutes he appeared on the court, and he played all but one minute and 29 seconds of the fourth quarter and overtime to close things out.

“I mean obviously the computer — his ability to process and read offensively, it’s something that’s always missed,” Vogel said. “You miss him on both ends, but I would say in this situation, late game, that’s where you miss him the most.”

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Jacksonville Jaguars end 20-game losing streak with last-second field goal

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 20-game losing streak has ended.

A 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday snapped the Jaguars’ skid, which was the second longest in NFL history.

It was the first time the team has won in 399 days, dating back to beating the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 season opener.

The Jaguars won on Matthew Wright’s 53-yard field goal as time expired, which was set up by a bit of a sneaky play on fourth-and-8. The Jaguars gave a look like they were going to throw a Hail Mary, but quarterback Trevor Lawrence completed a quick 9-yard pass to Laviska Shenault and a quick timeout set up Wright’s third field goal of the game.

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The Jaguars hadn’t made a field goal in the first five weeks of the season, but Wright made all three of his attempts Sunday.

The Jaguars have made all 15 field goal attempts they have tried in their eight matches in London.

Lawrence threw for 319 yards and one touchdown, Marvin Jones caught seven passes for 100 yards and one touchdown, and defensive end Josh Allen made a critical stop on a fourth-and-1 run that set up the Jaguars with the ball on the Miami 46-yard line for their final possession.

Lawrence is the first rookie quarterback to win a game in London; rookie QBs were 0-5 in London entering Sunday. His 319 passing yards are also the most by a rookie quarterback in London, beating the previous mark of 309 by former Jaguar Gardner Minshew in 2019.

The Jaguars won the 2020 season opener but lost their next 15 to close out the season — which ensured they would have the top pick in the draft, which they used on Lawrence — and then started this season 0-5.

That stretch of 20 consecutive losses was the second-longest losing streak in NFL history behind only the 26-game streak by the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers, however, were an expansion team in 1976.

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Phillies extend winning streak to 4 with 9-5 win over Nats

Rhys Hoskins homered and drove in three runs, Didi Gregorius hit a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies extended their winning streak to four matches with a 9-5 triumph over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

Philadelphia is 55-53 and two games over .500 for the first time since July 18, when it was 47-45. The Phillies started the day 1½ games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.

The Phillies erased an early 3-0 deficit and set up a chance for a four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon. Nationals reliever Jefry Rodriguez hit Hoskins with an up-and-in pitch in the top of the seventh. Hoskins motioned to the Phillies’ dugout, then looked at Rodriguez before going to first base.

Gregorius hit a 412-foot home run on the next pitch. Hoskins started yelling at Rodriguez before the ball cleared the fence, prompting Rodriguez to yell back.

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Philadelphia used four doubles to build a four-run fourth inning and take a 4-3 lead. 

Andrew Knapp, Travis Jankowski, Jean Segura, and Hoskins all doubled in the inning. Bryce Harper drove in a run with a single.

Hoskins hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, his 24th of the season.

Luis García and Carter Kieboom hit back-to-back homers against Philadelphia starter Chase Anderson in the second, giving Washington an early three-run lead.

Victor Robles’ first career leadoff homer came on Anderson’s first pitch Wednesday night. The homer was just the second of the season for Robles, a one-time top prospect who struggled in 2020 and is doing so again this season.

The Nationals are using the rest of the season to assess prospects, and also giving the 24-year-old Robles an opportunity to bat leadoff after mostly hitting ninth in his short career.

Anderson pitched three innings, permitted three earned runs on three hits (all homers), walked one, and struck out one.

García also homered in the seventh for his first career multi-homer game.

Matt Moore (1-3) picked up the win in relief. Washington starter Paolo Espino (3-3) allowed six earned in his five innings.

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