Bianca Andreescu was outplayed for extended stretches in her US Open semi-final on Thursday night against the resurgent Belinda Bencic.
But the 15th-seeded teenager from Ontario was able to find another level when it mattered most in a 7-6 (3), 7-5 victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium, conjuring her best shotmaking on the most important points to reach the final in her first ever appearance in the main draw here.
“I think when I’m down, I play my best tennis,” Andreescu said. “Whenever my back is against the wall, I think I’m just extra focused in those moments.”
Bencic, the No 13 seed from Switzerland, held comfortably throughout the opening set without facing a break point, while Andreescu was made to labor through her service games, saving all six break chances she faced including a set point at 4-5, only to run away with the tie-breaker in smash-and-grab fashion.
Then after falling behind 2-5 in the second, Andreescu won the last five games on the trot to race across the finish line after two hours and 12 minutes, becoming the first US Open debutante to reach the final since Venus Williams in 1997 and only the second Canadian woman to make it this far at any major.
“I’ve always dreamt of this moment ever since I was a little kid,” said Andreescu, who struck 40 winners including seven aces to 38 unforced errors. “But I don’t think many people would have actually thought that it would become a reality.”
Certainly not 52 weeks ago when Andreescu was ranked 208th in the world after a first-round loss in the US Open qualifying draw. But she’s won 32 of 36 matches in a remarkable breakout season, capturing titles at Indian Wells and Toronto while surging up to No 15 in the rankings. It’s been more than six months since she lost a completed match.
Now the indefatigable 19-year-old from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga is one win from a first major championship in only her fourth main-draw appearance at a grand slam and can eclipse a record held by Maria Sharapova, who broke through at 2004 Wimbledon in her seventh attempt.
It won’t be easy.
Andreescu, who is the first man or woman born in the 2000s to reach a final at one of the sport’s four bedrock events, advances to face six-time US Open champion Serena Williams, the No 8 seed who brushed aside Elina Svitolina in Thursday night’s first match and will be taking a fourth crack at moving level with Margaret Court atop the all-time grand slam leaderboard.
A triumph for the precocious Canadian would also be notable given that women’s tennis is hardly the province of prodigies and starlets it once was: Not since Sharapova won the 2006 US Open aged 19 has a teenager captured a major title.
The nearly 19 years between Andreescu and Williams is the largest age difference ever in a women’s grand slam final, eclipsing the previous mark set by 1991 US Open finalists Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles, who were born 17 years and 45 days apart. The pair met once before in last month’s Toronto final when Williams retired with a back injury trailing 1-3 after just 19 minutes.
“Having those four games against her I think is going to help me on Saturday,” said Andreescu, who is unbeaten in seven career matches against opponents ranked in the top 10.
Bencic, who was bidding to become only the second Swiss woman to reach a major final after her longtime mentor Martina Hingis, played a cleaner and steadier baseline game throughout the first set in the grand slam semi-final debut for both players, forcing Andreescu to fight off break points in the fourth, sixth and 10th games. But the 22-year-old lost her nerve in the tie-breaker, making her first double fault of the night followed by a glut of unforced errors to gift Andreescu the opener.
“It wasn’t easy at all,” Andreescu said. “She hits the ball really hard and really flat I think every shot. My knees were to the ground. It wasn’t too fun playing her. That’s what makes her such a great player.”
She added: “But the main reason I won today I think is because I just kept fighting. I never let up.”
The world No 12 was able recollect and break Andreescu in her opening service game of the second, then a second time for 4-1. But the highest ranked teenager on the tour found a vein of form as her opponent came apart, keeping Bencic off rhythm with a clever mix of angles, slices, high balls and drop shots and breaking three times as many return games to close the show, reports The Guardian.
Ronaldo strikes again as Juve extend Serie A lead
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring as Juventus beat visiting Bologna 2-1 on Saturday to move four points clear at the top of the Serie A table.
Ronaldo struck from close range after 19 minutes, but Danilo levelled for the visitors soon afterwards.
Miralem Pjanic profited from a defensive mix-up to net Juve’s winner after the break, reports Reuters.
Bologna were then denied an equaliser by the crossbar and a superb Gianluigi Buffon save in stoppage time.
The result stretched Juve’s winning run to five matches in all competitions and continued Maurizio Sarri’s unbeaten start as their coach.
The champions are top on 22 points but second-placed Inter Milan can cut their lead to one point with victory at Sassuolo on Sunday.
Ronaldo reached the landmark of 700 career goals while on international duty with Portugal on Monday and made it 701 at the Allianz Stadium as he beat his marker and fired in at the near post.
Bologna travelled to Turin with just one victory against Juve in their last 31 attempts, but they levelled through Danilo midway through the first half when the Brazilian defender smashed in a half-volley.
Pjanic restored the hosts’ lead after 54 minutes as he capitalised on chaotic defending from Bologna to pounce on a loose ball and sweep a shot into the corner.
The visitors nearly equalised in the dying minutes when substitute Federico Santander’s header came back off the bar before veteran goalkeeper Buffon acrobatically palmed over the striker’s overhead kick.
EPL: Ole’s gunner need a miracle against Liverpool
This afternoon Manchester United hosts league leaders Liverpool, with the Red Devils’ boss desperately needing a good performance in order to save his job, notes Tunde Sulaiman
ight months ago, the dark clouds gathering against the performance of Manchester United under celebrated coach, Jose Mourinho finally came to a head when the Red Devils made the trip to Anfield and were completely played off the park by Liverpool.
Forty-eight hours after the humiliation, the powers that be at Old Trafford gave the two-time Champions League winner the boot and within 24 hours surprised many by naming a former Red Devils’ legend in his place in the person of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
And this afternoon, the man named the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ during his playing days at Old Trafford, is not only facing the same opposition; but also finds himself in almost the same situation as his predecessor – apparently only one defeat away from becoming the latest ex-United manager.
Incidentally, Ole’s reign kicked off in stunning fashion, with his side racking up an eight-unbeaten run to boost the impression that the Old Trafford hierarchy had been spot on with their choice of coach.
However, the feel-good bounce wore off as soon as the Norwegian was named permanent manger on March 28 with the Red Devils, which had won 14 out of 19 matches before then, only winning five out of 17 games.
This campaign the malaise has refused to go away with United only winning only two of their eight matches to lie 12th on the table only two points above relegation – their worse start to a season in 30 years.
And although, United’s Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward has publically thrown his support behind the 46-year-old former striker, his position will come under more scrutiny should the Red Devils suffer a very heavy defeat today.
Considering the performance of both sides going into the clash, only an incorrigible optimist will bet on the home side getting anything out of this tie, especially when one remembers that going into the Anfield fixture last December United was in a much better shape and still ended up losing 3-1.
But then the beautiful thing about the “beautiful game” is its unpredictability and that is what most United fans will be banking on today more than form or any technical masterpiece from their manager.
After all daring to believe is not a crime as many fans know.
In fact on September 14, fans of newly promoted Norwich City had cause to enjoy such when their team defied all odds to beat champions Manchester City 3-2 while it was the turn of Wolves and their fans only a fortnight ago, when they became only the second side to beat the Citizens this season.
Wolves’ feat was all the more remarkable because going into the game they had been very poor after losing four games and hovering just three places above relegation and yet found their mojo at the right time to stun the runaway favourites at the Etihad Stadium.
This is exactly what United have to find from somewhere today if they are to avoid another very disquieting afternoon at old Trafford.
Unfortunately Ole’s cause is not helped by the crippling injuries to some of his more experienced players, with first choice keeper, David De Gea being the latest to join the list after limping off during Spain’s Euro 2020 qualifier draw with Sweden on Tuesday night, meaning that he will once again have to throw a number of the youngsters into the high stakes game, which has a lot riding on the outcome.
His opposite number, Jurgen Klopp has no such worries and is in fact even spoilt for choice as to the players he can use at the Theatre of Dreams.
Actually his side can set a new Premier League record should they avoid defeat against United today. The Reds are currently on a 17-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League – matching the landmark set by Rafael Benitez’s side in 2008.
A positive result against the Red Devils would extend that run to a record-breaking 18 matches, which includes every top-flight fixture this season plus the final one of last term.
The German will love nothing more than to extend the record by once again showing how wide the gulf between the two teams have grown since he took charge of the Reds in October 2015.
He will also want to end the unwanted record of having never won at Old Trafford with the Reds.
With the odds overwhelmingly stacked against Ole and his wards, there is only one conceivable outcome of the heavyweight clash today – but then, history is replete with instances of shock results.
And right now, that more than anything else is what millions of United fans will be banking on.
The final game of Week Nine comes up tomorrow night with Sheffield Wednesday having the arduous task of welcoming Arsenal to Hillsborough Stadium also hoping for a miracle to happen.
Zenith Bank Basketball: First Bank, Air Warriors record wins as competition takes shape
elta Force slumped to their first defeat at the ongoing Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8 with a 42-67pts loss to First Bank.
Delta Force tried all they could against First Bank but their offensive prowess was put under check from the determined First Bank players who had a total of 25 defensive rebounds.
Okoro Ifunanya with 14 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds and Regina Iornumbe with 14 points provided the platform on which the Elephant Girls built their success.
In the second game of the day which was a local derby between two Abuja based sides – Air Warriors defeated Black Gold Queens by 87-58points.
The score line did not reflect the stiff competition between the two sides due to the wastefulness of Black Gold ladies inside their opponent’s paint.
Experienced Blessing Kasham was the highest scorer for the Warriors with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
As expected, the game between MFM and Dolphins went down to the wire which was decided in the last few seconds of the game.
At the end of the third game of match day two at the ongoing 2019 Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8, Dolphins won 56-51 points in what seems to be a revenge following their bitter 1point loss at the conference phase in Ibadan.
With the victory, Dolphins have won their 2nd game on the trot as MFM continue the search for their first win of the 2019 Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8
Gbihi Cynthia once again came through for Dolphins with 17points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
Odiowei Susan managed 10points and 1 rebound for MFM which was not enough to secure a win.
It was a blow out for Custom as they recorded 69-34 points victory over Plateau Rocks in the last match of the day at the ongoing Zenith Bank Women Basketball League National Final 8.
Last group games will be decided on Sunday starting by 12noon.
EPL: City trounce Palace, Chelsea battle past Newcastle
hampions Manchester City narrowed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool with a comfortable victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Two weeks on from a surprise defeat by Wolves, Pep Guardiola’s side made a blistering start to proceedings but had to wait until the 39th minute for the breakthrough to arrive, as Gabriel Jesus met Bernardo Silva’s cross with a clever, flicked header.
It took just 93 seconds for David Silva to double the advantage, the Spaniard allowing Raheem Sterling’s delightful chipped pass to drop over his shoulder before volleying past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, reports the BBC.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have climbed into the top four of the English Premier League table courtesy of a hard fought 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
After an even opening 45 minutes, the Blues dominated the second half but had to wait until the 73rd minute for their breakthrough, which arrived courtesy of Marcos Alonso’s low strike.
Newcastle rarely looked like threatening Chelsea’s second clean sheet of the season as the hosts picked up their fifth successive win across all competitions – the best run of form in Frank Lampard’s fledging managerial career.
The Magpies held their own throughout a relatively uneventful first half, offering sporadic threats on the break and largely keeping Chelsea at bay despite the hosts enjoying the lion’s share of possession.
The best chances did fall to Lampard’s side, though, and Willian should have done better with the first of those when he was picked out by Callum Hudson-Odoi only to get his header all wrong and steer it off target.
Eagles B team beat Togo, fail to secure CHAN ticket
espite winning the second leg of the CHAN qualifier 2-0 against the Sparrow Hawks of Togo at the Agege Stadium, Lagos yesterday, the Super Eagles Team B failed to secure qualification for the competition scheduled for 2020 in Cameroon.
Nigeria lost the first leg 4-1 in Togo, but the Eagles lost the game 4-3 on aggregate.
Sikiru Alimi scored a brace in the game with a goal in each half.
The Eagles started the game with urgency and got the first goal as early as the eighth minute through Alimi.
Despite getting the early goal, the Eagles continued the onslaught but were undone with poor finishing and resolute defending by the Hawks.
Alimi and Ibrahim Sunusi missed some half chances as the first half ended 1-0 in the favour of the Super Eagles.
Nigeria started the second half like the first but failed to get the needed goals until the 72nd minute when Alimi completed his brace.
The Togolese continue to put men behind the ball to protect their advantage, while also resulting to time wasting leading to the referee giving 10 minutes of additional time.
Despite the additional time, the Eagles failed to get the third goal that will give them qualification.
Speaking after the game, the coach of the team, Imama Amapakabo, expressed his disappointment on the outcome of the game but happy with the input of his players.
Sancho dropped, fined by Dortmund
adon Sancho has reportedly been fined by Borussia Dortmund after returning back late from international duty with England.
The 19-year-old played in both of his national team’s Euro 2020 qualifiers over the international break – starting against the Czech Republic before entering as a second-half substitute against Bulgaria.
Sancho has been left out of the squad for Dortmund’s Bundesliga clash with Borussia Monchengladbach, though, and according to Sky Sports News, the attacker has also been fined for his late return.
The teenager has been in fine form for BVB this season – scoring four times and contributing seven assists in 11 appearances in all competitions for Lucien Favre’s side.
Manchester United continue to be linked with a move for the former Manchester City youngster, and it is thought that the Red Devils will attempt to complete a deal at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
Augsburg’s Finnbogason nets stoppage-time equaliser to shock Bayern
Augsburg’s Alfred Finnbogason scored a stoppage-time goal to snatch a 2-2 draw against a wasteful Bayern Munich on Saturday and deny them the top spot in the Bundesliga.
The Bavarians had only themselves to blame for failing to win for the second straight matchday, having squandered a bagful of chances and hit the woodwork in what was largely a one-sided affair against their lowly opponents.
Bayern remain in third place on 15 points but could drop further behind leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach, on 16, who play Borussia Dortmund later on Saturday.
VfL Wolfsburg remained second, also on 16, after Wout Weghorst scored an 82nd-minute equaliser that rescued a 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig, who are fourth on 15.
Schalke 04, on 14, can also overtake Bayern, if they beat Hoffenheim on Sunday.
Augsburg shocked Bayern with a goal after 28 seconds with Marco Richter volleying in from a Rani Khedira header.
To make matters worse, central defender Niklas Suele had to be taken off a little later after suffering what looked to be a knee injury.
Yet Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski continued his stellar scoring run to bring them level in the 14th minute.
He headed in a perfect Serge Gnabry cross for his 12th league goal. He has now scored in each of their eight league games to equal the record set by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang four years ago.
Gnabry, who also hit the post late in the first half, curled a superb left-footed low shot past Augsburg keeper Tomas Koubek in the 49th to give Bayern, who travel to Olympiakos in the Champions League next week, the lead.
Koubek then made a string of superb saves to deny Kingsley Coman, Lewandowski as well as Philippe Coutinho.
Substitute Thomas Mueller could also have sealed their win in the 90th minute but he fired wide from 13 metres.
They were punished for it in stoppage time as Finnbogason tapped in from a cutback to earn a point for his team and make it two league matches without a win for the Bavarians.
JUST IN: Eagles out of CHAN
Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles have failed to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) despite beating Togo.
However, the 2-0 result they got at the Agege Stadium, Lagos on Saturday was not enough having lost the first leg 4-1.
The ouster from the tournament for local players in Africa is coming on the heels of the failure of the Super Falcons to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Japan after being beaten by Cote d’Ivoire.
2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup watched by 1. 12bn viewers
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup held from June 7 to July 7 in France was watched by 1.12 billion viewers across all platforms.
According to world football governing body FIFA, linear TV accounted for the majority of the global audience.
It said 993.5 million viewers watching at least one minute of coverage on a TV set at home.
This was an increase of 30 per cent on the audience for the 2015 edition held in Canada, which reached 764.0 million.
An estimated 481.5 million people accessed coverage of France 2019 on digital platforms, equivalent to 43 per cent of the total audience reach.
The digital audience, which overlaps with the linear TV audience, was up considerably on the estimated 86.0 million in 2015.
The final match between the US and the Netherlands was the most watched FIFA Women’s World Cup match ever.
It had an average live audience of 82.18 million, up by 56 per cent on the 2015 final audience of 52.56 million.
This reached a total of 263.62 million unique viewers (one-minute reach), which accounted for 22.9 per cent of the overall tournament reach.
Over the 52 matches played in nine host cities across France and broadcast in 205 territories around the world, the average live match audience was 17.27 million viewers.
This is more than double the 8.39 million average of Canada 2015 and this can be attributed to the greater distribution of matches on higher profile broadcasters in many countries.
With the distribution of matches, many participating teams’ matches drew record audiences in their home territories, such as Brazil, France, Italy and the UK.
“More than a sporting event, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 was a cultural phenomenon attracting more media attention than ever before and providing a platform for women’s football to flourish in the spotlight.
“The fact that we broke the 1 billion target just shows the pulling power of the women’s game and the fact that, if we promote and broadcast world-class football widely, whether it’s played by men or women, the fans will always want to watch,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Publicist Sport Entertainment (PSE) compiled the consolidated audience figures for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.
It was based on audience data and scheduling gathered from official television auditing agencies in markets around the world.
It also came from FIFA’s Media Rights Licensees (MRLs), and from non-captured (out-of-home and digital) audience data provided by Nielsen.
England beat Australia 40-16 to make Rugby World Cup semis
England are into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 12 years as they ruthlessly dispatched old rivals Australia.
Two first-half tries in four minutes from Jonny May on his 50th cap helped establish a 17-9 half-time lead before a sensational score from Marika Koroibete brought the Wallabies to within a point.
But prop Kyle Sinckler smashed through from Owen Farrell’s flat pass as England regained control, the fly-half landing 20 points with his boot to crush Australian hopes before Anthony Watson applied the coup de grace with a late interception try, reports the BBC,
It was England’s best performance of a World Cup when they have seldom been tested, the decision of coach Eddie Jones to start Farrell in place of George Ford vindicated by a seventh successive win over his home country.
Four years ago England were sent packing at the group stage from the tournament they were hosting by Michael Cheika’s side.
But with the young back-row combination of Tom Curry and Sam Underhill outstanding, this was sweet revenge, a last-four meeting with New Zealand or Ireland in a week’s time the rich reward.
Australia came out fast and battered away at the England defence, the men in white forced into 30 tackles in the first three minutes, Christian Lealiifano’s penalty reflecting the early balance of power.
But after England had twice wasted overlaps in the opposition 22, they struck twice in quick succession to stun the Wallabies.
First Farrell went left after Watson had made inroads down the right, and with the defence stretched Curry committed the last man before putting May into the corner.
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