Vasek Pospisil was feeling run down after dropping back-to-back sets in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday.
But a timely visit by a physiotherapist early in the fourth set helped turned things around for the 30-year-old Canadian.
Pospisil rallied to beat No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time in his career.
The Vancouver player, already dealing with an abdominal strain, added a right quadriceps strain to his ailments sometime during Saturday’s match, and called for a medical timeout two games into the fourth set.
WATCH | Vasek Pospisil advances to U.S. Open 4th round for 1st time:
“At that point I knew there was no room for error so I just said: ‘well, OK if I play a perfect match now, if I win two more sets I can win the match,’ and yeah, it just happened that way,” said Pospisil.
“I played aggressive, I executed extremely well. … I played a pretty flawless two sets there in the fourth and fifth.”
Pospisil said both injuries are manageable, but he’ll monitor them before his next match Monday against No. 21 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia.
Auger-Aliassime sweeps way into 4th round
Later Saturday, No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal crushed Corentin Moutet of France 6-1, 6-0, 6-4, making him the third Canadian man to advance to the fourth round of the Grand Slam tournament.
Aliassime cruised through the first two sets before Moutet battled in the third.
WATCH | Auger-Aliassime pulls off outrageous tweener:
“It was interesting, because even though you win the first two sets easily, you got to forget about those,” said Aliassime. “You’re up two sets to love. That’s mainly it. Obviously it’s better than being down.
“I was looking at it like, OK, even if he’s playing better, I knew his back is against the wall, he now has nothing to lose. He’s going to try everything.”
Record 3 Canadians into round of 16
Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil joined Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., in the round of 16. Shapovalov beat American Taylor Fritz in five sets on Friday.
Before this tournament, three Canadian men never had advanced to the third round of the event in the same year. Now, Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil are four wins away from matching fellow Canadian Bianca Andreescu’s feat from last year when she captured the women’s title at the event.
No Canadian man has reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, going 0-12 in the round of 16.
Pospisil, ranked No. 94, came into the match 0-3 in his career against Bautista Agut.
Saturday’s win was Pospisil’s second straight upset of the tournament. He beat fellow Canadian and No. 25 seed Milos Raonic in the second round.
Pospisil looked to be heading towards defeat after losing the second and third sets against Bautista Agut, but a late break put the Canadian ahead 5-3 in the fourth before he easily served out the set.
Pospisil earned an early break in the fifth set en route to a 3-1 lead, then broke Bautista Agut once more to go up 5-2.
“(The physiotherapist) really, really helped it big time when he came onto the court,” Pospisil said. “He loosened up (the quad) and strapped it which really seemed to do wonders for it and I really didn’t feel it on my serve after that.”
Pospisil had 19 aces and 70 winners, including on the final point. He converted four of eight break points and saved 12 of 15.
Pospisil avenges Davis Cup defeat
Bautista Agut was part of the Spanish team that defeated Canada in the Davis Cup final last November. Pospisil had been on a tear throughout that tournament, but did not get a chance to play in the championship round. Bautista Agut beat Auger-Aliassime in the first rubber of the final round before Rafael Nadal topped Shapovalov to claim the championship.
Pospisil is 0-2 against de Minaur, with both losses coming in 2018. The Canadian has enjoyed a resurgence in his game, however, after returning from back surgery to repair a herniated disc in January 2019.
“I’m definitely playing better now than I was (in 2018),” Pospisil said.
Auger-Aliassime, 20, dispatched his opponent in under two hours, including a quick 28-minute second set.
Moutet, ranked 77th in the world, was no match for Auger-Aliassime after upsetting No. 23 seed Dan Evans of Great Britain in a suspended match that didn’t finish until Friday.
Auger-Aliassime will next face the winner of a match between No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria and No. 31 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia.
“I can obviously take a lot of positives from my win today,” Aliassime said. “With the way I served, I was only broken once, which didn’t really have a huge impact on the score at the end. I can be happy with that.”
No. 12 seed Shapovalov plays No. 7 seed David Goffin of Belgium in the fourth round Sunday.
Lightning strike twice on PP, beat Stars to even Stanley Cup final – TSN
EDMONTON — The Tampa Bay Lightning rediscovered the zap in their power play, using it to burn the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Monday and even up the Stanley Cup final.
Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat had goals on the man advantage as the Lightning scored three times in the first 16 minutes of the game then hung on for the victory.
It ties the best-of-seven series at one game apiece, with Game 3 set for Wednesday at Rogers Place.
Tampa’s power play was ranked fifth in the NHL in the regular season at 23.1 per cent but in the playoffs, heading into Monday’s game, had been spluttering along at 16.9 per cent and mired in an 0 for 14 slump.
Point said the success was not a huge relief because they hadn’t been dwelling on the previous power-play power outages.
“We’re staying positive with (it),” said Point.
“Tonight I thought we stuck with it. We were crisp on our passes and we had (Nikita Kucherov) making some great plays.”
Kucherov, the leading point getter in the playoffs, and defenceman Victor Hedman had the assists on both power-play goals.
Midway through the first period, Kucherov was the middle man in a tic-tac-toe passing play, taking a pass from Hedman and redirecting the puck into the slot area to Point, who then wristed it through traffic and high glove side past Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin.
Three minutes later, on a second power play, Kucherov, at the right face-off circle, faked a one-timer shot off a Hedman pass, freezing Khudobin, and instead slap-passed it cross-seam to Palat, who had a wide open net and didn’t miss.
Less than a minute after that, Tampa defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk scored on a blue-line wrist shot through traffic that proved to be the game-winner.
It was a different story from Game 1, when Tampa got six minutes of power play time in the third period, blasted 22 shots on net but couldn’t score and lost 4-1.
Kucherov said they didn’t tinker with the power-play plan prior to Game 2.
“We had some good looks during the first game. We just couldn’t score,” said Kucherov.
“We just stuck to what we had to do: keep it simple, shoot the puck at the net and get those rebounds.”
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27-of-29 shots for his 15th victory of the playoffs, including the seeding round.
Joe Pavelski and Mattias Janmark, with his first of the playoffs, replied for Dallas. Khudobin turned aside 28 shots in the loss. His post-season record drops to 13-7.
Janmark said the penalties and the power-play goals proved to be a bridge too far.
“That’s where we lost the game today,” said Janmark.
“Most of the first period we didn’t come out like we wanted. I think they were better, so I would say they earned (the power plays).
“At the same time, we gotta be better. We were a little bit undisciplined. We were turning pucks over and they were coming at us.”
Tampa Bay outshot Dallas 14-6 in the first period but was outshot 18-5 in the second frame as the Stars found renewed life.
The Stars hit the scoreboard late in the period when a fluttering John Klingberg point shot was redirected in by Pavelski while he battled with defender Ryan McDonagh in front of Vasilevskiy.
Pavelski, signed as a free agent a year ago after 13 seasons with San Jose, has a team-leading 10 playoff goals.
Less than six minutes into the third, the Stars made it 3-2 on a tic-tac-toe play of their own — Alexander Radulov to Klingberg to Janmark, who tapped the puck in despite Shattenkirk being draped all over him.
It was a rough game with big hits and numerous post-whistle scrums and takedowns.
Late in the second period, the Stars’ Corey Perry had Lightning forward Cedric Paquette in a post-whistle head lock. He released him at the direction of the refs only to see Paquette turn on him, throw him to the ice and start raining down punches.
Stars forward Blake Comeau was levelled by McDonagh on an open-ice hit in the second period and didn’t return.
Kucherov now has six goals and 22 assists for 28 points in the playoffs. Hedman has nine goals and eight assists.
Tampa has 15 wins and six losses in the post-season and has yet to lose two games in a row.
The Lightning are seeking the second Stanley Cup in franchise history, the last one coming in 2004. The Stars’ only Cup came in 1999.
All games are being held in a so-called isolation bubble at Rogers Place, with the players sequestered from the public to prevent contracting COVID-19.
The NHL reported that in eight weeks of testing there have been no positive COVID-19 cases.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.
Jays thump Yankees – Bluebird Banter
It is so much more fun playing the Yankees in Buffalo than playing them in Yankees Stadium. I’m going to love hearing them whine about the park.
Matt Shoemaker made his first start coming back from the IL and he was very good. Just 3 innings (they were going to keep him around 60 pitches, he finished with 54), 3 hits, 2 walks, 1 earned with 1 strikeout. He seemed to be thrown out of rhythm when a foul tip went into the mask of the plate umpire and there was a long delay.
My continuing complaint is that, the umpire clearly got rocked by that pitch, the trainer comes out, and they stand and talk and joke and leave him in the game. There should be a rule that takes the umpire out of the game, at least for an inning, so he can be evaluated properly.
At the end of the inning the umpire comes out of the game and a spare umpire, who for some reason was at the game, takes over (boy was he terrible at calling balls and strikes).
Shoemaker was getting his fastball up to 95-96 and looked healthy. He’ll get another start on the weekend and, all being well, should be our third starter for the playoffs.
T.J. Zeuch came in for the fourth and threw 3 perfect innings. He gave up a walk and a double in the seventh and came out of the game at 3.1 innings, 1 hit, 1 earned, 1 walk in 3.1 innings. He looked calm and kept the Yankees hitting the ball on the ground. He gets the win.
Patrick Murphy followed up. He got us out of the seventh and pitched the 8th, giving up 2 hits with a strikeout. He’s pretty impressive with a 97 MPH fastball and a very pretty 12 to 6 curve.
Wilmer Font started the ninth and was just awful, giving up a single and 2 walks to load the bases and then a double to unload them, while getting 2 outs. Font forced Charlie to get Shun Yamaguchi into the game, to get the last out, a strikeout.
Mike Wilner mentioned that Font only hit 89-91 on the fastball, maybe something is wrong.
Lots of guys had a big night, but Kirk was the most fun to watch, going 4 for 4, with the home run, a double and a long single off the right field wall that only needed to be about 2 feet higher to be home run. Kirk scored from second on a single, which may have been the most entertaining moment of the night. Amazing that he’s in the MLB without playing above A ball.
Vladimir Guerrero was 3 for 3 with a walk. He had a “triple” that Yankees’ center fielder Aaron Hicks lost in the night sky (that we didn’t score him was a sin), a double (on pitch he really shouldn’t have swung at but he managed to pull it down the left field line) and another double that was hard hit, well earned double. let’s hope that it is the start of a hot stretch.
- Cavan Biggio had 2 walks (should have been 3, did I mention the hastily dressed plate umpire had a rough night).
- Bo Bichette was 2 for 5, with 2 RBI.
- Teoscar Hernandez was 2 for 5, 2 RBI, 3 strikeouts.
- Randal was 2 for 4, with the homer, walk and 2 RBI.
Being the Jays, we couldn’t make it through the game without an error. Biggio had an easy grounder hit to him at third but threw wide of first. Vlad got over to make the catch but couldn’t put a tag on the runner. Next batter hit another ground ball to third, this time Cavan threw a strike.
That brings our Magic Number to 3, with the Mariners still playing.
Jays of the Day: Vlad (.161 WPA), Bo (.110) and Hernandez (.102) all had the number. And, of course, I’m giving one to Kirk. And let’s give one to Zeuch for throwing the 3.1 innings, saving us from using more pitchers.
No Suckage Jays. Gurriel had the low mark at -.071. On the other hand, lets give one to Font for an awful ninth.
We had 898 comments in the GameThread. I led us to the win. I tell you, I have a beer, the team wins. I’m willing to keep it up.
Stars surrender control to Lightning in Game 2 as tug-of-war for Cup begins – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — So, how are we going to play this?
In Game 1 the Dallas Stars called the tune, winning the first 40 minutes with their heavy, win-the-net-fronts game that made the Tampa Bay Lightning look slow and pushed their skill to the outskirts of the rink.
But by taking three minor penalties in the opening period of Game 2, the Stars surrendered control, allowing a power-play exhibition to erupt — which is right up the Lightning’s alley.
What resulted was a 3-2 Tampa win, a series tied at one game apiece, and the beginning of that annual tug-of-war over which team is going to impose its style on this Stanley Cup Final.
“For sure,” agreed veteran Dallas centreman Joe Pavelski, who scored his 10th playoff goal on a dandy deflection. “There’s a couple of good teams that have somewhat of a foundation to win games, how you play. We were definitely closer to ours in Game 1, and we got away from it early in this game and it cost us. But there was no quit, and we started to find our game. It came back, and we need to stay at that level moving forward.”
From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.
And isn’t that always where the discussion goes? We start with how Tampa was able to wrest away the style of play from Dallas, and then we argue over exactly how long it lasted, until the Stars looked up at a 3-0 scoreboard in the second period and decided to make a game of it.
“It’s two very good teams battling it out. Who controls the puck the most comes back to faceoffs, and special teams were obviously the difference tonight,” said Stars head coach Rick Bowness, whose team has made a habit of over-utilizing the penalty box throughout this COVID Cup. “This is going to be a tough series. They’re an elite team. They’ve been here before. We’ve got a lot of guys who have never been here before. Hopefully we’re just going to keep getting better.”
Dallas had killed of five-straight Tampa power plays in this Final and had the Bolts top producers right where they wanted ‘em: Squeezing the sticks and feeling the pressure of a Cup Final that began with the Lightning leaders firing blanks.
Then, on the first power play of the game, Nikita Kucherov was a turnover machine, handling the puck more like a ham-and-egger than the player whose Hart Trophy reign had ended just before the game, when Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl was named the 2019-20 winner.
It looked like Tampa may have been stuck in Game 1 gear. So what did the Stars do?
They took another penalty. And another.
The cardinal sin when the opponent’s skill guys are rusty is to give them power-play touches. To allow them to start to feel good with the puck on their sticks again.
“When we stay out of the box we’ve seen … we’re a good team,” Pavelski said. “When you feed their top guys that kind of confidence, they play with the puck, they get a little momentum… We can kill one, two, three [penalties] a night. We don’t need to be killing three, four a period.”
Before the first period was out, Kucherov had set up Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat for power-play snipes, and when Kevin Shattenkirk’s long-range seeing eye shot found twine the Stars were down 3-0 at the first intermission.
“That’s where we lost the game today,” said Mattias Janmark. “We don’t want to take penalties. We have taken way too many throughout the playoffs.”
But don’t just blame the Stars. This is how a skilled team like Tampa turns the game back their way: They find a way to get on the power play, then they bury you with the man advantage.
Then you get tentative about taking penalties, and the extra half-second or six inches of ice that creates is what they use to beat you on the next shift.
“It’s easy to explain,” argued Bowness. “We lost faceoffs, we were turning the puck over and we were taking penalties. It was an even game up until we started taking penalties. Their power play connected.
“Faceoffs, turnovers and penalties. Things you can’t afford to do against a team like that.”
Here we go folks.
It’s now a best-of-five, and we’re looking forward to when it becomes a best-of-three.
Because whoever seizes controls of how this Final gets played, don’t worry. The other team will steal it back.
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