Sunday’s night session at the Miami Open saw Bianca Andreescu win a much-anticipated first professional meeting against Amanda Anisimova, and Ons Jabeur flip the script in the latest chapter of her recent rivalry with Sofia Kenin.
Despite being peers and foes in the junior ranks, 2019 US Open champion Andreescu and 2019 French Open semifinalist Anisimova had never before played as professionals, but their first meeting proved one to remember: in a titanic two hours and 45 minutes, Canadian edged a 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-4 affair to reach the round of 16.
“My game, I know that it can be better, but I’m trying to find ways to push through on my off days, and I think I’m doing that well,” Andreescu assessed after the match.
“I think that’s what makes a really good player, and I’m trying to be that really good player like I was in 2019. I did that today, and I just want to fight and give it my all and then the rest will come.”
Andreescu needed over an hour to seal a one-set lead in the encounter, as Anisimova saved all 10 break points she faced across four service games in the opener.
From 7-6(5), 2-0 up, Andreescu found herself headed for a final set as Anisimova played her best tennis in the closing stages of the second, even after receiving medical attention for blisters on her hand. The American twice held serve to stay in it, trailing 5-4 and 6-5, and won five of the first six points of the ensuing tiebreak.
After she also received a medical timeout when trailing 2-1, the decisive break for Andreescu came in the fifth game of the final set, and she was never challenged on serve from then on.
In all, the Canadian dropped just four points on serve in the decider, and held at love to seal the match.
“I felt very good mentally before the match, and then on the court I felt really good. It’s hard playing a player that she’s super erratic. She just slaps every ball, but she slaps it very well. I don’t want to say that in a bad way. But she’s a really good player,” Andreescu said.
“It was tough. I was getting to a lot of balls I thought I couldn’t even get to. But that just shows that all the preparation that I’m putting in is really paying off.”
Andreescu will have a quick turnaround up next as she faces Garbiñe Muguruza on Monday evening for a spot in the quarterfinals. The Canadian dominated in the pair’s last meeting at a WTA 1000 event, a 6-0, 6-1 win in Indian Wells in 2019 – a tournament that Andreescu went on to win.
“I’m going to do my best with treatment, best with food, best with sleep, all that stuff. I have been here before. I have played tough matches like this [and] had to play the next day, so I kind of know what to expect,” Andreescu said.
“I have to be on my A-game tomorrow because I know Muguruza is very tough to play.”
Earlier in the evening, Jabeur, previously 0-4 against Kenin at WTA main-draw level and 0-8 in sets, struck 40 winners and 11 aces to earn her third career win over a Top 5 player and advance to a fourth-round meeting with in-form Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The Tunisian looked as though she might lose out to Kenin for the fifth time in the past two years when she fell behind 3-1 in the final set, but rallied to win five of the last six games to close out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win in one hour and 47 minutes.
“It was an amazing match today. Honestly, I tried to play my game and play to take my revenge because I’ve been losing a lot against Sofia,” Jabeur said after the match.
“She’s such an amazing player, but I was there, I was confident, I wanted to win and really play well and play my game. I’m so proud that I won today. It’s been amazing here in Miami. I’ve been practicing hard… and I’ve just been trying to get back to the best game that I can be playing.”
Jabeur and Sorribes Tormo have played five times between ITF and WTA tournaments dating back to 2013, with the Tunisian victorious four times. They last played in the first round of qualifying for the 2019 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in 2019, where Jabeur won, 6-0, 6-2.
“Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult match. Sorribes is playing really good lately and she’s been winning a lot of matches,” Jabeur said.
“She’s a good friend of mine on tour, and honestly, I love playing her. I love the way she playing. I have to be ready physically and mentally to win, and hopefully, the journey will continue for me.”
Olympics-U.S. women to face Australia in women’s football at Tokyo Games
(Reuters) – The U.S. women’s national team will face Australia, Sweden and New Zealand at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, while in the men’s competition 2016 winners Brazil will take on Germany following the group stage draw on Wednesday.
The American women’s team are the reigning world champions and four-time winners of the Olympic tournament and will start as favourites in Tokyo, with Rio 2016 winners Germany failing to qualify.
Team GB women have drawn 2016 bronze medallists Canada, Chile and hosts Japan. Making only their second Olympic tournament appearance, Team GB will be led by England’s interim coach Hege Riise.
On the men’s side, Brazil will take on Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.
Mexico, the 2012 gold medallists, were pitted against hosts Japan, South Africa and France.
The men’s team are usually restricted to selecting players under the age of 23, with just three overage players allowed.
However, the age bracket has been raised for the Tokyo Games in line with the one-year postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)
Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona
Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.
Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.
By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.
In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.
No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match
Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.
Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.
(Field Level Media)
Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19
(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.
The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.
“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.
“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”
The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.
Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.
“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.
“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”
The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.
“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”
Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.
“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)
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