It was not the finals performance anyone wanted. Not even for the eventual champion, Ashleigh Barty.
The world No. 1 captured the Miami Open title for the second time in her career on Saturday, defeating Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 4-0 (ret.), as the Canadian halted play late in the second set due to injury.
Andreescu, who had already endured so much mentally and physically through the tournament, twisted her foot early in the second set, tumbling to the court. Despite taking a medical timeout and getting some treatment, Andreescu could never recover her movement. At the urging of her fitness coach, she retired from the match in the second set.
It was an anti-climactic finish to an otherwise thrilling tournament for the Mississauga, Ont., native. The loss, understandably, left her in tears.
“I’m definitely the type to wear her emotions on her sleeve,” Andreescu said, following the match. “To me, it’s more of a strength because I’m being who I am. I’m not afraid to show that. I’m a very expressive person. It’s helped me win.”
Andreescu has done a lot of winning since going pro. She’s now 59-18 across 77 WTA tour-level matches dating back to 2017. She’s been to five finals by the age of 20, winning three of them, including the only grand slam singles title in Canadian history.
In Miami, just her third event since returning to the tour from a 15-month absence, she undoubtedly produced her best level since that magical 2019 US Open.
It was also a calculated warning shot and stark reminder to the remainder of the tour: when Andreescu is healthy and competing, she is one of the best women’s players on the planet.
Her movement showed noticeable improvement from earlier this season in Australia, as she flashed dynamic flexibility and court coverage on numerous occasions with on the run slides, tracking down drop shots and sharp angle balls.
Her tenacious power from the baseline and physicality overwhelmed great opponents like two-time grand slam winner Garbine Muguruza and young American phenom Amanda Anisimova.
Now in the wake of this loss, however, Andreescu is forced to field more questions about her proneness to injury.
“It seems that I’m kind of the only one that keeps getting asked questions about injuries, which is super annoying. I don’t want, like, for me to have a reputation of that, because it’s not only me that’s getting injured.”
Put the injuries aside then for a moment.
The reputation we should all be talking about is her relentless fighting spirit.
Andreescu logged 12 hours, 26 minutes on court through her six matches, with four of them going the full three sets.
One of those matches, her semifinal victory over Maria Sakkari, extended into the early morning, finishing at 1:35 a.m. ET.
“It felt like I played three tournaments in one with all the time I had on court,” Andreescu joked.
The final memory of this event was a disheartening one – Andreescu in tears, stopping play. It should also not take away from the high quality of play coming from her opponent on the other side of the net.
Barty now has a 10th WTA champion trophy to add to the cabinet.
It should also quell the naysayers who believe she’s not worthy of her world No. 1 ranking. Barty’s versatility is astounding; she has won titles on all surfaces, possesses a grand slam, now has two Masters 1000 trophies, and also an end-of-year championship to her name.
Andreescu will now head home, perhaps with a swollen foot, but also a newfound confidence she lacked in a 2020 spent entirely on the sidelines.
“I’m feeling confident. Like, yeah, sometimes my game is not always going to be there, but I clutch it out during those times, like I’ll figure it out. That’s just a challenge of playing sports in general. And I’m here for it, and I want to be here for it for a long time.”
Next stop: the clay courts.
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)
Nick Foligno hopes to make Leafs debut Thursday vs. Jets
Former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno is eyeing Thursday as his potential debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he said on an NHL.com podcast.
The Maple Leafs acquired the left wing on April 11 in a three-team trade with Columbus and the San Jose Sharks, with each team retaining a portion of Foligno’s salary so he can join the North Division leaders for their Stanley Cup pursuit. Toronto visits the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Because he moved from the U.S. to Canada, Foligno was required to quarantine for seven days before joining his new team for practices and games, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
“Seven days of just nothing, and then you jump right into it, it would be nice to probably have a practice, but I rather just that — let’s go,” Foligno said on “The Chirp with Darren Millard.” “I’m here to play for them and get this thing rolling, so I probably prefer just to jump right into it and get going.”
If the Leafs put Foligno in their lineup Thursday at Winnipeg, he’ll get to play against his former Columbus teammate, Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Foligno played eight-plus seasons for the Blue Jackets and his first five NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators. In 950 career games, he has tallied 203 goals and 279 assists.
The Maple Leafs sent their 2021 first-round pick and 2022 fourth-rounder to Columbus and their 2021 fourth-rounder to San Jose in order to add Foligno to their stacked group of forwards, which includes NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner.
Foligno’s father, Mike Foligno, was an NHL veteran who played parts of four seasons for the Leafs
(Field Level Media)
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