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Andreescu’s journey to Miami Open final has unlocked her greatness once more – Sportsnet.ca

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“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”


That quote has long been attributed to legendary three-time grand slam champion and African-American trailblazer Arthur Ashe, an aggressive and ruthless competitor on the tennis court, an enigmatic and thoughtful personality off it.

It is also a microcosm of what it is to watch a tennis match played by Canada’s Bianca Andreescu.

She takes us, the viewer, along for the emotional and bumpy journey as we are captivated, not simply with breathtaking shot making, but also with her unwavering sense of self-belief and determination.

That determination has pushed Andreescu into the finals of the Miami Open, just her third event of 2021 season, since she made a return to the tour following a 15-month absence.

Now she will meet world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia for the WTA 1000 title.

It is the first-career meeting between the two players, and Andreescu’s only time squaring off against a current world No. 1. It’s also an opportunity she is relishing.

“I’ve wanted to play her for a long time now, so I’m super excited for that,” Andreescu said after her semifinal win. “I love a challenge and I know she’s going to challenge me.”

Barty is a true master of her craft — a tactician with exceptional variety, angles, precision, and a penetrating forehand she can unleash at any given moment.

Her high tennis I.Q. is what helped guide her to become a French Open champion in 2019, one of the nine titles she has won on tour.

Andreescu will rely on her powerful baseline game, physicality, and tenacious resilience in tough moments to counter the Australian.

It has all served her well this fortnight.

After a straight-sets win over qualifier Tereza Martincova, Andreescu knocked out powerhouse Garbine Muguruza, the WTA leader in wins this season, with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory in the round of 16.

She physically and mentally overcame Sara Sorribes Tormo in two-hours-and-35 minutes, thwarting the Spaniard’s impeccable court coverage, spins, and competitive spirit.

Finally, she halted Greece’s Maria Sakkari 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in a rain-delayed marathon match that wrapped up at 1:35 a.m. ET.

Andreescu came back from the brink on multiple occasions in the encounter, saving two set points in the opening set, and rallying from down 4-2, and then 6-5 in the 3rd set, before taking control in the decisive tiebreak.

Andreescu has even managed to surprise herself at times with the quality of shots she can produce. Like this on the run forehand squash shot pass against Muguruza, the best of the tournament:

“Sometimes I literally feel like I’m an octopus out there, running side-to-side,” Andreescu remarked after her win over Sakkari. “I feel like I have eight legs. It’s insane – sometimes I don’t even know how I get to some shots.”

Andreescu also has a penchant for big matches. She’s 8-3 in her career against top-10 opponents.

The longer the duration of the match, the better she seems to fare as well. Twenty-three of Andreescu’s last 38 tour matches have gone the full three sets – she’s won 20 of them.

This will be her first contested final since her major victory at Flushing Meadows. Nearly 18 months ago, Andreescu defeated Serena Williams at the US Open to capture the first singles grand slam title in Canadian history.

It was one of three titles on the season from Andreescu and signalled the emergence of a full-fledged Canadian tennis superstar.

Unfortunately, that momentum was halted — not by her opponents, but her body.

After injuring her knee at the WTA Finals near the tail end of 2019, Andreescu took a pause, almost in sync with the rest of the world, and missed the 2020 season in its entirety. The 2021 Australian Open was the official site of her comeback to the tour, but Miami seems to have unlocked the greatness we witnessed in New York.

We can all now settle in for another journey Saturday afternoon.

Regardless of the outcome of the match, what she is doing on court is undeniably special.

That is more than enough for this tennis fan.

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UEFA threaten to ban breakaway clubs from all competitions

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By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – European soccer‘s governing body UEFA has warned clubs linked to a breakaway Super League that they face being banned from domestic and international competitions if they set up a rival to the Champions League.

In a joint statement https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/mediaservices/mediareleases/news/0268-12121411400e-7897186e699a-1000–statement-by-uefa-english-fa-rfef-figc-premier-league-laliga-le with Spanish, English and Italian leagues and federations, UEFA said it will consider “all measures”, including the courts and bans from domestic leagues, in opposition to plans for a breakaway competition.

UEFA said it had learnt that clubs from those countries “may be planning to announce their creation of a closed, so-called Super League”.

“If this were to happen, we wish to reiterate that we….(and) also FIFA and all our member associations – will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever,” UEFA said.

“We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way,” the statement added.

In January, FIFA had said that a breakaway league would not be recognised and that “any club or player involved in such a competition would as a consequence not be allowed to participate in any competition organised by FIFA or their respective confederation” – meaning players would be banned from the World Cup.

Sunday’s UEFA statement said: “The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this. We call on all lovers of football, supporters and politicians, to join us in fighting against such a project if it were to be announced. This persistent self-interest of a few has been going on for too long. Enough is enough.”

 

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)

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Netherlands and Poland seal narrow Billie Jean King Cup playoff wins

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(Reuters) – The Netherlands and Poland both needed deciding doubles wins to battle through their Billie Jean King Cup playoffs on Saturday but Britain, Italy and Canada all enjoyed easier passages.

In Den Bosch, the Dutch were without world number 11 Kiki Bertens for the second day because of injury and found themselves trailing China 2-1 after Wang Xiyu beat Lesley Kerkhove in Saturday’s opening singles.

But Aranxta Rus beat Wang Xinyu to level the tie and then teamed up with Demi Schuurs to defeat Zhang Shuai and Zu Yifan to send the hosts through.

It was equally tight in Poland where the hosts were pushed to the brink by Brazil.

Brazil’s Carolina Meligeni Alves took the tie into a deciding doubles with a win over Katarzyna Kawa but the Poles prevailed 3-2 as Kawa and Magdalena Frech came back from a set down to beat Meligeni Alves and Luisa Stefani.

Kazakhstan also won a deciding rubber to see off Argentina.

Britain led 2-0 overnight against Mexico in London but Marcela Zacarias beat Heather Watson to keep alive the tie.

Katie Boulter proved too strong for Giuliana Olmos though to clinch the tie for the hosts.

Italy beat Romania 3-1 while Canada‘s teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez sealed her country’s path as she gave her side an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia thanks to a three-set win over Nina Stojanovic.

Ukraine eased past Japan 4-0 while Anastasija Sevastova secured Latvia’s 3-1 victory over India.

The eight winners move forward to next year’s qualifying round where they will hope to reach the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Finals.

The old Fed Cup was re-branded last year and named after the American great and 12-times Grand Slam singles champion who won the inaugural tournament nearly 60 years ago.

This year’s 12-team Finals were postponed because of the pandemic and a new date has yet to be finalised.

 

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)

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Motor racing-Canadian Grand Prix cancelled for second year

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(Reuters) -The Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for June 13 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has been cancelled for the second year in a row, CBC Radio reported on Thursday although Formula One said discussions remained ongoing.

With the spread of new COVID-19 variants and Canada battling to contain a third wave of the virus, Montreal public health authorities concluded that even if run behind closed doors without spectators the risks were too high, reported the CBC.

F1 officials, according to the CBC, wanted to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine for the hundreds of staff, crew members and drivers and rely on private medical staff and have the entire operation run in a bubble.

The race is scheduled to follow on immediately from Azerbaijan, whose grand prix is scheduled for June 6 in Baku and is due to go ahead after also being cancelled last year.

“We are continuing our discussions with the promoter in Canada and have no further comment,” an F1 spokesperson told Reuters.

The Autosport website quoted a spokesperson for the Canadian promoter as saying the radio report referred to “a document of recommendations from public health.

“We as an organisation have not had confirmation from our public health officials and won’t comment until we get an official confirmation.”

Canada, with some of the world’s toughest travel rules, obliges its citizens and residents arriving from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.

International arrivals are required to quarantine for up to three days in a hotel.

One of Canada‘s biggest sporting events, it would mark the second consecutive year the grand prix has been removed from the F1 schedule due to the spread of COVID-19.

Media reports have suggested Turkey is on standby to be slotted in as Canada‘s replacement.

The Istanbul circuit is logistically convenient for freight coming from Baku and was brought in last year also at short notice to bolster a calendar ravaged by the pandemic.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto/Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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