WIMBLEDON, England — Ash Barty got off to a perfect start in the Wimbledon final by collecting the first 14 points, then needed to hold off a comeback bid before beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 on Saturday for her second Grand Slam title.
The top-seeded Barty adds this championship to the one she won at the French Open in 2019.
She is the first Australian woman to win the singles trophy at the All England Club since Evonne Goolagong in 1980. Barty says she has been inspired by Goolagong and wore an outfit at Wimbledon that was a tribute to the dress Goolagong played in when she won the tournament for the first time in 1971.
Barty, who is 25, was the junior champion at Wimbledon a decade ago, then left the tennis tour for nearly two years in 2014 because of burnout. She played professional cricket back home, then eventually decided to return to her other sport.
She was at her best at the beginning of each set against the eighth-seeded Pliskova, a 29-year-old from the Czech Republic with a big serve.
Pliskova dropped to 0-2 in major finals; she was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, too.
Barty’s most significant wobble came late in the second set. She served for the victory ahead 6-5 but sailed consecutive forehands long to get broken, then was shaky in the ensuing tiebreaker, which she ceded with a double-fault.
In the third, though, Barty went up an early break, led 3-0 and stayed the course in the first Wimbledon women’s final to go three sets since 2012. It also was the first since 1977 between two participants who never had been that far at the All England Club.
Neither Barty nor Pliskova made it past the fourth round at the grass-court major until this fortnight.
The match was played under a cloud-filled sky and with Centre Court’s retractable roof open despite rain in the forecast for much of the afternoon. Because of the threat of showers, Barty and Pliskova shared a warmup session under the roof at No. 1 Court earlier in the day, at times standing side-by-side while hitting shots.
They shared some smiles and chatter during the coin toss before the final, but once things got serious, Barty was not messing around one bit.
Right from the get-go, there was not a hint of uneasiness or uncertainty for Barty. Her strokes were confident. Her demeanor, too. During the match-opening run that put her up 3-0, love-30 and, after Pliskova finally won a couple of points, 4-0 after 11 minutes, Barty showed of every bit of her versatility and varied skills.
She returned Pliskova’s speedy serves — the ones that produced a tournament-high 54 aces entering Saturday — without any trouble. She lobbed Pliskova, who at 6-foot-1 is 8 inches taller than the 5-foot-5 Barty, to win a point. She hit winners with her heavy topspin forehand and set up others with her sliced backhands. She threw in an ace of her own, and actually finished with more than Pliskova, 7-6.
The key stat by the finish probably was this: Barty won 22 of 31 points that lasted nine strokes or more.
As balls flew past Pliskova, and the murmuring in the full-capacity stands reached a crescendo — “What is going on? Is she going to win a point?” — she watched with little more in the way of reaction than a blank stare. Sometimes, she filled with her racket strings as if wanting to be anywhere else.
Pliskova’s coach, Sascha Bajin, who previously worked with Naomi Osaka and before that was Serena Williams’ hitting partner, sat in the guest box above one baseline with arms crossed and brow furrowed.
Even after Pliskova straightened things out, the rhythm of the first set was odd: A total of six games were won at love.
Pliskova finally got the measure of her strokes in the second set, in which she twice trailed by a break before pulling it out.
That could have shaken Barty. Except here’s the thing: She speaks clearly about never letting anything get her too down, including the hip injury that knocked her out of the French Open last month and prevented her from her usual preparation for Wimbledon.
And so, with her typical grit, Barty managed to get back to the steadier version of herself down the stretch against Pliskova. When she got a second chance to serve it out, Barty didn’t flinch, even when she had to stare down a break point.
A missed backhand by Pliskova removed that threat, and Barty then delivered a 108 mph ace. One last backhand miss from Pliskova ended the match, and Barty crouched at the baseline and covered her face with her arm.
Pistons select Cade Cunningham with No. 1 overall pick in 2021 NBA Draft – Sportsnet.ca
The Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 30, 2021
Cunningham had been widely expected to be the first name called in New York, though Pistons general manager Troy Weaver wouldn’t reveal plans earlier this week and said the team would look at every scenario, including trades.
In the end, Detroit stuck with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential top pick before ever stepping foot on the Oklahoma State campus.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound point guard from Arlington, Texas, lived up to expectations with his size and fluid game to become a first-team Associated Press All-American. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3-point range, score off the dribble or find teammates out of traps.
Cunningham — the first player in Oklahoma State history to be picked No. 1 overall — joins a Pistons franchise that has won 20 games for two straight seasons and hasn’t finished better than .500 for five straight years.
Cunningham was the headliner of a class that included scorers, playmakers and potentially elite defenders at the top. That group included Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs and Florida State freshman forward Scottie Barnes.
There are also a pair of preps-to-pros prospects in guard Jalen Green and forward Jonathan Kuminga, both of whom bypassed college basketball to play in the G League.
The draft is later than its traditional late-June slot for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-20 season. The 2021-22 season is scheduled to return to its normal schedule, with next year’s draft set for June again.
NBA Draft 2021: Toronto Raptors select Scottie Barnes with the 4th overall pick – RaptorsHQ
The Raptors have upended consensus in the 2021 NBA Draft, opting to select Florida State forward Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick. To say this was a complete shock is not entirely true — there was buzz the Raptors were at least somewhat intrigued by Barnes’ potential — but it also felt like Toronto would not take the gamble (e.g. it felt like Jalen Suggs at no. 4 was a lock).
Barnes joins the Raptors just before his 20th birthday. He’s listed at 6’9” and 227 pounds, which puts him in the small forward category, by my math. Barnes spent one season at Florida State during which he averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game across 24 contests. Admittedly, the numbers don’t exactly pop — Barnes only started seven games — but Toronto must love his potential.
Said potential is what our guy JD got at in his column here. Barnes has serious defensive skills, a player who can already guard almost every position via his strength, speed and know-how. The broadcast compared him to Draymond Green, which is not a bad place to be — particularly for a Raptors team that obviously values defensive ability and versatility. Like Green, Barnes has flashed an advanced play-making game for a forward, and he also has a limited offensive arsenal. Few are looking at Barnes, who shot 28 percent from three and 62 percent from the free-throw line, to be a lights-out gunner. Maybe he gets there in time, or maybe his skill-set is less dependent on his shot.
So then the risk: did the Raptors just get a player who can’t start for the current squad with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam locked in at the small and power forward position? Could it be that Barnes only tracks as another second or third-ranked player on a championship calibre team? (If that; some are worried he’s the next Stanley Johnson.) In all, the question remains: will Toronto regret missing on Suggs?
Or do the Raptors have something else planned with regards to their roster construction? Right now it’s unclear, but we do know one thing for now: Toronto has selected Scottie Barnes in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Canada's women's eight rowing crew captures Olympic gold for 1st time in 29 years – CBC.ca
Canada’s women’s eight crew captured gold on the final day of Olympic rowing at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on Friday, winning the event for the first time in 29 years.
New Zealand claimed silver, finishing ahead of bronze winners China.
The only other Olympic gold for Canada in women’s eight came at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, their first time reaching the Olympic podium. Canada’s crew enjoyed continued success with silver in 1996 and bronze in 2000.
Canada claimed silver in the women’s eight event at the 2012 London Olympics before missing the podium in Rio with a fifth place finish.
The men’s eight final wraps up the rowing competition at 9:25 p.m. ET.
More to come.
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WATCH l CBC Sports’ The Olympians feature on women’s eight rowing:
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