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ATP Marseille: Felix Auger-Aliassime Saves 3 MP, Beats Pierre-Hugues Herbert – ATP Tour

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#NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime saved three match points on Thursday, battling through a slew of tweeners and screaming forehands to overcome Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-0, 6-7(6), 7-6(9) in a two-hour, 40-minute thriller at the Open 13 Provence that the players nor fans watching will soon forget.

The seventh seed steadied himself well after letting slip one match point in the second-set tie-break, eventually triumphing on his sixth match point to reach the quarter-finals in Marseille. Auger-Aliassime, who lost to Herbert in straight sets two weeks ago in Montpellier, struck 16 aces and won 85 per cent of his first-serve points as he continues his pursuit of a maiden ATP Tour title.

The 19-year-old Canadian has now saved multiple match points in his first two matches at this indoor ATP 250 event, erasing two of them in his first-round victory against Italian Stefano Travaglia. Auger-Aliassime will next play Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, who upset third seed David Goffin.

For a moment, it seemed destiny was on Herbert’s side. The Frenchman not only hit a tweener lob on set point in the second set to force a decider, but he struck another clutch tweener to help escape pressure on serve deep in the third set.

Then at 6/6 in the ensuing tie-break, Auger-Aliassime played a perfect point and crushed an overhead into the open court. But on the full stretch, Herbert blasted a forehand pass down the line that the diving Canadian couldn’t handle, giving him a match point on his own serve. The Frenchman was unable to muster the courageous tennis he played under pressure during the rest of the match, pushing a backhand into the net.

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On the other two match points Auger-Aliassime faced — at 5/6 and 7/8 in the same tie-break — the teen showed no fear, dictating with his forehand and then blasting an unreturned serve down the T. Felix finished off his victory with an ace out wide, letting out a roar of “Allez!”

It is a key week for the Canadian, who last year reached his first ATP Tour final in Rio de Janeiro as the World No. 104. He has since reached three additional tour-level championship matches, including one last week in Rotterdam (0-4).

Auger-Aliassime’s next opponent, Gerasimov, is a qualifier who ousted Goffin 6-4, 7-6(5). Goffin battled hard, getting back on serve in the second set after the Belarusian served for the match. 

But the in-form World No. 72 played too well from the baseline, triumphing after one hour and 33 minutes behind three breaks of serve. Gerasimov reached his first ATP Tour final earlier this year in Pune.

Did You Know?
With Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil also into the last eight in Marseille, it is the first time three Canadians have reached the quarter-finals in an ATP Tour event since 1990 Rio de Janeiro where Martin Laurendeau (QF), Andrew Sznajder (Finalist) and Martin Wostenholme (SF) did it.

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Ottawa Race Weekend cancelled due to COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Ottawa Race Weekend is the latest event to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

Organizers announced Monday they’re calling off the annual race, scheduled this year to take place May 23-24, over fears it would be impossible to maintain a safe distance between runners of the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, 2K or children’s event.

It’s the first time the event has been cancelled since it began in 1975.

But before you hang up your Vaporflys and hit the couch, Run Ottawa, the organization behind Race Weekend, is offering an alternative that will allow runners to compete while still following the physical distancing guidelines set out by Ottawa Public Health.

Competitors will be offered a spot in a virtual race, where they’ll determine their own route and run or walk their chosen distance through their own neighbourhood. The virtual race will start as early as May 23, but will be spread out over the spring and summer months, until August 31. They’ll receive a race kit, including medal, T-shirt, and even a photograph of them crossing a virtual finishing line.

A runner holds a rubber chicken as he begins the half-marathon in Ottawa on Sunday, May 27, 2018. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press )

“Part of having a long runway to complete the event is that maybe things will be a little bit different further into the summer, and will allow people to run in groups of two or three,” said Ian Fraser, executive director of Run Ottawa.

Run Ottawa said it will partner with the international race timing company Sportstats to create a virtual finish line, using “e-bibs.” Participants will be able to share their results with friends and family, and compare their times with other runners once the final results are published.

The reality is that a full refund for all participants would bankrupt us, and there wouldn’t be a race weekend in 2021.– Ian Fraser, Run Ottawa

Registration, which was halted two weeks ago with around 18,000 runners signed up, will be reopened to allow for more people to join up for the virtual races. 

“There’s a great spirit in the running community that I think is going to see this as something they can celebrate, to push something positive forward in difficult times,” Fraser said.

Run Ottawa had been expecting some 33,000 runners this year.  

The virtual race won’t be a sanctioned event, and the results will not qualify runners for major marathons elsewhere, such as Boston. 

No refunds

There will be no refunds, according to Fraser.

“Pretty much all of the registration money that we take in is spent quite a ways before you actually get to the start line,” he said. “The reality is that a full refund for all participants would bankrupt us, and there wouldn’t be a race weekend in 2021.”

Instead, people who have already registered will be given a 50 per cent discount on next year’s race, which is scheduled for May 28-29.

Run Ottawa considered postponing the event until fall, but worried about the crowded running calendar, and the possibility of ongoing mitigation efforts over COVID-19.

“We’re also not certain that the world’s going to be in a better place by then, and we were really mindful to not double disappoint our participants,” Fraser said.

The decision to proceed with a virtual event is meant to encourage runners to keep going with their fundraising efforts for local charities. In years past, runners have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities including The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. 

Fraser said he understands people will be disappointed.

“I’ve been a runner since I was eight years old,” Fraser said. “I understand the hard work that goes into preparing for one of our events. But the journey to get to the finish line is every bit as important as the actual event itself…. I think using running as a way of coping with what we’re going through is really important. I think there are more people running now than I’ve ever seen before.”

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Belarus defiantly keeps playing while the rest of the sports world goes on hiatus – The Globe and Mail

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Fans react during the Belarus Championship soccer match between Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino and Belshina Bobruisk in the town of Zhodino, Belarus, on March 27, 2020.

Sergei Grits/The Associated Press

With most sports around the world shutting down because of the coronavirus pandemic, longtime Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is proudly keeping soccer and hockey arenas open.

The Eastern European nation of nearly 9.5 million even started a whole new soccer season this month as coronavirus cases rose.

The move has the full support of Lukashenko, who took to the ice in an amateur hockey tournament on Saturday with a few hundred spectators in the stands.

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“It’s better to die standing that to live on your knees,” he said, defending Belarus’ refusal to introduce isolation measures and border restrictions like its neighbours, such as Russia.

Soccer fans in need of their weekly fix are turning to Belarus, home to one of the few professional leagues that is still playing. Reuters

With foreign sports networks having little to show and few other options for sports betting, Lukashenko says the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to put the country’s soccer league on display.

“I look at Russia and some people there are winning a lot on bets, because beforehand they didn’t really know our teams,” Lukashenko said. “Someone’s losing, someone’s winning. It’s all useful.”

Fans entering the stadiums in Belarus are given antiseptic hand gel and some have their temperatures monitored by medics. Few wear masks because they’re not considered necessary for open-air events, Belarus soccer federation spokesman Alexander Aleinik said.

Belarus doesn’t publish daily figures on the spread of the virus. On Friday, the last day for which statistics are available, the country recorded 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with no deaths.

The Belarusian league isn’t usually an international attraction. Crowds this season barely average 1,200 and UEFA ranks it the continent’s 25th strongest, just below Norway, Israel and Kazakhstan.

But Russian TV has given its games prominent slots on state sports channels and betting firms around Western Europe are streaming them for customers.

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British fans on social media have picked teams to follow and thrown themselves into a new fandom, elevating obscure players to hero status and berating coaches for supposedly negative tactics.

There isn’t much competition, with betting sites offering little more than Nicaraguan soccer, Tajikistan basketball and Russian table tennis as rivals.

Sergei Melnikov is one of those hoping to make an impression on the mostly empty global sports stage. He is the director of the Isloch club, which beat Smolevichi 1-0 on Sunday to keep pace with the leaders on points.

“The whole world is watching our soccer right now,” Melnikov said. “That means we have to show the best that we’ve got.”

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

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CFL postpones the start of Training Camp – CFL.ca

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TORONTO — The Canadian Football League issued a statement Monday morning saying it will be postponing the start of 2020 Training Camps due to the ongoing global pandemic.

The statement, attributed to Commissioner Randy Ambrosie, reads as follows:

“As of today, the opening of CFL training camps will be postponed. The ongoing global pandemic and the resulting directives issued by various governments make it unsafe to proceed with plans to gather our athletes and coaches together as scheduled. (Until today, full CFL training camps had been scheduled to open on May 17, and rookie camps had been scheduled to open as early as May 11.)

As for our future plans, we are in the hands of our public health officials, the advice they are providing governments, and the directives those governments are issuing to us all, and we acknowledge their timetable will be dictated by the virus itself . We will make further decisions when we can and share them with our fans and the public as soon as possible.

The CFL and its member clubs would like to take this opportunity to thank our fans, partners, players, prospects, coaches and staff, for their dedication and patience as we face this challenge. We are facing it together, even if we have to be physically apart. An additional thank you to everyone doing their part to fight the virus. Please wash your hands, stay home and practice social distancing. The sooner we stop the spread, the sooner we can get back to normal – and back to football.

Finally, but most importantly, we want to express our gratitude to the people on the front lines of healthcare and the supply chain. Your hard and courageous work – to inform us, feed us and care for us, our communities and our loved ones – makes you our champions.

We at the CFL are pragmatic optimists. Our pragmatism dictates that, unfortunately, training camps cannot go forward as scheduled. But our optimism remains strong. We continue to look forward to a CFL season and the Grey Cup.”

The postponement of the start of Training Camp is the latest in a handful of necessary responses from the CFL to adapt to the ongoing pandemic. Last week, the league announced it was postponing its Global Draft until the start of camps. The week before, the league cancelled its remaining Combines for the 2020 season.

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