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Canadian Bianca Andreescu defeats Greece's Maria Sakkari to advance to Miami Open final – TSN

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MIAMI — Canada’s Bianca Andreescu is heading to the final of the Miami Open after yet another three-set victory.

The eighth-seeded Andreescu fought back from a break down twice in the third set to beat No. 23 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (4) in a match that finished at 1:35 a.m. ET on Friday.

Andreescu has won her past four matches in three sets and has won six three-setters in a row overall. Eight of her 11 matches this year have gone the distance.

The Canadian will face top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia in the final of the WTA 1000 event on Saturday. Barty beat No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-3 in the first semifinal on Thursday.

Andreescu finished Sakkari off on her third match point of the tiebreak. She took charge by taking two points in a row off Sakkari’s serve to go up 5-2.

The Canadian double-faulted for just the second time in the match on a pivotal point, giving Sakkari a break to go up 6-5 in the third set. But Andreescu broke right back without dropping a point to send it to a decisive tiebreaker.

Thisis Andreescu’s third tournament back after a 16-month absence in the aftermath of a knee injury. She’s trying to recapture the form of her breakthrough 2019 season when she won three tournaments, including the U.S. Open.

Sakkari broke Andreescu to go up 3-2 in the third set, but couldn’t hold the lead.

The Canadian tied it at 4-4 with her own break. Andreescu ran down a shot before Sakkari hit one wide to finish the game.

Sakkari rallied from a break down to win the second set.

Andreescu’s consistency dropped as the set went on with several unforced errors leading to the decisive break that put Sakkari up 5-3.

Sakkari tied it at 3-3 with her first break of the second set, running down a forehand to stay in the game before overpowering Andreescu with some aggressive shots.

Sakkari had 10 winners in the second set, eight more than the Canadian.

Andreescu looked to be in trouble early in the match but saved two break points to hold serve, then broke her opponent for the first time to go up 3-1.

But she was unable to seize control when she fired a backhand long to give the break right back on her next service game, and 33 minutes in the Greek had it back to 4-4.

Sakkari wouldn’t go away, but Andreescu went shot for shot and saved two set points before finally putting a backhand past her opponent to take the first-set tiebreaker, which took one full hour to complete.

Andreescu returned from her 16-month layoff in February at the Australian Open, losing in the second round of the Grand Slam.

The 20-year-old Canadian followed that up by reaching the semifinals of an event in Melbourne for players eliminated early from the Australian Open, but a leg injury suffered there kept her out until Miami.

Andreescu entered Thursday night’s match 32-1 in North America since the start of 2019,

The 25-year-old Sakkari ended No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka’s 23-match unbeaten run with a 6-0, 6-4 win over the Japanese player in the quarterfinals.

In her previous match, Sakkari fought off six match points in a win over American Jessica Pegula.

Sakkari had a career record of 2-9 in semifinals heading into the match against Andreescu.

All four Canadian men have been eliminated in the singles draw.

In women’s doubles, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos face No. 8 seeds Luisa Stefani of Brazil and Hayley Carter of the U.S. in a semifinal on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021.

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Blue Jays optimistic Jose Berrios won’t miss next start after abdominal scare – Sportsnet.ca

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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios is doing much better after leaving Tuesday’s game with an abdominal injury, manager Charlie Montoyo said Wednesday.

After the Blue Jays’ 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the team reported that Berrios left the game due to abdominal tightness on his left side and received post-game treatment.

Berrios threw seven innings of one run ball Tuesday, striking out six and allowing only four hits.

“He’s doing fine,” Montoyo said. “He’s doing a lot better than we thought, which is great news. Actually, you might get to see him playing catch in a little bit to see how he’s doing. He did all the tests. Everything looks good.”

The right-handed pitcher who the Blue Jays acquired at the trade deadline is 11-8 on the season, with a 3.43 ERA in 173.1 innings pitched.

The Blue Jays wrap up their series with the Rays on Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. ET/ 12:07 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN Now.

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France to open Billie Jean King Cup defence against Canada

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Reigning champions France will kick off this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Prague against Canada on Nov. 1, with the final scheduled for Nov. 6, the International Tennis Federation said on Wednesday.

Formerly called the Fed Cup, the women’s team competition featuring 12 nations was originally scheduled to be held in Budapest in April last year before being postponed twice due to the pandemic.

France triumphed in the 2019 edition when a team featuring Kristina Mladenovic, Caroline Garcia and Pauline Parmentier defeated Australia.

This year, Belgium, the 2001 winners, will face 2017 runners-up Belarus on the opening day, while eleven-times winners Czech Republic will play on Nov. 1 and Nov. 4.

The competing nations will each play two group-stage ties to determine the winners of the four three-team groups, who will then progress to the semi-finals. Each tie will consist of two singles matches and a doubles match.

Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Australia, the U.S., Russia and Switzerland will be the other nations competing.

 

(Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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Gymnasts Biles, Maroney demand justice in botched FBI sex abuse probe

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) –Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney on Wednesday told U.S. lawmakers she feels betrayed by FBI agents, after they failed to investigate former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, despite her telling them he had sexually abused her.

FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate panel that the actions of the agents who botched the investigation are inexcusable, and he announced that one of the agents “no longer works for the bureau in any capacity.”

“I’m deeply and profoundly sorry,” Wray said.

Maroney is one of four athletes, along with Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols, who testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee as it probes the FBI’s mishandling of the investigation.

Maroney recalled how in 2015 she spent three hours on the phone telling the FBI the details of her story that her own mother had not even heard, including accounts of sexual abuse she endured during the Olympic games in London by Nassar, whom she described as “more of a pedophile” than he was a doctor.

It was not until July of this year, however, that she said the Justice Department inspector general revealed in a scathing report  what the FBI actually did with the information she provided: Failing to document it for a year and a half, and misrepresenting what she told them about her experiences.

“Not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said,” Maroney said, with anger in her voice.

Wednesday’s hearing comes after the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz in July issued a scathing report https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/reports/21-093.pdf which blasted the FBI for botching its investigation https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-justice-watchdog-release-report-into-fbi-probe-ex-usa-gymnastics-doctor-2021-07-14 in a series of errors that allowed the abuse to continue for months.

Several of the gymnasts said they were furious that the FBI failed to immediately interview them about the abuse after they had reported it. Once the FBI finally did contact them, they said the agents tried to downplay the severity of the abuse.

“I remember sitting with the FBI agent and him trying to convince me that it wasn’t that bad,” Raisman said.

“It’s taken me years of therapy to realize that my abuse was bad, that it does matter.”

Horowitz also appeared on Wednesday along with Wray.

Horowitz said that the now-fired agent who falsified Maroney’s statement “could have actually jeopardized the criminal investigation by providing false information that could have bolstered Nassar’s defense.”

The FBI declined to name the fired agent, but Senator Richard Blumenthal identified him as Michael Langeman.

Langeman served as a supervisory special agent in Indianapolis, where he led a task force that investigated child sexual exploitation, according to an interview he gave to a local podcast in 2018.

Reuters could not immediately reach Langeman for comment.

The FBI’s investigation into Nassar started in July 2015, after USA Gymnastics President and CEO Stephen Penny reported the allegations to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office.

That office, then led by Special Agent in Charge W. Jay Abbott, did not formally open an investigation. The FBI only interviewed one witness months later, in September 2015, and failed to formally document that interview in an official report known as a “302” until February 2017 – well after the FBI had arrested Nassar on charges of possessing sexually explicit images of children in December 2016.

When the interview was finally documented in 2017 by an unnamed supervisory special agent, the report was filled with “materially false information and omitted material information,” Horowitz’s report determined.

Abbott, who retired from the FBI in 2018, also violated the FBI’s conflict of interest policy by discussing a possible job with the U.S. Olympic Committee while he was involved with the Nassar investigation.

As the FBI delayed its probe, Nassar went on to abuse more victims. At one point in Wednesday’s hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal asked all four athletes whether they knew of victims who were abused after the July 2015 disclosure to the FBI.

“Yes,” all four of them said.

Neither Abbott nor the other unnamed supervisory special agent who botched the Nassar probe were prosecuted for their actions.

Wray said the case was presented twice for possible prosecution and declined, but he deferred to federal prosecutors to explain their reasoning.

“We have been failed and we deserve answers,” Biles said on Wednesday.

Raisman, meanwhile, expressed frustrations that more has not been done to investigate USA Gymnastics or the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee for covering up Nassar’s abuse for years.

“Why did none of these organizations warn anyone? USAG and USOPC have a long history of enabling abuse by turning a blind eye. Both organizations knew of Nassar’s abuse, long before it became public,” she said.

In a statement, the USOPC said it remains “completely dedicated to the safety and well-being” of its athletes, and it has implemented reforms after hiring a law firm to conduct an independent investigation.

USA Gymnastics did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Nassar has been found guilty in three separate cases, with one of the prison sentences running up to 175 years. Prosecutors have estimated he sexually assaulted hundreds of women and girls.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)

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