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Canadian Denis Shapovalov falls to Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon semifinal – Sportsnet.ca

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WIMBLEDON, England — Canada’s Denis Shapovalov left the court in tears Friday after suffering a “heartbreaking” loss in the Wimbledon semifinals.

The 22-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., had battled world No. 1 Novak Djokovic through a tight contest, but ultimately came up short.

“What hurt so much this time was just that I felt like the game is there and it’s possible to go and play for the trophy,” Shapovalov said. “It’s a feeling I’ve never had before, so that’s why it just hurt so much. I felt like I was outplaying Novak in parts of the match. If you’re outplaying Novak, you can beat anyone.”

Djokovic worked his way in and out of trouble against the No. 10 seed, eliminating him 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5.

Each set was tight and intense. Each appeared to be within Shapovalov’s grasp — until it was in Djokovic’s.

“He was serving for first set. He was better for most of the second set; had a lot of opportunities and just didn’t manage to close it out when he needed to,” said Djokovic, who at 34 is 12 years older than Shapovalov. “In important moments, I think I probably held my nerves better than he did and just (made) him play an extra shot, (made) him do an unforced error.”

Djokovic made just 15 unforced errors, Shapovalov 36. The other key stats: Djokovic saved 5 of 5 break points in the second set, then 3 of 3 in the third.

Shapovalov felt he played well against the five-time Wimbledon champion.

“I had chances in every set. It just went his way today. Obviously, he’s No. 1 in the world. He’s there for a reason and he’s obviously played a lot of these matches and has a lot of experience,” he said. “I was dictating my game a lot and I thought he felt it.”

While he called the loss “heartbreaking,” Shapovalov said it also made him hungrier to win a trophy.

“It’s almost good to have a little bit of a taste because it just makes me want it that much more going into the next Slams and into the future,” he said. “Now I know exactly what I’m capable of and where my game can be at and also the things I can improve to beat Novak next time or reach one step further.”

Friday marked Djokovic’s 20th win in a row at the grass-court Grand Slam.

If he gets the streak to 21 on Sunday by beating Matteo Berrettini in the final, Djokovic will tie rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with a 20th major championship, the most for a man in tennis history.

“It would mean everything,” Djokovic said. “That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m playing.”

He’ll have to beat No. 7 seed Berrettini to make it happen.

Cries of “Vai!” (Go!), “Forza!” (Let’s go!) and even “Andiamo, amore mio!” (Let’s go, my love!) rang through the All England Club’s main stadium earlier, supporting Berrettini in his native tongue on his way to becoming Italy’s first Grand Slam male finalist in 45 years.

With booming serves delivering 22 aces, and powerful forehands helping compile a total of 60 winners, Berrettini used an 11-game run to grab a big lead and held on to beat No. 14 Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-4.

Djokovic is trying to collect a third straight Wimbledon championship to go along with nine from the Australian Open, three from the U.S. Open and two from the French Open.

And then there’s this: After collecting trophies on the hard courts of Melbourne Park in February, and the red clay of Roland Garros in June — defeating Berrettini in the quarterfinals there — Djokovic seeks a triumph on the grass of the All England Club to get three-quarters of the way to a calendar-year Grand Slam, with only the U.S. Open remaining.

No man has pulled off that three-title stretch within one year — let alone all four — since Rod Laver won the Grand Slam in 1969.

This will be Djokovic’s 30th major final, Berrettini’s first. Much as it was Djokovic’s 41st major semifinal, Shapovalov’s first.

“Obviously, the job is not done yet,” said the 25-year-old Berrettini, who lost his only previous Slam semifinal, at the 2019 U.S. Open. “I want to get the trophy now that I’m here.”

He owns an 11-match winning streak on grass courts, including the title at the Queen’s Club tuneup last month, when he became the first man since Boris Becker in 1985 to win the trophy in his debut at that event.

“Matteo played (an) unbelievable match,” said Hurkacz, who arrived at Wimbledon on a six-match losing streak but beat Federer and No. 2 Daniil Medvedev to reach his first Slam semifinal. “I didn’t have many chances, basically. Probably zero.”

When he got broken for the first time, the 24-year-old from Poland sat for the ensuing changeover and, between bites of a banana, motioned to his American coach, Craig Boynton, to adjust the seating arrangements in their guest box. As if that were the issue.

Cheered from the stands by his girlfriend, Ajla Tomljanovic, who made it to the quarterfinals this week, and his parents and brother — Mom captured his on-court interview with her cellphone — Berrettini was two points from winning in the third set.

But Hurkacz extended the contest to an extra set, before Berrettini asserted himself again.

A lefty with a vibrant, sometimes violent, swing, including when it comes to his one-handed backhand, Shapovalov kept pushing Djokovic to the brink, but couldn’t quite get the job done.

That backhand forced a Djokovic error to conclude a 15-stroke exchange that provided Shapovalov with a break and a 2-1 edge. He stretched that to 5-3 and was two points from taking the set in the next game, but couldn’t get closer.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Shapovalov faltered — pushed by Djokovic’s indefatigable defence.

Djokovic broke, then was better in the tiebreaker. Not perfect, but better.

Mostly playing it safe and letting Shapovalov err worked just fine. Shapovalov double-faulted to end that set. He did so again to get broken to trail 6-5 in the second. And again in the game that left him behind 6-5 in the third.

By then, Djokovic was punching the air and shouting, knowing the match’s end, and another final, was near.

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Canada earns first medal in Tokyo with silver in women’s 4×100 freestyle swimming – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada has earned its first trip to the podium at the Tokyo Olympics, claiming silver in the women’s 4×100-metre swimming freestyle relay Saturday night.

Penny Oleksiak, the decorated swimmer who anchored the Canadian women to the nation’s first medal of these Games, earned her fifth career trip to the podium in the process, tying the all-time record for a summer Olympian from Canada. Rower Lesley Thompson-Willie and sprinter Phil Edwards are Canada’s other two five-time summer Games medalists.

“I think it’s kind of crazy,” Oleksiak said after the race. “I think we were all hopeful that we would get a medal. We didn’t know what medal it would really be. I think we all just wanted one. For it to be a silver, it’s pretty crazy I think.”

Kayla Sanchez, Maggie Mac Neil and Rebecca Smith rounded out Canada’s medal-winning crew. Sanchez took the lead position in the final, giving Mac Neil and Smith a chance to inch Canada closer to its eventual silver.

Then, in the final length, Oleksiak took over, propelling Canada out of what could have been a fourth-place finish and onto the podium.

“I just knew I wasn’t going to touch third,” Oleksiak said. “And when I make a decision in the race I have to execute it, so I wanted a silver medal for these girls and I wanted it so bad I wouldn’t accept anything else.”

Taylor Ruck, the fifth member of the team, didn’t swim in the final but competed in the preliminary heats and also received a medal.

Earlier in the night Mac Neil, who replaced Ruck in the final, placed third in her semifinal of the women’s 100-metre butterfly, earning a place in Sunday’s final and a chance to earn an individual medal for Canada.

In that semifinal, Mac Neil, the 2019 world champion and Canadian record holder in the event, posted a time of 56.56 seconds. She finished behind world record holder and Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, and Yufei Zhang of China, who finished first with a time of 55.89 seconds.

“I know from experience my second swim is usually better because I’m warmed up already,” Mac Neil said. “I was really looking forward to it. Having these girls with me definitely gave me that extra boost to get silver.”

The Australian women’s team earned gold in Saturday’s 4×100-metre freestyle, shattering the previous world record with a time of 03:29.69. Canada managed to beat out the USA by a mere three one-hundredths of a second, as the Americans finished with bronze.

The Canadian relay team secured its place in tonight’s final by posting the third-fastest time in yesterday’s semifinal with a combined time of three minutes 33.72 seconds, narrowly behind the Netherlands and Australia.

This relay team kicking off the nation’s Olympics success isn’t new. Five years ago, during the Rio Games, it was the Canadian women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay team that earned Canada’s first medal with a bronze.

Canada’s women will seek to secure a podium position in all three relay events during the Tokyo games after achieving three bronze medals during the world championship in South Korea two years ago.

“I have a lot of faith in these people,” Sanchez said. “If you want someone to anchor it’s Penny. And if you want someone to swim second it’s Maggie. And Rebecca is a great trainer and consistent. We just did what we needed to do.”

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Tokyo 2020: Canada wins first medal after swimming to silver in women's 4×100 freestyle relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT

TOKYO — Canada has its first medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team raced to silver.

Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez of Toronto, Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., and Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., finished in a time of three minutes 32.78 seconds as Canada picked up a medal in the event for a second straight Games.

Australia won gold in a world-record time of 3:29.69, while the United States finished third in 3:32.81.

Oleksiak swam the anchor leg and narrowly beat out American Simone Manuel at the wall.

Canada’s women are looking to duplicate the success they had in the pool at the 2016 Rio Games, where they picked up six medals.

Earlier on Sunday, Mac Neil also advanced to Monday morning’s 100-metre butterfly final. The 21-year-old world champion in the event posted the sixth-fastest time in the semifinals.

An hour after qualifying for the butterfly final, Mac Neil drew into the relay lineup for Taylor Ruck who swam the heat for Canada. The women posted the third-fastest time in the preliminaries.

Sanchez led off the final followed by Mac Neil and Smith with Oleksiak bringing the team home.

Oleksiak and Ruck won a pair of freestyle relay bronze medals as 16-year-olds in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

They teamed with Sandrine Mainville and Chantal Van Landeghem in the 4 x 100 to win Canada’s first medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Oleksiak also swam the anchor leg in Rio.

Canada’s women aim for the podium in all three relays in Tokyo after earning three bronze at the world championship in Gwangju, South Korea two years ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2021.

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The Edmonton Oilers select big German defender Luca Munzenberger at #90 overall – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers trading down on Day #1 of the NHL draft was converted not 24 hours later into Defenceman Luca Munzenbeger.

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Gotta love the name! Munzenberger is an 18-year old out of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has a late (November) 2002 birth date.

He’s a big, left-handed shot at 6’3, 194 LBS.

Munzenberger spent the majority of 2020-21 with Kolner Junghaie of the DNL U20. In 6 games he went 1-2-3 and served as Team Captain. His time in junior versus pro left open the door for him to play in college. Munzenberger also played for Team Germany at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton (0-0-0 in 5GP). More on that in a minute…

Munzenberger is considered to be an excellent PK man, but possesses a big shot which makes him a threat from the point as well. Scouts say he has a soft set of hands and makes an effective first-pass out of his own zone. Those who have seen him play, namely amateur scout Brock Otten, describe the kid as a “suffocating physical defender” with a mean streak. He’s an above-average skater for his size with a massive stride and a big wingspan. He’s effective at clearing the slot and his reach helps him get to pucks ahead of attackers. In my own viewing of his highlights from the WJC’s, Munzenberger closes quickly and effectively on the opposition along the walls. The foot-speed, reach and size are visibly key tools in his ability to break up the cycle.

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A side note from that tournament that may indicate the quality of his intangibles: Munzenberger was in COVID quarantine at the very beginning ot the WJ’s, but emerged from that status prior to Christmas and rebounded with a strong performance. That would seem to speak to the kid’s resilience. The young man in a foreign country responded to a stressful situation and considerable uncertainty extremely well.

Draft analyst Steve Kournianos says of him: “A big bodied vacuum cleaner on defence… He has ideal size but the mobility and agility to cover faster players… He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a throwback… He has soft hands and delivers clean passes to any area in the offensive zone, but what makes Munzenberger dangerous is his lethal shot — he owns a bomb of a shot, not only for its velocity but for the sheer power he generates with little backswing. His wrister is just as nasty.”

It is fair to consider this pick as somewhat “off the board”. Elite Prospects had him at #214. No other service had him listed at all. One wonders if fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl had and offered any insight on the player to the Oilers draft team? He and his father surely know of every sharp prospect in that nation.

Munzenberger is committed to NCAA University of Vermont in 2022-23 which offers another interesting tidbit. Todd Woodcroft is the coach of that program, the brother of Bakersfield Condors bench boss Jay Woodcroft.  So, there may well be some added insight from that connection.

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