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Djokovic takes issue with Norrie’s behavior at Italian Open: ‘Not fair play’

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Novak Djokovic’s angry glare made it clear how furious the 22-time Grand Slam champion was with his opponent.

And it wasn’t just because Cameron Norrie hit him in the left calf with an overhead smash after Djokovic had already turned his back and conceded a point early in the second set of the Serb’s 6-3, 6-4 win on Tuesday.

There were also other instances of bad sportsmanship from Norrie, Djokovic said after reaching the Italian Open quarter-finals for the 17th straight year.

Djokovic also took issue with how his British opponent took a medical time out just before he served out the match.

“I did watch the replay when he hit me. Maybe you could say he didn’t hit me deliberately,” Djokovic said when asked about his angry glare toward Norrie after the incident. “It was not so much maybe about that. … From the very beginning, he was doing all the things that were allowed. He’s allowed to take a medical timeout. He’s allowed to hit a player. He’s allowed to say ‘Come on’ in the face more or less every single point from basically first game.

“Those are the things that we players know in the locker room it’s not fair play, it’s not how we treat each other,” Djokovic said. “He brought the fire, and I responded to that. I’m not going to allow someone behaving like this just bending my head. I’m going to respond to that.”

Clearly motivated by Norrie’s behaviour, Djokovic produced his best clay-court performance of the year against the 13th-seeded Norrie, who was not made available for comment.

Also on Campo Centrale, local hope Jannik Sinner was eliminated by Francisco Cerundolo 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-2. Cerundolo will play Casper Ruud, who beat Laslo Djere 6-1, 6-3.

In women’s action, two-time defending Rome champion Iga Swiatek beat Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4 and will next face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. Also, Paula Badosa got past Karolina Muchova 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2 and will play 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Aiming for his seventh title at the Foro Italico, Djokovic had his entire game clicking after struggling at times in the previous rounds and in his previous two tournaments on clay.

On an overcast day after it had rained all morning, Djokovic appeared focused from the start.

“I actually finished my warm-up 10 minutes before I went on the court. So I was rushing a bit with everything but we couldn’t (warm up) earlier because of the rain,” Djokovic said. “So I’m just glad to overcome today’s challenge in straight sets and move on.”

Djokovic was seen in the trainer’s room before the match, having taken three weeks off before this tournament because of a lingering issue with his surgically repaired right elbow.

“Every day is something,” the 35-year-old Djokovic said, without specifying what was bothering him.

Djokovic committed less than half as many unforced errors as Norrie, 14-29; and had two more winners, 21-19.

Norrie won a title on clay in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year, beating Carlos Alcaraz in the final.

Djokovic will lose the No. 1 ranking to Alcaraz after this tournament – even though Alcaraz was beaten by 135th-ranked Hungarian qualifier Fabian Marozsan in the third round on Monday.

Alcaraz will therefore be seeded No. 1 and Djokovic will be No. 2 at the French Open, which starts in 12 days.

Djokovic will next face seventh-seeded Holger Rune in a rematch of the Paris Masters final that the 20-year-old Dane won in November. Rune beat Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

“He kind of reminds me a little bit, the way he plays,” Djokovic said of Rune. “Really fit physically, great defence, but also great counterpuncher. He can hurt you from both forehand and backhand side. Really solid serve. Aggressive returns. Just all-around player on all surfaces.

Rune reached the final of the Monte Carlo Masters last month.

“It’s going to be a very physical match,” Djokovic said.

Also, Daniil Medvedev beat 2017 champion Alexander Zverev for the third time this year, 6-2, 7-6 (3), after they also met in Indian Wells, California, and Monte Carlo. Medvedev hadn’t won a match in three previous visits to Rome but will now play German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann for a spot in the semi-finals.

Hanfmann upset Monte Carlo champion Andrey Rublev 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3.

Earlier, Zverev finished off a 6-4, 7-5 win over J.J. Wolf in a match that was suspended because of rain at 3-3 in the second set on Monday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas eliminated Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 7-6 (3) in another match that began on Monday. Tsitsipas was playing again later against another Italian, Lorenzo Musetti, in a match that started near midnight.

Musetti rallied past Frances Tiafoe 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in another suspended match that had to be completed.

 

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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