NEW YORK (AP) — Emma Raducanu came to Flushing Meadows for her second Grand Slam tournament ranked so low that she needed to go through qualifying rounds just to get into the main draw. She’s just 18, so new to all of this, and yet no one has figured out a way to stop her.
Not even take a set off her.
Showing off the shots and poise of someone much more experienced, the 150th-ranked Raducanu became the first qualifier to get to the U.S. Open semifinals in the professional era — and, remarkably, the second teen in two days to secure a spot in the final four — by eliminating Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday.
“To have so many young players here doing so well — it just shows how strong the next generation is,” said Britain’s Raducanu, who joins Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, 19, in the semifinals. “Everyone’s on their trajectory. … It’s my own journey at the end of the day.”
And what a ride she is on at the moment.
Raducanu won all 16 sets she has contested through eight matches over the past 1 1/2 weeks — three during the qualifying rounds and another five in the main draw. She next will face No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, a two-time major runner-up, or No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, a semifinalist at this year’s French Open, on Thursday for a spot in the final.
The other women’s semifinal will be the 73rd-ranked Fernandez against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
In Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinals, Novak Djokovic was scheduled to try to extend his bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam by facing Matteo Berrettini at night in a rematch of the Wimbledon final, while Olympic champion Alexander Zverev met Lloyd Harris.
Raducanu was ranked outside of the top 300 in late June when she got a chance to play at Wimbledon thanks to a wild-card invitation. In that Grand Slam debut, she reached the fourth round before stopping during that match when she had trouble breathing.
That tournament allowed the world to begin to get familiar with her style of crisp, clean tennis, managing to attack early in points from the baseline without sacrificing accuracy. By the end against the 11th-seeded Bencic, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2019, Raducanu had nearly twice as many winners as unforced errors, 23-12.
She also showed gumption, particularly at the end, when she fell behind love-30 in each of her last two service games before pulling through.
At the outset, Raducanu trailed 3-1.
“Her ball speed definitely caught me off-guard,” Raducanu said about the hard-hitting Bencic. “I definitely had to try to adapt.”
She did just that. Quickly, too. From there, Raducanu reeled off five games in a row to take the opening set, the first dropped by Bencic all tournament.
Bencic only had been broken three times through four matches, but Raducanu equaled that total and became only the third woman ranked outside the top 100 to advance to the U.S. Open semifinals.
When Bencic double-faulted to get broken and fall behind 3-2 in the second set, she trudged, slow as can be, to a corner of the court to retrieve her towel. When she got to her sideline seat, she whacked her racket against her equipment bag, then plopped herself down and smacked the racket against the ground.
Raducanu jogged to the sideline, showered in applause and cheers from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.
Just like the prior afternoon, the Ashe spectators lent their considerable support to a teenager whose name is not yet well-known and who’s not yet all that accustomed to gracing these stages.
On Tuesday, a day after turning 19 and sharing cupcakes with Raducanu and others in the locker room, it was Fernandez getting past No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) to become the youngest semifinalist at Flushing Meadows since Maria Sharapova in 2005.
On Wednesday, it was the even-younger Raducanu’s turn.
Is this it as a Ryder Cup player? Lee Westwood shares singles win with son as caddie – Golf Channel
Whether or not Lee Westwood will captain the European Ryder Cup team in Rome, Italy in 2023, he seemed resigned to the fact that this was his last competition as a player.
“Listen, this match I played this afternoon, it might be the last match I’ve played in the Ryder Cup. I’d rather it wasn’t, but I’m 49 next April, and the likelihood is it is. I got to share it with my son. Won my point,” Westwood said Sunday evening, pausing to hold back tears.
“I hate this tournament. It makes you so emotional, but that’s what makes it great as well.”
Westwood’s son, Sam, was his caddie this week as the 48-year-old Englishman won his singles match, 1 up, over Harris English.
Westwood went 1-2-0 at Whistling Straits, moving his all-time record to 21-20-6. His 11 appearances tie him with Nick Faldo for most ever, on either side.
Westwood was one of four 40-somethings on this year’s European team, along with Ian Poulter, 45, Paul Casey, 44, and Sergio Garcia, 41. While this may mark the end of Westwood’s career as a player (he’ll most certainly be a future captain), Poulter, Casey and Garcia weren’t ready to concede to the future.
When asked by a reporter, “For the veteran guys, I don’t want to suggest for a second that you won’t be back, but do you find yourself taking it in more just in case?”
Garcia responded, “I’m not answering this one. I’m not a veteran.”
To which Westwood followed, “I guess that’s me, then, is it?”
If this is it for Westwood, he leaves as a member of seven victorious European teams.
Blue Jays beat Twins; stay two back in AL wild-card race – TSN
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Teoscar Hernández, Marcus Semien and George Springer homered, and the Toronto Blue Jays held their position in the playoff chase by beating the Minnesota Twins 6-1 Saturday night.
Robbie Ray (13-6) scattered three hits in six innings as the Blue Jays ended a three-game slide.
Toronto stayed two games behind Boston and New York in the AL wild-card race with seven games remaining.
Semien hit his 43rd home run in the sixth for a 3-1 lead. That tied him with Dave Johnson of Atlanta in 1973 for the most home runs in a season by a second baseman.
Springer snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a two-run shot in the seventh. It was his 18th of the season and first since Sept. 11.
Ray, who leads the AL with a 2.68 ERA and tops the majors with 244 strikeouts, gave up one run and fanned six.
Minnesota scored on a sacrifice fly in the first and had runners on in four of the next five innings. Ray escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth, ending his outing by getting Miguel Sanó to foul out and Nick Gordon to line out. The Twins were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
Hernández homered and Santiago Espinal scored on a double by Randal Grichuk, coupled with an error by right fielder Brent Rooker, for a 2-1 lead in the second.
Out since Sept. 14 with a left abdominal strain, Minnesota starter John Gant (5-10) came off the 10-day injured list and allowed two runs — one earned — in three innings.
Former 1B Justin Morneau was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.
The native of New Westminster, British Columbia, hit .278 in 11 years with the club. Morneau ranks second on the Twins all-time list in games played at first base (1,124), third in home runs (221), sixth in RBI (860), and eighth in hits (1,318) and walks (501). The American League MVP in 2006 also was a four-time All-Star. He finished his 14-year career with stints in Pittsburgh, Colorado and with the White Sox, and was inducted in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. He remains with the Twins as a special assistant to baseball operations and part-time analyst on the team’s television broadcasts.
Blue Jays: RHP Joakim Soria was placed on the COVID-related injured list and LHP Kirby Snead was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo. … Manager Charlie Montoyo said OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. might not return to the lineup until Tuesday. Gurriel’s hand was stepped on by a teammate during an outfield play Thursday and he received stitches in his middle finger.
Twins: To make room for Gant, RHP Joe Ryan was placed on the family medical emergency/bereavement list.
Toronto RHP Alek Manoah (7-2, 3.36) and Twins RHP Griffin Jax (3-4, 6.75) are Sunday afternoon’s scheduled starters. Manoah has allowed just two earned runs and six hits over 14 innings across his past two starts.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Canadiens @ Maple Leafs recap: Most certainly a pre-season game – Habs Eyes on the Prize
After what felt like an eternity, the Montreal Canadiens were back on the ice for a game. The team they faced was the club they embarrassed in the first round of the 2021 NHL playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sure, Toronto blew a 3-1 series lead in the post-season, but it’s a new (pre-)season now and the Canadiens are a much different club.
Of course, this is also the first game of the pre-season, so it’s not like we were seeing the final product for Montreal or Toronto. However, this game was a chance to see the return of the Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield line. It also saw Alexander Romanov playing alongside Jeff Petry, in addition to the debuts of Mathieu Perreault and Cedric Paquette for the Habs after signing in the off-season.
Toronto came out with the early chances, including William Nylander dangling around Gianni Fairbrother, but Cayden Primeau stood tall to deny the chance in tight before the Canadiens drew the game’s first power play.
The man advantage was far from finely tuned, but the top line created a few looks as Toffoli and Caufield worked into the inner slot against the Leafs’ penalty kill. A few errant passes kept the Habs from establishing any sort of real zone time. Toronto continued to amp up the pressure at even strength, but some heady defensive work from Brandon Baddock helped to defuse the Toronto attack.
A Rich Clune hit from behind on Lukas Vejdemo sent Montreal to another power play and Vejdemo to the Habs’ locker room. Dominique Ducharme opted to just roll his lines as the man advantage took effect, but there were no goals to find.
As the play once again returned to five-on-five, Toronto’s top line got a favourable matchup against Montreal’s third pair and took full advantage. Arber Xhekaj drifted off his assignment behind Xavier Ouellet, leaving a swath of open ice for Nylander to feed a pass to a pinching Jake Muzzin. The veteran defender had all day to uncork a laser shot past Cayden Primeau and give the Leafs the lead.
Muzzin nearly added another goal late in the period as he drew out Primeau from his net, but overhandled the puck before firing a weak wrist shot right into Primeau’s pads.
Montreal’s best look came off a big rebound from Michael Hutchinson that Mathieu Perreault swatted back on net. The period ended with Toronto still leading, and the game clearly being the first in a long time for both sides.
The second period start was far from what the Canadiens wanted as Paquette was called for a hook in the offensive zone. On the ensuing power play, it took the Leafs 10 seconds to score on a John Tavares tip in front of the net to double the Leafs’ lead.
Kurtis Gabriel brought the temperature of the game to a mild simmer as he drilled Brandon Baddock with his head down in the offensive zone. Baddock didn’t take kindly to the hit, springing up and tossing Gabriel to the ice along with his gloves, and for his trouble was given an extra stay in the penalty box.
The Habs were able to fend off the power play, but it wasn’t long before a J.-C. Beaudin slash sent them right back to the penalty kill. Primeau did well to fend off a strong Toronto attack, but by the time the kill was over the shot advantage had grown to 19-5 for Toronto.
Montreal made a switch in net at the game’s midpoint, giving Michael McNiven some well-earned game time. McNiven was tested immediately as Toronto nearly bounced a shot off the end boards and then the back of McNiven’s pads, but the netminder was able to flop back and stop the puck.
Not long after that, Michael Bunting broke in alone, but McNiven tracked him well and denied the forward with a nice pad stop. The Habs somehow managed to find themselves in a three-on-zero situation shortly thereafter. Cole Caufield fired his shot, but wide of the net.
With that miss the Canadiens went to the second intermission trailing by three and looking to find a few positives in the final 20 minutes.
The start to the third was much better than the previous 40 minutes. Toffoli fed a perfect cross-zone feed to Caufield, but new goalie Ian Scott was able to get across and blocker the puck out of play.
Montreal as a whole was much stronger as it peppered Scott with chances, but the young goalie stood tall on all of them. Then, with was later revealed to be a groin injury, Scott left the game, with Hutchinson once again popping up in the net.
At the other end, McNiven put together a highlight reel of great saves. Josh Ho-Sang was able to sneak behind the defence on a breakaway, but McNiven met his challenge with a shoulder save to keep Toronto’s lead at three.
Then it was Jake Muzzin finding space in front of the net again, but McNiven got his blocker on that for another outstanding stop on the Leafs’ veteran blue-liner. Unfortunately for McNiven, he also ended up with the biggest blooper of the night when he came out to play the puck, but set it up on a tee for Gabriel. The Leafs’ tough guy had no issue launching it into the open cage to put the game well out of reach late in the third period.
Montreal was able to get themselves on the board late in the game thanks to Toffoli. Romanov fired a pass from his own zone that Suzuki bumped along to Toffoli. The Habs’ leading goal-scorer from last year buried it past Michael Hutchinson to break the shutout bid.
That was the only goal the Canadiens ended up scoring, as Toronto saw the game out in Montreal’s zone. The Leafs also “won” the post-game shootout for the fans as Ilya Mikheyev bested McNiven in the fourth round, while Mathieu Perreault could not solve Hutchinson at the other end.
The Habs have their annual Red vs. White scrimmage today at 3:00 PM EDT, and their next actual preseason game is a rematch against Toronto on Monday evening.
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