A pair of slips during feature matches on Wimbledon’s centre court had very different consequences for two tennis legends on Tuesday.
First it was Roger Federer who benefited from an injury to his first-round opponent, France’s Adrian Mannarino, who slipped and injured his knee. Federer, 39, was trailing 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 4-2 when Mannarino had to retire.
On the same court less than an hour later, Serena Williams slipped and crumpled to the ground with a sore ankle in her opening set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Williams, 39, began the match with her right thigh taped and she returned to the locker room briefly for treatment after sliding. She tried to continue but quickly gave up and left the court in tears after 34 minutes of play, her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title in tatters.
“This is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well,” Federer, 39, said after his match. “Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.” Referring to Mannarino, Federer added: “It was just a terrible ending, one I don’t like to see. I don’t know, I just felt really down, especially with everything I went through with my knee.”
Sasnovich also offered sympathy for Williams. “I’m so sad for Serena. She is a great champion,” she said. “It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best to her.” She added that she also found the footing difficult. “Yeah, it was very slippery, I felt, as well. When she did the [ankle], I couldn’t run because it was so slippery. But, okay, it’s the same for everyone.”
Rain has caused havoc across Wimbledon since the start of play on Monday and dozens of matches have been postponed. On Tuesday play was suspended for more than four hours on all outdoor courts. More than a dozen matches were eventually rescheduled for Wednesday, including those featuring Canadians Bianca Andreescu, Félix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez.
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov complained about the slippery court when his match with Germany’s Philippe Kohlschreiber restarted Tuesday after the rain delay. The match had already been postponed from Monday because of the weather and when the court cover came off Tuesday afternoon at the end of the fourth set, Shapovalov immediately raised concerns about the damp surface. However, he was told by the umpire that the court was sufficiently dry.
“It was definitely slippery and humid,” Shapovalov said afterward. “But at the end of the day we had to play. It’s tough. I don’t blame anyone, it’s really tough for the tournament with this weather.”
The 10th-seeded Shapovalov managed a hard-fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Kohlschreiber, 37, who was unseeded and ranked 115th in the world. “It was definitely not a really easy first-round match,” Shapovalov said.
He’s hoping that the tough early test will help in future rounds, which could see him face Britain’s resurgent Andy Murray in the third round. “It’s a huge weight off my back. It’s always difficult going in the first round of a major,” Shapovalov said. “I was very difficult so for sure I was really happy to be able to pull through and play the way I did.”
Coco Gauff, who also won her first-round match on an outside court on Tuesday after the lengthy delay, said she was constantly sliding. “I think everybody saw me slipping and sliding out there on the court,” she said. “With Serena, I mean, it was hard for me to watch that. … I turned away. I was in the gym actually stretching. I turned away because stuff like that makes me, like, really emotional.”
Wimbledon officials have been scrambling to slot in the many postponed matches and they have already been forced to cut the first-round matches of men’s doubles to the best of three, instead of five. They’ll be hoping for a break in the weather. But so far the forecast doesn’t look promising with clouds and showers expected for the rest of the week.
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Canadiens’ salary cap situation heading into the draft & free agency – Habs Eyes on the Prize
Some of the biggest stories of the off-season so far have revolved around the Montreal Canadiens. First, Shea Weber’s hockey future was thrown into doubt by reports of a serious injury, and the belief now is that his career is “probably” over, according to general manager Marc Bergevin.
The key bit of news when the Seattle Kraken expansion draft was approaching was that Carey Price was dealing with a less serious injury, but would nevertheless potentially miss the start of the new season. As a result he waived his no-movement clause and was available to be selected by the new team.
Seattle shied away from the $10.5-million cap hit, however, leaving Price unclaimed and free to re-enable his NMC to stay in Montreal.
That cap hit remains the largest on the team. Technically Weber’s is the second-highest on the books at almost $8 million, but he will likely be put on long-term injured reserve. For the intents and purposes of this graphic, removing his slice from the chart serves the same purpose; that cap space is free to be spent on other players.
There are six defencemen under contract for next season who played on the team in 2020-21, but Bergevin will want someone more of Weber’s calibre to take top-four minutes. Expect that to be one of his top priorities, and the first-round pick in tonight’s draft could be in play to acquire such a blue-liner.
He also needs to get a centreman to take big minutes against top players, because it’s sounding like Phillip Danault won’t be back with the team. Nick Suzuki has established himself as the top offensive option down the middle, but the team will be trying to add a number-two to back him up.
We also heard on Thursday that Jonathan Drouin is expected to play next year, so there are now eight forwards signed for next season, with five to six more to go. Restricted free agents Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Artturi Lehkonen can probably be re-signed relatively inexpesively, the former getting a birdge deal hoping to cash in a few seasons from now, and the latter a reliable bottom-six player. Corey Perry may also be offered a deal, but his interest in sticking around may depend on how Bergevin is able to restore the team’s contender status via his other moves.
There is a bit more than $21 million available to make this all happen. A small portion of the available space is eaten up by a bonus overage penalty the Canadiens were handed, but having your young players perform too well in the post-season is far from the worst problem an NHL team is facing. There are more young prospects who could step into lesser roles without needing big financial commitments, so there could be a major splash — or two — made in the coming days.
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Tokyo Olympics officially begin under spectre of pandemic – Al Jazeera English
The opening ceremony marks the beginning of the Summer Games, delayed by a year and held under unprecedented restrictions.
The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games has begun in Tokyo, with a blaze of white and indigo fireworks officially kicking off the quadrennial international sporting event being held under the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach were followed by a small delegation carrying the Japanese flag as they entered Friday’s ceremony, which was initially scheduled to be held about a year earlier before its postponement due to surging COVID-19 infections across the world.
The procession was followed by a moment of silence for victims of the pandemic, as well as Israeli Olympians killed during the 1972 Munich games, before the first of an expected 5,700 athletes began streaming into the ceremony.
Only a few hundred dignitaries and special guests, including French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden, were allowed into the 68,000-capacity New National Stadium after games officials decided to largely bar spectators. International and domestic fans have been banned from all venues in Tokyo.
Top sponsors, including Toyota and Panasonic, also opted not to send their representatives to the opening event, with polls showing the Japanese public remaining largely against moving forward with the sprawling gathering in which about 11,000 athletes will contest 339 medal events across 50 disciplines in 33 sports over two weeks.
Days preceding the ceremony have been defined by positive tests among athletes, officials and their small teams of support staff amid fears the games could become a super-spreader event.
On Friday, the number of Olympic-related infections since July 1 stood at 106, dashing the hopes of some athletes who have trained for years to qualify and forcing some events to already dip into carefully tailored contingency plans designed to assure the competition can proceed.
Concerns of further infection were on full display on Friday, with some country’s teams, notably Brazil, opting to send only their flagbearers as representatives at the ceremony.
Nevertheless, hundreds of people began gathering outside the Olympic Stadium on Friday hoping for a glimpse of what is usually an opportunity for the hosting country to offer an elaborate spectacle highlighting their history and culture to audiences watching around the world.
A small group of protesters also gathered outside of the event.
Reporting from outside the ceremony, Al Jazeera’s Andy Richardson said, “There’s a sense of almost disbelief hanging around this stadium.”
“There has been so much talk about this over the last 12 months – but here we are,” he said, adding that the planners of the event have said the programme will be “sombre and in sync with the sentiment of today, what this country and the world is going through with the pandemic.”
“The opening ceremony has always been a pretty integral part of the Games in showcasing the country’s national identity, but I don’t think many host cities have had to pull off quite such a balancing act to win over such a sceptical public,” he said.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sought to frame the games as the beginning of a return to normalcy after a year and a half of global uncertainty as he urged the athletes “to fully demonstrate their abilities and show us their very best performances”.
“The sight of athletes aiming to be the very best in the world gives dreams and courage to young people and children and deeply moves them,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
Still, questions over the wisdom of moving forward with the games were not the only cloud to loom over Friday’s event.
In a last-minute scandal, the opening ceremony’s director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was fired on Thursday over jokes he made in the 1990s about the Holocaust.
Officials said the dismissal would not affect the programme.
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