MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic wore tape above his right hip, and winced when he stretched for some shots in a three-hour match against Milos Raonic that will go into the records as his 300th win at a major.
For anyone curious about the severity of his injury, he put it into context after qualifying for the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 12th time.
“If it’s any other tournament than a Grand Slam then I would retire, withdraw from the event, that’s for sure,” Djokovic said in an on-court TV interview Sunday following his 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 fourth-round victory. “When it warmed up it was fine. During the match it was kind of on and off.”
The eight-time Australian Open champion planned to spend most of the next two days recovering ahead of his quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev.
That’s pretty much how he spent his time after injuring an abdominal muscle in his five-set, third-round win over Taylor Fritz.
A lot of recovery, a lot of time getting physiotherapy and, he said, “different treatments with different devices. You know, just pills, painkillers and stuff like this with the medical team … that definitely helped a lot.”
He didn’t practice on Saturday — he said he didn’t hit a ball — and didn’t know until he was warming up three hours before his match against Raonic whether or not he’d be fit enough to play Sunday’s late match on Rod Laver Arena.
In the end, he looked OK as he extended his career streak to 12-0 against the big-serving Canadian. He dropped his racket and hurdled an advertising hoarding in the first set, and later watched on as 14th-seeded Raonic had his right ankle re-taped during a medical time out in the second.
His movement wasn’t peak Djokovic, but it was good enough to produce 41 winners and drop only one of his 20 service games. His career win-loss record in the four tennis majors is now 300-45, making him the only man other than Roger Federer (362-59) to compile 300 wins.
“I won the match against a great player,” Djokovic said, “and hopefully it’s going to be even better in two days.”
U.S. Open finalist Zverev beat No. 23-seeded Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3 to move into the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in back-to-back years.
The projected quarterfinal in that top section of the draw panned out according to the seedings.
This other quarterfinal match in that half of the draw is one that nobody saw coming.
With a straight-sets win over third-seeded Dominic Thiem, the U.S. Open champion and Australian Open runner-up in 2020, Grigor Dimitrov advanced to a showdown with Aslan Karatsev.
Yes, that Karatsev — the Russian ranked No. 114 who is playing in his first Grand Slam tournament. Dimitrov beating Thiem isn’t exactly an upset.
The 29-year-old Bulgarian has been ranked as high as No. 3, won the ATP Finals, and already led his friend, Thiem, 3-2 in career head-to-heads, although this was their first meeting at a major.
Despite his lengthy tennis pedigree, Dimitrov has never been past the semifinals at a Grand Slam. So he’s wary of somebody like Karatsev.
“If you’re here, it’s for a reason – there’s no doubt about it,” Dimitrov said after his 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 win. “Whether it’s a fairytale or not, it’s a match — you’ve got to be ready.”
Karatsev earlier added a win over No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime, coming back for a 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory, to an earlier upset over No. 8 Diego Schwartzman.
He’d failed in nine previous bids to qualify for a Grand Slam tournament, but finally succeeded in Doha last month, when qualifying for the Australian Open was held offshore for the first time because of restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s now just the third qualifier to get this far in Australia in the professional era, the first since Goran Ivanisevic in 1989. The last man to get to the round of eight in his first Grand Slam appearance was Alex Radulescu at Wimbledon in 1996.
And not since Patrick McEnroe — John’s brother — in 1991 has a man ranked as low as 114th made it to the Australian Open quarterfinals.
“I was working a lot, and it just happened right now,” the 27-year-old Karatsev said of his recent streak.
“It’s like you never know when it happens. It just happened here.”
Thiem said he had a few issues on Sunday, but didn’t want to elaborate or use them as excuses.
It was clear that he was still fatigued after having to come from two sets down to beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in five sets on Friday night.
“Some little physical issues, plus a real bad day, plus the fact that, well, he’s a great player,” Thiem said. “So a combination of those three things, and a result like that can happen.”
“The thing also is that I’m also not a machine,” he added. “I mean, sometimes I would like to be, but there are really, really bad days.”
Canadiens vs. Jets recap: Winnipeg spoils Dominique Ducharme’s debut – Habs Eyes on the Prize
Coming off an overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators that led to the firing of head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller, the Montreal Canadiens hit the road to take on the Winnipeg Jets. But a change behind the bench couldn’t spark the Habs, as the Jets spoiled Dominique Ducharme’s debut with a come-from-behind 6-3 victory.
The Ducharme era began on a promising note, as Montreal reverted to playing a style of hockey that had made them so successful at the beginning of this season. The Canadiens pressured early, using their speed and forechecking to force the Jets to fall back into their own zone.
Having moved away from needlessly dumping and chasing the puck, the Habs instead concentrated on providing more puck support. The defensive core also got in on the action, playing more aggressively and allowing the Canadiens’ offensive lines to challenge Connor Hellebuyck often in the opening minutes of the game.
This strategy would pay off just over halfway through the period, when Alexander Romanov made a heads-up play to spring Joel Armia, who ripped his fourth goal of the season past Hellebuyck to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.
Armia would strike again with less than three minutes left in the period, when he redirected a nifty pass from Jonathan Drouin to double Montreal’s lead.
Though the home team did show some flashes of life throughout the opening frame, Carey Price cooly shut down any scoring chances to keep the Jets off the scoreboard to end the period with a 2-0 lead.
The Canadiens’ momentum began slowly unravelling in the second. The Habs were dealt a tough blow, losing Josh Anderson to injury, and the forward did not return to the game. Though Montreal once again pushed early and often, Winnipeg used the first intermission to regroup and counter-attack against a porous Canadiens defence.
Kyle Connor took advantage of a defensive breakdown to cut Montreal’s lead in half just under five minutes into the frame on the Jets’ first man advantage of the night, when a delay of game penalty was called against Shea Weber.
The Habs responded with a power play marker of their own shortly after, when Neal Pionk was sent off for high-sticking Nick Suzuki. Jesperi Kotkaniemi blew past Nathan Beaulieu to set up a two-on-zero situation with Tomas Tatar, and the Slovak had no trouble burying his fifth of the season to restore Montreal’s two-goal lead.
But that did little to deter the Jets, who used their new-found confidence to go on the offensive. Winnipeg’s persistence paid off just over halfway through the second, when Connor’s wristshot beat Price to cut the Canadiens’ lead back down to one.
Less than three minutes later, Blake Wheeler’s shot was redirected through traffic to tie the game at three apiece. The two goals scored in under five minutes by Winnipeg took the wind completely out of Montreal’s sails, as the team struggled to regain the dominant form it had shown during the opening frame.
Frustration started seeping in as the Canadiens couldn’t respond with a goal of their own, and instead ended the period taking an unnecessary penalty. Jeff Petry was called for roughing Andrew Copp, and the Jets opened the third period on the man advantage.
Though the Habs were able to successfully kill off that penalty and a subsequent high-sticking call against Ben Chiarot, the team put up little resistance to the home team’s offensive pressure. This tepidity would come back to haunt Montreal, when Nate Thompson slipped a shot through Price’s pads to give Winnipeg its first lead of the game — on a goal that Price would definitely like back.
Both teams continued to exchange penalties in the third period. Wheeler was called for hooking Tatar just over seven minutes in, while just under three minutes later Joel Edmundson was given two minutes for slashing Mark Scheifele’s stick away.
Though neither team was able to score on the man advantage, Pierre-Luc Dubois extended his team’s lead seconds after the Edmundson penalty expired. Dubois made quick work of a Canadiens turnover in their own zone and took advantage of scrambling defensive work to extend Winnipeg’s lead to 5-3.
Trying to put some life back into his team, Corey Perry fought Nikolaj Ehlers, but his efforts went to waste as Montreal continued to play more passive hockey and eventually ended up surrendering an empty-net goal to Scheifele.
A strong performance in the opening period became completely undone as the Canadiens gave up five unanswered goals to drop this game to the Jets. Montreal will need to re-group and figure out a way to stanch the bleeding, when they face off against Winnipeg again this Saturday.
Ex-US Olympics gymnastics coach kills himself after abuse charges – Al Jazeera English
A former United States Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar killed himself on Thursday, hours after being charged with turning his Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train and then abusing them.
John Geddert faced 24 charges that could have carried years in prison had he been convicted. He was supposed to appear in an Eaton County court, near Lansing, but his body was found at a rest area along Interstate 96, according to state police.
“This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.
Nessel earlier announced Geddert was charged with several crimes, including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise. The charges were the latest fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor now in prison.
Geddert, 63, was not arrested and transported to court. Rather, Nessel’s office allowed him to show up on his own.
“We had no indication that Geddert intended to flee or hurt himself or others. We had been in contact with his attorney and were assured of his cooperation,” Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said.
Calls seeking comment from lawyer Chris Bergstrom were not immediately returned.
Geddert was head coach of the 2012 US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal. He was long associated with Nassar, who was the Olympic team’s doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert’s Lansing-area gym.
Among the charges, Geddert was accused of lying to investigators in 2016 when he denied ever hearing complaints about Nassar. But the bulk of the case against him involved his gym in Dimondale and how he treated the young athletes whose families paid to have them train under him.
The charges against Geddert had “very little to do” with Nassar, said Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark.
Geddert was charged with using his strong reputation in gymnastics to commit a form of human trafficking by making money through the forced labour of young athletes.
“The victims suffer from disordered eating,” Nessel said, “including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and attempts at self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault.
“Many of these victims still carry these scars from this behaviour to this day,” the attorney general said.
Nessel acknowledged the case might not fit the common understanding of human trafficking.
“We think of it predominantly as affecting people of colour or those without means to protect themselves … but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” she said. “Young impressionable women may at times be vulnerable and open to trafficking crimes, regardless of their stature in the community or the financial wellbeing of their families.”
Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics during the Nassar scandal. He told families in 2018 that he was retiring.
USA Gymnastics said in a statement late on Thursday news about the charges against Geddert would “lead to justice through the legal process”.
“With the news of his death by suicide, we share the feelings of shock, and our thoughts are with the gymnastics community as they grapple with the complex emotions of today’s events,” the organisation said.
On his LinkedIn page, Geddert described himself as the “most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history”. He said his Twistars teams won 130 club championships.
But Geddert was often portrayed in unflattering ways when Nassar’s victims spoke during court hearings in 2018. Some insisted he was aware of the doctor’s abuse.
Sarah Klein, a gymnast who trained under Geddert for more than 10 years and was assaulted by Nassar, said the coach’s death was an “escape from justice” and “traumatising beyond words”.
“His suicide is an admission of guilt that the entire world can now see,” said Klein, a lawyer.
Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in 2016, said she was proud of the women who stepped forward against Geddert.
“So much pain and grief for everyone,” she said on Twitter after his death. “To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you.”
So much pain and grief for everyone.
To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you. Thank you for telling the truth. What you have done matters.
Please stay safe, you are loved and wanted here. https://t.co/7EP9cJ13fa
— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) February 25, 2021
In Flames’ loss to Senators, self-inflicted pains push Calgary to new lows – Sportsnet.ca
Pulled midway through the game after surrendering four goals, David Rittich paused as he walked towards the dressing room to headbutt a door.
It’s the kind of move the organization has mimicked of late, self-inflicting all sorts of pain to reach new lows Thursday.
A 6-1 loss to the last-placed Ottawa Senators wiped out any good feelings the Flames may have generated in Toronto the previous two outings, leaving the Flames with just one regulation win in their last eight games.
It marked the third time in six games the team’s starter was pulled from the game.
In that span, the Flames have scored just eight goals, finishing with only one goal in five of the six.
So much for the players’ belief that the team’s identity revolves around being a hard-checking team that can score.
Only seven teams in the league have scored fewer goals per game, which coach Geoff Ward and several players believe has plenty to do with the high rate of neutral zone turnovers costing them zone entries.
“The last little bit we’ve been having trouble getting into the offensive zone – that’s certainly going to be a factor,” said Ward, adding his team isn’t getting to the inside once in the zone.
“We missed the net an awful lot. That’s not the only night that has happened.”
This cub seems to be running out of answers these days.
Playing the second half of a back-to-back following their loss in Toronto Wednesday, the Flames trailed 2-0 after the first period before a Milan Lucic goal breathed life into the visitors two minutes into the second.
Five minutes later the Senators had scored two more, including an Erik Brannstrom slapper from outside the blueline that eluded Rittich and ultimately ended his otherwise impressive return to form of late.
It was a tough pill for Rittich to swallow after stopping 70 shots in a row against the Leafs before losing the game in overtime.
“After the fourth one it’s tough,” said Andersson, whose club showed very little pushback after that. “We played in their zone quite a bit and got some shots through and it just felt like every time we had a turnover or odd-man [rush] against they capitalized. We’ve got to stick together and believe in each other still and try to create more energy.”
And try not to make it so obvious that, after an admittedly bad goal, they don’t give up.
“Feels like it was deflating after the third goal, and especially the fourth goal [but] we can’t let a goal suck the life out of us the way it has recently,” said Lucic, whose club gave up two more in the third with Flames fourth-stringer Artyom Zagidulin making his NHL debut.
“We’ve got to be better. This one definitely is not a good feeling right now.”
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Flames were indeed showing it, admittedly not at their best following an emotional ending in Toronto less than 24 hours earlier.
Nonetheless, you can bet the noise calling for the coach to be fired, trades to be made and hell to pay will reach a feverish pitch Friday.
Well aware of that, Lucic wanted his thoughts known on where the blame should lie.
“This one is on us, it’s on the players,” said Lucic, a longtime supporter of Ward, with whom he won a Stanley Cup in Boston.
“The coaching staff hasn’t changed from last year and that was one of our strong points and when we started to move in the right direction, playing as a five man unit and for each other and sacrificing for each other. We need to find that again. That’s up to the players and no one else.”
Those who tuned in to see how the Tkachuk brothers would fare against one another left disappointed, as neither found the scoresheet despite generating ten shots and ten hits between them. Big Brady had nine of those hits.
“Anybody that thinks we’re going to fight is an idiot,” declared Matthew before the game, potentially costing the broadcast some viewers.
“I don’t know why people keep saying that each and every year. They obviously haven’t played against their brother in a sport ever.”
If you’re a Flames fan the most entertaining moment of the night was when the button on analyst Kelly Hrudey’s jacket was shown popping off to start the third period, causing the veteran broadcaster to laugh hysterically.
Flames fans will have to smile through the pain until Saturday when game two of this four-game series starts at 11 a.m. MT.
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