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'Inspired me': Woman behind young gun's historic US Open run – Yahoo Sport Australia

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Pictured here, Denis Shapovalov and his girlfriend, Swedish tennis player Mirjam Bjorklund.
Denis Shapovalov credits his girlfriend Mirjam Bjorklund with helping his tennis game. Pic: Instagram

Tennis young gun Denis Shapovalov has praised his girlfriend Mirjam Bjorklund for inspiring a record-setting run at the US Open.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The 21-year-old became the first Canadian man in history to reach the quarter-finals of the New York grand slam with his fourth round victory over David Goffin.” data-reactid=”24″>The 21-year-old became the first Canadian man in history to reach the quarter-finals of the New York grand slam with his fourth round victory over David Goffin.

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Shapovalov credits the positive impact his girlfriend has had on his game as he chases more records and possibly even a maiden grand slam title at Flushing Meadows.

The men’s draw has been thrown wide open with the absences of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with Novak Djokovic’s disqualification meaning there will definitely be a first-time winner of the men’s singles title in 2020.

After booking his spot in the last eight of the tournament, Shapovalov has a golden opportunity to go one step further and reach his first grand slam semi-final.

Speaking after his win over Goffin, the Canadian young gun heaped praise on Bjorklund for the positive effect she’s had on his game.

“I just think as soon as we started dating, it’s kind of a reason for someone to want to man up,” Shapovalov said.

“I felt like she’s definitely inspired me to become a better person, a better tennis player.

Bjorklund is also a professional tennis player and the 22-year-old will be following intently as Shapovalov chases his dream in New York.

The Swede has travelled with Shapovalov around the world and shared a happy snap of the couple in Melbourne during the Australian Open earlier in the year.

Bjorklund last month broke into the world’s top 300 for the first time in her career, but Shapovalov was quick to stress that she’s not the only major influence on his career.

“I don’t mean to take anything away from my parents or my team, as well. I feel like everybody’s inspiring me. They’re staying up at night watching my matches. Everybody is supporting me.

Canadian facing Carreno Busta in last eight

“Throughout the start of my life my parents have just been there always for me. I think it’s everybody.

“But, of course, she (Bjorklund) inspires me as well.”

The Canadian’s girlfriend captioned a photo of the pair on the eve of the US Open by saying: “Goodluck tomorrow at the US Open my superstar”.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Shapovalov's opponent in the US Open quarter-finals is Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta, who won via default against Djokovic after the World No.1's now infamous incident with a female line judge.” data-reactid=”50″>Shapovalov’s opponent in the US Open quarter-finals is Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who won via default against Djokovic after the World No.1’s now infamous incident with a female line judge.

Djokovic was disqualified from the tournament, docked his ranking points and hit with significant fines after accidentally hitting a ball into the throat of the official.

“Of course I think that this was not intentional,” Carreno Busta said after the match.

“I don’t think that any one of the players does these kind of things intentionally.

“It’s just the moment… You cannot do this, but of course I think that Novak never wanted to hit the line umpire.”

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Novak Djokovic damages racket in fit of anger during Italian Open quarter-finals – CBC.ca

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Less than two weeks after getting defaulted from the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic lost his cool again midway through a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over German qualifier Dominik Koepfer in the Italian Open quarter-finals Saturday.

When Djokovic was broken at love to even the second set at 3-3, he slammed his racket to the red clay in anger in Rome.

With the frame broken and the strings all mangled, Djokovic was forced to get a new racket and received a warning from the chair umpire.

“It’s not the first nor the last racket that I’ll break in my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again. I don’t want to do it but when it comes, it happens.

“That’s how, I guess, I release sometimes my anger and it’s definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me, and I don’t encourage that — definitely.”

WATCH | Djokovic loses his temper yet again:

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was angry after being broken at love during the 2nd set but would go on to defeat German qualifier Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the Italian Open quarter-finals. 0:34

The top-ranked Djokovic had said Monday that he learned “a big lesson” after he was thrown out of the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball in a fit of anger. Djokovic also acknowledged then “that I have outbursts and this is kind of the personality and the player that I have always been.”

At the Foro Italico, Djokovic had already appeared frustrated during the game before he broke his racket, glaring toward the umpire following a couple of overrules and a point that was ordered to be replayed.

“That’s just me,” Djokovic said. “Of course I’m not perfect and I’m doing my best.”

WATCH | Novak Djokovic hits line judge with ball at U.S. Open:

Novak Djokovic’s U.S. Open was cut short after he hit a line judge with a discarded tennis ball during his fourth-round match against Pablo Carreño Busta. 4:17

Ruud 1st Norwegian to reach semis of Masters 1000 tourney

The 97th-ranked Koepfer, who screamed at himself in frustration throughout the match, was also warned for misbehaviour early in the third set.

Aiming for his fifth title in Rome, Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Casper Ruud, who eliminated local favourite Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a match that lasted two hours 57 minutes.

Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the semifinals of a Masters 1000 tournament. His father, Christian Ruud, got as far as the quarter-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters in 1997.

Shapovalov into semis

The other semifinal will feature No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., against No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

Shapovalov edged No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, while Schwartzman upset clay court specialist and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-5.

WATCH | Shapovalov’s 100th win sends him into semis:

21-year-old Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill earns his 100th career ATP tour-level win by beating  Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.  2:23

While fans have not been admitted to the tournament yet — Italy’s sports minister said Friday that 1,000 spectators will be allowed in for the semifinals and finals — workers, family members and other onlookers inside the picturesque Pietrangeli stadium provided some support for Berrettini, who is from Rome.

Nicola Pietrangeli, the 1957 and 1961 Rome champion and the man the stadium is named after, was also among those sitting on the white marble stands.

“There would have been a lot more adrenaline with fans,” Berrettini said.

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NBA Playoffs 2020: The Boston Celtics need Gordon Hayward now more than ever – NBA CA

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8h ago


Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics could be up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals just as easily as they are down 2-0.

Blowing double-digit leads in each of the first two games of the series, the Miami Heat have out-hustled the Celtics for 48 (and some change) minutes in back-to-back games to give themselves a commanding lead.

With Boston on the brink of the infamous 3-0 deficit that no NBA team has ever come back from, Game 3 becomes a must-win if the Celtics are going to continue their push for their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

There’s been a common thread in Games 1 and 2 (aside from the double-digit comebacks) that have placed Boston in this situation: Miami’s 2-3 zone defence. Our Scott Rafferty analyzed that issue in detail, and it’s been a glaring weakness for Boston’s offence all season.

But luckily for the Celtics, they still haven’t used all the cards up their sleeve. They still have a weapon stored away that could present itself at any moment now, as former All-Star forward Gordon Hayward‘s return is on the horizon.

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Hayward, who suffered an ankle injury in the Celtics’ first game of the postseason and has been out since, was upgraded to “doubtful” before Game 2. While that wasn’t much of an update, it showed he was getting closer to returning to the floor. The Athletic’s Jared Weiss confirmed that following Thursday’s loss, stating that Hayward is “progressing toward a return for Game 3,” adding that he felt good after Wednesday’s practice and will “get more on-court work Friday with the hope of playing Saturday.”

On Friday, he was officially listed by the team as “questionable” for Game 3.

It will surely take some time for Hayward to get back into the flow of things after missing one month of action, but he immediately helps Boston take steps toward breaking that impenetrable zone defence.

His 19.0 points per game in the bubble speaks for itself, giving the Celtics an extra scoring threat that the Heat will have to worry about. He can shoot from the perimeter (converting 38.3% of his 3s this season), he’s a solid slasher with the ball and cutter without the ball, and he’s a strong midrange shooter, pairing well with sharp playmaking skills that should help dissect that zone.

Most importantly, Hayward loves working in the soft spot of the 2-3 zone (right at the foul line), which should give Miami’s defence more trouble than its seen thus far.

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In Games 1 and 2, the Celtics elected to go with Marcus Smart or Daniel Theis to try and pierce the heart of that zone. Smart’s passing makes him an OK option for that middle spot, but he’s better off on the perimeter, where he’s converting 42.1% of his 3s this series. The Heat will live with him or Theis taking that midrange pull-up, whereas it becomes a much more efficient source of offence for Boston with Hayward taking that shot.

According to NBA Stats, Hayward shot 49.3% on midrange jumpers and 43.4% on shots in the paint (non-restricted area) this season. Having him in the middle will prevent the zone’s two defenders up top from expanding so far out, shrinking that long and athletic defence even just a tad bit more.

The Heat will be forced to collapse on Hayward, where he can showcase his playmaking ability to find open shooters on the perimeter. That makes Miami much more reliant on perfect and quick rotations to challenge Boston’s 3-point shooters.

If the Heat’s defenders don’t collapse on him or the centre (typically Bam Adebayo) doesn’t take a step up, Hayward will gladly take looks like the one below over and over again.

Even though he misses that particular jumper, it’s a shot Miami is much less likely to live with compared to Smart or Theis pulling up from there. Even when Hayward attacks from the perimeter, he has no problem stopping short of that centre defender for little pull-up jumpers like this one against the Heat earlier this season:

The Celtics have been dependent on quick passes for (often contested) 3-pointers, which has also developed into bad decisions for live ball turnovers or long rebounds going the other way to spark Miami runs off of offensive droughts. Having someone that can hit shots like the ones above makes that zone defence much more vulnerable than it has been so far.

Hayward’s return wouldn’t just be a luxury for the Celtics, it’s essential for them to keep their season alive in trying to even the series.

The Celtics need Gordon Hayward now more than ever if their title pursuit is going to continue.

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History will be made in latest Belichick-Carroll matchup – NFL.com

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There’s no shortage of history that’s been made by Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll in their sterling coaching careers.

When their teams stand on opposing sidelines Sunday night, they’ll make a little history together.

Carroll and Belichick, 69 and 68-years-young, respectively, are the two oldest coaches in the NFL and their combined age of 137 years and 162 days on game day will set a record for the oldest head coaching matchup in the history of the league, per NFL Research.

Like fine wine, Bill and Pete will age past Marv Levy and Don Shula, who were a combined 136 years and 117 days old when they battled one last time back in Week 16 of 1995, according to NFL Research.

In previous head-to-head matchups, Carroll owns a 2-1 advantage.

Between the two, their NFL success is historic, as well, obviously. The two have combined for 455 wins in the regular season and seven Super Bowl trophies — although Belichick clearly has a huge advantage there.

And who knows how long they’ll keep building on to their Hall of Fame resumes.

“I don’t know,” Carroll said when asked who would retire first. “Ask him. I’m feeling great. I’m kind of on a five-year plan. Five years from now I’ll figure it out and reassess. I actually owe that to David Brooks. And he taught me that a while back. Something he wrote, ‘Why are you looking year-to-year? Why don’t you just plan it out over a five-year period?’ So, each year is five more years. So it was five years last and it’s five years this year and we’ll figure it out when the time comes.”

Though their ages are adding up to history, their past and present success offers no reason that their futures will be up anytime soon.

For now, it’s all about this Sunday and another historic marker in two historical coaching careers.

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