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Medvedev foils Djokovic's historic Grand Slam bid with dominant U.S. Open victory – CBC.ca

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A game from the end of his bid for what would have been the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969, Novak Djokovic covered his face with a towel, hiding his tears during a changeover.

For 27 Grand Slam matches in 2021, on hard courts, clay courts and grass, Djokovic could not be deterred, could not be beaten. Needing one more victory, in the U.S. Open final Sunday against Daniil Medvedev, to complete a season sweep of major titles and to claim the record 21st of his career, Djokovic could not come through.

Outplayed by someone using a similar style to his own, Djokovic came up just short of those two historic milestones, losing 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to first-time major champion Medvedev at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

What was in Djokovic’s thoughts as he sat there on the sideline, knowing full well that his quest was moments from its conclusion?

WATCH | Medvedev wins U.S. Open with rout of Djokovic:

Medvedev beats Djokovic in U.S. Open final to claim 1st major title

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Daniil Medvedev of Russia wins 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to capture the U.S. Open title. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic misses his opportunity for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969. 4:15

“Relief. I was glad it was over, because the buildup for this tournament, and everything that mentally, emotionally, I had to deal with throughout the tournament in the last couple of weeks, was just a lot. It was a lot to handle,” Djokovic said at his news conference. “I was just glad that, finally, the run is over. At the same time, I felt sadness, disappointment — and also gratitude for the crowd and for that special moment that they’ve created for me on the court.”

Until Sunday, the No. 1-ranked Djokovic had been sublime at the sport’s four most important tournaments, enduring the burdens of expectations and pressure over the past seven months and, in New York, the past fortnight.

He won the Australian Open in February, beating Medvedev in the final in straight sets, the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July, pulling even with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at 20 Grand Slam titles, the most for a man in the history of a sport that dates to the 1800s.

The last man to complete a true Grand Slam by going 4 for 4 at the majors in a single season remains Rod Laver, who did it twice — in 1962 and 1969 — and was in the stands Sunday. The last woman to accomplish the feat was Steffi Graf in 1988.

Instead, Djokovic joins Jack Crawford in 1933 and Lew Hoad in 1956 as men who won a year’s first trio of Grand Slam tournaments and made it all the way to the U.S. Open final before losing.

“I do feel sorry for Novak, because I cannot imagine what he feels,” said Medvedev, a 25-year-old from Russia who had been 0-2 in major finals. “Knowing that I managed to stop him, it definitely makes it sweeter, and brings me confidence for what is to come.”

Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia, simply was far from his best on this particular day.

“Just energy-wise, I felt slow,” said Djokovic, who could not create the kind of comeback he had in each of his previous four matches — and six others in Grand Slam action this year — when he dropped the opening set.

“I know I could have, and should have, done better,” he said.

Djokovic made plenty of mistakes, 38 unforced errors in all. He wasn’t able to convert a break chance until it was too little, too late, going just 1 for 6. He showed frustration, too, destroying his racket by pounding it three times against the court after one point, drawing boos from the crowd of 25,703 and a code violation from chair umpire Damien Dumusois.

Novak Djokovic, left, congratulates Daniil Medvedev after their match. ( Danielle Parhizkaran/USA TODAY Sports)

A lot of Djokovic’s issues also had to do with the No. 2-ranked Medvedev, who used his 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) frame to chase down everything and respond with seemingly effortless groundstrokes — much the way Djokovic wears down foes — and delivered pinpoint serving.

“He was amazing. Just congratulate him, full credit from his mentality, his approach, his game, everything,” Djokovic said. “He absolutely was the better player and deserved to win, no doubt about it.”

Medvedev won 20 of his first 23 service points, establishing a pattern. He finished with 16 aces and 38 winners in all, 11 more than Djokovic. And Medvedev employed a strategy his coach, Gilles Cervara, described as hitting more balls down the middle of the court, rather than trying to find angles that would Djokovic to pick up balls on the run.

Medvedev pays homage to Djokovic

“He’s so good that every match is different. He changes his tactics, he changes his approach,” Medvedev said about Djokovic.

“I had a clear plan, which did seem to work. Was he at his best? Maybe not today. He had a lot of pressure,” Medvedev said. “I had a lot of pressure, too.”

Nerves, distracting noise from spectators and cramps that started in his legs got to Medvedev at the very end. He served for the match at 5-2 and was a point from winning before double-faulting twice in a row. At 5-4, he had a second match point and double-faulted again. On the next chance, though, a 129 mph service winner finally finished the job, and Medvedev toppled over to the court on his side with his tongue hanging out, which he explained afterward was inspired by a goal celebration from a soccer video game.

During the trophy presentation, Medvedev addressed Djokovic, offering praise for “what you accomplished this year and throughout your career” and adding, “I never said this to anybody, but I’ll say it right now: For me, you are the greatest tennis player in history.”

In recent years, there has been constant discussion and debate about which member of the so-called Big Three — Federer, who turned 40 last month, Nadal, 35, or Djokovic — deserves to be considered the best of the bunch and the “GOAT” (“Greatest of All Time”).

Even with Sunday’s setback, Djokovic has accumulated statistics that help people make the case for him. He is the only one of that dominant trio to have won four majors in a row across two seasons, in 2015-16. He is the only one with at least two titles at each major tournament. He is the only player who has won each of the next-tier Masters 1000 events at least twice, too. He has spent more weeks than anyone at No. 1 since the ATP computerized rankings began in 1973, surpassing Federer for that accolade in March. And he holds the edge in head-to-head matchups against both of his long-time rivals.

WATCH | Djokovic advances to U.S. Open final with win over Zverev:

Djokovic advances to U.S. Open final with win over Zverev

2 days ago

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is one victory away from a calendar Grand Slam after defeating Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the semifinals of the U.S. Open. 5:10

After a five-set win over Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Alexander Zverev on Friday night, Djokovic looked ahead to what awaited in the final and declared, “I’m going to put my heart and my soul and my body and my head into that one. I’m going to treat the next match like it is the last match of my career.”

But Medvedev, who lost only one set in the entire tournament, never allowed Djokovic to get into this match.

From the start, Djokovic was not quite himself. After flubbing three break points early in the second set, the last with a sliced backhand in the net, he pounded his racket against his thigh — one, two, three, four times, perhaps as disappointed in his footwork as his form.

Novak Djokovic waves to the crowd after the match. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press )

Thousands in the audience tried to boost him by chanting his nickname, “No-le! No-le! No-le!” After some of Medvedev’s faults, some in the stands would applaud, considered poor form in tennis and repeatedly admonished with a “please” from Dumusois.

By the end, the deficit grew too large for Djokovic, the climb too steep.

“I was below par with everything, to be honest,” he said. “So just one of these days where, unfortunately, wasn’t meant to be.”

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Teoscar Hernandez's 3-run shot spurs Blue Jays to victory over Twins – CBC.ca

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The three-run homer launched by Teoscar Hernandez in the fourth inning provided the Blue Jays with enough runs to defeat the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Toronto, and the blast pushed him past Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the team lead in RBI.

The 6-2 victory also restored the Blue Jays (83-65) to the second wild-card spot in the American League by a half-game over the New York Yankees.

The Yankees (83-66) were thumped 11-3 at home by Cleveland. The Boston Red Sox (85-65) held on to the top wild-card spot with a 9-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Hernandez has 106 RBI, two more than Guerrero, who has an outside chance at the AL triple crown. He’s first in batting average (.318) and homers (46), and now fourth in RBI, eight behind Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

“If he has a chance for the triple crown, I’ll ask Charlie to sit me,” joked Hernandez, who has 20 RBI in September.

The 28-year-old Hernandez credits work on his mental game as the reason for his productive and consistent season. He’s not only been reliable at the plate but also in the outfield.

“He’s been the best hitter on a lot of teams,” Blue Jays starter Steven Matz said of Hernandez. “He’s easy to overlook with how good this lineup is. He’s been amazing.”

Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak, a seven-time Olympic medallist, was among 14,722 at the Rogers Centre. She threw out the ceremonial first pitch and tossed a strike.

Twins’ 8-game win streak stopped

The Twins appeared headed for a ninth straight win in Toronto dating back Aug. 17, 2017. They led 2-0 after the first inning on a two-run homer to right field by former Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who also belted a solo shot in Minnesota’s series-opening win Friday.

But Matz settled down after Donaldson’s homer Saturday to retire 16 of the next 17 Twins.

Matz has benefitted from the highest average of run support in Major League Baseball this season at 8.07 a game. He’s won his last four decisions. His 13th win matched Hyun Jin Ryu for the team lead.

And while Ryu has struggled in his last two starts, Matz has stepped up big time.

“To be in a hole like that, you just want to make good pitches and put up zeroes,” Matz said.

“I just wanted to keep it close and wait for the bats to come alive.”

The bats perked up in the fourth. Minnesota rookie starter Bailey Ober (2-3) took a no-hitter into the inning. The home side got to Ober the second time through the Blue Jays’ order.

Marcus Semien led off the fourth with a solo shot to left field to become only the fifth second baseman in MLB history to hit 40 or more homers in a season.

Guerrero then walked, and Bo Bichette singled to centre. Hernandez lifted a first-pitch slider high into the sky that barely cleared the left-field fence for his 28th homer and a two-run advantage.

“I knew I hit it good, but just a little high,” he said.

Toronto padded its lead in the seventh when Twins reliever Jovani Moran loaded the bases with walks to Alejandro Kirk, George Springer and Guerrero. Kyle Barraclough replaced Moran and was greeted with a two-run single to left from Bichette.

A two-out walk to Donaldson followed by a single to centre from Miguel Sano ended Matz’s day after 96 pitches and five and two-thirds innings of work.

The lefty struck out five, walked two and yielded only three hits.

Blue Jays reliever Trevor Richards finished off the sixth for Matz. Tim Mayza generated a one-two-three seventh inning and struck out Nick Gordon to begin the eighth.

Righty Adam Cimber finished off the eighth, aided by a brilliant play from Bichette. He went deep in the hole to his right to throw out Donaldson.

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Bad news as Big Boyz Brigade debuts for Edmonton Oilers in rookie games against Flames – Edmonton Journal

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The last thing you want to happen in an exhibition game between top rookie prospects? For one of your top prospects to go out with injury.

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That’s what happened with Dmitri Samorukov and the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton’s 4-3 prospect game win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

Early in the first period, after a couple on-ice collisions, Samorukov left the game. It was an ominous moment, all the more so because Samorukov’s season was cut short last year due a shoulder injury. He had just been cleared one week ago to return to the ice from injury. He had been the talk of the first few days of the Oilers rookie camp, impressing team insiders with his great skating and big body.

Winger Xavier Bourgault also took a nasty hit-from-behind into the boards late in the game, missing the final three minutes of the game.

There was no word on the extent of the Samorukov and Bourgault’s injuries at the time we published this post.

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Samorukov is part of Edmonton’s Big Boyz Brigade on defence, Edmonton’s group of young and hulking d-man prospects , all of them well over six feet tall.

The group also includes Philip Broberg, Michael Kesselring, Markus Niemelainen, Filip Berglund, Phil Kemp and Vincent Desharnais. They should form the Bakersfield defence this year.

Kemp, Broberg, Niemelainen, Berglund and Kesselring all played in the rookie game.

Each of the Big Boyz Brigade got stronger as the game went on. The Oilers rookies came back from a 3-1 first period deficit to win.

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Here are brief reports on each of the Big Boyz Brigade, with my account limited because I was unable to go over video to review the key plays.

Kesselring: He got beat to a rebound on one goal against and failed to block a shot on another.  But as the game went on, he got stronger, playing on a pairing with Markus Niemelainen. Kesselring got his feet going and made a number of strong plays, winning, moving and shooting the puck.

Niemelainen: He reminded me a bit of Kris Russell in this one (though a much bigger version of Russell), in that he’s fast on his skates and defensive minded. He also won the puck a few times in his zone and was only able to dump it out, as opposed to making a good pass to get it out. But, overall, got the job done on defence, though he failed to cut out a pass on one goal against and was slow to his man in front of the Edmonton net on another.

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Kemp: He scored two bad angle goals, one through a screen and one on a deflection, but he scored them because he jumped into the attack and put the puck at the net. What’s not to like? He did get beat down the wing on one dangerous Flames rush in the first. But he also jumped up a few times to pinch and keep the puck in the Calgary end. This was the best I’ve seen him as an Oilers prospect. After Samorukov went out, he paired up with veteran Yanni Kaldis, who made a few nice passes for assists on the power play.

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Broberg: He looked bad on one early goal against, wandering behind the net, and taking himself out of position to stop a slot pass, which eventually ended up in the net. Other than that, though, Broberg played well. He skated miles and skated fast. He was Edmonton’s top d-man on the power play, making a number of good passes and even better pinches in that role. A super solid 2021-22 debut for the Oilers.

Berglund: He looked much, much, much better here than he had when I last saw him play in Sweden in the fall, when he was playing hurt. He too had a bad moment in the first, getting caught in the n-zone on a Calgary rush and goal. But he was Edmonton’s steadiest d-man in this game, shutting down the attack, moving the puck, invariably in position. It looks like he and Broberg will form Edmonton’s top partnership in Bakersfield to start the year.

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Top-ranked Bombers beat Elks for fourth straight victory – TSN

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EDMONTON — The defence turned the tide for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday.

DeAundre Alford and Adam Bighill recorded defensive touchdowns as the league-leading Blue Bombers fought their way past the Edmonton Elks 37-22.

“Our defence, scoring two touchdowns for us, that is absolutely amazing when they are able to create turnovers like that and capitalize on them with points on the board,” said Winnipeg running back Andrew Harris.

“Our defence has been our backbone. They really flexed when we needed them to.”

Alford had two touchdowns in the contest.

“I think this is the best defence in the CFL and that we put everybody on notice that we are going to play fast and physical,” he said. “That we are going to do whatever it takes to win.”

The Blue Bombers (6-1) have won four games in a row while the Elks (2-4) have lost two straight and fell to 0-4 at home this season.

Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius went 19 for 33 and passed for 243 yards with three interceptions in his CFL debut as he replaced Trevor Harris, who was placed on the six-game injured list with a neck injury.

“I thought he played really poised,” said Elks head coach Jaime Elizondo. “Listen, for having one day of practice, I thought he came out and showed some things that were really, really encouraging and I thought the guys responded really well to him.

“He didn’t get flustered. I know he’s going to be hard on himself with the mistakes he made. But those interceptions were a credit to the defence, they had some good breaks on the ball.”

Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros went 19 of 24 passing for 252 yards, a TD and an interception.

Winnipeg got off to a blazing start by scoring on its first drive, going 80 yards in nine plays, capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Collaros to Darvin Adams.

The Blue Bombers doubled their lead on their next drive as Nic Demski ploughed his way through several defenders for a 21-yard rushing major to make it 14-0.

Edmonton got back into the game midway through the second thanks to a Christian Rector fumble recovery on the Bombers’ nine-yard-line, leading to a James Wilder Jr. touchdown run.

Winnipeg kicker Ali Mourtada missed a 28-yard field goal attempt before Edmonton’s Sean Whyte nailed a three-pointer from 44 yards out to make it 15-10 at the mid-mark.

Edmonton surged into the lead early in the third quarter with an unconverted 19-yard TD run by Wilder.

However the Bombers regained the lead as Alford picked off Cornelius and took it back 22 yards for the touchdown. A two-point convert made it 23-16 for Winnipeg.

Whyte responded with a 32-yard field goal before Mourtada missed his third field goal attempt of the game from 44 yards.

The Bombers defence did it again late in the third as Cornelius fumbled deep in his own end, leading to a three-yard scoop and score by Bighill.

After Whyte kicked a 19-yard field goal, Winnipeg put the game away with a one-yard TD plunge by Sean McGuire.

Both teams have a bye next week. The Elks’ next game will be in Ottawa on Sept. 28, while the Bombers will be in B.C. on Oct. 1. Winnipeg and Edmonton will then play each other again in a home-and-home series.

Notes: Two highly anticipated players made their Elks debuts: offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers and linebacker Derrick Moncrief… Winnipeg was trying its third place-kicker of the season with Mourtada making his CFL debut, relegating rookie Marc Liegghio to punting duties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2021.

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