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Milos Raonic into quarterfinals in NY – TSN

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NEW YORK — Serena Williams was flustered when she got called for taking too much time between points, flung away her racket after letting a lead slip away and finished surprisingly meekly in a 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-1 loss to Maria Sakkari at the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday night.

This was Williams’ fifth match since professional tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic after a hiatus of nearly six months — and all five have gone three sets. She is 3-2 in that stretch.

The result against No. 13 seed Sakkari, and particularly the way the match ended, was hardly promising for Williams as the U.S. Open’s start approaches next week.

The Western & Southern Open is usually held in Ohio but was moved to the U.S. Open’s site in Flushing Meadows this year to make for a two-event, no-spectator “bubble” during the pandemic.

In men’s play, Canada’s Milos Raonic advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Andy Murray. Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., is the last Canadian remaining in the draw.

Williams was seemingly in control early, serving for the first set at 5-3, 30-0, when things began to unravel. She missed two backhands in a row, then put a forehand into the net to set up a break point, and walked over to the stand holding her towel at the back of the court (the ball people normally handle towels for players, but not during COVID-19).

That’s when chair umpire Aurelie Tourte called a time violation. On the following point, Williams sailed a forehand long to get broken.

At the ensuing changeover, the 23-time Grand Slam champion argued with Tourte, saying: “I mean, I’m getting my own towels. That’s not fair. You should tell me on the sidelines next time if I need to play faster. Believe me, I will. … You didn’t even give me a warning.”

While Williams eventually did grab that set, she again frittered away a 5-3 lead in the second, plus a 4-1 edge in the tiebreaker. When she sat after the second set, the 38-year-old American tossed her racket over her shoulder the way an office worker might flip a crumpled piece of paper toward a trash can.

Williams came out flat in the third set, as if she’d rather be anywhere else. She double-faulted four times in the second game, including on Sakkari’s eighth break chance, to make it 2-0 and that was pretty much that.

Hours earlier, Novak Djokovic’s neck felt much better, and his tennis looked much better, in a 6-2, 6-4 victory over unseeded American Tennys Sandgren that improved the No. 1-ranked man to 20-0 in 2020.

“Actually, I’m pleasantly surprised with the way I recovered and felt today — just overall, physically, but also with the neck, specifically, because that was a little bit of a concern,” said Djokovic, who will be eyeing his 18th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open. “Going back four, five days, I did struggle quite a lot.”

Djokovic was treated by a trainer and played sluggishly in his opening match Monday, but he was at his best from the outset against Sandgren and saved all four break points he faced.

Djokovic will face 34th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarterfinals. The other quarterfinal in the top half of the draw will be defending champion Daniil Medvedev against No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Reilly Opelka, a 6-foot-11 American who is ranked 39th, delivered 19 aces and knocked off 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-6 (4). Opelka next meets No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, whose 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) win over No. 16 John Isner was interrupted by a rain delay of nearly 1 1/2 hours late in the first set.

Also interrupted by the weather was Raonic’s victory over the three-time Grand Slam champion. Raonic, a Wimbledon runner-up in 2016, has held all 29 games he’s served so far in the tournament.

“I have done the work,” Raonic said. “I have put in the effort, and I’m just happy that this quickly the pieces are coming together.”

This was Murray’s first tournament appearance since November. He missed time due to a pelvic injury and is playing on a metal hip after two operations on that joint.

“Didn’t play well. It was not a good day,” Murray said. “The positives are that I got three matches in. Physically, I pulled up OK.”

Women’s quarterfinal matchups set earlier in the day were two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka against Anett Kontaveit, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka against Ons Jabeur, and 83rd-ranked American qualifier Jessica Pegula against No. 14 Elise Mertens.

___

More AP tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Blue Jays pushing Ryu to Game 2 vs. Rays – TSN

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The Toronto Blue Jays will start Matt Shoemaker in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Tampa Bay Rays and push ace Hyun-Jin Ryu to Game 2.

Shoemaker will face Rays ace Blake Snell in Game 1 while Ryn will face Tyler Glasnow in Game 2.

If the best-of-three series goes to a Game 3, the Jays will send Taijuan Walker to the mound to take on Charlie Morton.

Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Ryu did not ask for an extra day’s rest and the delayed start is nothing physical. He said the team’s decision makers view all three games as being equal, and are not placing importance on Ryu being out there for Game 1.

As TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell reported, Ryu has been slightly more dominant with an extra day’s rest this season.

In 12 regular season starts for the Blue Jays this season, Ryu finished with a 5-2 record, 2.69 earned run average, and 72 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Shoemaker meanwhile, made six starts for the Jays this season, finishing with a 0-1 record, 4.71 ERA, and 26 strikeouts in 28.2 innings.

Walker, since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners mid-season, had a 2-1 record, 1.37 ERA, and 25 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.

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The Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays? – Bluebird Banter

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When Alejandro Kirk doubled in two runs with two out in the bottom of the 6th on Thursday to extend the lead over the Yankees to 4-0 in their playoff clincher, I was inspired in the moment to quickly adapt a part of the first verse of Gordon Lightfoot’s indelible ballad The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in tribute. Looking a little further, it struck me that even more of the ensuing verses was readily adaptable or somewhat applicable to Kirk.

The problem, of course, is the song is fundamentally about the tragedy of a great ship sinking in a storm with 29 lives lost. Not exactly the comparison to be conjured up for a promising prospect, especially given the Blue Jays’ history of catchers of the future floundering. With the then-likelihood and now-certain reality of facing their divisional nemesis in the playoffs, it was suggested that instead it could be the Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays.

And so, I present The (Hopefully Impending) Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays at the Hands of Alejandro Kirk:

The legend lives on from Rogers Centre on down
Of the backstop they called Alejandro
Captain Kirk, it is said, hammers fastballs dead red
When the games of September might be woe
With a load of fans twenty-six milligrams more
Than Tropicana stadium weighed empty
The good ship Blue Jay was bound to be prey
When the games of October came early

Young Kirk was the pride of the Mexican side
Coming up from the farm in Dunedin
As short ballplayers go, he was bigger than most
With quick hands, a keen eye though not seasoned
Concluding some terms with divisional firms
They left fully loaded for Rays-land
And later that week when “play ball” rang
Could it be the Trop’s ghosts they were feelin’?

Balls lost in the roof fell safely in fair ground
Routine pop-ups clanged right off the catwalk
And everyone knew, as El Capitan did too,
T’was the witch of the Trop come to shock
The throw came in late, offline from the plate
As the Tampa Bay runners came crossin’
When the late innings came it all seemed in vain
In the face of a cursed playing surface

When few outs remained, Captain Kirk came on deck sayin’
Fellas, it’s time for a rally
Seven pitches in, a ball hung over the plate, he said
Fellas, this one’s in the alley
Kevin Cash wired in so many runs comin’ in
His bullpen and bench in a deep daze
And later that night when the last out went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When Dolis turns the minutes to hours?
The statheads all say they shouldn’t have been in the fray
But Manfred put fifteen more teams alongside ‘em
They might have been lucky or they might have collapsed
They may have broke form in close losses
But all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the hitters and pitchers and the coaches

The offence rolls, Teoscar dings
In the confines of revamped Sahlen Field
Pearson’s fastball steams like a young man’s dreams
The change-ups and curves are for Hyun Jin
It happened below Lake Ontario
Just east of Lake Erie for 2020
And the fly balls go though the Mariners won’t know
When the year of corona’s remembered

Stay ahead of the boys in Detroit they prayed,
In the Triple-A players’ cathedral
The foghorn blared till it went twenty-eight times
For each man on the Jays’ playoff roster
The legend lives on from Rogers Centre on down
Of the backstop they called Alejandro
Tropicana, they said, always leaves the Jays dead
But the hosts at the Trop have a new foe

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NBA Finals 2020: Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers become unprecedented NBA Finals opponents – NBA CA

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7h ago


Playoffs 2020

The Miami Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals. Making their sixth appearance, and the first since 2014, Miami becomes the third-lowest seeded team to reach the NBA Finals since 1984.

They will be contesting the Los Angeles Lakers, making this the first Finals matchup between two teams who missed the playoffs the previous season. And they eliminated the Boston Celtics, who now join the Rockets in recent ignominy as the co-leaders for most playoff wins (29) without a Finals appearance over the last five seasons.

MORE: NBA Finals preview – Lakers vs. Heat

Also of note: The Heat or Warriors have played in the last 10 NBA Finals. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra becomes only the eighth coach to appear in a fifth Finals.

And 2014 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala joins an ultra-exclusive (and Boston-heavy) list of players to appear in six consecutive championship rounds; LeBron James and James Jones are the only non-Celtics.

Lowest-seeded teams to reach NBA Finals*

Teams to reach The Finals year after missing playoffs*

• 1976-77 Blazers (Won)
• 2001-02 Nets
• 2007-08 Celtics (Won)
• 2014-15 Cavs
2019-20 Lakers
• 2019-20 Heat

*Since the NBA/ABA merger

Players to reach six consecutive NBA Finals

• Bill Russell; 10
• Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn; 9
• Frank Ramsey, LeBron James; 8
• Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, James Jones; 7
• Tom Sanders, Andre Iguodala; 6

Head coaches to appear in at least 5 NBA Finals

• Phil Jackson; 13
• Red Auerbach; 11
• Pat Riley; 9
• Johnny Kundla, Gregg Popovich; 6
• K.C. Jones, Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra; 5

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