For years, Rafael Nadal pursued, and achieved, greatness at the French Open and other major tournaments. He never made a big deal out of his trophy total or the way he kept gaining on rival Roger Federer in the Grand Slam standings.
Now, thanks to a flawless performance against Novak Djokovic in the final at Roland Garros on Sunday, Nadal is finally there — tied with Federer at 20 major singles championships, more than any other man in tennis history.
Adding to his own French Open record trophy with No. 13 on its red clay, Nadal delivered a remarkably dominant 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory over the No. 1-ranked Djokovic.
“He keeps going. No holding him back, it seems like. It’s amazing. I mean, I admire all his achievements,” said Djokovic, who had won his last five Grand Slam finals. “There’s not much you can say. All the superlatives you can use, he deserves them.”
WATCH | Nadal wins 13th French Open title:
When Nadal ended it with an ace, he dropped to his knees, smiled widely and pumped his arms. It’s the fourth time he’s won his favourite tournament without ceding a set.
“The love story that I have with this city, and with this court, is unforgettable,” Nadal said.
He deflected a question during the on-court, post-match interview about catching Federer, who is 39 and sat out the U.S. Open and French Open after having two operations on his right knee.
“[To] win here means everything to me, no? It’s not the moment, honestly … [to] think today about the 20th,” Nadal said. “Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent, here, the most important moments — or most of the most important moments — in my tennis career, no doubt about that.”
About an hour after the match ended, Federer posted a congratulatory message on Instagram.
“I have always had the utmost respect for my friend Rafa as a person and as a champion. As my greatest rival over many years, I believe we have pushed each other to become better players,” Federer began, ending with: “I hope 20 is just another step on the continuing journey for both of us. Well done, Rafa. You deserve it.”
Nadal, No. 2 in the rankings, improved to 100-2 at the French Open, including a combined 26-0 in semifinals and finals, and picked up his fourth consecutive title in Paris. The 34-year-old left-hander from Spain previously put together streaks of four French Open championships from 2005-08, then five in a row from 2010-14, to go alongside his four trophies at the U.S. Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the Australian Open.
‘Great era of tennis’
Nadal is now even with Federer for the first time since each man had zero Slams to his name in 2003. Federer’s first arrived at Wimbledon that year; Nadal, naturally, earned his first in France in 2005, by which point he trailed 4-0.
Djokovic’s loss left him at 17 majors; had he won, the trio’s standings would have read 20-19-18.
“It’s honestly a pleasure — in some ways, it’s a pleasure — sharing this great era of tennis together,” Nadal said. “On the other hand, [there] have been tough battles for a long time.”
This was the 56th installment of Nadal vs. Djokovic, the most meetings between any pair of men in the professional era, and their ninth in a Grand Slam final, equaling Nadal vs. Federer for the most.
Djokovic had won 14 of the last 18 matchups against Nadal, and led 29-26 overall, including a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win at the 2019 Australian Open final.
Nadal allowed Djokovic one fewer game this time.
“In Australia, he killed me. … Today was for me,” Nadal said. “That’s part of the game.”
Betts, Bellinger power Dodgers to Game 1 win over Rays in World Series – Sportsnet.ca
ARLINGTON, Texas — Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts — the Los Angeles Dodgers stars all shined.
Nothing out of the ordinary there, even if the setting was surreal.
Baseball’s best team during the pandemic-shortened season showed off its many talents in the first World Series game played at a neutral site, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 Tuesday night.
With the seats mostly empty, Kershaw dominated for six innings, Bellinger and Betts homered and the Dodgers chased a wild Tyler Glasnow in the fifth inning and coasted home in the opener.
A crowd limited by the coronavirus to 11,388 at Globe Life Field, the new $1.2 billion home of the Texas Rangers, marked the smallest for baseball’s top event in 111 years.
Watch every game of the 2020 World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sportsnet and SN Now.
Los Angeles hopes to go home with a title that has eluded the Dodgers since 1988 but tried to guard against focusing ahead.
“It’s hard not to think about winning. It’s hard not to think about what that might be like,” Kershaw said. “Constantly keep putting that in your brain: tomorrow, win tomorrow, win tomorrow, win tomorrow. And then you do that three more times, and you can think about it all you want.”
A regular season star with an erratic post-season history, Kershaw looked like the ace who so often stars on midsummer evenings with the San Gabriel Mountains behind him at Dodger Stadium. With these games shifted, the 32-year-old left-hander wound up pitching not far from his off-season home in Dallas.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight and walked one. He induced 19 swings and misses among his 78 pitches — more than his three previous Series starts combined.
“You can appreciate and totally see why he’s heading to the Hall of Fame one day whenever he’s done,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Kershaw threw nine balls in the first, when he stranded a pair of runners, then threw just nine more over the next three innings.
“He had a game plan to try to really quiet down things from there and he executed,” said Kevin Kiermaier, who ended Kershaw’s streak of 13 retired in a row with a fifth-inning homer on a hanging slider that cut the Rays’ deficit to 2-1.
Kershaw, a five-time ERA champ, improved to 2-2 in the World Series and 12-12 in post-season play, a shadow of his 175-76 regular season record. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not pitch him after Game 4 of the NL Championship Series last Thursday.
“I think we were going to stay away from him in Game 7 just for this particular reason,” Roberts said.
Game 2 is Wednesday night. The Dodgers, who posted the best record in the majors during the shortened season and showed off all their stars in Game 1, plan to throw a collection of pitchers started by Tony Gonsolin against Rays ace Blake Snell.
Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP who began the opener with a career .114 batting average in 12 World Series games, had put the Dodgers ahead in the fourth with a two-run homer off Glasnow, having no trouble driving a 98 mph pitch into the Dodgers bullpen in right-centre.
Bellinger, whose seventh-inning homer put the Dodgers ahead in Game 7 of the NL Championship on Sunday, shuffled his feet, tapping gently as he crossed the plate and celebrated by toe tapping teammates while dancing back to the dugout, a sign he remembered popping his right shoulder during raucous revelry two nights earlier.
Bellinger capped his evening by leaping at the 6-foot centre field wall in the ninth, robbing Austin Meadows of a possible home run.
“I said it today before the game: If I hit one I’m not touching anybody’s arm,” Bellinger said. “I’m going straight foot, and it was pretty funny.”
Betts, brilliant throughout October but slumping at the plate, added his first post-season homer for the Dodgers, an opposite-field solo shot to right in the sixth off Josh Fleming.
Betts had two hits, scored two runs and stole two bases in the four-run fifth, when Corey Seager swiped one as Los Angeles became the first team to steal three bases in a Series inning since the 1912 New York Giants in Game 5 against Boston.
“That’s a weak spot of my game, holding runners,” Glasnow said. “Has to be something I focus on more in the future. “
Betts became the first player to hit a home run, steal two bases and scored twice in a Series game.
“Stolen bases are a thing for me. That’s how I create runs and create havoc on the basepaths,” he said.
Los Angeles is in the Series for the third time in four years but seeking its first title since the Kirk Gibson- and Orel Hershiser-led team of 32 years ago. Coming off an unusual LCS of games on seven straight days, the Dodgers planned an all-bullpen outing for the next game.
Tampa Bay was held to six hits. Its only previous Series was a five-game loss to Philadelphia in 2008.
Glasnow was chased after 4 1/3 innings with an ominous pitching line that included three hits, six runs, six walks and eight strikeouts. He threw a career-high 112 pitches and became the first to walk six or more in a series game since Edwin Jackson of St. Louis in Game 4 of 2011. Glasnow went to three-ball counts on 12 of 23 batters.
Los Angeles expanded its lead to 4-1 in the fifth, when Cash left Glasnow in to face left-handed-hitting Max Muncy with runners at the corners. Muncy hit a one-hopper to first baseman Yandy Diaz with the infield in, and Betts beat a strong but slightly offline throw with a headfirst slide past catcher Mike Zunino.
Will Smith finished Glasnow with an RBI single, and Chris Taylor and pinch-hitter Kike Hernandez followed with run-scoring singles off Ryan Yarbrough for a 6-1 lead.
Justin Turner and Max Muncy doubled on consecutive pitches in the sixth.
Pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau and Kiermaier singled in runs in the seventh against Victor Gonzalez, who snagged Zunino’s line drive and doubled Brosseau off second base for an inning-ending double play.
After a regular season played without fans, MLB resumed selling tickets with a limited amount for the NLCS at Globe Life and kept that up by allowing about 28% of capacity to be filled at the 40,518-seat ballpark, where the roof was open. The crowd was widely dispersed throughout and was the smallest for the Series since 10,535 attended Game 6 between the Pirates and Tigers at Detroit’s Bennett Park in 1909, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
An overwhelming majority of fans wore Dodger blue.
“They’re everywhere. They always come out,” Kershaw said. “And so for as much as a game as we would have liked it to have been at Dodger Stadium and the 56,000 chanting, after everything that’s gone on this season, to have 10-, 11,000 people in the stands and a good bit of them being Dodger fans is pretty cool.”
Kershaw raised his career post-season total to 201 strikeouts, passing John Smoltz (199) for second behind Justin Verlander’s 205.
Snell lost Game 6 against Houston on Friday, throwing 42 pitches over two innings. The Dodgers said they were headed to an empty-the-bullpen game rather than use Walker Buehler on three days’ rest.
Ilya Mikheyev and Maple Leafs settle on a new contract – Pension Plan Puppets
Kyle Dubas and Ilya Mikheyev have settled on a new contract only hours before a salary arbitration hearing was scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
The #leafs avoid salary arbitration with Ilya Mikheyev. His two-year extension comes with a $1.645M AAV.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 20, 2020
The contract is a fair bit bigger in real dollars in Year Two, which is likely to benefit Mikheyev somewhat thanks to escrow.
The deal comes in between Mikheyev’s arbitration proposal (one year at $2.7M) and the Leafs (two years at $1M.) It’s hard to know for sure what the Leafs will get from Mikheyev based on his half-season, but he doesn’t need to be much more than competent for this deal to work out. He will be an unrestricted free agent once the deal ends.
Mikheyev put up 23 points in 39 games this past regular season before a hand injury took him out of action. He did appear in the qualifying round but did not get on the scoresheet against Columbus. He would have made a bit of an unusual arbitration case given his small NHL sample. With this night-before settlement, the Leafs are spared the necessity of talking down a player they’ve clearly worked at building a relationship with.
Mikheyev was the only Leafs player to enter the arbitration process this season. The only remaining Leafs Restricted Free Agents still in need of a new contract are defenceman Travis Dermott and winger Joey Anderson, who was acquired from the Devils when they traded away Andreas Johnsson.
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Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century – Sportsnet.ca
ARLINGTON, Texas — Julie and Lance Smith walked through the mostly empty concourse of Globe Life Field.
Tampa Bay infielder Joey Wendle is married to one of their cousins, and they weren’t going to miss his World Series debut.
“It’s so weird,” said Julie Smith, 38, from Gadsden, Alabama.
“It’s kind of nice in a way, too,” Lance, 39, said before they headed to their seats in the first deck behind home plate.
They wore masks, but many fans ignored the requirement for facial coverings except while eating or drinking at their ticketed seats.
A crowd of 11,388 attended the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 8-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Tuesday night’s World Series opener, spread in groups of up to four, mostly in alternate rows and none directly behind each other among the forest green seats.
That was the smallest Series crowd since 10,535 attended Game 6 in 1909 between the Tigers and Pittsburgh at Detroit’s Bennett Park, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Major League Baseball planned to make about 28% available of the 40,518 capacity at the retractable-roof stadium of the Texas Rangers. The new $1.2 billion venue opened this year and replaced Globe Life Park, the team’s open-air home from 1994 through 2019. During batting practice, through the new stadium’s glass walls, the sun glistened off the red brick of the old stadium across the street beyond left field, a field now used for high school football.
Behind home plate, the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium gleamed like a spaceship.
World Series games are usually festive, packed early with fans celebrating the dual accomplishments of their team making it to baseball’s ultimate stage and of their snagging hard-to-find tickets, usually displayed in plastic hanging from lanyard draped around their necks.
But this World Series had a surreal, at times sombre feel caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The small crowd was supplemented with fan audio from stadium speakers.
No fans were allowed into any of the 898 regular-season games this season, which were played in mostly empty ballparks due to governmental health restrictions.
Players’ families were allowed starting for the 18 first-round playoff games, the 15 Division Series games and the AL Championship Series between Tampa Bay and Houston in San Diego, with fans added for the Dodgers’ matchup against Atlanta in the NL Championship Series in Arlington, an average of 10,835 for the seven games. Roughly the same amount of tickets were sold for each World Series game.
Behind third base, a group of fans in Dodgers gear watched after flying in.
Brian Casey, a 29-year-old from Glendale, California, booked a plane ticket ahead of Sunday night’s win over the Braves, knowing he had 24 hours to cancel without penalty, then made a decision after the Dodgers rallied for a 4-3 win. He was in attendance when they last won the World Series in 1988 as a kid and was at Dodger Stadium when they played Boston in 2018. He watched Tuesday with Ryan Radenbaugh, 37, from Burbank.
“We just went to buy souvenirs and it was all Rangers stuff,” Radenbaugh said.
Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, said the pandemic made it difficult to get gear shipped in the short time after teams won pennants last weekend.
MLB made the decision to play with the roof open. It was closed until the Dodgers started to warm up about 3 1/2 hours ahead of first pitch, then slid open as the public address system played Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarasuthra,” known to many as the opening music from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
The usual pregame introductions of teams were dispensed with. When the a cappella group Pentatonix sang a recorded version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played on the 58×150-foot video board in right field and the 40-x111-foot board in the left-field corner, about 18 Dodgers were in front of the first base dugout and on the right field line, and roughly a dozen Rays were by the third base dugout and on the left-field line.
A live flyover of four jets followed, and ceremonial first pitches were thrown by medical personnel who assisted during the pandemic: Brittney Burns, a nurse practitioner from San Antonio; Erika Combs, an oncology and kidney transplant nurse at a Dallas hospital; and Jamie Edens and Ryan Ward, nurses from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who are a married couple.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was on hand, yelled “Play Ball!” into a microphone and retired Dodgers announcer Vin Scully delivered by video recording: “It’s time for Dodger baseball!” just before Clayton Kershaw walked to the mound.
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