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Sofia Kenin wins Australian Open title after beating Garbine Muguruza – Sportsnet.ca

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MELBOURNE, Australia — This, essentially, was where Sofia Kenin was going to win or lose the Australian Open final: She was down love-40 while serving at 2-all in the third set against two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza.

Kenin sensed this was the moment that would matter. Up in the stands of Rod Laver Arena, so did her father, Alex, who’s also her coach.

“I knew I had to take my chance,” Kenin said. “I had to be brave.”

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Sure was. The 21-year-old American won the next five points, each with a winner — one an ace, the others clean groundstrokes to cap exchanges of 11 shots or more — and was on her way to becoming a Grand Slam champion.

Demonstrative as can be — whether spiking a ball, dropping her red-white-and-blue racket or slapping her thigh — and at her best when necessary, the 14th-seeded Kenin won the first major final of her career Saturday by coming back to beat a fading Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 at Melbourne Park.

“That’s the game I feel, like, changed things. I had to play some (of my) best tennis. I did,” Kenin said. “After that, I was on fire. I was ready to take the beautiful trophy.”

Kenin was so magnificent when it mattered the most, saving 10 of 12 break points she faced, while converting 5 of 6 that she earned.

“I’m not very happy about my performance. … At the important moments, I didn’t find my shots,” Muguruza said. “I think she found her shots. I didn’t.”

Muguruza was visited by a trainer after the second set and her movement wasn’t ideal down the stretch. Nor was her serving: She double-faulted eight times, including three in the last game, one on championship point.

“A little bit lack of energy,” Muguruza said.

For quite some time, Kenin was overlooked and underappreciated, drawing much less attention than other young tennis players from the U.S., such as 15-year-old Coco Gauff — Kenin beat her in the fourth round this week — and 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova.

Maybe it was because Kenin is only 5-foot-7 (1.70 metres). Maybe it was because she went into last season with this resume: ranked outside the top 50, yet to get past the third round of a major, yet to win a tour-level title.

Kenin will be taken more seriously now. By everyone. She is the youngest Australian Open champion since 2008, when Maria Sharapova won the hard-court tournament at age 20.

Kenin, who eliminated No. 1 Ash Barty in the semifinals, is expected to rise to No. 7 in Monday’s WTA rankings, the youngest American to make her debut in the top 10 since Serena Williams in 1999.

“Those people that didn’t believe in her, they had very valid reasons not to, because she’s always been the smallest one,” Alex Kenin said the day before the final. “But I guess, thank God, I saw something that they didn’t. Because I know her better. I feel pretty happy. I guess I was right.”

In the men’s final on Sunday, defending champion Novak Djokovic will face Dominic Thiem, a 26-year-old Austrian who was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the French Open the past two years. Djokovic seeks a record-extending eighth title at Melbourne Park and 17th major trophy overall; Thiem is trying to become the first man born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam title.

Kenin was born in 1998 in Moscow to Russian parents; they had moved to New York in the 1980s, but returned to be with family for the birth of their daughter. A few months later, they went back to the U.S. for good; Kenin grew up in Florida and still makes her home there.

Muguruza came into the day with a far more formidable record. She has been ranked No. 1 and won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017 — the only woman to beat each Williams sister in a Grand Slam final.

But she tumbled out of the top 30 last season because of so-so results. She was trying to become only the third unseeded champion at the Australian Open in the professional era, which began in 1968.

Muguruza put on her game face from the moment she walked through the tunnel leading to the court. She didn’t even spare a smile for pre-match photos up at the net with a grinning Kenin.

And when she made her first move in front, breaking to go up 2-1 after 15 minutes, Muguruza just tucked her racket under her left arm like an old-school commuter with a folded newspaper on the way to catch a subway train.

Kenin makes her mood obvious at all times.

After lost points, she bounced her racket or kicked it, rolled her eyes, muttered to herself. After winning points, she would pump a fist and scream “Come on!” — or, when she went up 5-2 in the second set, Kenin grabbed a tennis ball and slammed it off the blue court. Did that again later, too, as the end neared.

While Muguruza generally stuck to her preferred tactic of hit-’em-hard, harder, hardest — not a ton of nuance — and moving forward when an opening demanded it, Kenin put more shape and spin on balls, and turned to her favourite element, drop shots, when possible.

Muguruza took the last two games of the opening set to move in front.

“I was obviously devastated,” Kenin would say later.

But that is where the match’s direction switched completely.

Kenin’s play elevated, yes, but Muguruza’s dropped. Her serve percentage and speed dipped. Her footwork was problematic.

Kenin broke to go up 3-1 and again to force a third set.

That’s when Kenin stood her ground at that key juncture at 2-all in the third, holding there and then breaking immediately.

“A very important moment,” Muguruza called it.

Well, there’s an understatement.

Soon enough, Kenin was kissing the trophy, just as her father had kissed her on the cheek right before the walk from the hallway outside the locker room to the court.

When Kenin entered the interview room for her post-match news conference, she was handed a glass of bubbly. She’s barely old enough to drink legally back home, but yes, she is old enough.

Her mom stayed in Florida and awaited a phone call to find out about the match — too nervous to watch in person or on TV.

When it was time for Kenin’s on-court speech, Dad called her over for a bit of advice.

“He just told me a few things what to say,” Kenin said. “I told him, ‘I know what to say. I’m 21. I can do this.”’

What can’t she do right now?

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Thatcher Demko injury Vancouver Canucks – TSN

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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko suffered an apparent lower-body injury in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers and did not return.

Demko was helped off the ice and left the game after a sequence near the end of the frame where the Panthers got their third goal of the period. Demko stopped two shots off the rush before doubling over on the third attempt favouring the upper side of his right leg. 

Spencer Martin replaced the injured Demko, who allowed three goals on 16 shots prior to departing. Martin allowed two goals on 15 shots in relief in an eventual 5-1 loss.

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After the game, head coach Bruce Boudreau did not have an update on Demko.

The 26-year-old Demko has a 3.81 goals-against average and .885 save percentage in 14 games this season. This is his sixth season in Vancouver after being selected in the second round (No. 36 overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

The Canucks will be back in action Saturday at home against the Arizona Coyotes.

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Canadiens @ Flames Top Six Minutes: All Out Allen – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

Pre-game

  • Can’t score less than Tuesday night, right?
  • RIGHT???
  • Hoffman on IR means Pitlick being called up to the wamth of NHL again.
  • MSL deploying a seven-eleven tonight. Seven d-men and just eleven attackers.

First Period

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  • Slaf elevated to the second line? I like it.

Can’t score less than Tuesday night, right?

  • It took literally thirteen seconds for that prediction to tome true.
  • Sean Monahan playing “the ghost of Christmas” past on a breakaway, forcing Markström out of his net and our first overall selection follows up and picks up the rebound like a seasoned vet.
  • Quite the composure there from Slafkovsky.
  • Fourth of the season for Juraj. His first since 6 November.
  • Jordan Harris to the box of shame for hooking Dube.
  • The lead stands tall.
  • Otherwise, how ‘bout that Jake Allen huh?
  • Former Flame Monahan leads former Hab Tyler Toffoli on points after period one.

Second Period

  • 0 for 6 on the power play against the Sharks. Here we go again. The bread muncher Mangiapane to the box.
  • A goal would be nice. But I guess that’s too much to ask for.
  • Apparently it was -30 in Calgary tonight.
  • And yes, I’m talking about the weather and not Evgenii Dadonov’s plus-minus statistics.
  • And here I am, thinking it’s cold when it’s plus five in Zagreb.
  • Habs survive another penalty kill, with Xhek(w)aj(faj) in the box.
  • Slaf hits the post on a breakaway.
  • Truly great to see him gaining momentum with his pace and puck control.
  • Elias Lindholm ties the contest up at one-a-piece with 29 seconds left of period two.
  • Should have been an interference call on Lindholm in the lead-up to the goal, n’est-ce pas?

Third Period

  • Harris penalized again. This time an unnecessary dealy of game-call.
  • Toffoli does his best to haunt his former team as well, but David Savard with a quality block and the puck ricochets off the crossbar.
  • Five minutes into the third. Habs are getting outshot 14-34.
  • Weird sequence here. Josh Anderson swats at a puck after the referees blow it down for an icing.
  • Markström disapproves of the swat and swats at Anderson as he goes by.
  • Anderson disapproves of Markström being all Swedish and tall.
  • And Mangiapane jumps in to defend his disapproving goalie before Anderson disapproves any more of that.
  • Conclusion: Mangiapane can eat bread for an additional two minutes in the penalty box as he gets called for roughing.
  • Nice work, Josh! Well planned.
  • Although, to quote our managing editor: “Unfortunately, it now results in a power play.”
  • Was just thinking: “Hasn’t it been too long (it’s all relative, it’s been nine days) since Caufield scored now?”
  • He rips one on the man advantage and Montreal regains their lead.
  • Apparently, this was Caufield’s 100th regular season NHL game.
  • His stats so far: 40 goals, 30 assists.
  • Oh, and 12 penalty minutes, not to forget.
  • Who got another assist in his former house? Boogaloo, Sean Monahan.
  • Backlund trips up his fellow Mike (Matheson) resulting in another Canadiens power play.
  • You think they could do it twice in one night? Getouttahere.
  • The Habs create little and instead takes a penalty of their own, for too many men on the ice.
  • All while Calgary gets a three-on-one and Slaf takes a puck to the face. It’s an action packed night, this one.
  • Jake Allen is playing like a man possessed tonight. 42 stops and counting.
  • Make that 44.
  • Make that a road victory.
  • On we go to the culture capital of the world: Edmonton, AB.

EOTP 3 Stars

3) This is great news for this western road trip

2) There’s a lot of potential here

1) I think every part of his body got hit with a puck tonight

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2022 FIFA World Cup: What we learned as Canada bows out in loss to Morocco – Sportsnet.ca

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