Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth-round match at the U.S. Open after he accidentally hit a line judge with a tennis ball Sunday.
It was a stunning end to Djokovic’s bid for an 18th Grand Slam title and his 26-0 start to this season.
Djokovic had just lost a game to his opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta, to fall behind 6-5 in the first set.
With 2019 champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer not in the field this year, Djokovic arrived in New York as the overwhelming favourite.
But it all came apart Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, when Djokovic had just lost a game to his opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta, to fall behind 6-5 in the first set.
As he walked to the sideline for the changeover, Djokovic smacked a ball behind him. The ball hit a line judge, who dropped to her knees at the back of the court and reached for her neck.
WATCH | Novak Djokovic drills line judge with ball:
“In accordance with the Grand Slam rulebook, following his actions of intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences, the U.S. Open tournament referee defaulted Novak Djokovic from the 2020 U.S. Open,” the U.S. Tennis Association announced.
“Because he was defaulted,” the USTA statement continued, “Djokovic will lose all ranking points earned at the U.S. Open and will be fined the prize money won at the tournament in addition to any or all fines levied with respect to the offending incident.”
After a discussion of several minutes with officials on court, including tournament referee Soeren Friemel, Djokovic walked over to shake hands with Carreno Busta. Chair umpire Aurelie Tourte then announced the default.
It was clear Djokovic did not intend to hit the line judge; he wasn’t looking in that direction when his racket made contact with the ball, and there was concern written on his face as soon as he realized what happened.
But players who hit a ball out of anger and make contact with an on-court official have been defaulted in the past.
In 2017, for example, Denis Shapovalov, the 21-year-old Canadian scheduled to play his fourth-round match Sunday night, was defaulted from a Davis Cup match against Britain when he accidentally hit the chair umpire in the face with a ball.
WATCH | Canada’s Denis Shapovalov defaulted in 2017 Davis Cup match:
At Wimbledon in 1995, Tim Henman hit a ball into the head of a ball girl and was defaulted from a doubles match with partner Jeremy Bates.
“I think the supervisors and all them are just doing their job, but very unlucky for Novak,” said Alexander Zverev, the tournament’s No. 5-seeded man, who reached the quarterfinals by winning Sunday. “If it would have landed anywhere else — we’re talking a few inches — he would have been fine.”
Among the many oddities about the 2020 U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, is that there are no spectators.
Another is that only the two largest arenas — Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadium — have full complements of line judges making calls at matches. At other courts, chair umpires are aided by an electronic line-calling system.
Awaiting first 1st-time major trophy winner since 2014
Djokovic’s mood had soured over the preceding few minutes. In the prior game, he wasted three consecutive break points and after the last, which Carreno Busta won with a drop shot, Djokovic whacked a ball off a courtside advertising sign.
Then, on the second point of what would become the last game at this year’s U.S. Open for Djokovic, he stumbled while chasing a shot and fell to the ground, clutching his left shoulder.
Play was delayed for a few minutes while a trainer checked that shoulder.
On the second point after they resumed, Carreno Busta hit a passing winner to break Djokovic’s serve. That’s when Djokovic got himself into trouble.
His departure means there is no man remaining in the field who previously has won a Grand Slam singles title. Whoever emerges as champion will be the first first-time major trophy winner in men’s tennis since 2014, when Marin Cilic won the U.S. Open.
Plus, each of the last 13 Grand Slam trophies had been won by a member of the Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
“Going to be a new Grand Slam champion, [that’s] all I know. No Grand Slam champions left in the draw. Now it gets interesting,” said Zverev, who beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 Sunday. “Now I think is the time when it gets really interesting.”
Reed takes lead in difficult conditions at U.S. Open
MAMARONECK, N.Y. — This was the Winged Foot everyone has heard about. This is the U.S. Open everyone expected.
Patrick Reed answered the first big test Friday when the wind arrived out of the north, bringing a little chill and a lot of trouble. He never got flustered by bogeys and made enough birdie putts and key saves for an even-par 70.
It felt just as rewarding as the 66 he shot in the opening round, and it gave him a one-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau, who powered and putted his way to a 68.
The opening round featured soft greens, a few accessible pins and 21 rounds under par. Friday was the epitome of a major long known as the toughest test in golf.
Three players broke par. Nine others shot even par. Everyone else was hanging on for dear life. As the final groups tried to beat darkness in this September U.S. Open, only six players remained in red numbers.
“It’s almost like they set it up to ease our way into it, and then showed us what it’s supposed to really be like,” Reed said.
Television showed his five birdies. What took him to the 36-hole lead at 4-under 136 was a collection of pars from bunkers and from thick grass just over the greens. He managed them all with grit, a common trait among U.S. Open champions.
DeChambeau showed plenty of resiliency, too, bouncing back with birdies after all five of his bogeys and finishing the best round of the day with a pitching wedge on the downwind, 557-yard, par-5 ninth to 6 feet for eagle.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello of Spain and Harris English each had a 70 and were at 2-under 138.
They were joined by Justin Thomas, who opened with a 65 — the lowest ever at Winged Foot for a U.S. Open — and lost all those shots to par after 10 holes. Thomas then delivered a 5-wood from 228 yards into the wind on the par-3 third hole and made a slick, 15-foot, double-breaking birdie putt to steady himself. He scratched out a 73 and is right in it.
Jason Kokrak (71) was the only other player under par at 1-under 139.
“This isn’t exactly a place where you go out and try to shoot 6 or 7 under to catch up,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to worry about what everyone else is doing because you could shoot 80 just as easily as you could shoot 68. I just need to stay focused, and most importantly, go home and get some rest. Because I’m pretty tired.”
There’s still 36 holes to go, and no indication that Winged Foot is going to get any easier.
“The rough is still really thick. I don’t think they’re planning on cutting it,” Matthew Wolff said after salvaging a 74 that left him four shots behind. “The greens are only going to get firmer, and the scores are only going to get higher.”
Tiger Woods is among those who won’t be around to experience it. He had a pair of double bogeys at the end of the back nine, and two birdies over his last three holes gave him a 77. He missed the cut by four shots, the eighth time in his last 15 majors he won’t be around for the weekend.
“It feels like the way the golf course is changing, is turning, that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship,” Woods said. “I didn’t get myself that opportunity.”
Neither did Phil Mickelson, who had his highest 36-hole score in 29 appearances in the one major he hasn’t won. Ditto for Jordan Spieth, whose 81 was his highest score in a major. PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole that cost him a chance to keep playing.
Reed turned in a workman-like performance, making birdies when he had the chance, saving par when needed. This is the kind of golf he loves. It’s a grind. And it’s about feel. He was most pleased with his birdie on No. 1 after he made the turn, going with a chip 8-iron from 147 yards into the wind and riding the slope at the back of the green to tap-in range.
“I love when it’s hard, when you have to be creative on all different golf shots,” he said.
There were plenty of great rounds on such a demanding course, many of which fell apart at the end. Louis Oosthuizen was 3 under in the morning when he finished bogey-bogey-double bogey for a 74. Xander Schauffele was 3 under until he bogeyed three of his last five holes.
“The wind can make a par-3 course difficult, so put that on a U.S. Open setup, it’s going to be even more so,” Schauffele said. “It’ll be a fun afternoon to watch on TV.”
Rory McIlroy’s problems started early. He was 5 over through seven holes, including a birdie at the start, and shot 76 to fall seven shots behind. Dustin Johnson was bogey-free through 16 holes until a pair of bad tee shots led to bogey. He had a 76 and was in the group at 3-over 143.
All of them still feel as though the U.S. Open is in sight.
“I’m confident now, after seeing what was out there this afternoon, over par will win this tournament,” Adam Scott said a 74 left him nine shots back. “The greens finally dried out. If there’s any breeze, over par is winning.”
It usually does at Winged Foot.
Source: – pgatour.com
Lightning, Stars ready to make history in unprecedented Stanley Cup Final – NHL.com
It was Media Day at the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, and Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper wore a gray Cup Final sweatshirt in front of a black Cup Final backdrop as he answered questions at the JW Marriott in Edmonton. Maybe on video it looked normal.
It was anything but.
At one point, Cooper heard the voice of Edmonton Journal writer Jim Matheson, whose plaque hangs at the Hockey Hall of Fame as a winner of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for bringing honor to journalism and hockey. Cooper couldn’t see him.
“Jim, did you ask that question on the other side of the fence?” Cooper said. “Are you close by?”
They laughed together, but separately.
Matheson was at his condo, 10 minutes from the hotel meeting room the Lightning and the Dallas Stars used to preview the Cup Final on Friday. Game 1 is at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the hub city for the best-of-7 series, on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]
No media were in person at Media Day, just as no media have been in the bubble and no fans have been in the stands this postseason because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Normally, reporters crowd around each other and their subjects at Media Day, jostling for position, shouting questions. This time, whether close by or across the continent, they did what they’ve had to do for months: ask questions via video conference.
“It’s different,” said Stars center Tyler Seguin, who had been through Media Day at the Cup Final with the Boston Bruins in 2011 and 2013. “Someone just said to me outside that this probably must be better, just having to go in a room. But honestly, you definitely miss those days. … There’s so much media and cameras in your face, and that atmosphere’s buzzing. It’s definitely surreal.”
Surreal is an understatement.
After the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association came up with a Return to Play Plan with an unprecedented 24-team postseason tournament.
Twelve teams from the Eastern Conference went into the bubble in Toronto on July 26. Twelve teams from the Western Conference went into the bubble in Edmonton the same day. Now, 55 days later, we’re down to two finalists.
At the time of year we should be playing the preseason, we have two southern American teams playing the Cup Final in a northern Canadian city.
This is historic.
You have to go back 70 years to find the last time Cup Final games were played at a neutral site. In 1950, thanks to a scheduling conflict with a circus at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers hosted the Detroit Red Wings in Games 2 and 3 of the Cup Final at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. At least there were fans in the stands.
You have to go back 101 years to find the last time a Stanley Cup series was disrupted by a pandemic. The Montreal Canadiens played the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in Seattle in 1919, but the series was halted after five games due to the Spanish flu. With the series 2-2-1, the Cup was not awarded. Multiple players got sick. Canadiens defenseman Joe Hall died.
Which brings us to what’s most important.
The goal all along has been to keep everyone safe and award the Stanley Cup with integrity. As of Monday, no one in the bubble has tested positive for COVID-19. As of Friday, we’re eight to 13 days from the Lightning or the Stars hoisting the Cup, and the debate isn’t whether this championship will be legitimate. It’s whether this will go down as the hardest to win in NHL history.
“It’s definitely been a weird season, obviously with everything that’s been going on,” Lightning forward Yanni Gourde said. “It’s been a long season considering we were off for four months, I think. But yeah, we’re grateful that we have this opportunity to play here in the bubble, that we’re still playing hockey for the Stanley Cup.”
Grateful is a good word. None of this has been ideal, not for the media and fans unable to be there, not for the teams and staff isolated from the world to put on the show. But the show has gone on, and we’re set for an emotional finale. After all this, who wants to go home from the bubble without the Cup?
“Usually, we know, we’re dealing face to face with all of you, so everything about that is different,” Stars coach Rick Bowness told reporters at Media Day. “But when it comes right down to it — and this is what we tell our players — this is the game, man. We’ve got to focus on the game. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup.
“All of these things outside of it have changed. It’s all different. But we’re used to that now. We’ve been here for almost eight weeks. But the most important thing is, when you stay focused on the goal, then the goal is the same regardless of the circumstances.”
Stars underdogs against Lightning to open Stanley Cup Final – Sportsnet.ca
The Dallas Stars will look for a fourth straight win when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as +135 underdogs on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Dallas has enjoyed somewhat of a Cinderella run in this year’s NHL playoffs, and will make its first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 20 years when the team hits the ice for Saturday night’s matchup at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The Stars needed six games to get past the Calgary Flames in the first round before stunning the favoured Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the second round. And it wasn’t until they took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Final that they emerged as steady favourites on the NHL playoff series prices. Now poised to challenge for their second Stanley Cup win in franchise history, the Stars are once again pegged as underdogs on the series prices, sporting +165 odds.
Defensive-minded physical play has been key to the Stars’ playoff success. With goaltender Anton Khudobin rising to the occasion, the Stars limited Vegas to just nine total goals in their five-game clash, and they have allowed an average of just three goals per game since the start of the first round. That has paid dividends for totals bettors taking the under, which went 4-0-1 during the Western Conference Final.
The Stars will need to maintain their stingy play against the high-powered Lightning, who are -155 favourites for Game 1 on Saturday at betting sites. Tampa Bay returns to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015 after disposing of the New York Islanders in six games. Like Dallas, the Islanders powered their playoff drive with a defensive game plan that limited the Lightning to two or fewer goals in three of the six games in the series.
The Lightning have shown glimpses of their vast offensive potential during their current 12-4 run. And with leading scorer and Conn Smythe Trophy hopeful Brayden Point back in the lineup after missing Game 3 and Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, Tampa Bay enters Game 1 as -190 chalk on the series prices to win their first Stanley Cup title since 2004.
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Tampa Bay is the team’s shaky performance against the Stars this season. The Lightning dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to Dallas, putting the brakes on a dominating five-game win streak in head-to-head matchups in which they had outscored the Stars by a wide 25-8 margin.
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