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Anti-climactic yet historic scenes as home hope Bianca triumphs in Rogers Cup

Karthik Swaminathan

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A teary Serena Williams heaped praise on her young adversary after retiring four games into the final following an upper back injury

Toronto: It was the pair’s first career meeting and the match promised everything. Canada’s best player in the final of the country’s biggest tennis tournament taking on arguably the greatest woman to have wielded a racquet. A prodigy looking to create history for her nation versus an almost indefatigable champion who never tires of winning. A teenager looking for another big win in what has been a sensational year, despite an injury layoff in between, against a decorated athlete looking to return to the winners’ circle. Simply put: Today’s Rogers Cup final had all the ingredients to be unforgettable.

While both finalists got a very vocal ovation as they entered the Aviva Centre, there was no doubt which of the two had more support once the chair umpire said, “Play!”. Andreescu, who is a native of nearby Mississauga, was dialled in from the first point and wasn’t found wanting for intent. Williams, serving first, had to fend off break point in the opening game. But it was not long before Andreescu drew first blood, going up 2–1 following a double fault from Williams, her second of the match, in the third game. The youngster then consolidated the break for 3–1 with a flurry of powerful forehands and just as the final showed signs of going to another level, everything came to a screeching halt.

The American, who had been moving slowly in the last game and appeared rather stiff, went to her chair, halted play, and called for a medical timeout. A minute later, the match—barely 20 minutes old—was called and the 19-year-old was crowned the first home-grown Canadian Open winner since Faye Urban 50 years ago. She also improved to 7–0 over top-10 ranked opponents this season and will rise to World No. 14 on Monday, August 12.

The 37-year-old was visibly distraught and in tears. Andreescu, who has had her share of inactivity this season due to injury, was quick to console her senior adversary. “You’re going to bounce back,” she reportedly said during their post-match chat. “You’ve dealt with so much in your career, this is just a minor setback for a major comeback, I’m sure.”

In her press conference following the match, Williams explained her injury. “It started yesterday in my match and it just got worse,” she said. “Just my whole back just completely spasmed, and to a point where I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t really move.”

These are special days in Canada’s sporting history. Last August, Brooke Henderson won the Canadian Open golf tournament on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. Now, in hindsight, it seems like a watershed moment. Her triumph was followed by the rise of Toronto Raptors who would proceed to clinch the Eastern Conference before going on to secure the NBA crown earlier this June.

All the while, Canadian tennis has shown sparks too. 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov and 19-year-old Félix Auger-Aliassime, among the men, were teetering around the top-20. 16-year-old Leylah Annie-Fernandez was making waves. But it is Bianca Andreescu—from among the tennis crop—who continues to carve a niche for herself.

Starting the season with a final in Auckland, Andreescu reached the second round at the Australian Open—having braved qualifying rounds in both. And then, she took off. The teenager won Newport and reached the semifinal in Acapulco before landing her fledgling career’s first big title, in Indian Wells. She would reach the last 16 in Miami but retire from the match, the start of an injury-plagued stretch.

Toronto, therefore, marked her return to full-time action and what a return it proved to be!

Women’s Singles – Final
B. Andreescu (CAN) d [8] S. Williams (USA) 3–1 RET

WHAT THEY SAID:

“I love to read self-help books about the mind, how the mind works. Because the mind is an incredible tool. You basically can create your own reality with your mind.” — Bianca Andreescu throws a little bit of light on what has been helping her.

“I’m officially a fan [of Bianca Andreescu]. She is wiser than her — she’s only 19. She definitely doesn’t seem like a 19-year old in her words, on court and her game, her attitude, her actions.” — rich praise from 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams on the teenager, whom she also referred to as a “fabulous personality” and an “old soul”.

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Djokovic to meet Medvedev in Cincinnati Masters semis

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Novak Djokovic. Photo: @ATP

Washington: World’s number one Novak Djokovic reached the semifinals of the ongoing Cincinnati Masters after defeating Frenchman Lucas Pouille in their last-eight match.

Djokovic defeated Pouille 7-6(2), 6-1 in a contest that lasted 86 minutes on Friday.

The Serbian has now made at least the last four in five consecutive tournaments he has played, and the top seed is into the semi-finals at this ATP Masters 1000 event for the seventh time.

The 32-year-old is two victories away from lifting his 34th Masters 1000 trophy, which would move him to within one crown of Rafael Nadal’s record 35.

In the semifinal, Djokovic will next face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who will try to make his second Masters 1000 final in as many weeks.

The World’s No. 1 leads their head to head record 3-1, but Medvedev won their most recent meeting at this year’s Monte-Carlo Masters.

In the other semifinal, France’s Richard Gasquet will play against Belgian 16th seed David Goffin.

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Kyrgios fined $113,000 for meltdown at Cincinnati Masters

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Nick Kyrgios.

Cincinnati: Controversial Australian star Nick Kyrgios was fined 113,000 after his explosive Cincinnati Masters meltdown which saw him smash two racquets, launch an abusive tirade at the chair umpire before appearing to spit at the official.

The ATP said the massive sanction included individual fines for ball abuse, leaving the court without permission, an audible obscenity and unsportsmanlike conduct during his second round loss to Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

Kyrgios, 24, was warned that he could also face another suspension from the sport once a full investigation has taken place.

After the world number 27 lost 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to Khachanov on Wednesday night, he called umpire Fergus Murphy a “fuckin’ tool”, refused to shake his hand while spitting in the direction of the chair.

He had earlier been handed a time violation, docked a point and was warned again after leaving the court without permission at the end of the second set after which he was seen to destroy two racquets in the corridor.

Kyrgios screamed at Murphy that he was the “worst umpire, hands down”.

The various Kyrgios infractions included four fines of 20,000 each for unsportsmanlike conduct plus another 20,000 for verbal abuse.

“In addition to the on-site fines, the ATP is looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match to see if additional action is warranted,” said an ATP statement.

“That could result in an additional fine and/or suspension.”

The following provides a breakdown of the penalties incurred by Kyrgios:

Ball Abuse (Warning)
Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Point Penalty) – US$ 20,000 fine
Leaving the Court – US$ 3,000 fine
Audible Obscenity – US$ 5,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 5,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 20,000 fine
Verbal Abuse – US$ 20,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 20,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 20,000 fine

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Federer knocked out, Djokovic avoids upset loss in Cincinnati Masters

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Roger federer.

Washington: Seven-time champion Roger Federer bowed out of the ongoing Cincinnati Masters after facing a shocking defeat to Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev in his Round of 16 match.

The 21-year-old Rublev defeated Federer 6-3, 6-4 in just 62 minutes on Thursday for his second top 5 victory in as many months.

The 62-minute defeat was Federer’s fastest in more than 16 years, since his 54-minute defeat against Franco Squillari in the first round of 2003 Sydney, reported the ATP Tour website.

“He was super clean. Defence, offence, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. It was tough for me, but an excellent match by him. I was impressed… I think I just have to play better overall to hang with him,” said Federer while praising Rublev.

Rublev is through to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final and will meet Coupe Rogers finalist and countryman Daniil Medvedev for a place in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic eased through to the last eight after defeating Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-4 in his Thursday”s clash.

The 32-year-old will next meet France’s Lucas Pouille in a rematch of their Australian Open semi-final in January, which was a straight-sets win for Djokovic.

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