ROME: Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Madison Keys in an all-American Italian Open final Sunday.
Williams’ previous title came in Cincinnati in August — a month before her attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam ended with a semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci at the US Open.
“It feels great,” Williams said, pointing out that she’s only played four tournaments since Cincinnati. “So it’s not like I was playing every week. So that’s kind of how I look at it. But it feels great to win a title, especially on clay.”
It’s Williams’ fourth title in Rome and it comes exactly a week before the French Open begins.
“I’m feeling pretty fit. So I’m looking forward to it,” said Williams, who will be attempting to defend her title at Roland Garros, but won’t have to answer any questions about a potential calendar-year Grand Slam this year. “I’m going to definitely go in there and feel more calm and (not) feel stress to have to win.”
Williams addressed the crowd in Italian during the post-match ceremony then took a selfie as she posed with the trophy.
It was the first time two American women have met in a final on clay since Serena beat older sister Venus in the 2002 French Open.
When they met at the net after the match, Serena told the 24th-ranked Keys that she can be No. 1 one day.
“Too bad what she says doesn’t just happen,” the 21-year-old Keys said. “But it’s always great to hear that from her. ... Hearing that is definitely something that makes me just work harder.”
The last all-American final in Rome was in 1970, when Billie Jean King beat Julie Heldman.
In the men’s tournament, top-ranked Novak Djokovic was facing Andy Murray in a rematch of last week’s Madrid Open final.
In the Rome record book, Serena drew level with Conchita Martinez and Gabriela Sabatini, who also took four titles at the Foro Italico. Chris Evert holds the women’s record with five titles while Rafael Nadal holds the overall mark with seven.
It was the 70th title overall in Serena’s career.
Keys was playing in the biggest final of her career. She posted personal best results at all four majors last year, including reaching the Australian Open semifinals and the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
Keys broke Serena at love in the opening game of the match and hit six aces in her opening two service games to take a 3-1 lead.
As Serena became more aggressive, however, Keys hit two double faults to hand the break back, making it 3-3.
In the tiebreak, Serena took control with a wicked cross-court forehand that Keys couldn’t get back then closed it out on her first set point with a big serve out wide that Keys returned long.
After taking the first set, Serena pumped her fists and yelled to herself, ‘Come on!’“
In the second set, Serena’s only real trouble came when she was broken while serving for the match at 5-2. But she quickly ended it the next game, concluding the tournament without dropping a set.
Serena hit only 13 winners to Keys’ 17 but had fewer unforced errors — 24-32 — and converted five of her six break-point opportunities.
Serena improved to 16-0 against Americans since losing to Venus in the Montreal semifinals in 2014. Her last loss to an American in a final came against Venus at Wimbledon in 2008.
Serena ends 9-month title drought at Italian Open
Serena ends 9-month title drought at Italian Open
ROME: Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Madison Keys in an all-American Italian Open final Sunday.
Bucks beat Nets 104-89, force Game 7 in NBA semifinals
- Game 7 will be Saturday night in Brooklyn
- The home team has won each of the first six games in this series
MILWAUKEE: Khris Middleton scored 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and the Milwaukee Bucks never trailed in a 104-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night to force a decisive seventh game in their second-round playoff series.
Game 7 will be Saturday night in Brooklyn. The home team has won each of the first six games in this series.
“Both teams, it’s win or go home,” Middleton said. “That’s what Game 7’s all about. That’s what players love about it. I’m sure the fans love it, too.”
Milwaukee never trailed and broke the game open by going on a 14-0 run that started with less than 8 ½ minutes left.
Middleton answered every Brooklyn comeback attempt and had 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals to go along with the highest scoring total of his playoff career.
“He did a little bit of everything,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Antetokounmpo had 17 rebounds.
The Bucks shot just 7 of 33 from 3-point range but made up for it by outscoring the Nets 26-4 in fast-break points.
“We definitely were out of sync,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We didn’t play the way we wanted to play offensively. We just didn’t have our best stuff tonight. We have a Game 7 on our home floor.”
Milwaukee bounced back two nights after blowing a 17-point lead in a 114-108 Game 5 loss at Brooklyn that featured an epic 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist performance from Kevin Durant.
Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds Thursday. James Harden added 16 points but still looked as though he was at far less than full strength in his second game since returning from a hamstring injury.
Harden left Game 1 in the opening minute with right hamstring tightness and returned in Game 5 but shot 1 of 10 and scored just five points.
The Bucks owned a 14-point lead early in the second half before Durant again sparked a third-quarter comeback, scoring 10 straight Nets points during one stretch.
Brooklyn cut Milwaukee’s lead to 72-67 with 1:27 left in the third when Harden made two free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point shot. Middleton restored Milwaukee’s double-digit advantage by scoring the last six points of the third quarter, including a putback at the buzzer.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 15 early in the fourth quarter, but Brooklyn stormed back again with 10 straight points, as Joe Harris’ 3-pointer made it 82-77 with 8:41 left. Middleton again responded, drawing a foul on Harris while shooting a 3-pointer and making all three free throws.
Those free throws started a 14-0 run that included seven points from Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP capped the spurt by converting an offensive rebound into a dunk with 6:24 left.
Nets: The Nets used their 41st different starting lineup (Durant, Harden, Harris Blake Griffin and Jeff Green) of the season. They’ve used four different starting lineups in 11 playoff games. … Durant is one of only two players to score at least 30 points against the Bucks at least seven times in a season (regular season and playoffs combined). Michael Jordan had seven games of at least 30 points against Milwaukee in 1989-90.
Bucks: Middleton was 5 of 8 from 3-point range. His teammates were a combined 2 of 25. ... The Bucks are 5-0 against the Nets at home this season and own a 5-0 overall home playoff record. They’re 12-2 all-time in playoff games at Fiserv Forum. … Antetokounmpo has 10 straight playoff double-doubles and four consecutive playoff games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Depay and Dumfries send Netherlands into Euro 2020 knockouts
AMSTERDAM: The Netherlands are through to the last 16 at Euro 2020 after Memphis Depay’s penalty set up a 2-0 win over Austria on Thursday, their second straight victory securing top spot in Group C as coach Frank de Boer declared there is much more to come from his side.
Depay made no mistake from the spot in the 11th minute in Amsterdam after David Alaba’s foul on Denzel Dumfries was spotted by the Israeli referee only after he came across to review the images.
Dumfries, so impressive in the thrilling opening 3-2 win over Ukraine, added another midway through the second half, his second goal of the tournament.
The Dutch were comfortable at home in the Johan Cruyff Arena and De Boer’s side are so far making a success of their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup.
That is great news for De Boer, whose predecessor as national coach, Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, was among the spectators.
“I know we can beat anybody when we are at our best but I think other teams are thinking the same so let’s go game by game and see where that takes us,” De Boer said.
The Dutch now cannot be caught at the top of the group after Ukraine beat North Macedonia earlier in Bucharest, with the Balkan outsiders already eliminated.
That means De Boer can rest players for the final group game against North Macedonia, safe in the knowledge that the Dutch will go to Budapest for a last-16 tie on June 27 against a third-place finisher.
“We need to decide how to prepare for the next game, whether to keep working on the system and improve that or give some players extra time off,” De Boer added.
He had said coming into the Euro that the 1988 champions were “between the fourth and eighth-best team” and already they can see their path opening up to the quarter-finals.
They will still need to improve if they are to go further, but they appear to be finding their feet in the 3-5-2 system that De Boer has controversially opted for.
Austria, after all, are a mediocre side and were not helped by the penalty given away by Alaba, their captain.
Franco Foda’s side were also handicapped by the absence of Marko Arnautovic, suspended for insulting an opponent after coming off the bench and scoring against North Macedonia.
Foda had said he was in line to start here.
Austria can nevertheless still qualify with a game against Ukraine to come.
“We knew we couldn’t completely stop the Dutch,” said Alaba.
“I am proud of the team. We will go to Bucharest to try to beat Ukraine and stay in the tournament.”
If the Dutch King and Queen were present at their first match, this time FIFA president Gianni Infantino was in the stands, as well as Koeman.
Depay, out of contract at Lyon, hinted before this game that he is set to team up with Koeman in Barcelona.
The ex-Manchester United man believes he is good enough to play for a club of Barcelona’s stature, and he confidently stroked home the early spot-kick awarded following a VAR review for Alaba’s foul on Dumfries.
He then missed a sitter before half-time, failing to hit the target after Wout Weghorst teed him up.
It was from a Depay corner that Weghorst nodded down for Stefan de Vrij to see his effort from point-blank range saved by Austria goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann on the hour.
De Boer then made a triple change, including sending on PSV Eindhoven forward Donyell Malen for Weghorst.
And midway through the second half Depay released Malen to run through and square for Dumfries, one of the stars of the tournament so far, to score.
Koeman will also have been impressed with another assured display by Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong in midfield, while Matthijs de Ligt cruised through the game in defense on his return from injury.
Eriksen defibrillator aims to cheat death — but football doubtful
- Eriksen’s heart stopped in the middle of a Euro match on Saturday, casting a dark shadow over his career
- "In my opinion, it's over," cardiologist Jeremy Descoux said
PARIS: Danish footballer Christian Eriksen is to be fitted with a type of miniature defibrillator to detect and correct heart rhythm disorders to prevent the repeat of a near-fatal heart attack.
The Inter Milan player had to be revived after his heart stopped in the middle of a Euro match on Saturday, casting a dark shadow over his career.
It is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD. Like its better-known cousin, the pacemaker, an ICD is made up of one or more leads and a small housing placed under the skin. The leads can be inserted through a blood vessel directly into the heart or placed under the skin, in contact with the chest wall.
Via the lead, the device detects heart rhythm disorders and corrects them if necessary. If the heart is beating too slowly, the ICD can send weak electrical impulses to speed it up. In this case, it works like a pacemaker. But unlike a pacemaker, the ICD can also prevent the heart from beating too fast.
“The idea is to prevent sudden death,” cardiologist Jeremy Descoux told AFP.
The device can determine whether the increased heart rate (tachycardia) is normal, worrying or even very dangerous. Based on this, it can trigger several responses.
“The therapy of last resort is an electric shock,” Descoux says.
This works as a miniaturised version of the defibrillators installed in public places in case of emergency.
The device can also send a series of rapid pulses to regain control of the heart’s rhythm.
“It can help you get over the hump without delivering an electric shock, which can be a bit traumatic,” Descoux says.
“In my opinion, it’s over,” Descoux says.
“Unless we find a pathology that caused (the accident) without any link to sport.”
Since Eriksen’s accident, the parallel has been drawn with Dutchman Daley Blind, who resumed his career after having a heart device fitted.
But Blind was diagnosed with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) in 2019 after suffering dizziness in the middle of a match. In 2020, he again collapsed during a match after his device failed. He left the field conscious and under his own power.
In Eriksen’s case, “the problem is that you have a player who has suddenly died... ‘Do I expose my patient to do again what was a problem the first time?’“
Belgium beats Denmark 2-1 in game marked by Eriksen tribute
- It was Denmark’s first game since Eriksen’s collapse
- 25,000 fans rose for a minute of thunderous applause in tribute to Eriksen
COPENHAGEN: Substitute Kevin de Bruyne set up one goal and scored the winner himself to give Belgium a 2-1 victory over Denmark in a European Championship.
The game was marked by an emotional tribute to Christian Eriksen in the first half.
De Bruyne came on after halftime for his first appearance since sustaining a facial fracture in the Champions League final and squared the ball for Thorgan Hazard to equalize in the 55th minute. He then scored in the 71st with a low shot from outside the area.
It was Denmark’s first game since Eriksen’s collapse, and the hosts started at a furious pace at a raucous Parken Stadium. Yussuf Poulsen scored with a low shot inside the far post in only the second minute.
Players from both teams then halted play after 10 minutes as the 25,000 fans rose for a minute of thunderous applause in tribute to Eriksen, who wears the No. 10 shirt for Denmark’s national team.
The players joined the applause as well, as did referee Bjorn Kuipers.
Eriksen remains in a nearby hospital after suffering cardiac arrest in the team’s opening game against Finland.
The victory give Belgium a spot in the round of 16. Denmark can still advance with a win over Russia on Monday if the Belgians beat Finland.
It had all started so well for Denmark.
Carried forward by the largest crowd in Denmark since the government eased pandemic restrictions, the hosts kept pushing forward in wave after wave after the early goal.
Play resumed at a more normal pace after the tribute to Eriksen, but Denmark still had the better chances in the first half.
Things changed completely when De Bruyne came on after the break.
Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand had said the team’s strategy for keeping Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku quiet was to make sure he didn’t get the ball in the first place. And Denmark largely succeeded until the 55th, when Lukaku burst forward down the right flank before passing to De Bruyne. The Manchester City midfielder went around a defender inside the area before teeing up Hazard, who slotted it past a scrambling Kasper Schmeichel.
Eden Hazard, Thorgan’s brother, then came on and set up De Bruyne for the second goal. De Bruyne ran toward the Belgium fans but didn’t celebrate the goal, pushing in hands down in a calming motion out of respect for Eriksen.
Martin Braithwaite had Denmark’s best chances for an equalizer, but his shot was saved by Thibaut Courtois in the 75th and his header glanced against the crossbar in the 87th.
Ukraine gets 1st win, beats North Macedonia 2-1 at Euro 2020
- Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk score again to give Ukraine a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia at Euro 2020
- Goals were separated by 5 minutes meanwhile against the Dutch they scored only 4 minutes apart
BUCHAREST: Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk both scored again, and this time it was enough.
The pair of forward netted a goal each in the first half Thursday to give Ukraine a 2-1 victory over North Macedonia at the European Championship.
The same two players also scored in the team’s opening match at Euro 2020 on Sunday, but that ended up being a 3-2 loss to the Netherlands.
Yarmolenko netted from close range in 29th minute after Oleksandr Karavaev’s flick from a corner. He then released Yaremchuk on the right flank in the 34th to double the lead with a low shot past onrushing goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
The goals were separated by five minutes. Against the Dutch, they scored only four minutes apart.
“I’m pleased with the three points we have earned,” Yarmolenko said, thanking his coaches for trusting him after spending most of the season on the bench at West Ham. “We can celebrate tonight, but tomorrow we’ll be preparing for the next game.”
The pair equaled coach Andriy Shevchenko’s record of scoring two goals at the European Championship. Shevchenko netted his in a 2-1 victory over Sweden when the country co-hosted Euro 2012, Ukraine’s only previous victory at the continental tournament.
“Today, we as the team played well in the attack,” Shevchenko said. “It was a pleasure to watch. During the game we had a lot of chances to score more.”
Ezgjan Alioski got the only goal for North Macedonia in the 57th minute when he scored on a rebound after goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan blocked his penalty shot.
The penalty was awarded after Karavaev brought down North Macedonia striker Goran Pandev, who was aiming for a rebound after Bushchan pushed a shot from Aleksandar Trajkovski onto the woodwork.
“Maybe we should have attacked more, but we found ourselves two goals behind, and when that happens, it’s difficult to turn the match around,” Alioski said.
Ruslan Malinovskyi later had a penalty saved by Dimitrievski on the other end. It was awarded for a handball following a free kick after a video review.
Ukraine now has three points in Group C while North Macedonia has zero and is facing elimination from the tournament.
Ukraine is appearing in its third European Championship and has never progressed out of the group stage. The team will remain in Bucharest for its final group match against Austria while North Macedonia will travel Amsterdam to face the Netherlands.
North Macedonia is playing at its first major tournament. The team lost to Austria 3-1 in its opening game.
“We played a match of two very different halves,” North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski said. “In the second half we showed why we are at the European Championship.”
Referee Andres Rapallini of Argentina was in charge of the game at the National Arena with linesmen Juan Pablo Belatti and Diego Bonfa assisting. They were taking part in the European tournament amid an exchange with South American soccer body CONMEBOL.
A Spanish refereeing crew will take charge of a Copa America match between Chile and Bolivia on Friday.