Serena rallies past Venus, builds confidence for US Open

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Serena Williams returns a shot to her sister Venus Williams during the WTA tennis tournament in Nicholasville, Kentucky, on Aug. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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Serena Williams (L) and Venus Williams touch rackets after the game. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 14 August 2020

Serena rallies past Venus, builds confidence for US Open

  • Ninth-ranked Serena is preparing to chase a seventh career US Open singles crown at Flushing Meadows
  • Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus, currently ranked 67th, ousted world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the first round

WASHINGTON: Serena Williams rallied to defeat sister Venus Williams 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday in a second-round matchup of Grand Slam champions at the WTA Top Seed Open.
Top-seeded Serena, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, said the victory will boost her confidence heading into the US Open as she improved to 19-12 in the 22-year-old rivalry with Venus.
“I wanted to win this for my game and my confidence,” said Serena, whose only title as a mother came in January at Auckland.
“I honestly didn’t come here to win (a title) for the first time in my career. I just came here to get some matches. I haven’t had this much time off since I had the baby.”
Ninth-ranked Serena is one shy of matching Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles and she is preparing to chase a seventh career US Open singles crown at Flushing Meadows.
Serena smacked a cross-court forehand winner to break Venus for a 2-1 lead in the third set, then dropped the next four games, only to break again in the seventh on another forehand cross-court winner, then hold to 4-4.
Serena zipped a backhand cross-court winner past Venus to break for a 5-4 lead and served out the match, aided by an umpire over-rule ace to reach 30-30.
Serena followed the call with her 14th ace and won after two hours and 19 minutes when Venus sent a forehand beyond the baseline.
“The last couple games I just wanted to win because I’ve been losing a lot of those tight sets,” Serena said. “I just tried to focus on those last two games.”
Serena improved to 100-110 after losing the first set, the best of any active WTA players. In the Williams sisters rivalry, the first-set winner has taken 26 of 31 meetings.
“This was right up there,” Serena said. “I’d say it was one of the all-time top five super-competitive matches between the two of us.”
Serena had six double faults and hit 67% of her first serves while winning 46% of second-serve points and taking 5-of-15 break points in her first event since February’s Fed Cup.
Venus, ranked 67th, had six aces with 11 double faults. The seven-time Grand Slam champion ousted Victoria Azarenka in the first round.
“She played unbelievable,” Serena said of Venus. “She’s doing so good. I honestly don’t know how I was able to pull it off at the end. She played so well.”
Venus, 40, and Serena, 38, had a combined age of 79 years and 19 days, the third-oldest combined age of any WTA Tour match.
The sisters concluded matters with a racquet tap at the net, a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic that had shut down the season for five months until last week and forced the Lexington, Kentucky, event to be played without public spectators.
Serena advanced to a quarter-final on Friday against fellow American Shelby Rogers, who ousted Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez 6-2, 7-5.
Thursday’s match marked the earliest Serena and Venus have met in a draw since their first tour-level meeting in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.
Serena has won 10 of their past 12 meetings dating to Miami 2009.
It was the first match between the superstar siblings since the third round of the 2018 US Open, when Serena, in her comeback season from maternity leave, won 6-1, 6-2.
Also into the last eight was Jil Teichmann, who eliminated Kazak fifth seed Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 6-2. The Swiss next plays Catherine Bellis, who beat US compatriot Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-2.


Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins

Updated 22 October 2020

Arsenal, Roma open Europa League with comeback wins

Arsenal opened its fourth straight Europa League campaign with a 2-1 come-from-behind win at Rapid Vienna on Thursday in an opening round of games affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Star striker Pierre­ Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench to score the winning goal in the 74th for Arsenal, which won its group in its previous three campaigns in the second-tier European competition.
Roma also came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Young Boys, as did Granada to upset PSV Eindhoven away.
Rangers’ Kemar Roofe scored the goal of the night in a 2-0 victory at Standard Liege, dribbling his way through three opponents inside his own half and then launching a shot from the halfway line that caught the goalkeeper off guard and looped into the net.
Dutch team AZ Alkmaar overcame a slew of coronavirus cases to upset Napoli 1-0.
Tottenham, AC Milan were among teams playing later Thursday.
Arsenal went behind when goalkeeper Bernd Leno played a poor pass that fell to Rapid forward Taxiarchis Fountas, who slotted in a low shot from a tough angle in the 51st minute.
Arteta sent on Aubameyang and Héctor Bellerín in the 61st, and the substitutes helped spark the comeback.
After David Luiz headed in a free kick from Nicolas Pépé to level the score, Mohamed Elneny freed Bellerín down the right to cross for Aubameyang to complete the comeback from close range.
In the other Group B game, Molde also came from behind to win 2-1 at Dundalk.
AZ Alkmaar flew into Naples with 13 players sidelined with coronavirus infections. Napoli, meanwhile, was coming off a 4-1 win over high-scoring Atalanta 4-1 this past weekend. But the Dutch staved off the hosts’ pressure before Dani de Wit scored the winner in the 57th. Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Rijeka the other Group F game.
With Roma resting striker Edin Džeko, Bruno Peres and Marash Kumbulla led the rally with the second-half goals for the Italian side.
Jean ­Pierre Nsame had given Young Boys the lead by converting a penalty kick in the 14th.
It was the first home loss for Young Boys to an Italian opponent in European competitions after beating Udinese, Napoli and Juventus.
Also in Group A, Romania’s Cluj won 2-0 at Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia.
In Group C, Bayer Leverkusen produced the biggest win of the early games by beating Nice 6-2. Nadiem Amiri and Lucas Alario scored early first-half goals five minutes apart for Leverkusen, while substitute Karim Bellarabi netted two and 17-year-old forward Florian Wirtz came off the bench to complete the rout.
In a game between teams from two countries whose domestic leagues have been interrupted due to high levels of coronavirus infections, Israel’s Hapoel Beer-Sheva beat Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague 3-1.
James Tavernier gave Celtic the lead from the penalty spot in the 19th before Roofe added his spectacular second goal in injury time. Benfica won 4-2 at Lech Poznan in the other Group D game.
In Group E, German forward Mario Götze put PSV ahead in first-half injury time before Jorge Molina and Darwin Machis scored for Granada in the second half. Omonoia drew with PAOK 1-1.