Serena falls to 116th-ranked Rogers at US Open tuneup

Serena Williams
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Updated 16 August 2020

Serena falls to 116th-ranked Rogers at US Open tuneup

  • Rogers, ranked 116th, outlasted ninth-ranked Williams 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after two hours and seven minutes

WASHINGTON: Serena Williams suffered her first loss since 2012 to a rival outside the WTA’s top 100, falling to fellow American Shelby Rogers in a Friday quarterfinal at the Top Seed Open.

Rogers, ranked 116th, outlasted ninth-ranked Williams 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after two hours and seven minutes, finishing the 23-time Grand Slam champion with a service winner.

“It’s every kid’s dream growing up to be able to do something like that,” Rogers said.

“Weird circumstances. Weird surroundings. But a win is a win.”

The US Open hardcourt tuneup event at Lexington, Kentucky, is being staged in a quarantine bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had kept Williams idle since a February Fed Cup appearance.

Top seed Williams had not lost to a player outside the top 100 since falling to France’s Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2012 French Open.

Williams, who ousted sister Venus on Thursday, was playing matches to prepare for the US Open, which starts August 31. She will seek a seventh title on the New York hardcourts to match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam crowns.

“I have only good things to take,” Williams said. “I can play a lot better.”

Rogers reached her first WTA semifinal since Rio in 2016. She’ll face 63rd-ranked Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann, who ousted American Catherine Bellis 6-2, 6-4.

The other semifinal will send American Jen Brady — who ousted Czech Marie Bouzkova 6-1, 6-2 — against US teen Coco Gauff, who won 10 of the last 11 games to rally past Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

A rain delay of two hours and 45 minutes postponed her match, but Williams showed no sign the wait had put the 38-year-old mother off her game.

Williams broke for a 2-0 lead by forcing an errant Rogers backhand, broke again in the sixth game when Rogers netted a forehand and held on a service winner to claim the opening set after only 26 minutes.

“Definitely a little overwhelmed in the first with that pace,” Rogers said of Williams and her powerful serve. “Tried to hit a few more volleys in the second, just hit one more ball.”


Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

Updated 20 October 2020

Lower expectations for Barcelona entering Champions League

  • Barca have not won since 2015, but since then have never embarked on a new campaign amid so much disarray

MADRID: Despite managing to hang onto Lionel Messi, Barcelona begin its Champions League campaign with reduced expectations after one of their worst seasons in years.
The Catalan club appears to lack its confidence from previous seasons following an embarrassing elimination to Bayern Munich and a troubled off-season in which it nearly lost its talisman.

“Knowing what happened recently, we are not the top favorite,” coach Ronald Koeman said on Monday ahead of the team's debut in this season's competition against Hungarian club Ferencvaros. “But we are a team that can go far.”

Koeman arrived to put Barcelona back on track shortly after the 8-2 collapse against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, which capped their first season without a title since 2007-08.

“Barcelona always plays to win titles, in the league and in Europe, but there are other strong teams,” Koeman said.

Barcelona have not  won the Champions League since 2015, but since then they had never embarked on a new campaign in the competition amid so much disarray.

The club avoided losing Messi after he said he wanted to leave, but it continued to endure political turmoil and even financial difficulties. President Josep Bartomeu is facing a censure motion that could force him to leave his post before the end of the year.

Koeman was given the task of revamping the first team, and he quickly got rid of veterans such as Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic, but the club failed to bring in any of the players he wanted in the transfer window.

Koeman said Messi is fine despite scoring just once so far this season.

“Maybe his performance could be better, but I see him happy,” Koeman said. “I see him training well and focused. I have nothing to complain about him in that sense.”

He said “a bit of bad luck” has played a role in keeping the Argentina star from scoring more goals so far. Koeman also downplayed criticism of Antoine Griezmann for his recent poor performances, though he admitted that “everyone in the attack” can improve.

Barcelona opened the Spanish league with two convincing wins under Koeman, but then it drew 1-1 with Sevilla at home and lost 1-0 at Getafe on Saturday.

Hungarian champions Ferencvaros return to the Champions League for the first time since 1995. They needed to get through four qualifying rounds to reach the group stage.

The other Group G teams are Juventus and Dynamo Kyiv.

“We want to start with the right foot,” Koeman said. “We want to win the match and gain tranquility.”