Serena crashes out, Djokovic reaches quarterfinals

Maria Sakkari, of Greece, during her match against Serena Williams at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament. (AP)
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Updated 27 August 2020

Serena crashes out, Djokovic reaches quarterfinals

  • The 23-time Grand Slam winner finished with a whimper at the end of the two-hour

NEW YORK: An out-of-gas Serena Williams crashed out of the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday, losing in three sets to 13th seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in New York.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner finished with a whimper at the end of the two-hour, 17-minute match as Sakkari clinched the victory with a backhand down the line that a dejected Williams just watched without making an effort to move.

At other points in the match, Williams flung her racket into the spectator-less stands and rebuked the chair umpire for slapping her with a time violation.

Sakkari, of Greece, advances to the quarterfinals of the no-spectator event where she will face Johanna Konta who cruised past Vera Zvonareva in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. The joint WTA and ATP tournament was moved from Cincinnati to New York where the same quarantine bubble will house the US Open starting on Aug. 31.

It was the second straight two-hour-plus match for Williams who at 38 was trying to become the oldest winner of the event. She still holds the record, having won this event in 2015 at age 33.

Williams survived a scare in her opening match, prevailing in a two hour, 48-minute marathon over qualifier Arantxa Rus. It was her longest match since 2012.

On the men's side, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic won his 20th straight match of 2020 with a hard-fought 6-2, 6-4 victory over Tennys Sandgren.

Djokovic, who captured the Australian Open in February, needed six match points to tough out the straight sets victory and reach the quarterfinals of the hardcourt tournament.

Djokovic breezed through the final game by winning four straight points, closing it out with a cross-court forehand winner to take it in 88 minutes on Tuesday.

"All in all it was a great performance," said Djokovic. "I felt better and played better than last night. I am going in a great direction."

American Sandgren, who is ranked 55th in the world, made the Serb work for the victory as he survived five match points in the ninth game of the second set.

Djokovic advances to the quarters where he will play German Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated seventh seed David Goffin 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Also on the men's side, hard-serving Canadian Milos Raonic routed Brit Andy Murray 6-2, 6-2 and third seeded Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, swept past Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3.

In other women's action, fourth seeded Naomi Osaka rolled over Dayana Yastremska in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 to advance.

Osaka, who is the only top 10 player left in the women's draw, clinched the victory when Yastremska was called for a foot fault while serving on match point. Japan's Osaka blasted eight aces, won 83 percent of her first serve points and broke Yastremska's serve four times.

Osaka moves to the quarter-finals where she will face Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Marie Bouzkova 6-3, 6-3.

Yastremska, who at 20 was the youngest player left in the field, made six double faults and won just 38 percent of her second serves.


‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

Updated 23 October 2020

‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

PARIS: Gareth Bale said it felt good to be “loved and appreciated” after helping Tottenham to a 3-0 win over LASK of Austria in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Welsh international started his first match since his return from Real Madrid and played for an hour before Jose Mourinho gave him a break.
Bale had come on as a substitute last Sunday with Tottenham 3-0 up against West Ham before his team collapsed to give up a 3-3 draw.
“It is amazing to be back,” Bale told BT Sport on Thursday.
“It is a big reason why I play well and why I came back. You want to be loved and appreciated. I will give everything for this shirt.”
However, he admitted it will take time to find his feet.
“I am a bit stiff. It is like a mini pre-season for me and I am trying to get minutes into the legs,” he said.
Despite Bale starting, it was on-loan Carlos Vinicius who made an impressive debut in the Group J opener.
Vinicius started in place of the resting Harry Kane and he made goals in either half for Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min, while he would have also netted himself had Andres Andrade not scored an own goal.
Bale made that goal where Andrade put through his own net.
Leicester made the perfect start in Group G with a comfortable 3-0 win over Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine.
James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were on the scoresheet.
In Glasgow, Celtic struggled against Serie A leaders AC Milan who were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz.
Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the arrears after the break, but Jens Petter Hauge broke clear to secure Milan’s Group H 3-1 win in stoppage time.
Milan were so comfortable that they could afford to take off Zlatan Ibrahimovic just after the hour.
Earlier Thursday, Arsenal came from behind to down Rapid Vienna 2-1 and Rangers beat Standard Liege 2-0.
After a goalless first half Arsenal went behind when keeper Bernd Leno fluffed a clearance on a night he will want to forget.
Taxiarchis Fountas capitalized on Leno’s clanger, much to the joy of the 3,000 home fans allowed in to watch under coronavirus safety protocol, but the Gunners then turned the game around in four second half minutes.
David Luiz put them level with a deft glancing header off Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then tapping home to bag the three Group B points.
It was an eventful night for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Alongside eight yellow cards, there was an eye-catching display from Thomas Partey on his first start since his transfer deadline day move from Atletico Madrid.
A frustrated follower of the game from his London sofa was Mesut Ozil, who has been left out of both Arsenal’s Europa League and Premier League squad.
“When I can’t support on the pitch tonight, I will support in front of the TV in London.” tweeted Ozil.
The other Group B game was being played out in Dublin where Dundalk, only Ireland’s third ever representative in the group stage, were beaten 2-1 by Norwegians Molde.
In Belgium, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers took on Standard Liege fresh from their Old Firm derby win over Celtic which moved them four points clear in the Scottish Premiership last weekend.
James Tavernier scored from the spot after Noe Dussenne handled in the area to put them into a 19th minute lead.
Then three minutes into stoppage time Kemar Roofe produced a wonder goal from the halfway line, the ball flying over the head of bewildered keeper Arnaud Bodart.
Benfica had claimed the first goal of the night and they went on to beat Lech Poznan in Poland 4-2 in the other Group D game.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen ran riot 6-2 against French side Nice and Spanish side Granada, in their first ever European campaign, beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1.