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'I'm really excited to win' – Murray reaches US Open mixed doubles final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2018
2018 US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 27 August-9 September Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Defending champion Jamie Murray reached a third US Open mixed doubles final with a narrow semi-final victory.

The Briton and his American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat American duo Christina McHale and Christian Harrison in a championship tie-break, coming through 6-4 2-6 10-8.

Murray, 32, will now defend the title he won last year with Martina Hingis.

Earlier on Wednesday, Murray and Bruno Soares were knocked out of the men’s doubles in the quarter-finals.

The 2016 champions and fourth seeds were shocked by unseeded pair Radu Albot and Malek Jaziri, losing 7-5 6-4.

Murray and Mattek-Sands will play Poland’s Alicja Rosolska and Croatia’s Nikola Mektic in Saturday’s mixed final.

“I’m really excited to win – to lose both matches would have been tough,” said Murray.

“But the chance to get into a Grand Slam final again was a big motivation for me and I’m really looking forward to the match.”

  • Hewett endures travel misery to get to US Open
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US Open 2018: Naomi Osaka beats Lesia Tsurenko to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2018
2018 US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 27 August-9 September Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Naomi Osaka reached her first Grand Slam semi-final with a dominant victory over Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko at the US Open.

The 20-year-old dropped just two games winning 6-1 6-1 against her unseeded opponent in 58 minutes.

She becomes the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Kimiko Date at Wimbledon in 1996.

“I was freaking out inside,” Osaka said. “My entire body was shaking, so I’m glad I was able to play well.”

The Japanese player also explained, during her on-court interview, why she did not celebrate after the winning point.

“The other time I cried a little bit [after the win over Aryna Sabalenka] and there was a lot of people making fun of me,” the Indian Wells champion said.

  • Nadal beats Thiem in five-set epic
  • Del Potro beats Isner to reach semi-finals
  • Williams fights back to reach last four

Both Osaka and Tsurenko were competing in their first Slam quarter-final but the Ukrainian failed to settle and looked physically drained on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Osaka, who is regarded as one of the best young players in the game, broke in Tsurenko’s first service game and powered to the first set in 26 minutes before racing into a 4-0 lead in the second set.

Tsurenko then held serve and brought up three break points in the following game but failed to convert and double-faulted twice in the final game to hand Osaka victory.

The Ukrainian said that poor health meant she was not in peak condition for the match.

“I just woke up with a viral illness or whatever it is,” the 29-year-old said. “I don’t know what happened, but my throat is not well. I’m not breathing well.”

Osaka will play American Madison Keys or Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in the last four.

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Kaepernick advert a powerful statement – Williams

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2018

US President Donald Trump has criticised sportswear company Nike following its decision to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of a new campaign.

Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to highlight racial injustice.

But critics have burned Nike trainers and clothing in protest at the decision to use Kaepernick in a campaign.

“Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts,” Trump said.

“I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?” he added in a tweet.

The president also continued his previous criticism of the NFL, saying: ” As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”

  • #JustBurnIt – Nike suffers backlash over ad campaign
  • Williams fights back to reach semi-finals

Trump’s criticism came after tennis star Serena Williams – who is also part of the Nike campaign to mark the 30th anniversary of its ‘Just Do It’ slogan – praised the company’s move.

Speaking after her defeat of Karolina Pliskova in the US Open, Williams called the decision to use Kaepernick a “powerful statement to a lot of other companies”.

Williams said of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick: “He’s done a lot for the African-American community, and it’s cost him a lot.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, who is sponsored by Nike, added: “Having a huge company back him could be a controversial reason for this company, but they’re not afraid.

“It’s sad. But he continues to do the best that he can to support.”

After Nike unveiled the campaign, Williams tweeted that she was “especially proud to be a part of the Nike family”.

Critics on Twitter used the hashtag #JustBurnIt – a play on Nike’s slogan ‘Just Do It’ – which trended alongside #BoycottNike.

In announcing the deal, Nike said Kaepernick – who has been out of a contract since March 2017 and has failed to find a new team – was “one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation”.

The NFL said it “embraces the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities”.

Kaepernick, who watched Williams’ third-round win over sister Venus at Flushing Meadows, has filed a grievance against NFL team owners he claims conspired not to hire him because of his protests.

  • Kaepernick: From one man kneeling to a movement dividing a country

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US Open 2018: Rafael Nadal beats Dominic Thiem in epic quarter-final

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2018
2018 US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 27 August-9 September Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Defending champion Rafael Nadal dug deep to win the longest match of this year’s US Open in a classic five-set quarter-final against Dominic Thiem – which finished at 2:03am local time.

World number one Nadal lost the opening set 6-0 after being outpowered by the Austrian ninth seed in New York.

However, the 32-year-old Spanish top seed recovered to lead two sets to one before Thiem levelled in a tie-break.

Nadal edged a tense fifth-set tie-break to win 0-6 6-4 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5).

The 17-time Grand Slam champion clinched victory when Thiem hit an overhead smash long on the first match point, the drama continuing until the last shot in an epic encounter lasting four hours and 49 minutes.

Nadal jumped over the net to console his Austrian opponent at the end, the pair embracing as those left inside Arthur Ashe Stadium rose to their feet to give them a thunderous ovation.

“I said to Dominic: ‘I’m very sorry and keep going.’ He has plenty of time to win. He will have his chances in the future without a doubt,” Nadal said.

Asked about how got through the tense moments, Nadal added: “Suffering is the right word. It was a great battle.”

He will play Argentine third seed Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in Friday’s semi-finals.

“It is good to have two days that probably give me the chance to be 100% in the semi-finals,” Nadal added.

  • Del Potro beats Isner to reach semi-finals
  • Williams fights back to reach last four
  • Federer needs to play more tournaments – Cash
  • Djokovic targets 12th US Open semi-final

Thiem fails to gain revenge

Thiem was aiming to earn a measure of revenge over Nadal, who dismantled his game for a straightforward victory in the French Open final in June – the Austrian’s only appearance in a Grand Slam showpiece.

Ultimately, he faced more disappointment against one of the sport’s all-time great fighters.

Eventually Nadal’s endurance came out on top in this match, which was his 17th at a Grand Slam to go past the four-hour mark.

In contrast, 25-year-old Thiem had never previously gone past the four-hour mark in his whole career.

Neither player outwardly showed signs of fatigue as they continued to trade blows deep into a high-octane match.

Stylish and powerful winners continued to flow from the racquets of both players until the end, despite the match entering an energy-sapping fifth hour in hot and humid conditions at Flushing Meadows.

Despite the drama, the 24,000-capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium was only about a third full when the match concluded under the lights, with many fans needing to leave early to get home.

Those who were left were treated to a tense final-set tie-break, which proved to be a fitting end to a great match.

“This match is going to be stuck in my mind forever – tennis is cruel sometimes,” Thiem said.

“This match didn’t deserve a loser, but there has to be one.”

Nadal ultimately digests rare ‘bagel’

Thiem has gained a reputation as one of the most powerful players on the men’s tour, with Nadal identifying his thunderous groundstrokes as the danger before their last-eight tie.

And Thiem came out swinging against Nadal in a 24-minute opening set which left the packed crowd inside Ashe stunned.

Nadal had faced two gruelling matches against Karen Khachanov and Nikoloz Basilashvili coming into the quarter-final, and Thiem was keen to test his energy levels from the start.

Potent off both flanks, Thiem hit 13 winners and fired down five aces to comprehensively win the first set.

Nadal won just seven points as he was ‘bagelled’ for the first time at the US Open since a second-round defeat by American second seed Andy Roddick in 2004.

Thiem’s comeback in vain

After that aggressive start, the question was whether Thiem could sustain his intensity over a longer period.

Thiem refused to entertain a different tactical approach and continued to go for broke – a risk and reward strategy which, although he did maintain, ultimately did not pay off in the cruellest of circumstances.

Nadal rediscovered his service game in the second set, levelling by going on to take two of three straight breaks at the end of the set as both players wobbled.

In the periods where Thiem’s powerful groundstrokes were finding their target, Nadal was in trouble.

But more unforced errors were beginning to creep into Thiem’s game – and at crucial times.

He showed both brilliance and naivety in a tight fourth set where he twice fought back from 40-15 down on serve and won just one of seven break points, eventually taking the tie-break to force a decider.

Thiem twice more had to recover from break-point deficits on his serve in the fifth, deservedly taking the match to the sudden-death finish it deserved.

Thiem won 171 points in the match, five more than Nadal, and hit 74 winners compared to 55 by the Spaniard.

“If we skip the first set it was an open match from beginning to the end,” Thiem added.

“Then it ends up in the fifth set tie break and he made one more point than me.”

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Thiem: "It’s Going To Be Stuck In My Mind Forever"

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2018

Thiem: “It’s Going To Be Stuck In My Mind Forever”

Austrian star says he will take time to reflect on match

There was little consolation for Dominic Thiem in the aftermath of another heart-breaking exit at the US Open.

Last year, it was Juan Martin del Potro who clawed back two match points in the fourth round. At 2:04 a.m. local time on Wednesday, it was World No. 1 Rafael Nadal who savoured his own fifth-set victory.

“It’s going to be stuck in my mind forever,” said Thiem. “I’m going to remember this match, for sure. Tennis is cruel sometimes, because I think this match didn’t really deserve a loser. But there has to be one.”

Thiem had recovered from 0/40 at 5-5 in the deciding set, then come within three points of winning the match at 5/4 in the tie-break. He won 171 total points to Nadal’s 165 in their first hard-court meeting, but it was the defending champion who triumphed 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(5) in four hours and 48 minutes.

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Asked if he would learn anything from the epic encounter, Thiem admitted, “Not really. I would say the first really epic match I played. I played some good ones before, but not that long. Not that long against the great guys on the Grand Slam stage.

“I’m happy that I did this for the first time, even if it went the wrong way. Of course, now I’m devastated a little bit. But in a few days, I will look back and will remember how great it was to play in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium in this great match.”

Thiem will now look to step up his bid for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals for the third consecutive year. The 25-year-old is currently in eight position in the ATP Race To London just 85 points behind seventh-placed Kevin Anderson, who lost in the US Open fourth round.

He has a 42-15 match record on the season, which includes two ATP World Tour titles at the Argentina Open (d. Bedene) and the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon (d. Simon). He also reached the Mutua Madrid Open final (l. to Zverev) and his first Grand Slam championship final at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal).

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Isner Sets Sights On Nitto ATP Finals Bid

  • Posted: Sep 05, 2018

Isner Sets Sights On Nitto ATP Finals Bid

American now heads home for imminent birth of first child

John Isner says that qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals this year is now a big goal for him following his quarter-final exit from the US Open. The American is currently in ninth position in the ATP Race To London for the eight-player season finale at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

“That’s still a big goal of mine,” said Isner, following his four-set loss to 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday. “Trying to get into the Top 8 is definitely going to be the goal going forward.

“When you get to a stage at a tournament like this, you’re playing for so much points-wise, so it would have been nice to have won that match. It would have given me a nice boost, but it just wasn’t to be. Fortunately, I lost someone who is ahead in the Race, so I’ve just got to try to sneak in there.”

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First of all, Isner will return home to support his wife, Madison, who is due to give birth to their first child, a girl, in the next couple of weeks.

“This is going to be life-changing for myself and Maddie and something that we’re very excited about,” he admitted. “I’m sure I’m going to learn as I go. I’m going to screw up a lot of things at first, and Maddie will probably get mad at me. It’s definitely some of the most important days of my life are coming up.”

Shortly after his exit to Del Potro on Tuesday afternoon, Isner was presented the 2018 US Open Sportsmanship Award, for excellence in sportsmanship throughout the US Open Series and the US Open.

“It’s a great honour,” said Isner. “I’m very glad they presented me with that. It’s a huge honour. I’m very appreciative of that. I didn’t expect it.

“This sport is tough, so it’s so easy to get very frustrated out there on the court when things aren’t going your way. It’s a one-on-one sport. You’re on an island out there, a lot of people watching you. I guess to keep your cool and be a good sport is very important. It’s what the young kids look up to. So for them to give me that award, I’m very appreciative of that.”

Isner is now 30-16 on the season, which includes two ATP World Tour titles – his first Masters 1000 at the Miami Open presented by Itaú (d. del Potro) in March and his fifth BB&T Atlanta Open trophy (d. Harrison) in July. The 33-year-old also advanced to his first Grand Slam championship semi-final at Wimbledon (l. to Anderson).

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