ATP

Andy Murray advances in Antwerp

By Sports Desk October 15, 2019

Andy Murray advanced to the second round at the European Open with a straight-sets win over Kimmer Coppejans.

The former world number one triumphed 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to win a match in two sets for just the second time since August.

He was made to work hard by Coppejans, who broke Murray three times in total, including in his first two service games in the second set, but the Briton eventually prevailed in an hour and 45 minutes.

Seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff dropped just three games in beating Gregoire Barrere, while Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez were among the other players to advance.

At the Kremlin Cup, home hope Andrey Rublev overcame Alexander Bublik 6-1 3-6 6-4.

After taking the opener, Rublev then lost the first five games in a row en route to losing the second set and the sixth seed was a break down in the decider only to rally and progress.

Ivo Karlovic staved off a match point and won a third-set tie-break against Aljaz Bedene to progress, along with Jeremy Chardy and Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Nicolas Jarry and Pierre-Hugues Herbert respectively.

Pablo Carreno Busta was the only seed in action at the Stockholm Open and he defeated John Millman 6-4 6-3, with Sam Querrey among those to also go through.

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  • Coronavirus: Kasatkina has no issue with fan-less slams, welcomes ATP-WTA merger talk Coronavirus: Kasatkina has no issue with fan-less slams, welcomes ATP-WTA merger talk

    Daria Kasatkina has no problem playing grand slams behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the former world number 10 talked up the possibility of an ATP-WTA Tour merger.

    COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, with the WTA Tour suspended since March and not expected to return until August at the earliest.

    The French Open has been pushed back to September and the US Open is still scheduled to go ahead, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II.

    Events are set to be staged without fans when tennis returns, though French Open organisers remain hopeful spectators will be able to attend the rearranged slam at Roland Garros.

    World number 12 and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said she would rather see majors cancelled than be held without fans, but Kasatkina has no issue with a spectator-less slam.

    "It's going to be completely different, especially at grand slams and in night sessions on the big courts, it will lose its energy," 2018 French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Kasatkina told Stats Perform News.

    "At the same time, at least if we can play the tournament without spectators, for me it's fine. Yes it's different but to play a tournament and gram slam, it doesn't matter spectators or no spectators. As I think Marin Cilic said, it will be different to win a grand slam like the US Open without spectators there, which is true. At least it will be very special and it will stay in the history forever.

    "For the moment, Roland Garros looks very positive. If we see how it goes and it keeps like that, I think Roland Garros will happen and they want to do it with spectators, which is really good. It's different to play with spectators, that's for sure.

    "The US Open, of course everyone wants to play and I wish to play the US Open – it's such a special tournament – but I'm not that sure because the situation in the United States is still shaky. The main thing is travelling. If it's going to happen, it's going to be very good. I'll be very happy."

    The re-arranged French Open in Paris could provide headaches for players, with the clay-court slam set to take place a week after the final of the US Open on hard courts in New York.

    "It's going to be an interesting experience, especially to change the surface and the time so much," the Russian said. "At least between Roland Garros and Wimbledon there is one month, but at least it's in one part of the world. If it's like this, players have to accept it. I'll be happy, even if it's going to be like this.

    "When we were juniors and just starting to play professional tournaments, we'd play one tournament there on clay and another here and there. For sure, for some players it will be tough and for many players with injuries it will be a little bit dangerous but I hope everything will be okay."

    Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, talk of an ATP-WTA merger has emerged – a tweet from 20-time slam champion Roger Federer backing a unified tennis tour sparking the discussions.

    Asked about the possibility of the ATP and WTA joining forces, two-time tournament winner Kasatkina said: "I think it would be good to work together because it's much easier to do something with one structure than two structures like the situation we have now. It's easier to promote tennis as a big tour, not like men's or women's tennis.

    "I was a little bit surprised because I never thought they were talking about this, I didn't hear anything. So, it was a little bit surprising especially from Roger Federer on Twitter. But I think it's a good idea. Why not be together? It's better."

    The coronavirus-enforced break has provided Kasatkina with plenty of time to reflect and recharge, having struggled in 2019 after her breakout season in 2018.

    Kasatkina burst onto the scene two years ago by reaching the French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finals before eventually losing to finalists Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber, while she also faced Naomi Osaka in the 2018 Indian Wells decider.

    However, Kasatkina endured a frustrating 2019 campaign – only progressing beyond the opening round of a slam once last year, at the French Open, and dropping to 66th in the world rankings. There were, though, signs that the 23-year-old was returning to her best prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

    Kasatkina reached the last four of the Lyon Open in March, her first WTA semi-final since claiming the Kremlin Cup in October 2018.

    "I had a lot of expectations for myself and not only me but the people around after my very successful year in 2018, which I wasn't ready for, especially mentally," Kasatkina, who has become somewhat of a social media queen during the tennis hiatus, said.

    "After this, my game fell apart little bit because you have no confidence in your head, there's no confidence in your shots. Rankings drop down as well because I was losing matches.

    "I spoke with my coach and many things happened. I was pretty lost at that time but I think that helped me a lot to rebuild my confidence, rebuild my game maybe to change something.

    "I think I started the year, not in Australia [first round], but after it better in Lyon. I really felt like I was building up my game again and I'm hungry to play the tournaments and win. Because I finally taste this semi-final, this special tournament. When I came to Indian Wells, I was feeling perfect in the practices. I really felt that if there wasn't the situation with coronavirus, maybe that was the point I could really start again.

    "What happened, happened. Now I have the time for myself to maybe think a bit more, to work on the things which I'll probably need when the season starts again. Everything is going the way it should be."

    Since losing 6-3 6-2 to Osaka in the 2018 Paribas Open final, Kasatkina has watched the Japanese star go on to win the US Open and Australian Open. Is it a motivation for the right-hander?

    "Well after that final and during the tournament, of course I felt I was close to a very high level of tennis," Kasatkina continued. "I showed some good results and finished top 10, which was very positive at the time but maybe a little bit early. After the final, I felt like okay it seems like I have something inside that can bring me higher. But mentally, I wasn't ready."

    Kasatkina, who believes she was close to rediscovering her 2018 form before the pandemic, believes the enforced break has been beneficial.

    "For sure because for the past season, it was really tough," she added when asked about her time away from the sport. "Maybe it was good I had this time to come down a little bit and live a normal life. Not to rush to every tournaments, tournament by tournament, week by week."

  • Liverpool and Ruiz prevail, Stokes battles Djokovic, Bolt lights up London - the 21st century's greatest sporting days Liverpool and Ruiz prevail, Stokes battles Djokovic, Bolt lights up London - the 21st century's greatest sporting days

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    Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

    A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

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    JULY 23, 2000

    The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

    The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

    Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

    The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

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    FEBRUARY 1, 2004

    Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

    It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

    Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

    Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

    Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

    AUGUST 4-5, 2012

    One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

    On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

    Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

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    In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

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    These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

    With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

    The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

    Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

    The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

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    Roger Federer and Anthony Joshua have become accustomed to winning in their respective sports, but both suffered notable defeats on June 1 through the years.

    Federer saw his hopes of a second successive title at the French Open dashed in 2010, while nine years later Joshua lost his heavyweight titles - and his perfect record - to Andy Ruiz.

    The date has better memories for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, plus it is also memorable for marking the end of Shaquille O'Neal's stellar NBA career.

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    2008 – Royals overcome Kings to be crowned

    The inaugural IPL season concluded with a last-ball thriller. 

    Rajasthan Royals, who were the top seeds at the end of the round-robin stage, just about overcame Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai, Sohail Tanvir the unlikely hero with the bat as he hit the single they required from the final delivery of the match.

    Captain Shane Warne was also out in the middle for the winning run but Yusuf Pathan was the star performer for the Royals in the final, following up figures of 3-22 with the ball by making 56 in their successful chase. 

    2010 – Federer's slam streak comes to an end

    For a second successive year, Robin Soderling caused a huge upset at Roland Garros. 

    The Swede had sensationally knocked out Rafael Nadal in the fourth round in 2009, though he went on to lose in the final to Federer. However, 12 months on, he gained revenge in the French capital, ending the champion's reign with a 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 win in their last-eight meeting.

    With the loss, Federer saw his impressive run of reaching 23 consecutive grand slam semi-finals come to an end. 

    2011 – Shaq stops: NBA legend announces retirement

    After a 19-year career that saw him score 28,596 points, O'Neal decided the time was right to retire. The man nicknamed 'The Big Diesel' had come to the end of the road.

    Drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in 1992, the center won three successive titles after moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed up with Kobe Bryant.

    O'Neal - voted the league's MVP in 2000 - won a further championship after switching to the Miami Heat. There were also stints with the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the latter stages before a final stop in Boston with the Celtics.

    2019 – Replacement Ruiz stuns AJ in New York

    Ruiz was not even originally due to be in the opposite corner to Joshua in Madison Square Garden.

    The challenger was called in as a replacement when Jarrell Miller was removed from the headline act - and he seized the unexpected opportunity by producing a stunning result that sent shockwaves through the boxing world.

    Joshua had won 22 straight as a pro and came into the bout as the IBF, WBA and WBO champion. However, he was dropped and stopped by Ruiz, who climbed off the canvas in the third round to sensationally turn the fight around. 

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