Lee weathers storm to win maiden PGA title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Sports Desk May 16, 2021

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  • Australian Open: Barty's variety to be tested by Collins' aggression in intriguing final Australian Open: Barty's variety to be tested by Collins' aggression in intriguing final

    Ash Barty's form at the Australian Open gives her deserved favourite status for the final, but in Danielle Collins one of the most dangerous players on the WTA Tour stands between her and history.

    Barty has ruthlessly cruised into Saturday's final – the first Australian to reach the women's singles decider in 42 years – in brilliant form.

    The two-time grand slam champion has lost just 21 games on her way to the showpiece, dropping serve just once.

    Barty, the world number one, has appeared a class above at the year's first grand slam, where she is bidding to become the first Australian singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978. But she faces a huge test in the final against American 27th seed Collins, who is into her first major decider.

    After three straight losses to Barty, two of which were on clay, Collins beat the Australian in straight sets in Adelaide last year in a sign of what she is capable of. Collins, who came from a break down in both sets in that win, possesses the power to threaten Barty on Rod Laver Arena.

    Barty's variety – her serve, backhand slice and ability to construct points – has been much talked about in Melbourne this year.

    Her 35 aces for the tournament are the second most, and exactly half of her first serves have been unreturned at the event, the highest percentage of any player in the women's draw. While Barty will try to unsettle Collins with her variety, the American is likely to respond with power. Collins has crushed 32 return winners at the event, a tally that is eight more than the next best.

    Collins has also delivered 164 winners to 149 unforced errors, showcasing her aggressiveness, while Barty is at 106 and 96 respectively.

    If Barty can extend the points, she will fancy her chances of a first Australian Open title. Collins has spent 10 hours, 37 minutes on court compared to Barty's 6:06, but shorter points would also suit the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist.

    Of points between zero and eight shots this tournament, Collins has won 458 of 809 (56.6 per cent), while Barty is 331-202 (62.1). But of rallies of nine-plus shots, Collins is 23-31 compared to Barty's 30-19 at the 2022 event.

    Barty will be well aware of what Collins is capable of, but should have confidence her best is more than good enough to end Australia's long wait.

  • Australian Open: Nadal one win away from record after overcoming Berrettini Australian Open: Nadal one win away from record after overcoming Berrettini

    Rafael Nadal is a win away from a record-breaking 21st grand slam title after getting past Matteo Berrettini to reach the Australian Open final on Friday.

    Nadal overcame the Italian seventh seed 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 after two hours, 55 minutes under the Rod Laver Arena roof in their semi-final on a stormy day in Melbourne.

    The Spanish star will face either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas in the decider, in which he can break the record for most grand slam titles won by a man.

    Nadal had won his only previous meeting with Berrettini and he targeted the Italian's backhand from the outset, and it worked wonders.

    Berrettini, however, fought hard and forced a fourth set against Nadal, who reached his sixth Australian Open final and 29th major decider, a tally only bettered by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (31 each).

    Nadal targeted the Berrettini backhand from the start, and it helped yield a break in the second game.

    Back-to-back unforced errors from that wing, the second pulled wide, from Berrettini handed Nadal a 2-0 lead.

    That break proved to be enough for Nadal in a 43-minute opening set, closed out despite Berrettini briefly threatening in the ninth game.

    Perhaps still recovering from the disappointment of the first set, Berrettini was broken to start the second, three unforced errors – two from a forehand side that had appeared capable of doing damage to Nadal – giving the Spaniard a break point he converted with a forehand winner.

    Berrettini had no answers to Nadal's consistency and relentlessness and even his forehand was beginning to let him down as he fell 3-0 behind in the second set, a deficit he was never going to recover from.

    Nadal was unable to pull away early in the third set and instead it was Berrettini, suddenly sparked to life and looking far more energetic, who struck to break for 5-3.

    A running forehand pass down the line helped set up the break chance and Berrettini delivered a forehand winner before serving it out to love.

    Berrettini went on a run of winning 23 consecutive points on serve, but when that was ended in the eighth game of the fourth set, he found trouble.

    He saved a break point after a 23-shot rally but then netted consecutive forehands to fall 5-3 behind, Nadal closing out his victory to reach the final.

     

    DATA SLAM: Nadal showing no signs of slowing down

    Even at 35, Nadal has reached yet another grand slam final.

    He became the fifth man aged 35 or older to reach a grand slam final in the Open Era, after Federer, Ken Rosewall, Mal Anderson and Andre Agassi.

    The win over Berrettini also saw Nadal beat a top-10 player at the Australian Open for the first time since 2017.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Nadal – 28/19
    Berrettini – 38/39

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Nadal – 5/2
    Berrettini – 14/2

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Nadal – 4/8
    Berrettini – 1/2

  • Schenk within a stroke of course record to share lead with Rahm and Thomas Schenk within a stroke of course record to share lead with Rahm and Thomas

    Adam Schenk carded a 10-under-par to surge into a share of the lead alongside top-ranked Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas at the halfway mark of the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday.

    Schenk, who is ranked 54th and has never won a PGA Tour title, carded a career-best PGA Tour round of 62, which included making 10 birdies and hitting four of 14 fairways.

    The American, who turned 30 on Wednesday, made eight consecutive birdies was within one shot of equaling the course record, with his 15-feet putt on the 18th hole lipping out.

    Reigning US Open winner Rahm, who opened the tournament with a six-under-par 66, backed up with a seven-under-round on the second day on the North Course at Torrey Pines.

    World number six Thomas is locked with Schenk and Rahm at 13-under overall after his nine-under round.

    The trio lead from Cameron Tringale at 12-under, with Peter Malnati next with 11-under.

    Opening day leader Billy Horschel slipped down the leaderboard after a one-over round to be eight-under overall.

    Will Zalatoris, who started and finished the second day with eagles, is among a group of six at seven-under including Dustin Johnson.

    Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka were among the notable players to miss the cut.

    Spieth's four-over card ended his run holding the longest active made-cut streak (20) on the PGA Tour.

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