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Friday, February 22, 2019

Tennis

Serena Williams tells off chair umpire: ‘I don’t cheat to win’

Serena Williams umpire

Serena Williams told off the chair umpire during her match against Naomi Osaka in the finals of the US Open on Saturday.

Williams received a coaching violation during the second game of the second set after being given a hand signal from a member of her box. Williams was not happy with the violation and approached Carlos Ramos to set him straight.

“If he gives me a thumbs up, he’s telling me to come on,” Williams said. “We don’t have any code. I know you don’t know that. I understand why you may have thought that was coaching. But I’m telling you it’s not. I don’t cheat to win; I’d rather lose. I’m just letting you know.”

As awesome as Williams’ response was and as great as her stated attitude about cheating is, her actions are unsportsmanlike. One of the chair umpire’s jobs is to monitor for potential coaching violations. A hand signal could be a sign to tell a player about a particular strategy. Williams is trying to tell an umpire how to do his job and intimidate him into not calling anything against her in the future. That’s the sort of behavior that would result in a technical foul call in basketball or an unsportsmanlike conduct in football.

Rafael Nadal retires from US Open semifinals match

Rafael Nadal shoes

Rafael Nadal retired from his semifinals match against Juan Martin Del Potro after two sets on Friday.

Nadal announced his plan to retire to the chair umpire after approaching him about a line call during the sixth game of the second set. The Spaniard still managed to serve his way through the game to make it 2-4 in the second, but Del Potro held serve at love on the ensuing game. Nadal attempted to hold his serve down 2-5 in the second but was broken to drop the set. He also lost the first set 7-6 in a tiebreaker and was down two sets to none.

Nadal appeared to be having trouble with his right knee and even pointed to it while explaining to Del Potro his reason for retiring. He had it taped during the match and did not appear to be moving to the best of his abilities.

The outcome was not too surprising after what Nadal went through in his quarterfinals match. Nadal somehow outlasted Dominic Thiem in five sets in the quarters despite being bageled in the first set. The match lasted nearly five hours, did not finish until Wednesday morning, and was the longest of Nadal’s US Open career.

Del Potro awaits the winner of the Kei Nishikori-Novak Djokovic match in the finals.

Naomi Osaka ‘really’ wants to play Serena Williams

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka will be gunning for Serena Williams in the US Open finals.

Osaka defeated Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the US Open on Thursday night. After the match, the 20-year-old was asked by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi how she was able to fight off all 13 break points she faced. Osaka gave a great answer, saying she was motivated by the idea of facing Serena in the finals.

Williams had won her semifinal match just before Osaka and Keys took the court, so she knew what was awaiting.

Some players enter matches against Serena intimidated or fearing her because of her career accomplishments and big-hitting, but that will not be the case for Osaka. She seems fearless and excited entering the match, which will mark her first career grand slam final.

Serena Williams after reaching US Open Final: ‘This is just the beginning’

Serena Williams

Serena Williams may be 36 and have responsibilities as a mother and wife, but that does not mean she’s leaving tour any time soon.

Williams beat Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals of the US Open on Thursday. The victory helped her reach the finals in just her third grand slam event since returning from the birth of her daughter. According to Williams, this is just the beginning of a new chapter in her playing career.

“Anything for me is a win. To come this far so fast … and I’m just beginning, you guys,” Williams told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “This has only been a few months. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year and next year. I’m really looking forward to the possibilities. This is just the beginning and I’m excited about that.”

Serena’s plans to continue playing through 2019 is great news for her fans and TV ratings, but bad news for the rest of the players on tour. Some may have thought that Williams was slipping following her poor showings at the Silicon Valley Classic and Cincinnati Masters. But she’s proven at the US Open that she is turning things around and now has a great chance of adding to her record 23 singles majors.

Novak Djokovic expresses frustration with team during match

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic expressed frustration towards his team during his quarterfinal match against John Millman at the US Open on Wednesday night.

Djokovic won the first set of the match 6-3 but started to have an issue early in the second. With the score 1-1 in the second set, Djokovic was seen motioning to those in his player’s box between points. ESPN’s announcers speculated that he might have wanted a certain type of drink.

After Millman held serve to make it 2-1 in the second, Djokovic complained even more during a side change. You could see him motioning to his team asking for something to be brought to him.

Those in Djokovic’s box were seen looking around as if they were trying to find whatever Nole was requesting. The chair umpire was even seen on the phone during that time.

The conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium were so rough that Millman requested a break at 2-2 so he could change his clothes, which were soaked with sweat. Djokovic was only too happy to have a break. He spent it with his shirt off so he could cool down. He also received pills and a bottle from his team.

Ben Stiller cheered on Rafael Nadal from player’s box during epic match

Ben Stiller

Rafael Nadal’s player’s box for his thrilling 5-setter on Tuesday night at the US Open had a very special guest.

Actor Ben Stiller was among those in the VIP seating section at Arthur Ashe Stadium, joining Nadal’s family and support team as the Spaniard battled Dominic Thiem in an epic 5-set match.

Stiller felt the intensity of the match and was often seen displaying the kind of nerves he had while taking his lie detector test in “Meet the Parents.”

He was sitting a row away from Nadal’s girlfriend, Xisca Perelló.

Stiller is a big tennis fan and took in some matches at the US Open with his ex-wife and their daughter earlier in the week. He returned to cheer on Nadal for the nearly five-hour quarterfinal match.

Stiller and Nadal go way back, as the actor has participated in charity tennis events with Nadal in the past.

ESPN captures epic shot of Rafael Nadal after marathon match

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal had his longest match ever at the US Open on Tuesday, and he eventually emerged victorious over Dominic Thiem. The match lasted four hours and 49 minutes and did not conclude until 2:04 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Naturally, Nadal was exhausted following the quarter-final win. ESPN captured that perfectly in a triumphant photo of the 32-year-old.

Nadal lost the first set to Thiem 6-0 and then came back to win the match in five sets. We saw a similar shot ESPN captured of Juan Martin Del Potro after he defeated Roger Federer a year ago, and we can only imagine how both Nadal and Thiem felt after battling for nearly five hours.