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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Tennis

Naomi Osaka exits press conference early after upset loss at Wimbledon

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka has not gotten used to losing much lately and had a difficult time handling the media after her upset loss at Wimbledon on Monday.

Osaka, the two seed on the women’s side, lost to Yulia Putintseva in straight sets 7-6, 6-2 in the first round at the All England Club. The first-round defeat marked her earliest grand slam loss since the 2017 French Open and comes after she recently won the US Open and Australian Open for her first two career majors.

Though Osaka answered questions in her post-match press conference, she was visibly uncomfortable and asked to end the session early because she said she felt like she was about to cry.

Since winning the Australian Open in January, Osaka has gone 13-7, with six of the losses coming to players outside the top 20. She’s also dealt with abdominal and hand injuries. Putintseva might very well be a bad matchup for Osaka, as she also lost to her in the second round at Birmingham in straight sets.

Cori Gauff wears ‘Fun Guy’ shirt after upsetting Venus Williams at Wimbledon

15-year-old Cori Gauff pulled off a massive upset Monday, defeating Venus Williams in the opening round at Wimbledon. Perhaps it’s because she tapped into some of the Kawhi Leonard magic.

During an interview with ESPN after her win, Gauff was wearing one of Leonard’s “Fun Guy” shirts.

Like Leonard, Gauff is signed to New Balance. They’re the ones who produced the shirt during the NBA Finals, further helping Leonard’s down-to-earth personality go viral.

The world is still waiting on Leonard to make his free agent decision, but with New Balance athletes having huge success elsewhere, nobody’s letting him be forgotten right now.

Watch: Tennis player Denis Shapovalov raps after winning match

Denis Shapovalov

Denis Shapovalov showed on Tuesday that he is a man of many talents.

The Canadian teenager beat Marin Cilic in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif. in straight sets. Afterwards, he pulled up a rap he had written on his cellphone and performed it for the crowd:

Shapovalov has said in a past Instagram video that he “always wanted to pursue music” and recording in a studio was a dream.

You know how it is: Rappers want to be athletes, and athletes want to be rappers. That applies in Shapovalov’s case.

The 19-year-old will face Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round of the tournament.

Jimmy Connors welcomes Roger Federer to 100-win club with great tweet

Jimmy Connors

Roger Federer reached a rare and special milestone over the weekend and received recognition from the best possible source.

Federer defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 to win the Dubai Tennis Championships, marking his 100th career singles tournament title. Not only did beating Tsitsipas give him some revenge after his Australian Open loss, but it also made him the second player to win 100 career singles tournaments. The other to do it is Jimmy Connors, who holds the record with 109 career singles titles in the open era.

Connors sent a great tweet welcoming Federer to the club, saying it was lonely and nice to have some company.

Some players don’t like having their records broken or athletes encroaching on their turf. Connors is acting the complete opposite, which shows great character.

Having Federer reach 100 wins is a nice thing for Connors too because it puts into perspective just how incredible his career was.

Serena Williams not blaming loss on ankle injury

Serena Williams

Serena Williams did not blame her surprising loss to Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on her ankle injury. Instead, she credited Pliskova for turning things up in key spots.

Pliskova took the first set of the match 6-4 and was up a break in the second before losing her serve and giving it right back. Williams went on to win the second set 6-4 and then was up 5-1 and serving for the match up 40-30. She was called for a foot fault on her first serve and then rolled her ankle after being wrong-footed on her second serve. After that, she lost the game and five more in a row to lose the match.

In her post-match press conference, Williams said her ankle injury was not the reason she lost.

“I just think she played lights out on match points,” Williams told reporters. “Literally, hitting lines. Just went for it, went crazy on match points. She just played unbelievable on match point. … I don’t think it had anything to do with my ankle per se. I just think she was nailing and hitting shots. Obviously I made some mistakes, but she played really well after that.”

Williams was also asked why she did not call out the trainer during the side change after she injured her ankle.

“I really hate calling the trainer out to be honest. And at that point, I didn’t feel like I needed it or like it would be a big deal, so I kept going.”

Regardless of whether or not she was being genuine about the ankle not being a factor, seeing her take responsibility for her loss and credit her opponent rather than go scorched earth blaming others is refreshing.

Serena Williams loses after suffering ankle injury on match point

Serena Williams experienced a terrible sequence late in her quarterfinals match with Karolina Pliskova at the Australian Open and ended up blowing a huge lead.

Williams rallied back from down a set and down a break in the second to win the second set and power through to a 5-1 lead in the third. She was up 40-30 and serving for the match when she was called for a foot fault on her first serve. Then on her second serve, Pliskova took control and wrong-footed Williams to send it to deuce.

Williams twisted her left ankle as she tried to abruptly change direction to chase down a shot from Pliskova. She was noticeably off after that and double faulted before losing the game. Pliskova then went on to win the next six straight games to flip the match as Williams did not seem to be at full strength. Pliskova won 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, winning six games in a row to take home the match and advance to the semis.

Frances Tiafoe fires warning to Rafael Nadal

Frances Tiafoe biceps LeBron

Frances Tiafoe fired a warning to Rafael Nadal ahead of their quarterfinals match at the Australian Open.

Tiafoe beat Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round of the Aussie Open to continue his breakthrough run. The four-set win came on Tiafoe’s 21st birthday, and it sets up the match with Nadal.

Asked to preview a potential match with Nadal, Tiafoe said he needed to rest up because Rafa would run him around. But then he concluded his interview saying Nadal “better get ready.”

While some youngsters might be nervous and afraid during such a big moment, Tiafoe is carrying confidence entering his match with a legend. Coupling his hot play with his confidence, there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to seriously challenge Rafa.