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Tony Becca: Two sides of an upset

first_img After winning the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon, Williams was gunning for the US Open and four Grand Slam titles in a calendar year and she was a cinch to win it, especially with Maria Sharapova of Russia pulling out before hitting a ball and with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus falling by the wayside. All the talk was about Williams becoming the first to do so since Steffi Graf in 1988, especially as the two players who stood in her way were Vinci and Flavia Pennetta, two Italians, two childhood playmates who had never ever contested a Grand Slam final. One was 32 years old, the other was 33, one ranked number 43, the other ranked number 26. With Pennetta winning her semi-final by upsetting the tournament’s number two seed, Simona Halep, in straight sets in the first semi-final and awaiting the winner of the second semi-final, Serena, coming in with a record of 33 successive Grand Slam victories, took on Vinci, who had never even won a set against her and whose season record was 20 wins and 20 losses. Winning the first set 6-2, and easily at that, it seemed as if Vinci was doomed to lose one more time. Williams appeared way above her class. And when Williams raced to a 2-0 lead in the third set, it was, or so it seemed, all over for Vinci. Out of the blue, however, Vinci made her move. Using a mixture of different speeds on her shots, slices, pushes at the net and delicate drop shots, Vinci outfoxed Serena, destroyed her rhythm and won the set at four. tactics working gunning for US Open The 2015 US Open tennis tournament which ended at Flushing Meadows in New York last Sunday was an occasion to remember, especially for those who love or enjoy the excitement of an upset. First off, Novak Djokovic of Serbia defeated Roger Federer of Switzerland, probably the finest player of them all, who also boasts a record of 17 Grand Slam titles – to win the men’s singles and his 10th Grand Slam title; and second, the surprise, or the upset, of Serena Williams in the women’s singles. Federer played well, especially for a 34-year-old, but in the battle of the number one-ranked player versus number two-ranked player, Djokovic, the number one, played a little better and deserved his victory in four sets and the US$3.3 million winner’s prize, although Federer looked threatening for a while. The match of the tournament, however, was the women’s semi-final match between Williams of the USA, the world’s number one, the defending champion, and the favourite by far for the title, and Roberta Vinci of Italy. With the emotions of Serena coming to the fore in that set, however, screaming, stomping and pointing, Vinci remained cool until, at 3-3, at 40-40, she smiled at Serena’s antics, obviously feeling satisfied that her tactics were working. She then won a point after a long rally and then gestured dramatically to the fans to cheer for her also. It was interesting. One player behaving as if she should not be in such a fight, as if she was ordained; and the other player fighting and enjoying every moment of the duel for the US Open title and the winner’s prize money. Vinci broke Williams by winning the next point, held serve at 5-3 and then held serve at love to create one of the biggest upsets in the history of the game. “I don’t want to talk about how disappointing it is for me,” said Williams afterwards, the Grand Slam finalist on 25 occasions and winner 21 times, only one short of Graf. “If you have any other questions, I’m open for that.” Vinci, however, who later lost to Pennetta in the final, was head over heels at her performance and had the 20,000-plus fans cracking up with laughter during post-match interview. “How do you feel after such a historic performance?” she was asked before the fans, minutes after the Serena match. “This is an amazing moment for me,” said the 300-1 underdog. “I am in a dream, I beat Serena. I am in the final of the US Open.” “Did you have a plan for the match?” “No. Just play. Don’t think about Serena. Just enjoy yourself. Get the ball in court, and run, and run.” The next day, Vinci lost in the final in straight sets to Pennetta. She was not as tricky and not as good as she was against Williams. Probably she was not as motivated, or not as intoxicated as she was for the match of her life. She lost easily. She was, however, still smiling and still laughing. She had defeated Williams, a champion, the champion and arguably the best of all time. Vinci had her day in the sun. The day she defeated Serena Williams at the US Open, the day she will forever remember. Sports fans, tennis fans especially, will never forget her, or her celebration as the miracle unfolded, both for her play, her tactics and for her wonderful words which followed her amazing upset.last_img read more

City get the better of Arsenal

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP): Raheem Sterling capped a rousing second-half comeback by Manchester City with the winning goal as Arsenal squandered a lead to lose 2-1 for the second time in five days in the English Premier League on yesterday. The England winger collected Kevin De Bruyne’s sensational cross-field pass before cutting inside and driving home a low finish in the 71st minute at Etihad Stadium. Arsenal led through Theo Walcott’s fifth-minute strike – another goal that raised questions about City’s defensive frailties – before Leroy Sane equalised in the 47th with his first goal for City. While City moved back to within seven points of first-place Chelsea, Arsenal dropped nine points off the leaders at the end of a week in which Arsene Wenger’s team also lost after being 1-0 up at Everton on Tuesday. “We were caught cold in the second half and we dropped physically,” Wenger said. City have reacted to a 4-2 loss at Leicester last weekend, which led to fierce criticism of coach Pep Guardiola’s tactics, with two wins this week to revive the team’s title challenge. Guardiola’s side dominated the second half after playing it without a recognised striker, with Raheem Sterling – a winger who was up front in the first half – was sent out to the right flank. LOOKING UP With Fernandinho back from a three-match suspension next week against Hull, Sergio Aguero only banned for one more game and Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus joining in January, things are looking up for City again. “The victories give a lot of confidence in the mind of the players in what we are trying to do,” Guardiola said. “I am so happy for the fans. They stayed until the 94th minute, normally they go with 10 minutes left.” What will concern Guardiola, though, was the manner in which his defence was opened by Arsenal for Walcott’s goal. Hector Bellerin was allowed to power up the field unchallenged from right back and pass the ball to Sanchez, who had dropped deep to also find space between City defence and midfield. Sanchez’s reverse pass located Walcott between two defenders and the winger composed himself before slipping a low shot past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Guardiola decided not to play John Stones for the second straight game, preferring Nicolas Otamendi and Aleksandar Kolarov at centre back; and City were often too open in defence, while their build-up play was slow from the central midfield in the first half. It was a different story after half-time, with Arsenal unable to pick up City’s floating midfielders. One of them, Silva, clipped a first-time pass over the top for Sane – who may have been slightly offside – to race clear and sidefoot home for a first goal in his 13th appearance for City. Sane was denied in a one-on-one opportunity by Petr Cech, who tipped aside De Bruyne’s deflected shot. De Bruyne was growing in influence and it was his stunning pass that set up the winner. Guardiola praised the “quality and the vision from Kevin to make an exceptional pass. “Seven points is still a huge distance from a team who made 11 wins in a row,” Guardiola said, referring to Chelsea. “(We need to) be there as much as possible and wait for the opponent to fail.”last_img read more