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Rafael Nadal’s latest bid for grand slam history was ended by a sensational comeback from Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open.

The 34-year-old Spaniard, bidding to overhaul Roger Federer’s haul of 20 major titles, was two sets up and well on course for a semi-final against Daniil Medvedev.

Nadal was threatening to roll over the 22-year-old from Greece, just as he had in the last four in Melbourne two years ago when he won 6-2 6-4 6-0.

But this time Tsitsipas had other ideas as he completed a stunning 3-6 2-6 7-6 (4) 6-4 7-5 victory to become only the second man, along with Fabio Fognini, to come from two sets down to beat Nadal at a grand slam.

Tsitsipas somehow clung on to edge the third set, even though Nadal dropped just one point on serve in taking it to a tie-break.

It was the first set Nadal had dropped at the tournament, and brought to an end a run of 35 consecutive sets won at grand slams.

Tsitsipas had his tail up and forced his first break – and the first by either player in two hours – for 5-4 before serving out and levelling the match.

The decider went with serve, with Tsitsipas firing down four aces to win one game, until three unforced Nadal errors gifted his opponent the break for 6-5.

Ever the fighter, Nadal saved two match points but Tsitsipas nailed the third to complete a landmark victory.

“I’m speechless, I have no words to describe what just happened,” said Tsitsipas on court afterwards.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level and give my all on court.

“I started very nervous but I don’t know what happened after the third set. I flew like a little bird.

“Everything was working for me and the emotions are indescribable. I’m really happy with the attitude I showed on court.”

Defeat meant Nadal will have to wait another year in his attempt to become the first man to win every grand slam title twice in the Open era.

In-form world number four Medvedev won the all-Russian clash with Andrey Rublev to reach his first Melbourne semi-final.

Medvedev, a former US Open finalist, stretched his current winning streak to 19 matches with a 7-5 6-3 6-2 victory against his ATP Cup team-mate.

Rublev, ranked eight in the world, was clearly struggling with the heat as the match wore on and is still yet to take a set off his friend and compatriot in five meetings.

Medvedev, who won the ATP Finals in London at the end of last year and went unbeaten through Russia’s ATP Cup triumph, needed treatment on his thigh after the match.

He said: “I started cramping in my quad. I saw he was cramping also so I tried not to show it. But I couldn’t really move my left leg at the end.

“It was super tough, we had some unbelievable rallies. I think I’m one of the first players to make Andrey tired on court so I’m quite happy about it.

“To play my friend? It’s never easy but we’re all super competitive. It was one of the best matches I’ve played lately. To beat him in three sets without a tie-break, I’m very happy about that.”

There was also good news for Australian Open organisers after it was confirmed that fans will be allowed back into Melbourne Park on Thursday after the city’s five-day coronavirus lockdown comes to an end.

The crowd will be capped at 7,477 for each session, which is approximately 50 per cent capacity in the Rod Laver Arena.

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Nadal goes through to next round

Spain’s 12-time champion Rafael Nadal encountered few problems as he started the French Open with a three-set win over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov.

Nadal, 34, wrapped up a 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory in two hours five minutes against the world number 83, who was making his main-draw debut in Paris.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem also moved into the second round with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Croatia’s Marin Cilic.

Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev is out after losing to Marton Fucsovics.

Thiem, who won his maiden Grand Slam title in New York a fortnight ago, has lost to Nadal in both of the past two finals at Roland Garros.

The pair have been drawn in the same half of the men’s singles, meaning they could only meet in the semi-finals this year.

Nadal is seeded second behind Serbia’s world number one Novak Djokovic and says the rearranged tournament will provide the “toughest conditions” yet for him.

The 19-time Grand Slam singles champion, who is aiming to move level with Roger Federer’s all-time leading men’s tally, has only played one clay-court event going into Roland Garros and the cooler conditions are not as beneficial to his game.

Although the scoreline against Gerasimov was comfortable, he was given a decent workout by the Belarusian.

“I’m not going to make a mistake – the attitude and motivation is always here,” Nadal said.

“It is a different Roland Garros to the one we are used to and the conditions are very challenging. I’m happy to be in the second round – it is a good start.”

American Mackenzie McDonald, ranked 211th, is Nadal’s next opponent.

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Andreescu will not defend her US Open title

Defending champion Bianca Andreescu has withdrawn from this year’s US Open because the coronavirus pandemic has hampered her return from injury.

The Canadian, 20, has not played since sustaining a knee injury at the WTA Finals in October.

The US Open will be held behind closed doors in New York from 31 August.

“I have made the difficult decision not to return to New York this year,” said Andreescu, who beat Serena Williams in last year’s final.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu added that “unforeseen challenges” including the cancellation of events because of the coronavirus pandemic have “compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level”.

World number six Andreescu is the fourth women’s top 20 player to pull out of the US Open after world number one Ashleigh Barty, Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens, who are ranked fifth and seventh respectively.

World number two Simona Halep, from Romania, is not expected to play either.

However, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams says she still plans to compete at the tournament.

Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic has confirmed he will play but defending champion Rafael Nadal pulled out citing concerns over coronavirus earlier this month, while Roger Federer is absent recovering from injury.

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Djokovic to contest US open

World number one Novak Djokovic has confirmed he will play at the US Open, which starts on 31 August, in New York.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has already decided not to enter because of concerns about Covid-19, while five-time winner Roger Federer is recovering from knee surgery.

In June, Djokovic called the US Open’s coronavirus safety protocols “extreme”.

“It was not an easy decision to make, but the prospect of competing again makes me really excited,” he said.

Djokovic, who is president of the ATP Player Council, had previously questioned the protocols in place for the tournament to go ahead and spoke to organisers about his concerns.

The 33-year-old will arrive in the United States on 15 August to compete at the Western and Southern Open, which takes place in New York – instead of its usual Cincinnati home – from 20 to 28 August.

Both events are to be held without fans at Flushing Meadows, with players having to follow strict safety measures.

Despite those measures, a number of other players have followed Nadal in withdrawing, including women’s world number one Ashleigh Barty and fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Former world number one Andy Murray is expected to compete after being granted a wildcard.

Djokovic has not played since apologising after he and three other players tested positive for Covid-19 at his own Adria Tour competition.

He later admitted it had been “too soon” to stage the tournament.

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Rafael Nadal to miss US Open

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has decided not to play the US Open later this month because the coronavirus pandemic is “not under control”.

Spanish world number two Nadal, 34, has not entered the tournament, which takes place in New York from 31 August.

“The health situation is very complicated around the world with cases increasing and flare-ups,” said Nadal.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic leads the men’s entry list, while American great Serena Williams has indicated she will play.

Nadal added: “This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is hosting a double tournament at Flushing Meadows, having moved the Cincinnati Masters to New York.

The event will staged at the Billie Jean King Tennis Centre from 22 August, with the US Open taking place immediately afterwards.

Both tournaments will be held without fans and players will have to follow strict measures.

The USTA measures within the safety bubble include regular testing, mitigation measures and increased sanitisation. The organisation said on Friday it was confident the health and safety of everyone involved in the tournaments remained “on track”.

While the WTA Tour resumed in Palermo this week, the Cincinnati-US Open double header will be the first ATP events since March.

“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after four months stopped with no play,” added Nadal, who will miss a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon in 2016.

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Danielle Kang triumphs in LPGA Championship

American Danielle Kang held her nerve to win the LPGA Drive On Championship by one stroke as the tour resumed in Ohio after coronavirus.

Kang finished on seven under with France’s Celine Boutier a shot behind.

Boutier missed a four-foot birdie putt on the last hole that would have forced a play-off at the Inverness Club.

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who had a share of the lead with Kang and Boutier going into the final day, saw her chances disappear with a three-over 75.

Ewart Shadoff, who was chasing her first LGPA title, was on five under after 12 holes of her final round but dropped shots on the 13th and 14th and double bogeyed the 15th to finish on two under, five behind Kang.

It was the fourth career title for Kang, 27, whose first win was the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship, and who also won in Shanghai in 2018 and 2019.

“I worked really hard for the last seven months,” she said after a two-under-par 70.

“I think just keeping patient and trusting all aspects of your golf brings it out in your game,

“You have got to respect the golf course. Even little putts I didn’t take it for granted.”

The LPGA managed to play only two events in January in the United States and two more in February in Australia before the season was stopped by the global pandemic.

The Inverness Club will host next year’s Solheim Cup event between the US and Europe.

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Serena Williams to Purchace a New LA-Based Women’s Football Team

A group including Serena Williams will fund a new Los Angeles-based women’s team to launch in time for the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League season.

Tennis great Williams joins several other high-profile women, including Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, in founding the female-majority group.

The team name and home venue are yet to be decided, but the ownership group has called itself ‘Angel City’.

There is currently no California-based team in the NWSL.

NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird says the league has “long sought” an LA-based team, which already has a “massive” interest in women’s football.

Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of tech company Reddit, is part of the ownership group. The couple’s two-year-old daughter Olympia is also listed as an owner.

Among the group too are 14 former US national team players, actresses Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain and America Ferrera, plus investors from the technology and media sectors.

“We come together with a collective passion for bringing about change,” added the consortium’s co-founder and president Julie Uhrman, who is a media and gaming entrepreneur.

“Change for our players, change for our fans, and change for our community. Change that begins today.

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Some players set to miss US Open

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova says some players will not go to the US Open if current coronavirus restrictions continue.

The US Open is due to be played without fans in New York from 31 August.

The country is still reporting tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases daily and possible quarantine rules for players are unclear.

“I know a few players will definitely not go if the restrictions are like they are now,” Kvitova told BBC 5 Live.

The 30-year-old Czech added: “I’m still thinking of what everything will look like, what the restrictions will be, how many people we can take and if they quarantine us.”

World number one Novak Djokovic has previously said he is “not sure” whether he will play, while defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal has also expressed reservations.

The US has reported more than 3.4 million cases of coronavirus, and more than 136,000 deaths nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Kvitova – who is ranked 12th in the world – is one of several top players competing in front of fans at the Bett1 Aces exhibition tournament in Berlin.

It is the first sporting event in Germany to take place with spectators, who have to socially distance in the stands.

Kvitova has played behind closed doors in the past and describes the experience as “weird”, adding that she cannot envisage playing a major tournament in those conditions.

“Playing without the fans in Grand Slams, I can’t really see it,” she said.

“If that happens and everything is OK I will go for sure to compete but there’s still a chance I will not go. I will decide when I know everything.”

Meanwhile, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will return to the court for the first time since before the start of the pandemic at the inaugural edition of the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky, which starts on 10 August.

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The US Tennis Association played its trump card at the very first opportunity.

At a news conference to confirm the US Open will go ahead in New York this summer, Serena Williams popped up on the screen to say she cannot wait to take part.

The six time champion, who has had the Flushing Meadows surface shipped to her home for practice, will be trying once again to tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

The USTA is hoping her confidence will rub off on others.

There has already been strong public opposition to staging the US Open from Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios, and reticence from Rafael Nadal, Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep.

Their caution is understandable. If you were to take a holistic approach to the return of professional tennis, you would not start in the United States. Europe is currently a much better bet, as tournament directors in Paris and Madrid draw up plans that even include spectators.

They may remain uncomfortable with the number of Covid-19 cases the United States is reporting; they may not wish to spend weeks away from their family; or perhaps they would prefer to direct all their energies towards the French Open, which will start just 13 days after the curtain falls in New York.

But their sentiments should not divert attention from the fact that many other top 100 players are enthusiastic and relieved that the show is back on the road.

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World number one Novak Djokovic was brought to tears after he bowed out of his Adria Tour with victory over German Alexander Zverev in front of home fans.

The 4-0 1-4 4-2 win sent fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic into the final.

Djokovic’s event – the first elite men’s tennis since it was suspended by coronavirus – attracted 4,000 fans.

“I am just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me of my childhood,” he said as the Belgrade crowd gave him a standing ovation.

“It’s been an emotional few days and I want to thank everyone who made this possible. The important thing after this match is that we have one of our own in the final. I love you all and thank you so much for turning up.”

Krajinovic later lost to Austrian world number three Dominic Thiem 4-3 2-4 4-2 in the final.

Djokovic, 33, set up the tournament to help players get back to match fitness after several weeks without competition.

Players were split into two groups of eight and played each other in a round-robin format, with the two group leaders competing in a final later on Sunday.